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More developers come forward with accounts of emotional abuse and sexual assault

Nathalie Lawhead's account prompts Zo Quinn, Adelaide Gardner, more to speak out about their experiences in the industry

More developers have come forward with allegations of abuse they suffered at the hands of men in the games industry, following Nathalie Lawhead's account of rape by the Skyrim composer Jeremy Soule.

Tetrageddon Games founder Nathalie Lawhead went public with their allegations against Soule yesterday, and it has sparked an outpouring of similar stories from other developers.

Among them was Zoë Quinn, an independent game developer and writer who is widely known for the game Depression Quest. Quinn accused Alec Holowka, the co-creator of Night in the Woods, of emotional abuse and sexual assault after visiting him in Winnipeg, Canada several years ago.

The plan was to visit Winnipeg for "two weeks" on the understanding that Quinn would pay for the travel there, and Holowka would pay for the return fare.

"He knew I couldn't afford it otherwise, so that was the deal," Quinn said.

Quinn's allegations were documented across six pages in the iOS notes app, which have been published on Twitter. The account accuses Holowka of "slowly [isolating] me from everyone else in my life while absolutely degrading me whenever we were alone." It also features a graphic description of alleged sexual assault by Holowka.

Two people who know Holowka have also spoken out in support of Quinn. Scott Benson, who created Night in the Woods with Holowka, said on Twitter that he "[believes] zoe's account of alec's actions" and claimed to be "very sad and very angry."

Matt Thorson, who collaborated with Holowka on Towerfall Ascension, said on Twitter that "I lived and worked with him, and it took me so long to understand." Thorson also "echoed" Noel Berry, the creator of Celeste who lived with Holowka for two years, in his belief in Quinn's account.

GamesIndustry.biz has approached both Quinn and Holowka for comment, but we had not received a response at the time of writing.

Shortly after Quinn's Twitter post, another followed from Adelaide Gardner, who creates content for tabletop RPGs and Dungeons & Dragons. In her post, Gardner alleged that Luc Shelton, a senior tools programmer at Splash Damage "...assaulted me and gaslit me and at least one other woman two years ago."

Gardner included an alleged conversation between her and Shelton, and another between Gardner and a friend in which she describes a sexual assault.

GamesIndustry.biz has contacted Shelton regarding the allegations, but we had not received a response at the time of publication.

Speaking to our sister site, Rock Paper Shotgun, Shelton denied Gardner's claims, while Gardner told RPS that she had accused Shelton of sexual assault in two previous Twitter posts -- in September 2018, and again in June 2019.

Many other accounts have emerged since yesterday, in which people in the industry have made similar allegations of abuse and assault. GamesIndustry.biz is in the process of investigating these claims further, and making contact with those involved.

The number of people now speaking about their experiences in solidarity with Lawhead, Quinn and Gardner invites comparison to the #MeToo movement, which swept through the film industry in 2017, following allegations of rape and sexual assault against the producer Harvey Weinstein.

In the aftermath of #MeToo, many influential figures reflected on similar issues within the games industry, and offered advice to those eager to change it for the better. GamesIndustry.biz collected some of that advice at the time, which you can read here.

Correction: A previous version of this article referred to Scott Benson as "Henry Dubb." The latter is Benson's display name on Twitter, and the text has been amended to reflect this.

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Latest comments (2)

Quick correction, 'Henry Dubb' is actually Scott Benson. Henry Dubb is just his current display name on Twitter.
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Matthew Handrahan European Deputy Editor, GamesIndustry.biz2 years ago
@Jessica Hyland: Thanks Jessica. We'll correct now.
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