Content Warning: Homophobia, Sexism, Racism.
Quantic Dream, the studio best known for Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and Detroit: Become Human, are in the headlines yet again. An ongoing lawsuit brought by Quantic Dream against French publications Le Monde and Mediapart has brought to light a number of quotes attributed to studio director David Cage. As originally reported by French website Solidaires Informatique, translated by ResetEra and corroborated by other outlets, Cage, who allegedly made these comments while working at Quantic Dream, is now accused of making statements such as “in any case, in my games, all women are whores” and “at Quantic Dream, we do not make games for fags”. As the quotes were reported in French and have been translated into English, there may be something lost in translation. Unfortunately, the translation is close enough that there is little room to interpret the language as any less offensive. The French words translated as “whores” and “fags” respectively are “des putes” and “les tapettes”, the first being a direct translation to “whores” and the second being an explicit French slur that could also be interpreted as “poof”.
While the attribution of these statements to David Cage is currently alleged, it is worth noting that there is a history of alleged sexist and homophobic workplace culture at the studio David Cage directs. In 2018 it was reported that Quantic Dreams had allegedly harboured a toxic workplace culture that condoned openly harmful behaviour among its employees and senior leadership. The focus at the time was on a collection of images, allegedly created by a senior employee in a respected role at the studio, that are said to depict Quantic Dream staff members photoshopped into sexual scenes. From a collection of reportedly over 600 photos, some examples hosted by French gaming publication Canard PC show faces edited onto a naked porn star, a group of women posing before a sign reading “the little whores club”, and on a shirtless man in front of text that reads “all women are born equal, but the best become whores”. In a brief departure from what seems to be a pattern of calling employees whores, one image depicts a smiling staff face photoshopped onto Adolf Hitler.
Earlier this year, however, Quantic Dreams won an appeal, saying “these accusations, formally denied by the company, its managers, its Staff Representatives, and its employees, and contradicted by the reality of objectively verifiable facts, seriously damaged the honor and reputation of the studio”.
Cage’s studio has certainly seen a lot of controversies, with many accusing the studio of internal workplace culture problems. The existence of problematic workplace culture has been publicly rejected by Quantic Dream’s directors, but an alternative explanation for the large collection of photoshopped vulgarities seems so far lacking. For their part, the studio has dismissed the more serious accusations of toxic workplace culture as “slander” and a “smear campaign”. The studio even went so far as to sue French publications Le Monde and Mediapart for their coverage of the claims, a move that seems somewhat counterintuitive as that lawsuit is what brought attention to these comments being attributed to David Cage.
David Cage has attempted to defend himself against accusations of homophobia before, citing to his work with Elliot Page in Beyond: Two Souls. What’s left out of that claim is the allegations that a nude model of Page was created for the game without his consent, a move that reportedly saw his legal representation explore their options of a lawsuit against Quantic Dream. In an article by Business Insider, Page’s lawyer is quoted as saying that Quantic Dream’s legal team “would not engage in mediation, and objected to arbitration”. It’s hard to reconcile that attitude with David Cage citing work with Elliot Page as a defence to criticisms of homophobia in good faith.
As Quantic Dream’s lawsuit against Le Monde and Mediapart continues we will likely see further accusations of hostile and toxic behaviour at Quantic Dream.