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- Cultist Simulator
Following nearly three weeks of silence, Cultist Simulator dev Alexis Kennedy is now rebuking the abuse accusations made by Meg Jayanth, who worked as a writer on Horizon: Zero Dawn. There were also other claims of abusive behavior too, one of them from Failbetter’s Olivia Wood, with another account from game designer Emily Short saying that Kennedy “made her feel uncomfortable.”
Cultist Simulator dev Alexis Kennedy addressed the three accounts after a period of reflection and his lawyer’s advice to stay off the internet. The details delve into Kennedy’s private life, something that he isn’t fond of, but he sees no other way of responding to such “vague, horribly damaging allegations.”
Kennedy started by saying that he never engaged in any sort of abuse or predatory behavior, ever, admitting to having a romantic relationship with Olivia Wood while they were working together, but saying that it was a mistake acting as her direct manager at the time.
He added that his relationship with Wood started before they worked together, unlike what “Olivia has publicly suggested.” According to his account, it was Wood’s idea to hire her roughly one year into the relationship, along with the request to keep said relationship a secret. This was to avoid the impression that “she’d slept her way into the job,” but even after Kennedy ended the relationship, she still didn’t want the relationship to be public knowledge.
The relationship with Wood , which started in summer 2013 and ended in October 2015, was an “on-off, casual, explicitly and consensually non-monogamous relationship that was purely platonic for long periods.” Kennedy owned up to some of his errors, saying that the relationship with Wood “wasn’t predatory or abusive, but it was an irresponsible blurring of professional and private boundaries.”
According to Kennedy, Wood considered them to be friends first and they could go back to it by deleting “the aspects that were datey” with the condition that he “didn’t get involved with anyone else at work.” Ultimately, he fell hard for his current fiancée, Lottie Bevan, starting a monogamous relationship that now has lasted for four years. Kennedy said he assumed that he ended his relationship with Wood “quickly and clumsily,” breaking his commitment not to date anyone else at work.
There was some tension afterwards, but Kennedy said he apologized to Wood, who in turn said that he was forgiven. Kennedy stressed that there was no abuse or belittling, having transferred her to other manager and approving a promotion and a pay raise later that year. Kennedy ended up leaving Failbetter Games six months later, in May 2016.
Meg Jayanth’s allegations hint at “vague claims of general predatory behavior,” according to Kennedy, but he stated that they “had fully consensual sex,” with nothing about it being abusive or coercive. Kennedy claimed that he and Jayanth slept together twice, with Jayanth being in a “polyamorous relationship with her partner” that was allegedly aware of their encounters. He also said he ended their relationship when Jayanth and her partner held a wedding-like ceremony.
Emily Short’s allegations, who did some bits of freelancer work for Kennedy over six years, claimed that Kennedy behaved in ways that “made her feel uncomfortable.” He rebuked them as being unfair, saying that there was “never anything remotely sexual or romantic,” adding that he “profoundly admired her work and talent, but in an undeviatingly platonic way.”
In 2016, Kennedy said he started sensing some sort of detachment in Short’s emails, and asked her if something was wrong. Short didn’t say anything about the recent allegations but replied that she thought Kennedy found her “mockable,” mentioning “a couple of (emphatically non-sexual) things” about their interactions that she didn’t like, asking for some distance in their interactions. Kennedy said he sent a “mortified and apologetic response,” assuring her that she was anything but mockable.
He didn’t hear from Short again, but Kennedy starting “getting similar chilliness from people” who started working with Short during the following three years. His assumption is that someone told Short something that wasn’t true, making he sound “dangerous and vile.”
Kennedy then clarified the statements that define him as a man of power that is prone to retaliatory behavior, something that he utterly denies. He said he had no intention of suing anyone, and claimed that every allegation that has come to light is false. Kennedy also said that he has seen the argument that he might have been harming people without knowing it and ran his actions by his friends and family. He didn’t quite say what others said, but revealed this ex-wife said he was “a bit of a dick” but not an abuser. Of course, this possible misinterpretation on his part doesn’t delegitimize the feelings of the women involved.
He closed his statement asking the following question: “If the purpose of this is to defend women, why has no-one ever approached my partner Lottie, ever?”
Lottie did somewhat respond to the allegations with a piece on what she calls “call-out culture” as a whole. In it, she stated that Kennedy nearly killed himself, how they have both had multiple professional issues since these allegations, her opinions on the dangers of calling people out on Twitter, and more.
Jayanth also responded to Kennedy’s article on Twitter, asking people to “please stop asking those who have suffered abuse to reach out to those who defend abusers, even other women, ” which causes “actual pain to those who have been harmed.”