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Night in the Woods co-creator Alec Holowka has died

Night in the Woods studio severed ties with co-founder on Wednesday

Screenshot of the indie game Night in the Woods by Infinite Ammo
Night In the Woods (2017)
Infinite Ammo/Finji

Alec Holowka, the composer, developer, and co-creator of Night in the Woods and co-founder of game studio Infinite Ammo, died this weekend. Holowka’s death was reported on Twitter Saturday afternoon by his sister, Eileen Mary Holowka.

“Alec Holowka, my brother and best friend, passed away this morning,” Eileen Holowka wrote. “Alec was a victim of abuse and he also spent a lifetime battling mood and personality disorders. I will not pretend that he was not also responsible for causing harm, but deep down he was a person who wanted only to offer people care and kindness. It took him a while to figure out how.

“In the last few days, he was supported by many Manitoba crisis services, and I want to thank everyone there for their support,” they continued. “I want to thank [game developer and producer] Adam Saltsman for staying up late talking with us and reminding Alec that there was a future.”

Efforts to confirm Holowka’s death with Winnipeg, Manitoba, authorities were unsuccessful. A message sent to Saltsman was not returned.

On Monday, Holowka was accused of physical and emotional abuse by game designer and writer Zoë Quinn. In the following days, a colleague of Holowka’s claimed he had jeopardized her role on a game after she had rejected “romantic advances,” and the Night in the Woods team announced it had cut ties with the developer based off “allegations [that] are extremely plausible and just about all of it we’ve corroborated with other sources.”

Holowka played a significant role in the creation of Night in the Woods, a narrative adventure game, which covers themes of mental illness, depression, and social immobility. He also contributed to a number of indie games in the past decade, including Aquaria and Towerfall.

Yesterday afternoon, a post to Night in the Woods’ subreddit acknowledged Holowka’s death and the events of the preceding week. The post notes Infinite Ammo developer Scott Benson’s message, to Kickstarter backers of the game, regarding the allegations against Holowka and the studio’s response.

In a point-by-point discussion, Benson said the reason for cutting ties with Holowka “was a combination of a lot of things from several parties and our experiences going back years. It sucked.” Benson added that the studio would not remove him from the game’s credits.

The allegations against Holowka were part of many personal experiences shared this past week following an accusation against game composer Jeremy Soule. On Monday, two women, one a vocalist and the other a game developer, accused Soule, who composed the music for The Elder Scrolls series, of sexual misconduct.

Eileen Holowka, also a developer with Infinite Ammo, on Saturday implored readers to leave Quinn, who has deleted their Twitter account, alone. “Alec specifically said he wished the best for Zoe and everyone else, so don’t use our grief as an excuse to harass people,” she said.

In her original post, Eileen Holowka wrote, “I currently do not see a place for myself in games or on Twitter. I will not be looking at the responses to this post.” Hours later, she took her account private. Infinite Ammo this morning pinned a tweet from Holowka, on Aug. 31, 2018, to its front page.