Indie studio Scavengers Studio, responsible for the Darwin Project and Season, was at the center of the scandal. Employees told about the unhealthy atmosphere in the company: harassment, sexism and moral humiliation of employees. All charges relate to its two founders — creative director Simon Darveau and his ex-girlfriend Amélie Lamarche.Season
Information about this appeared in a large investigation Gamesindustry.biz .
On condition of anonymity, the publication interviewed nine former and current employees of Scavengers Studio. They told not only about harassment and toxic behavior of the management, but also revealed other problems of the company.
The general atmosphere in the studioAlmost all respondents described Scavengers as “an environment hostile to women.”
- They were often humiliated, exposed as infantile and treated as if they did not understand their work.According to employees, such a culture was encouraged personally by Darvo, and incidents occurred regularly during simple communication, public meetings and in work chats in Slack.
- Some women stated that they had repeatedly heard sexist comments addressed to them, and one of the employees several times asked a female colleague if she liked him and if she wanted to marry him.
- The studio has not had HR for a long time to build relationships within the team.
- All issues were resolved through Lamarche, who had previously been in a romantic relationship with Darvo.The respondents recall an incident that occurred in mid-2018.
- One employee simply stopped showing up at work, after which the management announced her departure. Some claimed that this girl had an affair with Darvo, and Lamarche did not like it.Darvo himself once compared his behavior to a dog who is in heat and who cannot control himself.
- Employees call a corporate event in January 2019 an example of such behavior.
- Darvo got drunk more than usual and started pestering girls and groping them. One of the witnesses recalls that at that moment Simon resembled a real predator.Absence of imputed sanctions
After the corporate party, two employees who were molested by Darvo left the studio at once.
- The company conducted an internal investigation, which did not bring visible results.
- At the same time, one new rule was introduced: Darvo was forbidden to drink at parties.”It was unpleasant to hear how they blame alcohol for everything, because Darvo behaved like shit and being sober.
- It sounded like an excuse,” recalls one of the employees.In 2019, Darvo left the post of CEO, giving it to Lamarche.
- The employees did not know if it was related to the incident at the corporate party. Many were unhappy with this decision, since Simon still remained in power as creative director and co-founder.”They said we could turn to them, but ultimately everyone knows that you can’t go against the founders, otherwise you’re screwed,” one of the employees said.
- The employees recall that after that Darvo settled down a little, but the sexist culture remained in place.
- “I see a huge injustice in the fact that such things are hidden under the carpet,” said one of the sources.Division of employees into groups
The interviewees recall that Darvo called most of the employees “disposable”, which can be used and which can be humiliated.
- The manager made them work harder, promising them promotion.
- When employees who had reached the indicators turned to him for a promotion, he refused and referred to conditions not previously announced.Darvo had a narrow circle of favorites, whom he called “commandos”.
- They consisted mainly of programmers. One source described them as “toxic people whose actions were always encouraged and defended by Simon.”The character of Darvo
Some of the respondents noted the contrast in the behavior of Darvo, who initially seemed to them a “charismatic and energetic” leader.
- He was very good at selling his games and ideas, but he acted differently with respect to employees.Many recall how Darvo shouted and publicly humiliated workers who disagreed with him.
- They called him “unbalanced” and said he was behaving like a child. This was also manifested in his resentment of some employees, with whom he could not talk for weeks.Some also claimed that Darvo sometimes literally lived in the office and scattered dirty laundry, food and garbage there.
- Darvo’s problems as a leader
One source stated that Darvo makes all the games according to the same template: creates a vision, inspires the team and sells the idea to the publisher.
- At the same time, it is claimed that he never has a specific plan and final vision of the project.Two employees believe that Darvo’s unwillingness to listen to the ideas of others led to the insufficient success of the Darwin Project.
- Employees call him an “unorganized leader” who ignores the advice of colleagues.”The whole company is built on the same scheme — we create prototypes, get money from publishers, and so on in a circle.
- There is no goal in the studio to release a high—quality game, no processes have been built for this,” one of the respondents believes.Scavengers Studio’s Response to the Allegations
After investigating Gamesindustry.
- biz company stated that it does not accept harassment in any form and seriously considers all complaints.The company calls the appointment of Lamarche to the position of CEO an important step in the fight against toxicity.
- Scavengers stated that Lamarche organized several harassment prevention trainings, built an HR department to support employees and took a number of other steps to improve the atmosphere within the company.
- All interviewed employees stated that none of these measures solved the existing problems in any way.
According to them, Lamarche continues to hush up incidents and turn a blind eye to the behavior of Darvo and his narrow circle of favorites.
Scavengers also notes that some of the facts in the investigation are distorted and do not reflect the full picture. At the same time, the company refused to give a full-fledged refutation. Neither Lamarche nor Darvo have commented on Gamesindustry either.biz accusations against yourself.