News and Commentary

A Top Woman In Gaming Resigned After She Was Accused Of Abuse
Midsection Of Man Using Mobile Phone - stock photo
Fabio Principe / EyeEm / Getty Images

A leading woman in gaming stepped down from her position following years of abuse allegations from numerous accusers, a story that has been ignored by mainstream media and gaming news outlets.

Jennifer Scheurle, who chaired the International Game Developers Association’s (IDGA) Women in Games Special Interest Group, stepped down in mid-September even though the IGDA claimed it had no “compelling evidence of wrongdoing.” Scheurle’s accusers had submitted numerous formal and informal complaints to the association, including a 120-page report detailing instances of alleged abuse by Scheurle.

The allegations began in 2018, but in June 2020, Noni Och, a fellow game developer, made public accusations that a “well respected woman in game development manipulated and essentially groomed” her. This woman, Och claimed, publicly “said all the right ‘woke’ things and appeared to be an ally, but in reality used so many of the abuse tactics she preached against.”

The lengthy Twitter thread insisted that the woman tried to isolate Och from her friends, constantly victimized herself “to be above criticism,” and was only kind to others when she wanted something.

“She claimed she wanted to lift up other women, but really she was happy with their success as long as they didn’t climb above her. She spread rumors about other women she saw as rivals. She preyed on junior women because we were easier to manipulate and mold,” Och claimed.

When Och “finally cut her off, she played the victim and appealed to some of my friends, damaging those relationships with lies.”

More than a year after Och’s accusations, she named the person as Scheurle.

IGDA responded to Och’s accusation by asking for more information to conduct an internal investigation. Anna Brandberg, another game designer, responded to the IGDA by saying accusers had already come forward with information for the association.

“Multiple informal complaints made in 2018; formal complaints lodged in 2019 and again in 2020. Both times they included statements from 10+ people; the second time the statements and evidence was over 120+ pages long,” she tweeted, attaching screenshots of formal complaints made to the association. “The IGDA has been aware for years.”

On September 16, Scheurle announced that even though the IGDA decided “to dismiss the claims against me,” she would resign as chair of the Women in Games Special Interest Group.

“I have always tried to embody the value of believing victims and this does not change with the accused being myself,” she added. “Many people I love are hurting and I wish to not bring any more harm to any of you. I’m sorry for any harm I have caused Noni and others, both past and present.”

Prior to her resignation, IGDA released a statement saying it had conducted a “thorough investigation,” but “the submitter of the complaint was informed there was not [sic] compelling evidence of wrongdoing. They were also invited to submit additional materials in the future to have the investigation reopened.”

The statement referred to a single “submitter,” so it is unclear whether the other complaints and evidence were considered.

Scheurle is also the lead game designer at Blackbird Interactive Inc., which released a statement to NME saying it would investigate the claims against Scheurle using a third party.

“We are enlisting the aid of third party services to enable anonymous reporting and investigative processes that are thorough and free of any corporate bias. Out of consideration for privacy, we will not comment on individual cases, but we will act decisively to support the comfort and safety of all Blackbird employees,” the statement said.

Outside of a handful of websites, the situation surrounding Scheurle has not gotten much attention. Larger gaming websites – such as Polygon and Kotaku, haven’t mentioned her resignation or the accusations, even though these websites jump at the chance to report on accusations of abuse against male game developers. It also hasn’t gotten any mention from mainstream media outlets, like CNN, who also report when men in gaming are accused of abuse.

The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  A Top Woman In Gaming Resigned After She Was Accused Of Abuse