This is a continuation of my original post “In support of Wren (the abuse she endured while working on Fight Knight)“. More things have happened since I originally voiced support for Wren and I think it’s really important to discuss how this is all unfolding, in order to hold those responsible for this abuse accountable.
I will do my best to be as concise as possible. I am still shook up.
TW: severe content warning for all this.
Hello, I'm the "writer" of the Dangen Warning and the former writer of Fight Knight. I feel it's important for me to come forward about why I left the Fight Knight project. https://t.co/ccrZgh1IeA
— Wren (@rivalerose) October 1, 2021
Before reading all this please read Wren’s original story. Her story says it all, and you will see that a lot of the continued slander she is receiving is already addressed in her first statement.
Please also read Flatwood’s statements, where he corroborates Wren’s account.
And also please see Qwesta’s, also corroborating Wren’s story.
I've not said much directly on this topic, but I'd like to confirm that I believe and support Wren. She was always there to help support me when I was struggling at university with messages of encouragement and checking in to see how I was doing. https://t.co/AMLw3N0qGD
— Qwesta (@Qwesta6) October 13, 2021
These, as well as my first blog post in which I highlighted the behavior from the rapist & his friend circle, really should provide enough proof about this situation and the quality of character of those torturing her.
It is hard for me to comprehend how all that wasn’t enough.
When the Fight Knight team announced their new release date earlier this month it caused another avalanche of harassment for Wren. They keep trying to rally people against her on 4chan. To me it really seems like the existence of this game, any announcements surrounding it, has become just an excuse to further torture the person they hurt.
This week, Boen (the abuser) has posted a rebuttal on youtube.
In this rebuttal he shares audio recordings that Wren had intended for her therapist. These are the ones that this friend circle tricked her into sharing by pretending to be allies to her, and forwarding what she shared with them to Boen.
The audio recording is of a flashback mental breakdown Wren was having.
A year after she finally escaped her abusive situation, and after consulting with several psychiatrists and therapists, she was told these “nightmares” were most likely “flashbacks to real traumatic events”.
Please note that this was a professional assessment from professional therapists. Not from 4chan, Twitter trolls, or Boen’s circle of enablers. Which I think is important to highlight.
This is detailed in section 15 of her statement. She already went over this. You should read her original statement.
In the video he also uses a tweet from when she was sarcastically venting about her assault. He continues to take things out of context and use her vulnerable moments to publicly torture her. This last part is important because it’s also what I will be detailing in this post.
The above video was (again) linked to on 4chan. The group has now consistently gone there to rally support for themselves, or harassment for her supporters.
Please note the line about “psychic birds” which is part of the things taken out of context from her mental breakdown, or when she was sarcastically venting about her abuse.
Since the game’s last release date announcement, Boen and his friends have taken to 4chan, Twitter, and Steam, to ridicule their abuse. He and his circle of friends continue to turn her trauma into in-jokes, some of which they have been using to promote the game.
I shared a lot of their behavior toward myself and other supporters in my last blog post.
I shared receipts there in order to paint a picture of the type of people they are. I’ve been called [slur for trans people] more times than I care to read, misgendered, animated gifs made of my face, and (overall) other supporters of her were treated derogatorily.
These are people that complain about a “Twitter mob”, while rallying support from alt-right spaces. Their public ridicule alone should have been a red flag. The way they call other supporters of her’s “mentally ill” should be enough.
I don’t think anyone innocent would react this violently. Wren has been level headed, providing proof, patiently addressing all this, without being outright hateful (transphobic, alt-right, racist, homophobic…).
One of them alone, that really came at me with a larger platform, is well known for distributing pro-rape posters on a college campus his former partner went to, sending anonymous threatening emails to sexual assault survivors on that campus, all which prompted a police investigation and solidarity march.
I don’t see how this crowd is one worth supporting. At least I don’t see how they could be given benefit of the doubt over Wren.
The response to Boen’s video was just fucking cruel.
I think the failure to support actual victims of domestic and sexual violence in this space seems to be a common theme… Somehow the “in crowd” is just more important than doing the right thing.
Here are threads highlighting this:
I think this demonstrates the absolute horrendous, cruel, back-patting, hopeless state that games are in. I struggle to formulate exactly how fucked up it is to see indie sweethearts backing known abusers, blocking anyone that says different, and just… not ever really being able to follow through on being the good people they say they are.
What basically happened in reaction to Boen’s video was that Jay Tholen tweeted support for him. I told him that Boen is a rapist, and asked that he please not be a rape apologist too. I really believed that Tholen might not know and should be given benefit of the doubt.
After saying that, Tholen blocked me, Wren, and anyone else that was supporting her.
He apologized after all this backfired.
I thought that it’s really insulting that he block me for saying something to him because there’s more of a history. I and Tholen had met in person. He told me how much of an inspiration my work was. My work is being equated to Hypnospace Outlaw all the time now (like I copied it), even if it’s a game that I feel like ended up pretty similar to my own work.
People say that I’m unoriginal or stole from that game, even if Jay said that my work was an inspiration. He tweeted support toward me a couple of times.
I summarized that here…
and yeah Jay Tholen blocking me is a lot more personal because we met, he told me my work inspired him, and all this stuff:https://t.co/N18wM91kXUhttps://t.co/Quow7SFP8whttps://t.co/z242KztvlVhttps://t.co/a3iatJVKzh
so i think this was very extra slap in the face
— Nathalie Lawhead (@alienmelon) November 12, 2021
So he knows who I am.
I really don’t care to get into this more. It’s a common aesthetic now. However, if someone was inspired by someone’s work then I think it’s a pretty big insult, after all this, to block them over saying the person being supported is a rapist. I did the favor of saying something.
Either way, I found this humiliating. You can take from people here, as long as they are not men, and just block them out when they become inconvenient?
Blocking Wren too, even when she never interacted with him, wasn’t cool.
Blocking out survivors is a very privileged thing to do. When it was being done to me it almost felt like violence. The way it felt like a space arbitrarily decided to make me go away… to erase me… was a very difficult thing to navigate.
The person harmed has to live with this shame. Both the shame of how the community treats them, and the shame of the abuser’s treatment. The people blocking don’t.
are you kidding me jay? so these are the people you really choose to support? i gave you her side of the story so you could maybe be the “good guy” everyone says you are. you got benefit of the doubt to do better.
you really just blocking this out?
how do you think this reads as? pic.twitter.com/9yfWYKjcCZ
— Nathalie Lawhead (@alienmelon) November 12, 2021
Even after an apology, it is really hard to trust that this is sincere. This has been the mode of this space. Quietly endorse abusers, not say anything in support of survivors, only get involved if it’s to save face.
Wren wrote a really good response to Tholen here.
Hi Jay. I'm about to say something seemingly harsh and I can understand that this may come off ungracious or unforgiving, but I think it's important I point something out. https://t.co/IXiOu6HCNj
— Wren (@rivalerose) November 13, 2021
A lot of indie sweetheart devs were associated with Fight Knight. In this thread Wren even calls out one (zerstoerer) that was associated with Boen. Zerstoerer did apologize. He said he didn’t know. He also didn’t block her or her supporters.
This example is far less insidious. The first just fucking hurts to see.
In either of these cases tho I really fail to see anymore how just apologizing is enough. It only seems to happen if the person has been called out and needs to save face.
This game (Fight Knight), and this rapist, have had supporters that platformed it. The survivor is working REALLY HARD to have this story be heard, but the enablers, the surrounding crowd of peers… (who might be “good” people) are silent.
I mean, it kind of kills me that the only way that a story like this WOULD even get noticed is if someone popular fucks up and that blow-back is what gives this attention… not the fact that someone in our space is still being tormented by her rapist (an abuser who functions in and benefits from this space).
This dynamic is on loop. When it’s trending, people will voice support for the “concept” of survivors coming forward. Although they will drop dead before actually supporting any one individual that had been raped here.
I really would like to be proven wrong. I really do. I CRAVE to be proven wrong. I have yet to see any of the “big” indie sweethearts, that may even have been associated with Boen at some point, throw their support behind Wren.
I had my entire life, career, and social support network systematically shredded apart over the course of 2-3 years and this dude couldn't take 5 people replying to him on Twitter.
Yeah I'm definitely the one with the victim complex here.
— Wren (@rivalerose) November 12, 2021
There’s this slow drip of poison that gradually eats at you the longer you are here, and the longer you expect people to just do the right thing. You get the impression that a survivor coming forward to tell their story is an inconvenience. Someone that’s intentionally traumatizing people for pity. There’s this subtle hostility that happens before people realize it’s best to save face and either pretend to be supportive, or outright ignore it.
I’m not saying that there aren’t people who genuinely support, but the popular people here really don’t. When you speak up about this stuff you get blocked or unfollowed, especially if the abuser is popular enough.
I really would like people to please learn from this and understand the dynamics at play. This isn’t about just one indiedev that said something stupid over Twitter. This literally is ALL of us.
This is what keeps people from coming forward.
The indie dev space is riddled with examples like this. The people hurt that get quietly iced out as their abusers keep accumulating clout.
I’m out of hope at this point. How can it change if even the progressive voices here are like this?
The way I’m looking at this is that another survivor here needs our help. The rapist isn’t even that popular but people are supporting him simply out of principle, because he’s one of the guys, he’s been at the events, he’s one of you… but her? You don’t know her. “She’s a nobody” as indicated by so many 4chan comments. When things like this happen, I can’t really distinguish the difference between video game Twitter discourse and 4chan anymore. Both have this aggressive dehumanizing hostility they readily dole out toward vulnerable people.
Wren’s abusers are publicly tormenting her. If we were really a community built on any decent principles we would be supporting her.
Here are some examples from their YouTube game trailer. The Fight Knight community circling around the game making in-jokes about the survivor…
Here they are advertising on a web forum, note the “from the masterminds of the global pandemic” title… (Edit: I originally said this was on Steam. I apologize. The screenshots after this are from Steam.)
They’ve posted a lot of things with titles like this, where they are ridiculing her mental health. Whatever you want to call this by now… if you think she really is “crazy”, if you believe him, if you don’t… I don’t think the way they are approaching this, by making light of her mental health, reflects any quality of character.
The last time they did this it was horribly ableist.
The (Steam) discussion alone is something else…
When they announced the game’s release, and when people started bringing up the allegations, Boen was name searching and replying with this copy/paste statement on Twitter.
All the above is not the worst.
It is mild to the hate support they keep trying to drum up on 4chan.
Like I keep saying… Throughout all this, from when Wren first made her story public, to when they announced a release date, to yesterday when Boen published his video, they have made threads about this on 4chan.
There is plenty of racism, terfism… All the worst, being casually thrown around there in a classic 4chan way.
I think it says a lot about the accused if the primary source of support is to go to a site like this and revel in support from alt-right assholes. No effort was made to discourage harassment on their part. They consistently try to fuel it.
Here are some excerpts from their 4chan threads. I’m not sharing the worst.
There is a lot of this stuff. It goes on for pages…
I feel conflicted sharing 4chan excerpts here because I think that’s what people like this want. On the other hand I’d like to drive the point across that these are the people surrounding that game.
I think it’s disgusting that this is just happening so publicly.
The hate against her is blatant. The way they are ridiculing her is more abuse.
What I’m seeing here is someone’s abuser publicly tormenting the person he hurt, and she’s struggling for just an inch of dignity.
Reaction from fans of the game has been gross too. For example…
Yes, the mental gymnastics involved to write all this off as bad “relationship drama” or to justify buying a game made by a rapist. It must be hard.
There have been a lot of conversations like this. If it’s not other developers here justifying taking the “middle ground” on what they write off as “relationship drama” or “Twitter drama”, then it’s gamers justifying abuse if it means a good game.
I’ll conclude this with this thread from Wren…
cw: rape, mental illness
I wanted to say thank you to everyone showing their support. I have to admit that the situation is actually really overwhelming even when most of the response I see is really positive and kind so I haven't been the best about showing my gratitude.
— Wren (@rivalerose) November 12, 2021
Here are other threads from Wren…
At this point I really don’t know what to say anymore. To me, this type of behavior toward a person and her supporters is inexcusable. The type of people supporting Boen are the people the indie space conceptually says it stands against. I say conceptually because it never really seems to amount to action in a way that is meaningful to the person harmed.
Usually I would think someone that distributed pro-rape posters on a college campus and anonymously threatened survivors there isn’t a great character witness. I would also assume that someone with the name “rapeman” in his Twitter bio, defending the rapist, is also not a good character witness… but here we are with notable indie devs throwing their weight behind this stuff. Others just ignoring this. To them it is, after all, just a bunch of bad relationship drama.
I’ve already seen too many comments from devs here along the lines of “too much didn’t read”, or “too much, too hard to parse”, “both sides aren’t convincing”… and I think that’s as privileged as it is horrible to say.
Trauma isn’t cute and clean. It’s messy, with the person hurt fighting really hard to regain some sense of control over what was taken from them. Struggling with the scars of abuse. Someone that survived something like this won’t say rational things when they are trying to make sense of that. Taking that out of context and using it for the sake of slander really is evil.
We constantly say “support survivors” when it’s a trending game industry topic, but when will that actually happen? What survivor here is Good Enough to support exactly? What does believable even look to you?
I mean, apparently being such obvious abusive shitheads is still more credible?
Wren has gone through A LOT of effort to put something concise out there, despite writing about this being really hard. I have gathered all this proof of behavior to show the type of people you would be supporting if you throw your weight behind Boen. Somehow it still gets brushed off as too much “relationship drama”.
This is about rape. The way she is being publicly humiliated right now, after all the abuse she already endured, is very real. You allow it to happen when you so casually brush this off.
Wren’s story deserves to be heard. I think the way her tormentors have publicly behaved is appalling.
Letting this continue is not OK.
Please support Wren. This is where it counts for all of us too.
Update: Nov 15 2021
I am adding these here because I still need to vent about this shitshow…
The last one is in response to my thread here. He keeps directing this at me.
These are the people from Boen’s friend circle. This is how they’ve been treating me and anyone else supporting her. They’ve been using their collective platforms to mock her, and her supporters. They’ve been relentless. Especially in their habit of recruiting support from 4chan.
I really would like to know how anyone reasonable could look at all the screenshots and information that I shared in both of these posts, and still choose to throw in with them.
If they believed Boen was innocent, and they were actually good people, they wouldn’t be this violent. They keep calling me “tranny”, bringing my own mental health into question, and ridiculing me. How in the world can I believe them after this?
Their inability to treat anyone with dignity should be a red flag.
The way they’ve been harassing me doesn’t necessarily bother me. Imo it’s proof that these are terrible people.
What does bother me is that an outgoing pronounced Christian indie sweetheart good guy can side with the rapist, look at my post and decide to block me and the survivor. I cannot understand how “good” people here would throw in with harassing behavior that is normally shunned.
Is this really reflective of the values in indie games? Are we really OK with this violence happening here? How can you look at what is happening and still decide to support the abuser? These aren’t even “big potatoes”. These are “small potatoes”. I struggle to find even professional justification for this.
Video Game Choo Choo discussed Wren’s story in their podcast.
I mention this because it was comforting to hear someone use their platform to say Boen’s video was appalling.
Update Nov 24, 2021:
They have resorted to thinly veiled threats.
One person, that I don’t care to share here, had another aggressive public meltdown on Twitter over his Tweets being shared in my last blog post.
Worth mentioning is that Boen now denies association with these people, even though some of them were writing testimonies in his defense and he was retweeting them at the beginning. It’s impossible to keep up with their lies.
I share the above because these are indiedevs that exist in this space, have had help from other indie sweethearts here, and benefit from this space. They will hurt more people if they continue to function here.
Update (post release of the game):
After the game launched, Boen and his friend circle took to Twitter, 4Chan, and Kiwifarms to rally support. They enlisted help from former Gamer Gate celebrities (the larger accounts), and bullied a bunch of her supporters off Twitter. The game’s Steam reviews were filled with alt-right neo-nazi types praising the game, jokes about spousal abuse, along with more ableist jokes about mental health.
I logged some of their post launch behavior in this thread: https://twitter.com/alienmelon/status/1465798412821958659
They did everything short of physical violence to quell this. This largely succeeded with accounts like DreadXP still covering the game (even after this being brought to attention it was ignored).
Despite their public alt-right violent treatment toward anyone supporting Wren (gamer gate types are usually frowned on), it seemed to have made very little difference to most people in the game space. It’s certainly another nail in the coffin for how I view the indie game community.