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Malaysia Indie Game Studio Accused Of Sexual Harassment & Workplace Abuse

Update [21/12/2023]: Persona Theory Games has posted an official statement. See below for the update.
Update [11/12/2023]:
Names have been added from recent Twitter posts to the story for better context.

It’s always unfortunate to uncover news of terrible workplace ethics and sexual harassment in any working field, especially in the video games industry that we usually cherish. But to have it happen in our backyard? It’s very damning.

Malaysian indie game studio Persona Theory Games (makers of Fires At Midnight and Kabaret) has been accused of sexual harassment and workplace abuse. According to the Southeast Asian video game indie news site Virtual SEAsia (via Reddit and Twitter account JLicious), the incidents were targeted at interns working at the company.

The Reddit thread that talks about the Malaysian indie gaming scene was posted 4 months ago, with the top comment being anonymous posters detailing their experiences of alleged sexual harassment and workplace abuse. The posts stated that the alleged sexual harassment & workplace abuse stemmed from Persona Theory Games co-founder/producer/writer Aidyl Abadi “Buddy” Anwardi who “wanted things done his way”, sent “long-threatening messages on Discord at 2am, “pointless long meetings where nothing gets done” with “full playthroughs of games”, and so forth.

“I did an internship at an indie studio and was sexually harassed lol, and we never even met face to face. Was completely on discord ? apparently it had happened to all the interns and some of them didn’t report anything. I left immediately and reported the guy and my boss didn’t do anything (even said ‘we won’t gaslight you, this happened, we’re not doing anything’). Wasn’t even paid! This guy was harassing men, women, full-time employees, everyone! It was also crappy long meetings watching FULL playthroughs of the game and I didn’t even have to be there in my internship role IMO.”

“I can confirm that they’re a terrible place to work. I was also briefly attached to them (likely for the same game project you were on), and there was harassment, long threatening messages on Discord at 2am, and pointlessly long meetings where nothing gets done because one male lead wanted things done his way and his way only despite constantly asking us for feedback and contributions.”

Update [11/12/2023]: 7th Beat Games founder Hafiz Azman posted on Twitter that he received Direct Messages of abuse evidence from victims who wish to remain anonymous, and shared them online. Buddy Anwardi allegedly made a rule that every intern who joined the company would be called “Nameless” until they were proven worthy to get their names back. The anonymous messages also stated that co-founder Saqina has allegedly been covering for him, stating that she was present every time an intern or junior staff member was screamed at by Buddy.

Following the aforementioned posts, other Twitter users who used to work with Persona Theory Games also made their voices heard online regarding the allegations:

The news came to light days after Persona Theory Games co-founder Saqina Latif was nominated as a Future Class candidate for The Game Awards 2023.

We have reached out to the indie game company Persona Theory Games for a response regarding the allegations, as well as with other involved parties. We were told that the male lead responsible for the above harassment, Buddy Anwardi, had already resigned and had not been working at the company for the last few months.

We will update this post with further developments. [Update] We also added the following links for anyone who wishes to seek help against sexual harassment and/or workplace abuse (via OutCrowd):

Awam.org.my – Resources for survivors of sexual harassment and abuse.
Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) – Offers therapy and support services. Hosts resources for other mental health services.

[Update 21/12/23]: Persona Theory Games has posted the following update on its official Twitter page. The company has “restructured” its leadership to “better align to [its] vision and values”. The company will be co-run by Co-CEOs Abu Huraira and Ahmad Helmi, implying that founder Saqina Latif has stepped down from her role.

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  1. Persona Theory Games Face Sexual Harassment And Workplace Abuse Allegations

    December 13, 2023 at 10:04 am

    […] is assumed to be fellow Persona Theory Games co-founder Buddy Anwardi. According to Kakuchopurei, Buddy has since resigned from the […]

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