Fans of tabletop games have heard about Pandasaurus Games. They made waves in the tabletop industry, both for allowing for remote work environments as well as competitive wages compared to other studios in the business. Furthermore, their output has stood out with eclectic and distinct projects like Skate Summer, Dinosaur Island, and The Loop. They've even recently announced a card game adaptation of the critically acclaimed JRPG: Persona 5 Royal. But a recent report paints the studio in a different light, alleging Pandasaurus workplace toxicity.
The Pandasaurus workplace toxicity allegations
The reports of Pandasaurus workplace toxicity come from a feature by Dicebreaker. In the report, several employees anonymously spoke out about the workplace environment they experienced in the Austin-based company. A number of the allegations revolve around the co-owners of the studio, Molly Wardlaw and Nathan McNair, and their managerial skills. By their own accounts, both McNair and Wardlaw were seemingly absent for crucial stretches of game development and consistently made excuses when it came to paying their employees including contractors and partners.
This clashed with the studio's flat organizational approach. Basically, both McNair and Wardlaw had the final say across all company decisions. Since there was no hierarchy of managers, this meant that if they missed or forgot to approve something, even something minor, productions could stop or be delayed. "You can't have a flat organizational structure in any capitalist company. It just doesn't work,” one former worker said. “They would not give up any scrap of decision-making power. It wasn't a flat structure, it was literally more like a dictatorship."
Combine this managerial approach and the founders' lack of experience and the Pandasaurus workplace toxicity allegations become more announced. Another employee mentioned a situation where a certain project's deadline was two weeks ago, then mention that they hit that deadline and were waiting for approval so they can move to the next step of production. This is coupled with reports of both McNair and Wardlaw making excuses when it came to scheduled workplace meetings and the use of workflow tools. This has led to employees enduring high levels of anxiety and stress. Possibly the worst of such stress comes from the graphic designers hired by the company, who would put in hours of crunch into a project just to get delayed projects to completion. “Everyone knew that Molly and Nathan did not like that. Everyone also knew that they're the ones who pushed [the graphic designer] to work like this,” one worker said.
The Pandasaurus workplace toxicity report includes other allegations. These include aggressively siloing information, and mistreatment of independent contractors. But the report does speculate that these actions are not out of malicious intent, but may be out of the group's desire to grow their expectations alongside the company. The company was founded back in 2011, and a lot can change in those years.
We have formally reached out to Pandasaurus games for a statement regarding these toxic workplace allegations. At the time of writing, they have yet to respond.