Recently Riot Games made a post over on their official website indicating that they would be hosting sessions at PAX West that excluded men. This gendered discrimination against men was heavily criticized by some gamers who wanted to attend the workshop sessions to learn more about getting into gaming, learning about game design, and getting an inside look at Riot’s art development and creation process.
However, Riot Games made it known that the sessions were only going to be available to “women and non-binary folk”, which further angered the community. League of Legends system designer, Daniel Z. Klein, took objection to gamers pointing out that Riot Games was exercising discrimination against men, and he began to mock them for it.
The League of Legends sub-reddit currently has a post discussing Klein’s tweets, where he attempted to defend Riot’s position to discriminate against men, and even went so far as to defend the discrimination. In a Twitter thread that was posted on August 31st, 2018, Klein wrote…
“The most commonly thrown around arguments are that this is being sexist against men, just like racism, and that you can’t fix a problem by doing the opposite of what that problem is.
“That’s all bullshit.
“Systemic sexism and racism exist at the intersection of bigotry and power dynamics. Racism isn’t just being called the n-word, it’s that + no one caring when you protest + not being given a loan a white person would have gotten + being shot by the police for no reason.
“The reason that “sexism against men” makes no sense as a concept is that men have the power. They’re privileged in so many ways, from small invisible things, to large, outrageous things (like a confessed abuser and harasser like Louis CK can just have a comeback and that’s fine).
“Men are RIDICULOUSLY over-represented in gaming; they’re listened to when women are ignored, promoted when women are passed over, lauded for speaking out when women are being called “difficult to work with”.
“I imagine the same power dynamics apply to cosplay and fan events. I’m sure women are objectified and harassed, both verbally and with unwanted physical contact. I’m sure they’re spoken over and made to feel unwelcome at events like these.
“So yes, in the interest of justice, equality, and fairness, men need to be excluded sometimes. That’s perfectly fine. Trust me, you’ll have about a billion other opportunities that these women won’t have. But no, you have to be absolute overgrown toddlers and throw hissy fits.”
Actually, Klein is objectively wrong here. According to California’s civil and labor laws, it’s illegal to discriminate based on age, race, national origin, religious affiliation, or… gender.
Specifically, in section 51.(a) in relation to the Unruh Civil Rights Act, it states…
“All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sexual orientation, citizenship, primary language, or immigration status are entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments of every kind whatsoever.”
Since Riot Games is located in the state of California, this applies to all events, employment opportunities, and establishment services.
However, this particular case of discrimination against men that Riot engaged in, took place in Seattle, Washington, during the PAX West weekend.
Nevertheless, there are still laws pertaining to discrimination against civilians, whether they’re attending a public event or a paid convention.
According to the Washington State Legislature’s RCW title 49, chapter 60 section 0.30 under the Freedom from discrimination (and) Declaration of civil rights, it states…
“The right to be free from discrimination because of race, creed, color, national origin, sex, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation, or the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability is recognized as and declared to be a civil right. This right shall include, but not be limited to:
(a) The right to obtain and hold employment without discrimination;
(b) The right to the full enjoyment of any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, or privileges of any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement; […]”
In this instance, the PAX West event would classify as an “accommodation” or “assemblage”, according to RCW title 49, chapter 60, section 0.40, which states…
“Any place of public resort, accommodation, assemblage, or amusement” includes, but is not limited to, any place, licensed or unlicensed, kept for gain, hire, or reward, or where charges are made for admission, service, occupancy, or use of any property or facilities, whether conducted for the entertainment, housing, or lodging of transient guests, or for the benefit, use, or accommodation of those seeking health, recreation, or rest, or for the burial or other disposition of human remains, or for the sale of goods, merchandise, services, or personal property, or for the rendering of personal services, or for public conveyance or transportation on land, water, or in the air, including the stations and terminals thereof and the garaging of vehicles, or where food or beverages of any kind are sold for consumption on the premises, or where public amusement, entertainment, sports, or recreation of any kind is offered with or without charge, or where medical service or care is made available, or where the public gathers, congregates, or assembles for amusement, recreation, or public purposes, or public halls, public elevators, and public washrooms of buildings and structures occupied by two or more tenants, or by the owner and one or more tenants, or any public library or educational institution, or schools of special instruction, or nursery schools, or day care centers or children’s camps […]”
Under those conditions, this is a clear case of discrimination, since people did pay to attend PAX West, and were literally denied entry into afternoon sessions held by Riot Games on the grounds of being males.
Despite clearly violating both Washington and California state law, which could make Riot liable to legal repercussions, Klein went on to defend Riot’s position by defaming those who pointed out that the company was violating the law, writing in a series of tweets…
“If you’ve never had to think about this for a minute in your life, congratulations, you’re privileged as fuck and have been benefiting from a system that makes the lives of other people hell. I sincerely hope these manbabies crying in that thread will grow up some day. But I know most of them won’t. That’s their choice.
“My choice? My choice is to reject them from my spaces. They’re not welcome here, they’re not welcome in gaming anymore. To strive towards justice, we sometimes have to be harsh and exclusionary. And that’s okay.
“If they want to be welcome, hey, they could try not being absolute assholes to women. Also maybe not equating “not being allowed to attend part of a gaming event” with “having to sit in the back of the bus”.
This sparked additional outrage from the League of Legends, where many of the community members pointed out how this clear violation was not acceptable.
However, it was further revealed that Riot Games spites its own userbase when images from the Slack channel for Riot employees was leaked in a sub-reddit thread where the images indicated that Riot employees supported the denigration of their community and supported Klein’s comments, despite them advocating for the violation of state law.
If you’re unable to read the images, the first comment in the last image states…
“Omg those Twitter threads are hot garbage, I couldn’t agree more with dkleins tweets. Yeah maybe his tweets “don’t help” the conversation with the folks posting about misandry, could be more polite. But honestly there’s no helping those people.
“The folks who it does help? My guess is women and non-binary folks reading those threads and seeing a rioter taking a passionate, personal stand in defense of their safe space and our company’s actions. Without that, I could see interpreting this stuff as a one off publicity stunt, and not engaging with it as a result.
“I’m not brave enough to roll around social media with a red name, but I salute dklein for speaking from his heart and defending underrepresented players and industry hopefuls.”
Some of the attendees at this year’s PAX West who were denied entry into the afternoon sessions, took photos of the room where there was a sign on the door indicating that the sessions were only for women and non-binary folk, as depicted in the tweet by Tet.
— Tet (@Weeb_Tet) September 2, 2018
A few attendees even took things a step further by filing a discrimination complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission.
I attempted to reach out and ask Daniel Z. Klein about Riot’s new “diversity and inclusivity” initiative that seems to skirt on violating existing Civil Rights laws, but he has me blocked on Twitter.
(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)
(Main image courtesy of Art of LoL)