Yesterday former IGN freelance writer and later social media editor Kallie Plagge wrote on Twitter about sexual harassment she allegedly received at IGN.
Plagge writes that the harassment came from former IGN editor Vince Ingenito and “included uncomfortable compliments (‘Guys don’t like skinny girls. You’re perfect’), manipulative and abusive comments (‘[The guys he assumed I was dating] are all boys. You need a real man.’), and overtly sexual comments (‘When I was your age, I could go all night.’ He put his hand on my arm. ‘I just want one more night like that.’).”
In the same tweet Plagge states that in June 2016, Human Resources and upper management at IGN told her that she needed to use better judgement about who she was friends with, implying that she was an equal participant in an “inappropriate flirtation” and not the victim of sexual harassment. She says that “I was made to sign a document stating that I’d behaved inappropriately, on the condition that I’d be fired if it happened again.”
Plagge states that after reporting to HR she was “forced to work with Vince for another six months until I left IGN for my current job. I spent the entirety of those months sick with anxiety, literally to the point of severe nausea every day. I was terrified of further retaliation should I say anything.”
Plagge cites the sexual harassment from Ingenito and the mismanagement from supervisors at IGN and HR as a major factor in her leaving IGN in late 2016. Ingenito was let go by IGN in March of 2017 and Ingenito stated the departure was “totally amicable.”
Ingenito wrote his own statement out yesterday in a series of tweets where he said that “I don’t believe Kallie is a liar… I believe she felt uncomfortable with our level of friendship, but being younger, perhaps was scared to say so. I have no desire to embarrass her, or myself by sharing screens of every conversation we had as proof.”
Ingenito maintains that he had no idea why Plagge was uncomfortable at work and was never informed by HR as to what the accusations against him were. Ingenito was adamant that he never touched Plagge in a sexual way. Ingenito has cited legal limitations preventing him from saying anything more about the events and concluded by stating “no matter who you believe, no one has the implicit right to trample anyone’s boundaries. Be your best self, and if someone tells you you’ve hurt them, apologize and be better.”
Support from other IGN employees (both current and former), as well as other games journalists, filled the mentions to Plagge’s tweet.
When asked in a reply whether fans should support IGN in light of these allegations Plagge replied that “I will always support the work of the incredible people who work there. ❤️”
Last month similar allegations were made against employees Naughty Dog LLC, developers of Uncharted and The Last of Us. The allegations site similar mismanagement by the company’s HR. The accuser claims the studio made an attempt to pay him off with a severance package. When the accuser refused he says the studio fired him the next day.
Sexual harassment allegations have been made by women and men across all facets of the games industry including games journalism, game designers at Naughty Dog LLC, employees on eSports teams like San Francisco Shock and the founder of popular game discussion site NeoGaf.
The domino effect of more and more victims coming forward appears to be having a much bigger effect on the film industry than the games industry. Naughty Dog has denied any knowledge of sexual harassment and IGN hasn’t commented on Plagge’s allegations as of this writing. But since the Weinstein revelations, big film studios are dropping actors and employees accused of sexual misconduct. Companies like Netflix, HBO and TriStar have dropped actors Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. after they confessed to sexual abuse.
Hopefully, as more victims brave the spotlight by coming forward we can begin to see a change in the industry as abusers are held responsible for their actions. As author Laurie Penny aptly points out, we live in “a culture that decided long ago that women’s agency and dignity were worth sacrificing to protect the reputation of powerful men and the institutions that enabled their entitlement.”