Season developer Scavenger Studio suspends co-founder amid abuse allegationsPlatforms: All
Scavenger Studio made big waves at The Game Awards for their evocative teaser for Season, but now the studio has been hit by controversy following allegations of abuse levelled at co-founder and creative director Simon Darveau.
A scathing GameIndustry.biz report revealed that Darveau had been accused of various abuses towards employees, including verbal abuse, sexist behaviour and sexual assault. The accusations were not limited to just Darveau, as other male employees were named, but he was a central figure in the claims.
The studio has now indefinitely suspended Darveau, and an external audit firm has been called in to assess Scavengers' work culture and practices.
In a note posted to the studio website, co-founder and CEO Amélie Lamarche said, "Following the toxic workplace allegations brought forward in the media, Scavengers Studio wishes to apologize for the harm caused. Allegations such as these are serious, and we are committed to doing better for our employees, our fans and our partners."
Lamarche will also be temporarily stepping down from her role as CEO while the audit takes places as she was also implicated as a significant part of the studio's problems, due to her romantic relationship with Darveau, which created a conflict of interest in her role as the small studio's de factor HR officer. It is alleged that she helped shield Darveau from any consequences for his actions, exacerbating an already toxic environment.
Upon completing the audit, the results will be shared with the studio staff and subsequently presented to the board of directors to take further action where necessary.
While the studio works through this situation, one of the witnesses who spoke to GameIndustry.biz captured the complicated nature of this story; reconciling your support of a work that many good people worked hard on, with a studio culture that is toxic and dangerous.
"If half of what [I know of Season] is true then the game is going to be great, and I do not want to remove that from all my friends who are working on it. But I also do not feel comfortable with Scavengers being praised as a fun, cool, indie, inclusive place."
This is a message that is worth taking on. Perhaps Season will be worth our time, but the circumstances surrounding the studio responsible need to be known so we can make informed decisions.
Hopefully, the guilty people can be completely removed from the studio and the industry at large, it's the only way things will get better, and we put all our support behind the victims who come forward.