Nintendo addresses sexual harassment claims at American office

Andrew Amos
Nintendo of America headquarters

Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser has addressed a number of sexual harassment and sexism claims leveled against the company in a recent Kotaku report, stating the developer has “strict policies designed to protect our employees and associates from inappropriate conduct”.

Nintendo, specifically its American branch, has been slapped with further harassment claims as female contractors and employees have spoken out about alleged discriminatory conduct at the gaming giant.

Women who worked at Nintendo of America alleged some male colleagues would make “really gross jokes and comments”, and were threatened with retaliation if they reported incidents to HR ⁠— including dismissal. These stories were outlined in an August 16 Kotaku report.

The report also named Melvin Forrest, one of the company’s top product testers, as encouraging this culture. “It was pretty common knowledge that he would make comments, hit on people, like to [tell] associates, ‘Oh she’s so beautiful,’” one tester said.

The environment within the product testing team was akin to “a frat house sometimes”, other testers said.

On the same day as Kotaku’s report, Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser sent an internal message to employees and contractors asking them to speak up if they have faced any form of harassment.

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Product testers for Nintendo of America have gone public with sexual harassment allegations while working at the company.

“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,” he wrote. “We have and will always investigate any allegations we become aware of, and we are actively investigating these most recent claims.”

The harassment and sexism claims are on top of working condition complaints Nintendo has been dealing with. Former employees have reported issues with surveillance and retaliation to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), but the company has remained publicly silent.

The company has spoken internally about sexual harassment issues, with Bowser previously acknowledging the problems at Activision Blizzard. 

“I find these accounts distressing and disturbing. They run counter to my values as well as Nintendo’s beliefs, values and policies,” he said in a company email in November 2021.

It comes as game developers across the world deal with instances of sexism, racism, and harassment. 

Activision Blizzard is the most high-profile case after its “pervasive frat boy culture”, as labeled by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing, was made public across 2021. The company is still trying to settle lawsuits adjacent to the initial claims, while an internal investigation found “no widespread harassment”.

Riot Games has been actively changing its workplace culture towards women since claims came to light in 2018, settling a historic gender discrimination lawsuit for $100 million in December 2021. Ubisoft and other developers have also been scrutinized.