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Love Island: The Game and Matchmaker developer Fusebox Games has been accused of creating a toxic workplace culture by including problematic content in its titles despite staff protests.
According to a report from The Independent, the UK studio also warned some employees they could be made redundant weeks after they complained about the treatment of LGBT+ characters in Matchmaker: Puzzles and Stories.
Those concerns specifically related to a Matchmaker storyline penned by a third-party company that trivialised and fetishised the bisexual experiences of a player character, while also dealing with consent in a problematic way.
A number of Fusebox workers sent an open letter to the company on May 24 opposing the inclusion of that storyline in Matchmaker, and were eventually told the narrative would be removed. Yet, despite that pledge, Fusebox went on to include the story in an international version of the game.
"I feel so used and hurt. I feel like I put so much love and effort into something and I’m not getting the bare minimum of respect as a worker [that] I should deserve," one Fusebox worker told The Independent. Another suggested the company's talk of "writing inclusive stories that reflect the diversity of our players," is purely performative.
Addressing the allegations in a statement sent to The Independent, Fusebox said the content of its titles is "naturally a subjective area." It explained the recent layoffs were made to ensure the "long term success of the business," and added it was "saddened by the personal impact our restructure had on team members affected."
Earlier this year, Fusebox seemingly laid off a number of narrative designers and writers at short notice, but failed to confirm the move at the time.