Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

“Can’t I simply say what occurred?” A tall man in a flat cap asks, wanting across the sparse assembly room. “Isn’t fact an absolute protection?” That is Doug Costello, the CEO of Wyrmwood Gaming. “It’s,” says head of HR Bas Antoine, “you probably have the entire story.” The 2 commute, brainstorming a response, Costello repeatedly wanting right into a digicam as he dramatically recounts allegations of sexual assault. “The one that was allegedly raped by no means labored on the firm,” he says, eyebrows raised. “I don’t know her identify.”

The scene is from a fourteen-minute video titled “Wyrmwood Responds to SA Allegations,” a file of a gaggle of males discussing what to do about recently-surfaced allegations of sexual assault at their firm. All through the video, Costello makes statements like: “You need to get police concerned.” He mentions alcohol as an element within the allegation. In a part of the video, Wyrmwood’s lawyer, Frank E. Biedak, offers the go forward to share the video on their YouTube channel, alongside a written assertion.

Wyrmwood Gaming is an unusually clear firm; whereas its core enterprise is making luxurious wooden merchandise for tabletop players, together with cube trays, deck packing containers and gaming tables, its executives appear equally involved with the manufacturing of Wyrm Lyfe, a YouTube-based actuality present targeted on their day by day actions on the firm, filmed with handheld cameras and uploaded two to a few instances per week.

This system has over 100,000 subscribers, and followers normally reply to new movies with reward or earnest questions. However the sexual assault dialogue was not Wyrmwood’s regular content material. Feedback on YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter decried the video as a “tone-deaf” and “dangerous” solution to deal with severe allegations. A number of company companions, together with Dispel Cube and the psychological well being group Take This, introduced they’d finish their relationships with Wyrmwood. The corporate took the video down from YouTube in lower than two days.

In an announcement addressing the allegations, Wyrmwood stated: “We take any allegation of inappropriate conduct, together with, however not restricted to, sexual assault, sexual misconduct and questions of safety, very critically. We take into account the protection and well-being of our staff a prime precedence. To that finish, we’ve made very vital investments in HR and Security and can proceed to take action.”

However after io9 reviewed a saved copy of the video and commenced to analyze, it turned clear this incident is emblematic of an organization that seems to prioritize the picture and ego of its executives over the individuals who work for it. Over the course of this investigation io9 spoke to almost fifty sources, together with present and former staff, who shared tales that included allegations of rampant misogyny, bullying, harmful working circumstances, and sexual harassment and assault.

Doug Costello declined to answer these allegations through telephone or e-mail; he invited io9 to go to one of many firm’s retailers, however we had been unable as a result of time constraints. io9 provided to interview any consultant of the corporate in its place; Costello declined to move the supply alongside. The one present govt of Wyrmwood Gaming who spoke to io9 on the file for this text was Bas Antoine, head of HR.

Whereas Wyrmwood Gaming needs to persuade audiences that it’s only a cool bunch of goofballs doing their finest, there’s rot on the firm extending deep into the heartwood of its construction. At its heart: co-owner/co-founder and CEO Doug Costello.

What’s Wyrmwood Gaming?

Wyrmwood Gaming is a Taunton, Massachusetts-based wooden store and manufacturing firm that produces luxurious gaming furnishings and equipment. Established in 2012 by brothers Doug and Ian Costello, the enterprise was based mostly out of a passion woodshop of their dad and mom’ barn, and bought its wares at native gaming shops. Inside months, the pair teamed up with native players and woodworkers Eric Dupuis and Ed Maranville.

In October 2013, Wyrmwood launched its first Kickstarter, to fund the development of handcrafted picket cube vaults. The marketing campaign accomplished after 27 days, having raised $84,460 from 1,423 backers. (To this point, Wyrmwood has efficiently accomplished 24 Kickstarter campaigns; its newest, concluded on March 17, raised $1,923,029, with greater than 5,000 backers making $299 deposits for tables that would value anyplace from $1,700 to upwards of $10,000, relying on wooden and configuration.)

Quickly after, Wyrmwood expanded to a mid-size store, then to the present location in Taunton, and most just lately by buying Keystone Furnishings in Pennsylvania to behave as a end store.

Throughout each development spurt, Wyrmwood skilled rising pains. John Savage, a woodworker who was on the firm for 3 years beginning in 2015, recollects that growing manufacturing to satisfy Kickstarter orders confirmed a “lack of planning… [management] advised us we’d be capable of make a product in a sure manner after which once we tried to carry it to scale, we’d discover main flaws within the manufacturing.”

“Doug is the kind of individual that throws stuff on the wall,” says co-founder Eric Dupuis. “He essentially doesn’t imagine in competency.” In an episode of Wyrm Lyfe, after Costello boasts that his skillset is in entrepreneurship, not “managing a big firm with correct financials,” Wyrmwood social media supervisor turned actuality present producer Bobby Downey chimes in, saying “and we’ve been faking it fairly good.” No person contradicts him.

In 2020, Wyrmwood’s Modular Sport Desk crowdfunding marketing campaign turned probably the most profitable fundraisers Kickstarter ever hosted, bringing in almost 9 million {dollars} and massively growing demand on the store. Throughout this era of speedy improvement, and whereas coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporate jumped from 50 individuals to almost 120, and expanded right into a second store location in Pennsylvania.

It was throughout this transition that Wyrmwood introduced in Mike Saltzman, who started to take over lots of the chief day-to-day operations of the job. Saltzman declined to discuss the issues on the firm as a result of contractual restrictions, however stated in a written assertion to io9 that he left shortly after becoming a member of the corporate, following an argument “that highlighted vital skilled variations, primarily between Doug [Costello] and myself.”

Regardless of the high-pressure setting, most of the staff of Wyrmwood–the individuals making the cube trays and towers and vaults and tables–stated they liked their jobs. “I needed to be an proprietor at one level,” stated Savage, talking about how a lot he loved the work. “I nonetheless have mates there.”

That perspective may be traced, partially, to how Wyrmwood employed a bunch of nerdy players to make lovely, nerdy gaming merchandise. It’s additionally a results of Wyrmwood recruiting from inside the prolonged circle of family and friends that already labored on the firm, creating an intimate and tight-knit office.

However staff say that at present, that sense of camaraderie has gone lacking. “Working there may be like being in a cult,” one former worker stated, describing how they felt about their former colleagues. “Just about [everyone who works at Wyrmwood] are nice individuals,” said one other former worker beforehand in center administration, “However let me simply be blunt about it. I like everybody on the firm aside from Doug Costello.”

Dangerous conduct on the highest ranges

The primary outdoors indication that one thing was incorrect inside Wyrmwood got here in 2020, when Doug Costello publicly resigned as CEO after a battle over COVID security measures. The incident blew over quick, and Costello returned to the place in 2021.

Extra troubles turned public in early 2023, when accusations of sexual assault on the firm started to floor on Twitter. These accusations went viral in gaming communities, as Wyrmwood Gaming is a recognizable identify and so they had simply begun their twenty third Kickstarter. A couple of days later, former worker Andrew Oberbeck stated on Twitter he was the whistleblower, and he had been fired by Doug straight. Then Wyrmwood Gaming launched their video in regards to the state of affairs.

However this incident isn’t the one allegation of misconduct made towards Wyrmwood staff. io9 spoke to a number of individuals who allege they’ve been assaulted or harassed by former and present staff at Wyrmwood Gaming: One in every of these sources retracted their assertion out of worry of retaliation, however two others attest that head of media Bobby Downey had sexually harassed them whereas they had been both staff of Wyrmwood or concerned in a enterprise partnership the corporate. Downey didn’t reply to io9’s request for remark.

One alleged sufferer, a former worker in Wyrmwood’s woodworking division who requested to not be named, recalled an incident that occurred in 2019 after she’d been casually flirting with Downey, however then determined to interrupt it off: He was her oblique boss, and a part-owner of the corporate, so she didn’t really feel snug pursuing a relationship with him, she stated. After a number of days of giving Downey a chilly shoulder, he insisted they meet up. Once they had been alone, in response to the supply, Downey unzipped his pants and uncovered himself. He took his penis out and requested if she was “going to go away him with blue balls.” When the girl refused, he requested if he might maintain it himself. The lady, not figuring out what to do, stated sure. He masturbated in entrance of her, dropped a used tissue, and left.

Selina Heinen, a model consultant who labored with one in all Wyrmwood’s enterprise companions, described “barrages of flirty textual content messages” from Downey, who ultimately advised them, “I believe we must always have intercourse.” Heinen says they advised Downey no, and that they didn’t need to date inside the business for worry of being judged unfairly by colleagues, however Downey promised that having intercourse with him wouldn’t influence Heinen’s fame. Heinen refused once more, however felt pressured to maintain a cordial relationship with Downey due to their skilled connections.

Accounts of Downey’s alleged unhealthy conduct had been repeated by dozens of sources. “Bobby Downey is the worst one that could possibly be representing our firm,” stated a present worker who requested anonymity. In line with one other supply who has attended conventions with Downey, he continuously will get blackout drunk at business occasions: “I’ve by no means felt snug round Downey,” they stated. And one other former worker said that they’ve seen Downey use cocaine, and solicited ladies for sexual favors at company-sponsored meetups. One other former worker recalled having to “tear him off a lady” that Downey had cornered at a celebration.

The sensation that Wyrmwood isn’t a welcoming office for ladies extends past accusations of outright sexual harassment. Bas Antoine, Wyrmwood’s head of HR, stated that the corporate employs an “above common” variety of ladies and nonbinary individuals. Antoine stated Wyrmwood employs 23% extra ladies than business customary. However you wouldn’t understand it from watching Wyrm Lyfe, the place they have an inclination to seem in occasional cameos. Wyrm Lyfe was beneath Bobby Downey’s direct supervision for years, and extensively thought of “his self-importance venture,” in response to former and present staff. (Antoine stated that Downey has shifted away from the venture.)

“The [lack of women] had been dropped at [Downey’s] consideration a number of instances,” stated Ted Bumpus, a former worker at Wyrmwood. In line with sources, Downey’s excuses for not together with extra ladies embody statements like “ladies aren’t as humorous as males,” and “the ladies at Wyrmwood are too awkward and aggressive to be on digicam.”

“He doesn’t deal with ladies like individuals in the event that they aren’t engaging to him,” stated one former worker. One other worker, a non-binary woodworker named Jamezie, who requested that their final identify be withheld from this text, recalled being reduce out from movies, and having their phrases repeated once more, to digicam, by chief operations officer Ian Costello.

Sources say ladies at Wyrmwood are not often promoted, and lots of have been handed over for promotions in favor of males they helped practice. “Girls have the least vertical motion within the firm,” stated a present worker. “I noticed a number of ladies fail to maneuver up regardless of being one of the best craftspeople,” said one former worker. Antoine says this solely occurred as soon as that he is aware of of since his tenure started in mid-2021, and cited efficiency points as a trigger for the disparity.

However Costello’s views on gender roles and household life could be one more reason ladies aren’t getting promoted. In line with Ted Bumpus, Costello has described himself as a “natalist” —a time period referring to an ideology that claims the purpose of human existence is copy, and in recent times, a motion that promotes the concept of enhancing the world via spreading superior genetic materials. What’s extra, Bumpus says, Costello permits these beliefs to affect administration selections.

“He as soon as gave a younger man who said his want to have a household a large increase with the intention to help that,” Bumpus stated. “He ended up making extra money than his supervisor on the time. It brought about an enormous ruckus.”

One other former worker attests that Costello has stated that “ladies ought to aspire to having kids,” and implied that for those who don’t have kids, you’re a foul particular person.

John Savage recollects a time when he needed to turn out to be the corporate’s conference supervisor, and approached Costello concerning the emptiness. “He principally stated… that as a result of I had a spouse and kids, he couldn’t in good conscience take into account me for that place due to the quantity of journey that it will require.” Costello himself has 5 kids.

Dupuis recollects an incident with Costello in 2017 that brought about him to step away from Wyrmwood. “We had been at a conference and we had a feminine worker–who’s snug having her story shared–and we weren’t being let in early. The worker voiced her frustrations to the safety guard and Doug grabbed her by the arm like she was a toddler and yelled at her.” The incident disturbed Dupuis sufficient to persuade him to take away himself from an organization he had constructed up for almost 5 years.

He stated it was inevitable. “You get to a degree the place any individual disgusts you as an individual. And there’s no manner you’ll be able to actually have a relationship with them.” Dupuis left Wyrmwood in 2019 and bought his shares.

Former Wyrmwood woodworker Alley Livingston recalled the day earlier than she stop her job on the firm. In late 2022, the identical week that an worker almost burned their finger off on an allegedly faulty machine, Wyrm Lyfe posted a video the place Costello states “security slows you down,” and disparages OSHA. Livingston quoted the video within the firm Discord–their typical mode of communication. The following day, Costello introduced Livingston and her direct supervisor right into a small workplace.

Within the workplace had been a gaggle of staff, together with John “Johnny” Paquette (Livingston’s direct supervisor, a cousin of the Costellos, and a partial proprietor), Ian Costello, one other supervisor, an HR consultant, and Doug Costello. “Doug stood perhaps 4 ft in entrance of me and yelled at me,” Livingston recalled. “He stated that if he needed to have his shallowness hit he’d go learn feedback in Wyrm Lyfe.” All Livingston had carried out was repeat, verbatim, what Costello had stated within the publicly-available video; for that infraction, she was introduced into his workplace and screamed at for ten to twenty minutes, in response to a number of sources who overheard the incident.

Livingston stated that she didn’t reply to the yelling, which appeared to encourage Costello to proceed berating her. “Nobody stood up for me. No person helped me. No person intervened. I type of shut down… as a result of what else are you going to do?”

When Livingston ultimately apologized—simply to get out of the workplace, she says Costello out of the blue stopped. “He’s like, ‘okay, I’m good. Are you good?’ And we shook arms. As if nothing had occurred.” Livingston stop the subsequent day. The HR consultant who was close by stop shortly after. One former worker stated the consultant was “annoyed by the insurmountable HR issues” that Costello offered.

Wyrmwood’s board of administrators is presently made up of the three majority house owners; brothers Doug and Ian Costello, and Ed Maranville. Girls who could be promoted don’t have any feminine allies among the many higher administration and govt workforce, and the sources declare that the top-down misogyny has made it unimaginable for center managers and craftspeople to fight sexism, even after they try and elevate or promote ladies. Presently, solely 4 ladies out of an organization of 170 are in administration positions. There’s one lady on the chief workforce, however she shares the title “co-manager of conventions” with a person.

“If you happen to’re a lady at Wyrmwood, you understand your home within the firm,” stated Mary Antanavica, a former woodworker who left after she felt her reported harassment claims weren’t taken critically. “And it’s not on prime, and even within the center.”

Disrespect for craftspeople

Regardless of the numerous income pushed by Wyrmwood’s record-setting Kickstarter campaigns, staff say the corporate didn’t share the wealth with most staff.

In line with documentation reviewed by io9 describing the corporate’s insurance policies for raises, earlier than 2020 Wyrmwood operated on a tier-based system the place staff might overview how a lot everybody on the firm made, and see a transparent path for find out how to transfer up within the firm. This modified in 2020, when tiers had been eradicated, and staff had been evaluated and given raises on a person foundation.

Whereas the employees on the store flooring had been barely making a greenback or two extra an hour over minimal wage ($15/hour in Massachusetts), many of the exec workers and managers had been making $45-70,000, and eight executives, together with the founders and Bobby Downey, had been making $100,000.

Antoine states that presently, Wyrmwoods craftspeople make round $20 an hour, which quantities to roughly $42,000 yearly. In distinction, the common wage of a union journeyman carpenter in Massachusetts is $66,000.

Raises, after they do happen, are sometimes applied months after the corporate tells their workers to anticipate them. In 2022, the corporate laid off 23 individuals simply earlier than Christmas, some sources suspected, to keep away from paying vacation PTO. Antoine stated that these layoffs had been “unlucky” and that the timing was “tremendous shitty.”

Promotions are additionally onerous to get, in response to a number of sources, until you’re one in all Costello’s “favorites.”

“[Costello] tried to carry me into the interior circle to start with. So I received issues that lots of different individuals on the firm didn’t,” Bumpus stated. “He rewarded me financially in a short time and helped transfer me up.”

Accusations of nepotism are widespread, and have even been addressed publicly on an episode of Wyrm Lyfe, the place the media workforce’s numerous connections had been laid out. Antoine advised io9 that the media workforce and firm at giant is much less nepotistic now, however admitted that inside a month of arriving at Wyrmwood in 2021 he was promoted to go of HR, regardless of having no particular {qualifications}. He says this is because of his “work ethic.”

Antoine joined Wyrmwood after what one supply described as a “quarter life disaster” whereas engaged on Wall Road in the course of the pandemic. Antoine said that he labored on the store flooring for lower than a month in 2021 earlier than getting shortly promoted to the chief workforce. His titles presently are; Head of HR, Chief of Enterprise and Gross sales Officer, and VP of furnishings, which incorporates overseeing the luxurious sport desk manufacturing. He has no earlier woodworking or HR expertise, though he said that he works with consultants with the intention to assist set up programs for worker administration on the firm.

“Security slows you down”

In summer time of 2020, in the course of the top of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wyrmwood started requiring staff return to its Massachusetts manufacturing facility. As soon as on website, staff started to note what they seen as doubtlessly harmful lapses in office security concerning COVID precautions and fireplace prevention. Quickly after, a body of workers went to Costello straight and requested about enhancing requirements. Costello stated that he needed them to ship a formalized doc with their requested adjustments, however added that they higher “make it good” or they’d be the primary fired if something went incorrect.

When staff had been able to current their proposal, 18 individuals signed out of the roughly 50 individuals working on the plant. In line with sources, an estimated 15-20 extra individuals needed to signal, however feared retaliation from administration. One supply stated that they needed to signal and voiced their help to the organizers however “didn’t need to find yourself homeless.”

When offered with the proposal forward of the agreed-upon assembly time and deadline (throughout which Costello was scheduled to fulfill with a small group of employee representatives), Costello modified the phrases; there can be an announcement, not a gathering.

This announcement was filmed and printed through Wyrm Lyfe, in a video titled ‘Wyrmwood Goes Company.’ On this heavily-edited 17-minute clip, Costello bemoans the employees’ calls for for “security” and “HR,” saying that such issues are “company” and can “take away from enjoyable.” He’s unmasked in the midst of the pandemic, yelling at a bunch of masked staff who’ve requested for safer working circumstances, together with his regular gang of executives, together with Ian Costello and Bobby Downey standing behind him. He ends by stepping down as CEO. Two workshop staff resigned later that week in protest. Doug Costello returned to the CEO place lower than a yr later.

The printed video solely exhibits Costello talking, however io9 acquired a recording of the announcement that had not been edited. The complete announcement took half-hour, and staff had been speaking again and pushing towards Costello’s tirade your complete time. One employee stops him, saying that “we needed a easy assembly and also you’ve turned it right into a circus. Now you’ve the shitshow you need.” One other says, “no one requested in your soapboxing.” In the direction of the top of the recording, Downey says “we’ve received some modifying to do.” An worker may be overheard saying “I guess you do.”

There have been different worker issues over COVID security. Costello and Jason MacDonald–the present lead designer and CEO throughout Costello’s step again from the place–usually traveled interstate between Wyrmwood retailers and didn’t endure government-recommended quarantine. Masks coverage additionally different relying on the chief workforce’s “private emotions” in regards to the state of the pandemic, in response to a number of sources.

Costello claims he’s very involved about security, and has stated so a number of instances on Wyrm Lyfe, however usually in the identical breath that he begins to disparage the U.S. Occupational Security and Well being Administration (OSHA) as overbearing. He describes OSHA rules as “eradicating company and maturity” from staff.

“OSHA has come via the store a number of instances,” stated Livingston. “I used to be contacted by OSHA after I reported an incident, and so they advised me that Wyrmwood had been reported so many instances that they had been going to attempt to effective them on as many issues as they might.”

Wyrmwood has a number of OSHA violations on file. They’ve acquired 5 severe security infractions since 2020, together with violations for noise security and improper operation of a forklift. The corporate presently owes or has paid almost $30,000 in fines. Wyrmwood states that it’s presently in compliance with OSHA requirements, and so they work with OSHA consultants to ascertain security rules on the store.

“The corporate is decided to do issues in a manner that maximizes velocity,” continued Livingston, “and so they accomplish that in a manner that violates security requirements.” A number of sources said that Wyrmwood doesn’t repair issues until it stands to value them one thing in the event that they don’t repair it.

“I’ve seen increasingly accidents as [Costello] pushes the employees to work quicker,” stated one present worker. Office accidents described to io9 embody easily-avoidable errors brought on by a scarcity of security gear or coaching. Sources report that no one is sufficiently skilled on the gear; staff are employed with little to no woodworking expertise and skilled to be “simply satisfactory sufficient.”

One of many store’s worst accidents occurred in 2022, when an worker was working throughout a suspected energy disruption that brought about a machine to malfunction and clamp down on the worker’s hand. As a result of the machine didn’t have an emergency cease, the worker’s hand remained clamped between the machine and the wooden they had been working with for 5 to seven seconds, almost burning their finger off. That worker was rushed to the hospital and needed to endure a number of surgical procedures.

Later within the day, a number of sources say, administration tried to gloss over this occasion in a flooring assembly, and tried in charge the worker for the damage, even supposing this machine had been identified to have this situation. “I’ve seen this model go off for no motive,” stated one former worker. “I’ve seen one of many managers run over when this machine was malfunctioning and should unplug your complete machine with the intention to cease the pneumatic arms with the manufacturers from going up and down.”

The injured worker was purported to return to Wyrmwood for “mild work,” however earlier than they might return to work, they had been laid off. This worker is now planning to file a office damage swimsuit.

One other former worker, Matt King, additionally says he bumped into issues as a result of well being points: A most cancers survivor with a power sickness, King labored in customer support, and alleges that he was denied some lodging that may permit him to work successfully, together with a fifteen-minute buffer for his telephone line to permit versatile begin time. King ultimately resigned throughout a gathering with administration due to the perceived lack of help.

“Equality,” King stated, “isn’t fairness. My expertise at Wyrmwood confirmed me that I won’t ever be capable of pursue an equitable profession in my life.”

Different questions of safety embody environmental hazards. Masking isn’t all the time enforced in areas with excessive mud and chemical content material. The spray room was straight subsequent to the communal lunch desk, and had one industrial fan serving to flow into the fumes, however that fan was blocked by a sheet of plastic.

In a dusty, wood-filled manufacturing facility, fireplace extinguishers had been usually lacking, outdated, or uncharged. This will even be seen in a Wyrm Lyfe video, when a security inspector informs Costello of an out-of-charge extinguisher. Costello appears shocked that you’d must hold these updated, and laughs when he checks them and nothing occurs. This video is from two years in the past, however a number of sources reported that fireplace security remains to be not taken critically. For years, the de facto response when the fireplace alarm went off was to see if “any of the managers” had been leaving the realm.

Sources additionally say that drug use at Wyrmwood has been an issue, and that staff would smoke marijuana on breaks, and on firm property. Whereas marijuana use isn’t unlawful in Massachusetts, smoking after which working heavy equipment is an clearly unsafe observe. A number of staff described incidents the place Costello would catch individuals smoking, and ship them residence for the day, however said that “there have been no actual penalties for smoking weed at work.” Antoine states that that is now not the case on the firm.

What’s Wyrm Lyfe?

Wyrm Lyfe, the corporate’s YouTube sequence, debuted in September of 2018 as a behind-the-scenes take a look at the workshop, firm tradition, and “occasional drama.” Over the previous 4 years the manufacturing has became a intentionally constructed, dramatic actuality present in regards to the workers of Wyrmwood Gaming.

“When Wyrm Lyfe first got here out I assumed it was slightly humorous,” stated Savage. “Nevertheless it’s probably not us. It’s purported to be the store, and it turned this actuality present a few bunch of eccentrics who work within the gaming business however don’t sport.” A number of sources described Wyrm Lyfe as an arrogance venture for Costello and Downey.

In a screenshot from a Wyrm Lyfe video, Bobby Downey (L) and Doug Costello learn feedback on a Wyrm Lyfe video.Screenshot: Wyrmwood

“Wyrmwood is an leisure firm that often does manufacturing,” stated a former worker. “It’s a narcissistic endeavor headed by a raging narcissist who desperately needs to be well-known.”

The result’s much less a picture of a goofy firm using the waves of success and extra of an inside take a look at a enterprise that, in response to a former worker, “fails onerous and quick, doesn’t know what it’s doing more often than not, and refuses to rent anybody with precise expertise operating a enterprise of their measurement.”

Wyrmwood’s media workforce is held to a wholly totally different customary than the remainder of the workers, in response to worker sources. They’re allowed to be late, they receives a commission extra money, and they’re stored separate from the craftspeople; as a result of they act because the de-facto “gross sales workforce,” higher administration considers the media workforce the “cash makers” of Wyrmwood, which signifies that they get way more leeway than the individuals who really construct the product.

The devaluation of craftspeople in favor of the media workforce has bred resentment on the firm–“everybody hates the media division,” stated a former worker–and has instilled a way of vanity within the media workforce.

In the meantime, inside communication is so unhealthy at Wyrmwood that the store staff discover out information about Wyrmwood from watching Wyrm Lyfe, in response to a number of sources. “It occurred on a regular basis,” stated Savage.

Subjects that weren’t communicated on to the workers embody new merchandise that they’d be making, when raises would happen, workers adjustments and place shifts, new gear, layoff bulletins, enterprise statuses, and upcoming promotions and Kickstarter campaigns.

“Wyrm Lyfe is extremely edited propaganda,” stated one former worker. And it has labored. Over 100K individuals subscribe to the Wyrm Lyfe channel to tune into the Dougie Costello present 3 times per week. The issue is that Wyrm Lyfe, like all propaganda, intentionally crafted and edited to indicate solely what they need you to see. “Wyrm Lyfe is a risk,” one former worker stated. “They use it to persuade individuals to work right here, and so they maintain their platform over their competitors like a gun.”

Finally, the gravest situation with Wyrm Lyfe could also be that it casts a shiny highlight on Bobby Downey and Doug Costello, to the purpose that their jobs and enterprise is straight associated to how individuals understand them on YouTube.

Absolutely the focus that Downey has on being well-known is obvious in his presence on Wyrm Lyfe, in advertising and merch photographs, and his attendance at conventions. “He was a pleasant man,” stated one former worker, “however being in entrance of the digicam a lot modified him.” When anybody ties who they’re to what they accomplish that carefully, they should be held accountable for his or her private conduct. And Downey’s private conduct is reprehensible.

Wyrmwood has poisoned their very own waters

There are a lot of followers of Wyrmwood Gaming who will defend Doug Costello, Bobby Downey, and their administration of Wyrmwood. Bumpus recollects the love he received from followers, saying that they fall in love with the corporate… “but it surely’s all in love with the picture the corporate needs you to see. They don’t see how we’re being exploited and the way we’re working our asses off. How we’re being advised that this firm is a household and that you must help your loved ones. However Wyrmwood isn’t going to maintain you.”

Paul Downs, the proprietor of a Pennsylvania cabinetmaking firm and former author of “You’re The Boss,” a New York Occasions small enterprise recommendation column, was at one time engaged on a ebook about Wyrmwood; He declined to touch upon Costello’s conduct, however defended the appropriate of the small enterprise proprietor to run his firm any manner that he noticed match.

And whereas that’s true—Costello can run Wyrmwood any manner he likes, even when that features taking part in down security issues and disrespecting ladies—many previous and current staff say that doesn’t make it proper.

It’s not proper, they are saying, that Costello has lied to his staff, promising them raises when none had been forthcoming; it’s not proper, they are saying, that he favors male staff over his feminine ones; it’s not proper, they are saying, that his store has injured craftspeople; it’s not proper, they are saying, that he has determined to fireside staff as an alternative of treating them pretty; it’s not proper, they are saying, that he has used Wyrm Lyfe to construct a cult of character.

At each stage, in response to staff, Wyrmwood has did not scale to the calls for of its clients and in a manner that adequately helps their staff. One present worker emphasised to io9 that whereas they love their coworkers and so they love what they make, administration makes the store a hostile office. “I simply desire a good place to work,” they stated. “However Doug makes that unimaginable.”

The Wyrmwood clients who know all this and determine to buy anyway are usually not rebels; they’re merely rewarding unhealthy conduct. This machine grinds up hardworking, blue-collar staff and spits them out, bloody and traumatized.

“Everybody who’s ever labored at Wyrmwood, they’ll let you know they liked their coworkers, and we constructed this camaraderie collectively, regardless of Doug Costello,” stated Ted Bumpus. “So usually our coworkers had been our greatest family and friends. And the administration takes benefit of that.”

On Friday, March 31, Wyrmwood Gaming posted a public response to this text on their Twitter, which you’ll learn right here.

Correction 3/28/23 10:50 pm ET: Earlier variations of this text misspelled the surnames of Wyrmwood worker and partial proprietor John “Johnny” Paquette, and former worker Andrew Oberbeck.

Replace: 3/31/23 7:30 pm ET: Added a hyperlink to the Wyrmwood Gaming response posted on Twitter.

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