An investigation into Trendy Entertainment, the studio which produced Dungeon Defenders and is currently working on a sequel, has highlighted accusations of mismanagement, institutional sexism and a permanent crunch mode which sees employees working 80 hour weeks.
The report, compiled by Jason Schreier at Kotaku, is the result of conversations with several ex and current employees at the studio, many of whom corroborate stories of a threatening, bullying management which allegedly pays women less than men and enforces unsustainable work regimes.
Singled out for particular responsibility is Jeremy Stieglitz, company president and, until very recently, project lead on Dungeon Defenders 2. Since the claims arose, Stieglitz has been taken away from the project, but remains at the company. Stieglitz stands accused of refusing to talk to women directly, instead shouting at them from outside the room, requesting that female characters be more sexualised - including robotic characters which he allegedly suggested should also be "aged under 18 robot years," - and scrapping months of work to change the direction of the game to mimic that of League of Legends.
Stieglitz himself has reportedly refused to respond to requests for explanation by Schreier and Kotaku, but Trendy management has issued a statement which tacitly accepts that the company has endemic issues which must be addressed.
"Trendy is a fairly young indie videogame developer experiencing some of the unfortunate issues associated with new companies finding their footing: long hours, quick growth, and on-going challenges stemming from working in a highly creative environment. Our management is focused on continuing to grow and develop a positive workplace despite these challenges. We are excited for our upcoming release of Dungeon Defenders 2 and hope that consumers appreciate the results of our efforts."
In response to the expose, the IGDA has issued a statement which makes its position on the accusations clear, without making any statement of intent about which course of action, if any, it will take against Trendy.
"Studios engaging in excessive overtime injure the reputation of the entire game industry," the IGDA statement reads, "preventing top talent from entering and remaining in game development, and harming the goodwill of other studios that work rigorously to ensure quality of life for their developers...Further we believe that gender discrimination of any type has no place in the workplace and is completely unacceptable."