Back in 2018, Guardian editor Keza MacDonald wrote that "The video game industry is not yet ready for its # MeToo moment." But whether that is still true, people try to hold abusers and their enablers accountable. In the past day, several prominent men in the video game industry have been accused of sexual abuse. Many of the accusations are years old – in some cases more than ten years – and they all point to a toxic environment where developers must not only live with a constant fear of abuse, but also the significant professional and personal consequences of their abusers.
It started with a long blog post by artist and game designer Nathalie Lawhead, roughly titled & # 39;my rapist shouts. She accuses Jeremy Soule, an old game composer behind series such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls, of rape while the two worked together in 2008 in an unnamed game studio in Vancouver. The position also points to a seriously deteriorated work environment after the attack, in which Lawhead was not respected at work, had to fight to pay and eventually let her work go. These claims are supported by extensive documentation in the form of dozens of e-mails.
"I do not expect that because of the slack, the lying, the apologies, the gas light I can come all over again, the fan base that might come after me, because that is exactly what happens in games, or hear more about & # 39; his side of the story, & # 39; & # 39; read Lawhead's article: "My side of the story never got a chance. I am willing to try it. I share this in the hope that there will be information about it he will be so that other women can be informed. "
After Lawhead's post, others began to speak. Zoe Quinn – developer of games such as Depression Quest, author of Ignore Crash, and a point of interest of the misogynistic Gamergate movement – posted a gripping account on Twitter, in which he reported alleged abuse by indie developer Alec Holowka, best known for his work on aquariums and Night in the forest. "I am silent about this almost my entire career and I can no longer do it," wrote Quinn. The post contains disturbing accounts including Quinn hiding in a bathroom to prevent an attack. It also notes that Quinn was inspired to emerge in part because of the position of Lawhead, of which Quinn says, "shook me to my core."
In a statement on Twitter, Scott Benson, who worked with Holowka Night in the forest, wrote that "we believe that Zoe & # 39; s report of Alec & # 39; s actions, we are very sad and very angry."
A third incident came to light when indie developer Adelaide Gardner wrote a long Twitter thread that accused Luc Shelton, a programmer at the British studio Splash Damage, of continuing psychological and physical abuse two years ago. "It was two years ago and every now and then I realize that I'm still terrified of him," wrote Gardner. "He's a country away and I'll never see him again and he has no way of contacting me, and I'm just as scared of him as the day I last left his flat."
Women and non-binary people in the industry, including the writer of Insomniac Games, Mary Kenney, have since appeared in the same way with their own stories of abuse and intimidation. At the same time others, such as Mina Vanir, have raised older allegations that previously received relatively little attention.
This is not the first time men in the video game industry have been accused of sexual abuse or abuse. But the huge number of stories – that only seems to be growing – combined with the fame of those accused, makes this moment particularly important, and hopefully something that will actually lead to remarkable change for an industry where sexism, abuse and toxic behavior are both widespread and systemic.
We have contacted Splash Damage and Elder Scrolls publisher Bethesda Softworks, employers of two of the defendants, and will update this story if we receive a response.