Jeremy Soule. Alec Holowka. Alexis Kennedy. Luc Shelton. Michael Antonov. Marc Ten Bosch. Vlad Micu. These are some of the men facing allegations of abusive behavior as the #MeToo movement comes to games.
This deluge of accusations began on Monday when developer Nathalie Lawhead wrote a blog post to accuse The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim composer Jeremey Soule of rape. As an act of solidarity with Lawhead, fellow developer Zoe Quinn posted an allegation of abusive behavior about Night in the Woods co-designer Alec Holowka.
But to ensure that we are tracking and documenting these accusations, I am collecting them here. I am also including accusations made publicly by a named individual or individuals. As game developer Jessica Price explains, anonymous allegations are worth considering, but we are going to follow up on those before entering them into the record.
In addition to Lawhead, vocalist Aeralie Brighton also accused Soule of inappropriate and abusive behavior. Brighton has worked on Minecraft and Ori and the Blind Forest, but back in 2014 she alleged that Soule sent her a video of him masturbating, according to a post on her Facebook page. When she told him that wasn’t what she wanted, she alleges that he blocked her from working on a project.
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About Brighton, Soule told Kotaku that he doesn’t agree with her characterization. The composer also denied Lawhead’s accusations.
“These 11-year-old allegations are false,” Soule told Kotaku. “I am shocked and saddened that these outrageous claims have been made.”
In their tweets, Quinn alleges that Holowka abused them physically and emotionally. Holowka has not posted any response, and I have not been able to reach him.
But the team that developed Night in the Woods with him has posted a statement on Twitter.
This week, allegations of past abuse have come to light regarding Alec Holowka, who was coder, composer, and co-designer on Night In The Woods. We take such allegations seriously as a team. As a result and after some agonizing consideration, we are cutting ties with Alec.
— Night In The Woods (@NightInTheWoods) August 28, 2019
As part of cutting ties with Holowka, Night in the Woods co-creators Scott Benson and Bethany Hockenberry say they are canceling a followup project they were also working on with Holowka.
Update on August 31: Holowka’s sister says he committed suicide.
Updated on October 18, 2021: Kennedy has denied all of the accusations against him. And in the years since this story posted, Kennedy has had his studio Weather Factory reach out to GamesBeat to further protest the representation of the allegations against him.
Weather Factory director and Alexis Kennedy’s partner, Lottie Bevan, requested that we clarify that Kennedy had never been accused of sexual harassment. Instead, he was only accused of using his power to leverage sexual relationships from women trying to get their start in the industry.
In a thread, game designer and writer Meg Jayanth accused Kennedy, who is one of the cofounders of Failbetter Games. Game writer Olivia Wood backed up those accusations. Wood claimed that Kennedy used his position to prey on her and other young employees for sex. And then when those relationships would end, Wood alleges that Kennedy would use his position to belittle her and other women.
Bevan notes that she is one of the women that Wood is referring to, and she provided the following statement:
“I categorically refute her statements about Alexis’s character, my own treatment by him, and his treatment of women in general at Failbetter Games.”
In his denial, Kennedy said that he had only consensual relationships, and he is calling the cops about what he calls a “campaign of harassment.”
In response to this, Failbetter posted a statement on Twitter.
We believe and stand with everyone who has come forward to speak out about Alexis Kennedy tonight.
— Failbetter Games (@failbettergames) August 28, 2019
Bevan added that Failbetter Games has never provided evidence to support the allegations against Kennedy.
Gardner said that he hurt her during sex and wouldn’t stop even when she asked him to. She also alleged that he would text her about how she was not allowed to take photos of his home. And when she stayed with him, she said he wouldn’t give her a way to get back into his home when he wasn’t around. She said if she left, she would end up locked outside for hours.
Shelton has not posted any public statement, and he has not responded to my requests.
Antonov is one of the cofounders of Oculus VR. In a thread on Twitter, Autumn Rose Taylor alleges that Antonov took her to a hotel room to show her demos of VR games. But while in VR, she claims that Antonov began putting his hands up her skirt.
Antonov no longer works at Oculus or Facebook. I have reached out to him for a comment, but he has not responded to my requests.
I also reached out to Oculus because Taylor says that this assault happened at one of the company’s events.
Marc Ten Bosch
In her own Twitter thread, game developer Carrie Witt alleges that Bosch aggressively harassed her over multiple days of an industry event. She says that he would touch her and put his arm around her.
What made all of this worse is that no one around her stepped in to end the harassment. And when she did bring it up, people laughed it off. Witt says she tries to avoid industry events now because of this experience.
Bosch is an indie developer. He has not returned my requests for a comment. And he has not made any public statements.
In the wake of the other #MeToo stories, game developer Mina Vanir resurfaced her Facebook post from October 2018 about Vlad Micu.
Vanir claims that Micu continued attempting to initiate sex even after she told him “no.” On top of that, when she tried to explain that his behavior wasn’t OK, he blamed her for not being clear enough. During that alleged conversation, Micu also brought up how he attempted to assess her willingness by rubbing his erection on her.
Micu is a business developer at Data Realms. He has not returned my requests for a statement. He has not publicly addressed the accusations.
Apology: In my original post, I misgendered an individual. I have corrected this, and I’m sorry.
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