So is this what Bioware is about today? Bioware designer, Damion Schubert perpetuates a series of false allegations that have helped make my life and that of my family pretty unpleasant on some days for the past two years.
I think it’s pretty unbelievable that the same people who denounce #gamergate have no problem posting crap like you’ll see below that has previously resulted in me and my family receiving death threats that included the rape of my wife and the sodomizing of my son. I’m not sure how he justifies attacking me. Did I do something to someone? Have I attacked someone? Why are you bringing me into your crusade?
Here’s a link to his full article:
In it, he attacks me personally. I don’t know this person. He made no effort to contact me. But given his position in the industry (a Senior Designer at Bioware) , I am going to take the time to respond.
He [Milo] really wants you to ignore the fact that, when a sitting CEO is sued by an employee for sexual harassment, it’s a matter of public record as many legal issues are, and that the press has pretty good rationale for having a reason to report it.
First off, Stardock is mostly a software company. In 2012, less than 25% of our revenue game from games. Not a single technology publication (i.e. non-gaming) thought this newsworthy. Zero. But I find it amazing that he considers this tabloid crap newsworthy but reporting the concerns of #gamergate is not just taboo but actively deleting posts on their forums where people might want to discuss it is policy as well. Talk about double standards.
Secondly, the article was a hit piece. The author, just like Damion Schubert, made no genuine effort to get both sides. Instead, they took carefully selected emails and court documents to create a story that had no relationship with reality. Only the pleadings provided by the plaintiff and her lawyer were used.
The author of the original article took the time to talk to the lawyers of the plaintiff but not ours. It was a totally one-sided hit piece that was obviously about pushing an agenda: Men are bad. Women are victims.
He doesn’t mention the fact that the Kate Cox story did not, in fact, come in response to the woman suing Brad, but rather Stardock countersuing her. In their suit, they claimed that her deleting marketing assets and stealing a laptop was, in fact, a reason why Elemental shipped as a buggy piece of shit. Because, you know, that’s how game development works. Incidentally, this countersuit appeared merely 3 weeks after a judge rejected Stardock’s attempt to have the sexual harassment case dismissed – two years after the initial suit.
His evidence of bad journalism is to use more bad journalism. Let’s take this paragraph apart:
- The original article (on the countersuit) appeared because someone leaked it to the press. We have a pretty good idea who leaked it (not us) as it was leaked to try to create sympathy for the defendant.
- We have stated, endlessly, why Elemental wasn’t good. I did a GDC workshop on it. Note that this workshop was in 2011!
- The countersuit had been filed back in either late 2010 or early 2011 (don’t remember off hand). NOT in 2012 as was claimed but hey, who cares about facts?
- Tip to Damion, since he doesn’t seem to understand: If you destroy years worth of company property you are probably going to face some consequences.
He doesn’t mention this because it completely destroys his narrative – that the suit was dismissed as ‘groundless’. The suit wasn’t dismissed as groundless by a judge, nor tried in court. It was settled, in conjunction, effectively dropped in exchange for them dropping their allegations against her. Things like her apology and post-case silence are almost certainly conditions of the settlement. In football, this is called ‘offsetting penalties’, not ‘nothing bad happened here’.
The apology letter does not imply “nothing bad happened here”. Any reasonable person can deduce why one party would have to apologize to another party.
He really doesn’t mention the fact that this lawsuit was probably, if not a slam dunk, certainly strong enough to see its day in court and possibly earn judgment based on readily available facts (something that is betrayed by the sudden appearance of the countersuit). Milo could have easily found these facts by searching on the Internet, where he could have found not only the original legal complaint as well as several handy summaries of the facts found within
The lawsuit was certainly not a “slam” dunk because while it is easy to make up claims and post them on the Internet. Litigation involves facts and evidence. This is why we were able to prevail so thoroughly that the end result was the case dismissed with prejudice and a public apology.
Now, let me walk you through the false claims that keep being repeated as fact:
- Brad emailed his employee a purity test and asked for the score (and helpfully flagged the email for followup!).
No, I did not. Fabricated. I never sent such an email. Testified to this during deposition and pointed out various problems with the email at the time. That screenshot with the misspelled subject line is the only “evidence” presented. Yet Damion accepts this as “fact”. I’m supposed to somehow prove it wasn’t me who sent it?
- He touched her hair in an inappropriate and creepy manner (this is the one that always creeps my female friends out).
No, I did not. My friend and colleague of years were together with 2 other women (both of which were witnesses that backed my version). She made a sexist comment about male colleagues of ours because of the attention they made to their hair. Sitting next to me, I lightly touched her hair and said “Really? Didn’t you just dye your hair?” This was a person who had on many occasions given me unsolicited hugs. But Damion describes me as “creepy” because I lightly touched someone’s hair. Nice.
- He asked female employees about their breast and bra sizes.
No, I did not. Never happened. Her named witnesses denied this.
- He told her she should go on the media tour because her nipples looked best on TV.
No. What happened is that she did not want to appear on G4 because of the way they portrayed Olivia Munn. She laughed saying “I could see her nipples on TV. Do I have to go?” and I responded “But your nipples look better on TV than mine.” It was a shared joke. We had THREE witnesses to this.
- He visited the hotel room of her and another female employee and made her feel uncomfortable.
No. Never happened. The witness, who was not an employee of the company anymore, and considered by her to be her “best friend” testified that this did not happen. What actually happened is that I was asked to come to their room to fix their Internet connection. Her story confused both myself and her named witness.
The rest of it relates to a cherry picked email that ignores the context leading up to it and presents things said with sarcasm (again, he doesn’t know either of us or how our correspondence typically was).
Brad should thank his stars that he went 2 years without them catching a reporter’s eye, and if he hadn’t countersued but instead let it run its course or quietly settled, Stardock and Brad would likely still have a sterling reputation.
Nonsense. If there had been even the slightest validity to her claims you never would have heard of it because we would have settled long before. That’s how the real world works, Damion. When CEOs do bad things, their insurance takes care of it. We have insurance. We fought it because her claims were so outrageous and untrue that we weren’t going to let her profit from them.
We won because every named witness supported us. Current and former employees. Men and women.
Damion, It is disgusting, unprofessional and very disappointing to see someone in our industry stooping to this kind of public behavior. It was uncalled for.
For 20 years, I’ve run a company with an open, friendly environment. We have extremely low turn over. Point of fact, every single female witness that was employed at Stardock at the time of the suit in 2010 still works at Stardock today at 2014. Not some. All of them. All of whom were former friends with the plaintiff btw.
A little empathy would go a long way. Imagine running a company whose working environment is a model of “progressiveness”. Where people of all sexes and races are given equal opportunity. Promotions and pay rates (no salary gap here) are based purely on merit. Women occupy over half the leadership positions here (almost as if they represent over half the population). And then one day, you wake up and suddenly you’re painted out as some sort of cartoon villain.
And for the last two years, I’ve received daily harassment on it. I’ve gotten death threats. And at the end of the day, I didn’t do anything. I never did anything that even the most aggressive feminist would consider “sexual harassment”. I don’t tell dirty jokes. I don’t go around touching people. And even the infamous email, when in full context, is understood very differently.
Damion, you owe me an apology.
Percentage of journalists (including game journalists) who support us who are familiar with the actual facts and details of this story: 100% (>20 journalists are very familiar with the case at this point). That’s how outrageous this case was.
I had a brief but good conversation with Damion. He has updated the original article to reflect this article and writes:
If Kotaku corrects the record, or Brad is willing to provide compelling counter-evidence, I am more that happy to publish it here and apologize for this error, and I’ll even condemn Kotaku for shitty journalism.
Basically, the implication by Kotaku and others was that we filed suit against her in retaliation for not being able to get a summary disposition on her frivolous case. But that wasn’t true either. The case against her had been ongoing for a long time. Damion has asked for evidence that Kotaku blew it.
So here’s the evidence: An actual invoice from 2011 regarding the ongoing suit against the former employee.
The only thing that had recently changed (in 2012) is that we had changed venue from arbitration to federal court. This mainly had to do with how technical the case was (i.e. digital forensics) and that there was a statute that explicitly covered this kind of thing.
It takes months to go through the process of changing venues (as any lawyer can tell you). Needless to say, we have very little control over how fast, or slow, the federal court works. If Kotaku had a problem with the timing, they should complain to the federal court system.
The TL;DR version:
- Not only did no “sexual harassment” occur but no behavior that any reasonable (or even fairly unreasonable) would consider inappropriate occurred.
- I am *trying* to not get into the weeds on this as I honestly hold no animus towards the original plaintiff. She made a mistake. She apologized. None of this is about her. This is about how how messed up media coverage gets when they are pushing an agenda. What happened to me is the logical consequence of what happens when you politicize your news.
- It should be enough that every.single.witness supported us. Even today. Our PR manager who was a witness, has explicitly stated she’s willing to talk about it. No takers yet.
- Any lawyer should be able to tell you the significance of a. we got an apology letter and b. there is obviously no “gag” order on us discussing the case. Talk to a civil litigation attorney and have them explain to you what that means.
- Those familiar with the case in detail, even those politically on the opposite end from me, will tell you that nothing inappropriate occurred, even the infamous “I’m a sexist, vulgar embarrassing person” email changes its meaning when put into the larger context. The problem is when people try to take snippets of things and act like they know what happened. They don’t know me. They don’t know the people involved. They don’t know the context.
- Regardless of how you feel about #gamergate, it should be pretty clear that the original Kotaku article, those who signal boosted it and those who harassed me and smeared me on the forum were completely in the wrong.
I don’t expect those who were wrong before the case ended to own up to that. But I do expect anyone who expects to be treated as a reasonable, rational adult to cut this shit out.
In civil litigation, having a case dismissed with prejudice with an apology letter from the plaintiff is as definitive as you get. If we had gone through trial the best case would have been a “not found liable”. How do you think people would have responded to that? So don’t give me the “you weren’t vindicated” crap.
One last point:
If the reason people read what you write or listen to what you say is because of your day job, you can’t say “leave my employer out”. Nobody would care about my opinion if it weren’t for my day job. Believe me, I wish the two could be separated.