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The Suicide Squad game's developer is causing a huge uproar

Rocksteady Studios, the developer behind the massive Batman: Arkham franchise and the upcoming Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, may be in trouble. According to a recent report from The Guardian, several women in the company have come forward in the past to complain of gross misconduct involving other members of the Rocksteady staff.

A letter was recently sent to The Guardian has recently revealed that there may still be some serious problems going on behind the scenes at Rocksteady. This letter was accompanied by some upsetting allegations against Rocksteady's toxic work environment. The letter is signed by 10 of the 16 women who were employed by Rocksteady at that time. In the letter, the signatories complained about discriminatory and sexually inappropriate behavior being a regular occurrence at the company. 

Among the complaints were "'slurs regarding the transgendered community' and 'discussing a woman in a derogatory or sexual manner with other colleagues,' and sexual harassment 'in the form of unwanted advances, leering at parts of a woman's body, and inappropriate comments in the office.'"

Though the letter is dated from nearly two years ago, an anonymous source has contacted The Guardian to inform the publication that this behavior may still be occurring at Rocksteady. This source shared the aforementioned letter and told The Guardian that Rocksteady's only response to it at the time was to hold a single training seminar regarding appropriate workplace decorum. This source says that they still hear that women are frequently disrespected and harassed by multiple men at the company, many of whom allegedly hold senior positions on staff.

Obviously these are serious allegations. At first, it was unclear when or if Rocksteady would provide a statement refuting these claims. However, in an unexpected follow-up, Rocksteady has revealed that the company received an "unsolicited letter" from several of the women involved in the original complaints. According to Rocksteady, eight of the original ten employees who signed the original document are still employed by the company. Of those eight, seven of them wanted to set the record straight concerning the recent release of the document from 2018.

"When the [2018] letter was received by the studio, immediate action was taken which resulted in a series of meetings with the women of the studio to allow us a safe space to talk about any issues we were facing, figure out strategies to resolve these issues, and what the studio could do going forward," the new letter read. "Continued efforts have been made to ensure that we have a voice within our work and within the studio, ranging from involvement specifically with how our characters are represented to workshops to help build self-confidence within male-dominated industries."

The letter continued, "Throughout all of this, a firm promise has been made that there is always an open forum for us to speak out and that issues would be addressed with seriousness."

In addition to this, the new letter explained that none of the women who participated in the original letter were seemingly consulted or contacted before the 2018 letter was made public. In other words, the resurfacing of this letter was apparently not the result of their own frustration with Rocksteady's inaction. Instead, the new letter explains that none of them were involved in the original letter going public in this way.

Rocksteady assured fans that the letter was not forced or edited in any way, but that the employees in question wanted to make sure that people understood that things are better at the company now. While it's a shame that this kind of overhaul in company policy was ever needed in the first place, it does come as a relief to know that Rocksteady apparently did take immediate action to improve the culture of its workplace. Hopefully that truly is the case.

Rocksteady is not the first games studio to be rocked by this kind of behavior in recent months. Earlier this year, Assassin's Creed: Valhalla creative director Ashraf Ismail announced that he would be stepping down from working on the upcoming game amidst accusations that he had cheated on his wife with multiple partners. A few days ago, it was announced that Ismail had been fired from Ubisoft following an investigation into his misconduct.

If one positive thing can be taken from this story, it seems that video game developers and publishers are taking accusations of misconduct and discrimination more seriously than ever. If Rocksteady really has addressed the issues faced by their employees, it could help to set a good example for the industry going forward.

Rocksteady is poised to reveal the first look at Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League during the DC Fandome virtual event on August 22. There has been no word on whether or not this scandal will have an impact on those plans.