Game Workers Unite – self-described as a broad-reaching organization that “seeks to connect pro-union activists, exploited workers, and allies across disciplines, classes, and countries in the name of building a unionized game industry” – has announced its joined with French union Solidaires Informatique in a call for testimonies regarding allegations of “potential sexual predators” at development studio, Quantic Dream.
Early last year reports emerged of an alleged culture of toxicity and inappropriate behaviour at the studio, with three major French news outlets revealing, among other things, a host of Photoshopped images of employees in degrading positions – such as having their faces placed on pornographic actors, or wearing Nazi uniforms.
One employee quit the firm as a result of these images – which were freely viewable by anyone at the studio – and took their case to court, enacting the prise d’acte section of French employment law. This complex and unique facet of the Gallic system allows an employee to terminate their own contract and petition for unfair dismissal while forfeiting all claims to employment rights and salary until the case is tried and a verdict is reached.
In this case, the court agreed with the former employee that these circumstances contributed to unfair dismissal. Quantic Dream – which is headed by David Cage and developed narrative-driven games such as Detroit, Heavy Rain, and Beyond Two Souls – went on to sue French media outlets which broke the allegations.
In a statement yesterday, Game Workers Unite said: “We have been informed of acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault committed against women who work and have worked in the company.
“These offenses are extremely serious and are punishable by law, however they seem to be repeated with impunity for several years because of a strong omerta, this must stop.”
The union “guarantees total confidentiality and legal assistance” and calls on victims or witnesses of such behaviours to get in touch.
Earlier this week 200 Riot staff walked out in protest following revelations the company was trying to block a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit by insisting some of the women involved had agreed to arbitration clauses when they signed their employment contracts.
Update: Quantic Dream has issued a statement in response to the allegations, insisting it takes matters of harassment “very seriously” and was “not aware of any such cases” at the studio. The full statement is as follows:
— QUANTIC DREAM #DetroitBecomeHuman (@Quantic_Dream) May 7, 2019