I know the larger takeaway is that workplace abuse can come from all sorts of organizations, not just AAA or white male dominated spaces, but also Annapurna seems uniquely bad??? The founders sound like Silicon Valley techbros with a hard-on for auteur theory. It kind of casts the past few years of breathless coverage of Annapurna Interactive (as a publisher) in a bad light.
This was a really fantastic video all in all. PMG are doing some of the most important and interesting long-form journalism that’s not Jason Schreier’s clockwork exposes of troubled productions.
I think both Kunzelman and Liz Ryerson both made this point on twitter: this video - while extremely important and necessary journalism - comes to the uncomfortable conclusion that auteurship is the antithesis to a safe workplace, and implies that the preferable alternative is the corporate model.
Annapurna the movie studio was founded by the scion of some billionaire. It’s old school “patronage” in every sense. I’m not particularly surprised that its employees use lofty principles to lampshade the same nasty assumptions of how and where creativity ultimately thrives.
Nevertheless, as Ryerson points out, art without “the auteur” (as in a unique and specific personal vision) is just product. I think this video falls down in that respect because it pins the abuses that these employees suffered on the fact that there was someone in charge who had a singular creative vision. That’s how all art starts! It’s just not how all art gets made. It’s not the singular creative vision that caused these abuses to occur, which feels like the conclusion the video comes to. It’s a weird note to end on considering what we know about Ubisoft, which makes some of the most de-personalised and soulless products you can play.
I guess it’s weird that this video ends on the conclusion that these abuses happened because individuals were given the freedom to execute an idea, rather than the managerial behaviours of those individuals. The whole “all power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” thing has been fairly effectively debunked by history. Gaynor, Wong, and Hunicke behaved this way when given this kind of freedom. That should compel us to examine who we grant these opportunities to more closely, rather than to consider such opportunities as the inevitable precursor to abuse.
Annapurna’s lack of action throughout these events sure is shit. From Steve Gaynor to these new reports it’s an incredulous pattern of putting their image before those who have been harassed and abused. Have they commented at all in regards to this video?
Funomena is shutting down because if Hunicke can’t play with her toys (employees), no one else can.
It’s almost like there’s a system in place, one that encourages the worst kind of people to seek leadership roles and continually diminish the public and private appreciation/reward of productive labor.