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.”