In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal that's currently rocking the TV and film industry; former Naughty Dog developer, David Ballard, has come forward with his own account of sexual harassment encountered while working at the studio behind Uncharted and The Last of Us.
Ballard went public about the incident on Twitter where he detailed the harassment which took place in late 2015. In a series of public tweets (first published privately on Facebook), Ballard opened up about the ordeal, its impact on his mental health, and perhaps most damning, an alleged attempt by PlayStation HR to cover it up by offering him $20,000.
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
Below is Ballard's full statement collected and compiled from his public tweets (thanks to the detailed report by Eurogamer):
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 $20k 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.
Ballard, who worked as environment artist at Naughty Dog for games like Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3, and The Last of Us, explained that him going public with his harassment was part of the ongoing discussion surrounding sexual harassment in the larger entertainment industry.
Naughty Dog issued a public statement this morning in regards to Ballard's allegations, writing:
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.
PlayStation issued a similar statement to Eurogamer.
Ballard's allegation has been met with support from the video game community, with other industry members coming forward with their own stories of workplace sexual harrassment. One deleted tweet (captured by NeoGAF) in response to Ballard's Twitter feed claimed of a second sexual harassment incident from a former Naughty Dog employee, currently working for Pokemon Go developers Niantic.