“It’s just not a comfortable work environment.”
September 13, 2019 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Inside The Ghosting, Racism, And Exploitation At Game Publisher Nicalis by Jason Schreier [Kotaku] “For this story, Kotaku spoke to four external developers who worked with Nicalis and seven former Nicalis employees, most of whom requested anonymity because they were afraid the company would retaliate against them. (Some of those employees left the company out of frustration; others were let go.) Some shared anecdotes about the company ignoring them for months on end. All described Nicalis’s founder and president Tyrone Rodriguez as a friendly but often difficult boss, prone to behavior that some called controlling and exploitative. Multiple former Nicalis employees said Rodriguez pressured them to drink heavily, made racist jokes in the workplace, and would oscillate between berating them and ignoring them. A few shared Skype logs of Rodriguez using racial and ableist slurs, racist jokes, and antisemitic comments during work conversations. (We’ve included some of those logs later in the piece.)” [Nicalis Founder Tyrone Rodriguez Responds to Investigation into His Racism and Mistreatment of Employees]

• The Binding of Isaac developer halts work with Nicalis over allegations of racism and abuse [PC Gamer]
“The Binding of Isaac creator Edmund McMillen has halted plans to work with indie publisher Nicalis on two of his upcoming games, including the recently announced The Legend of Bum-bo. McMillen made the decision following a Kotaku report containing allegations of racism, abusive behavior, and dubious business practices at the company. [...]
"I won’t be moving forward with Nicalis when it comes to the port of The Legend of Bum-bo or any console versions of Mewgenics," he said. "[Binding of Isaac: Repentance] will still be releasing as originally planned, the team poured their heart and soul into this DLC and it’s very close to releasing."
Enter the Gungeon designer David Crooks also described how Nicalis "ghosted" him on an agreement to develop a PlayStation 4 port of the game. Crooks and Nigel Lowrie of publisher Devolver Digital both said that after Nicalis signed an NDA and received access to the Enter the Gungeon source code, Rodriguez stopped responding to calls and emails, eventually forcing them to find someone else for the job.”
posted by Fizz (10 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I remember Rodriguez from the mid-90s video game fanzine scene. There's a heck of a longform article waiting to be written about where all those guys ended up.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2019 [6 favorites]

The games Nicalis publishes tend to track pretty well with my interests, so I'd always looked up to them a bit. One of the few publishers I could actually name. This is a bumer.
posted by one for the books at 10:06 AM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

The games Nicalis publishes tend to track pretty well with my interests, so I'd always looked up to them a bit.
Some of the comments & tweets I've read have referenced that Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya, creator of Cave Story, does not get certain royalties for the game because of some kind of bullshit deal that Tyrone Rodriguez worked out. I'm trying to find out a bit more about that. Based on everything I've read about Tyrone, I believe it.

I own almost every one of Nicalis's games. I regret how much money I've thrown towards Nicalis for various games. That being said, I'm glad to hear that Edmund McMillen immediately severed ties with Nicalis and canceled development of his two upcoming games so that they will be published with someone else. Ugh, what a piece of trash person.

Hoping no one in the industry will work with him going forward and that everyone else at Nicalis can find some other work and remove themselves from that kind of abusive work environment. The ideal situation would be for him to step down and walk away from this company but I doubt that is going to happen.
posted by Fizz at 10:18 AM on September 13, 2019 [7 favorites]

Okay, another controversy surrounding a video game industry asshole. Why am I not surprised?
posted by Young Kullervo at 10:47 AM on September 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Is there some sort of clearinghouse where they write non-apologies for every garbage bro who makes bigoted statements? Because every single one is "I was trying to be edgy and that's not who I am," almost word for word.
posted by holborne at 2:16 PM on September 13, 2019 [12 favorites]

"I was trying to be edgy and that's not who I am,"

@MaraWilson tweeted the following recently:
“Said it before and I will say it again, do something ironically or “as a joke” and you will bw doing it in earnest soon enough.

This is also why Mean Girls is one of the most important movies of our times”
This is so wise and accurate.
posted by Fizz at 2:36 PM on September 13, 2019 [17 favorites]

Jason Schreier is one of the few people in the “writing about games” trade that does what I’d consider actual journalism. You know, where you actually talk to primary sources and investigate things to verify facts and build a story (beyond what can be researched in 15 minutes of Googling). It’s pretty rare in the enthusiast press in general, where most folks get into the industry to celebrate the product from a fan’s eye view, but don’t have the skills or the inclination to actually do the real reporting work. With determined work like this, it might create some positive change in the industry.
posted by workingdankoch at 3:39 PM on September 13, 2019 [5 favorites]

“Said it before and I will say it again, do something ironically or “as a joke” and you will bw doing it in earnest soon enough.

I've long believed that anything said in jest had to have been thought about in earnest before pivoted into a joke.
posted by hippybear at 6:42 PM on September 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, it's worth noting that:

1. Cave Story is STILL available for free, as a freeware game

2. The creator's followup game was about doing hard work for an incomprehensible boss who demonstrated no concern whatsoever for the player character's wellbeing

Read into it as you will
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:24 PM on September 13, 2019 [8 favorites]

Garbage behavior in the gaming industry? Imagine my surprise.
posted by uberchet at 1:11 PM on September 16, 2019

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