Quantic Dream respond to ‘Toxic Workplace’ allegations
Posted January 21, 2018
Quantic Dreams is facing a serious amount of controversy. That’s an understatement, honestly, with David Cage and co-founder Guillaume De Fondaumière facing allegations of racism, sexism, inappropriate sexual behaviour, crunch culture, homophobia and even Nazi jokes.
The allegations come from three separate french websites, who quote former Quantic Dreams employees. Le Monde, as translated by Eurogamer, tells the perspective of 5 former employees. They filed a complaint in the Spring of 2017 against both the company and one employee for the circulation of offensive images in particular.
These images, discovered by an IT manager, are reportedly photoshopped images of employees. Some are extremely homophobic, some include Nazi symbology and some are sexist. Some are all of the above. There were over 600 images discovered, that would be regularly emailed around, with Cage and Fondaumière included recipients.
“The most shocking [images] present Quantic Dream’s collaborators in sexual positions, adorned with homophobic or sexist slurs, or even made up to look like Nazis,” said Le Monde’s report, translated by Eurogamer.
Some of these were reportedly printed and hung up around the office. This has apparently been going on since 2013. You can see some of these (NSFW) on Canard PC’s article banner, one of the 3 websites reporting on these allegations. Content Warning, these are homophobic, sexist, transphobic and fatphobic in nature. No Nazi iconography can be seen in these.
The allegations don’t end there. Reports of long work weeks and crunch are raised, a particularly contentious topic in the game’s community currently. David Cage in particular is called out for inappropriate sexual jokes, sometimes in front of his wife. He also insistently made smutty remarks, and inappropriate comments about game actresses.
Racism from David Cage is raised as well. In relation to a burglary caught on CCTV, Cage allegedly asked a Tunisian employee, “Is that a cousin of yours?”. Cage is also accused of not listening to employees, with some even calling him “Papa”, “God” and “Sun King” in regards to his method of running the studio. A former employee says:
“David Cage has a very particular viewpoint on how he runs his studio, which in his own words he sees as a private, or a semi-private, space. He feels he has the right to say whatever he wants, it’s his place.”
When asked about this incident, Cage tells Le Monde the allegations were “ridiculous, absurd and grotesque”.
Guillaume de Fondaumière isn’t clear of these accusations either. Allegations of sleazy behaviour and hitting on female staff at parties, and making inappropriate amounts of contact when greeting staff (air kissing gone too far). De Fondaumière responded to these accusations quickly:
“I will be extremely clear: it’s absolutely false. None of any of this happened at any evening event.”
Guillaume de Fondaumière was also responsible for Tweeting out Quantic Dreams official response to the allegations:
“Articles published today [January 14] level various allegations against Quantic Dream, its management and employees. We categorically deny all of these allegations. Quantic Dream filed a complaint several months ago and further complaints will follow. We invite interested parties to read the responses of our Employee Representatives and Health & Security Committee to questions submitted by the journalists prior to publication. Inappropriate conduct or practices have no place at Quantic Dream. We have taken and always will take such grievances very seriously. We value every single person who works at Quantic Dream. It is of utmost importance to us that we maintain a safe environment that allows us all to channel our shared passion for making video games.”
There’s even been some defences from current employees on twitter:
My only reaction because it doesn’t deserve more : A lot of bullshit. Is everything perfect ? Not. But for example, speaking about toxicity or high turnover and at the same time that the employees are in the place for 7y in average is quite ironic (for a 20y old studio) ?♂️
Though the Tweets have since gone private, Pieere Tauvel who is the operator of motion capture at Quantic Dream says “no reason to do it, it’s a web of lies”. And then later, “the atmosphere is great, nothing toxic, the employees are all different and laugh at everything.”
Despite these counter claims, reports tell a different story. Even when meeting with David Cage to talk about these claims, the unspoken side of this company comes through. When Le Monde met with David Cage, he assured them that “Quantic is not a rugby cloakroom”. Behind him, on a whiteboard, a penis with testicles farting was drawn. 83% of Quantic is male, so this potentially isn’t unusual.
What is unusual is that despite ‘categorically denying’ these claims, an email Le Monde got sent on Febuary 27th, 2017 from de Fondaumière shows he knew the photoshops had existed for years, and that they were a mistake. Both Cage and de Fondaumière admit to having seen the images before, but not the ‘worst ones’, just the ones that were “were funny or more or less amusing”.
David Cage spoke to Le Monde in response to these allegations, saying:
“You want to talk about homophobia? I work with Ellen Page, who fights for LGBT rights. You want to talk about racism? I work with Jesse Williams, who fights for civil rights in the USA… Judge me by my work.”
With Detroit: Become Human coming out many fans are concerned and disappointed with these claims. Especially in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the world will be watching Quantic Dream closely following these allegations.
Sav is a games developer, programmer, journalist, zine maker and writer.
Find him around Melbourne, writing, testing games, running from deadlines and attending pro-queer, pro-trans, and pro feminist rallies.
His favourite game is Silent Hill 4- but he knows Silent Hill 2 is the best.