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Nintendo Testers Break Their Silence On Workplace Harassment

Allegations of toxic workplace culture have now spread to the offices of Nintendo of America.

In a lengthy report recently published by Kotaku, current and former employees described an environment that was unwelcoming toward contracted testers and, more specifically, female testers. They alleged that full-time employees used their status to take advantage of testers seeking more permanent positions within Nintendo.

Throughout the report, a tester referred to as Hannah (not her real name) detailed numerous instances in which she was harassed and silenced from reporting it. Hannah claimed that Aerotek, the company she was contracted with while working at Nintendo, even told her to be less outspoken after she reported an employee for making a number of sexual comments in a group chat originally used for sharing memes.

Compounding that issue, according to employees, is the fact that so few testers and full-time employees at Nintendo of America are women. The gender discrepancy cultivated an environment akin to a "frat house," they claimed. The testers said there's also a noticeable wage gap and fewer opportunities for growth for women, not unlike the circumstances that got Sony sued. Failure to comply with sexual advances and then reporting them, they added, would threaten their futures within the company.

What Nintendo employees are alleging

Based on Nintendo of America's career page, about a fourth of the company's workforce is contracted, making full-time positions a serious goal for many. According to the testers in Kotaku's report, full-time employees knew this and would exploit it. Despite the company having a no-touch policy, essentially forbidding public displays of affection between employees, it was rarely enforced and full-timers used contracted testers as a dating pool. Because testers felt that growth in the company could only come from knowing the right people, many just went along with it. In one extreme instance, a tester claimed she was stalked by an employee that later threatened to get her fired if she reported his persistent behavior.

Some women were also harassed for their sexuality. Hannah, an out lesbian, was subject to regular advances from male employees who claimed she was just "playing hard to get." One queer tester, who was dating another female tester at the time, said she was warned for violating the no-touch policy because the two regularly held hands. She took exception to this because straight couples are allegedly given more leniency.

In the wake of similar allegations from other companies like Activision Blizzard, Nintendo of America has attempted to revise its own workplace policies. Despite specializing in family-friendly experiences, not even Nintendo is immune to potentially harmful working conditions.