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Toxic culture at Fullbright


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I always thought there was something a bit off about Gone Home. Perhaps it was knowing Gaynor from Idle Thumbs and his voice being too apparent for the kind of story the game was trying to tell, but I never really bought it. 

 

That's probably why he just needs to leave. There's a significant chunk of his audience that will never be able to get past him being the writer, and rightly so. Fullbright are tainted for as long as he remains and I don't think that's fair on the team.   

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3 minutes ago, Quest said:

I always thought there was something a bit off about Gone Home. Perhaps it was knowing Gaynor from Idle Thumbs and his voice being too apparent for the kind of story the game was trying to tell, but I never really bought it. 

 

That's probably why he just needs to leave. There's a significant chunk of his audience that will never be able to get past him being the writer, and rightly so. Fullbright are tainted for as long as he remains and I don't think that's fair on the team.   

 

I loved Gone Home for multiple reasons. I don't think even he takes full credit for the story, I remember hearing him talk about how the story changed due to feedback from the community.

 

I don't think he wrote Tacoma.

 

Open Roads could have the best mother / daughter story ever but it's tainted by this. He should leave the bones of the story behind and the women who take up the task of rescuing the project can either build on top of it and make something better or redo the story from scratch.

 

If Open Roads ends up as Open Roads by Steve Gaynor then it's done. The audience attracted to Fullbright because of Gone Home and Tacoma just won't buy it.

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24 months i’ll give it.  he’ll come back with another game where people complain he shouldn’t be allowed to work. It’ll do ok.  Then he’ll do another a few years later and if it’s good people will forgive him. 
 

Leave his own company? give it away?  I really doubt that’s going to happen unless he’s funded by someone else and couldn’t survive as a one man band for a while.  
 

 

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Then again Nina Freeman walked away from Fullbright after Tacoma to do it alone. And almost a dozen others left as well. 

 

I've had some self reflection over the past 24 hours and it's telling how much some of us (and I'm definitely counting myself here) are concerned about where / how Gaynor can go after this where the real story is that close to a dozen women had to do just that.

 

I mean re-reading the article again I'm not sure how I missed this part.

 

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Following the mass exodus of Fullbright employees in 2020 and 2021, the leads remaining at the company were tasked with hiring new employees. Two sources told Polygon that they were hesitant to hire the qualified, talented women who applied for the roles out of fear of how they’d be treated by Gaynor. Former employees had seen what they perceived as a pattern of young women, early in their careers, being broken down by their time under Gaynor at Fullbright. Multiple sources told Polygon they feared that even more promising talent would be driven out of the industry, like the others.

 

 

And this.

 

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Some former employees described themselves as “changed” following their time at Fullbright. Many have questioned their abilities, describing their experience with Gaynor as having been “gaslit,” and have sought out therapy to deal with the trauma associated with Fullbright’s company culture and development on Open Roads. Former employees in leadership described “intense guilt” in leaving the company, “leaving [the] team to fend for themselves.”

 

That's a lot of damage by a leading light of the indie scene. As much as reading the story felt like a gut punch I can't imagine how awful it would feel to move cross country to Portland which games biz wise is pretty isolated to work with your hero only to be treated so poorly. The constant adverts for new talent and the quiet departure by a couple of leading women in the games industry makes a whole lot more sense in context now.

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19 hours ago, phillv85 said:

 

You've haven't answered the question though so I'm still none the wiser.

 

Is that it then, is he cancelled? Should he hand over the keys and just disappear into the ether? Can he not seek redemption on this? Can he not take a back seat in the company he founded and continue to work without having to manage anyone (which it seems he's clearly incapable of doing)?

 

Him still working for the same company is telling the women in that company they don't matter.  Which is probably why they've been unable to recruit.

 

Because of him multiple people have left the industry disillusioned who are apparently worth less than him.  It's (an admittedly mild form of) "Dedicated family man driven to edge" headlines when a murder suicide happens.

 

So yes, at the very least he should be working somewhere completely different and be in charge of no-one.

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I used to love Idle Thumbs. Kind of gutted he's a twat. I've worked with people just like that, nothing specifically rises to the level of anything criminal or would even get anywhere in a civil or employment law case, but it absolutely wrecks your mental health, your whole life becomes anxiety and fear about work until you have to find a different job.

 

Meanwhile Chris Remo these days appears to just...do crosswords on YouTube?! Total shame.

 

 

 

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On 05/08/2021 at 09:25, womblingfree said:

I don’t think I’ve ever worked anywhere that didn’t have a combination of micro-managing asshole bullying managers or small cliques of bullying staff.

 

The bullshit and often pointless target culture we have in many areas of peoples working lives lends itself to it.

 

I had to put up with it for nineteen years, as well as crunch periods roughly 51 weeks per year, it broke me on a number of occasions hence which is how I ended up self-employed.

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On 06/08/2021 at 08:27, Dudley said:

 

Him still working for the same company is telling the women in that company they don't matter.  Which is probably why they've been unable to recruit.

 

Because of him multiple people have left the industry disillusioned who are apparently worth less than him.  It's (an admittedly mild form of) "Dedicated family man driven to edge" headlines when a murder suicide happens.

 

So yes, at the very least he should be working somewhere completely different and be in charge of no-one.

 

I'm not sure how Fullbright is structured but isn't him being the founder/owner put a bit of a blocker on "he needs to go work elsewhere"?

 

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I've seen Gaynor referred to repeatedly as 'the founder'/'the owner' in here, which seems a bit of a misunderstanding — as the original article states, he's a co-founder, one of three people. Of those original three, one left years ago (Johnnemann Nordhagen, who went off and founded Dim Bulb Games, which made Where The Water Tastes Like Wine); and the other is, to the best of my knowledge, still there (Karla Zimonja). I'm sure that the fact he's one of the founders adds complexity to the matter, but it's definitely not a Gaynor == Fullbright situation.

 

Now, whether the company will actually resolve things in a way that restores confidence to its staff is another question entirely, but it should definitely be possible.

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14 minutes ago, rafaqat said:

 

I'm not sure how Fullbright is structured but isn't him being the founder/owner put a bit of a blocker on "he needs to go work elsewhere"?

 

 

Then the publisher buys out the rights and takes it elsewhere, hiring as many Fullbright/ex-Fullbright as possible or just cancel it and offer the all of 6 staff jobs at another studio.

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10 hours ago, Wiper said:

I've seen Gaynor referred to repeatedly as 'the founder'/'the owner' in here, which seems a bit of a misunderstanding — as the original article states, he's a co-founder, one of three people. Of those original three, one left years ago (Johnnemann Nordhagen, who went off and founded Dim Bulb Games, which made Where The Water Tastes Like Wine); and the other is, to the best of my knowledge, still there (Karla Zimonja). I'm sure that the fact he's one of the founders adds complexity to the matter, but it's definitely not a Gaynor == Fullbright situation.

 

Now, whether the company will actually resolve things in a way that restores confidence to its staff is another question entirely, but it should definitely be possible.

 

https://www.engadget.com/davey-wreden-karla-zimonja-stanley-parable-gone-home-ivy-road-annapurna-interactive-194504904.html

 

Quote

Along with showing off a bunch of upcoming games during its showcase on Thursday, Annapurna Interactive announced some developer partnerships. One of them is with a new studio called Ivy Road from powerhouse indie developers Davey Wreden and Karla Zimonja.

 

I'm not sure she still has an interest in Fullbright anymore, it appears she's moved on. Otherwise the simple solution would have been to put her in charge and ask / buyout Gaynor.

 

10 hours ago, Dudley said:

 

Then the publisher buys out the rights and takes it elsewhere, hiring as many Fullbright/ex-Fullbright as possible or just cancel it and offer the all of 6 staff jobs at another studio.

 

I suspect this might be the result. The value of Fullbright is working with three of the indie scene's leading lights and working on games that are inclusive of minority audiences. If the only lead / owner left is Gaynor and if that reputation is now tarnished / trashed then there's literally no value left in Fullbright anymore.

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  • 7 months later...

Not just Fullbright. Toxic culture of a similar kind at other indie studios (Mountains, Funomena), according to this investigation:

 

 

Also alarming how all these studios had projects being published by Annapurna, who perhaps encourage the kind of 'Auteur' production style that plays down this sort of behaviour. 

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4 minutes ago, BadgerFarmer said:

Not just Fullbright. Toxic culture of a similar kind at other indie studios (Mountains, Funomena), according to this investigation:

 

 

Also alarming how all these studios had projects being published by Annapurna, who perhaps encourage the kind of 'Auteur' production style that plays down this sort of behaviour. 

 

Don't forget PlayStation. Some horrible shit happening at Sony that I don't think has been mentioned on this forum. 

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8 minutes ago, Ry said:

 

Don't forget PlayStation. Some horrible shit happening at Sony that I don't think has been mentioned on this forum. 

Such as?

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Start a thread then. You can't moan about this forum ignoring us when A) you only shared a bare link without any details and only then after having to be asked to and B) buried said link in a thread about a completely different matter (issues with indie studio culture).

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27 minutes ago, Ry said:

 

Don't forget PlayStation. Some horrible shit happening at Sony that I don't think has been mentioned on this forum. 

The point of posting it here was that it's connected to the original subject - Fullbright - and shows a wider pattern of similar behaviour at indie studios headed by celebrated individuals. There's plenty of room to discuss Sony in other threads, or a new one, and I don't see how it helps to immediately try and divert the thread away from its subject, even towards another one that's equally important.

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16 minutes ago, BadgerFarmer said:

The point of posting it here was that it's connected to the original subject - Fullbright - and shows a wider pattern of similar behaviour at indie studios headed by celebrated individuals. There's plenty of room to discuss Sony in other threads, or a new one, and I don't see how it helps to immediately try and divert the thread away from its subject, even towards another one that's equally important.

 

Sorry, I wasn't trying to divert. Just seen a few issues being raised from multiple companies here. 

 

28 minutes ago, Harsin said:

Start a thread then. You can't moan about this forum ignoring us when A) you only shared a bare link without any details and only then after having to be asked to and B) buried said link in a thread about a completely different matter (issues with indie studio culture).

 

Aye sorry. Wasnt moaning at the forum. I was just surprised no one was talking about the issue. I should have made a thread

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  • 2 weeks later...

https://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2022-03-29-funomena-shutting-down-report

 

Quote

Funomena is shutting down this week, according to People Make Games' Chris Bratt.

"I'm absolutely gutted to report that Funomena is set to be closed by the end of this month, with all contractors already having been laid off as of last Wednesday," Bratt said on Twitter today. "This is an extremely sad end to the studio's story and I hope everyone affected is able to land on their feet."

Earlier this month, Bratt included the developer of Luna and Wattam in a People Make Games report on abusive indie auteurs. While investigating previously known workplace problems at indie studios Mountains and Fullbright, sources had told it of a similar situation at Funomena with co-founder Robin Hunicke.

A group of former Funomena employees described Hunicke as emotionally abusive, often sharing employees' sensitive personal information with others in a work environment without their consent.

 

Hopefully the non-shitty people who worked there are able to find new work quickly. 

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