It wasn’t on purpose from Yves Guillemot, but seeing the scandals of the French publisher, we can’t overlook it.
Guillemot gave an interview to the French Canadian newspaper La Presse, where he was asked a question about why workplace misbehaviour in the games industry has become so rife: “Because creating a video game is not something easy. There are a lot of challenges and a lot of tension from time to time. You have to put techniques in place to ensure everyone succeeds in finding their place. To create, you need a little friction because everyone has to succeed in getting their idea across. It’s a job that brings a lot of rewards when you succeed, but it’s a tough job.”
The problem with the word friction: it can be related to the sexual harassment that happened inside Ubisoft, which we first heard about in the summer of 2020, and several people left (or were fired) because of it. Except that A Better Ubisoft, which could be considered a workers’ union (which is demanding changes), said in July that for a year, they had heard nothing but kind words, empty promises, and a lack of will or ability to remove known perpetrators…
Guillemot recently reacted to this on Gamesindustry, saying that they had done a lot and acted quickly when such cases came to light (firing the people involved), and adding that there was no place in Ubisoft or the games industry for toxicity. The reply could be described as PR talk. It also applies to his statement sent to PCGamer, “When I spoke of there sometimes being friction, I was thinking of the creative tension that is common and vital in innovative companies like ours, where people have the freedom to challenge ideas and have heated but healthy debates. Strong policies, values and corresponding procedures are essential to prevent this tension from becoming negative or to address it if it does. Over the past two and half years, we have made a lot of progress on that front to deliver safe and great experiences to all of our teams. Healthy, respectful working environments are our top priority, and we’re pleased to say that according to our latest surveys, our team members are reassured that we are on the right track.”
Couldn’t he have used a different phrase…?