Former Naughty Dog employee David Ballard, an environmental artist and multiplayer level artist for Uncharted 2 – 4 and The Last of Us, went on Twitter this weekend to discuss how he was a victim of harassment from a lead at the company.
In late 2015, I was sexually harassed at Naughty Dog by a lead. My work environment became extremely toxic afterward. 1/
— David Ballard (@DBal) October 14, 2017
“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.”
Naughty Dog replied to the allegation, as follows:
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.
It is a terrible situation to be in, with one side claiming that something happened and they were offered money to be quiet about it, and the other side claiming there is no record of it. Obviously, a company wouldn’t log a complaint linked to an attempt to clean it up, making it a case of Ballard’s word against that of Naughty Dog and Sony.
Between this and the furore over Harvey Weinstein, the internet is full of people from all walks of life coming sharing that they too were sexually assaulted or harassed, using the hashtag #MeToo on both Facebook and Twitter. It is staggering and sickening to see how many people have been affected.