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Game testers accuse Nintendo of America of sexual harassment

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A shocking report alleges that many former contractors of Nintendo of America suffered years of sexual harassment and abuse, ranging from inappropriate sexual humor to stalking and threats.

The report by gaming website Kotaku alleges many female contractors came forward to talk about their experiences at Nintendo of America headquarters.

One woman, a former game tester using the fake name Hannah, says she quit after a male employee allegedly started posting in a work groupchat about video game characters in an inappropriate way, such as having sex with a Pokemon or how he believed it was OK to be attracted to childlike game characters, such as Paimon from Genshin Impact.

Former game testers claim they were sexually harassed by male employees at Nintendo of America headquarters.
REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File

“Nintendo was almost like a nightmare. It’s sad because I love Nintendo; I grew up with Nintendo. I was so excited to join Nintendo when I first got there, and I thought I was going somewhere,” Hannah said.

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However, when she reported the incident to her supervisors at Aerotek, which is now named Aston Carter, the contracting company that Hannah worked for, she was allegedly told to be less outspoken, and ostracized by her work group for reporting the incident.

In a previous encounter, Hannah recalled, she did see a co-worker fired after they commented on the color of Hannah’s underwear.

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However, the male employee discussing Pokemon sex was a full-time Nintendo employee and she claimed his only punishment was additional sexual harassment training.

A figure depicting "Mario", a character in Nintendo's "Mario Bros." video games, is displayed at the company showroom in Tokyo, Japan July 14, 2016.
Former female employees accused Nintendo of America of protecting full-time male workers.
REUTERS/Issei Kato/File

A key factor in this is that contractors often do not have proper recourse to challenge full-time employees, the report claimed.

Nicknamed “Red Badges,” on account of their employee ID cards having a visibly red stripe on them, full-time employees enjoy a certain amount of protection and less scrutiny than contractors.

According to the report, a full-time employee who had credits in popular games such as Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country was said to have made inappropriate gestures and advances toward women during his tenure at Nintendo.

“It was pretty common knowledge that he would make comments” and “hit on people.” Another former tester stated that he “went after all the associate girls” and that associates had to warn newer employees to stay away from him.

The report suggested that staff felt compelled to stay on good terms with him.

“If you were friendly with him, you are more likely to be brought back sooner or less likely to be laid off,” said one source, named Allison.

Other sources recalled the treatment of women, especially queer women, as being severe enough to make them cry, or leave their jobs altogether.

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Aerotek is on the receiving end of several labor lawsuits and settling an anti-discrimination lawsuit of more than $3 million.

Macy's unveils new giant character balloons for the 95th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade® on November 13, 2021 in New York City.
Male employees apparently talked about “Pokemon sex,” according to former contract workers.
Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Macy’s, Inc.

Nintendo did not respond to Kotaku’s requests for comments.

Company chief Doug Bowser, however, has previously addressed reports about Activision Blizzard’s sexist “frat boy” culture in an internal memo.

“Along with all of you, I’ve been following the latest developments with Activision Blizzard and the ongoing reports of sexual harassment and toxicity at the company. I find these accounts distressing and disturbing. They run counter to my values as well as Nintendo’s beliefs, values and policies,” he said.

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