Why are video game companies so awful?

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com, or follow me on Twitter.

This would be a bizzare exception in most industries, but the video game industry seems rife with abuse. Very concerning:

Bundschu estimated he had three drinks, adding that he remembers everything that happened. (“I want to be clear—I remember this so clearly. I wasn’t so drunk that my memory is impaired or anything.”) Barrera moved to the end of the table, Bundschu says, and then asked who wanted to go to the dance floor. Bundschu volunteered, and then, he says, things started getting uncomfortable.

“He stands up and comes up to me, and I don’t know how to say it other than he starts aggressively groping me,” Bundschu said. “Out of the blue. There was no warning, no anything; he just goes for it. I just freaked… It felt like an eternity, but it couldn’t have been more than a couple of minutes.”

Barrera stopped and sat back down at the booth alongside their colleagues. Then, Bundschu says, Barrera spread his legs and gestured for Bundschu to come sit on his lap. Bundschu says he remembers freezing.

“I’m thinking, ‘What are my options?’” Bundschu said. “A) I get fired if I don’t do something, and B) he either wants me to grope him, which I’m not fucking doing, or C) maybe I can do something differently. I’m like, ‘Okay, well, I can probably just give him basically a lap dance without touching him,’ which is what I did… I know it sounds terrible, but what do you do? Fuck, it was like, I’d just started. I’d given up so much for this job.”

A few seconds after Bundschu started the lap dance, he recalls, one of his co-workers told him to stop, which he did, writing later in his notes that he felt “extremely ashamed and embarrassed. I have no interest in men and certainly no interest in Jeronimo, and doing what he told me to do in front of the people I work with was very humiliating.” (That co-worker did not respond to requests for comment.) Then he moved to the other side of the table, as far away from Barrera as he could get. “I picked up a glass of water, sat there staring into it, and said nothing for like 20 minutes,” Bundschu said. “For those 20 minutes, my ears were ringing and I didn’t know what to do. I’m like, ‘Fuck, am I gonna get fired? What the fuck is going on right now?’ I was just stunned.”

Then, Bundschu says, Barrera swung around the table and sat down next to him. Bundschu remembers being in mid-conversation with a colleague when, he says, Barrera started rubbing Bundschu’s inner thigh. “I’m sitting there holding my drink and my hands are shaking,” said Bundschu. “I remember looking down and I could see the water in the glass vibrating.”

Shortly afterwards, according to Bundschu’s account, the colleague on his other side looked at Barrera and told him to stop. (The colleague who Bundschu identified is still employed in a lead position at Rockstar and did not respond to requests for comment.) At that point, Bundschu says Barrera stopped, stood up, and went back to the other side of the table.

Bundschu says he then got up to exit the club with two co-workers. “Jeronimo says, ‘Are you leaving already?’” Bundschu said. “I’m like, ‘Yes,’ staring at the ground. I can’t even make eye contact with him. He said, ‘Why aren’t you staying longer? This is not okay.’ I said, ‘I’m sorry, my ride’s here.’ He’s pissed, but I’m like, ‘Sorry, I need to leave.’”

Kotaku attempted to interview as many of the people who Bundschu said were at the nightclub as possible. Some didn’t respond. One said they hadn’t seen “anything inappropriate happen.” Others said they didn’t remember the events of that night. One person confirmed part of Bundschu’s story, saying that they’d seen the two men dancing near their table. “Jeronimo was grinding up and down on his leg,” the person said. “I do remember Jeronimo looking directly at him… Colin was smiling, but it wasn’t a comfortable smile. It was almost like Colin was being flopped around.”

Four of Colin Bundschu’s former Rockstar colleagues told Kotaku that, in the days afterward, Bundschu shared parts of this story with them. One said Bundschu told them that Barrera had grabbed his penis, another said Bundschu had told them Barrera groped him on a dance floor, and the other two said they’d heard broader details. “I remember him saying, ‘What do you do when the vice president of your company touches you?’” said one. A second described it this way: “He told me he had been groped… He was really upset, so I didn’t want to press him on anything he didn’t want to talk about.”

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