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Nintendo of America testers detail experiences they’ve had with sexual harassment at the company

Posted on August 16, 2022 by (@NE_Brian) in General Nintendo, News

Nintendos sexual harassment

Nintendo has started to face some controversy with its employees this year. Back in April, one staffer claimed that their right to unionize was violated and this person filed a complaint with National Labor Relations Board. That was actually followed up a second labor complaint earlier this month against Nintendo and contracting company Ashton Carter. Kotaku now has a story up regarding sexual harassment.

It’s a pretty noteworthy read and we do recommend you giving it a look here. However, we’ve rounded up some of the more notable points below. 

– One female contract game tester quit Nintendo of America after nearly a decade
– Several employees had created a group chat on Nintendo’s Microsoft Teams server called “The Laughing Zone”, and a male translator posted inappropriate screenshots related to Pokemon and Genshin Impact
– The tester reported the incident, but was warned to be less outspoken and that the only repercussion the translator faced was being assigned sexual harassment training
– One contractor was previously fired for making comments about the color of the tester’s underwear, but the translator who made the sexual comments in group chat was a full-time Nintendo employee, so the third-party contracting company couldn’t terminate his employment
– Women were both underrepresented among contractors, but also not often hired into full time roles
– Five sources who worked at Nintendo estimated that the percentage of women contractors in testing hovered at around 10 percent (based on the head-counts on their own teams)
– In some projects that sources worked on with several dozen team members, women on the team would number in the single digits
– After nine years working with Nintendo, the tester found out a more junior male contractor in her department was making $19 an hour while she was making $16
– After fighting for a pay increase for several weeks, she finally landed at $18
– One woman said she stayed at the same base wage for six years until she got a higher offer elsewhere and threatened to leave
– Contracting company Aerotek (now reorganized into Aston Carter) has had multiple labor lawsuits filed against it across the years
– Past and present female employees say there were many others who felt that the Redmond, Washington office had a problem with treating women with respect
– The ten sources Kotaku spoke to indicate that sexist behavior was commonplace, and very little action was taken to address it
– Female contractors also faced issues with trying to advance in the company
– One tester that worked on Zelda: Breath of the Wild said you’d have better chances being converted to full time as a male
– Contractors are given no explicit goals or benchmarks to hit that might assure a full-time conversion or even a contract renewal
– Another contractor says there was a lot of favoritism and cronyism
– There were not enough women in the testing department to advocate for other women when Nintendo had new full-time openings
– Female contractors say they experienced harassment from full-time Nintendo workers and fellow Aerotek contractors
– The power difference between full-time employees and contractors exacerbated inappropriate behavior
– Melvin Forrest, who has been working in the product testing department since the early nineties and eventually became the head of the department, makes the schedules for Aerotek associates, deciding who returns after a project ends, so maintaining a good work relationship with him was crucial
– The sources say Forrest made inappropriate advances toward female testers
– Forrest worked at Nintendo until at least 2017, though the company did not comment on whether or not he was still employed there
– Eric Bush, another prolific employee who made inappropriate comments at a Seattle gala for which Nintendo was a sponsor, is still employed at Nintendo as a product testing assistant manager
– One former tester says product testing was sometimes like a frat house
– Queer women experienced even more unwelcome behavior and unequal treatment
– It was common for full-time Nintendo employees to date precariously employed contractors
– The upsides of being romantically involved with NOA employees were opportunities and access such as the company Christmas party, which is off-limits to contractors unless they’re accompanied by a “red badge”
– A tester working for Lotcheck sent a letter on behalf of a dozen testers to Nintendo leadership that asked them to improve the testers’ working conditions and stated that the department was an “unsafe and uncomfortable environment for female testers”
– Aston Carter had apparently acknowledged the letter, but did not act due to the anonymity of the employees
– One former contractor claimed a more senior tester stalked her between July 2011 and February 2012, but because the man was “friends with the right people,” she didn’t feel she could flag the stalking to her contracting company
– Improvements made within NOA are not guaranteed to trickle down to contract employees at Carter
– One current employee said that HR in the building where most of Nintendo’s full-time staff work is actively trying to “spearhead diversity and inclusion” within NOA
– However, “each of the different buildings associated with Nintendo[’s Redmond campus] all are [a] little microcosm…there aren’t as many chances to meet people from other parts of the company”

Again, this is only a summary of some of the points included in Kotaku’s piece. Be sure to check out the full article here.


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