An anonymous reader shares a report: Brooke Holden had all but given up on breaking into the video game business. […] “Professionally inexperienced but passionate team manager looking for a hobby project to help support and manage,” she posted to a subreddit for assembling game dev teams. It was just a lark, yet a half dozen replies accumulated under the post. One in particular stood out, from an account with an active Reddit history on developer recruitment boards. The poster’s name was “Kova,” and he told Holden that his small team of three developers had recently ballooned into a 48-member operation that needed a manager “on everyone’s arse.” Holden was exhilarated. On June 22, 2019, she signed a contract with Kova’s company Drakore Studios, accepting the position of junior production manager at $13 per hour.
There was just one problem: Drakore Studios didn’t actually exist. Over the course of a month and a half, “Kova,” real name Rana Mahal, convinced at least 25 people to join a game studio that was not a registered company, and develop a video game to which he did not own the rights, in exchange for no pay. Six of them came forward to tell their story to Kotaku. The story they told was one of deceit, exploitation, incompetence, and hope, and one fuelled by gamers’ desperation to participate in an industry that has stoked their imagination, lifted their mood and forged friendships since childhood.