At Scavengers Studio, the creator of the battle royale game “Darwin Project,” the co-founder has been accused of power harassment. Overseas media GamesIndustry.biz reported on January 26, based on the testimony of nine staff members who are currently enrolled in the studio and have retired.
Scavengers Studio is an indie studio with about 40 people based in Montreal, Canada. He has worked on a unique battle royale game “Darwin Project” in the form of a reality program, and is currently developing a bicycle road trip game “Season”. There were power harassment charges against co-founder and creative director Simon Darveau of the studio. It also included discrimination against women.
Most of the nine witnesses testified that Scavengers Studio had a male-dominated culture led by Simon Darveau. Female staff were said to have been discriminated against and sexually harassed by Darveau and other male staff. For example, in a meeting or a meeting on the Web, even if you explain your work, you do not understand it intentionally, or you make inappropriate statements about your appearance and clothes.
Also, when he suggested that Abby, the main character of the new work “Season” under development, be able to play the guitar, he said, “The guitar is too complicated for female Abby. You can use the ukulele instead.” That’s it. The target of discrimination against women extends to game characters, and the depth of the problem can be seen.
One of the big events in the studio was the sudden resignation of a female staff member in mid-2018. CEO Amélie Lamarche said the staff had a relationship with the alleged Darveau and explained the background to the resignation to other staff. Darveau and Lamarche are allegedly in a lover relationship, and it is suspected that the female staff did not quit on their own initiative, but rather quit in retaliation.
In addition, Darveau said that he often touched the body of female staff when drinking alcohol at a studio party, and one of the witnesses said that Darveau at that time was “completely predator mode”. There is. Darveau also described himself as an “estrus dog” and blamed alcohol for not being able to control himself. Some female staff members left the studio in response to such sexual harassment.
In the wake of this incident, the upper management of the studio conducted a survey by an outsider. Since then, the studio has reduced the amount of alcohol served at events, and Darveau has changed his attitude to avoid drinking alcohol during work.
Power harassment has also been raised against Simon Darveau. According to testimony, he sometimes described one staff member as “incapable” or “dismissed” in front of other staff members. He called the staff to the conference room and shouted with Lamarche several times so that he could hear them outside, and some staff quit shortly afterwards.
He also said that no clear criteria were given for promotion and salary increases, and that even if he requested the promised compensation, he was refused because his work was not enough. Many witnesses felt that Darveau saw the staff as “disposable.” On the other hand, programmers who have been in the studio for a long time are said to have been heavily used by Mr. Darveau. The good news, though, is that they often looked down on QA (quality control) staff and community managers.
* The server of “Darwin Project” was shut down in January this year, leaving a part.
Some witnesses have described Darveau as a charismatic and energetic person. However, at the same time, he has a strong self-righteous side, and it is pointed out that the reason why the “Darwin Project” eventually reduced the service significantly is due to his personality who does not listen to human advice. He wasn’t planning to be involved in the development of the new Season, but he decided to participate as a result, and he seems to be worried that the direction of the game will be blurred in the studio.
Scavengers Studio issued a statement following the accusation. In the future, under the direction of Mr. Amélie Lamarche, we will establish a policy to prevent harassment and conduct staff training. He also revealed that he has hired specialized staff for personnel operations that have not been properly dealt with so far, and has begun efforts to improve the working environment. On the other hand, he pointed out that the testimony content reported by GamesIndustry.biz contained errors. He didn’t say what part he specifically refers to because of privacy issues.
Like other industries, the game industry has been accusated of harassment in recent years, and this Scavengers Studio case is one of them. There have been examples of charismatic creators running out of control. For example, in the case of Lab Zero Games, the developer of “Skullgirls,” the main staff resigned and the person was isolated (related article). Scavengers Studio seems to have chosen to rebuild as an organization.
The studio’s new work “Season” is under development for PC / PS5. The release date is undecided.