Update: Check out Naughty Dog’s official response regarding the sexual harassment claim.
Former Naughty Dog Environment Artist and Multiplayer Level Layout Artist David Ballard has come forward with allegations of sexual harassment. Ballard says that the incident occurred in late 2015, and that his working environment became increasingly toxic due to the harasser being a lead. According to Ballard, when he went to the Sony PlayStation human resources department in February 2016 (after suffering from a mental breakdown), he was fired the next day. Ballard says he was then offered $20,000 to stay quiet about the ordeal, but he declined the offer.
Ballard worked twice for Naughty Dog, and worked on a number of games including Uncharted 2–4, and The Last of Us. His first stint for the company was from 2009 to 2014, he then spent a year at Ubisoft San Francisco as a Senior Environment Artist only to return to Naughty Dog in May 2015. His most recent stint at the company ended in 2016, after the allegations occurred.
Here’s the full message that Ballard posted on Twitter:
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 $20,000 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.
As Ballard mentions, many people in the television and film industry have recently spoken out about alleged sexual harassment by producer Harvey Weinstein. Hopefully this will lead to more victims speaking out in the future, and sexual predators will realize that there are penalties to their behavior. Sony nor Naughty Dog has yet to comment on the matter, and we’ll update the story when they do.