Inside Activision Blizzard’s Level Up U Training Program

In order to better compete in the future of gaming, Activision Blizzard is using part of its $250 million diversity fund to launch the Level Up U program to educate game developers. The program aims to train nonindustry professionals alongside experienced industry professionals to become talented game developers.


The company’s CEO, Bobby Kotick, said, “Talent and diversity have always been critical to our success.”


This is the first significant program that Activision Blizzard is funding from the diversity fund, which was created in 2021. “The rapid growth of the industry, including our franchises, has made it clear that we need to find new ways to attract and grow talent,” Kotick explained. “This is the first of many Level Up U programs, and our plan is to expand to other skills areas such as art and animation. I am incredibly excited about the potential of Level Up U.” 


What To Expect From Activision Blizzard’s Level Up U

Tad Leckman has been named dean of Level Up U. The industry and development veteran has over 20 years of experience creating training programs at Lucasfilm Animation (the makers of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and The Land Before Time films), Riot Games, Blizzard Entertainment, and Industrial Light & Magic, which is the visual effects company founded by George Lucas in 1975.

Trainees in the Level Up U program spend 12 weeks learning through on-site and online training courses. The inaugural class of trainees is composed of 104 candidates who are joining the company as full-time employees. Upon completion of the program, the class will continue to receive guidance, through mentorship and coaching, from experienced employees as they integrate into new positions that best fit their skill set.


“We looked at a broader set of skills, experiences, and capabilities that we believe matter most to an employee’s success at Activision Blizzard and revisited where those skills exist in the market,” stated Julie Hodges, the chief people officer at the Southern California-based video game company.

“We hope this will lead to greater talent mobility within Activision Blizzard and in the games industry.” In addition, the company noted that the first class enrolled in the Level Up U program is made up of 40% underrepresented ethnic groups and 45% women and nonbinary participants.



According to the company, “We understand there is still work to do, and we continue our efforts by focusing on our people, culture, content, and communities.”


What Is the Diversity Fund?

In October 2021, the company committed to investing $250 million to fund initiatives over the next decade to bolster opportunities in technology and gaming for marginalized communities. “Diversity fuels innovation, so we are creating an environment where differences are embraced, valued, celebrated, and always welcomed,” stated Activision Blizzard.

“Our best work comes from a culture in which our employees bring their authentic and best selves — we work hard to create an environment that encourages and celebrates this belief. And we are proud that we have been recognized for our efforts, including being named one of the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index in 2019 and 2020.”

According to the company, “Across our organization, fostering an inclusive culture where employees feel valued, heard, and a sense of belonging is mission critical. One way we are working toward this is through the expansion of our employee network groups, which create opportunities for cultural awareness, professional development, networking, community involvement, and player connections.

These groups are inclusive by design and are open to all employees.” These are all steps in the right direction for the video game company responsible for games such as Call of Duty, Crash Bandicoot, and Overwatch.


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