Bungie, famed creator of Halo and Destiny, the latter of which has recently seen the release of its Dawning holiday event, is often seen as one of the most creative makers of sci-fi shooters. Initially established in 1991, the company has had its hand in many hit franchises, with many claiming the original Halo games helped establish the Xbox brand. As Halo continues to be an influential game on the industry to this day following the release of Infinity, it’s clear Bungie’s product left its mark.
Despite the critically-acclaimed and well-received games that Bungie produced, it seems that the work culture at the company has plenty of room for improvement. An extensive report recently revealed that Bungie’s work culture has a history of sexism, crunch, a frat boy environment, and HR protection of abusers. The report seemed eerily similar to the accusations which Activision Blizzard is still dealing with following a lawsuit taken out against the Call of Duty publisher in July of this year.
Gayle D’Hondt was Bungie’s head of HR for over 14 years, though following the reports it seemed that she felt it necessary to step down from her position in the company, citing the need for the company to “move forward” with membership “largely comprised of people new to Bungie.” D’Hondt then went on to speak directly to the people team at Bungie, stating “I know that they need to be trusted to be your advocates – not labeled as ‘enablers’ or seen as company resources who provide bad actors with safe harbor.” D’Hondt also shared her own experience with an abuser during her time at Bungie, who was fired for their actions.
It is unclear as to whether D’Hondt will continue to work with Bungie, as although she is stepping down from her senior role, D’Hondt states in her email to employees that she will work with Holly Barbacovi, chief people officer at Bungie, and the leadership team to evaluate the “appropriate next steps.” D’Hondt’s stepping down is by no means the first resignation that the gaming industry has seen in recent months. With pressure building, and a no-tolerance attitude towards sexual misconduct and harassment in working environments, others senior staff have stepped down, such as Blizzard Co-Lead Jen Oneal last month.
Cases of harassment are becoming more well-known within the gaming industry, and though Activision Blizzard is taking much of the focus, it’s clear that other companies are also dealing with similar controversies. One PlayStation execuive was fired this month after inviting a 15-year-old over to his house for sex, while Ubisoft also was sued in July for institutional sexual harassment.