Rocksteady Studios, the UK based developer who helped shaped modern comic book games with the Arkham series, has unfortunately entered the club of developers where the sad entry requirement is sexual misconduct allegations. This comes days before the company is set to reveal their upcoming title Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League.
Two years ago, half of the female employees at the studio forwarded a signed letter to management, citing among other things unwanted advances against female staff, ignorant comments aimed at the transgendered community and discussing women in way that’s inappropriate in the work place. Once this was brought to the attention of the higher-ups, employees were assigned a mandated seminar lasting but an hour, Many people who have signed the letter have since departed from the company. Said one anonymous signee:
“I have heard everything from groping claims to incidents involving directors, all of whom are men,…Everyone who attended was asked to sign a statement confirming that they’d received the training. It felt that it was a just way for them to cover their arses.”
The Guardian, who helped bring this information to light, has reached out to Rocksteady who stated they have since had a company wide meeting about the letter and promised new initiatives moving forward to prevent this type of behavior. The signee added:
“I think a good outcome [of publicising the letter] is basically showing the games industry in general [that] no matter how big your company is, how much you promote it as supportive of diversity, if you keep putting your head in the sand you will eventually be outed,…I’d say 97%-98% of the developers there are incredible people, and it’s so unfair that this will land on them because a few people weren’t managed properly.”
This type of behavior is frustratingly common in the video game industry. Ubisoft, another developer whose head office is in Europe, has dismissed many of its problematic staff in the past couple of months, among them the creative director for Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla creative director, Ashraf Ismail. Ismail was reportedly found pursuing relationships despite still being married.
Kim MacAskill, the person who wrote the letter that The Guardian is referencing, has just published a powerful YouTube video detailing her experience at Rocksteady. Before she left the company in 2019, in what she referred to as her dream job, Kim was the senior writer on Rocksteady’s Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. It’s equally heartbreaking and sickening, but also something that everyone should watch. Courageous and talented people like Kim and the other women she worked with should never be made to feel the way they did. For a studio that has worked with superheroes for over a decade, you would think they would learn to follow their example.