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caption: Players would enter up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A and Start on a controller to activate the "Konami code." It was first used in the game Gradius, but later made famous on Nintendo with Contra.
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Players would enter up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A and Start on a controller to activate the "Konami code." It was first used in the game Gradius, but later made famous on Nintendo with Contra.
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Contract workers at Nintendo of America say they faced years of sexual harassment

A new investigation by the video game website and blog Kotaku details a "frat house" experience for female game testers at Nintendo of America, testimony that runs against the company's image of family friendly gaming.

"Multiple women had men hitting on them at boozy events with their colleagues," said Kotaku reporter Sisi Jiang. "And this was something that they felt like they had to deal with in order to work at the most famous gaming company in the world."

Jiang's reporting details harassment from older male Nintendo employees toward younger female game testers. In the case of one manager, Jiang was told he made sexual comments to a source about a woman they both worked with.

"My source was very disturbed by the incident, because he didn't want to think of her that way. And [the manager] had managerial power over him," Jiang said.

Game testers frequently work on a contract basis, meaning their employment at Nintendo of America is less certain in the long term. Jiang said the uncertainty around long-term work at Nintendo — a company that many contract workers revere — made it more difficult for female employees to speak out against managers.

This was a particular issue with another manager, according to Jiang.

"Women would avoid raising a fuss because [he] had the power to decide who was coming back for the next contract cycle," Jiang explained. "If he didn't like you, then you were quietly gone."

Managers work at Nintendo for years, if not decades, with credits on major game titles like "Mario Kart: Double Dash" and "Pokémon." Because of their higher roles in the company, female testers also told Jiang that advancing at the company meant cozying up to managers like this. Testing is a skilled and rigorous job, and women frequently left for other jobs to avoid further exploitation.

Listen to Libby Denkmann's full conversation with Sisi Jiang by clicking the audio above. You can read Jiang's full reporting for Kotaku here.

Update notice: This story was updated on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022 at 3:53 p.m.