Prominent staff at the gaming site IGN say they’ve walked out today in the wake of allegations late last week that a former editor sexually harassed two women at the company.
“There won’t be a Daily Fix today because a large group of IGN employees have refused to work until the company issues a statement/apology regarding what happened to Kallie Plagge,” IGN’s Alanah Pearce wrote on Twitter this afternoon, referring to a former co-worker who on Friday had accused the company’s HR department of mistreating her. The Daily Fix is IGN’s regular news show.
On Friday night, Plagge said on Twitter that while working as a social media contractor at IGN last year, she and another female employee were sexually harassed by former editor Vince Ingenito. In her tweet, and in an interview with Kotaku on Saturday, Plagge said that she saw Ingenito as a mentor but grew gradually uncomfortable when he made sexual remarks and “manipulative and abusive comments” toward her and one of her co-workers, whose name she did not want used without that woman’s permission. One example Plagge brought up on Twitter: “‘When I was your age I could go all night.’ He put his hand on my arm. ‘I just want one more night like that.’”
Shortly afterward, Ingenito wrote a lengthy response on Twitter, saying that he “overestimated or perhaps misread the degree of our friendship” and “didn’t graphically describe anything or force sexual conversations on her or anyone.”
Despite widespread discussion of this incident on social media since Friday evening, IGN has not publicly commented. The company did not respond to a Kotaku request for comment over the weekend and has not yet put out any statement.
What bothered Plagge the most, she said during a phone call, was what happened after she and her co-worker reported the incident to IGN’s human resources department in July 2016. Plagge said that she and the other woman were told to sit and work in a glass conference room—“a fishbowl”—while IGN decided what to do. Then, Plagge said, she was forced to sign a document saying that she had conducted herself inappropriately, without being told what she had done.
The document, which Plagge shared with Kotaku, stated: “With regards to the investigation of harassment, evidence was presented to show a lack of professionalism in your part as well as others. Communication between you and Vince were both inappropriate, unprofessional, and violated our harassment policy.”
“That is the worst thing about this, is not the harassment, it’s what happened after,” Plagge said. “I deeply deeply regret [contacting HR]. It was just an absolutely traumatic experience for me.”
Plagge said she felt anxious and uncomfortable at work in the following months, until she decided in December 2016 to leave for a new job at GameSpot. “It got to the point where I couldn’t work for multiple hours a day because I was having panic attacks, so I decided to quit,” she said.
In March 2017, Ingenito said that he was laid off from IGN.
Two IGN employees told me today that the editorial staff met this morning. During that meeting, employees fumed at management about both their treatment of Plagge and silence over this incident. “We had a large staff meeting this morning and ultimately said we weren’t going to work until the company issues a statement,” said one IGN employee. “They said they will, and didn’t think our protest was unreasonable.”
IGN social editor Cassidee Moser also chimed in on Twitter. “Today has been a very somber and humbling day at IGN,” she wrote. “Everyone is outraged and demanding changes be made to protect people going forward. I find the way her case was handled to be reprehensible. But after speaking to many in management and editorial today, I am encouraged.”