High-profile men in the gaming industry accused of sexual abuse

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Several prominent men in the video game industry have been accused of abusing women and non-binary individuals this week.

Game designer Nathalie Lawhead sparked the conversation on social media on August 26 with a blog post titled “calling out my rapist.” Lawhead accused Jeremy Soule, a music composer for popular video games like “The Elder Scrolls,” of rape and abuse during their time working together at a Vancouver development studio.

A second woman, Aeralie Brighton, wrote a Facebook post claiming that Soule sent a video of himself masturbating to her and blocked her involvement in a professional project when she told him she only wanted a professional relationship. Brighton is a vocalist with credits on games like “Ori and the Blind Forest.”

The accusations against Soule led to a larger discussion about men in the gaming industry alleged to have used their status to abuse or harass other people.

Read more: An Oculus cofounder was accused of sexually assaulting a woman while she was wearing a VR headset during a demo

Zoe Quinn, a game designer and comic creator who was also central target of the GamerGate movement in 2014, said she was sexually assaulted and emotionally abused by Alec Holowka, who helped create popular indie titles “Aquaria” and “Night in the Woods.” Other game developers also shared negative experiences they say they had with Holowka in support of Quinn.

In response, the other creators of “Night in the Woods” announced that they would be cutting ties with Holowka and canceled an upcoming project as a result.

The conversation later turned to Luc Shelton, who works as a programmer for the British Studio Splash Damage. Adelaide Gardner, who produces content for table top games, said Shelton intentionally hid their relationship from other people and was sexually abusive.

Multiple people accused developer Alexis Kennedy of targeting and isolating young women in the gaming industry as romantic partners and using his position as a studio executive to intimidate others. Kennedy was the CEO and cofounder of Failbetter Games, an independent studio know for the games “Sunless Sea” and “Sunless Skies.”

Olivia Wood, a writer and editor at Failbetter, said she was in a two-year relationship with Kennedy that they hid from coworkers. Wood said Kennedy had affairs with other coworkers and prospective employees and became abusive in the workplace after they separated.

Another game designer, Emily Short, said Kennedy pushed boundaries and made her feel uncomfortable with sexual comments while she was working as a freelancer with Failbetter. Failbetter released a statement in support of Kennedy’s accusers, and said it had no longer had any personal, creative, or financial ties to him.

Kennedy denied engaging in predatory behavior and said he had a “small number of fully consensual relationships” with other people in the gaming industry. He claimed he would seek legal counsel and would make a police complaint against one of his accusers.

Autumn Rose Taylor, a marketing director in the virtual reality industry, said that Oculus cofounder Michael Antonov reached beneath her skirt and touched her inappropriately while she was wearing a VR headset during a private demo several years ago. In response to Taylor’s claim, Riot Games developer Katie Chironis said another Oculus employee sexually harassed her in front of several other employees and is still employed by the company.

The allegations have garnered widespread support from others in the video game industry and people on social media, with many advocating for the accused men to be stripped of their roles in the industry. Some people have advocated for the accused to have an opportunity to defend themselves, but only Kennedy has made a public statement following the string of accusations.

Business Insider has reached out to the men accused, but has yet to receive a response from any of them.



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