log in or register to remove this ad

 

Harassment At PaizoCon 2017

Status
Not open for further replies.
In our post-Harvey Weinstein world, more and more people in the various entertainment industries are coming forward with allegations of abuse and harassment, both sexual and psychological. The tabletop gaming industry isn't isolated from this wave of revelation as incidents surface, and will likely continue to surface about professionals, and fans, within the gaming communities.


Stories of harassment within tabletop gaming, at conventions and stores, and even in local gaming groups are nothing new. That is probably the saddest fact of this whole thing: that despite stories being brought to light, not only does harassment continue to happen but the existence of it continues to be denied by some. This denial is one of the factors that allows abuse and harassment to continue within tabletop RPGs.

Allegations of improper behavior at the 2017 PaizoCon by Frog God Games CEO Bill Webb were brought to life by Pathfinder content creator Robert Brookes. Brookes was attending PaizoCon and has written for Paizo and Legendary Games, among others. In an incident involving alcohol, Webb allegedly sexually harassed another guest at the convention and when a staffer attempted to intervene and injury occurred with the staffer.

In a thread about harassment and abuse on gaming forum RPGNet, Frog God Games partner Matt Finch, creator of the Swords & Wizardry retroclone, confirmed that the incident with Webb occurred, and revealed some details about an internal investigation that the partners of Frog God Games conducted into the incident:

"I am Matt Finch, the partner of Frog God Games appointed by the partners to investigate a sexual harassment complaint filed against Mr. Webb at PaizoCon 2017. Mr. Webb was not consulted by the partners on this decision. Due to recent accusations made on Twitter by a third party, I will outline the aspects of the situation to the extent that they do not compromise the confidentiality of the person who filed the report, I will describe the nature of our internal investigation, and will also address the recently-raised tweets by Robert Brookes on his twitter feed. This report will not necessarily be updated; it stands for itself at the time of posting, based on the knowledge I currently have.

"First, it is correct that a complaint was filed with Paizo at PaizoCon against Bill. I was made aware of this by phone on the day it happened (I was not present at the convention). Frog God is aware of the identity of the person who made the complaint, because they spoke to three of our partners at the convention after the event. We have not been invited to share that person’s identity, and although we are not under legal obligation to protect that confidentiality we have elected to respect that person’s desire not to have the event brought into the spotlight.

"Gathering information in a situation like this is necessarily limited due to Paizo’s own confidentiality obligations. To assemble information, I spoke to the three partners who had talked with the person who filed the complaint, and obtained their accounts of what they were told. Secondhand accounts are not perfect, and I had to weigh that against the fact that an attorney making direct contact with someone who has filed such a report can be seen as a threat or intimidation, and weighing those two issues, I chose to rely on a comparison of the conversations between the individual and our partners, plus Paizo’s own resolution of the matter at the time, plus a necessarily-cautious review of Bill’s account. There has been contact between the person who filed the complaint and Frog God partners since the event, and I will provide a screenshot of one such communication with the name redacted. I believe the screenshot provides a great deal of clarification.

"Reducing the event to a level that will maintain confidentiality, my understanding based on my investigation was that Bill Webb took an action and engaged in speech that could be construed as a sexual advance or as gender-dismissive.

"In consequence of this finding, I and another senior partner of the company had a meeting with Mr. Webb about expectations, standards of behavior, and future protocol. We addressed that one’s lack of bad intentions does not excuse problematic behavior.

"Some people have asked that Mr. Webb acknowledge and apologize for the situation. Bill does deeply regret his actions, and understands that they were inappropriate and upsetting. I have told Mr. Webb not to contact the person directly, for the same reason that I have not done so myself: the potential for that contact to appear intimidating or threatening. However, at whatever time the person lets us know that a direct apology from Mr. Webb would be welcomed, that apology will be immediately forthcoming. Mr. Webb is also under instruction not to discuss this matter in public, in case peripheral details were to be inadvertently disclosed that might allow the identification of the person by another party. This is also the reason we chose to have me, as the investigating partner, write the public report, given that a report has become necessary in response to a recent description of the event on Twitter."


We reached out to Webb for comment upon this incident, and we were directed to the RPGNet post by Finch. This is the company's official statement on what happened at PaizoCon. Whether or not there will be further repercussions within Frog God Games due to this incident and Webb's actions remain to be seen.

Paizo CEO Lisa Stevens has released an official statement on the incident on the Paizo forums. When EN World reached out to Paizo for official comment, we were directed to this statement:

"My name is Lisa Stevens and I am the CEO and owner of Paizo Inc. Events of the past few weeks have compelled me to make this statement.

"My company will never condone any sexual harassment or assault against any of our employees, male or female. We will never condone any sexual harassment or assault against any of our customers on paizo.com or at sanctioned organized play activities. Whenever I hear any allegations of sexual harassment or assault related to Paizo’s activities, I always immediately drop whatever I'm doing and I make getting to the bottom of these issues my top priority. We have banned people from paizo.com. We have banned people from participating in our organized play activities. We have stopped doing business with individuals. And we will continue to do so.
"As a woman and a survivor of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape, I know what it is like to be on the receiving end of these attacks. I know what it is like to feel the shame, the terror, how it changes your life forever. And because of this, I will never stand for my company to condone this behavior.

"Paizo’s employees are encouraged to come forward with any allegations of sexual harassment or assault and let a manager know as soon as possible. If criminal activities have taken place, they are encouraged to report it to the police and take legal action against the perpetrator. We have asked our employees to not engage in explosive and angry dialogue on paizo.com. We want our website to be a place where our customers feel safe and among friends. If there is problem on paizo.com, then our community team will handle it and, where appropriate, ban the perpetrator.

"In closing, you have my word that I have zero tolerance for sexual harassment and assault, and the same is true of Paizo. Please be aware that we treat these issues with tremendous sensitivity, and only disclose the specifics and resolutions of any such incidents on a need-to-know basis, even within Paizo or with our legal counsel. We do not and will not discuss these matters publicly. Every instance that I am aware of has been thoroughly investigated, and appropriate actions have been taken or are in the process of being taken. You have my word on this."


Unrelated to the PaizoCon incident, Brookes also revealed an incident of harassment within the Pathfinder Society organized play program. When a volunteer staffer reported this incident, their supervisor informed them that an NDA they had signed to be part of the program would not allow her to discuss this incident. Paizo has not officially commented on this incident or commented on whether or not there is an investigation into it.

If tabletop role-playing games are truly going to be an inclusive, we have to be better about not just reporting incidents of abuse and harassment but being dedicated to creating spaces that are safe and free of harassment of our fellow gamers. We also need to shine a spotlight onto the incidents of harassment that occur, it is the responsibility of journalists, bloggers and gamers to do this and let people know that their actions will come to light and that they will be held responsible. It is also important to not just talk about those parts of the gaming communities that we don't agree with, but to also bring to light the improper actions of those companies and communities with whom we do agree, because unless every act of harassment is revealed there will be no change within our communities.

Remember that EN World is an inclusive community.
[FONT=&quot]Save[/FONT][FONT=&quot]Save[/FONT]
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
You can be sure that every company in the RPG industry, from WOTC to the small studios, are presently reading these articles that are being posted here and evaluating whether or not they want their products to be associated with the political content and commentary that results.

I fervently hope so.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Guy gets drunk and acts stupid and people lose their minds, this happens all the time, it's happening right now, somewhere.

No one was physically hurt, no one was raped, the "victim" needs to develop a thicker skin and learn to forgive and forget this should never have been made an issue of.


This new social justice politically correct atmosphere plaguing society is only going to get worse if we don't draw the line somewhere soon. People shouldn't get persecuted on the internet, hounded on social media, and possibly lose employment over something like this. There is a good reason the cops were not called, it's because they wouldn't have done a damn thing besides talk to him for a bit and calm the situation down because nothing criminal happened.

This post is entirely inappropriate, and completely out of line with the inclusiveness stance of this website. Putting "victims" in quote marks, and belittling the experience of somebody who experienced harassment, is not acceptable on this site. Please do not post in this thread again.
 


Venley

First Post
This is definitely news and I am glad both that this site has brought it to the attention of readers here (albeit 4 days after reports elsewhere that I have been reading) and that there is a decent attempt at inclusiveness by Morrus. Would that extended to other readers and owners/moderators of other sites.
 

kenmarable

Adventurer
If it makes you feel any better your wife and daughter are safer now then they ever were at any other time in history.

No, it doesn’t make many of us feel any better. Sure, they aren’t going to get burned at the stake, but most people aren’t satisfied with a bar set that low. “Better than history” is not the best we can do.

That's not true and you'd be unwise to believe it; men are a lot more likely to be physically attacked than women.

I’m thinking you have some apples and oranges in that pie. But even if it is true, so what? It’s not a contest. If someone wants to have better locks on their house or a security system, distracting with talk about airbags because they are more likely to be in a car crash than to have their house robbed is not helpful.


1. There exists a problem in our community.
2. The problem is experienced frequently enough that it has driven talented professionals and fans out of the community.
3. There are ways people have been successful in reducing this problem.
4. Talented professionals and fans should be able to enjoy our community without the threat of that problem.
Conclusion. Let’s reduce this problem, alrighty?

Where’s the controversy? It doesn’t matter whether it is better than history or how it compares to other problems. There is a problem and there are ways to reduce that problem.

If physical attacks against men are a problem at our conventions, then let’s address it also. If there are other problems, then let’s address them also. However, that has zero relevance to addressing this problem that clearly exists and is harming our community.
 

Reynard

Legend
I am sorely disappointed in much of hat we are seeing here in the comments. The tendency to say "Hey, wait a minute, let's give the harasser the benefit of the doubt, and maybe we should take a closer look at the so-called victim. What was she wearing?" is disturbing and infuriating. If your initial reaction was to side against the victim, you really need to re-examine your attitudes. Men make up the majority of this hobby and industry and it is up to us to ensure the problematic minority does not tarnish the whole community.

I really want to thank Morrus for bringing this to the fore. It is important.
 



billd91

Hobbit on Quest

Hard to say, really. It didn’t look like his Kickstarter was going to fund before those went up anyway - too high a goal and probably too much hubris involved for an industry veteran whose influence is already waning.
 

Obryn

Hero
There's another thread for it, from a few days ago.

And the Empyrea kickstarter was already crashing and burning. You could see it on Day 1 if you know kickstarters. It had an extremely ambiguous pitch beyond "look at these names of people I know," an unrealistic goal (250k for a generic fantasy setting?), expensive pledge tiers (like $50 for the pdfs), and many of what experienced backers consider warning signs (no draft, nothing written at all in fact, no idea on content, overly ambitious multi-system support, unrealistic release goals, no direct creator interaction, obvious unfamiliarity with kickstarter 'best practices,' and a recent reputation for volatility, like going off on critics).
 

ddaley

Explorer
There's another thread for it, from a few days ago.

And the Empyrea kickstarter was already crashing and burning. You could see it on Day 1 if you know kickstarters. It had an extremely ambiguous pitch beyond "look at these names of people I know," an unrealistic goal (250k for a generic fantasy setting?), expensive pledge tiers (like $50 for the pdfs), and many of what experienced backers consider warning signs (no draft, nothing written at all in fact, no idea on content, overly ambitious multi-system support, unrealistic release goals, no direct creator interaction, obvious unfamiliarity with kickstarter 'best practices,' and a recent reputation for volatility, like going off on critics).

Yeah, I avoided that kickstarter for a few of those reasons. However, his behavior definitely didn't win him any fans. And, people began posting about it in the comments of the kickstarter.
 

bruce_lombardo

First Post
Yes.

Read the article above (or any of the witness accounts). One Paizo staffer was injured trying to stop Bill.

So yes.

Sad to see this happened. On the issue of one staffer being injured, there are a lot of people that I'm positive would love to take a drunken swing at me. As a man, I'm up for that. And I'm sure that punching someone felt pretty good.
 

ehren37

Explorer
I have to say, I am disappointed at how Paizo has handled this, though not particularly surprised Frog God has shrugged it off. "Lol, I was just drunk, it's okay to harass women and hurt people when you're drunk"


Not sure what Paizo did wrong here. Seemed they offered immediate condemnation for the perpetrator and support for the victim. Did you read BJ Hensley's response? Can you elaborate where you thought they failed?

Frog God's also seemed a bit better than "lol drunk men, amirite?". I understand the caution regarding identifying the victim name because our hobby has quite a number of gross MRA/Gamergate/Red Pill types, a few of whom have already reared their ugly heads in this very thread! They admitted it happened, and it sounds like their investigation and decisions on what to do are forthcoming. Not amazing, but honestly better than I expected from our hobby, given it's history as a (straight, white) boy's club.

Sometimes progress is measured in small steps. We can't let perfect be the enemy of good.
 

Eltab

Hero
I am pleased that people present at the incident took the incident seriously.

I believe, however, that it will take more Official Reporting of such incidents - to build a verifiable trail and establish a pattern of behavior - in order to identify and punish the perpetrators. When very public offenders (Weinstein, Pres. Clinton) are punished for their acts, other guys who have too much testosterone (and alcohol?) in their system, will have more powerful reasons to resist their chemical-fueled urges.
 


Obryn

Hero
Not sure what Paizo did wrong here. Seemed they offered immediate condemnation for the perpetrator and support for the victim. Did you read BJ Hensley's response? Can you elaborate where you thought they failed?
It's a few things - the tardiness of any official response, and a lack of any announced action for future conventions.

Probably in a vacuum, this would suffice. But there's the other NDA allegation, Price's allegation that she was asked to keep quiet on harassment while employed there, plus the child abuse demon who gives his followers magic child abuse powers that mirror how real-world abusers operate.

Frog God's also seemed a bit better than "lol drunk men, amirite?". I understand the caution regarding identifying the victim name because our hobby has quite a number of gross MRA/Gamergate/Red Pill types, a few of whom have already reared their ugly heads in this very thread! They admitted it happened, and it sounds like their investigation and decisions on what to do are forthcoming. Not amazing, but honestly better than I expected from our hobby, given it's history as a (straight, white) boy's club.
Having one partner investigate another partner is a really weird dynamic. The issue here is that there's no sign there was any kind of corrective action taken (even as small as "Webb will not go to conventions for a while"), given that Webb's reputation for being really bad when drunk was apparently well-known even before this point.

I agree we can't make perfect the enemy of the good, but that's the criticism as I understand it.
 

Gradine

Final Form
If anyone reading anyone is reading these stories and getting angry and wondering what the hell they can possibly do about it? Here's a pretty good resource: Bystander Intervention Resources

The responsibility for harassment at our cons, at our events, in our stores... goes far beyond the perpetrator and the response of the "proper authorities". It is everyone's responsibility. If you witness harassment, intervene. The link above provides multiple strategies for doing so, many of which don't involve getting in the perpetrator's face but still provide support.
 

bruce_lombardo

First Post
Clarification...

Identity politics will not help you in the long run.

...I understand the caution regarding identifying the victim name because our hobby has quite a number of gross MRA/Gamergate/Red Pill types, a few of whom have already reared their ugly heads in this very thread! They admitted it happened, and it sounds like their investigation and decisions on what to do are forthcoming. Not amazing, but honestly better than I expected from our hobby, given it's history as a (straight, white) boy's club...

First off, I come from a small town in central (rural) Illinois. When I discovered this hobby, the first place I went to was in a poorer section of Decatur. Because of it's location, it wasn't some straight white club hobby shop. Secondly, the last town I moved to in Illinois before I self-exiled to Texas, was Peoria. It had a few places around town, and the local TT gamer community was pretty well diversified (1987 vs. 2007).

Seeing the 'word' cis in front of anything, or reading 'redpill', or even the word Trump makes me quite dismissive of anything by said poster. My politics are easy to find, but in my hobby, I look at people and want the felony for responding with violence to their idiocy.

Putting politics in games, hurts it. You want to make your game elitist, fine. Put in politics, make your stance known, and throw buzzwords like diversity around, flash your Starbucks cup, too.

Our hobby is known as an escapist one for a reason. It should be the one place, where people can come together after they set aside differences--those belong at the coat check. I think most people leave the scene because of responsibilities like family, or job. But a quick second is, they don't feel welcome.

While the behavior at the convention might not be acceptable, the behavior from the majority of sober folks (I'm not sober as I'm typing this, some of you might not be, either) is disgusting. I don't need everyone to think like me, and clean their guns as they are a proud three-percenter. I'm also not really wanting everyone in the world to be a massive Scrubs fan or a fanatic of Zardoz...but this hobby is pretty damn huge. It will have parts of it spill into other parts of our lives, I'm certain of this.

But trying to make it exclusive for the sake of diversity is not what the spirit was when the founders were making this game in Lake Geneva and at Dave's table in Minnesota. We should not applaud the actions made poorly, but this hobby and it's people should be of the forgiving sort. Unless you are the type that can't forgive, that would rather not forgive. And I can't see anyone who has polyhedral die being that type.

My focus on this post was to be condescending of those who want to use "cis," and "straight white male" like it's terrible to be of that stripe or not. We're gamers. Condone the harmful action, love the person who committed it, and allow for forgiveness.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

ehren37

Explorer
It's a few things - the tardiness of any official response, and a lack of any announced action for future conventions.

Probably in a vacuum, this would suffice. But there's the other NDA allegation, Price's allegation that she was asked to keep quiet on harassment while employed there, plus the child abuse demon who gives his followers magic child abuse powers that mirror how real-world abusers operate.


Having one partner investigate another partner is a really weird dynamic. The issue here is that there's no sign there was any kind of corrective action taken (even as small as "Webb will not go to conventions for a while"), given that Webb's reputation for being really bad when drunk was apparently well-known even before this point.

I agree we can't make perfect the enemy of the good, but that's the criticism as I understand it.

Ahh, for some reason I thought Paizocon just happened, didnt realize it was back in May. Agreed, earlier would have been sooner. Same with Frog God.

The NDA thng I can believe as just some middle management staffer not knowing what a NDA really entails. And... umm... I guess I should be glad I don't know about the child abuse demon thing. A phrase which I did not think I'd be typing today.
 

jimmifett

First Post
So whats the real story here? All I see is
* Guy gets drunk.
* Guy hits on woman verbally. No physical touching?
* Woman rejects advances.
* Possible rude names used by Guy?
* Woman leaves area.
* Guy follows woman from unspecified distance.
* Guy2 gets in between and get in fight with Guy
* Someone possibly hits another person with fire extinguisher?
* No cops called, Everyone goes separate ways.
* Demonization of and calls for Guy to lose his job over unspecified "harassment" that no one wants to clearly lay out.

Do I have all the facts correct?

Harassment is in quotes, since no one will clarify what exactly was said or done, and the definition of harassment has skewed wildly since the Clarence Thomas hearings, I have no way to gauge whether or not real harassment occurred.
 

Status
Not open for further replies.

Presents for Goblins

Advertisement1

Latest threads

Presents for Goblins

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top