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 fact an absolute protection?” That is Doug Costello, the CEO of Wyrmwood Gaming. “It’s,” says head of HR Bas Antoine, “you probably 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 document of a bunch of males discussing what to do about recently-surfaced allegations of sexual assault at their firm. All through the video, Costello makes statements like: “You must 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 day by day actions on the firm, filmed with handheld cameras and uploaded two to a few instances every 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 normal content material. Feedback on YouTube, Reddit, and Twitter decried the video as a “tone-deaf” and “dangerous” strategy to deal with severe allegations. A number of company companions, together with Dispel Dice and the psychological well being group Take This, introduced they’d 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 mentioned: “We take any allegation of inappropriate conduct, together with, however not restricted to, sexual assault, sexual misconduct and issues of safety, very severely. We contemplate the security and well-being of our staff a prime precedence. To that finish, we’ve made very vital investments in HR and Security and can proceed to take action.”

However after io9 reviewed a saved copy of the video and commenced to analyze, it grew to become 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 staff, who shared tales that included allegations of rampant misogyny, bullying, harmful working circumstances, and sexual harassment and assault.

Doug Costello declined to reply to these allegations through cellphone or e-mail; he invited io9 to go to one of many firm’s outlets, however we have been unable attributable to time constraints. io9 provided to interview any consultant of the corporate instead; Costello declined to cross the provide alongside. The one present govt of Wyrmwood Gaming who spoke to io9 on the document 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 greatest, there’s rot on the firm extending deep into the heartwood of its construction. At its heart: 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 primarily based out of a pastime woodshop of their mother and father’ barn, and offered 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. (Thus far, 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 wherever 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, recollects that growing 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 manner after which after we tried to carry it to scale, we’d discover main flaws within the manufacturing.”

“Doug is the kind of person who throws stuff on the wall, says co-founder Eric Dupuis. “He basically doesn’t imagine 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 Sport Desk crowdfunding marketing campaign grew to become some of the profitable fundraisers Kickstarter ever hosted, bringing in almost 9 million {dollars} and massively growing demand on the store. Throughout this era of speedy improvement, and whereas coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, the corporate jumped from 50 folks 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 loads of the chief day-to-day operations of the job. Saltzman declined to talk about the issues on the firm attributable to contractual restrictions, however mentioned in a written assertion to io9 that he left shortly after becoming a member of the corporate, following an argument “that highlighted vital skilled variations, primarily between Doug [Costello] and myself.”

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

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

However staff say that right this moment, that sense of camaraderie has gone lacking. “Working there’s like being in a cult,” one former worker mentioned, describing how they felt about their former colleagues. “Just about [everyone who works at Wyrmwood] are nice folks,” said 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 mistaken 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 grew to become 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 they usually had simply begun their twenty third Kickstarter. A number of days later, former worker Andrew Overbeck said on Twitter he was the whistleblower, and he had been fired by Doug immediately. Then Wyrmwood Gaming launched their video in regards to the state of affairs.

However this incident is just not the one allegation of misconduct made in opposition to Wyrmwood staff. io9 spoke to a number of individuals who allege they’ve been assaulted or harassed by former and present staff at Wyrmwood Gaming: One in all these sources retracted their assertion out of concern of retaliation, however two others attest that head of media Bobby Downey had sexually harassed them whereas they have been both staff 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 comfy pursuing a relationship with him, she mentioned. After just a few days of giving Downey a chilly shoulder, he insisted they meet up. After they have been alone, in keeping with 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 girl refused, he requested if he may maintain it himself. The girl, not figuring out what to do, mentioned sure. He masturbated in entrance of her, dropped a used tissue, and left.

Selina Heinen, a model consultant who labored with certainly one of Wyrmwood’s enterprise companions, described “barrages of flirty textual content messages” from Downey, who ultimately informed them, “I believe we must always have intercourse.” Heinen says they informed Downey no, and that they didn’t wish to date inside the trade for concern of being judged unfairly by colleagues, however Downey promised that having intercourse with him wouldn’t affect Heinen’s fame. 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 have been repeated by dozens of sources. “Bobby Downey is the worst one that may very well be representing our firm,” mentioned a present worker who requested anonymity. In response to one other supply who has attended conventions with Downey, he incessantly will get blackout drunk at trade occasions: “I’ve by no means felt comfy round Downey,” they mentioned. And one other former worker said 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 is just not a welcoming office for girls extends past accusations of outright sexual harassment. Bas Antoine, Wyrmwood’s head of HR, mentioned that the corporate employs an “above common” variety of girls and nonbinary folks. Antoine mentioned Wyrmwood employs 23% extra girls than trade customary. However you wouldn’t understand it from watching Wyrm Lyfe, the place they have an inclination to seem in occasional cameos. Wyrm Lyfe was beneath Bobby Downey’s direct supervision for years, and broadly thought of “his self-importance undertaking,” in keeping with former and present staff. (Antoine mentioned that Downey has shifted away from the undertaking.)

“The [lack of women] had been dropped at [Downey’s] consideration a number of instances,” mentioned Ted Bumpus, a former worker at Wyrmwood. In response to 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 folks in the event that they aren’t engaging to him,” mentioned 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 minimize 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 plenty of have been handed over for promotions in favor of males they helped prepare. “Ladies have the least vertical motion within the firm,” mentioned a present worker. “I noticed a number of girls fail to maneuver up regardless of being the very best craftspeople,” said 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 response to 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 lately, a motion that promotes the thought of enhancing the world by means of 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 said his want to have a household an enormous increase with the intention to help that,” Bumpus mentioned. “He ended up making more cash than his supervisor on the time. It precipitated an enormous ruckus.”

One other former worker attests that Costello has mentioned that “girls ought to aspire to having kids,” and implied that in the event you don’t have kids, you’re a foul individual.

John Savage recollects a time when he wished to turn into the corporate’s conference supervisor, and approached Costello relating to the emptiness. “He mainly mentioned… that as a result of I had a spouse and kids, he couldn’t in conscience contemplate me for that place due to the quantity of journey that it might require.” Costello himself has 5 kids.

Dupuis recollects an incident with Costello in 2017 that precipitated him to step away from Wyrmwood. “We have been at a conference and we had a feminine worker–who’s comfy 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 mentioned it was inevitable. “You get to some extent the place any individual disgusts you as an individual. And there’s no manner you may actually have a relationship with them.” Dupuis left Wyrmwood in 2019 and offered 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 following day, Costello introduced Livingston and her direct supervisor right into a small workplace.

Within the workplace have been a bunch of staff, together with John “Johnny” Pasquale (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 perhaps 4 toes in entrance of me and yelled at me,” Livingston recalled. “He mentioned that if he wished to have his vanity hit he’d go learn feedback in Wyrm Lyfe.” All Livingston had accomplished was repeat, verbatim, what Costello had mentioned within the publicly-available video; for that infraction, she was introduced into his workplace and screamed at for ten to twenty minutes, in keeping with a number of sources who overheard the incident.

Livingston mentioned 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 type of shut down… as a result of what else are you going to do?”

When Livingston ultimately 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 mentioned the consultant was “annoyed by the insurmountable HR issues” that Costello introduced.

Wyrmwood’s board of administrators is at the moment 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 inconceivable 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 may be one girl on the chief staff, however she shares the title “co-manager of conventions” with a person.

“Should you’re a lady at Wyrmwood, your home within the firm,” mentioned Mary Antanavica, a former woodworker who left after she felt her reported harassment claims weren’t taken severely. “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, staff say the corporate didn’t share the wealth with most staff.

In response to documentation reviewed by io9 describing the corporate’s insurance policies for raises, earlier than 2020 Wyrmwood operated on a tier-based system the place staff may evaluation how a lot everybody on the firm made, and see a transparent path for find out how to transfer up within the firm. This modified in 2020, when tiers have been eradicated, and staff have been evaluated and given raises on a person foundation.

Whereas the employees on the store flooring have been barely making a greenback or two extra an hour over minimal wage ($15/hour in Massachusetts), a lot of the exec workers and managers had been making $45-70,000, and eight executives, together with the founders and Bobby Downey, have been making $100,000.

Antoine states that at the moment, Wyrmwoods craftspeople make round $20 an hour, which quantities to roughly $42,000 yearly. In distinction, the typical wage of a union journeyman carpenter in Massachusetts is $66,000.

Raises, after they do happen, are usually carried out months after the corporate tells their workers to count on them. In 2022, the corporate laid off 23 folks simply earlier than Christmas, some sources suspected, to keep away from paying vacation PTO. Antoine mentioned that these layoffs have been “unlucky” and that the timing was “tremendous shitty.”

Promotions are additionally onerous to get, in keeping with a number of sources, until you’re certainly one of Costello’s “favorites.”

“[Costello] tried to carry me into the interior circle to start with. So I received issues that loads of different folks on the firm didn’t,” Bumpus mentioned. “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 numerous connections have been laid out. Antoine informed io9 that the media staff and firm at giant is much less nepotistic now, however admitted that inside a month of arriving at Wyrmwood in 2021 he was promoted to move 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 Avenue through the pandemic. Antoine said that he labored on the store flooring for lower than a month in 2021 earlier than getting rapidly promoted to the chief staff. His titles at the moment are; Head of HR, Chief of Enterprise and Gross sales Officer, and VP of furnishings, which incorporates overseeing the luxurious recreation desk manufacturing. He has no earlier woodworking or HR expertise, though he said that he works with consultants with the intention to assist set up programs for worker administration on the firm.

“Security slows you down”

In summer season of 2020, through the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wyrmwood started requiring staff return to its Massachusetts manufacturing unit. As soon as on web site, staff started to note what they seen as probably harmful lapses in office security relating to COVID precautions and hearth prevention. Quickly after, a personnel went to Costello immediately and requested about enhancing requirements. Costello mentioned that he wished them to ship a formalized doc with their requested adjustments, however added that they higher “make it good” or they’d be the primary fired if something went mistaken.

When staff have been able to current their proposal, 18 folks signed out of the roughly 50 folks working on the plant. In response to sources, an estimated 15-20 extra folks wished to signal, however feared retaliation from administration. One supply mentioned that they wished to signal and voiced their help to the organizers however “didn’t wish 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 Corporate.’ 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 staff who’ve requested for safer working circumstances, together with his normal gang of executives, together with Ian Costello and Bobby Downey standing behind him. He ends by stepping down as CEO. Two workshop staff 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 obtained a recording of the announcement that had not been edited. The total announcement took half-hour, and staff have been speaking again and pushing in opposition to Costello’s tirade your complete time. One employee stops him, saying that “we wished a easy assembly and also you’ve turned it right into a circus. Now you could have the shitshow you need.” One other says, “no one requested on your soapboxing.” In direction of the tip of the recording, Downey says “we’ve received some enhancing to do.” An worker will be overheard saying “I guess you do.”

There have been different worker considerations 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 outlets and didn’t bear government-recommended quarantine. Masks coverage additionally various relying on the chief staff’s “private emotions” in regards to the state of the pandemic, in keeping with a number of sources.

Costello claims he’s very involved about security, and has mentioned so a number of instances 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 rules as “removing agency and adulthood” from staff.

“OSHA has come by means of the store a number of instances,” mentioned Livingston. “I used to be contacted by OSHA after I reported an incident, they usually informed me that Wyrmwood had been reported so many instances that they have been going to attempt to effective them on as many issues as they may.”

Wyrmwood has a number of OSHA violations on file. They’ve obtained five serious safety infractions since 2020, together with violations for noise security and improper operation of a forklift. The corporate at the moment owes or has paid almost $30,000 in fines. Wyrmwood states that it’s at the moment in compliance with OSHA requirements, they usually work with OSHA consultants to determine security rules on the store.

“The corporate is set to do issues in a manner that maximizes pace,” continued Livingston, “they usually achieve this in a manner that violates security requirements.” A number of sources said 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 increasingly accidents as [Costello] pushes the employees to work quicker,” mentioned one present worker. Office accidents described to io9 embrace easily-avoidable errors attributable to a scarcity of security tools or coaching. Sources report that no one is sufficiently educated on the tools; staff are employed with little to no woodworking expertise and educated to be “simply enough sufficient.”

One of many store’s worst accidents occurred in 2022, when an worker was working throughout a suspected energy disruption that precipitated 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 have been working with for 5 to seven seconds, almost burning their finger off. That worker was rushed to the hospital and needed to bear a number of surgical procedures.

Later within the day, a number of sources say, administration tried to gloss over this occasion in a flooring assembly, and tried in charge the worker for the harm, although this machine had been identified to have this subject. “I’ve seen this model go off for no motive,” mentioned one former worker. “I’ve seen one of many managers run over when this machine was malfunctioning and should unplug your complete machine with the intention to cease the pneumatic arms with the manufacturers from going up and down.”

The injured worker was presupposed to return to Wyrmwood for “gentle work,” however earlier than they may return to work, they have been laid off. This worker is now planning to file a office harm go well with.

One other former worker, Matt King, additionally says he bumped into issues attributable to 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 will permit him to work successfully, together with a fifteen-minute buffer for his cellphone line to permit versatile begin time. King ultimately resigned throughout a gathering with administration due to the perceived lack of help.

“Equality,” King mentioned, “is just not fairness. My expertise at Wyrmwood confirmed me that I won’t ever have the ability to pursue an equitable profession in my life.”

Different issues of safety embrace environmental hazards. Masking is just not all the time enforced in areas with excessive mud and chemical content material. The spray room was immediately 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, hearth extinguishers have 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 must maintain these updated, and laughs when he assessments them and nothing occurs. This video is from two years in the past, however a number of sources reported that fireside security continues to be not taken severely. For years, the de facto response when the fireplace alarm went off was to see if “any of the managers” have been leaving the realm.

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

What’s Wyrm Lyfe?

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

“When Wyrm Lyfe first got here out I assumed it was a bit of humorous,” mentioned Savage. “But it surely’s probably not us. It’s presupposed to be the store, and it grew to become this actuality present a couple of bunch of eccentrics who work within the gaming trade however don’t recreation.” 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,” mentioned 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 keeping with 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 operating a enterprise of their measurement.”

Wyrmwood’s media staff is held to a wholly totally different customary than the remainder of the workers, in keeping with worker sources. They’re allowed to be late, they receives a commission more cash, 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 signifies 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,” mentioned a former worker–and has instilled a way of vanity within the media staff.

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

Matters that weren’t communicated on to the workers embrace new merchandise that they’d 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 very edited propaganda,” mentioned one former worker. And it has labored. Over 100K folks subscribe to the Wyrm Lyfe channel to tune into the Dougie Costello present 3 times every week. The issue is that Wyrm Lyfe, like all propaganda, intentionally crafted and edited to indicate solely what they need you to see. “Wyrm Lyfe is a menace,” one former worker mentioned. “They use it to persuade folks to work right here, they usually maintain their platform over their competitors like a gun.”

In the end, the gravest subject with Wyrm Lyfe could also be that it casts a vibrant highlight on Bobby Downey and Doug Costello, to the purpose that their jobs and enterprise is immediately associated to how folks 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 photos, and his attendance at conventions. “He was a pleasant man,” mentioned one former worker, “however being in entrance of the digicam a lot modified him.” When anybody ties who they’re to what they achieve this intently, 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 numerous followers of Wyrmwood Gaming who will defend Doug Costello, Bobby Downey, and their administration of Wyrmwood. Bumpus recollects the love he received 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 that you must help your loved ones. However Wyrmwood is just not going to maintain you.”

Paul Downs, the proprietor of a Pennsylvania cabinetmaking firm and former author of “You’re The Boss,” a New York Instances 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 correct of the small enterprise proprietor to run his firm any manner that he noticed match.

And whereas that’s true—Costello can run Wyrmwood any manner he likes, even when that features enjoying down security considerations and disrespecting girls—many previous and current staff say that doesn’t make it proper.

It’s not proper, they are saying, that Costello has lied to his staff, promising them raises when none have been forthcoming; it’s not proper, they are saying, that he favors male staff 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 staff as a substitute 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 keeping with staff, Wyrmwood has did not scale to the calls for of its clients and in a manner that adequately helps their staff. One present worker emphasised to io9 that whereas they love their coworkers they usually love what they make, administration makes the store a hostile office. “I simply desire a good place to work,” they mentioned. “However Doug makes that inconceivable.”

The Wyrmwood clients who know all this and resolve to buy anyway will not be rebels; they’re merely rewarding dangerous habits. This machine grinds up hardworking, blue-collar staff and spits them out, bloody and traumatized.

“Everybody who’s ever labored at Wyrmwood, they’ll let you know they beloved their coworkers, and we constructed this camaraderie collectively, despite Doug Costello,” mentioned Ted Bumpus. “So usually our coworkers have been our greatest family and friends. And the administration takes benefit of that.”

Need extra io9 information? Try when to count on the most recent Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on film and TV, and every part that you must find out about the way forward for Doctor Who.

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