Yesterday, Kotaku published a report detailing sexual harassment allegations from several contracted testers working at Nintendo of America. Multiple sources claimed that their jobs at Nintendo were tainted by a “frat house” atmosphere and repeated instances of harassment. The situation left some to leave their jobs altogether.
The reports involve Nintendo and the company Aerotek, whom Nintendo contracts to provide software testers. The contractor has been named in numerous labor and discrimination complaints in the past. According to the reports, Aerotek higher-ups attempted to silence accusers by brushing their allegations aside, downplaying their severity, or in some cases, threatening the accusers themselves.
At present, neither Nintendo nor Aerotek has officially responded to the allegations. But the stories paint a grim picture over one of the most recognized companies in the gaming industry. In the wake of similar stories from companies like Activision Blizzard, Bungie, and Riot Games, it is critical that Nintendo takes action to address these allegations.
Inside the Nintendo sexual harassment allegations
Kotaku spoke to ten different sources from Nintendo’s testing department, all contracted from Aerotek to work on Nintendo products. The accusers spoke of regular harassment, both direct and indirect, from senior employees in Nintendo’s testing department. Both Aerotek contractors and full-time Nintendo employees are named as perpetrators in the complaints.
Many accusers are women, who spoke of discrimination via a gender pay gap and fewer women in high-ranking positions. LGBTQIA+ employees also received harassment targeted around their identity, with one (an out lesbian) receiving unwelcomed messages from men at Nintendo centered around both her gender and sexual orientation.
When confronted with the allegations, Aerotek and Nintendo seemingly made little effort to address the situations. Many blamed Nintendo’s internal system of being entrenched with the right people to get ahead as a reason why the accused aren’t dealt with.
Some of the accused may have been removed from their positions, such as Nintendo of America’s product testing team leader Melvin Forrest. (Kotaku was unable to determine whether or not Forrest still works at Nintendo.) Other named harassers like Eric Bush, an assistant manager in the testing department, still work at Nintendo as of 2022.
It is currently unknown exactly how pervasive this culture of sexual harassment has spread through Nintendo. While it could be contained to the product testing department of Nintendo of America, it’s also possible that Nintendo as a whole has a harassment problem. In either case, these allegations must be taken seriously. Nintendo needs to step up to the plate in solving its sexual harassment crisis.
Where do we go from here?
It’s always difficult to talk about companies embroiled in controversies like this. For many, Nintendo represents a wholesome side of the gaming industry, a company for gamers of all ages. But you never truly know what happens behind the walls of a company, unless a levee breaks and conflicts like this become public.
The onus is now on Nintendo and Aerotek to address these complaints and institute changes to correct this behavior. Nintendo’s reputation as a video game juggernaut cannot be used as a shield. If the company truly represents a beacon in the industry, it must act as such on every level. Not just the product it manufactures, but the way it treats the people who make it happen.
Nintendo is not known for being open about its policies, but this is a time where that rule must be broken. It is facing serious allegations, and though we don’t expect an outright dismissal, Nintendo cannot remain silent.