Dungeon Defenders workplace claims 'unacceptable,' says IGDA

Trendy Entertainment accused of gender discrimination, excessive overtime, and late wage payments.

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The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) has responded to a report about the negative working conditions of Florida-based development studio Trendy Entertainment, the team responsible for Dungeon Defenders and currently working on its sequel.

Kotaku's original report chronicles the complaints of nine anonymous workers at the studio, who allege a workplace culture of gender discrimination, excessive overtime, late payment of wages, and a derivative environment obsessed with copying hit MOBA League of Legends.

Much of the complaints are aimed squarely at studio president Jeremy Stieglitz. One anonymous employee claimed that "interesting, creative ideas [were] thrown by the wayside because 'we don't have time,' or 'Does League [of Legends] do it? No?' Then it's a waste of time, we need to do what League does."

Kate Edwards, executive director of the IGDA, has said that the association has no current knowledge of the claims but says that such actions are "unacceptable" if true.

“While we have no direct knowledge of the situation," said Edwards in a statement to GameSpot, "if the media reports on the working conditions at Trendy Entertainment are accurate, the IGDA’s 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. 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."

One Trendy Entertainment employee in particular claims he was too terrified to ask for time off to attend the funeral of a cousin. "I was so afraid of losing my job that I didn't go to his funeral," said the employee to Kotaku. "It was probably one of my lowest points," they added.

Edwards also adds that gender discrimination is damaging in the workplace. "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. From our 2004 whitepaper to our Code of Ethics adopted in 2009 to our current work coordinating our resources with academics studying and working to help bring light and solutions to this issue, we continue to be extremely concerned about addressing these types of issues for the developer community. 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.”

Discussion

235 comments
link2434
link2434

They're ruining my DD! I play it for a tower defense/action RPG smashup, not a LOL or DOTA ripoff! Sure, LOL and DOTA are alright I guess, but I love Dungeon Defenders!

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

And it's even not a good game we're talking here...

donnyb20
donnyb20

I hate articles like this.  There are no facts to back up any of these details, just speculation about unnamed individuals.  I played dungeon defenders and it was one of the best games I've played, and certainly did not feel like a knock off of another game.  If the conditions were this bad at the company, i'm sure they would have a high turnover rate.  I've looked at their forums on occasion and only see good things posted about the company from the community.

If the details of the article are true, then it's a shame because this truly seems like a good company, my guess is it's being over exaggerated in the article or the people complaining.

Random_Virus
Random_Virus

'we don't have time,' or 'Does League [of Legends] do it? No?' Then it's a waste of time, we need to do what League does."

How does this make it a bad work environment?

There are complaints about the aggressive sexualization of characters in their videogames.  FFS, they're making video games, they're targetting a majority male audience.  Sex sells, believe it or not.  

I understand there were other bad conditions, like people working without pay.  Why didn't they quit?  I can understand keeping a crummy job and crummy pay because you need it and can't get something else, but a crummy job with zero pay?  Just walk away, you're working at a video game company, you're probably qualified to work somewhere else with great pay.

melante
melante

Executives who just want to copy game X to cash in are the ruin and disgrace of this industry. Long live the Creative talents!

Triton
Triton

Wow, same crap happens here. After 10 years thought this was normal. That's why the Unions and Federal jobs have it made. Welcome to the private sector.

Dessicator
Dessicator

They're also guilty of making a tedious, unbalanced Skinner Box.

Icepick_Trotter
Icepick_Trotter

When we said we wanted games to be in the mainstream this is not what we had in mind...

Same shitty work conditions as in the worst companies in any industry...

oopomop
oopomop

This is a late halfass version of Kotakus article about this. You ddin't even touch half the subjects. The sexist claim of the employees is due to the exact same qualifications, a male applicant was given the wage of 40,000 / year while a female of the same qualifications was given a flat 30,000 with "no room for negotiation".

There was also an update on monday, I believe. The head guy is moved to another project and the employees are happy again. 

hadlee73
hadlee73

These complaints clearly came from the kitchen staff. :P

Ohh crap that's probably the worst joke I've ever made...

demondogx
demondogx

they will even have Annie in the game from the looks of that picture

91210user
91210user

Great news indeed! The way they and Epic Games used this game to showcase the UDK, only to find that the workplace is a complete zoo, enlightens me! They need professional help anyways!

FernoFrY
FernoFrY

Bloody hell, first world problems. Just quit and go work somewhere else. There are definitely people much worse off than you guys/girls. Why don't you transfer to the Metro Last Light dev I hear they've got it good.

TheHappyDrunk
TheHappyDrunk

The only solution to the "corporate slave" mentality of our society is, unfortunately, the violent overthrow of the United States government that constantly furthers the corporate agenda. Personally, I don't envy the thought of being executed for treason, so I'll just go on being a corporate slave.

TheHappyDrunk
TheHappyDrunk

People, THIS is what happens when you let your legislature declare employment within your state to be "at will".

willzihang
willzihang

Reads to me more like the problems are ENTIRELY centered around Stieglitz. Woohoo an arsehole in a senior position, that's new.

Ophenix1
Ophenix1

I love how the title is "Dungeon Defenders workplace claims 'unacceptable,' says IGDA" while the actual line is "such actions are "unacceptable" if true."

Are you that desperate for hits? Cos I would have read this otherwise, I'd be less annoyed however. Attention grabbing titles only reduce your reputation as a gaming portal and that reputation isn't too high as it.

echolimaromeo
echolimaromeo

The International Game Developers Association?  Do we really need more bureaucracy in the world?  If you don't like your job, then find another, but don't pay people to do your bitching for you.  "He likes League Of Legends."  Is that a friggen crime?  That's what's wrong with people these days.  Not only would many people love to sit on their butts all day using a computer and earning overtime, but many people would be happy with a job.  Again, if you don't like it, quit.  No body has a gun to your head.

tau__
tau__

In America a worker is basically a slave to the Corporation..

In Europe a worker is basically a slave to the Government..

Pick your poison

uglypinkmoose
uglypinkmoose

poor people... I hope things get fixed and the culprits owned 

tightwad34
tightwad34

And to think I don't like going in on my day off. I guess I don't have it that bad.

sonicare
sonicare

"interesting, creative ideas [were] thrown by the wayside because 'we don't have time,' or 'Does League [of Legends] do it? No?' Then it's a waste of time, we need to do what League does." 

That just sounds like whining.  Not every boss is going to think like you.  But the other issues of gender discrimination or unpaid overtime are certainly serious.

cornbredx
cornbredx

Sorry, maybe I missed something, but what can the IGDA do if these claims are true? Do they hold some sway?

Legitimate question, I am not aware of what they do. Last I checked game developers aren't in a guild and are not unionized so... I don't see what relevance this brings to the table other than being an organization that finds this unacceptable.

I found the original Kotaku article a tad sensationalist so I ask this seriously as I am curious how this adds to this issue and what they can even do about it if it is. 

All the article does is recap the claims (made by anonymous sources and therefore cannot be verified- and I'm not saying they aren't true) and it says the IGDA finds it unacceptable. Fair enough, but what are they going to do about it?

demondogx
demondogx

America, Land of the free
Where workers have no right's

hadlee73
hadlee73

@FernoFrY Yeah the Metro Last Light guys are probably saying "Wow! The Trendy Ent. workers have wages??" :P

ShirkDawg
ShirkDawg

@TheHappyDrunk Or mass gathering in the streets. Occupy tried, but most people were satisfied being slaves.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@Ophenix1 This.  The headlines are getting downright misleading around here.

Zloth2
Zloth2

@echolimaromeo Wow, seriously naïve there.

No, they don't have a gun to your head, but they have your grocery money and your mortgage payment.  If you can't find another job fast enough, you're living in the streets.  Even if you do find a job, you may have to move quickly which means selling your house at a loss.

Yes, they WORK overtime, they do not get PAID for overtime unless they are paid by the hour.  Temporary contract workers do that but not the rank & file.

Yes, copying another company's work is a crime.

M1ghtyGuard
M1ghtyGuard

@echolimaromeo It's wrong to think that people in charge can do however they please. A human should respect another human, certainly if he/she strives for the same goals. Finding a good job these days, in your education degree, isn't always  that easy.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

@sonicare If they can program something BETTER than LoL, and the boss tosses it to the curb, then they're working for a total moron.  He'd have to be to want a total copy of a game without improving on it at least slightly.

Setho10
Setho10

@cornbredx They can't do anything officially. Condemning it is about the most they are capable of. But they do represent the opinions of most developers worldwide so if they condemn the practices then that is pretty damning to the studio.

echolimaromeo
echolimaromeo

@demondogx They have a right to quit and find another job.  Did you miss that in your communist handbook?

BlackSquare
BlackSquare

@demondogx The fact that they are going to sue shows exactly that they have rights. People are going to violate others rights. The problem is when the system doesn't give them an avenue to fix it. In the USA they do.

edant79
edant79

@demondogx  

....eh, not really dude.

With 80% of humanity living on less than $10 bucks a day....America's working condition are a dream compared to many other countries.

c-flat
c-flat

@demondogx Im assuming that was a joke. their are rules and guildlines that a company has to follow. These work conditions are abysmal and probably could have been brung to light if the workers werent scared to speak up on  the boss abusing his authority.

If it isnt obvious the employees were scared (still scared as far as I know to speak up). The great thing is that they are remaining anonymous so they cant get fired and they are bringing this to light. so its a win win.

Icepick_Trotter
Icepick_Trotter

@StinkySkunkGirl @Icepick_Trotter 
Mainstream in this case meaning "as big and well recognized as other industries and art forms, such as music and motion pictures"

With it comes recognition, but also big companies that work in a similar fashion, with their distinct sh*tty work conditions.

jecomans
jecomans

@ShirkDawg @TheHappyDrunk No, most people just realized that Occupy had only a faint clue what it stood for and even less clue what it was doing, and those people didn't want to be represented by such a useless 'protest' movement.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

@TheHappyDrunk @echolimaromeo When you have a BS in Computer Science, and a MS in Applied Information Technology, and you haven't been able to get a job in the IT field in 10 years, then you have a right to say something about jobs, echo.  I've lived this hell since 2002, and my latest job is a part-time cashier.  I'd love to program video games, but I can't afford the education ($2,400.00+ for a single non-credit DirectX class?), and there's too few jobs for newcomers (it's bad enough for experienced programmers).  I'm back in college to get a healthcare job because it's the only sector with good hiring numbers.  Put yourself in their place before you speak.

FenixNoT
FenixNoT

@echolimaromeo @demondogx Why should they have to quit and find another job because the president of the company is an asshole who is overworking his employees and discriminating based on gender difference? Surely someone else should be in charge, rather than those people who are being mistreated having to completely uproot themselves, their families and start fresh in a different studio, completely abandoning a project that they've spent years passionately working to create, no?

M1ghtyGuard
M1ghtyGuard

@edant79 @demondogx  The rights may be better, but if they get worse over the years, you need to step up against it... or do you want to end up like the 10 dollar buck countries?

Jjinne
Jjinne

@edant79 @demondogx Comparing your problems with that of another is ignorant. To everyone, their own problems are the worst. You may not agree with them, but that does not make them any less valid. 

demondogx
demondogx

@edant79 @demondogx just because working conditions are worse in other country's doesent meant they shouldent be better in yourse

xeoneex66
xeoneex66

@c-flat The problem with your statement, is the fact they are scared.  Why should ANYONE be scared to enter a workplace of ANY type.  It's wrong on all levels.

ShirkDawg
ShirkDawg

@jecomans @ShirkDawg @TheHappyDrunk 

No, they clearly didn't have a clue, otherwise they wouldn't believe everything said by Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, etc. They didn't seem to realize that wages were stagnant while executive compensation skyrocketed in the last 40 years. They didn't seem to realize they were being spied on by the government and were funding numerous wars both overt and covert. It was only "useless" in the sense that more people should have joined in, but of course most were either cowards, apathetic, or were satisfied with their position in the system. Most opponents I encountered had no clue about what was going on. They thought that we should be embroiled in wars, praying to Jesus, and that the big banks were their friend.

Rickystickyman
Rickystickyman

@demondogx @edant79 They are better. You just said that "because working conditions are worse in other country's " that means that America has better working conditions. This is one business that is doing this out of (quite literally) millions.