Sexual harassment has been a hot-button issue in the media recently, following dozens of accusations by actresses that known producer Harvey Weinstein had sexually abused them. Dozens of reports have also been flowing in from other actresses and even actors in Hollywood sharing though own stories of harassment they endured from Hollywood higher-ups. Now, it looks like the video game industry may suffer from a similar problem, as a former Naughty Dog employee spoke out today on Twitter.
David Ballard use to work for the well-known developer (Uncharted, The Last of Us) as an Environment Artist and Multiplayer Level Layout Artist. During his time, working at the company twice, Ballard worked on a number of games, including Uncharted 2–4, and The Last of Us.
His first stint with the company lasted from 2009 to 2014. After that, he spent a year at Ubisoft San Francisco as a Senior Environment Artist, returning to Naughty Dog in May 2015. One year later, Ballard no longer worked at Naughty Dog.
Earlier today on Twitter, he tweeted seven times about how the recent events surrounding Harvey Weinstein had given him the courage to speak out about the information. The tweets are combined below into one sentence for ease of reading.
In late 2015, I was sexually harassed at Naughty Dog by a lead. My work environment became extremely toxic afterward. In February 2016 I had a mental breakdown at work & Sony Playstation HR became involved. When I told them about the harassment they ended the call and fired me the next day. They cited the company was moving in a different direction and my job was no longer needed.
They tried to silence me by offering $20,000 if I signed a letter agreeing to the termination as well as to not discuss it with anyone. I declined to sign. I have been unemployed for 17 months since. When interviewers ask why I left Naughty Dog, I say I was burned out by the crunch, ashamed to get to the root of the problem of being sexually harassed.
I’m speaking out now because of the strength I’ve seen in others coming forward about their experiences in the TV/Film industry. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I will not let anyone kill my drive or love for the video game industry, my passions or life.
It may come as a surprise that Ballard was sexually harassed, as many think that only women endure the mistreatment. Yet Terry Crew recently came out and stated that he had been groped at a party as well by a male who held a high position in Hollywood, but didn’t do anything about it because he didn’t want to damage his career. Crews is known for his massive physique, at 6 ft 3, 245 lbs, so it certainly wasn’t a size issue.
Neither Sony nor Naughty Dog has commented on the situation.