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Trendy Entertainment exposé claims studio is a harsh, mismanaged, sexist, work envorinment

Friday, 7th June 2013 22:00 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Dungeon Defenders developer, Trendy Entertainment, is apparently not a very fun or nice place to work, according to an expose on Kotaku.

Speaking with various current and former employees – all of which chose to remain anonymous for good reason – many employees are “forced” to work 10-12 hour days without over time pay, seven days a week. And this isn’t just “crunch” time either – this is all year long.

There are even reported incidences of company president Jeremy Stieglitz bullying employees; practicing wage discrimination against potential female employees; verbally threatening staffers; acting with extreme sexism; and complete mismanagement of the firm and its resources.

Employees have said they are afraid to ask for time off for risk of being fired. One employee was so afraid of losing his/her job, they skipped out on their cousin’s funeral because they were afraid to ask off.

According to the article, in the last few months alone, six employees have left and many more plan to leave once Dungeon Defenders 2 is released – which would be a blow to the 45-person development house.

The report paints a rather scathing picture of the firm, one which has caught the attention of the International Game Developers Association.

In a statement sent to VG247, the IGDA’s executive director, Kate Edwards, said the firm has no direct knowledge of the situation at Trendy Entertainment, but its “stance on this is very clear.”

“We know, as has been well documented, that extensive overtime is not only ineffective from the point of view of productivity, but it is also destructive to employee morale,” said Edwards in the statement. “Studios engaging in excessive overtime injure the reputation of the entire game industry, preventing top talent from entering and remaining in game development, and harming the goodwill of other studios that work rigorously to ensure quality of life for their developers.

“Further we believe that gender discrimination of any type has no place in the workplace and is completely unacceptable. As with excessive overtime, creating an environment that is hostile or discriminatory against anyone whether via race, gender, sexual orientation or other means only further reduces morale and creates an atmosphere that can hinder the successful retention of talent and creation of games that appeal to a wide variety of players.”

The IGDA provides resources, education and information to individual developers and their employers who wish to create a better working environment for their employees.

The firm said it continues “to be extremely concerned” about the type of allegations being brought on Trendy, and for the development community at large.

“We believe that when everyone from management down is educated and aware of the impact poor quality of life and a lack of diversity provides, they will make the choices that are in everyone’s best interest,” said Edwards.

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34 Comments

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  1. Stephany Nunneley

    Jesus.

    #1 1 year ago
  2. Lengendaryboss

    An complete disgrace that this still exists in the work place.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. Ireland Michael

    Ouch.

    #3 1 year ago
  4. lookingglass

    Waiting for the fanboys…

    “At least it’s not as bad as the Xbox One! Playing used games offline and alone is awesome and innovative!” -said apparently every gamer on this site

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Ireland Michael

    “Even better if the robots are aged under 18 robot years…”

    What the fuck..?

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Ireland Michael

    http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/18q3mzxzurrsvjpg/original.jpg

    #6 1 year ago
  7. zinc

    A game featuring underage female robots?

    Trying to crack Japan obviously…

    :)

    #7 1 year ago
  8. Djoenz

    Wow he actually said tht hmmm..

    #8 1 year ago
  9. YoungZer0

    I’m always impressed no one punches people like that. What is happening to the world?

    #9 1 year ago
  10. FeaturePreacher

    Well as for the comments about the art in the game, that’s a matter of how the leader wants the art. As for the pay difference, it might not be a matter of just men vs women as even the author states. But if you don’t like to work there you could always leave. I wonder what kind of people must be in such dire straits that they can’t take better opportunities elsewhere.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. JGMR

    Remember Metal Gear Solid 2? Memes. Everybody believes the most “outragous story” because they want to be entertained. “I am deceived because I wanted to”.

    #11 1 year ago
  12. Christopher Jack

    @4, Never seen anyone say that. Lay off the pot.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. Ireland Michael

    @11 Oh spare us. Get your worldly education from somewhere other than a pretentious video game.

    1) Nobody is “entertained” by this. It’s deplorable.

    2) People are putting their welfare and job security at risk to report this.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. Kabby

    “many employees are “forced” to work 10-12 hour days without over time pay, seven days a week. And this isn’t just “crunch” time either – this is all year long.”
    Standard.

    “There are even reported incidences of company president Jeremy Stieglitz bullying employees”
    Standard.

    “practicing wage discrimination against potential female employees”
    Never witnessed this but it wouldn’t be games industry only issue should it be the case.

    “verbally threatening staffers”
    Standard.

    “acting with extreme sexism”
    Never witnessed this. Dev nerds are usually overly nice to females during work time.

    “complete mismanagement of the firm and its resources.”
    Par for the course. Especially in the UK

    All of this shit goes on in every type of business. It’s not a games industry only scenario.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Ireland Michael

    @14 Nobody even remotely implied that this only happens in the gaming industry. Where was that claimed by anyone?

    It’s a problem no matter what industry it occurs in.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. JGMR

    @13 That doesn’t deny the fact that it is pure sensationalism. Do you personally know these people?

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    @16 Do you?

    There is nothing sensationalist about sexism, unpaid overtime and verbal abusive. That’s pretty straight forward stuff.

    #17 1 year ago
  18. Djoenz

    You know what I have realised how many selfish nerds there are in the world. Way too many.

    Cant even show compassion in any way then you are just cold. No consideration no respect.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Ireland Michael

    @18 Indeed. Sickens me that I’m even seeing these kinds of responses.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. Djoenz

    Makes me even wonder if they have jobs themselves.
    All of these issues are terrible. I cant imagine how much stress it gives those employees.

    Employees have rights and Employers have obligations. Terrible just terrible…

    #20 1 year ago
  21. zinc

    ^ And yet they go all gooey for lolcats…

    #21 1 year ago
  22. JGMR

    @17 No, I don’t know them, that’s why I refuse to comment on the whole issue. The fact that we are discussing this IS the hallmark of sensationalism.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. Sylrissa

    If even only some of that is truth, it would still be disgraceful and unacceptable that people still get treated this way at their jobs.

    I loved their Dungeon defenders game for quite a while, my fiance and I, along with friends played 106 hours of it together and had a blast, but I can’t in good conscience support their games anymore.

    #23 1 year ago
  24. FeaturePreacher

    @18
    We just take less of a knee jerk reaction to things. The situation with the employees seems bad, but it also seems as though it’s correcting itself with many of the employees leaving. Bad employers ultimately will fail based on their own actions. Just take a look at Zynga for example.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. Beta

    Just because this may not be a unique case does not mean that you can dismiss this as sensationalism or par for the course.

    That attitude is sickening and it’s why this kind of bullshit goes on.

    #25 1 year ago
  26. Sylrissa

    @25
    Agreed, that lack of empathy and respect for others is a huge problem these days.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. JGMR

    The lack of questioning and lack of critical thinking is the biggest problem. Not only the gaming community faces this, but also the mass of humanity. People don’t want to question, they take everything in hook line and sinker. Totally impressed by authority.

    This does not mean that indeed IF injustice has been done, it shouldn’t be taken care of.

    #27 1 year ago
  28. G1GAHURTZ

    Being that I work in a country and an industry that has a pretty high staff turnover, and where former employees frequently turn to the internet to spread overblown exaggerations and half truths about their former employers, I’m not inclined to believe a word of this.

    #28 1 year ago
  29. JGMR

    @28 Yeah. It is the greatest job in the world! And then, when things didn’t turn out that well, they want everybody to know how horrible it was. Self-deception is what most people are unable to bear. It’s a social phenomenon.

    #29 1 year ago
  30. Cobra951

    Software houses are often sweatshops. I was in the trenches more than long enough to see that. Overtime? I never got overtime in my life, and the 12-hour days happened a lot more frequently than the 8-hour ones. “Your time is paid for.” There’s a favorite phrase from one particular boss during the mid-90s. Translation: “We own your ass.” It makes me laugh to see stories like this. “The grass is GREEN! Film at 11 . . .” To me, that’s just the way it has always been.

    #30 1 year ago
  31. voxelman

    @22 but you did comment on it multiple times…

    #31 1 year ago
  32. GrimRita

    This kind of crap happens here in the UK. One unnamed UK studio treated me like shit a few years ago for something very personal.

    I think the whole industry is sexist and ageist run by people who ‘think’ they know it all, when they dont. Proof is in the fact that the games industry lacks creativity and how the small app developer is thriving.

    #32 1 year ago
  33. sh4dow

    “Crunch time”. How I fucking hate that term. “Mismanagement” is what it should be called.
    Although technically, I suppose it’s not really mismanagement if you plan on squeezing out your employees ahead of time.

    It’s funny that an article like this would pop up right now, since I plan on applying at companies in a city notorious for unpaid overtime (*cough* London *cough*). I figure I might as well try refusing to take part in this practice before giving up on the industry completely.

    And as for people who say that it has always been like this… maybe. Because based on what I have heard, while (sometimes unpaid) overtime has always been common in the area of “everything CG”, I have also heard/read numerous statements of senior staff that say that it wasn’t always quite like it is now. That overtime has increased quite a bit over the last ~20 years while pay has decreased quite a bit at the same time.
    Personally, I find that to be an unacceptable combination and if the industry doesn’t want my talent because of this view, they can go fuck themselves.

    #33 1 year ago
  34. Stephany Nunneley

    Post updated with a comment sent over by The International Game Developers Association.

    #34 1 year ago