Ex-worker David Ballard spoke out on social media and the game developer has responded.
By Robert Marrujo:: For many players, video games are a form of escape from the rigors of everyday life. Sadly, sometimes reality creeps into this beloved pastime of ours, in this case in the form of sexual abuse allegations by one David Ballard. Ballard was an environmental and level design artist for Naughty Dog up until 2016. He revealed on his Twitter feed the following:
"In late 2015, I was sexually harassed at Naughty Dog by a lead. My work environment became extremely toxic afterward. 1/
In February 2016 I had a mental breakdown at work & Sony Playstation HR became involved. When I told them about the harassment they... 2/
...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. 3/
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. 4/
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... 5/
...by the crunch, ashamed to get to the root of the problem of being sexually harassed. 6/
I'm speaking out now because of the strength I've seen in others coming forward about their experiences in the TV/Film industry. 7/
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. /END"
Naughty Dog has officially responded to Ballard's claims with the following statement:
"We have recently read on social media that an ex-employee of Naughty Dog, Dave Ballard, claims he was sexually harassed when he worked at Naughty Dog. We have not found any evidence of having received allegations from Mr. Ballard that he was harassed in any way at Naughty Dog or Sony Interactive Entertainment. Harassment and inappropriate conduct have no place at Naughty Dog and Sony Interactive Entertainment. We have taken and always will take reports of sexual harassment and other workplace grievances very seriously. We value every single person who works at Naughty Dog and Sony interactive Entertainment. It is of utmost importance to us that we maintain a safe, productive workplace environment that allows us all to channel our shared passion for making games."
As Ballard noted in his Tweet's, he felt emboldened by the recent fallout of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein's sex abuse scandal and the flood of celebrities coming out to denounce the toxic environment in the film industry. There have been incidents in the past, such as Gamergate, where sexual misconduct and abuse have been highlighted within the video game industry. It's truly tragic to continue to see these sorts of allegations continuing to creep up in this day and age. We'll keep you posted as this story continues to develop.