The studio is developing its new game, Open Roads, but they haven’t stopped having problems.
The development of Open Roads, the new narrative proposal of Fullbright, creators of Gone Home Y Tacoma, has been going through moments difficult and the blame seems to revolve around a toxic and discriminatory culture established in the studio by its director, Steve Gaynor. There are already 15 employees who have left the study since the beginning of its development, ten of them being women.
From Polygon they have had access to the testimony of 12 ancients study employees who have anonymously discussed how Gaynor’s behavior toward workers led them to take his exit from the study as the only option. Former workers have described Gaynor as a person controller that made Fullbright a place where they constantly felt undercut and weathered. Employees have acknowledged having been afraid of being blacklisted in the industry for talking about Gaynor’s attitude, being the co-creator of an indie loved by the public.
They constantly felt undermined and degradedSome of the former Fullbright workers say they have left the industry entirely. In their testimonies, they specify that they have not experienced or witnessed situations of sexual harassment or explicit sexism, although they have reproached the fact that the study sought to give a semblance of inclusion through your messages to users, while women were degraded repeatedly through microaggressions.
From Fullbright they have confirmed that Gaynor resigned in March due to the “pattern of women leaving the company.” They were looking to tackle the situation after having started some attempts to improve the work climate with Steve Gaynor still in charge. From the study they talked about “drastic measures for team health”. They have also discussed their relationship with Annapurna Interactive, who is in charge of financing the game, and have confirmed that Annapurna was aware of the situation and that she helped in the restructuring of the study.
Steve Gaynor made a release for Polygon where he apologized for his attitude as project leader and defined himself as “hurtful” for the people who worked at Fullbright. The former employees of the studio have talked about how they experienced the development of the different titles and lamented that while all the workers were very united and supported each other, believing in the project as something beautiful that the team had created, they felt Gaynor was like someone unable to play as a team, someone who owned everything the study.
Steve Gaynor’s attitude to the women in the study
Through the article we also know the situation of the women who held leadership positions at Fullbright and the relationship with Gaynor. They describe working with him as a constant cluster of microaggressions. They tell how difficult their work was having to need your constant approval down to the minor details, something that added to the way Gaynor treated them, belittling them and discrediting their contributions.
It was doubted whether to hire several women for fear of the treatment they would suffer“His weapon of choice was to laugh at people while embarrassing them in public”said one of the former workers. These facts were corroborated by six other former employees. The size of the company and its structure made it very difficult to report these abuses, as the company did not have a human resources department to speak to.
Some of the employees, unable to report the situation, they took different measures to reach Annapurna’s ears, such as leaving notes on the company’s server. Some statements from members leaving the study also reached Annapurna, in addition to the letter that another employee sent directly to Annapurna. After the exodus of employees experienced between 2020 and 2021, the hiring task got complicated, as confirmed by Polygon sources, there were doubts about whether to hire several qualified women by fear to the treatment they would suffer from Gaynor.
Several employees have confessed to having to go to therapy following their stint at Fullbright, they felt they had changed after stint in the studio and described themselves as “consumed” by Gaynor. On the other hand, middle managers they have regretted having left, feeling that they were abandoning those for whom they had spent some time “acting as a buffer”. Although Gaynor is no longer in command of Open Roads, still part of the project as a writer, although he no longer has contact with the rest of the Fullbright team.
The fact that Gaynor keep having a role relevant in the writing of the work worries some of the former employees of the project, since they denounce that a man who is capable of constantly belittling women around you, you shouldn’t write the story about a mother and his daughter. “It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about how someone who treats women like this in real life, with no apparent intention of stopping, can still write game stories about women,” said one of Fullbright’s former employees.
More about: Open Roads.