Former Naughty Dog employee David Ballard has gone public with a claim of sexual harassment he faced while working at the Uncharted and The Last of Us developer.
The harassment took place in late 2015, Ballard explained in a post on his personal Facebook late on Friday night, and then hours later publicly via Twitter.
Following the abuse, Ballard says he subsequently suffered a mental breakdown. After explaining the situation to PlayStation HR, Ballard alleges he was offered a significant amount of money to leave quietly – an offer he declined.
Here is his statement in full:
- “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’s public statement follows a week of revelations concerning movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, who is now being investigated by police on multiple claims of sexual assault.
At Naughty Dog, Ballard worked for more than six years in the role of environment artist. He contributed to Uncharted 2, Uncharted 3, The Last of Us and Uncharted 4.
His posts on Twitter have now been shared thousands of times. Among the replies are messages of support from both fans and developers alike.
One reply, which has since been removed but was screenshotted by NeoGAF, alleges a second instance of sexual harassment from a former employee of Naughty Dog.
In a statement provided to Eurogamer, PlayStation said it had no record of the allegation.
“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,” a PlayStation spokesperson said. “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.”