“Climate of terror” at Ubisoft Montreal

«Climat de terreur» chez Ubisoft Montréal

Sexist behaviour, discrimination, complaints ignored: employees of Ubisoft Montreal, which presents itself as the “largest video game studio in the world”, tell the story of a “climate of terror”, while the French group is mired in a scandal of sexual harassment.

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Work on “Far Cry has earned me two burn-out, psychological harassment, sexual, sexism, humiliation, and never human resources does not have deigned to listen to me,” writes the AFP a former employee, who wanted to remain anonymous.

She has worked several years on this famous franchise group, a shooting game in an open world tropical atmosphere, developed in the local red brick studios of Ubisoft in Montreal.

Studio 3000 people

In a team that she describes as one of the most “toxic” of the gigantic studio of 3000 people, she explained, have had to endure remarks about his physique, about his situation sentimental, and invitations moved by the artistic director, at the price of blackmail to the promotion.

The “climate of terror” was such that she feared even today the impact on his career, even outside of the group. “When simple artists as we try to defend ourselves against directors, it is almost impossible that our voice be heard”.

These words correspond to one of the other dozen that the AFP has obtained and re-cut since the end of the month of June, when evidence emerged on social networks, first in the video game world, and then in aimed more specifically at the French group.

With its 18 000 employees worldwide, 20% of women among the production teams -, Ubisoft has since announced the departures of several leaders, including his number two, the creative director Serge Hascoët, the director of human resources Cécile Cornet, leader, canadian studios, Yannis Mallat, and two vice-presidents.

“A new page opens for the Montreal studio,” said executive director of Ubisoft Christine Burgess Quemard, in a news release announcing the appointment of Christophe Derennes to the direction of the Montreal studio.

In a statement, group CEO Yves Guillemot has promised “major changes in the corporate culture”.

Sexism endemic

At Ubisoft, the sexism, “it is something that is endemic, and not only in Montreal,” says a long-time employee of the studio. Upon his arrival, a team leader explains to him have committed “because she was “cute” (cute)” but that”to the surprise of all, it did its work well”.

Year after year, she realizes that there will be “no possibility of advancement. After nine years in the industry, I was paid less than the men who had returned two years ago.”

She remembers”a programmer who had his hand half in his pants”, looks insistent. And one day discovers the existence of a mailing list detailing the outfits of the female “so that men can walk around (within the premises) and go look at them”. “I’m almost certain that this mailing-list still exists,” she said.

The atmosphere in the studio, it is “work hard, play hard (work hard, thoroughly enjoyed),” said another employee. “It creates a climate that is not safe, a loosening of inhibitions, and people who have a behavior of a predator”.

The border is blurred between work and leisure.

Friday, “from 16 hours, the people are going to buy a beer and bring back to the office”. At a party in winter, she remembers being “regularly pinched on her buttocks, or breast” from one building to another via a corridor that is installed outside, a first event that she deems as “unimportant, but which then evolves into other things”.

“Unfortunately for Ubisoft, the people who act evil are protected. It is often the people who are in high positions, and if we are going to see human resources or contact our managers, they usually don’t do anything,” said a former employee.

“If there is a concern, the person referred receives a promotion. And if you ask questions about pay equity, you are simply told that we can lower your responsibilities, that you have less stress”, she says. “This is where I left Ubisoft.”

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