Recently, many individuals have come forward to speak their truth regarding experiences with sexual, physical and emotional abuse within the games industry. While it seemed confined to the film industry for some time, over the past week it has become clear to those who did not already know that the games industry can be just as toxic, as is the case with Night in the Woods.
Four days ago, developer Zoe Quinn posted a thread on Twitter recounting an abusive relationship with one of the three developers behind Night in the Woods. Two days later, the others on the team — Scott Benson and Bethany Hockenberry — posted their own thread on the game’s Twitter account detailing their response to Quinn’s story and others’. Not only have they decided to separate themselves from their coworker, but they canceled their next project and a physical launch of Night in the Woods is now on hold. Though noting how tough the decision was for them, the developers were sure to acknowledge the validity of everyone’s sentiment, a response not often heard from groups associated with abusers. The two also apologized for the situation and were met with more positive responses than negative.
This came following a sexual assault allegation against the Elder Scrolls series’ longtime composer, Jeremy Soule. In the days since, many women and non-binary individuals have taken the steps to let their stories be heard. In doing so, they have put a very public eye on something not often talked about in the games industry. Given its start as a very male-dominated field, outdated power dynamics are in place that make victims of abuse and assault scared to come forward. What furthers the oppressive atmosphere is the prevalence of men who, while not abusers themselves, keep quiet on the habits of those who are. Abusers often seek and thrive off of power
Many people flock to video games because whether we make or play them, they offer a unique way to escape and explore while allowing creators to flex their creative muscles. It is objectively a travesty that many within it feel the need to oppress their fellow artists. Now, the public are aware of just how far the games industry needs to come in order to be the inclusive, safe place it tries to present itself as.
For those who are in need, know you are never alone.
RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE (4673)