One Developer Coming Forward Over Alleged Abuse Sparks Industry Movement

One Developer Coming Forward Over Alleged Abuse Sparks Industry Movement

Allegations of abuse have risen this week against Skyrim composer Jeremy Soule, Night in the Woods co-creator Alec Holowka, and more.

Over the past few days, several people have come forward with public, named accusations of sexual abuse and assault against well-known members of the games industry. Jeremy Soule, composer on The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim, and Night in the Woods co-creator Alec Holowka are among those named in allegations from people working in the industry. What started with one notable accusation has become many, as more and more are feeling it's time to make their stories public.

On Monday afternoon, Tetrageddon Games developer Nathalie Lawhead posted a blog to their website, accusing a former employer of mistreatment and composer Jeremy Soule of rape. "What I didn't share, when talking about my experiences [with a Vancouver game development studio], is that I was raped by Jeremy Soule while I was working there," they wrote.

Through the course of their post, Lawhead details meeting Soule at a Christmas party in Vancouver and gradually getting to know him. Then, according to their account, it got "darker and darker."

"He made advances on me and I explained that I didn't want this and wanted a friendship. He was very threatening, and didn't listen. He made it clear that it's 'him or bust.' He raped me," Lawhead says.

Soule has since closed all public-facing contact. In a statement to Kotaku he denied Lawhead's accusations, and replied to another vocalist's allegations, saying he "does not agree with her point of view." We also reached out to Lawhead for further comment, but did not receive any by publication. Materia Collective, who was set to publish Soule's Kickstarter album, says it has "terminated [its] working relationship with Jeremy Soule."

In the wake of this news, others in games began to come forward. Zoe Quinn, current writer of the DC comic Goddess Mode, accused Alec Holowka of emotional abuse and assault. Scott Benson, a co-creator of Night in the Woods, has since said on Twitter that the Night in the Woods team takes these allegations seriously, and that they won't be working with Holowka in the future. Benson elaborated in a series of tweets on the official Night in the Woods account:

USgamer has reached out to both Quinn and Holowka for further comment, but has not received a response from either at this time.

Following Quinn's post, content creator Adelaide Gardner shared that she had been assaulted by Splash Damage developer Luc Shelton in the past. Gardner spoke briefly with USG, confirming the facts so far and that she had publicly tweeted twice about Shelton's action in the past, once in September 2018 and again in June 2019. Speaking to RockPaperShotgun, Shelton denied the allegations.

Narrative designer Meg Jayanth accused Factory Weather co-founder Alexis Kennedy of abuse. Writer Olivia Wood at Failbetter Games, a studio co-founded by Kennedy before he left in 2016, has also tweeted her account of a relationship with Kennedy, who she says became verbally aggressive toward her after they broke up.

Kennedy has since stated on Twitter that he denies Jayanth's allegations, though he has not responded to our inquiries. We've reached out to Jayanth as well, who says her tweets are the only public statement she's making at the moment.

Several industry members have been speaking up alongside the alleged, voicing their support and sharing similar stories they've heard. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, more victims are feeling empowered to speak up and take action, as well as vocalize solidarity with these victims.

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Eric Van Allen

News Editor

Eric is a writer and Texan. He's a former contributor to sites including Compete, Polygon, Waypoint, and the Washington Post. He loves competitive games, live music, and travel.

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