Alec Holowka, a developer on Night In The Woods, has passed away- days after sexual assault allegations were made against him by Zoe Quinn.
On August 26th, Zoe Quinn (indie developer) accused Alec Holowka of sexual abuse. The allegations came via a Twitter thread, and images of text detailing the incident. Quinn has since deleted her account in the aftermath of Holowka’s death. The following is a break down of the allegations.
“A few months into making games”, Quinn claims she was assaulted by someone. This individual somehow threatened her visa status if she told anyone, and he then allegedly told others in the indie gaming community she was spreading false-claims of rape about him. This individual allegedly apologized after “years of therapy” and Quinn claims she forgave him.
One month after that alleged incident, Quinn claims she nearly took her own life. Holowka had comforted her and “knew she was in an incredibly vulnerable place.” She claims Holowka propsed she visited him in Winnipeg, and start an indie house with him and three other friends.
Quinn then allegedly flew out (“a better part of a decade” ago from the date of the post), with the promise Holowka would pay to fly her out afterwards as she could not afford it.
Quinn claims that Holowka was physically and emotionally abusive, including refusing to let her leave or enter the apartment alone and not giving her the access code, talked her out of moving in with friends, and verbal and physical abuse.
Quinn also claims she and Holowka were in a sexual relationship where he was “mean and violent”, that the sexual assault was her fault, and is implied to have been allegedly emotionally manipulative by claiming only he could love her because she was “terrible.” This is all presumably when they were alone and their other roommate or roomates were not present.
She also claims Holowka had violent mood swings and hurt himself, but acted normal in public and presumably with roommates. While not detailed, Quinn claims her roomate managed to help “get her out” without incident.
Continuing, Quinn claims after she sent Holowka a “cordial and friendly break up email”, he banned her and himself from an indie games community he was running and “went to other industry legends asking them to help him kill himself because I was such a bitch.” She claims that he had blacklisted her from “important industry events.”
She then claims after GamerGate began, she had “vaguebooked” about the alleged indecent (to speak vaguely in a status update, usually attempting to have others engage you to elaborate further). She then claims two women in the video game industry asked if it was Holowka, as they had done “similar things to them,” and “knew he’d been fixated” on Quinn.
She claims neither women spoke out due to being “too afraid to speak up about an industry legend.” If we assume GamerGate started in 2014, then Holowka would have won the grand prize at the 2007 Independent Games Festival.
Her final claims include that he “screamed abuse at another woman out front of Mosecone during GDC” in front of other developers, further demotivating her from exposing him over the alleged incident, along with her own fears of being harmed.
Nonetheless, three others claimed Quinn’s characterization of Holowka matched their own experiences with him(including developers Grayson Evans, Matt Thorson, Aura Triolo). On August 28th, the Night In The Woods development team would “cut ties” with Holowka.
On August 31st, Eileen Mary Holowka posted on Twitter, confirming her brother had passed. The following is the text featured on the images of her posts:
“Alec Holowka, my brother and best friend, passed away this morning.
Those who know me will know that I believe survivors and I have always done everything I can to support survivors, those suffering from mental illnesses, and those with chronic illnesses. Alec was a victim of abuse and he also spent a lifetime battling mood and personality disorders. I will not pretend that he was not also responsible for causing harm, but deep down he was a person who wanted only to offer people care and kindness. It took him a while to figure out how.
Over the last few years, with therapy and medication, Alec became a new person – the same person he had always been but without any of the darkness. He was calm and happy, positive and loving. Obviously, change is a slow process and it wasn’t perfect but he was working towards rehabilitation and a better life.
In the last few days, he was supported by many Manitoba crisis services, and I want to thank everyone there for their support. I want to thank Adam Saltsman for staying up late talking with us and reminding Alec that there was a future.
My family has and always will be the most important thing to me. Please give us time to heal. We tried our best to support Alec, but in the end he had felt he had lost too much.”