Blizzard announced today that it will change the name of Jesse McCree, one of the characters on Overwatch, following the repercussions of the lawsuit against the company for sexual abuse and harassment and discrimination. In the game McCree is a bounty hunter named after former designer Jesse McCree, who was fired from the studio two weeks ago, less than a month after the California State Department of Employment and Housing lawsuit was made public.
In a statement posted on the game’s Twitter account, the company says the Overwatch universe was created with inclusion, equality and hope in mind, values “central to the game and the team,” and explained how they plan to implement the change and what steps they will take from now on to avoid such situations in the future: “We know that any changes to such a beloved and central hero in the game’s fiction will take time to implement properly, and we will share updates as this work progresses.”
“In the short term, we had planned to start a narrative arc in September supported by new story and content from the game, of which McCree was a key part. Since we want to integrate this change into that arc of history, we will delay the new arc until the end of this year and instead launch a new FFA map in September.”
“In the future, the game’s characters will no longer be named after real employees and we will be more thoughtful and demanding in adding real-world references to future Overwatch content.”
Jesse McCree came to Blizzard in 2005 and worked as a level design leader since then on World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 and his latest project, Diablo 4.Si the company did not offer details about it, both McCree and another of the fired, World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraf, appeared in the infamous photo of the “Cosby Suite”, the room of former World of Warcraft creative director Alex Afrasiabi, one of those named in the lawsuit.
Jesse McCree, former designer of Blizzard | Image: Blizzard
According to the text of the lawsuit, the “Cosby Suite” had been named in “honor” of American comedian Bill Cosby, accused of rape, because Afrasiabi had a reputation as a stalker within the company. Along with McCree and LeCraft, Diablo 4 director Luis Barriga was fired. Weeks earlier, the company’s president, J. Allen Brack, had also left his post. While the company promised to make changes and respond to demands from employees, who staged a protest outside the California offices, this week the Department of Employment and Housing updated the lawsuit, claiming Activision has destroyed documentation relevant to the case and hired a law firm to conduct an internal review with the goal of interfering with the investigation.
“The defendants refused to present relevant evidence to the department claiming that the ‘reception’ [de denuncias] or the investigation of complaints of discrimination or harassment by the company is a privilege’, and
therefore they suppressed the evidence and interfered with a government investigation seeking redress for employees who suffered illegal conduct,” the updated text reads.
“As defendants’ attorney said earlier, when the investigator is an attorney; their work related to the reception or investigation of complaints of discrimination or harassment is privileged’ and then denied to the government department charged with investigating and remediating the allegations.” The agency also accuses the company of having taken steps to limit employees’ rights through “repressive and punitive” confidentiality agreements, which force them to waive claims of sexual harassment or abuse, fail to disclose details of any compensation, and prohibit them from speaking ill of the company or interviewing plaintiffs without prior approval.
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