A report published exclusively by Kotaku’s news editor Jason Schreier has opened up information about the dark and exploitative conditions for developers and staff at indie development studio Nicalis Inc.
The report looked at the history of the company and its many previous rumors of shocking behavior from the company founder Tyrone Rodriguez. It included evidence and testimonials submitted by four anonymous ex-employees, all of whom either left in frustration or were “let go” by the company. The ex-employees talked about how Rodriguez would frequently use racial slurs, inappropriate jokes, and anti-Semitic comments in and around the workplace.
The company is known for having helped develop some of the biggest games in the Indie Gaming world, including Edmund McMillen’s The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, Terry Cavanagh’s VVVVVV and Studio Pixel’s Cave Story. But the developer and owner Rodriguez has a history of ghosting calls and messages from publishers about work opportunities and information on games and deadline. Game designer David Crooks of Enter the Gungeon fame and Developer Digital mentioned in the report of having particular frustration with their professionalism.
Some Skype logs showed up in the report, where Rodriguez described employees of other stakeholders “kind of retards” and even described Nintendo as “gay.”
Other testimonials included shaming employees for their weight, making highly inappropriate racial slurs while the staff was watching Star Trek, and pressuring the team to take disgusting drink concoctions for his amusement. He also refused staff fundamental human rights such as refusing to let them take a dinner break during periods of crunch development. The developer doesn’t have an HR department, allowing him to get away with it.
Nicalis and Victor Rodriguez have yet to make a statement on the accusations. The report also confirmed that Edmund McMillen, who was due to collaborate with Nicalis on two future games, has cut ties with the company.