According to an expose featured on Kotaku, Trendy Entertainment is a hellish place to work with a number atrocious things happening daily. Trendy are the developers behind big hit Dungeon Defenders and the upcoming sequel Dungeon Defenders 2. It’s a small team by some standards and by any standards it’s a new team which makes it all the more concerning that these events are happening there after the rather long history of bad workplace environments in the industry. The reports range from theft to abuse and outright sexism.
The theft isn’t that of the employees but of other games, or one game in particular: League of Legends. A number of people have repeated a very similar story that “Stieglitz (Jeremy, President of Trendy Entertainment) fired the lead designer on Dungeon Defenders II and shifted direction on the game, telling the development team to start taking ideas from the popular arena battle game League of Legends.” which is both an insult to the employees who are thinking of the great ideas for Dungeon Defenders 2 but also incredibly bad that he is outright condoning the copying of another game.
Sexism revealed moves from the rather strange to being downright open. There are reports stating that Stieglitz practices wage discrimination, one report stating that a man was offered a base salary of $3,850 which he turned down and for the very same position a female candidate was offered $3,000 non-negotiable. He also downright ignores female employees and if needed to speak to one of them, he simply stands by their door and shouts in at them, not speaking directly. There is also the downright strange, where one of his ideas effectively equates to an underage robot android with high sex appeal and a nice arse. Also there was a joke image of the huntress in the office which he saw and then revealed to the public.
The abuse of employees is also a mixed bag. First there is the crunch time, where employees are being forced to work ten to twelve hours a day, seven days a week without extra pay. The first problem here being that it isn’t even standard crunch time, this has been on a permanent basis and the employees are afraid to stand up against this or even ask for their vacation days due to fear of being fired, one ever going as far as missing the funeral of a relative. There is also the more direct abuse with Stieglitz apparently being fond of both screaming at and threatening employees.
Bad workplace conditions are by no means a shock now in the Video Games industry. The first I remember hearing about was the EA Spouse Blog which documented the conditions of somebody working at EA back in 2004, the excess hours (up to and over eighty hours a week worked total) without pay and the fear of losing your job if you opposed it. Fast forward a number of years and not a lot seems to have changed. Team Bondi who developed L.A. Noire, Capcom during the Street Fighter 4 development, Rockstar San Diego during the development of Red Dead Redemption and even more recent the reports of 4A during the development of Metro: Last Light.
All I can wonder is when will the management in these companies learn. We are meant to live in a more enlightened and fairer age and, worst of all, these events are constantly happening in countries where people are meant to be a little more protected with the most common being the United States.
To best get the full impression, read the full expose here at Kotaku