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Luke Crane Resigns From Kickstarter

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Kickstarter's Head of Community (and the creator of The Burning Wheel RPG) has resigned after public criticism with the way he launched a project on the platform last month.

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Kickstarter told Polygon that "After a discussion about what is best for Kickstarter and our team, we came to the mutual decision with Luke Crane for him to leave Kickstarter. We recognize the many years of work Luke has done to help bring creative projects to life at Kickstarter and we are committed to ensure continued support for our team and for our backer and creator community through this moment of change."

Crane used to be involved with the games side of Kickstarter, but more recently has been Head of Community. The current Director of Games Outreach at Kickstarter is Anya Combs, who has been in place for over a year.


The Perfect RPG was an anthology of tabletop RPGs from a variety of creators. Amongst those creators was Dungeon World's Adam Koebel, whose livestream was cancelled in 2020 after including a non-consensual sexual assault scene. Several designers withdrew their support for The Perfect RPG when they only found out after the project was launched that Koebel was involved, and Crane cancelled the project amidst a great deal of criticism, claiming that the creators were harassed into withdrawing their support (a claim which several creators have said is untrue). The list of creators has since been removed and replaced with the words "Redacted to reduce future harassment".

His most recent update on the cancelled project is an apology to those affected.


Hello.

I apologize for such a long silence in the wake of the project launch last month. I’ve been in a lot of conservations, and doing a lot of listening. I waited to post anything because I wanted to be sure to be as thoughtful and considered as possible:

When we began the Perfect RPG project, my only goal was to launch a small collection of micro-games designed by my friends and others whose work I respect in the community. On the day it launched, while the project was falling apart, I did not fully understand what was at stake and what had happened—in the shock of the moment my communications were insensitive and desultory.

So here and now I wish to unequivocally apologize to you, and everyone affected, for the harm I’ve done to the community with this project. I am grateful for your input over the last month, and have done my best to listen with an open heart. I thank you for sharing your opinions and feelings, and know that I have violated the trust you placed in me. I am sincerely, deeply regretful.

In creating the project, I made a series of missteps and miscalculations that added up to a gross oversight on my part and, accordingly, I am fully responsible for the current situation and its effects. So I would like to add some clarification around some of the particular points raised, in the hope that it will help the community as a whole move forward in a productive way: There was no deceit, deception or bad faith in any of my actions around the project. I understand that I should have disclosed the participant list to all contributors beforehand, and I feel terrible that my poor planning placed some creators in a difficult position. Likewise with the unusual order in which contributors were listed—I was seeking to highlight the first creator on the list, who was my primary playtester for this project. In hindsight this was a poor idea that came off as duplicitous, for which I apologize.

The Indie RPG community is close-knit and passionate—it is one of the things I've loved the most about being a member. I have worked for 20 years to build and advocate for this community and expand it past its roots. It is very much my life’s work. To see it hurt through my actions has been devastating. Therefore I am now doing my best to repair the harm I have caused and make restitution to anyone negatively affected by my actions.

I recognize that this statement reflects an as-yet incomplete understanding of the impact of my actions, and only a start to making things right. I am actively looking for other ways to redress the wrong I’ve done. To begin this process, I have reached out to all the contributors of the project and I am in discussions with them, listening to their perspectives and asking them for input. I hope that with their help, and the help of this gaming community, I can demonstrate my continued commitment to building better games for all of us.

Sincerely,

—Luke
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
It's not difficult to define at all.

If the project creator/project manager vetts this person and discovers that they are an accused sexual predator or someone with a history of pretty open racism or a history of sexual harassment at public events like say gaming conventions and THEY make the choice to still take them on as part of the project then that's the responsibility that the PC/PM takes on.

It's really that simple.

Any blowback? That's on the PC/PM.
Any financial hits, boycotts of your product? That's on the PC/PM.
The reputations of the other people on the project get trashed because it was more important for the PC/PM to see that this individual be on the project for, you know, REASONS? That's on the PC/PM.

90% of project management is comms. NINTEY PERCENT. Constant and direct. Being honest with your stakeholders as well as your team members. There's also an ENTIRE portion of Project Management dedicated to ASSESSING and MANAGING RISK.

If a possible participant potentially scuttling a project or hurting the reputation of the other project team members ISNT part of your risk assessment and mitigation strategy? You have NO BUSINESS managing projects of ANY KIND.
I guess we have different experiences on the role of the project manager. I’m a project manager at my job, and my role is all around delivery of the product the clients want. Risk assessment is around that context, not whether someone on the team might have said something offensive somewhere else. Honestly, I don’t have the time to do that research, and if I did, I’d be headed to HR with much haste. My day is already overfilled with just trying to coordinate requirements changes, deployment schedules, and managing defects/testing artifacts between the dozens of people I have to meet with every day.

That isn’t to say I don’t see your point. How many times have we seen a company do extremely costly recalls or refinements when it’s discovered someone in that company is a giant racist? Fairly often.

Outside of my professional work, I also hire a ton of freelancers for my hobby work (RPGs). I can only do so much vetting. I don’t have access to their personal social media sites, and I don’t have any idea what other groups they belong to. I’m not about to hang out at Parler just on the rare occasion I might get lucky and they are using their own name on that site and I happen to run across it. My sanity couldn’t take it.

That being said, I am aware that if an artist or writer I’ve hired turns out to have done something pretty awful, I’m prepared to remove that work when I find out.

What is the answer, specifically though, around association and guilt? For example, on this site ( and every site because it’s the nature of public forums), there are members who have espoused some really awful racist, sexist, and bigoted things on other sites and social media outlets. It’s not a real secret. So what culpability does Morrus have by continuing to have them as members and contributors to his site? If we are holding companies and PMs accountable for things said by people outside of their projects/work, how far does that extend to social media platforms like this site? Should Morrus ban anyone who has said or done awful stuff outside of this site in order to be held to the same standard as PMs and other groups? Honest question, seriously. Because I can’t see what the answer should be.
 

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Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
Let's say i write a module, and want to publish it. I find a good illustrator. They have the skills, i like their work, and they have a good track record of delivering projects online. Is that sufficient vetting?
I’ll take a stab at answering your questions.
I find a good illustrator. They have the skills, i like their work, and they have a good track record of delivering projects online. Is that sufficient vetting?
Yes.
If not, what should the additional level of vetting entail?
You might want to contact a few industry friends or just make a quick Google search on their name for further information.
Ask them for documents to prove they have not been convicted of anything?
No.
Why would a creative project be any different?
If it is a Kickstarter, like the situation that is the basis of this thread, then what you are selling is trust. You want people to trust you to hand over their money before they've seen anything produced. So a higher level of due diligence might be warranted if you want to sell that trust to people.
Or should i google them?
Yeah, that'll probably be enough. If you did a Google search on Adam Koebel, you would quickly find information on why you should be aware of his past history before hiring him.
What if i don't find anything.
Then the person is probably ok.
What if i do, but have no idea if an allegation is true?
You make an assessment on whether the benefit for the project involving that person is greater than the risks involved. Then you make your choice and prepare to explain that choice.
Should i keep a record of my google search results, In case the internet decides i'm a bad person for chosing to work with this individual?
No.
If it later transpires that they did something wrong?
If you did due diligence and can explain that you did, you're scot free.
To avoid all this, should i only work with people that i know for 20 years, and can vouch for?
No.
What if they don't have the skills.
Then you shouldn't hire them to do that job.
Should i not trust strangers then to do professional work?
Sure you should.
...Do you see where it becomes difficult to define?
Not really.

Regards

/Maggan
 

I’ll take a stab at answering your questions.

Yes.

You might want to contact a few industry friends or just make a quick Google search on their name for further information.

No.

If it is a Kickstarter, like the situation that is the basis of this thread, then what you are selling is trust. You want people to trust you to hand over their money before they've seen anything produced. So a higher level of due diligence might be warranted if you want to sell that trust to people.

Yeah, that'll probably be enough. If you did a Google search on Adam Koebel, you would quickly find information on why you should be aware of his past history before hiring him.

Then the person is probably ok.

You make an assessment on whether the benefit for the project involving that person is greater than the risks involved. Then you make your choice and prepare to explain that choice.

No.

If you did due diligence and can explain that you did, you're scot free.

No.

Then you shouldn't hire them to do that job.

Sure you should.

Not really.

Regards

/Maggan
I would have given the same answers as yours on most, if not all, points. And the last one too. But if you do all that, it doesn't mean you get to escape the outrage mob.

I have an additional question for you, and everyone else who is genuinely interested in that question, regardless of whether they felt they agreed or disagreed with what i said.

Do a search on 3 joined terms on Google. Jonathan Tweet. 13th Age. And Pelgrane Press.

I'm quite fond of Pelgrane and most of their product lines. And i like a lot of Tweet's work.

My question is. If it's so clear cut, and it's just me making mountains out of molehills. Then what the hell went wrong with Pelgrane and Tweet?
 

ShinHakkaider

Adventurer
What is the answer, specifically though, around association and guilt? For example, on this site ( and every site because it’s the nature of public forums), there are members who have espoused some really awful racist, sexist, and bigoted things on other sites and social media outlets. It’s not a real secret. So what culpability does Morrus have by continuing to have them as members and contributors to his site? If we are holding companies and PMs accountable for things said by people outside of their projects/work, how far does that extend to social media platforms like this site? Should Morrus ban anyone who has said or done awful stuff outside of this site in order to be held to the same standard as PMs and other groups? Honest question, seriously. Because I can’t see what the answer should be.
In the case of ENWORLD, Morrus and company don't ban these people and that's their prerogative. But that doesn't come without consequence either. I've been a member here for almost 20 years. But I havent posted regularly here over the past 9 or 10 years because I know that this is not a "safe" place for black gamers in particular because of some of views of the posters here. I'm not alone in that view point as I've spoke to other gamers of color (specifically black gamers) outside of the boards here who feel the exact way.

Now do I think that Morrus is a bad guy or Umbran or any of the mods? NOPE. Do I think that EnWorld as a whole is a bad place? NO not as bad as some. Is it a place that I spend a lot of my time talking to the community about games within a particular context? No. Have I made a personal decision to not contribute financially to the site or support any projects by ENworld? Yes.

Thats MY answer to dealing with it.
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
My question is. If it's so clear cut, and it's just me making mountains out of molehills. Then what the hell went wrong with Pelgrane and Tweet?
I don't know. I tried reading up on the controversy but didn't really find the Pelgrane side of the debate. I guess sometimes things happen.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
It's a complex situation, I believe.

In one extreme the project creator is beholden to no one and decides what measures should be taken. But they are to an extent beholden to the wishes of any creators they have involved, and should probably listen to them, lest the smoke of burning bridges becomes overwhelming. Also the project in turn is beholden to the wishes of the backers to a certain extent. They should be happy with the project they are backing.

So basically the project creator is free to do what they want, but if they are planning on involving other people, then those people get a say as well.

"Cancel culture" is just Capitalism working correctly, plain and simple.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I would have given the same answers as yours on most, if not all, points. And the last one too. But if you do all that, it doesn't mean you get to escape the outrage mob.
I'm not sure if dismissing people who are calling for others to be held accountable for their actions as simply being "the outrage mob" really helps give an impression of a "good faith" approach. This runs the risk, IMHO, of pre-deciding whose words you trust first and foremost. If one has already decided that mass calls for accountability on social media are to be treated as an "outrage mob," then that casts aspersions on them at the outset.
 

I'm not sure if dismissing people who are calling for others to be held accountable for their actions as simply being "the outrage mob" really helps give an impression of a "good faith" approach. This runs the risk, IMHO, of pre-deciding whose words you trust first and foremost. If one has already decided that mass calls for accountability on social media are to be treated as an "outrage mob," then that casts aspersions on them at the outset.

If you decide to give a genuine apology, we can then talk about risks.
 

ShinHakkaider

Adventurer
I guess we have different experiences on the role of the project manager. I’m a project manager at my job, and my role is all around delivery of the product the clients want. Risk assessment is around that context, not whether someone on the team might have said something offensive somewhere else. Honestly, I don’t have the time to do that research, and if I did, I’d be headed to HR with much haste. My day is already overfilled with just trying to coordinate requirements changes, deployment schedules, and managing defects/testing artifacts between the dozens of people I have to meet with every day.

I hear you and you're right about this part. Most times theres too many other tasks directly related to the work to be done. However I'm going to say that managing an IT project is going to be different than managing a publishing project. And yes the end goal is delivering the project to the client. But I'd also imagine, depending upon the size of the project and whether or not it's public facing or not and the community it would be impacting you'd want to at least do or have some vetting done on some of the primaries. I'm thinking of a very specific instance in my case where knowing and understanding the motives of one of the primary stakeholders would have made a difference in whether or not to continue with the project at all. All it would have taken was just asking around about this particular person and we could have avoided a major headache. But we didn't because we assumed that everyone at least had close to the same goals and wanted the same thing. Live and learn I guess.

In this case specifically it was a VERY public facing project and the TTRPG community is pretty insular. And there was no way that Crane DIDNT know about Koebel.
 


I don't know. I tried reading up on the controversy but didn't really find the Pelgrane side of the debate. I guess sometimes things happen.

You see, it's easy to discuss these things and say "sometimes things happen" when it affects other people, but cancel culture does have an impact on people, their reputations and their livelihoods. This is why i feel that oversimplifications like "it's just a matter of a quick google and then you can separate who did what, who's bad and needs punishment" are extremely dangerous. And before anyone accuses me again of defending the case in the OP, i am NOT doing that. All i'm saying is that not all cases are as straightforward. And we need to be aware of that fact.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
I hear you and you're right about this part. Most times theres too many other tasks directly related to the work to be done. However I'm going to say that managing an IT project is going to be different than managing a publishing project. And yes the end goal is delivering the project to the client. But I'd also imagine, depending upon the size of the project and whether or not it's public facing or not and the community it would be impacting you'd want to at least do or have some vetting done on some of the primaries. I'm thinking of a very specific instance in my case where knowing and understanding the motives of one of the primary stakeholders would have made a difference in whether or not to continue with the project at all. All it would have taken was just asking around about this particular person and we could have avoided a major headache. But we didn't because we assumed that everyone at least had close to the same goals and wanted the same thing. Live and learn I guess.

In this case specifically it was a VERY public facing project and the TTRPG community is pretty insular. And there was no way that Crane DIDNT know about Koebel.
I just want to say I don’t disagree with you or the points you’re talking about, just that I’m offering my own perspective. I don’t want it to come off as looking like I’m not valuing your perspective. Because I do.
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach

You see, it's easy to discuss these things and say "sometimes things happen" when it affects other people, but cancel culture does have an impact on people, their reputations and their livelihoods. This is why i feel that oversimplifications like "it's just a matter of a quick google and then you can separate who did what, who's bad and needs punishment" are extremely dangerous. And before anyone accuses me again of defending the case in the OP, i am NOT doing that. All i'm saying is that not all cases are as straightforward. And we need to be aware of that fact.
Jonathan Tweet being dropped by a publisher does not mean he's been cancelled. People are dropped all the time for various reasons.

That tweet still don't explain Pelgrane's stance on things, so the information for me to answer your question is not available to me.
 


ShinHakkaider

Adventurer
I just want to say I don’t disagree with you or the points you’re talking about, just that I’m offering my own perspective. I don’t want it to come off as looking like I’m not valuing your perspective. Because I do.
Oh no man, NO WORRIES! I got that from what you wrote. It's hard to read tone sometimes but yours was pretty clear.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
So this thread isn't really about the original topic, and is mainly about one person's dislike of what he calls 'cancel culture', which isn't really a discussion I'm interested in hosting. I'll check back shortly and if it's still about that, I'll be closing it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend

You see, it's easy to discuss these things and say "sometimes things happen" when it affects other people, but cancel culture does have an impact on people, their reputations and their livelihoods. This is why i feel that oversimplifications like "it's just a matter of a quick google and then you can separate who did what, who's bad and needs punishment" are extremely dangerous. And before anyone accuses me again of defending the case in the OP, i am NOT doing that. All i'm saying is that not all cases are as straightforward. And we need to be aware of that fact.

This is, again, simple capitalism. If an individual has taken public actions that can be detrimental to business, as Tweet did, businesses will be prone to cut ties to protect the bottom line.
 

Aldarc

Legend

You see, it's easy to discuss these things and say "sometimes things happen" when it affects other people, but cancel culture does have an impact on people, their reputations and their livelihoods. This is why i feel that oversimplifications like "it's just a matter of a quick google and then you can separate who did what, who's bad and needs punishment" are extremely dangerous. And before anyone accuses me again of defending the case in the OP, i am NOT doing that. All i'm saying is that not all cases are as straightforward. And we need to be aware of that fact.
"Cancel culture" is another way of attacking the principle that one's personal actions should have consequences. (In this case, the controversy involved Jonathan Tweet openly "flirting" with scientific racism in a now deleted tweet.) But, no, Jonathan Tweet has not been cancelled. He's still writing and publishing (e.g., Everway, Over the Edge, etc.). He still has a platform on Twitter and even on ENWorld since that time.
 

Jonathan Tweet being dropped by a publisher does not mean he's been cancelled. People are dropped all the time for various reasons.

That tweet still don't explain Pelgrane's stance on things, so the information for me to answer your question is not available to me.
It was more a rhetorical question, i didn't intent to put you on the spot. As someone once said, questions are free, answers are a different matter. I appreciate that you don't have enough info to make a conclusion. In my mind, this is an example of someone being impacted by an online campaign, without any merit. I could be wrong, and it could be completely unrelated.

But yeah, as a conclusion, i don't think the nuances of real life can be captured in one google search. If that was the case, we wouldn't need court rooms and a legal system.
 


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