In light of the ongoing sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits that are currently being filed against Activision Blizzard, footage surfaced online from a 2010 Blizzcon that showed the game's former designer making sexist comments in response to a question regarding the over-sexualized nature of the game's characters.
The clip, below, features a number of senior World of Warcraft team members (including the current president of Blizzard, J. Allen Back) responding to a question asking if Blizzard could add some new female characters that "don't look like they've stepped out of a "Victoria's Secret catalogue." The audience responded with a very mixed reaction, to say the least, with applause turning into booing.
The response wasn't great either. The game's creative director, Alex Afrasiabi, responded "Which catalogue would you like them to step out of," asks Afrasiabi. "Could you see Sylvanas looking any other way?" before promising to create characters picked from "more catalogues."
J. Allen Brack then followed up by stating that a new Tauren character is drawn from "Sexy Sexy Cow Business," a fictional publication he made up as a joke. Suffice to say, the comments seem to reflect the "frat boy" culture that the studio is being accused of the suit, and the woman who asked the question is, unfortunately, booed off without being given a good answer to her question.
One of the members of the panel, Greg Street, took to Twitter to apologise. "There’s a 10 year old BlizzCon video going around of players doing a Q&A with a panel of devs of which I was a member," she said. "Look, it was a shitty answer at the time and it certainly hasn’t aged well. I wish I had said something better then."
There’s a 10 year old Blizzcon video going around of players doing a Q&A with a panel of devs of which I was a member. Look, it was a shitty answer at the time and it certainly hasn’t aged well. I wish I had said something better then.— Greg Street (@Ghostcrawler) July 24, 2021
Street is now head of creative development at Riot Games, which faced its own allegations of sexism and harassment, as well as a gender discrimination lawsuit, back in 2018, which was settled in August of 2019. This was followed by a second suit against Riot and it's CEO, Nicolo Laurent, in February 2021 by a former employee, also alleging sexual harassment. Riot claimed to have found no evidence to support the allegation.
Street is one of many ex-Blizzard names also making similar public apologies this week. Former president Mike Morhaime and former senior vice president Chris Metzen also made similar Twitter posts, apologising for the "failed" leadership that didn't support women at Blizzard.