Gaynor is accused of being extremely controlling, toxic, and would break down employees via microaggressions.
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Steve Gaynor, the co-founder of Fullbright, developers of games such as Gone Home and Tacoma, has stepped back from his position as creative lead and manager. This comes after allegations were levied against Gaynor that he fostered a very toxic work environment. Gaynor will now only be a writer on Fullbright's upcoming title, Open Roads.

In the late evening hours of August 4, the official Open Roads Twitter account issued a statement saying that they are "fervent believers in fostering a work environment that is healthy and collaborative." They say that Gaynor has "stepped back from his role as creative lead and manager."

This alone sounded quite ominous as this news came before a report from Polygon provided details. Their report says that since development of Open Roads began in 2019, 15 different employees have left the studio. Of those 15, 12 said that "their departure was at least in part due to Gaynor's behavior towards workers, specifically women on the team." Of those 12, the report says that 10 of them were women.

Gaynor reportedly left his leadership roles back in March of 2021. This was done after it was apparent "that the steps that were already being taken to improve his interactions with the team were only yielding temporary results."

Gaynor is accused of being incredibly controlling and breaking down employees via microaggressions. With everything going on in the industry these days, particularly with Activision Blizzard, you're probably just relieved to hear that this isn't yet another report about sexual harassment at the workplace. How messed up is the gaming industry when reporting about a toxic workplace is somehow the lesser of two evils? And let's not mince words here either: Creating a toxic work environment is horrific, especially when it comes from the person in charge. This situation is not one that should be taken lightly.

Multiple former employees, who spoke with Polygon anonymously out of fear of retaliation, described the Fullbright work environment as “controlling,” a place in which staffers felt undermined and demeaned by Gaynor. Because of Gaynor’s status as the co-founder of a beloved indie darling, some former employees say they were worried about being blacklisted from the industry — though some ended up leaving the industry entirely, anyway. These former employees said they did not experience or witness sexual harassment or explicit sexism; instead, they said, the studio’s toxic culture hid behind the veneer of inclusivity, as women were allegedly repeatedly broken down by microaggressions.
At least two employees reached out to Annapurna directly. “My personal experience of having Steve as my manager was a toxic and unhealthy dynamic,” this former employee wrote in a correspondence to Annapurna that was reviewed by Polygon. “I can confidently say that I do not want my career to be associated with him.”

Another employee, in a letter to Annapurna, described it as “the worst professional experience [she’d] had in games.”
One former employee that was in a leadership position within the company said that "working for him often felt like working for a high school mean girl. His go-to weapon was to laugh at people's opinions and embarrass them in front of other people."

At present, Gaynor remains with the company but only as a writer. Despite the call from many fans requesting that he and the company part ways entirely, Gaynor will currently remain as one of the only six remaining employees still working at Fullbright on Open Roads. Open Roads is still tentatively slated to be released in 2021.

Gaynor did provide a public statement following the announcement from Fullbright and the detailed report from Polygon.

Hi all. I have a statement to share about my role at Fullbright. Earlier this year, I stepped back from my role as creative lead on Open Roads. My leadership style was hurtful to people that worked at Fullbright, and for that I truly apologize.

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.

I care deeply about Open Roads and the Fullbright team. I’m sad to have stepped back from day-to-day development of Open Roads, but it’s been the right thing to do. The Open Roads team has my full faith and support as they bring the game to completion.