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Riot Games Asks Employees to Return to HQ Without Masks or Vaccine Requirements

Abhimannu Das
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Highlights
Riot Games' Los Angeles HQ policies have left some employees unhappy with how it is handling the return to the physical workplace.
The publisher has not made masks and vaccines mandatory at the workplace which has left a lot of employees scared.
Riot is following all government protocols in Los Angeles but some employees are concerned and have even resigned from the company.

Valorant developer Riot Games has asked its employees to return to the Los Angeles headquarters without having any mask or vaccine requirements in place. The decision has led to fear among employees and some employees have also resigned from the company. Riot Games is yet to address the issue but it has stated that communication channels are open for all employees to address their grievances.

In an interview with VICE Waypoint, a current Riot employee anonymously said, “It's a foolish and pointless policy being done at a poor time, and being handled without real guarantee of our safety. We're just playing Russian roulette with Rioters’ health.”

Game development was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a number of high-profile releases being delayed as a number of developers started working from home. Workplaces have transitioned to hybrid or remote work in some cases while others are returning to traditional workspaces.

The controversy at Riot began after chief security officer Christopher Hymes sent a Slack message to employees stating that mask mandates and other restrictions under the COVID-19 policy were being dropped. Employees who have not been vaccinated do not need to test, which is sending employees into a state of fear.

Riot Games was following all public health recommendations from state and global government entities when the pandemic began according to the report. With the regulations being updated in the United States, Riot followed suit. Riot strongly recommends wearing maks but does not make it mandatory as per its latest guidelines.

Some of the steps Riot has taken to keep employees safe include a partnership with a third-party janitorial team that offers COVID-specific cleaning protocols and daily health risk assessment. Free N95 masks are also being provided to employees who want them.

Despite the widespread fears with the Riot workplace, the publisher is operating exactly like the local government in Los Angeles. Some employees are unhappy with the government regulations, which also means that they disagree with how Riot is handling things. Some employees are leaving the company over its policy changes.

After the report by VICE was released, a Riot Games executive reached out to the publication and stated that there are communication channels that have been opened to all employees. It stated, “we created dedicated slack channels for each so that questions could be more easily directed to the senior executives and subject matter experts who can best answer them."

While Riot Games is following protocol and abiding by guidelines set by the state government, it is understandable why some employees are afraid of the non-mandatory mask and vaccination requirements. Riot has not publicly addressed the issue and it remains to be seen if it makes any changes to its workplace policies.

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Abhimannu is a part of the content team at AFK Gaming and a lifelong obsessive gamer. He currently covers esports titles like VALORANT, CS: GO, Call of Duty, Fortnite, PUBG and more.