Life is Strange studio Deck Nine accused of toxic workplace culture in new report

A Deep Dive Into Deck Nine Studios

A recent investigation into developer Deck Nine – widely recognized as the current guardian of the beloved Life is Strange franchise, known for its commitment to diversity and inclusivity – has revealed a troubling environment of toxicity, harassment, bullying, and neglect within the studio’s walls.

In a comprehensive report by IGN’s Rebekah Valentine, based on accounts from numerous current and former employees spanning various departments at Deck Nine, several disturbing allegations have come to light, shedding a light on the disparity between the esteemed values of the Life is Strange series and the internal workings of the studio.

Reports from IGN’s sources detail instances of sexual harassment, transphobia, and other toxic behaviors at Deck Nine, all of which were allegedly left unaddressed by senior management for extended periods. One particularly concerning incident involved a senior programmer’s hostility towards female staff, which was initially met with a superficial response of relocating the team’s desks to mitigate the noise, rather than directly addressing the underlying behavior. Eventually, the individual in question was let go.

A Closer Look at Deck Nine’s Internal Dynamics

  • Sexism, harassment, bullying, and transphobia rampant within narrative team
  • Allegations against former chief creative officer Zak Garriss
  • Issues surrounding the portrayal of diverse characters in True Colors

The narrative team, touted as one of the studio’s most diverse departments, reportedly endured a slew of sexist behaviors, harassment, and microaggressions, all stemming from the broader company culture. Specific grievances were directed towards Zak Garriss, the former chief creative officer, accusing him of boundary-crossing with female staff and exhibiting resistance towards more sensitive portrayals of diverse characters. Garriss was also criticized for dismissing feedback and rewriting team members’ work without their input, particularly on stories featuring marginalized characters.

In response to these allegations, Garriss defended himself, asserting that certain team members were resistant to collaboration and compromise, jeopardizing the project’s quality. However, his contentious leadership style prompted several resignations and his subsequent departure from Deck Nine.

Addressing Unresolved Issues Within Deck Nine

  • Slow response to concerns raised by employees
  • Allegations of covert insertion of problematic content in games
  • Inadequate action by senior management

Beyond the internal strife at Deck Nine, IGN’s report also delves into unsettling incidents like the delayed removal of offensive content within a recent Life is Strange title and the studio’s lackluster response to employee complaints. Additionally, criticism was leveled at Square Enix, the publisher of Life is Strange, for allegedly fostering a toxic work environment and impeding creative freedom on certain narrative choices.

Deck Nine’s Commitment to Change

In a comprehensive response to IGN’s article, Deck Nine emphasized its dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace, outlining measures to address issues of conduct, promote internal transparency, and enhance collaboration with partners. The studio affirmed its commitment to creating a safe and respectful environment for all employees and stakeholders.