Boss of queer indie game company Fullbright steps down over sexism allegations

Fullbright Open Roads

Steve Gaynor, co-founder of developer Fullbright, has stepped down as creative lead following allegations of a toxic workplace.

Fullbright were responsible for queer indie hit Gone Home and are in the process of creating their latest game Open Roads.

The team issued a statement from the Open Roads Twitter account stating they are “fervent believers in fostering a work environment that is healthy and collaborative, where we can work with transparency, autonomy, and trust”.

As such, Gaynor is stepping back from his role as creative lead and manager but will remain working as a writer. Open Roads is a road trip game about two women.

As reported by Polygon, fifteen employees have left Fullbright since Open Roads began development in 2019. Twelve former employees said they left at least in part due to Gaynor’s behaviour – specifically towards women.

At least 10 of the employees who left are women.

Multiple sources told Polygon that the workplace environment was “controlling” and they felt undermined and demeaned by Gaynor.

While they did not experience sexual harassment, women were allegedly victims of repeated microaggressions despite the studio promoting inclusivity.

A Fullbright representative told Polygon that Gaynor had stepped back in March this year due to the “pattern of women leaving” the company. 

“Steve stepped down in March 2021 after it became clear that the steps that were already being taken to improve his interactions with the team were only yielding temporary results,” they said. “More drastic action was needed for the health of the team.”

Gaynor himself has issued a statement on Twitter in response.

“My leadership style was hurtful to people that worked at Fullbright, and for that I truly apologize,” he admits.

“Stepping back has given me space and perspective to see how my role needs to change and how I need to learn and improve as part of a team, including working with an expert management consultant, and rethinking my relationship to the work at Fullbright.

“The Open Roads team has my full faith and support as they bring the game to completion.”

Open Roads is due for release this year. It will be published by Annapurna Interactive, who recently held a showcase of forthcoming titles.

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