- Dec 2, 2020
Current and former employees of Season studio say Simon Darveau's toxic actions were enabled by co-owner Amélie Lamarche
GamesIndustry.biz has spoken to nine current and former employees of the Montreal-based Scavengers Studio who worked with the company at some point over the past four years, all of whom spoke with us under the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. They described a company largely composed of talented people working on projects they deeply cared about across both Darwin Project and Season. However, they also said that the excitement and creativity surrounding both games was tainted by a toxic work environment fostered by the studio's co-founders: creative director Simon Darveau (formerly founder of Spearhead Games and a designer at Ubisoft) and his romantic partner at the time of the studio's founding, CEO Amélie Lamarche.
"Full Predator Mode"Almost every source we spoke to described Scavengers as an environment hostile to women -- a "boys' club" culture that was largely permitted by its co-owners or, in Darveau's case, actively led by. Several said women were frequently degraded by male employees including Darveau, or infantilized and treated as if they did not know what they were talking about even when speaking from a position of expertise about their own work. This was said to have happened in casual conversations, public team meetings, and on the studio's work Slack.
Several also said that beyond being degraded, many women at the studio were victims of sexist remarks and behaviors, both from Darveau and from a handful of other male employees. Multiple women described having numerous inappropriate comments made about their appearance and outfits, with one saying a male employee repeatedly made remarks asking if she was attracted to him or if she would marry him.
One former employee described an incident that occurred during a team meeting on Season, where one group was presenting its idea to have the main character, Abby, be able to play the guitar. Someone remarked in front of the group that this feature "wasn't realistic" because the guitar was too complicated for a woman, and that she should play a ukulele instead. This remark went unchallenged.
One major incident that many we spoke to were aware of occurred in mid-2018, and involved an employee who one day simply stopped showing up to work. Sometime later, an office meeting was called in which it was announced that she wouldn't be returning. Employees who spoke to Lamarche later told the story around the office: Darveau allegedly had an affair with the employee, and Lamarche had found out. No one was able to confirm whether or not the employee had left of her own volition following this incident.
MANY MORE INCIDENTS IN THE ARTICLE