Paizo Paizo Freelancers Support Union

Jason Tondro, senior developer for Pathfinder and Starfinder, has indicated that a large swathe of Paizo freelancers have stopped work in support of the recently formed union by Paizo employees.

Initially the freelance group had a range of demands, but in light of the new union, they have put forward one single new demand instead: to recognize the union.

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Today I want to shine a spotlight on UPW’s secret weapon: freelancers. Paizo’s freelancers are our ally in this fight and we’re helping each other. Here’s how:

Paizo’s business model is built on freelancers. Very few of the words in our publications are written in-house by full time employees on the clock. Instead, we outline projects, hire freelancers to execute those outlines, and develop and edit those manuscripts.

This allows a relatively small number of people (about 35, including art directors, editors, designers, developers, and more) to produce, well, everything. Have you seen our publication schedule lately? It’s LONG. And Paizo must publish new books to pay its bills.

Well, about a month ago, about 40 of Paizo’s most reliable, prolific, and skilled freelancers simply stopped working. In official parlance, this is called “concerted action.” In layman’s terms, it’s a strike without a union.

Some of these freelancers were in the middle of projects, with upcoming deadlines. Some of them had completed manuscripts they refused to turn over. Some were people we need to hire, to get scheduled books underway in time to publish. All of that FROZE.

Folks, Paizo can’t operate in that environment. We can’t just assign 10,000 word Org Play scenarios, 35,000 word SF adventures, 50,000 word P2 adventures to new, untested freelancers. And for many projects, it’s too late in the schedule to do that anyway.

Now, this group of freelancers had a specific list of demands. They wanted Paizo to hire a diversity officer, for example, and investigate recent terminations. But yesterday, they updated their demands: they’ll all come back to work if Paizo recognizes United Paizo Workers.

This is an enormous lever, and we at UPW are incredibly grateful to have it. Paizo can’t make its publication schedule without freelancers, and it can’t pay exec salaries without publications. But if they recognize our union, freelancers come back to work TOMORROW.

Sure, yes, contract negotiations will be long and trying for all involved. But Paizo will still get books out the door, it’ll be able to make its commitments and pay its bills and salaries. And during contract negotiation, we, the people who hire freelancers, can pay back.

In contract negotiation, we can fight for better pay rates for freelancers. We can get more time in the schedule, so writers have time to do their job right. We can get playtesting built into these schedules, which not only helps freelancers but creates better books.

Paizo’s freelancers and United Paizo Workers are working hand in hand. And I am so grateful, honored, and humbled to have that partnership.
 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

pming

Legend
Religion/politics
Just want to point out that this not a universal thing in the USA. But of course that is part of the problem!
Yes, I figured that, but 'on average' and 'the perception is', and all that. I mean, people say stuff about Canada that don't apply to us up here in the Yukon (or N.W.T, or Nunavut) because we are Territories and not Provinces (ex: we don't have any sales taxes other than the Goods & Services Sales Tax of 5% that is country wide; BC, the Province directly below us, has BC Provincial Sales Tax of 7%, so 12% total). There's also a holiday or two that "don't count" here or there, and various laws/rules involving housing, fuel, food, and other "regulated" type things.

Then again, we are Canada, a "full country" and the United States of America is a "coalition of semi-independent states", so I'm sure that makes for a LOT more differences State-To-State than the Province-To-Province differences up here. I can only imagine the little "Gotcha's!" that go on with something as simple as just driving or vehicle registration/safety.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Just want to point out that this not a universal thing in the USA. But of course that is part of the problem!

Yes, I figured that, but 'on average' and 'the perception is', and all that. I mean, people say stuff about Canada that don't apply to us up here in the Yukon (or N.W.T, or Nunavut) because we are Territories and not Provinces (ex: we don't have any sales taxes other than the Goods & Services Sales Tax of 5% that is country wide; BC, the Province directly below us, has BC Provincial Sales Tax of 7%, so 12% total). There's also a holiday or two that "don't count" here or there, and various laws/rules involving housing, fuel, food, and other "regulated" type things.

Then again, we are Canada, a "full country" and the United States of America is a "coalition of semi-independent states", so I'm sure that makes for a LOT more differences State-To-State than the Province-To-Province differences up here. I can only imagine the little "Gotcha's!" that go on with something as simple as just driving or vehicle registration/safety.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
I feel like I was very clear. I gave a friendly warning. Both of you, please leave the thread.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Interesting tidbit: former Paizo employee Owen K. C. Stephens posted his thoughts about freelancers suspending working with Paizo over on his blog:


So, today I’m responding specifically to comments made by Ron Lundeen, who I consider and friend and have nothing but respect for, in his role as cohost of Digital Divination, a podcast that is part of the Know Direction network.

Specifically, something he said in Digital Divination 041 – Mechs! The relevant section begins at about 5 minutes, so feel free to go listen.

Ron specifically said (as best as I can transcribe the punctuation of this statement): “I can speak about the freelancers who have elected not to not to work with us as a statement. I respect that statement that they’re making, and, saying ‘We’re not going to take any more work’ is one of the most powerful statements that they can make. On the other hand I, in my mind I do deem it pretty unprofessional to have agreed to turn something in and then to withhold it.

So those freelancers that are saying, ‘As a matter of principle I am not going to sign any more contracts or take any more work,’ I both understand and support that. Freelancers who have contracted for work and are refusing to turn in something that they have contractually agreed to turn in, … ah I don’t consider that particularly professional. That’s… that’s… a.. in my mind, that’s kind of a black mark from the person’s professionalism.


He then goes on to talk about his background in contract law and the fact that he’s closer to 50 than to 40 being factors that influenced this opinion of his. As someone who turned 50 last year, and who has filled the roles of freelancer, Paizo Dev, WotC Dev, Green Ronin Dev, Designer, and Publisher over more than 20 years in the ttRPG industry, I wanted to respond to Ron’s statement. I also feel the need to note I am not one of the freelancers who withheld work from Paizo, and I was not part of the group that coordinated that decision. However, I will not be taking work from Paizo until the United Paizo Workers union is recognized.

I absolutely, positively, do not consider it unprofessional to refuse to turn over contracted work as part of a protest against the corporation you have a contract with. I think judging that as a “black mark” against freelancers who choose to do so is not only wrongheaded, it’s dangerous.

I consider withholding contracted work for moral reasons to be in the same category as civil disobedience. That there can be a higher ethical calling than to follow agreed-upon rules. And that, especially given the freelancers did this not to aid themselves, but to aid Paizo employees they had reasonable suspicion were being mistreated, makes it the moral choice. The freelancers very clearly have little other power to affect change and, much like a strike, have turned to this as a last resort.

That leads to the question of “professionalism.”

Common law imposes obligations on employers to provide a safe workplace, provide safe tools, give warnings of dangers, provide adequate co-worker assistance so that the worker is not overburdened, and promulgate and enforce safe work rules. I would consider calling it a “black mark” to refusing to assist in ongoing conditions that numerous past and current employees are saying fail to meet that standard to be actually dangerous, as it is a statement that contracts should be followed even if doing so may cause you to be assisting in creating unsafe conditions.

Now, I acknowledge suspension of contract to apply pressure for a better workplace is not recognized in ordinary contract law or in commercial contract law in particular. A party to a contract must perform its obligations under the contract (subject to the terms and conditions of the contract and the exception of unusual circumstances which may cause disruption to the contract). A party which reneges on its contractual obligations is in breach of contract and the injured party may sue for remedies such as performance or compensation for damages.

But that doesn’t, to me, make it unprofessional to risk being sued in order to make every effort to aid people you believe to be in need, and lacking the power to affect such change themselves. To me, the question of professionalism is about how they did it. As a concerted action, having discussed it among themselves, and making sure their developers were aware of who was withholding work, and why, and then beginning discussions with Paizo management on how to fix those issues to a degree the work could be delivered, are the acts of professionals.

Which is why the freelancers have since changed from whatever their original concerns were straight to “Recognize the Union.” Because what they want is for their colleagues working at Paizo to have a voice to affect change.

I refuse to label that as unprofessional.

You can learn more about the events that lead to this freelancer decision and their desire to Support Unionization here: Support United Paizo Workers

If you are so inclined, you can support me by joining my Patreon: Patreon
 

I’ve edited the post it should have said that D&D and Magic are the same company. Hence me asking why the split of those 940+ employees matter. The company is big and is backed up by the full weight of Hasbro’s HR and PR expectations. I just can’t see the same fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants management decisions washing at WOC.

I don't see the whole "fly by the seat of your pants" thing here. I just see some bad decisions, but nothing that really qualifies as what you are talking about. The carpet thing notwithstanding, I think bunches of these things could happen at a larger corporation. Like, have you seen what has come out of places like Blizzard?

Surely you don’t equate Paizo senior management’s baffling decisions and approach to how employees are treated with how third party volunteers in MTG behave? Any company will have bad actors. What appears to be the case is through negligence, lack of accountability, lack of perspective or lack of management experience those people are in charge.

Okay, so "baffling decisions" misses what that document as well as ones that it linked to show: a consistent pattern of allowing these sorts of things happen. Yes, they are responsible for how third party volunteers act, because community management is a huge thing and it's clear that these are not isolated incidents. The links at the start, as well as those messages detail people who are frustrated with a status quo that isn't being changed, and see those at the company willing to use as props rather than making them feel included.

The first Magic thread you linked is seriously lacking in detail and mainly contains supposition. I don’t think a social media policy is the reason. Almost every major company I know has a social media policy that prevents bringing the company into disrepute. Paizo almost certainly has one too. You can cut and paste it off the internet.

These are not "suppositions". What is detailed at the start is vague, but intentionally so to avoid people getting blacklisted. What we see evidence of are patterns, ones that are recognizable even from the outside. These little things are not one-off mistakes, but things that minorities see as consistent actions.

But you are right, every company has their own social media policies. But if you read what they were talking about, it wasn't just not defaming the company, but rather not questioning it, either. The Facebook post that they screenshotted is not about "not defaming", but not presenting a completely united front. I'm sure Paizo can have similar stuff, though I doubt they have the same amount of people checking accounts like Hasbro can be. The whole point of detailing that is to why you don't hear this stuff, and why people can't be more open with it.

I’m also not saying WOC doesn’t have problems. Just that they seem to be societal problems coming from trying to change a company that was overwhelmingly male, middle-aged, and white into a more diverse company. That isn’t going to happen overnight, neither are they going to get it right every time.

And I'm not saying that WotC is a bunch of irredeemable racists or anything. Multiple people comment that there are good people there. I'd like to believe some of the people on the design team are really cool, like Chris Perkins, Jeremy Crawford, and Mike Mearls.

At the same time, we're talking about a place that didn't remove Zak S.'s name from their book until 2019. What Orion Black details, being isolated and othered for months, unable to work with people... that's pretty bad abuse any way you look at it. Wizards almost certainly has real problems. Whether their size and money will allow them to effective stop more from coming out is yet to be seen.

Finally, this isn't me trying to say one is worse than the other. The thing I'm focused on is changing this stuff. We've not gotten a good idea if anything has changed at Wizards. Certainly things didn't look like they were changing at Paizo, and the workers found themselves in a strong-enough position to make a move. The biggest thing here is that I hope it works, and that these companies will start living up to the ideals that they've profess to promote. I think we can both agree on that.
 
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Bolares

Hero
Interesting tidbit: former Paizo employee Owen K. C. Stephens posted his thoughts about freelancers suspending working with Paizo over on his blog:

Couldn't agree more
 

TheSword

Legend
I don't see the whole "fly by the seat of your pants" thing here. I just see some bad decisions, but nothing that really qualifies as what you are talking about. The carpet thing notwithstanding, I think bunches of these things could happen at a larger corporation. Like, have you seen what has come out of places like Blizzard?



Okay, so "baffling decisions" misses what that document as well as ones that it linked to show: a consistent pattern of allowing these sorts of things happen. Yes, they are responsible for how third party volunteers act, because community management is a huge thing and it's clear that these are not isolated incidents. The links at the start, as well as those messages detail people who are frustrated with a status quo that isn't being changed, and see those at the company willing to use as props rather than making them feel included.



These are not "suppositions". What is detailed at the start is vague, but intentionally so to avoid people getting blacklisted. What we see evidence of are patterns, ones that are recognizable even from the outside. These little things are not one-off mistakes, but things that minorities see as consistent actions.

But you are right, every company has their own social media policies. But if you read what they were talking about, it wasn't just not defaming the company, but rather not questioning it, either. The Facebook post that they screenshotted is not about "not defaming", but not presenting a completely united front. I'm sure Paizo can have similar stuff, though I doubt they have the same amount of people checking accounts like Hasbro can be. The whole point of detailing that is to why you don't hear this stuff, and why people can't be more open with it.



And I'm not saying that WotC is a bunch of irredeemable racists or anything. Multiple people comment that there are good people there. I'd like to believe some of the people on the design team are really cool, like Chris Perkins, Jeremy Crawford, and Mike Mearls.

At the same time, we're talking about a place that didn't remove Zak S.'s name from their book until 2019. What Orion Black details, being isolated and othered for months, unable to work with people... that's pretty bad abuse any way you look at it. Wizards almost certainly has real problems. Whether their size and money will allow them to effective stop more from coming out is yet to be seen.

Finally, this isn't me trying to say one is worse than the other. The thing I'm focused on is changing this stuff. We've not gotten a good idea if anything has changed at Wizards. Certainly things didn't look like they were changing at Paizo, and the workers found themselves in a strong-enough position to make a move. The biggest thing here is that I hope it works, and that these companies will start living up to the ideals that they've profess to promote. I think we can both agree on that.
I’m not sure you’re reading my posts as you seem to refer to my comments about Paizo as if they relate to WOC. If we were seeing the stuff attributed to Paizo also attributed to WOC then I would be calling them out.

Directly discriminatory decisions (different contracts for instance) is on a whole different level to a person feeling like they aren’t given enough work. I don’t even know what ‘othered’ means in a work context without some specific grievances. I certainly don’t believe that on its own qualifies as abuse.

How senior management behaves (Vic Wertz screaming at employees, or employees being told that putting up with harassment is par for the course) is not the same as a third party volunteer misbehaving (one of thousands who is then banned from that position).

Refusing to maintain a healthy work environment by not cleaning the office for years when employees have Asthma is not on the same level as having a strict social media policy. I work for a lovely company that treats its employees very well. I would be sacked if I openly called that company out or criticized them on social media … period! If I raised a safety concern at work and it wasn’t address, the manager would be sacked. it just isn’t the done thing in professional business.

Incidentally most social media violations are reported by other staff or customers. Managers don’t spend their spare time trawling through social media posts looking for transgressions.

I seriously doubt the issues that have given rise to UPW will arise at WOC. Not because the employees don’t know, but that the bar just hasn’t risen that high yet.
 

I’m not sure you’re reading my posts as you seem to refer to my comments about Paizo as if they relate to WOC. If we were seeing the stuff attributed to Paizo also attributed to WOC then I would be calling them out.

Directly discriminatory decisions (different contracts for instance) is on a whole different level to a person feeling like they aren’t given enough work. I don’t even know what ‘othered’ means in a work context without some specific grievances. I certainly don’t believe that on its own qualifies as abuse.

No, my problem is that we can already see some of the stuff from Paizo in Wizards, but you are repeatedly downplaying or dismissing it. The "suppositions" minority members of the Magic Community are making are very similar to suppositions from Paizo as to why certain people were turned down for jobs and such.

And you talk about "discriminatory decisions in contracts" when the document linked to absolutely shows how few BIPOC people work at Magic, as well as relaying the fact that it seems like minority people seem to miss out on jobs mysteriously. Combined with what happened with Orion, where they were hired but completely ignored to the point of having to beg for tasks to get involved... I'm not sure how that not be looked at as discriminatory and abusive.

If you can't recognize why what happened to Orion Black as being abusive and wrong, I'm not sure what else to say. You can't talk about discriminatory practices and write off being completely isolated at the workplace to such an extent that it has to be considered deliberate at some level.

How senior management behaves (Vic Wertz screaming at employees, or employees being told that putting up with harassment is par for the course) is not the same as a third party volunteer misbehaving (one of thousands who is then banned from that position).

That's because you were told about Vic. Dismissive attitudes at the bottom often care from dismissive attitudes at the top. The fact of the matter is that we don't know, but trying to dismiss what's going on in the MTG community as "just third party volunteers" misses that the minority community clearly saw it as a thing and saw that WOTC wasn't going to do anything about it. That's absolutely problematic and abusive, which is why a bunch of BIPOC Magic community members commented on it.

Refusing to maintain a healthy work environment by not cleaning the office for years when employees have Asthma is not on the same level as having a strict social media policy. I work for a lovely company that treats its employees very well. I would be sacked if I openly called that company out or criticized them on social media … period! If I raised a safety concern at work and it wasn’t address, the manager would be sacked. it just isn’t the done thing in professional business.

You keep downplaying the stuff pointed out in the "strict media policy", like someone getting reprimanded for saying "Sorry, that's a local decision", which is not just having a strict media policy, but a draconian one.

Incidentally most social media violations are reported by other staff or customers. Managers don’t spend their spare time trawling through social media posts looking for transgressions.

I mean, unless you are a big corporation who has enough people to enforce a strict social media policy, which is what is described. I don't know why you are downplaying this so hard.

I seriously doubt the issues that have given rise to UPW will arise at WOC. Not because the employees don’t know, but that the bar just hasn’t risen that high yet.

I'd wager the opposite: the issues may already be there, but Hasbro as a much larger company is able to squelch such things with far greater force. Again, there are plenty of things just from the outside that are problematic that can be seen in their work. The Zak S. thing is perhaps one of the most notable, but the MTG articles describe poor handling of minority issues in general.

Remember that none of the stuff we are talking about with Paizo was visible from the outside before it broke; it's more likely that this stuff exists, and given that we have a bunch of minority community members saying it does maybe we should just believe them.
 

TheSword

Legend
No, my problem is that we can already see some of the stuff from Paizo in Wizards, but you are repeatedly downplaying or dismissing it. The "suppositions" minority members of the Magic Community are making are very similar to suppositions from Paizo as to why certain people were turned down for jobs and such.

And you talk about "discriminatory decisions in contracts" when the document linked to absolutely shows how few BIPOC people work at Magic, as well as relaying the fact that it seems like minority people seem to miss out on jobs mysteriously. Combined with what happened with Orion, where they were hired but completely ignored to the point of having to beg for tasks to get involved... I'm not sure how that not be looked at as discriminatory and abusive.

If you can't recognize why what happened to Orion Black as being abusive and wrong, I'm not sure what else to say. You can't talk about discriminatory practices and write off being completely isolated at the workplace to such an extent that it has to be considered deliberate at some level.



That's because you were told about Vic. Dismissive attitudes at the bottom often care from dismissive attitudes at the top. The fact of the matter is that we don't know, but trying to dismiss what's going on in the MTG community as "just third party volunteers" misses that the minority community clearly saw it as a thing and saw that WOTC wasn't going to do anything about it. That's absolutely problematic and abusive, which is why a bunch of BIPOC Magic community members commented on it.



You keep downplaying the stuff pointed out in the "strict media policy", like someone getting reprimanded for saying "Sorry, that's a local decision", which is not just having a strict media policy, but a draconian one.



I mean, unless you are a big corporation who has enough people to enforce a strict social media policy, which is what is described. I don't know why you are downplaying this so hard.



I'd wager the opposite: the issues may already be there, but Hasbro as a much larger company is able to squelch such things with far greater force. Again, there are plenty of things just from the outside that are problematic that can be seen in their work. The Zak S. thing is perhaps one of the most notable, but the MTG articles describe poor handling of minority issues in general.

Remember that none of the stuff we are talking about with Paizo was visible from the outside before it broke; it's more likely that this stuff exists, and given that we have a bunch of minority community members saying it does maybe we should just believe them.
Both third parties were banned though right? I think if Paizo had eventually resolved the stuff they are accused of, there wouldn’t be a union forming right now.

When Jessica Price raised her many and varied points on twitter, it was echoed by several other staff with their own issues, and about half the company came together to raise very specific issues about sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions and mismanagement along with overall HR accountability. Issues that they felt were still unresolved.

When Orion Black raised their concerns about feeing isolated, one of the senior designers apologized and said they could do better. Followed by deafening silence.

  • A banned third party commentator didn’t get as much profile as they would have liked on a community page.
  • There isn’t enough diversity among employees
  • A banned third party play tester was removed from the credits but not fast enough.
  • A senior employee that handled playtesters defended the playtester when he shouldn’t have and so was removed from handling playtesters and removed from the public face of D&D…. But should have been sacked.
  • A distasteful card from 25 years ago was removed from print but still had an online URL.
  • An employee mentioned a company decision on social media and was told not to.

If WOC staff, past and present had reacted to Orion Black’s announcement or Mr Chan’s concern the way team reacted at Paizo then I wouldn’t be challenging you. You seem to be claiming that the reason for lack of similar outcry is that the WOC a smothered by a conspiracy of silence. That WOC is just as bad but people are too scared to say. I simply don’t believe if that were true that out of 940+ employees there aren’t people willing to come forward when a call to arms is sounded as in Paizo’s case. Even ex employees. A much simpler answer is that the issues just aren’t at the same magnitude.

Social media bans hold no sway over ex employees. They didn’t stop Jessica, or Crystal or the others that have spoken up. Social media policy has nothing to do with company size. It is common business practice. I get that you-tubers or twitchers might be outraged that they’re not allowed to say what they like on their social media but frankly that’s the price of doing business in most industries.

D&D is being more progressive in the last 8 years than its ever been in its history. Is it moving fast enough for some people? Clearly not. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad employer as you seem to be so vehemently suggesting.
 

Both third parties were banned though right? I think if Paizo had eventually resolved the stuff they are accused of, there wouldn’t be a union forming right now.

I don't believe I denied that. In fact, I literally stated that being the case.

When Jessica Price raised her many and varied points on twitter, it was echoed by several other staff with their own issues, and about half the company came together to raise very specific issues about sexual harassment, unsafe working conditions and mismanagement along with overall HR accountability. Issues that they felt were still unresolved.

Yes, which is why we are here.

When Orion Black raised their concerns about feeing isolated, one of the senior designers apologized and said they could do better. Followed by deafening silence.

I mean, you reference Jessica Price, right? When she made her comments about the video game industry, no one went to her defense, either. And yet, are we going to say she was a liar for that and not here?

It's almost like Hasbro is a big corporation that has much more power over ruining your career than Paizo. I'll point out that no one denied these issues, and that in both the article and in the MTG stuff they say similar things to different degrees. That people aren't speaking out at Wizards is probably because they are a much larger, much more powerful organization as the undisputed industry leader.

  • A banned third party commentator didn’t get as much profile as they would have liked on a community page.
  • There isn’t enough diversity among employees
  • A banned third party play tester was removed from the credits but not fast enough.
  • A senior employee that handled playtesters defended the playtester when he shouldn’t have and so was removed from handling playtesters and removed from the public face of D&D…. But should have been sacked.
  • A distasteful card from 25 years ago still had an online URL. Thought it was removed from print
  • An employee mentioned a company decision on social media and was told not to.

Depersonalizing the complaints doesn't mean that they aren't valid or that they aren't real. Zak S. wasn't just a "banned third party playtester", he was a well-known harrasser in the RPG community at that point, and he was thanked by name for his contributions to 5E. This was known when it happened, and only got changed when one of his main defenders finally admitted that he had done the same to her as he did to other women. Including him in the first place was problematic, thanking him was worse, and finally taking his name out wasn't really a win as much as minimizing what was already a terrible decision.

Similarly trying to write off the microaggressions that seem to be rife within the MTG Community that go unaddressed by Wizards feels weird, given that these are things that are visible to us compared to someone just telling us. The distasteful jokes and other such things are things you may not notice, but minority players do. I'm reminded of Lawrence Harmon's take, where he shows a player pointing out the problematic nature of a storyline getting dogpiled by fans. You keep saying "Third party", but it's up to Wizards to actually set tone.

And Zaiem Beg's list of things that he's seen, even if vague, are pretty damning. Orion directly references him in their statement. Again, Zaiem is intentionally vague because he doesn't want people to be blacklisted, but at the same time wants to see change. With a large corporation who controls much more of the market, it becomes far more difficult to speak out.

If WOC staff, past and present had reacted to Orion Black’s announcement or Mr Chan’s concern the way team reacted at Paizo then I wouldn’t be challenging you.

I would expect them not to react at all because they likely still desire to do some work there and Hasbro blacklisting them would have a larger effect. Again, this is where incredibly repressive social media policies come into place: if you don't toe the line even when you're not working, you'll be casually shadowbanned. That's why that whole part of that document brought it up: it's meant to stifle this sort of thing before it happens. That it broke through for Paizo doesn't mean it's not happening at Wizards.

You seem to be claiming that the reason for lack of similar outcry is that the WOC a smothered by a conspiracy of silence. That WOC is just as bad but people are too scared to say. I simply don’t believe if that were true that out of 940+ employees there aren’t people willing to come forward when a call to arms is sounded as in Paizo’s case. Even ex employees. A much simpler answer is that the issues just aren’t at the same magnitude.

Not all 940+ employees might see it as a problem. Part of it is perspective, and when you isolate minority voices, people don't get to see the other side of it. Most probably don't experience it at all.

Social media bans hold no sway over ex employees. They didn’t stop Jessica, or Crystal or the others that have spoken up. Social media policy has nothing to do with company size. It is common business practice. I get that you-tubers or twitchers might be outraged that they’re not allowed to say what they like on their social media but frankly that’s the price of doing business in most industries.

Ex-employees don't mean that they don't intend to work at all with Wizards anymore. Being permanently shadowbanned from the biggest shop in the industry and will probably carry over to Hasbro as well (who are starting to get RPG releases for their other properties) carries more weight than Paizo. You keep talking about how big Wizards is and this wouldn't work

Iif you want to justify it, fine. But understand that it has a chilling effect. When you're bigger, you can absolutely do that sort of thing.

D&D is being more progressive in the last 8 years than its ever been in its history. Is it moving fast enough for some people? Clearly not. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad employer as you seem to be so vehemently suggesting.

I'm not suggesting, I'm pointing to what others have said about them and even what that article hints at. You're the one denying what others have written about. In the Wired article they outright reference Orion's statement and those who make statements about WOTC make oblique references to how white male it is and that it's a "boys' club". I feel like those words carry pretty obvious implications, and give credence to what people like Zaiem and Orion said. Given that, I don't see why we should not assume that WOTC is similarly problematic, but better able to keep a lid on it.
 

TheSword

Legend
I don't believe I denied that. In fact, I literally stated that being the case.



Yes, which is why we are here.



I mean, you reference Jessica Price, right? When she made her comments about the video game industry, no one went to her defense, either. And yet, are we going to say she was a liar for that and not here?

It's almost like Hasbro is a big corporation that has much more power over ruining your career than Paizo. I'll point out that no one denied these issues, and that in both the article and in the MTG stuff they say similar things to different degrees. That people aren't speaking out at Wizards is probably because they are a much larger, much more powerful organization as the undisputed industry leader.



Depersonalizing the complaints doesn't mean that they aren't valid or that they aren't real. Zak S. wasn't just a "banned third party playtester", he was a well-known harrasser in the RPG community at that point, and he was thanked by name for his contributions to 5E. This was known when it happened, and only got changed when one of his main defenders finally admitted that he had done the same to her as he did to other women. Including him in the first place was problematic, thanking him was worse, and finally taking his name out wasn't really a win as much as minimizing what was already a terrible decision.

Similarly trying to write off the microaggressions that seem to be rife within the MTG Community that go unaddressed by Wizards feels weird, given that these are things that are visible to us compared to someone just telling us. The distasteful jokes and other such things are things you may not notice, but minority players do. I'm reminded of Lawrence Harmon's take, where he shows a player pointing out the problematic nature of a storyline getting dogpiled by fans. You keep saying "Third party", but it's up to Wizards to actually set tone.

And Zaiem Beg's list of things that he's seen, even if vague, are pretty damning. Orion directly references him in their statement. Again, Zaiem is intentionally vague because he doesn't want people to be blacklisted, but at the same time wants to see change. With a large corporation who controls much more of the market, it becomes far more difficult to speak out.



I would expect them not to react at all because they likely still desire to do some work there and Hasbro blacklisting them would have a larger effect. Again, this is where incredibly repressive social media policies come into place: if you don't toe the line even when you're not working, you'll be casually shadowbanned. That's why that whole part of that document brought it up: it's meant to stifle this sort of thing before it happens. That it broke through for Paizo doesn't mean it's not happening at Wizards.



Not all 940+ employees might see it as a problem. Part of it is perspective, and when you isolate minority voices, people don't get to see the other side of it. Most probably don't experience it at all.



Ex-employees don't mean that they don't intend to work at all with Wizards anymore. Being permanently shadowbanned from the biggest shop in the industry and will probably carry over to Hasbro as well (who are starting to get RPG releases for their other properties) carries more weight than Paizo. You keep talking about how big Wizards is and this wouldn't work

Iif you want to justify it, fine. But understand that it has a chilling effect. When you're bigger, you can absolutely do that sort of thing.



I'm not suggesting, I'm pointing to what others have said about them and even what that article hints at. You're the one denying what others have written about. In the Wired article they outright reference Orion's statement and those who make statements about WOTC make oblique references to how white male it is and that it's a "boys' club". I feel like those words carry pretty obvious implications, and give credence to what people like Zaiem and Orion said. Given that, I don't see why we should not assume that WOTC is similarly problematic, but better able to keep a lid on it.

I’m also not denying that the things I list above happened. I just don’t think they are on the same scale as at Paizo. Not all employees at WOC do need to make a stand… but how about 2 or 3? Or how about 2 or 3 ex staff. Basically anyone who actually is an employee of WOC or used to be an employee of WOC?

Im surprised that you’re surprised that a game that was until recently was almost entirely played by white men has a greater proportion than normal of white men working in its industry. The whole point of Candlekeep Adventures was to get new voices from a range of viewpoints. I’m seeing more women front and center and that’s got to be a good thing.

WOC do set the tone. I just don’t see any example from WOC that racism or discrimination will be tolerated. In fact everything they have released recently suggests they think the opposite and are listening.

You can assume the absence of evidence is proof of a cover up if you like. It’s doesn’t sit well with me.
 

I’m also not denying that the things I list above happened. I just don’t think they are on the same scale as at Paizo. Not all employees at WOC do need to make a stand… but how about 2 or 3? Or how about 2 or 3 ex staff. Basically anyone who actually is an employee of WOC or used to be an employee of WOC?

It's a lot more difficult when the corporation is substantially bigger and more powerful. Again, I keep pointing to very draconian social media policies and why people would not want to have a corporation with a long memory on their bad side.

And agree to disagree on scale, because the Orion Black thing is, in my opinion, as bad as most any other thing out there.

Im surprised that you’re surprised that a game that was until recently was almost entirely played by white men has a greater proportion than normal of white men working in its industry. The whole point of Candlekeep Adventures was to get new voices from a range of viewpoints. I’m seeing more women front and center and that’s got to be a good thing.

I'm not surprised by it, I'm surprised you don't think that carries with it a lot of baggage, not the least of which habits that come from only being in spaces with white men. Candlekeep Adventures is a great example of an attempt that had problems because editorial edited down something poorly and inserted stuff that they didn't realize was insensitive.

Actually, this feels very reminiscent of Paizo, where it looks like the lower level people are more responsive, but when it goes up the editing chain and bad things happen. I might look it up later, but there was an interesting comment about editorial having a certain conception of D&D, and while it's probably not overtly racist or anything, it almost certainly has a bunch of stuff that if they were consulting with POCs probably would probably not fly.

WOC do set the tone. I just don’t see any example from WOC that racism or discrimination will be tolerated. In fact everything they have released recently suggests they think the opposite and are listening.

I mean, it seems clear that they are pretty passive about with the MTG Community. The stuff Zaiem talked about eventually got changed, but how long did it take? Are more people getting hired for these spots? I think Austin Walker had a really good quote that works well in these sorts of situations (in general):


You can assume the absence of evidence is proof of a cover up if you like. It’s doesn’t sit well with me.

No, I'm citing evidence. Those testimonials are absolutely evidence. What you take offense to is that I believe there is more there. To me, it seems logical: there's every indication that there's probably more stuff we just haven't heard about. And a lot of this comes from the Paizo situation.

Paizo is incredibly progressive and it shows in their work. Their Mwangi Expanse stuff was just fantastic, they are great on representation and trying to avoid classic bad tropes when it comes to this stuff. They may not always do it, but certain Wizards seems to get caught way more in that regard. And look what Paizo had going on behind the scenes.

So given that there's just a bevy of small (and a few big things) out about Wizards... why wouldn't I believe there is more? We're talking about a company where where 16 months ago had stacking scandals regarding how they minority community members get treated and also a minority team member who let loose on his terrible situation. Why would I expect that to be the only thing there?

I can't chastise Wizards for stuff I don't know has or hasn't happened, but I don't see why I should think they are all that they are particularly clean. Given how slowly they've been to change, it's hard to think that everything we heard about got turned around in just a year.

Edit: As an aside, I do find it funny when I look up how Orion Black's departure was handled here and the first comment is all the recent scandals, big or little, that Wizards was going through since 2019.
 

TheSword

Legend
So given that there's just a bevy of small (and a few big things) out about Wizards... why wouldn't I believe there is more? We're talking about a company where where 16 months ago had stacking scandals regarding how they minority community members get treated and also a minority team member who let loose on his terrible situation. Why would I expect that to be the only thing there?
I think you give far far too much credit to the supposed power of businesses like WOC. You can take things on faith if you like. I prefer to wait rather than make suppositions when it comes to serious accusations. Time will tell at the end of the day. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Maybe I just have more optimism in people.
 

I think you give far far too much credit to the supposed power of businesses like WOC. You can take things on faith if you like. I prefer to wait rather than make suppositions when it comes to serious accusations. Time will tell at the end of the day. 🤷🏻‍♂️ Maybe I just have more optimism in people.

When one of the people who comes out comments on how the company keeps people in fear of saying the wrong thing, it feels more believable. I mean, when's the last time you saw Mike Mearls?

I'm glad you have optimism. I do, too, but I try to keep it to individual people, rather than institutions. Less disappointing.
 

TheSword

Legend
When one of the people who comes out comments on how the company keeps people in fear of saying the wrong thing, it feels more believable. I mean, when's the last time you saw Mike Mearls?

I'm glad you have optimism. I do, too, but I try to keep it to individual people, rather than institutions. Less disappointing.
I’m confused, are you sad Mike Mearls has been benched and simultaneously angry he hasn’t been sacked? You can’t have your cake and eat it.

WOC took action when Mearls inappropriately defended someone you called a serial harasser. You think that is evidence of a social media conspiracy but not evidence that WOC it takes accusations of harassment seriously?

It kinda sounds like you have a downer on WOC and will spin anything to be a negative 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

I’m confused, are you sad Mike Mearls has been benched and simultaneously angry he hasn’t been sacked? You can’t have your cake and eat it.

WOC took action when Mearls inappropriately defended someone you called a serial harasser. You think that is evidence of a social media conspiracy but not evidence that WOC it takes accusations of harassment seriously?

No, maybe my phrasing was a bit imprecise. It's more like showing off a company focused on superficial solutions (getting Mearls offline but still in the company) while being able to completely control the narrative with their presence in the industry: if you want to comment on that situation, do you think they'll hire you? If you liked a take on it? Retweeted something about it?

I'd say no. And that's why I think there's probably more, but also why we are unlikely to hear about it.

It kinda sounds like you have a downer on WOC and will spin anything to be a negative 🤷🏻‍♂️

LOL! I missed this edit.

And nah, I try not to be down on everything. Fizban's looks good, though don't think I'll be purchasing it. Tasha's looked alright, too. But I don't see a reason to gloss over WOTC's flaws, any more than I would gloss over what's happening with Paizo as a PF2 fan. Stuff doesn't disappear just because people stopped talking about it.

That's just what they want you to think. ;)
 
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Staffan

Legend
Actually, this feels very reminiscent of Paizo, where it looks like the lower level people are more responsive, but when it goes up the editing chain and bad things happen. I might look it up later, but there was an interesting comment about editorial having a certain conception of D&D, and while it's probably not overtly racist or anything, it almost certainly has a bunch of stuff that if they were consulting with POCs probably would probably not fly.
I get a feeling that the higher-ups at both Paizo and Wizards would believe both the statements "We should be a more diverse company" and "I worked hard to get where I am, dammit, and I'm not going to budge."
 

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