Nintendo of America testers claim to have experienced sexual harassment in company’s “frat house” culture

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An image of Nintendo being put under the spotlight.

The American branch of Japanese publisher Nintendo is facing accusations from female contractors who allege having experienced sexual discrimination and inappropriate conduct from male employees while working for the company.

This is according to a new report from Kotaku’s Sisi Jiang, who has spoken to a variety of sources familiar with the internal workings of Nintendo of America, with several stories emerging which suggest that female employees not only faced sexual harassment but also had limited opportunity for career advancement.

The report also alleges some testers faced discrimination based on their sexuality.

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Nintendo of America’s corporate culture is put under the microscope

Central to the report is the idea that Nintendo utilises contracted labour to test its games, with a company called Aerotek (now reorganized into Aston Carter), which has previously been forced to pay over $3 million to settle an anti-discrimination lawsuit, supposedly providing teams in which women were often underrepresented.

According to the testimony of one ex-contractor, these women were often under-compensated for their work compared to their male counterparts, with the employee in question allegedly being told to be less vocal about concerns when taking this up with Aerotek management.

Another alleged issue highlighted is the power imbalance between these contractors and full-time Nintendo staff, with this both allegedly allowing for full-timers to face few tangible consequences for sexually inappropriate behaviour towards female contractors and allowing for favouritism to dictate which of these women ended up becoming full-time staff themselves.

A former product tester quoted in the report, who worked on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, suggested that women were less likely to receive promotions, with these seemingly instead going to male colleagues who were friendly with established full-time staff.

One senior management figure at the company is alleged to have contributed to this culture, with an ex-data entry assistant claiming that he would make inappropriate remarks about female employees and adding that being friendly with him was believed to result in workers being less likely to be let go.

This individual did not respond to a request for comment on these allegations from Kotaku by their time of publication, though Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser has internally acknowledged media allegations about working conditions at the company in the past.

Neither Aerotek nor Aston Carter responded to requests for comment from Kotaku either.

Nintendo of America also received a labour complaint last week, which is its second of the year.