Fullbright co-founder steps down following toxicity allegations

Toxicity allegations have rocked the studio behind indie hits Gone Home, Tacoma, and the upcoming Open Roads.

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There was an ominous atmosphere when the Open Roads Twitter account suddenly posted that Fullbright co-founder Steve Gaynor would be stepping down from his position as creative lead and manager for the upcoming Open Roads. There had to be a reason for this action and, sure enough, Polygon posted a report minutes later that Gaynor's decision is stemming from toxicity allegations that have surfaced over the years during his time at Fullbright.

According to a report from Polygon, 12 former employees have spoken with the outlet regarding a controlling atmosphere and toxic work environment. Ten of those twelve workers were women. In total, 15 people have left Fullbright since the studio began work on its latest project, Open Roads. Many of the former employees cited controlling behavior from Gaynor, as well as a concerted effort to demean the women on his staff. Those employees also told Polygon that there was no way to report Gaynor's behavior, since he was essentially the man at the very top of the studio.

While the post on the Open Roads Twitter reported that Gaynor had stepped back, the Polygon report indicates that he had left his position as far back as March. Annapurna Interactive, the publisher of Open Roads, had reportedly expressed concern with Gaynor's behavior once it became apparent that people were leaving Fullbright in large numbers.

With Gaynor stepping down from his creative lead position with Open Roads, Annapurna Interactive will act as mediator between Gaynor and the other studio's employees. Fullbright's other co-founder, Karla Zimonja, recently co-founded a brand new studio called Ivy Road, alongside The Stanley Parable creator Davey Wreden. Annapurna Interactive will also publish Ivy Road's next project.

There appear to be many layers to this developing story with Fullbright and its co-founder. We'll be sure to monitor this situation as it develops. Open Roads is currently in development and is coming soon.

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Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
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    August 4, 2021 6:30 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Fullbright co-founder steps down following toxicity allegations

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      August 4, 2021 6:40 PM

      geez. Sorry to hear that.

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      August 4, 2021 6:47 PM

      Dang. Always seemed like a decent dude when he read on Idle Thumbs back when.

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      August 4, 2021 6:50 PM

      Welp.

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      August 4, 2021 6:51 PM

      Fulldark

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      August 4, 2021 7:02 PM

      That’s a shame.

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      August 5, 2021 6:22 AM

      While the situation all around sucks, I will give props to Annapurna still giving the studio its support and actually trying to help work things out. If that were a standard publisher, they probably would have dropped Fullbright as soon as that got out. Annapurna remains a shining example of what a good indie publisher should be doing.

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      August 5, 2021 6:28 AM

      Next we'll find out that Remo is in London in order to avoid extradition or something.

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      August 5, 2021 6:32 AM

      Gone Home and Tacoma are about people being scumbags and then it turns out the main dude behind them is one. Awful

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      August 5, 2021 6:38 AM

      It reads like he was a terrible manager and very asshole-ish in his interactions with his employees.

      I’m not surprised if this story is repeated all over with other small studios growing bigger without adult supervision (hr/leadership) to help them become real professionals.

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        August 5, 2021 6:52 AM

        Yeah, it sounds like the typical auteur syndrome mixed with some "mean girls" style disrespect for employees.

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