A former employee of Blizzard Entertainment who worked in the company’s e-sports division, named Julian Murillo-Cuellar, aired his grievances via a lengthy Twitlonger post that he published on January 8th, 2019.
His thoughts were prefaced with tweets thanking his wife for her support and helping him get through those tough times.
I know I wrote this into my tweetlonger, but it goes without saying, “Brissia, I wouldn’t be here without you. I know how I can be, but you’re my pillar and without you…you’re the reason why I’m still here. Te amo chiquis! Te amo mucho!!!” Love and respect one another!👭👬👫
— Jules M.C. (@Psychlolis) January 8, 2019
The post from Cuellar goes through the start of his tenure at Blizzard back in 2016, where he claims he was discriminated against by a female employee named Gemma Barreda, between February 2016 and December of 2016.
Cuellar claims that Barreda would insist that he was engaging in Mexican machismo and that he had a “natural inclination to be sexist” due to his heritage. He wrote…
“It all changed when Gemma would joke about my sexism, or natural inclination to be sexist, due to my heritage: having been born Mexican and raised in Mexico, Gemma would experience “Mexican culture” as an exchange student . . . The assumption then became that I was just like everyone else, and that my attitudes, beliefs were that of a Mexican machista (male chauvinist). I didn’t make much of this since she said it “in jest” but this would weigh on me, and I would later confide in my Mrs.”
Essentially he explains how Barreda moved up the chain and made his life miserable by constantly using the sexism angle to undermine him as a worker and also disintegrate his character as a human being.
Cuellar goes through the long, torturous mental ordeal that this toxic working relationship he had with Gemma took on his life, his wife, and his career. He attempted to confide in other workers at Blizzard, but according to him, they didn’t seem to take much notice of his rapidly declining mental health until it was too late.
He eventually got on meds, began therapy for anxiety and depression, and was driven to near suicide multiple times because he feared he was going to lose his job; and he also hated how he was being denigrated as a human being.
This despondency kept ratcheting up until he would have panic attacks and black out.
His wife helped him through his ordeal, but he was no longer able to work at Blizzard. By December 2017 he realized that he didn’t have much of a discrimination case since he didn’t have proof of Gemma Barreda’s allegedly racist and sexist antics, but he did think heavily about suicide once more.
He did eventually step away from those thoughts, and left the company. However, he was drawn back in with the announcement that Blizzard had turned Soldier 76 gay.
“I write this today because the Soldier 76 announcement and subsequent tweets I did triggered me. The reason why it triggered me wasn’t the message, but who it was coming from: Blizzard Entertainment.
“The idea of inclusion, of representation, and “every voice matters” and “think globally” never meant that for me and other people of color I have spoken to. Because up until recently—in the last 2 years—has the community had some representation and initiatives. But are we really represented?
“My Mrs. dealt with her own discrimination—that’s her story—and other current and former alumni have confessed similar or worse treatment and nothing being done. “
The response elicited a lot of tepid responses from within the industry; far less support obviously than if he had been a woman.
Even still, enough outlets picked up the news to make it a noteworthy enough topic that Blizzard chimed in to offer a completely boilerplate corporate response on January 9th, 2019, telling Variety…
“While the company does not comment on individual personnel issues, we can share that having an inclusive and respectful work environment is extremely important to us. We have a policy against harassment and discrimination and take reports of inappropriate behavior very seriously. There are a number of methods for employees to come forward should they experience or observe any inappropriate behavior. All claims of alleged harassment and discrimination which are brought to our attention are investigated, and we take action where appropriate. We strive to create an inclusive and respectful work environment that reflects Blizzard’s core values in everything we do.
“Employee and workplace health is also very important, and we offer different programs and opportunities that support employees, including health and wellness programs and counseling, both in the office (often provided for free) as well as through external professional providers.”
It is true that Cuellar mentioned making use of Blizzard’s corporate wellness programs, and he even acknowledges having gone on a paid leave of absence while he recovered.
However, Cuellar’s issue was more-so with the way the corporate culture was cultivated by the people he worked with, and how no one seemed to really care.
In the Variety article, a Christine Vicino actually opted not to believe his side of the story, writing…
“Stories like this are one perspective from a person with mental health issues. Even if some/all of these instances are true, I guarantee that the poor reactions of the employee are omitted or glossed over. Additionally, he often cites the decision not to speak up or go for help and then blames the company for not intervening at an earlier stage. The fact that EEOC threw out the case without further fact-finding means he didn’t present enough evidence that any action rose to discrimination and he still had the opportunity to [pursue] civil reparations if he truly wanted to.
“When you work for a place that doesn’t make you happy, just leave it. There is no need to prolong the agony a few extra [yard].
“Nothing is worth your mental or physical health deteriorating. I hope he finds peace, but should realize that writing something like this isn’t a final “fuck you”, it will only serve as a dogwhistle for trolls.”
What’s interesting is that Christine Vicino actually takes a more apprehensive approach to his story, but one must wonder if she would have done the same if “his” story was actually “her” story? Would a female perspective of harassment, racism, and discrimination have been passed over or tossed out as a “dog whistle for trolls”? Or would she have listened and believed because it was a female claiming victimhood?
More to the point, she attempts to put the blame on Cuellar, but there are a few people on his Twitter timeline that seems to corroborate some aspects of his story, with Amazon Games content strategist, Robert Wing, noting that things seemed to be going rough for Cuellar but he didn’t know what was going on.
I remember watching you have a rough time from afar without any real understanding as to what was going on.
I’m sorry you were suffering so much, but I’m glad you chose to keep going.
— Robert Wing (@RobertAWing) January 8, 2019
Another former employee at Blizzard, Scott Tester, also chimed in to note that he also knew about Cuellar’s struggles, but didn’t have all of the context, and apologized for not recognizing more of how hurt his cohort was.
Nothing to be sorry about! You and Ohm were my smoking buddies!!! I loved the sports talk with you and Dan–you were a bit of sanity when it was so insane. Remember AAA, AA, A players? You did plenty for what the circumstances called for. 🙂
— Jules M.C. (@Psychlolis) January 8, 2019
Surprisingly, what little chatter there is about this specific case doesn’t seem to see many people deriding or disbelieving Cuellar’s story. Even still, it’s hard to see this instance changing much of anything in relation to the culture war since it’s not the sort of story many Left-wing outlets can use to push the feminist victim narrative. More than anything this story seems to be the inverse, with the feminist victimizing a Mexican man.
Apparently this story makes my opening quip in the Soldier 76 article wrong. Blizzard isn’t just waging a war against just straight, white male culture… apparently they’re waging a war against straight, white, Mexican, South Korean, and male meme culture, too.
(Thanks for the news tip Tomato Tentacle)