This week in video game sexual harassment has been a particularly harrowing one. It started with two women accusing Jeremy Soule, a video games music composer, best known for Skyrim, of sexual misconduct up to and including rape. Three more women have said he put pressure on them to date him as well, and it turned out badly (career-wise) when they turned him down. Then, Alexis Kennedy, creator of Sunless Skies was accused by several women of using his position to pressure them, younger women, to date. He has a history of dating women who work for him, and they claim he abused them during those relationships. There were more, but the one that hit me the hardest (and was revealed in response to the Jeremy Soule accusation in support of Nathalie Lawhead, the victim) was Zoë Quinn declaring that Alec Holowka, one of the developers of Night in the Woods, had lured them (preferred pronoun) to his place in Winnipeg after they started a long distance relationship, then through a mix of emotional abuse and intimidation, isolated them from their friends and made them afraid to leave.
Zoë suffered through this for a month, and then left. They broke up with Holowka over email, and he proceeded to blacklist them from the industry. This was early in their career, and they said he’s done it to a certain extent. At first, they didn’t name him, but two women asked them if it were him. That’s when they realized he had done it more than once.
You may be thinking that the name Zoë Quinn sounds familiar. It’s because they were the victims in a case of revenge that kicked off GamerGate. They were vilified and dragged through the mud, and it showed the very ugly side of the gaming industry and how it was still steeped in misogyny. At the time, Zoë identified as a woman, and the hatred for ‘her’ and her perceived gender was gruesome.
Once the allegations came to light, Alec killed himself. His sister, Eileen Holowka, released a statement of shock, disbelief, and distress, but also support for the victims. Ian was covering the news (the link is his), and he broke it to me gently when I messaged him in the morning. He set it up by talking about the other accusations, and then he said one was going to be especially hard to me. That’s when I knew, and I had to brace myself for it. When he told me, it hit me in the gut.
Side Note: I have never had to face loving something by a person who has done something so heinous. I will get to that in a minute.