When indie studio MidBoss released its narrative adventure Read Only Memories: 2064, it was praised for its inclusivity. It starred LGBTQIA characters and explored queer relationships. For some players, it was the first time they could choose their own pronouns. Its creator and MidBoss founder Matt Conn also started GaymerX, the first game event for the community.
Then in March, a series of allegations fractured the idea that MidBoss and GaymerX had successfully created a safe space for queer folks in games. Former MidBoss employees accused Conn of sexual harassment, improper wages, and promoting a toxic workplace. When Conn stepped down as CEO, similar allegations were leveled against president Toni Rocca, who was taking his place. Conn and Rocca both denied that they had ever sexually harassed anyone, though Conn admitted that he had made mistakes when it comes to paying employees.
Eventually, both Conn and Rocca left both of the organizations, which named new leadership and promised to implement new payroll and diversity training initiatives moving forward. Though that chapter might be closed for MidBoss and GaymerX, this story has unearthed the unpleasant reality that many independent developers have to face.
Developing games is a grueling and expensive process, and many indies are operating on a microbudget. In MidBoss’s case, it sounds like that unfortunately meant underpaying team members. Former MidBoss employee Ellen McGrody says that she was paid “less than minimum wage,” and former MidBoss software engineer Christopher Lindgren said he knew coworkers who were…