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Top Playstation studio Naughty Dog responds to allegations of sex harassment

Developer says he was fired after coming forward with his claims

Nathan Drake hangs on to a plane cargo strap for his dear life in a promo shot from Uncharted Naughty Dog/Sony Computer Entertainment

Naughty Dog, the developer of The Last of Us and Uncharted franchises, has acknowledged, while disputing, allegations of sexual harassment made by a designer this weekend on social media.

David Ballard, a designer no longer with the studio, alleged in a series of tweets on Saturday that he was terminated in February 2016 after informing the studio and the human resources department of its parent, Sony Interactive Entertainment, of the harassment allegations. He said he was offered $20,000 in severance pay on the condition that he remain silent about his time with the studio. Ballard said he refused.

Naughty Dog, in a statement published on its site today, said “we have not found any evidence of having received allegations from Mr. Ballard that he was harassed in any way at Naughty Dog or Sony Interactive Entertainment.”

Ballard said he was speaking out now “because of the strength I've seen in others coming forward about their experiences in the TV/Film industry,” apparently a reference to the week’s news of Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer accused of sexual harassment, assault and rape over decades in his position. Weinstein was fired by the production company he founded and several companies terminated their agreements with it in response.

Ballard’s profile on LinkedIn lists him as an environmental artist for Naughty Dog From 2009 to 2014; following a nine-month stint with Ubisoft he returned to Naughty Dog in 2016 as a multiplayer level designer. He has been credited on Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3, Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us.

Ballard said he has been unemployed for the past 17 months. He alleged that he told PlayStation’s human resources department about the sex harassment allegations and was dismissed one day later.

“We have taken and always will take reports of sexual harassment and other workplace grievances very seriously,” Naughty Dog said in its statement. “We value every single person who works at Naughty Dog and Sony interactive Entertainment.”

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