has just dropped a major story - several notable figures in the gaming industry are being publicly accused of sexual assault and rape
hings started with a lengthy blog post from artist and game designer Nathalie Lawhead, bluntly titled “calling out my rapist.” In it, she accuses Jeremy Soule, a longtime game composer behind series like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic and The Elder Scrolls, of rape while the two were working together at an unnamed games studio in Vancouver in 2008. The post also points to a severely degraded work environment following the assault, in which Lawhead was disrespected at work, had to fight for pay, and was ultimately let go from her job. These claims are backed up by extensive documentation in the form 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 post 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 post, others started speaking up. Zoe Quinn — developer of games like Depression Quest, author of Crash Override, and a focal point of the misogynistic Gamergate movement — posted a harrowing account on Twitter, recounting alleged abuse from indie developer Alec Holowka, best known for his work on Aquaria and Night in the Woods. “I’ve been silent about this for almost my entire career and I can’t do it anymore,” Quinn wrote. The post includes disturbing accounts that include Quinn hiding in a bathroom to avoid an attack. It also notes that Quinn was inspired to come forward in part because of Lawhead’s post, which Quinn says “shook me to my core.”
In a statement on Twitter, Scott Benson, who worked with Holowka on Night in the Woods, wrote that “we believe Zoe’s account of Alec’s actions, we’re very sad and very angry.”
A third incident came to light when indie developer Adelaide Gardner wrote a lengthy Twitter thread accusing Luc Shelton, a programmer at British studio Splash Damage, of sustained psychological and physical abuse two years ago. “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.”
There have been further stories coming out in the wake of these initial revelations, but the prominence of the people accused - most notably Soule, known for his work an a number of soundtracks for Bethesda titles - makes this feel like it has more impact, along with the gate opening that this seems to have primed. In many ways, this feels like a sword that had been hovering over the industry's head finally dropping.