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Inside Wyrmwood Gaming’s Narcissistic Funhouse



“Can’t I simply say what occurred?” A tall man in a flat cap asks, wanting across the sparse assembly room. “Isn’t reality an absolute protection?” That is Doug Costello, the CEO of Wyrmwood Gaming. “It’s,” says head of HR Bas Antoine, “if in case you have the entire story.” The 2 shuttle, brainstorming a response, Costello repeatedly wanting right into a digicam as he dramatically recounts allegations of sexual assault. “The one who 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 report 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: “It’s a must 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, provides 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 each day actions on the firm, filmed with handheld cameras and uploaded two to 3 occasions 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 common content material. Feedback on YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter decried the video as a “tone-deaf” and “dangerous” approach to deal with critical allegations. A number of company companions, together with Dispel Cube and the psychological well being group Take This, introduced they might 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 significantly. We take into account the security and well-being of our workers a prime precedence. To that finish, we’ve made very important investments in HR and Security and can proceed to take action.”

However after io9 reviewed a saved copy of the video and started to research, 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 just about fifty sources, together with present and former workers, 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 cellphone or e-mail; he invited io9 to go to one of many firm’s retailers, however we had been unable because of time constraints. io9 supplied 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 report 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 middle: 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 interest 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 wood 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 price 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 progress spurt, Wyrmwood skilled rising pains. John Savage, a woodworker who was on the firm for 3 years beginning in 2015, remembers that rising manufacturing to meet Kickstarter orders confirmed a “lack of planning… [management] informed us we’d have the ability to make a product in a sure approach after which once we tried to deliver 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 consider 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 Recreation Desk crowdfunding marketing campaign turned some of the profitable fundraisers Kickstarter ever hosted, bringing in almost 9 million {dollars} and massively rising demand on the store. Throughout this era of fast growth, and whereas coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporate jumped from 50 individuals to just about 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 a variety of the chief day-to-day operations of the job. Saltzman declined to discuss the issues on the firm because 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 important skilled variations, primarily between Doug [Costello] and myself.”

Regardless of the high-pressure atmosphere, lots of the workers of Wyrmwood–the individuals making the cube trays and towers and vaults and tables–stated they beloved their jobs. “I wished to be an proprietor at one level,” stated Savage, talking about how a lot he loved the work. “I nonetheless have buddies there.”

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

However workers say that as we speak, 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,” acknowledged one other former worker beforehand in center administration, “However let me simply be blunt about it. I like everybody on the firm apart from Doug Costello.”

Dangerous habits on the highest ranges

The primary outdoors indication that one thing was flawed 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. Just a few 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 scenario.

However this incident will not be the one allegation of misconduct made towards Wyrmwood workers. io9 spoke to a number of individuals who allege they’ve been assaulted or harassed by former and present workers 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 workers 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 depart him with blue balls.” When the lady refused, he requested if he might handle it himself. The lady, not understanding 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 among Wyrmwood’s enterprise companions, described “barrages of flirty textual content messages” from Downey, who finally informed them, “I believe we must always have intercourse.” Heinen says they informed Downey no, and that they didn’t need to date throughout the business for worry of being judged unfairly by colleagues, however Downey promised that having intercourse with him wouldn’t affect Heinen’s status. Heinen refused once more, however felt pressured to maintain a cordial relationship with Downey due to their skilled connections.

Accounts of Downey’s alleged dangerous habits had been repeated by dozens of sources. “Bobby Downey is the worst one who may very well be representing our firm,” stated a present worker who requested anonymity. In accordance with one other supply who has attended conventions with Downey, he incessantly will get blackout drunk at business occasions: “I’ve by no means felt snug round Downey,” they stated. And one other former worker acknowledged that they’ve seen Downey use cocaine, and solicited girls 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 will not be a welcoming office for girls extends past accusations of outright sexual harassment. Bas Antoine, Wyrmwood’s head of HR, stated that the corporate employs an “above common” variety of girls and nonbinary individuals. Antoine stated Wyrmwood employs 23% extra girls than business normal. However you wouldn’t realize it from watching Wyrm Lyfe, the place they have an inclination to seem in occasional cameos. Wyrm Lyfe was underneath Bobby Downey’s direct supervision for years, and broadly thought-about “his vainness undertaking,” in response to former and present workers. (Antoine stated that Downey has shifted away from the undertaking.)

“The [lack of women] had been dropped at [Downey’s] consideration a number of occasions,” stated Ted Bumpus, a former worker at Wyrmwood. In accordance with sources, Downey’s excuses for not together with extra girls embrace statements like “girls 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 girls like individuals in the event that they aren’t enticing 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 girls at Wyrmwood are not often promoted, and lots of have been handed over for promotions in favor of males they helped prepare. “Ladies have the least vertical motion within the firm,” stated a present worker. “I noticed a number of girls fail to maneuver up regardless of being the very best craftspeople,” acknowledged 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 may be one more reason girls aren’t getting promoted. In accordance 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 thought of enhancing the world by 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 acknowledged his need to have a household an enormous elevate to be able to help that,” Bumpus stated. “He ended up making extra money than his supervisor on the time. It induced an enormous ruckus.”

One other former worker attests that Costello has stated that “girls ought to aspire to having youngsters,” and implied that in case you don’t have youngsters, you’re a foul particular person.

John Savage remembers a time when he wished to change into the corporate’s conference supervisor, and approached Costello relating to the emptiness. “He mainly stated… that as a result of I had a spouse and youngsters, he couldn’t in good conscience take into account me for that place due to the quantity of journey that it could require.” Costello himself has 5 youngsters.

Dupuis remembers an incident with Costello in 2017 that induced 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 some extent the place any individual disgusts you as an individual. And there’s no approach 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 give up 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 subsequent day, Costello introduced Livingston and her direct supervisor right into a small workplace.

Within the workplace had been a gaggle of workers, 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 possibly 4 ft in entrance of me and yelled at me,” Livingston recalled. “He stated that if he wished to have his vanity hit he’d go learn feedback in Wyrm Lyfe.” All Livingston had achieved 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 form of shut down… as a result of what else are you going to do?”

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

Wyrmwood’s board of administrators is at present made up of the three majority homeowners; brothers Doug and Ian Costello, and Ed Maranville. Ladies who may be promoted don’t have any feminine allies among the many higher administration and govt staff, 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 girls. At the moment, solely 4 girls out of an organization of 170 are in administration positions. There’s one lady on the chief staff, however she shares the title “co-manager of conventions” with a person.

“For those who’re a lady at Wyrmwood, your home within the firm,” stated Mary Antanavica, a former woodworker who left after she felt her reported harassment claims weren’t taken significantly. “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, workers say the corporate didn’t share the wealth with most employees.

In accordance 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 workers might evaluation how a lot everybody on the firm made, and see a transparent path for the way to transfer up within the firm. This modified in 2020, when tiers had been eradicated, and workers had been evaluated and given raises on a person foundation.

Whereas the employees on the store ground 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 at present, 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 carried out months after the corporate tells their workers to count on 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 among Costello’s “favorites.”

“[Costello] tried to deliver me into the internal circle to start with. So I bought issues that a variety 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 staff’s varied connections had been laid out. Antoine informed io9 that the media staff and firm at massive 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 throughout the pandemic. Antoine acknowledged that he labored on the store ground for lower than a month in 2021 earlier than getting shortly promoted to the chief staff. His titles at present 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 acknowledged that he works with consultants to be able to assist set up programs for worker administration on the firm.

“Security slows you down”

In summer season of 2020, throughout the top of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wyrmwood started requiring workers return to its Massachusetts manufacturing unit. As soon as on website, employees started to note what they seen as probably harmful lapses in office security relating to COVID precautions and fireplace prevention. Quickly after, a team of workers went to Costello straight and requested about enhancing requirements. Costello stated that he wished them to ship a formalized doc with their requested adjustments, however added that they higher “make it good” or they might be the primary fired if something went flawed.

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

When introduced 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 could 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 employees who’ve requested for safer working circumstances, together with his common gang of executives, together with Ian Costello and Bobby Downey standing behind him. He ends by stepping down as CEO. Two workshop workers resigned later that week in protest. Doug Costello returned to the CEO place lower than a 12 months later.

The printed video solely reveals Costello talking, however io9 acquired a recording of the announcement that had not been edited. The total announcement took half-hour, and employees had been speaking again and pushing towards Costello’s tirade all the time. One employee stops him, saying that “we wished a easy assembly and also you’ve turned it right into a circus. Now you’ve the shitshow you need.” One other says, “no person requested in your soapboxing.” In direction of the top of the recording, Downey says “we’ve bought some modifying to do.” An worker may be overheard saying “I wager 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 staff’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 occasions 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 laws as “eradicating company and maturity” from workers.

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

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

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

“I’ve seen an increasing number of accidents as [Costello] pushes the employees to work quicker,” stated one present worker. Office accidents described to io9 embrace easily-avoidable errors brought on by an absence of security tools or coaching. Sources report that no person is satisfactorily skilled on the tools; workers are employed with little to no woodworking expertise and skilled to be “simply ample sufficient.”

One of many store’s worst accidents occurred in 2022, when an worker was working throughout a suspected energy disruption that induced 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 ground assembly, and tried responsible the worker for the damage, even supposing this machine had been recognized to have this problem. “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 all the machine to be able to cease the pneumatic arms with the manufacturers from going up and down.”

The injured worker was speculated to return to Wyrmwood for “mild work,” however earlier than they may 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 because of well being points: A most cancers survivor with a continual sickness, King labored in customer support, and alleges that he was denied some lodging that may enable him to work successfully, together with a fifteen-minute buffer for his cellphone line to permit versatile begin time. King finally resigned throughout a gathering with administration due to the perceived lack of help.

“Equality,” King stated, “will not be fairness. My expertise at Wyrmwood confirmed me that I may not ever have the ability to pursue an equitable profession in my life.”

Different questions of safety embrace environmental hazards. Masking will not be at all times 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 unit, 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 have to preserve 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 continues to be not taken significantly. For years, the de facto response when the hearth alarm went off was to see if “any of the managers” had been leaving the world.

Sources additionally say that drug use at Wyrmwood has been an issue, and that workers 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 workers described incidents the place Costello would catch individuals smoking, and ship them residence for the day, however acknowledged that “there have been no actual penalties for smoking weed at work.” Antoine states that that is not the case on the firm.

What’s Wyrm Lyfe?

Wyrm Lyfe, the corporate’s YouTube collection, 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 become a intentionally constructed, dramatic actuality present in regards to the workers of Wyrmwood Gaming.

“When Wyrm Lyfe first got here out I believed it was a bit of humorous,” stated Savage. “However it’s probably not us. It’s speculated to be the store, and it turned this actuality present a couple of bunch of eccentrics who work within the gaming business however don’t sport.” A number of sources described Wyrm Lyfe as a conceit undertaking for Costello and Downey.

In a screenshot from a Wyrm Lyfe video, Bobby Downey (L) and Doug Costello read comments on a Wyrm Lyfe video.

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 sometimes 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 working a enterprise of their dimension.”

Wyrmwood’s media staff is held to a completely completely different normal 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 staff,” higher administration considers the media staff the “cash makers” of Wyrmwood, which implies that they get much more leeway than the individuals who truly construct the product.

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

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

Matters that weren’t communicated on to the workers embrace new merchandise that they might be making, when raises would happen, workers adjustments and place shifts, new tools, 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 point out 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.”

In the end, the gravest problem with Wyrm Lyfe could also be that it casts a vivid 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 clear 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 have to be held accountable for his or her private habits. And Downey’s private habits 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 remembers the love he bought from followers, saying that they fall in love with the corporate… “nevertheless it’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 informed that this firm is a household and it is advisable help your loved ones. However Wyrmwood will not be going to handle 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 guide about Wyrmwood; He declined to touch upon Costello’s habits, however defended the fitting of the small enterprise proprietor to run his firm any approach that he noticed match.

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

It’s not proper, they are saying, that Costello has lied to his workers, promising them raises when none had been forthcoming; it’s not proper, they are saying, that he favors male workers 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 workers 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 degree, in response to workers, Wyrmwood has didn’t scale to the calls for of its prospects and in a approach that adequately helps their workers. 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 need a good place to work,” they stated. “However Doug makes that unimaginable.”

The Wyrmwood prospects who know all this and determine to buy anyway should not rebels; they’re merely rewarding dangerous habits. This machine grinds up hardworking, blue-collar employees and spits them out, bloody and traumatized.

“Everybody who’s ever labored at Wyrmwood, they are going to inform you they beloved 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 be able to 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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