A former Blizzard Entertainment employee has claimed an atmosphere of racism and discrimination drove him out of the company.
In a lengthy Twitlonger post (heads up - severe content warning for suicide), Jules Murillo-Cueller described a pervasive atmosphere of racial abuse during his time at the company’s Heartstone Esports team.
Murillo-Cueller started at Blizzard on a temporary basis in 2013, but he claims things really kicked off after being moved into the Hearthstone Esports team proper in April 2016.
In the post, he claims the problems began with jokes over his Mexican heritage, and the assumed sexism stemming from those roots.
“The assumption then became that I was just like everyone else and that my attitudes, beliefs were that of a Mexican machismo (male chauvinist)," said Murillo-Cueller.
This treatment left Murillo-Cueller with severe anxiety and depression as the taunts continued. Even after leaving the team to move into Business Operations, he claims his health continued to deteriorate - and early improvements quickly faded as he once again became sidelined and ridiculed.
Murillo-Cueller continued: “The “jokes” regarding my “machismo” and me being Mexican, would only become more frequent, and finally culminate in the events that started my descent into literal madness.
“I was diagnosed with major depression and would later develop anxiety, nervous breakdowns, and finally suicidal thoughts.”
He left Blizzard in April 2018, and has filed a federal complaint and contacted the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over his treatment at the company.
Murillo-Cueller’s decision to share his story appears to stem from the outing of Overwatch character Solider 76. With Blizzard once again the centre of praise for diverse messaging, Murillo-Cueller warns that those ideas don’t run deep within the company.
“The idea of inclusion, of representation, and “every voice matters” and “think globally” never meant that for me and other people of colour I have spoken to,” said Murillo-Cueller.
“I couldn’t stand idly while others didn’t have the slightest clue why my vitriol towards a company I truly loved and that I poured everything to only be shown the backdoor.”
Murillo-Cueller’s story isn’t isolated, either - he claims his wife suffered similar treatment, as mentions other “current and former” employees who complained of racial discrimination and received no help.
In the wake of Overwatch, Blizzard is attempting to turn around its image and pitch itself as the diverse, progressive developer. But from officially broadcasting blackface to a continued failure to represent other cultures respectfully - on screen and off - there’s still a long way to go for the venerable game maker.