Nintendo Of America is “actively investigating” misconduct allegations

The company is accused of creating an “unsafe and uncomfortable environment for female testers"

Nintendo Of America has been accused of enabling sexual harassment and creating an “unsafe and uncomfortable environment for female testers,” allegations the company is reportedly investigating.

For a report by Kotaku, the publication spoke to former and current games testers working on Nintendo projects about the alleged abuse.

Nintendo Of America uses Aerotek (now reorganized into Aston Carter) to provide contracted games testers, with one former product tester explaining how “your chance [of being converted to full time] was probably worse as a girl. It’s usually guys [who get promoted]. They’re usually all friends. They watch the Super Bowl together.”

“There was lots of favouritism, cronyism,” alleged another former contractor.

A full-time Nintendo employee acted as head of the product testing department and it’s claimed he was in charge of making the schedule for Aerotek employees and had to power to decided which contract employees would be invited back to work on other projects.

Contract tester Chris Ollis worked at Nintendo until 2014. They claim that the head of product testing “went after all the associate girls”, with people warning each other to stay away from his deck.

“It was pretty common knowledge that he would make comments, hit on people and like to [tell] associates, ‘Oh she’s so beautiful,’” says Allison, who reportedly worked under the head of product testing as a data entry assistant. “If you were friendly with him, you are more likely to be brought back sooner or less likely to be laid off,” she continued.

Nintendo
‘Super Mario Bros’ figure. CREDIT: Alamy

“A lot of the [full-time Nintendo employees] had reputations for using the tester pool of associates as a dating pool,” Allison continued. “If you were approached by [one], and they appeared to be making moves on you, [other women said that] you didn’t want to dissuade them too hard.”

“[Product testing] really felt like a frat house sometimes,” claimed another former tester who went on to say that if she complained, she was told she needed to be tough to work in the department.

It’s also alleged that queer members of staff were subjected to abuse, with one former tester saying how she’d regularly have to stop advances by male members of staff an Nintendo Headquarters by telling them “I’m a lesbian…I don’t like you that way.” The responses she got (“Oh, but are you sure? But you’re flirting with me? You’re just playing hard to get.”) made her feel uncomfortable, which led to her putting male colleagues “at a distance” – which she believes negatively impacted her career.

Nintendo Bowser
Statue of Bowser In A Nintendo Store in New York. CREDIT: Alamy

Kotaku reports that earlier this year, a tester working for Lotcheck, a department that conducts the final checks for how games performed on Nintendo’s consoles, sent a letter on behalf of a dozen testers to Nintendo leadership asking them to improve the testers’ working conditions. It also stated that the department was an “unsafe and uncomfortable environment for female testers,” with one anonymous contributor writing: “[Lotcheck] felt like a deeply uncomfortable place to be as a woman. I felt like I was treated with a sense of ‘otherness.’ I have had people act in a way that made me uncomfortable, then asked me not to go to HR about it because I’d be ‘misinterpreting,’ making me feel guilty about my own discomfort. I never felt as included in things or as respected.”

It’s claimed that Aston Carter acknowledged the letter but did not act because the employees submitted it anonymously.

The report also alleges one full-time member of Nintendo staff began stalking a contracted worker. “He said verbatim that he would get me fired if I reported it.”

NME has reached out to Nintendo, Aerotek and Aston Carter for comment.

CREDIT: Nintendo

Following the allegations, Kotaku has published an email reportedly send by Nintendo Of America president Doug Bowser to Nintendo employees.

“We have strict policies designed to protect our employees and associates from inappropriate conduct and expect full compliance with these policies by all who work for or with us.” the email reportedly reads. “We have and will always investigate any allegations we become aware of, and we are actively investigating these most recent claims.”

In November, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser shared a separate internal email following the allegations of sexual abuse and harassment at Activision Blizzard.

In it, Bowser wrote: “Every company in the industry must create an environment where everyone is respected and treated as equals, and where all understand the consequences of not doing so.”

Earlier this month, Nintendo received its second worker complaint. Back in April, a gaming contractor alleged their employment had been terminated after asking about unionisation within a company meeting. Following the claim in April, Nintendo denied it was getting in the way of unionisation.

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