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5E Orion Black No Longer a D&D Designer [UPDATED!]

WotC employee Orion Black announced yesterday that they were no longer working for the company or on D&D, citing the corporate culture at the company.

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"It's July 3th and I no longer work for Wizards of the Coast. I no longer work on D&D, the little that I did. This is going to be a long thread and my last for quite a while, so bear with me.

I took the job for two reasons. The first was for the dream. To escape poverty doing what I love, writing and making games. The second was to make D&D welcoming to the millions who are scorned by it.

A lot of people had hope for D&D that they carried with me. While some people were upset to see me work for a corporation that overshadows indie, others hoped that I would be able to make real change. I tried. I failed. And I lost a lot.

Liking a tweet or post, RTing, or even following people who speak ill of WotC can lose you your job in an instant. That's why you never see it happen. @Zbeg is 100% correct. It's a silencing tool. I can say more now.

Kindness doesn't replace respect. Working within your comfort zone doesnt support change. Most people in that group were not ready for me to be there, a nonbinary Black person who would actually critique their problems. Idk what they expected.

I worked hard for a very long time. I got a lot of smiles and vocal support, but it was followed by inaction and being ignored. My coworkers were frustrated for me, and still are now. I confided in them often, cried on shoulders on a few occasions.

I realized at one point that leadership had given me 2 assignments over about 5 months. It was mostly me asking project leads for work, searching out opportunities. Leadership didnt really care about me or my growth. I had to.

I firmly believe that I was a diversity hire. There was no expectation for me to do much of anything. I probably disrupted them by being vocal and following up. It didnt matter if I was supported by seniors and positive.

I think genuine people proposed me as an option and it was accepted because it would look like a radical positive change. It would help quiet vocal outrage. And because I had to stay silent, it was a safe bet.

I started to lose all of my confidence. I started to lose trust in myself. After finding out that I wasnt getting an extension or FTE, I resolved to just finish things out and take care of myself. To stop fighting and to just survive, quietly. But it just kept getting worse.

They would talk about how they're going to start working on treating staff better, retaining contractors, actually answering questions. How much they were invested in diversity and change even though they hired two cis white dudes into two big leadership positions during this. One of whom claimed that he doesnt know what he's doing. No shit. I never want to hear "maybe they just hire the best person for the job" again.

I found out that some of my work was stolen, which destroyed me. It lined up with a project they were going to do and I had sent it in to someone in leadership months ago. The project was announced and this person who contributed "forgot" that we had a meeting where I gave them my ideas, and then a follow up document the day after. I knew nothing was going to be done about it. Someone else told me that the person said sorry that they forgot. That's it.

I was really losing my ability to do much of anything. I have depression and anxiety and ADHD, all of which I manage pretty well. But those parts of me were under the pressure of being ignored, disrespected, "forgotten", and not being able to say a word to the world.

Then, as social unrest continued global due to BLM, the D&D team comes out with their statement. It was like a slap in the face. How much they care about people of color, how much changing things (that I and others had been pushing for months, if not longer) was just going to happen now. It took weeks of protesting across the globe to get D&D to do what people they hired have been already telling them to fix. You cannot, CANNOT say Black lives matter when you cannot respect the Black people who you exploit at 1/3rd your pay, for progressive ideas you pick apart until it's comfortable, for your millions of profit year over year. People of color can make art and freelance, but are never hired. D&D takes what they want from marginalized people, give them scraps, and claim progress.

I spent my time in that building worrying about how much people hated me for working there. I spent a lot of time thinking about how much it hurt to work there. I had and still have supporters, and many. Thanks to you all for being my voice and speaking out when I could not. But I felt so isolated and alone. If not for some coworkers who checked in on me, who were going through the same things? I would've quit. Every angry statement about D&D felt personal because I couldn't fix it. Because I failed, whether it was my fault or not. I felt like I was being trashed by everyone because I could not disconnect what I set as a personal responsibility from the state of the game. That part IS my fault.

But I wound up as I am now because of all of this and much, much more. I am depressed. I am unable to write. I constantly question if anything I create is worth anything. I feel like I let everyone down, and no matter how much people tell me I didnt, that doesnt change. I feel guilty for not being what y'all needed me to be, what I wanted to be, and betrayed for how I was treated at that company. It's an exceptionally kind place on the D&D team. People are very nice to each other in a very genuine way that I truly enjoyed. However, that doesnt replace respect. That doesnt delete how I was treated. It doesnt change the fact that I honestly never want to play a trpg again and am definitely not working in that field anymore.

I know that I'm probably losing a ton of opportunities writing elsewhere because of what I've said here, as well as what I've sent in internally. It may mean that I will return to poverty, which makes me feel like a failure to my race, my family, and my partner who I want to provide the world. But under all these things, I have my integrity. I worked my ass off. I did my best for as long as I could. And I didnt let them treat me like that without telling the world what needs to be said.

Trust actions, not words. Not "look at how much we freelance so and so", because freelancing is exploitation of diversity with no support for the freelancer. Not "here we finally did what we KNOW we should've done a long time ago", because they only care about how optics turn to dollars. EVERYTHING involving D&D will continue to farm marginalized people for the looks and never put them in leadership. They wont be put on staff. They will be held at arms length. I hope they prove me wrong.

A lot of BIPOC and other marginalized people are trying to make their way by using D&D. Dont shame them for that. Think about how much, and when you wield your anger, that it is done righteously.

That said, I dont recommend to anyone, working for the D&D department of Wizards of the Coast."


Orion's Tweet about this. They also cite this statement, The Wizards I Know, by Zaiem Beg.

WotC's PR person, Greg Tito, commented publicly on the issue.

This should not have happened the way it did & I'll continue to fight so it does not happen again. I'm sorry if I let you down, Orion. You deserve better.


In response to an observation that this required more than just a PR statement or donation, and that it required diversity at the executive level he continued:

I have said almost these exact words for years, and more recently to executives put in charge of a community they don't understand. I am in the awful position of saying things I believe without the company making even a single, simple action of real change.


UPDATE! WotC has issued a short statement:

We sincerely apologize to Orion Black for the negative experiences they had as a contractor with the D&D franchise team. Their statement is being taken seriously and is an opportunity for us to improve the experiences of all those who contribute to our company and community. We're not perfect and we know there is more work to do. The ongoing dialogue with our community is critical to make meaningful change. We remain committed to making D&D a more inclusive community by supporting voices from people of all backgrounds.
 
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Comments


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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I won’t get into the stealing thing since that is complicated and things developed at work are often the property of my employer even if it was my idea. Without more details it is difficult to address that.
The allegation, as I read it, was not that he thought WotC took work that he felt he owned, but rather his work was used without attribution.

Which could be anything from doing major work on a project and not getting his name on it to someone passing off his work as their own. Either way, that negatively affects his pay and industry credentials.
 
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Parmandur

Legend
Then I guess liberty really does not count for much anymore when everyone has normalized total surveillance of their every move. I wish you good luck when every country inevitable turns into China.
Volunteering information in public, and then having the public see that information, is not the same thing as a surveillance state.

Don't want your boss finding out what you said on Facebook? Don't use Facebook, or don't say anything you don't mind your boss hearing.
 


Parmandur

Legend
No. Why hire incompetent people when you may be forced to rely on them? Unqualified people often cost you more money than you earn from them.

Most often, a “token diversity hire” is actually qualified for the position they fill, but only got the job because the employer in question needs to satisfy a legal or PR need. Usually, this happens because of past (intentional or situational) discriminatory practices by the business or their industry sector.

So even if- for discussion purposes- a company owner is racist but hires minorities in order to qualify for bidding on government contracts, he’s going to take at least minimal efforts to screen out the truly unqualified. If he doesn’t, he’s got dead weight on his payroll. You might not want minorities on your payroll, but if you have no choice, they might as well add to your profit margins.
And I'm sure there isn't any lack of minority people of all stripes who are perfectly capable of RPG writing and design. It's not like they have to struggle to find plenty of people who can fit the bill.
 

MGibster

Legend
There is nothing immoral for checking the public record of anyone who is applying for a job: and all social media is a public act. There is no realistic expectation to privacy.
There is some division among HR professionals on whether or not checking a candidate's social media accounts is a good idea (not counting professional accounts like LinkedIn. I you were a candidate and I checked your Facebook account I might see all sorts of information I don't really need to assess your viability. I'm thinking of things like your race, sexual orientation, national origin, whether you're over 40, your religion, your marital status, or whether or not you have kids. I know I wouldn't want to sit in front of a judge with the plaintiff's lawyer asking me why I needed to know all that juicy information before moving a candidate forward in the application process. If a company insists on checking social media, best practice is to have a third party company do it.

Indeed, it would be unethical and irresponsible to not protect the interests of his company by not doing an adequate background check.
Background checks are not performed until after an offer of employment has been extended and accepted. Also, an employer is legally obligated to inform the employee of any adverse actions taken based on the results of the background screen. This is done, in part, because there are sometimes errors in background checks. (I once had a new hire's background check come back with felony convictions for purse snatching in Florida. Spoiler alert: It wasn't him.)
 


rohdester

Explorer
Then I guess liberty really does not count for much anymore when everyone has normalized total surveillance of their every move. I wish you good luck when every country inevitable turns into China.
Look it's about due diligence. Of course a company is gonna check this stuff out: if you have written something on twitter, or published or book or made a movie - whatever - it will all be taken into account. That's what recruiters and HR people do. And are expected to do. And I can promise you, a bad sign - a very bad sign - is people dissing former employees on twitter. It is such a turn off.

The Orion-dude also know this if you read his posts. He himself mentions that he probably will not get much more work in the bizz. Crux of the matter is that this should have been handled between him and his employer. But it's the sign of the times to go complaining on Twitter.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Then I guess liberty really does not count for much anymore when everyone has normalized total surveillance of their every move. I wish you good luck when every country inevitable turns into China.
This has nothing to do with “surveillance states”. This predates electricity. This predates written language.

You don’t want someone to use your public statements and actions, keep them private.
 

Orcslayer78

Explorer
Challenging moderation
Y'know, after being moderated for bandying about the term "SJW" recently I'd have thought you'd have worked it out; "victim card" is another way to dismiss and insult people. You'r enow on your 4th warning point, in case you weren't keeping track.
EN World is an inclusive community, and we encourage and welcome all people here. To that end, we strive to make it a welcoming place where nobody feels alienated because of who they are. You MAY NOT use the terms "agenda", "ideology", "politics", or "propaganda" in relation to the inclusion of people slightly different to you in gaming products or other media, use pejorative terms such as "social justice warrior" or "virtue signalling" to dismiss the opinions of those you disagree with, or post any message which is discriminatory towards those who differ to you in terms of skin colour, gender, gender identification, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, or any other personal attribute. We do not subscribe to the argument that tolerance means that we need to tolerate intolerance or that inclusivity means that we need to include non-inclusiveness.
I'm sorry for it, but as you can see there is no trace of the word I used in this topic among the terms you banned from your forum, after my first misstep regarding the word starting with S I've read your TOS and I didn't use the banned terms, if you think that the card term should be also banned please add it to the list and I will not use it anymore, of course I would not have used it if it was already on the list.
 

Sunsword

Adventurer
"D&D takes what they want from marginalized people, give them scraps, and claim progress."

"It's an exceptionally kind place on the D&D team. People are very nice to each other in a very genuine way that I truly enjoyed."


Orion, as someone who has Anxiety you don't have to defend them. They weren't truly kind if they didn't listen to you AND try to help you. Listening without action is ignoring you with a smile.

"Not "look at how much we freelance so and so", because freelancing is exploitation of diversity with no support for the freelancer."

For WotC this is true, but no for the rest of the industry and Corporate America and Political America have show us that they have no interest in human life or comfort only money.
 

Kaodi

Adventurer
Why, will you be on Mars or something? Anyway, this is not a thread (or forum) about politics, so let's keep that stuff elsewhere please.
Hardly. I will just be very bitter about the mess other people made. In any case as much as I would like to clarify what I meant by my comment I will drop the subject.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I'm sorry for it, but as you can see there is no trace of the word I used in this topic among the terms you banned from your forum, after my first misstep regarding the word starting with S I've read your TOS and I didn't use the banned terms, if you think that the card term should be also banned please add it to the list and I will not use it anymore, of course I would not have used it if it was already on the list.
You're clearly in a self-destructive mood today. Don't post again in this thread. Don't challenge moderation in-thread. Since you clearly literally just came from reading the rules, you should remember that bit.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
What are the social benefits to designing the system that way?
You get to have laws that cover everything you need to have laws for.

There are literally millions of pages of law in any given law school library, and even those don’t cover each to exhaustion. And not every school teaches every subspecialty of law.

Some cases don’t even make it to print.

Then there’s the whole Federal/State/Municipal thing. Even where they overlap, they’re not identical.
 

Parmandur

Legend
There is some division among HR professionals on whether or not checking a candidate's social media accounts is a good idea (not counting professional accounts like LinkedIn. I you were a candidate and I checked your Facebook account I might see all sorts of information I don't really need to assess your viability. I'm thinking of things like your race, sexual orientation, national origin, whether you're over 40, your religion, your marital status, or whether or not you have kids. I know I wouldn't want to sit in front of a judge with the plaintiff's lawyer asking me why I needed to know all that juicy information before moving a candidate forward in the application process. If a company insists on checking social media, best practice is to have a third party company do it.



Background checks are not performed until after an offer of employment has been extended and accepted. Also, an employer is legally obligated to inform the employee of any adverse actions taken based on the results of the background screen. This is done, in part, because there are sometimes errors in background checks. (I once had a new hire's background check come back with felony convictions for purse snatching in Florida. Spoiler alert: It wasn't him.)
I can see the nuance from the HR professional end (the idea of a discreet vetting service seems like a solid idea...), but from a non-HR "I need a job" place...having used social media for most of my life, I have no expectations that an employer wouldn't look into that, and I'm more than OK with that.
 

MGibster

Legend
Orion, as someone who has Anxiety you don't have to defend them. They weren't truly kind if they didn't listen to you AND try to help you. Listening without action is ignoring you with a smile.
As someone who has been dealing with a close relative with anxiety issues for nearly twenty years now, at some point I had to accept that there was very little I could do to alleviate that anxiety. Maybe they did try to help Orion and got to the point where they just didn't know what more they could do.
 

MGibster

Legend
I can see the nuance from the HR professional end (the idea of a discreet vetting service seems like a solid idea...), but from a non-HR "I need a job" place...having used social media for most of my life, I have no expectations that an employer wouldn't look into that, and I'm more than OK with that.
In 2018, I spent nearly a whole week fielding calls from the public because one of our employees posted something incredibly racist on their Facebook account. So I can certainly sympathized with employers who want to look into the social media accounts of employees/candidates.
 

Warpiglet-7

Explorer
WOTC has played a dangerous game. Instead of putting out a good product they believe in (with whatever that entails) they have talked a big game about inclusion, removing “problematic”upsetting content and so forth.

it is hard to sate people’s appetite for addressing grievances without going all in. No good deed goes unpunished.

They are gonna get from all sides now.

Traditionalists are not there to change the world. They want the product they developed a taste for.

Those who want social change promoted in all things will not think it’s enough.

The idea that the traditionalists don’t matter financially is short sighted. They’re paying customers and probably have much more buying power. This incident will not be isolated.

that being said, this incident could be as simple as a worker getting screwed due to company greed, bias issues or just ‘cuz.

Watch for much much more of these incidents. The floodgates are going to open.
 

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