League of Legends Maker Riot Games is back in the office starting this week and not everyone is happy about it, according to a new report from Waypoint. following local guidelinesthe Los Angeles-based company dropped its mandates for vaccines and masks even as covid-19 continues to spread, leading a current employee to compare it to Riot playing “Russian roulette” with the health of people.
Like many other companies, Riot Games is moving forward with its plans to return to the office a few months after the biggest spike in infections since the pandemic began. Individuals assigned to Riot’s Los Angeles campus must be in the office three days a week, Waypoint reports. However, security chief Christopher Hymes recently informed Slack employees that the company would be dropping its requirements for vaccines and masks for staff in that office. Unvaccinated employees would also no longer need to undergo regular covid testing.
“I’m angry about this,” said a current Riot employee Waypoint. “It’s a stupid and unnecessary policy that is carried out at the wrong time and that is managed without any real guarantee of our security.”
Waypoint also reports that the new return-to-office procedures were only announced after a “Riot Unplugged” Slack channel closed to vent and ask questions, and after the window had already closed to resign with extended benefits and severance pay.
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Riot Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson said Waypoint that wearing a mask is still strongly encouraged and that special accommodations for working from home are being made for employees with certain medical needs. Social distancing is also still encouraged, and Riot is apparently using RFID technology to do contact tracing and send instant alerts to anyone who may have come into contact with a co-worker who later tested positive for covid.
The video game industry has undergone a massive shift during the pandemic, implementing remote work for the legions of developers needed to make its blockbusters. Both large and small studios have covid blamed in part for major game delaysbut the challenges have also come with new freedoms and flexibilities for workers in an area where competition for talent has become fierce and costly in recent months.
Kotaku privately heard conflicting opinions from developers on whether remote work is sustainable in perpetuity. Some say it offers a number of upsides with few downsides, while others say the lack of casual in-person contact has made some aspects of game development, especially on large projects, even more difficult. messy than before.
Ultimately, it will be up to the employees of individual studios and publishers to decide for themselves. Riot news comes just a week after Activision Blizzard’s management announced it was dropping its own vaccine mandate. In response, a group of ABK Workers Alliance employees announced a walkout unless the company reverses its current plans to return to the office.
Activision Blizzard immediately backtracked on part of the plan, announcing that its individual studios could decide on their own to institute a vaccine mandate, but currently not all of them have. The ABK Workers Alliance carried out its fourth work stoppage earlier this week and always call the vaccination mandate and full work-from-home options need to be reinstated across the rest of the business.