This was posted on Twitter by Alec's sister. She's protected her account now (probably because of how disgusting the replies to it were), but I've re-typed the statement here: Alec Holowka, my...
This was posted on Twitter by Alec's sister. She's protected her account now (probably because of how disgusting the replies to it were), but I've re-typed the statement here:
Alec Holowka, my brother and best friend, passed away this morning.
Those who know me will know that I believe survivors and I have always done everything I can to support survivors, those suffering from mental illnesses, and those with chronic illnesses. Alec was a victim of abuse and he also spent a lifetime battling mood and personality disorders. I will not pretend that he was not also responsible for causing harm, but deep down he was a person who wanted only to offer people care and kindness. It took him a while to figure out how.
Over the last few years, with therapy and medication, Alec became a new person—the same person he'd always been but without any of the darkness. He was calm and happy, positive and loving. Obviously, change is a slow process and it wasn't perfect, but he was working towards rehabilitation and a better life.
In the last few days, he was supported by many Manitoba crisis services, and I want to thank everyone there for their support. I want to thank Adam Saltsman for staying up late talking with us and reminding Alec that there was a future.
My family has and always will be the most important thing to me. Please give us time to heal. We tried our best to support Alec, but in the end he felt he had lost too much.
I currently do not see a place for myself in games or on Twitter. I will not be looking at the responses to this post. I appreciate everyone who has reached out to me over the last few days. For anyone who is in a time of darkness, I encourage you to reach out for support. There are always people who will be there for you.
As backstory, he was accused of abuse (and sexual abuse) last week by Zoe Quinn with several others corroborating past abusive behavior (a bit more detail in this article). As a result, the other Night in the Woods creators cut ties with him. I'm going to re-post their statements below inside a collapsed block since they're fairly long, but you can expand it if you want to read them:
Statements from Scott Benson
From Scott Benson's personal account:
Allegations of past abuse have come to light this week regarding Alec Holowka, who we have worked with in the past. We take such allegations seriously, and applaud those speaking out about their experiences with abuse in the industry and elsewhere.
As a result, we won't be working with Alec in the future. What this means for Night in the Woods going forward is something we will have to work out. These things take time, longer than a couple days at least.
Night in the Woods is a very personal game for Bethany and I. Our parts of the game - the writing, world, characters, art, etc - are pulled from our own lives, sometimes very directly.
We know it has connected with thousands of people in a very deep manner. And whatever your reaction is, that's valid. Know that we are just as heartbroken right now. We'll have more info in the future about how we're moving forward. Thanks.
On a more personal note, this has all been devastating. And people will ask for details that we as collaborators on a project simply do not have. They’ll want essays and interviews as if we have some secret info. But we don’t. We’re just very sad right now.
And on the Night in the Woods account
This week, allegations of past abuse have come to light regarding Alec Holowka, who was coder, composer, and co-designer on Night In The Woods. We take such allegations seriously as a team. As a result and after some agonizing consideration, we are cutting ties with Alec.
We are cancelling a current project and postponing the Limited Run physical release. The iOS port is being handled by an outside company and supervised by Finji and will remain in development.
We’ve received a lot of emails and messages in the past few days, often very hurt and angry. That’s also how we feel. This has been very, very tough.
I should say that I’m Scott. Hello. I run this account. I was the artist, lead animator, co-designer, co-writer, and the guy who wrote almost all of that dialogue in the game. Bethany’s here too, she was co-writer and researcher.
Much of Night In The Woods is pulled pretty directly from our lives. Bethany is from a tiny valley in central PA. I’ve lived out here in Western PA for about 20 years. The characters are us, and people we’ve known. The places are ones we know.
Thousands of people have connected with Night In The Woods in a very personal way. We can’t tell you how to feel about any of this. Whatever you’re feeling is valid. Your experience with art is yours. What it means to you is yours, regardless of anything else.
Going forward, Night In The Woods will be handled by Bethany and I. We’re not sure what that all means yet. This stuff takes time.
Thanks for your support over the years. We’re sorry to even have to say any of this. That’s all I can say at the moment. Thank you for your patience.
(Edit: since Zoe Quinn has deleted her Twitter account now, I'm going to re-type her statement as well)
Zoe Quinn's statement
I want to say upfront that I'm not saying this for anyone but me and the other people that I know have been hurt by him, and might in the future be hurt. I read Nathalie Lawhead's post about her rapist being an industry legend who took advantage of her and poisoned her career and it shook me to my core. Her waning health, her fear, the way she described all of it feeling like drowning... and my heart broke for her. Beyond that, I felt *ashamed*. So many of the little details, down to the timing, had been things I've gone through too, just a few months into my time as an indie game developer. And it's haunted me ever since. It's why I don't go to GDC anymore. I'm drowning too.
A few months into making games, I was sexually assaulted. My visa status was threatened if I told anyone, and he went out of his way to tell the community that I'd been falsely accusing him of rape when I hadn't said anything to anyone (but a third party who saw it happen firsthand confronted him about it the next day). This story isn't about him - after years of therapy and working on himself, he reached out and apologized for everything, and I've forgiven him. But that's the background to this story.
One month after the assault, I wanted to leave Toronto. I was scared, I couldn't sleep, and I almost killed myself over it. I had a suicide note and everything ready to go but I just didn't want to do that to my roommate.
Enter Alec Holowka. Yeah, the one from Aquaria and Night in the Woods. He was one person who I felt like, in my newly chosen field, had my back.
He talked about how great and cheap Winnipeg was and we flirted and talked on skype for hours. He knew I was in an incredibly vulnerable place and he asked me to come visit him in Winnipeg to see if I'd want to start an indie house there with the 3 friends I'd been talking about the idea with, and to see if the thing between us was as cool as it seemed at a distance. Two weeks. I'd buy the plane ticket there, he'd buy my plane ticket back. He knew i couldn't afford it otherwise so that was the deal.
I wouldn't get home for a month, and only then it was because my roommate used his miles to get me out of his apartment that he had physically confined me to.
While I was in Winnipeg he slowly isolated me from everyone else in my life while absolutely degrading me whenever we were alone. He convinced me to talk the 3 friends out of getting a shared place with me there. He convinced me to let him program my game instead of the friend I had been working with, despite many protests. He screamed at me for over an hour once because of the tone in my voice when I said hello. He wouldn't let me leave the apartment without him and refused to give me the code to get in.
About the sexual assault, he blamed me. He said he was jealous of me, to be wanted like that. He'd bring it up during sex, where he'd regularly be mean and violent. He told me he loved me, in a way no one else would, because he could see that I was terrible and he loved me anyway. And I bought it, because that's how you feel when you're recovering from being sexually assaulted.
I spent a lot of that month hiding from him in the bathroom. His moods would shift and he'd throw things and hurt himself seemingly at random and blame me. He'd jam his fingers inside me and walk me around the house by them when I told him it hurt.
I was scared to leave. I was scared to tell anyone. He'd act normal when other people were around and lay into me as soon as we were alone, then apologize and say how much he needed and loved me. I got even more scared when the two weeks had passed and he kept putting off the agreed plane ticket home. I spent a lot of that time hiding in the bathroom from him. My roommate started to get scared and asked me if I needed help getting out. I said yes, and Alec barely looked at me as I left.
When I got home, I sent a cordial and friendly break up email. He lashed out and banned me from an indie games community he ran, banned himself, then went to other industry legends asking them to help him kill himself because I was such a bitch. He made sure to blacklist me at important industry events. He tried to ruin the career I'd barely started. To a degree it worked.
The night GG started I vaguebooked about it without specifying which ex and two other women in games immediately messaged me to ask if it was Alec. He'd done similar things to them. They knew he'd been fixated on me and were also too afraid to speak up about an industry legend.
It's been the better part of a decade and I'm still afraid of him. Too afraid to speak out, especially because I've gone through so much publicly, like people will just roll their eyes and ignore me as if there's some karmic limit on how much bad shit can happen to someone before people stop listening. I'm afraid that people will care more about their love of Night in the Woods than they will about the safety and truths of women and non-binary people in games.
I'm still afraid of him. I'm afraid of telling anyone about him. I'm afraid of how many indies have seen this behavior and given him a pass. I'm afraid of being in the same room as him because I'm afraid he'll hurt me again. I'm afraid of all the developers who watched this happen, and watched him scream abuse at another woman out front of Moscone during GDC.
But being silent for years has been worse than the fear. I skipped the last 2 GDCs because I couldn't risk being around him or seeing everyone clap for him on stage. Especially not people who know.
I don't wish any ill will on anyone. I know Alec is likely not well and I will always believe in rehabilitation over punishment. I don't want anything bad to come of this to his collaborators who may not know any of this. But I've watched enough of the big names in the indie community know about him - so much so that the reaction to his first meltdown about me was "oh well that's Alec what can you do" - and I've seen enough to know nothings going to happen about this particular broken stair unless someone says something. But we're all scared. I'm scared. A big childish part of me has been hoping people would somehow start caring or figure it out on their own.
But feeling like a coward in the face of Nathalie's strength, feeling like I have to hide from my own life because it's not safe and I can't tell anyone *why* I'm hiding, of knowing I wasn't the first or last, of drowning, that's too much for me to keep carrying with me. I just want the other boot to drop so I can breathe again. I don't want another new dev to get hurt and hear the same "oh that's just how he is" after the fact that I did. I want to breathe again.