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Ori dev Moon Studios branded "oppressive" workplace by current and former staff

Founders Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol have been accused of enabling casual racism, sexism, and bullying.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

March 18, 2022

2 Min Read

Ori and the Will of the Wisps developer Moon Studios has been branded an "oppressive" place to work by a number of current and former employees.

According to a troubling report from VentureBeat, multiple workers have called out Moon Studios founders Thomas Mahler and Gennadiy Korol for propagating a culture that enables casual racism, sexism and bullying.

One developer said working for the fully-remote studio was akin to suffering "death by a thousand cuts," while another said they questioned whether working on celebrated projects like both Ori titles was worth the "suffering" and burnout some experienced.

"We really created something special, and I know the only way I was able to reconcile it was I was able to watch people on Twitch and watch other people get moved by it, and that was actually part of my healing process," commented one developer. "Because maybe my suffering was worth it because other people felt something. In the end, I mean, so many of us were burned out."

Moon Studios employees claim that both Mahler and Korol would often bully and abuse employees in public chats. Both have also been accused making unprofessional and offensive comments, including anti-Semitic and sexually explicit "jokes."

Responding to the allegations, Mahler and Korol said the experiences detailed in the report aren't "representative of the more than 80 Moon Studios team members who are thriving and doing great work every day -- nor do we believe they are representivie of the experiences of former members of our team."

The founders did, however, say there may have been times when their "teasing" came across as insensitive and made some staff feel uncomfortable.

"We appreciate the irony that we -- an Austrian and an Israeli Jew -- started this multicultural enterprise. We view each other as brothers. And, like brothers, we sometimes argue and frequently tease each other," they continued.

"We have made jokes at our own expense about the differences in our backgrounds -- and there may have been times that our teasing of each other has come off as insensitive and may have made others feel uncomfortable."

The full report from VentureBeat has more on the state of Moon Studios, including additional employee testimonies.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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