Back in 2018, Guardian editor Keza MacDonald wrote that “the video games industry isn’t yet ready for its #MeToo moment.” But whether or not or not that’s nonetheless true, persons are trying to carry abusers and their enablers accountable. Over the previous day, a number of high-profile males within the video game trade have been accused of sexual assault. Many of the accusations are years previous — in some instances, greater than a decade — they usually all level to a poisonous atmosphere the place developers not solely need to stay with a relentless worry of abuse, but additionally the numerous skilled and private repercussions of outing their abusers.
Things began with a prolonged weblog publish from artist and game designer Nathalie Lawhead, bluntly titled “calling out my rapist.” In it, she accuses Jeremy Soule, a longtime game composer behind sequence like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls, of rape whereas the 2 have been working collectively at an unnamed video games studio in Vancouver in 2008. The publish additionally factors to a severely degraded work atmosphere following the assault, during which Lawhead was disrespected at work, needed to struggle for pay, and was finally let go from her job. These claims are backed up by in depth documentation within the kind of dozens of emails.
“I share not expecting to be able to get through the backlash, the lying, the excuses, the gaslighting happening all over again, the fanbase that might come after me because that’s just what happens in games, or hearing more of ‘his side of the story,’” Lawhead’s publish reads. “My side of the story was never given a chance. I’m willing to try. I’m sharing this hoping that there will be information about him out there so other women can be informed.”
Following Lawhead’s publish, others began talking up. Zoe Quinn — developer of video games like Depression Quest, author of Crash Override, and a focus of the misogynistic Gamergate motion — posted a harrowing account on Twitter, recounting alleged abuse from indie developer Alec Holowka, greatest identified for his work on Aquaria and Night within the Woods. “I’ve been silent about this for almost my entire career and I can’t do it anymore,” Quinn wrote. The publish consists of disturbing accounts that embrace Quinn hiding in a toilet to keep away from an assault. It additionally notes that Quinn was impressed to come back ahead partly as a result of of Lawhead’s publish, which Quinn says “shook me to my core.”
In an announcement on Twitter, Scott Benson, who labored with Holowka on Night within the Woods, wrote that “we believe Zoe’s account of Alec’s actions, we’re very sad and very angry.”
A 3rd incident got here to gentle when indie developer Adelaide Gardner wrote a prolonged Twitter thread accusing Luc Shelton, a programmer at British studio Splash Damage, of sustained psychological and bodily abuse two years in the past. “It’s been two years and every once in a while, like now, I realize I’m still terrified of him,” Gardner wrote. “He’s a country away and I will never see him again and he has no way of contacting me, and I’m just as scared of him as the day I left his flat for the last time.”
Women and non-binary individuals within the trade, together with Insomniac Games author Mary Kenney, have equally come out since with their very own tales of abuse and harassment. At the identical time, others, like Mina Vanir, have introduced up older accusations that beforehand obtained comparatively little consideration.
This isn’t the primary time males within the video game trade have been accused of sexual abuse or assault. But the sheer quantity of tales — which solely appears to be rising — coupled with the prominence of these being accused makes this second really feel notably vital, and hopefully one thing that can really result in notable change for an trade the place sexism, abuse, and poisonous habits are each widespread and systemic.
We’ve reached out to Splash Damage and Elder Scrolls writer Bethesda Softworks, employers of two of the accused, and can replace this story if we obtain a response.