Since 2012, I’ve struggled on how, if, and when I should publish what I’m about to say. For this first fully public disclosure, I’ll stick to the main points.
I loved working at Telltale Games. I worked with a number of people whose work I grew up on. Worked with franchises I loved and lead me to working in video games. This is what happened to me for that dedication.
- April 30th, 2007:
- Started at Telltale Games.
- April 2007 – July 2012:
- Developed and released 64 episodic games across 11 franchises.
- Roles including:
- Build & Distribution Engineer
- Content Programmer
- Puzzle Designer
- Special Projects Producer
- July 18, 2012:
- One of three people laid off from the studio that day.
- Given and eventually accepted severance package which included a reinstatement of a Non-Disclosure Agreement and a non-disparagement agreement / gag order.
- July 28, 2013:
- Informed by lead management of Telltale Games of the list of companies where I “need not apply” to.
- Later, some of these studios confirmed this status in various ways.
- November 27, 2013:
- Found employment as a contractor in front-end web development at an ad agency.
- 507 days since the Telltale layoff.
- July 18, 2014:
- Gag order from layoff expired.
- July 18, 2017:
- Non Disclosure Agreement, which technically covered gag order, expires.
- Late September 2018:
- Telltale Games closes leaving 250+ employees without a job. Begins to liquify assets.
This does not begin to describe what I endured by these events. It doesn’t cover the isolation, the paranoia, and assortment of other forms of trauma and recovery from the last seven years. This doesn’t include the people who did make positive work to assist me though this time. If there’s interest in the deeper story, I’m willing to give further details and the few receipts I have. Though I confess that most of my information came from individuals who spoke to me and no recordings exist.
To be clear: I don’t believe that every studio had me on a list. I had a narrow set of skills that only a few places would find relevant. These places were actively closed to me. In other cases, recruiters of certain studios had blanket policies against Telltale content programmers as the skill set was seen as incompatible. That too was told to me in-person at a recruiting event. I was a narrative designer in a world where that wasn’t a title one could have.
At this point, it’s hard for me to see a path to work in video games again. Too much time has passed for my experience to be relevant in the eyes of the current state of the industry. The management of Telltale succeeded in their goals, for whatever their reasons, to remove me from the industry. Even with the closure of the studio, they won and I lost.
For today, it’s a big step for me to come forward. With the support of friends and years of therapy, I’m finally able to share this testimony with you. It’s not a complete, but it’s enough.
Video games. They’ll break your heart.