Canadian independent game developer Alec Holowka, whose credits include Night in the Woods, Aquaria, and others, has died.
Holowka was a fixture in the independent game community, having co-founded Bit Blot with Spelunky creator Derek Yu, Infinite Ammo where he was working on an original project, and Night in the Woods studio Infinite Fall.
Holowka was a multi-faceted game developer, versed in programming, sound, music, and game design. Bit Blot's Aquaria won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at the 2007 Independent Games Festival, as did Infinite Fall's Night in the Woods at the 2018 IGF.
News of Holowka's passing comes at the end of a tumultuous week in the game industry. Holowka was one of several game developers accused of sexual assault and abusive behavior. Following accusations of abuse by game developer and writer Zoe Quinn earlier this week, and additional allegations of emotional abuse of a recent colleague, developers behind Night in the Woods said they would be cutting ties with Holowka.
His sister Eileen Holowka announced his passing on Twitter on Saturday (her account has since been locked). She wrote:
"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."
In a later tweet she added:
"And in case it’s not already fucking obvious, Alec *specifically said* he wished the best for Zoe [Quinn] and everyone else, so don’t use our grief as an excuse to harass people. Go outside, take care of someone, and work towards preventing these kinds of things in the first place."