Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Social Issues in Tabletop Games 3

- 17 contributors left the board game news and blog site Everything Board Games. Read their statement here. Essentially, the EBG owner Lake Leafty, not only failed to say anything in support of BLM, he actively refused to let anyone in the company discuss doing so publicly or on their internal forums. Leafty posted a response, posing as a victim of an attack campaign, but the post seems to have been taken down. His story is essentially that EBG is a board games site, not a political site. That always sounds so reasonable, and it always falls apart when you inevitably discover that Leafty's Facebook feed is full of anti-BLM, anti-SJW, anti-leftist, etc posts. So no politics unless it's his politics, apparently. Addressing systemic racism and harassment in business and culture is not politics, it's human rights. HOW you address it is politics. HT Kotaku.

- Speaking of victims of an attack campaign, Eric Lang, one of the few well-known Black board game designers, was suspended from Twitter. He used a serial blocker to block thousands of racist tweets aimed at him. Twitter was less than forthcoming as to why he was suspended, but he has since been unsuspended. HT Kotaku.

- Following up on previous stories and moves, Wizard of the Coast added disclaimers to various legacy content about their possible racist or insensitive content. They also claim that this is a first step, they condemn harassment of anyone pointing out their flaws, they apologize for their failures and aim to do better.

In addition, WotC also cut ties with MtG artist, Terese Nielsen, although a few more cards containing her artwork still are scheduled to be released in an upcoming set. The complaints from customers is of her following and retweeting many white nationalist feeds and posts, and other associations she has demonstrated.

They also cut ties with artist Lizbeth Eden who regularly posts semi-nude pictures of herself and semi-nude artwork for magic card proxies on her private web pages, because, WotC wrote, "adult nudity and sexualized posting" content violates their terms of service for magic creators. Which got many people in an uproar, since a) Magic cards and Dungeons and Dragons feature and have always featured semi-nude women, b) the pictures are not sexually explicit, they are semi-nudes, and c) this could be interpreted as shaming women's bodies.

- WizKids and Indie Game alliance ended their relationship with Robert Burke, after Burke posted some inflammatory anti-BLM posts on Facebook.

- Meanwhile, in the video game world, Ubisoft seems to be the epicenter and primary example of a toxic sexual harassment culture.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Black Lives Matter (and Me Too) and Tabletop Games 2

Following up on last month's post about diversity in gaming, here are some additional items from the last few weeks:

- Wizard of the Coast: First, they have responded to the issue regarding inherently evil races in Dungeons and Dragons (such as dark elves) by reviewing and changing future products to enable all members of all races to choose their own morality. See their press release. This may not be enough; game design freelancer Orion D. Black just resigned, claiming that the Wizards press release does not address real issues of racism within the company structure; his statement is here. Second, they have cut ties with Magic artist Noah Bradley, who has long and often been accused of severe sexual harassment, after Noah himself posted a lengthy acknowledgement and apology on the topic.

- Cards Against Humanity: Former employees accused the company and one of its co-founders of a toxic work environment and sexual harassment. The co-founder, Max Temkin, has stepped down. Considering the line of games and materials this company produces, this is no surprise to me. Statement from the company. The workers are now unionizing.

- A huge list of accusations about sexual assault, rape, and harassment was made last month regarding various video game personalities, especially streamers. Video game publishers also must address a long history of racism in games and by players.