Alec Holowka is the Infinite Fall developer who died on August 31, a few days after he was accused of sexual assault by a fellow developer, Zoe Quinn. Holowka was known for his work in the world independent video game development, beginning in Winnipeg, where he grew up. Holowka was a graduate of River East Collegiate high school.
An earlier version of this article showed an image purporting to be Alec Holowka. The picture incorrectly showed Kenly Kristofferson. We apologize to Mr. Kristofferson and regret this error.
Holowka’s sister, Eileen Mary Holowka, announced the Canadian developer’s passing in a Twitter message. Eileen Holowka said in the message that her brother had taken his own life. In the statement, Eileen thanks game developer Adam Saltsman for “staying up late talking with us and reminding Alec that there was a future.”
In the wake of the allegations made by Quinn, Scott Benson, of the “Night in the Woods” team, announced that they had severed ties with Holowka. Quinn made her allegations on Twitter on August 27.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Eileen Holowka Says That Her Brother Had Been a Victim of Abuse in His Life & Battled Mental Illness
In announcing Holowka’s passing, Eileen Holowka said that she believes “survivors and I have always done everything I can to support survivors, those suffering from mental illnesses, and those with chronic illnesses.” Eileen goes on to say that her brother suffered from abuse and battled mental illness and a personality disorder during his life. She describes her brother as someone “who wanted only to offer people care and kindness. It took him a while to figure out how.”
Eileen said that Holowka became a new person in recent years, thanks to a combination of therapy and medication. Eileen says that Holowka was “calm and happy, positive and loving.” In the wake of the allegations made by Zoe Quinn, Eileen said that her brother had been receiving support from the Manitoba crisis services. Eileen adds, “[Holowka’s family] tried our best to support Alec, but in the end he felt he had lost too much.” The statement finishes with the words, “For anyone who is in a time of darkness, I encourage you to reach out for support. There are always people who will be there for you.”
Holowka followed up the tweeted message by saying, “And in case it’s not already f****** obvious, Alec *specifically said* he wished the best for Zoë and everyone else, so don’t use our grief as an excuse to harass people. Go outside, take care of someone, and work towards preventing these kinds of things in the first place.” Eileen Holowka also works in gaming as a developer and was given a special thanks credit on “Night in the Woods.” In the fallout from her brother’s suicide, Eileen said that she does not see a future for herself in gaming.
2. Holowka Wone the Seamus McNally Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival in 2007
Holowka first appeared on the scene with the 2006 freeware titled, “I’m OK,” alongside Derek Yu. In 2009, Holowka worked on the iPhone game, “Das Cube,” with Mark Johns. In 2007, Holowka won the Seamus McNally Grand Prize at the Independent Games Festival for his work on “Entering Aquaria.” Holowka was also known for composing the music for several titles, including “Lost Constellation.”
3. Holowka Began Creating Games at 8 Years Old
Holowka told Gameasutra in a 2006 interview that he started developing games at 8 years of age in Canada. Holowka said, “When I was eight, my dad wanted me to actually start doing something productive and stop just playing games, so he bought me a book called Basic Fun. Eventually, I was making freeware stuff with a group called Zaphire Productions. Since then I’ve been involved in a number of start-ups, one was in Winnipeg which was for a PC multiplayer fantasy combat title and one in Vancouver which was an Xbox 360 combat racer. Both projects completed demos, but failed to find a publisher.”
4. Holowka’s Firing Led to the Cancelation of an In-Development Project at Infinite Fall
In a series of tweets, “Night in the Woods” co-creator Scott Benson said that the firing of Holowka had led to the cancelation of an in-development project. Benson said that the future of the game would be handled by him and another co-creator Bethany Hockenberry. Benson and Holowka had crowdfunded “Night in the Woods” in October 2013.
While “Towerfall” creator, Matt Thorson, a game that Holowka had worked on as a composter, said that he had cut ties with Holowka “years ago.” Thorson added, “I believe and support Zoe.” Thorson also said that when he heard the allegations he was “shocked by her account but not surprised.”
5. Holowka Took Inspiration for the ‘Dead End Town’ Portrayed in ‘Night in the Woods’ From Winnipeg
In a 2017 interview with the Winnipeg Free Press, Holowka said that he took a lot of inspiration of the world inhabited by the “misfits” in “Night in the Woods” from his hometown of Winnipeg. Holowka said, “There’s a lot of inspiration from Winnipeg, too.” During the same interview, Holowka said that going into gaming wasn’t his goal as a youth. Holowka said, “I always wanted to be in a rock or indie band. This is kind of like the next best thing. I never expected something like that would happen.”