Toxic atmosphere and abuse at Fullbright: the head of the studio behind Gone Home has resigned!

Games have been under fire lately for everything from hateful comments to sexual assault, and it hasn’t been an easy time for the games industry. But perhaps the most disturbing of all is the lack of awareness that many people have about the subject of sexual harassment, and the way it is presented in the media. Games, in any case, have a long history of fostering abusive relationships, with unhealthy and unsafe workplace cultures.

Over the past few years, Fullbright – the game studio behind Journey and Gone Home and the forthcoming Tacoma – has been increasingly associated with controversy. The company is based in Seattle, where violent protests have broken out in response to the death of a black man at the hands of police. Recently, Fullbright’s co-founder Steve Gaynor made a series of controversial comments questioning the company’s working environment.

Last week, Fullbright ‘s studio game Gone Home creator Steve Gaynor resigned from the company, after a personal blog post detailed a toxic work environment for women at the company. Gaynor said he had been pressured into taking the post down, and that the internet backlash had made him reconsider what he was doing.

Open Roads, Fullbright’s next game, is presently under development, but it has not been without issues.

 

Open Roads, Fullbright’s next narrative feature from the makers of Gone Home and Tacoma, is having trouble getting off the ground. The issue is the studio’s director, Steve Gaynor, who has created a poisonous and prejudiced environment. 15 workers have departed the business since development started, 10 of them are women.

Polygon has obtained the testimony of 12 former studio workers who testified anonymously about how Gaynor’s treatment of staff drove them to resign as their only choice. Gaynor was characterized by ex-employees as a domineering individual who made Fullbright an environment where they were continuously belittled. Employees confessed that they were afraid of being blacklisted by the business if they spoke out about their boss’s attitude, despite the fact that he was well-liked in the field (the greatest issue with brilliant creatives who are also psychopaths – to put it kindly).

Some former Fullbright workers have said that they are no longer employed in the sector. Their testimonials claim that although they did not directly encounter or witness sexual harassment or blatant sexism, the studio’s messaging to users were intended to provide the impression of inclusivity. Female workers were exposed to a series of microaggressions at the same time.

Gaynor quit in March, according to Fullbright, because “women were leaving the business.” While Steve Gaynor was still in control, they attempted to address the issue by trying to enhance the working atmosphere. The studio mentioned “dramatic efforts to enhance the team’s wellness.” They also discussed their collaboration with Annapurna Interactive. The game was financed by this business, which also stated that Annapurna was aware of the issue and assisted in reorganizing the studio.

Steve Gaynor has sent an open letter to Polygon apologizing for his behavior as project manager and calling his treatment of Fullbright employees “offensive.” Former studio workers have informed us about their experiences working on different games, saying that despite the fact that everyone was close and supportive, believing in the product as something wonderful the team had produced, Gaynor was unable to work as part of a team.

 

The stereotypical masculine chauvinist, Steve Gaynor

 

We may also learn about the status of women in high positions at Fullbright and their connection with Gaynor from this article. It was characterized as a continuous stream of microaggressions working with him. They said that their job was made difficult by having to approve small things all of the time, and that Gaynor continually dismissed and discredited them.

A former employee stated, “His weapon of choice was to laugh at individuals but also to humiliate them publicly.” These facts were verified by six additional former workers. However, due to the company’s size and structure, reporting these abuses was very difficult, since there was no human resources department to turn to for assistance.

Employees who were unable to disclose the issue tried different measures to alert Annapurna, including putting notes on the company’s server. Annapurna also received statements from members who had left the studio, as well as a letter from another employee. After the departure of key personnel between 2020 and 2021, recruiting got more difficult. Several talented women were reluctant to be recruited because of concerns about Gaynor’s treatment of them, according to Polygon sources.

 

Several employees admitted that they had to go to therapy after their time at Fullbright because they felt they had changed after their time in the studio and described themselves as being ‘consumed’ by Gaynor. On the other hand, the middle managers regretted leaving because they felt they had let down those for whom they had acted as a ‘buffer’ (cushioning the pressure on the workers – ed.). Although Gaynor is no longer at the helm of Open Roads, he is still involved in the project as a writer, although he no longer maintains contact with the rest of the Fullbright team.

Some former colleagues on the project are concerned about Gaynor’s involvement in the game’s writing, claiming that a guy who can continually insult the women around him should not be creating a narrative about a man mother and daughter. One former Fullbright employee screamed, “It makes me sick to my stomach to think that someone who abuses women this way in real life — and has no apparent intention of changing – can still create a narrative for a game about women.” And with good reason.

 

Polygon is the source of this information.

Zoe Quinn, the co-founder of the independent game studio Fullbright, has announced that she’s leaving the studio following sexual harassment allegations against her ex-boyfriend.. Read more about fulbright scholarship and let us know what you think.

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