Alec Holowka, a member of the development team that created the indie hit Night in the Woods, has died. His sister, game designer Eileen Holowka, shared the news on Twitter this Saturday. “Alec Holowka, my brother and best friend, passed away this morning,” she wrote.
Alec Holowka’s death follows accusations of severe emotional and sexual abuse made by game designer Zoë Quinn. After Quinn made their allegations public, a number of other developers came forward to corroborate Quinn’s story and add their own, some publicly, others in private to Holowka’s Night in the Woods collaborators Scott Benson and Bethany Hockenberry, who subsequently announced they were cutting ties with him. Benson wrote in a Kickstarter update (via Reddit) that “this is more complex than any one person’s accusation” and “enough of the allegations are extremely plausible and just about all of it we’ve corroborated with other sources.” Holowka had created the soundtrack and done the coding for Night in the Woods.
Eileen Holowka wrote that Alec had spent his life battling mood and personality disorders, and had been an abuse victim himself. She said that she believes survivors’ stories of abuse, and that she wasn’t “willing to pretend” that her brother hadn’t been responsible for causing harm.
“In the last few days, he was supported by many Manitoba crisis services, and I want to thank everyone there for their support,” she wrote. “My family has and always will be the most important thing to me. Please give us time to heal. We tried our best to support Alex, but in the end he felt he had lost too much.”
Benson, Hockenberry, and Quinn have all deactivated their Twitter accounts and other public social media presences since news broke of Holowka’s death.
In her statement, Eileen Holowka said she does not currently see a place for herself either in games development or on Twitter. She encouraged anyone going through difficult times to reach out for support.
“Alec *specifically said* he wished the best for Zoë and everyone else, so don’t use our grief as an excuse to harass people,” Eileen said in a final tweet before setting her account to private. “Go outside, take care of someone, and work towards preventing these kinds of things in the first place.”
In the United States, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, either online or at 1-800-273-8255. In the United Kingdom, dial 111 and select option 2 to contact the National Health Services’ First Response Service for mental health crises and support, or contact Samaritans at 116 123.
Wikipedia has a list of national crisis centers and resources if you live elsewhere.