TSR Companies & Freelancers Distance Themselves From The New TSR

The new TSR (which I refer to as TSR3 to avoid confusion) has doubled down on its stance--which has been widely condemned online--via an ongoing series of tweets and replies from its TSR Games, Giantlands, and Dungeon Hobby Museum social media accounts (possibly operated by Justin LaNasa) in an astonishing PR campaign which makes the original interview which sparked off the controversy look mild in comparison. Various entities are moving to distance themselves from the company and its activities, including TSR2, the company founded in 2011 by Jayson Elliot, which has now declared that it will not be using the name TSR any longer. Other companies including Gen Con and freelancers such as Jeff Dee have also made statements.

For reference -- TSR1 is the (no longer existing) company which launched D&D in 1974, TSR2 is the company founded by Jayson Elliot in 2011 to create Gygax Magazine and which currently publishes the Top Secret RPG, and TSR3 is the newly launched company.



Catch up on my previous coverage of this story:


TSR3's social media accounts initially sought to distance the company from Ernie Gygax's statements, but within a few hours had reversed course and doubled down on his stance. Note that there have been dozens of social media posts from the company over the last few days, and still continuing as I type this, and I don't intend to share them all here.

(Thanks to Daniel Fox for sharing screenshots below via Twitter).

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TSR2 -- "Update to our earlier tweet - we will NOT be licensing anything from the new company claiming rights to the TSR logos. We are not working with them in any fashion."

Gen Con -- "Gen Con is not associated with TSR Games and we don't support their recent statements. While the foundation of Gen Con is tied with the history of TTRPGs, our goal is to build off the good, acknowledge the bad, and work toward a present free from racism, misogyny, and homophobia."

Gen Con has also indicated that they do not intend to allow TSR3 at the convention.

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GAMA (the Game Manufacturers Association) -- "We’re aware of the appalling statements published by TSR Games and their founder - GAMA does not condone nor agree with any part of it. We pride ourselves on supporting and promoting inclusivity always. Our motto is “A game at every table, a table for everyone”. Transphobia, racism, and sexism will not be tolerated. That means that TSR is not welcome at Origins Game Fair, GAMA Expo or any event affiliated with our organization."

Jeff Dee -- "There is a rumor going around that I am part of this new TSR company. That is not accurate. I have done some work for them as a freelance artist. That’s how I make my living, and spreading the misinformation that I’m now employed full-time by one particular client could stop other clients from approaching me and hurt my business. So, please do not spread that rumor. If I ever become a full-time employee anywhere again, I will announce that myself. Thanks. UPDATE: After investigating reports about statements made by representatives of this new TSR, I have determined that I can no longer do business with them in good conscience. I've returned their downpayment on the next piece of art I was scheduled to do for them. And yeah, I could sure use some new commissions to make up for this big hit on my cashflow"

Jim Ward, an original TSR alumnus and who wrote Giantlands, TSR3's flagship product -- "At the present time I know little or nothing about the relaunch of TSR. Right now I don't see how anyone could pick up where the old company left off. Yes it's a name with some logos, that is all I know."

Luke Gygax -- "FYI- I am not involved with any TSR company nor is Gary Con nor anyone else in my family outside of Ernie. Full stop. That is all ... I have reasons for distancing myself. The way TSR treats people online in their public exchanges is rude. The museum is a for profit business and was asking for donations. Using names of people to promote without their knowledge. Going out of the way to talk gender/woke stuff ... Also basically jacking the TSR logo from Jayson Elliot. The bombastic press releases and claims to old IP. Making a quick nostalgia money grab based on my fathers name and not much else. So I’m making it clear I don’t like this style and I have ZERO to do with TSR"

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TSR3 responds to Luke Gygax

Tim Kask, an original TSR alumnus who worked at the company until 1980, spoke at length on this topic in a YouTube video (below). I've transcribed some bits, but he says a whole load more (ellipses represent sections I have not included, for reasons of brevity), so check out the video for the whole thing.

"There has been bandied about in social media over the last several days several claims about what's going on in Lake Geneva right now. Ernie Gygax made a most egregious mistake in an interview he did on a podcast. He basically waved his bare ass in front of everybody that's concerned about pronouns, and woke, and all that right now in the industry and thumbed his nose at them. The transcript of his podcasts are there for everyone to read. That they were men, and they didn't give a sh*t, and la la la.

But right there they alienated three quarters of the gaming industry. Probably more than that, I don't believe that there's a quarter of the gaming industry that still are the neanderthals that he would make us out to be.

That's another thing. This whole thing has brought the OSR (the old school revival) into serious disrepute. Now there are some little Karens going on some of the social media and painting with the same brush all of us that were there back then based on the stupid ass sh*t that Ernie just said. No. We weren't all like that. And we aren't all like that now. He's a troll, a troglodyte, a neanderthal, if he really means that. It's a foolish person that doesn't wet his finger once in a while and feel the wind shift.

Now there've been claims in a couple of posts, one of which is by Ernie, about how the stalwarts, the old TSR are flocking to the banner. Bullsh*t....

... There is no one of the creative side of TSR from the early days involved with the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum. No one. Not one creative person. No matter who might be claiming what, they simply do not have the credentials. Being named DiMaggio does not mean you can hit a lot of home runs. Or that you even hit any home runs ....

... Just because you say you're TSR doesn't mean you are."


 
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MGibster

Legend
The algorithm is such a horrible trap. I don’t watch reactionary content at all. I do watch a lot of tabletop games related stuff. YT has been recommending the captcorajus (sp?) video on this subject to me for a few days now. I clicked through for less than a minute and the next refresh of the page had it recommending the freaking RPGPundit’s “ugh SJWs made me have to defend Ernie” video and I never deleted a video from my watch history so fast...
I had the same problem with the algorithm beast on Youtube as well. I watched a few Warhammer lore videos produced by a terrible person without knowing he was a terrible person until I watched a few more of his videos. For a very long while, I kept getting videos of people complaining about SJWs, about how Anita Sarkeesian is ruining gaming, and other pap and I couldn't figure out how to make it stop.
 

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My first thought is “ooof...”

He totally misses the mark here. This isn’t about you being bullied as a kid, Ernie. I was bullied as a kid. Many of us were. Many of your critics were. This isn’t the issue at hand.

He also completely ignores the outcry from the queer community, who seemed to be a fair chunk of the critics due to the language being used, and somehow makes it more about race at the beginning? And totally ignores cozying up to bigots and reactionaries.

No actual addressing of what happened, why he’s sorry for it and what will be done. Not even a good first draft of an apology IMO. Someone should have sent this back with red pen before it went out the door.

Edit: Oh Gods, how could I have not addressed the nascent school shooting comment too? Dude, just... no.
 

Scribe

Legend
This entire thing is simply sad at this point. I see a man who is defensive, clearly incapable from a business perspective, and in no way should he be attempting anything but an apology, and stepping out of the limelight to work on addressing the clear lack of understanding that he is displaying.

This latest personal update reflects on an immaturity, and simply continues to show a lack of understanding on the impact of both what he has, and hasn't said.

It won't end well at all for TSR(3) but he's lucky to have people trying to help, and not just wiping their hands of him.
 

First, I want to say thanks @Rob Kuntz for reaching out to Ernie about these topics.

I've discovered this myself. Factors like YouTube algorithms were putting content in front of me that was getting more and more extreme, presumably to keep me watching.
So I started off watching videos about Star Wars, then that turned into watching videos about all the controversial takes on Star Wars, then linked to political and social theories that got more extreme. Then it began putting videos on my feed about anti-Semetic conspiracy theories that are too horrific for me to discuss.
That's when I turned it off, and started watching videos by content creators I could trust. It's a deep rabbit hole. So I can understand how this ideology spreads online and enrapts people.
It's important to have positive voices in gaming, even in the niche of the OSR. Not only are they welcoming marginalized groups, but they're also keeping people like me from extremist messages.

The algorithm is such a horrible trap. I don’t watch reactionary content at all. I do watch a lot of tabletop games related stuff. YT has been recommending the captcorajus (sp?) video on this subject to me for a few days now. I clicked through for less than a minute and the next refresh of the page had it recommending the freaking RPGPundit’s “ugh SJWs made me have to defend Ernie” video and I never deleted a video from my watch history so fast...

One time, back in the GamerGate days, I clicked in on a Milo livestream to watch and see what the train wreck was doing for like two minutes and it took weeks for my recommendations to purge themselves of reactionaries afterward. This was before I knew about deleting things from your watch history fixing that.

It really doesn’t wait at all before pushing you down that path if it thinks you’re even remotely adjacent to it rather than just idly curious and it’s terrifying.
I'd say it's pretty amazing how many people there on YT are so dedicated to toxifying a sub-niche of a friggin' hobby, but I've watched Pundey go all the way down the rabbit hole trying desperately to be relevant and somehow monetize his micro-fame. I have to wonder if the net income per hour endeavored exceeds working at a coffee shop somewhere.
 




The algorithm is such a horrible trap. I don’t watch reactionary content at all. I do watch a lot of tabletop games related stuff. YT has been recommending the captcorajus (sp?) video on this subject to me for a few days now. I clicked through for less than a minute and the next refresh of the page had it recommending the freaking RPGPundit’s “ugh SJWs made me have to defend Ernie” video and I never deleted a video from my watch history so fast...

You can do quite a bit to manipulate the YT algorithm in your favor. When you see a video on your recommendations that you don't want, you can click the three dots button and choose "Not interested" or "Don't recommend channel". You don't even need to watch that video to tag it. If it gives you the "tell us why" option, always choose it and answer it truthfully.

You might have to do it two or three times before they get that you're not interested in a given topic (and you always have to reload the page to get it to kick in), but I've only ever seen one channel come back up on my list after saying "don't recommend." It was a channel with 1m subs, the video came out about three years after I nixed them, I had been a devoted viewer of that channel, and I'd just gone on a binge of videos with similar topics. I just tagged it again to not recommend that channel and I was good.

YouTube is pretty frustrating to use, but the tools they give you do have an overall positive effect.

Edit: Run-on sentence.
 

I had the same problem with the algorithm beast on Youtube as well. I watched a few Warhammer lore videos produced by a terrible person without knowing he was a terrible person until I watched a few more of his videos. For a very long while, I kept getting videos of people complaining about SJWs, about how Anita Sarkeesian is ruining gaming, and other pap and I couldn't figure out how to make it stop.
Oh man I feel you there too. I recently got curious about dipping into Warhammer AOS and have watched a few videos, but knowing how bad some elements of the WH fandom are, I’ve been watching my recommendations like a hawk for signs that it thinks I’m fash-sympathetic.

I honestly wonder if that’s a compounding factor for why it sent me to Pundit so quick heh.
 

I figured, though it's a new one to me.



Ernie's "apology," ugh. He really needed to have someone else workshop through that one with him. And that it ends with "and hey, come visit the Dungeon Hobby Shop Museum" is just unbelievable.
One can only hope that my telephone call to him after this non-apology, and the two longish e-mails that followed, will knock some sense into him. The idea that Umbrian and another posted that he is avoiding conflict was spot on. That's Ernie. I never thought that would stand in the way of him ending one he and his partner started.

I'm not giving up but I am not doing anymore. He doesn't need someone looking over his shoulder to instruct him in the right course to take. He is not infirm or stupid. This whole thing is becoming a tragedy. I get the sense that people want him to come clean, to start over, but even with that, with that hope, a little bit of synergy, it all hangs over a precipice. Makes one consider Fate if it wasn't so morbidly comedic at this point.

I need to take a large step back.
 

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