There isn’t going to be an episode of The Crate & Crowbar this week.
At present, the games development community is working through the consequences of the abuse allegations that began early last week and continue to the present. Many of our friends and peers in the industry are struggling or in pain – these are not circumstances where we’re able to go about business as usual.
We are working through the aftermath of the last couple of weeks ourselves, a process that takes time and affects everyone differently. Even so, it feels vital that we use the platform that we have to offer support and draw attention to resources that might help people. However, we don’t feel that this is something best achieved through the usual podcast format.
We don’t have the benefit of legal aid to help us navigate this territory, and we do not want to cause anyone additional pain or compel the public examination of trauma by people who do not wish for the additional scrutiny. Pip has invested a lot of time and energy into finding the best and most responsible ways that we might begin a discussion of this subject as journalists and podcasters, but this has taken a toll too.
Reading every account of abuse is hard and raises issue after issue. However, we feel that it’s vital that those with influence in this industry – especially those who had the privilege of not hearing any of these accounts until they became public or who have the privilege to choose to look away when they’ve had enough – do the same reading. Because the allegations that have arisen illustrate how abuses of power can occur in every kind of development environment. They show how incidents like lack of support for work visas, not communicating, not paying invoices on time and so on increase people’s vulnerability and make it harder to speak up.
The people at most risk and in most pain cannot also be expected to shoulder the burden of changing an industry. It’s on everyone who makes games or manages a studio to reflect on what has been said and how it relates to their own corner of the industry. And to continue to do so even when the news cycle has moved on.
We’ll provide links below to the original accounts, as well as responsible reporting that provides additional context.
We also recognise – as former podcaster Graham Smith noted in his article for RPS on August 27th – that creative people want to be known, ultimately, for their work. In that spirit we’re going to close off this post with links to games that we’ve found helpful recently. Some of the creators of these games are directly affected by last week’s allegations – others are not. But if you tend to come to us for game recommendations then we’d encourage you to support these projects – particularly if the last few weeks have left you uncertain about how to enjoy games responsibly.
We’ll aim to be back with a regular-length episode of the podcast either next week or the week after. In the meantime, thanks for reading.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US), Crisis Services Canada (CA), Samaritans (UK), or Lifeline (AUS). If you are outside of these regions, check this list for a hotline in your country.
Accounts and reporting
Content note: abuse, sexual assault, suicide, mental health issues.
- Nathalie Lawhead’s blog post accusing composer Jeremy Soule of sexual misconduct.
- Nathalie’s follow up post, which addresses the aftermath of the allegations and the broader cultural issues surrounding abuse and victimhood in the games industry.
- Cecilia D’Anastasio’s reporting for Kotaku on the Soule allegations.
- Zoë Quinn’s Twitter account is now locked, but this article by Nicole Carpenter for Polygon provides an outline of their allegations against Alec Holowka and the initial response from Scott Benson.
- This reddit repost of a Kickstarter backer update by Scott Benson provides additional context.
- Scott Benson’s follow-up Medium post, written after Alec Holowka’s death, goes into greater detail. It is useful particularly because it highlights how little visibility social media provides into the truth of games development and developer’s personal lives.
- Graham Smith’s article for RPS about the Soule and Holowka allegations also details a set of accusations against Splash Damage’s Luc Shelton.
- Graham has also written about accusations against Cultist Simulator developer Alexis Kennedy.
Games you should try
- Sunless Skies by Failbetter Games
- The Haunted Island, a Frog Detective Game by Grace Bruxner
- Everything Is Going To Be OK by alienmelon
- A Short Hike by adamgryu
- Depression Quest by Zoë Quinn.
- Stones of Solace by Dziff
- Burly Men At Sea by Brain&Brain