Alexis Kennedy

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Alexis Kennedy
Born1972 (age 49–50)
OccupationVideo game writer, designer
Notable worksFallen London
Sunless Sea
Cultist Simulator
Spouse
Ana Avalon
(m. 2008; div. 2015)
Lottie Bevan
(m. 2016)

Alexis Kennedy (born 1972) is a British video game writer, designer and entrepreneur. His video game work includes Fallen London, Sunless Sea and Cultist Simulator.[1] He co-founded Weather Factory, an independent game studio in London in 2017. Kennedy founded Failbetter Games in 2009, where he worked as its chief narrative officer and creative lead until 2016.[2][3]

Career[edit]

Failbetter Games[edit]

In 2009, Kennedy developed the browser game Fallen London. He founded the company Failbetter Games in January 2010.[4] Failbetter initially developed browser-based interactive fiction, including Fallen London and a platform called Story Nexus for other interactive fiction.[5] The company later developed narrative PC and mobile games, starting with Sunless Sea and an iOS port of Fallen London. Early in 2016, Kennedy opened Fundbetter, an initiative at Failbetter to fund promising narrative games and interactive fiction projects. As of May 2016, Fundbetter had announced five funded projects.[6]

In June 2016, Kennedy announced that he was leaving the company to do more creative, than managerial, work through freelancing. He sold his majority shareholder stake in Failbetter for 60 percent of the company's cash, rather than 60 percent of its value, to help the company operate without issue.[7][8][9]

Freelance work[edit]

In August 2016, Kennedy began work on a piece of standalone downloadable content (DLC) for Paradox Interactive's Stellaris.[10] In December 2016, the DLC was announced as an "interactive cosmic horror novelette" called Horizon Signal.

In September 2016, Kennedy said that he was working with the Dragon Age team in BioWare for an unannounced project as a freelance writer.[11] He also worked on an unspecified research and development project with Telltale Games.[12]

Weather Factory[edit]

In 2017, Kennedy co-founded a game studio called Weather Factory with Lottie Bevan, a former producer at Failbetter, to make experimental games. The company used an open development process to create Cultist Simulator. Kennedy released an alpha version and a Kickstarter campaign to complete it was funded within one day. The game was released on 31 May 2018, with iOS and Android capability the next year.[13][14] It was nominated for best debut game and game innovation at the British Academy Games Awards.[15] Kennedy reported in February 2019 that Cultist Simulator had grossed more than $1.76 million in sales.[16]

In 2019 he announced work on a game based on placing the player in charge of an occult library called Book of Hours, set in the same universe as Cultist Simulator.[17][18]

Personal life[edit]

Kennedy's father was the pilot Hugh Kennedy, who died under unusual circumstances.[19][20] He runs Weather Factory out of the spare bedroom of his home in London with his wife and fellow former Failbetter alumni Lottie Bevan.[21][22] On several occasions, Kennedy has spoken about how the traumatic and unusual nature of his father's and brother's deaths have influenced his work.[23]

Misconduct allegations[edit]

In August 2019, Kennedy was accused by Meg Jayanth, a writer on Sunless Sea, and Olivia Wood, a writer at Failbetter, of crossing "professional boundaries" with multiple women, including direct reports.[24][25][26] He denied the allegations, describing them as a "malicious misrepresentation", and stating that he was filing a police complaint.[25][27][28] In response to the allegations, three of the five projects participating in Weather Factory's mentorship program withdrew from it.[29][26] Failbetter Games, in a statement on Twitter, said that "We believe and stand with everyone who has come forward to speak out about Alexis Kennedy tonight."[27]

A late-game screenshot from Cultist Simulator

Works[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stephanie Chan (8 September 2017). "The terse poetry of Alexis Kennedy's Cultist Simulator card game". venturebeat.com.
  2. ^ Charlie Hall (2 March 2016). "Sunless Sea developer opens international fund, mentorship for interactive fiction". polygon.com.
  3. ^ Brendan Sinclair (25 May 2016). "Alexis Kennedy leaving Failbetter Games". gamesindustry.biz.
  4. ^ Forde, Matthew (June 12, 2019). "Weather Factory co-founder Alexis Kennedy on making fun over profit". PocketGamer.biz. PocketGamer. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  5. ^ Cassandra Khaw, "FailBetter Games' Alexis Kennedy is trying to make browser games that don't suck", PCWorld, October 9, 2012. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  6. ^ Charlie Hall, "Sunless Sea developer opens international fund, mentorship for interactive fiction", Polygon, March 2, 2016. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  7. ^ Brown, Fraser (17 August 2017). "Why Failbetter founder Alexis Kennedy left his studio". PCGamesN. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  8. ^ Donnelly, Joe (2017-08-11). "'My creative calling is to freak people the f*** out,' says Alexis Kennedy on Cultist Simulator". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  9. ^ Phillips, Tom (2018-02-14). "Behind the sunless scenes". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  10. ^ "Sunless Sea's Former Lead Now Writing For Stellaris". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. 15 August 2016.
  11. ^ Phillips, Tom (September 12, 2016). "Sunless Sea writer signs up for BioWare project". Eurogamer. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Apocalypse and Yearning". July 12, 2017. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  13. ^ Taylor, Haydn (July 2, 2019). "Weather Factory on the advantages of being "weird and divisive"". GamesIndustry.biz. Games Industry. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  14. ^ Baines, Tom (March 5, 2019). "Cultist Simulator is coming to Android and iOS". Thumbsticks.com. Thumbsticks. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  15. ^ Fogel, Stefanie (April 4, 2019). "'God of War' Wins Five BAFTA Awards". VanityFair.com. Vanity Fair. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  16. ^ Clayton, Natalie (February 15, 2019). "Cultist Simulator's 100,000-plus sales cap off a successful first year for Weather Factory". PCGamesInsider.biz. PC Games Insider. Retrieved November 23, 2020.
  17. ^ Boudreau, Ian. "Alexis Kennedy might be making a game about an evil library". PCGamesN. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  18. ^ Wales, Matt (31 May 2019). "Cultist Simulator dev reveals "elegant, melancholy" occult library follow-up, Book of Hours". Eurogamer. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  19. ^ McKeand, Kirk (13 October 2017). "How death influences Alexis Kennedy's writing on Dragon Age 4 and other games". PCGamesN. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  20. ^ Caygill, Peter (2006). Phantom from the Cockpit: Flying the Legend. Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 9781783409631. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  21. ^ Caines, Matthew (2019-04-01). "The UK's indie games sector is ripe for further investment". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2021-08-08.
  22. ^ Forde, Matthew (12 June 2019). "Weather Factory co-founder Alexis Kennedy on making fun over profit". Pocket Gamer.biz. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  23. ^ McKeand, Kirk (13 October 2017). "How death influences Alexis Kennedy's writing on Dragon Age 4 and other games". PCGamesN.
  24. ^ Webb, Kevin. "Multiple men in the video game industry have been accused of sexual assault and harassment, and it's sparking an industry-wide conversation about abuse". Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  25. ^ a b "Emerging from the shadow of GamerGate". Engadget. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  26. ^ a b Phillips, Tom (30 August 2019). "Two women accuse Cultist Simulator developer Alexis Kennedy of "exploitative" behaviour". Eurogamer. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  27. ^ a b Grubb, Jeff (29 August 2019). "Sexual abuse allegations hit half-dozen game developers". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  28. ^ Graft, Kris (28 August 2019). "New allegations of sexual assault surface against established game devs". Gamasutra. Retrieved 29 August 2019.
  29. ^ Sinclair, Brendan (29 August 2019). "Former colleagues accuse Alexis Kennedy of abuse, retaliation". gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved 29 August 2019.