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What the heck is going on with the professional RPG industry in regards to Zak S?

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Flexor the Mighty!

18/100 Strength!
He has been accused of harassment, to the point where Luke Gygax took him off the Guest of Honor list for GaryCon 2019.

https://garycon.com/blog/2019/02/18/harbinger-unheeded/

I know, I was in Frank's game that got cancelled and was planning on going to his Frankenparty. But calling someone rapey is way beyond lecherous or even harrassing behavior.

Note: I don't know Frank personally, but throwing rape around casually is a bit much.
 

Hussar

Legend
The level of hyperbole does not help the conversation:

Celebrim said:
I am scared, deeply and actually scared, by how much we seem to be trying to reinvent the struggle session and a bunch of other ugly things.

I actually had to google that term. Hadn't run across that one.

But, comparing government controlled public torture for the purpose of removing political enemies to something like the #MeToo movement is so unbelievably blind it's bordering on deliberate.

Good grief, the Chinese #MeToo movement just changed the Chinese laws THIS YEAR to include a legal definition of sexual harassment. China will have it's FIRST civil sexual harassment case in history, THIS YEAR.

And, while I realize that EN World is supposed to be apolitical, these are important issues. And, it's helpful, I believe, to spread the word among the hobby. Particularly considering the history of our hobby as a primarily male dominated one whose demographics are changing pretty rapidly.
 

MGibster

Legend
I'm all for a safe and inclusive hobby. Everybody should feel comfortable going to a convention or a game store free from any concern that they might be harassed. We're all there to have fun, right? It's unfortunate that people were more tolerate of terrible behavior in previous years but we can be thankful that attitude is changing. Including Zak S. in the credits sends a clear message: We endorse his behavior and we're proud to stand by him. That is not a message anyone should want to communicate to others.
 

Hussar

Legend
I'm all for a safe and inclusive hobby. Everybody should feel comfortable going to a convention or a game store free from any concern that they might be harassed. We're all there to have fun, right? It's unfortunate that people were more tolerate of terrible behavior in previous years but we can be thankful that attitude is changing. Including Zak S. in the credits sends a clear message: We endorse his behavior and we're proud to stand by him. That is not a message anyone should want to communicate to others.

I'm not sure I'd go that far as to say we endorse his behavior.

But, removing the credits does say that we don't.
 

Gradine

Final Form (they/them)
In short, I don't agree with any of you and I find pretty much all this talk from just about everyone embarrassing, dangerous, and decidedly anti-social.

Seriously? I'm supposed to be, what, embarrassed? Are you upset that our conversation about how to handle this very real and serious issue within our hobby of sheltering and supporting serial abusers, harassers, assaulters (oh I'm sorry, I meant "politics") is getting in the way of your conversations about very important, very serious "game mechanics and the art and science of RPGs?"

Frankly, your holier-than-thou attitude and condescension is completely at odds with not only your constant unwillingness to confront social, community problems as an actual community, but your active antipathy towards such actions. You, as always, live your life like we're in some sort of fantasy world, where bad actors act in a complete vacuum because of their singular personal demons and not because of any broader cultural factors, such as, oh I don't know, the encouragement that comes from a complete and utter lack of societal pressure to change their violent behaviors.

Look, no problem has never, ever, been solved by everyone sort of coughing and shuffling their feet and saying "well that isn't my problem." You say "I think real progress and change is made one person at a time, through personal and meaningful relationships." which is a beautiful statement and is possible, but it's a follow up to "I don't think taking a stand is going to make abusers less likely to be abusive" which is not only false but insidious and dangerous. You not only actively take the stance against addressing communal problems communally, you're now attempting to shame and belittle those who try to find solutions. Never mind that you disagree with the solutions being proposed; I can get that. But you're saying here that it's wrong to even try. I hesitate to use the phrase, because its origins have implications that are quite a bit more far-reaching than even the indisputably vile acts of violence we're talking about in this thread, but this is the banality of evil. "Nothing to see here. Nothing we can do. Just keep your heads down. Talk about the weather." And even beyond that, you actively interject to try to shame others. You can't just sit on the sidelines; you have to actively become a part of the problem. This is "embarrassing, dangerous, and decidedly anti-social."

I mean, it's literally anti-social; in that it's actively arguing against social action.

We all get that you have a pathological aversion to "virtue signalling", as if it weren't possible for someone to have sincerely held beliefs and argue passionately for them... but... it is actually okay to have sincerely held beliefs and argue passionately for them. There doesn't have to be some ulterior, selfish motive behind it (maybe I should rethink my stance about your perfect fantasy world; it's certainly filled with a lot of insincere hypocrites now that I think about it). But I'm serious. You can't wade into a tense and emotional argument assuming that everyone (or even most people) that disagrees with you aren't being serious, but are instead just trying to earn internet brownie points. That's intellectual dishonesty, and it doesn't become you.

Look, if you don't like the solutions to the problem that we're posing, pose better ones (other than, you know, continuing to turn a blind eye and let all of this awful behavior resolve itself privately, because that's worked so well in the past). And if you don't believe there's a problem, well, maybe I'll need to revisit that "fantasy world" theory one more time. But fine, we can argue that and demonstrate and depth and scope of the problem if need be.

But don't come in here on your high horse and pooh-pooh people for recognizing the problem and trying to do something about it. Yes, it the immediate aftermath of these things there's often a lot more anger and hurt than palpable solutions, I feel that. I also think it's a necessary step. These threads just never seem to get past that step before getting de-railed by concern trolls and anti-feminist ideologues and getting shut down as a result. I recognize the role I have often played in that, and recognize that I could be doing better. If I am embarrassed about anything, it is that.

You are demonstrably wrong about basically everything here. Social pressure leads to social change, and a place where harassers and abusers are more afraid to harass and abuse is a good thing. If you disagree with that, you are wrong. I'm sorry, but you just are. Now, you can either help us and be part of building a better solution to this (one that might even be much more palatable to your own sensibilities, even!) or you can stop... whatever this is supposed to be. What do the kids call it... poop-posting? No, that doesn't sound right. Well, whatever it's called, stop it.
 

pemerton

Legend
is it a common practice for consultants to receive credit in a book??
The PHB is not a scholarly work governed by standards of academic ethics; and I very much doubt that the sort of work the "consultants" did on the PHB generates entitlements to be acknowledged under "moral rights" law. (I'm not even sure if the US has moral rights laws.)

But it is common for companies to try and promote their products. And in the case of a personality-driven consumer market like RPGing, naming prominent personalities as "consultants" is a marketing technique.

I think it may be that they just don't want the (possible??) headache of having D&D associated in general with any of the consultants anymore, probably with the Zak S. stuff being a catalyst for the move.

<snip>

they didn't just remove Zak S. and RPG Pundit... they removed all of the consultants including Kenneth Hite, Kevin Kulp, Vincent Venturella & Robin Laws...none of whom I would classify as old school or anti-new school.
I think it's fairly obvious both why the consultants paragraph has come out - and that's clearly not related to Kenneth Hite, Robin Laws et al - and I also think it's fairly obvious why they're doing it simply by deleting the paragraph in question.

I think it may be a way to avoid any legal entanglements... this way they can just claim they are no longer giving consultant credits in their book moving forward as opposed to specific reasons for specific consultants being removed... which could get messy.
I don't think it's to avoid any legal entanglements. I very much doubt that there are any legal entanglements that relate to that paragraph. They could remove one name or all and would not have to provide "specific reasons" except in the context of litigation.

I think they're doing it because that's an easy way to do it and doesn't leave any lingering lightning rods for the Zak S "controversy".

This is what George Orwell called becoming an "unperson". It's not enough for WotC to cut ties with him going forward. They have to go back in time and erase all record of his involvement, so they get to pretend he was never a part of their playtest team.

Even if Zak is brought into court and found guilty of abuse or harassment, why can't wizards simply say "yes we worked with him, but that was before we knew what was going on." Why does stripping him of credit for his contributions need to be part of his social punishment?
These questions answer themselves, don't they? You don't market your products by associating them with unpopular people. Zak S's level of popularity has suddenly and pretty dramatically changed, and so WotC is changing the marketing material in the PHB.

This is where I think WotC's response may be a bit on the excessive side. I have grave misgivings about a corporation erasing someone's credit - whether that person is a toad or not - without also removing the impact they've had on the product.
This is where I go back go back to the point that it's marketing.
 

Ghostwind

First Post
* It is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG for WotC to remove Zak's credits from the products he consulted on, and I've told them so directly, not that they listen to a nobody like me. No matter how repugnant a person is or how badly you want to distance yourself from them for PR reasons, retroactively un-crediting a contributor is the same thing as stealing their work and claiming it for your own. It is NOT OKAY and as a professional maker-upper-of-stuff I strongly feel Wizards should NOT do it.

Your opinion. There are legions of us who feel is it more than appropriate and are waiting to see if EN World takes the next step to strip him of his Ennies. Why should someone who is a serial abuser and rapist like Zak be allowed to capitalize on using his awards as a means of getting employment in the future? The answer: He shouldn't ever again.

* Finally, remember that mention I made about Zak of Zak hating the same people that I did from '14-'16? Well it turns out, those people are also harboring :):):):)ing child rapists, and the story is getting completely lost in the face of Sabbathgate and Mentzergate. Insufferable jerkass Matt McFarland (formerly BlackHat_Matt on RPG.net) is also literally a CHILD RAPIST, and the list of allegations against him is still growing but is already a disgusting litany of creepery. His wife, Michelle Lyons-McFarland, received reports of her husband's inappropriate behavior in her official capacity and proceeded to cover for him.

I know Michelle. Have known her for a very long time before she even met Matt. Her first first husband was a piece of work and gaslighted her. Something to keep in mind when you are quick to condemn her. Matt may very well be abusing her too.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Not wanting to do business with someone due to their behaviour is fair enough. Idk who the guy is but seems to be a pattern in the allegations.

Removing credits not so much imho.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Your opinion. There are legions of us who feel is it more than appropriate and are waiting to see if EN World takes the next step to strip him of his Ennies.

EN World (and I) are not connected to the ENnies any more, and I don't have any insight into what they'll decide. I do know they announced that something was forthcoming.
 


MGibster

Legend
I'm not sure I'd go that far as to say we endorse his behavior.

But, removing the credits does say that we don't.

I'd like to point something out real quick since this came up in earlier statements. This is a great example of disagreement without endorsing bad behavior. It also shows that we don't have to be afraid of disagreeing with one another.
 

Why does stripping him of credit for his contributions need to be part of his social punishment?

I am conflicted about this.

On one hand, the man did contribute to the book. He did work and I believe people should be rewarded for their work.

On the other hand, removing his name means that his victims aren't going to be reminded of him and what he did every time they page through the book.
 


S'mon

Legend
I know, I was in Frank's game that got cancelled and was planning on going to his Frankenparty. But calling someone rapey is way beyond lecherous or even harrassing behavior.

Note: I don't know Frank personally, but throwing rape around casually is a bit much.

I agree, this is completely unacceptable. I'd report it, but obviously the mods have already
seen it and apparently don't agree. :mad:
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
<My opinion>

It's possible to be a good writer and also a terrible person.
It's not possible to reward the one without also rewarding the other.

So I support the decision to strip him of his accolades--not because I feel his work never happened or wasn't good, but because I feel his terrible behavior must never be rewarded or ignored.

</My opinion>
 
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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I am scared...

Could we please just go back to talking about game mechanics and the art and science of RPGs? ...

I'm still sad.

You are scared. You are sad. So we should all be silent, and not talk about such matters. I am sure, you are not comfortable. My sympathies for that.

But I am sure Zak's victims were not comfortable. I am sure my wife was not comfortable when she was sexually harassed by a member of a convention staff a couple of years back, either.

Being silent wasn't what dealt with that convention staff member. People were silent about Zak, and that didn't seem to make anyone safer. It looks like if we remained silent, Zak would still be able to victimize others. If we remain silent, other men will not recognize that such behavior will not be acceptable any longer, and they will not know of the consequences. And the young daughter of a friend of mine, who I recently taught how to play, who has become a GM in her own right, will have to suffer, because no change happens in silence.

Silence, Celebrim, is tacit acceptance of the bad behavior, in a practical sense. So, no, your discomfort is not sufficient to stop this discussion.
 
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Celebrim

Legend
You are scared. You are sad. So we should all be silent, and not talk about such matters. I am sure, you are not comfortable. My sympathies for that.

But I am sure Zak's victims were not comfortable. I am sure my wife was not comfortable when she was sexually harassed by a member of a convention staff a couple of years back, either.

Being silent wasn't what dealt with that convention staff member. People were silent about Zak, and that didn't seem to make anyone safer. It looks like if we remained silent, Zak would still be able to victimize others. If we remain silent, other men will not recognize that such behavior will not be acceptable any longer, and they will not know of the consequences. And the young daughter of a friend of mine, who I recently taught how to play, who has become a GM in her own right, will have to suffer, because no change happens in silence.

Silence, Celebrim, is tacit acceptance of the bad behavior. So, no, your discomfort is not sufficient to stop this discussion.

Oh please. It's more than obvious that all your assertions have nothing to do with my stance. I have no problem with speaking out against sexual harassment, although, speaking out against sexual harassment hardly takes much bravery in this day and age. As some have pointed out in this thread, there are tons of sexual harassers out there taking a stand against sexual harassment. Harvey Weinstein even got awards for his work.

Brave Umbram, moderator at EnWorld, takes a big stand against sexual harassment by speaking up in forums he controls with approval of the owner taking a majority opinion? While we have a an explicit no politics rule that basically amounts to no politics but mine? This isn't courage. This isn't speaking out. This isn't doing anything. Who do you think you are standing up to? This is just another trainwreck of a thread on an internet forum that isn't going to stop one person from being harassed or heal one victim of the harassment. I wish that these problems could go away if we just keyboard warriored hard enough. It's the idea that we need another one of these threads that I object to, where you go around banning people in the name of making the world safe from sexual harassment.

What I think is that a person who rapes someone doesn't really think, "I'm not going to do this because I know society disapproves of it." People who get to the point where they are willing to do that to another human being aren't really thinking, "If only society disapproved of this more, I wouldn't do it.", and they sure as heck don't care about how much we have to say on an internet forum. I mean seriously, do you really think people engage in rape because they think society thinks it is acceptable, or do you not think it is possible that they don't care what society thinks and that for many the very fact that they are transgressing on societies mores is akin to the power trip they are feeling transgressing on someone's person. I mean seriously, I wrote very strongly against the Supreme Court opinion a 11 years ago in Kennedy vs. Louisiana, which outlawed the death penalty for violent pedophiles. But I didn't think ever that the fact that we had a growing number of states that were willing to apply the death penalty in the most incontrovertible cases of violent abuse short of death was going to actually stop sickos from raping kids. But, you know, if you want to speak out with me against Kennedy vs. Louisana and the awful legal reasoning that was behind it, I'd be all for that.

I don't know where this comes from. Maybe in your circles rape had been considered hitherto an 'ok' thing that we just tolerate or something, and now you are feeling guilty about that and think well we better change that, but I don't ever recall being near anyone that suggested rape was an OK thing. And heck, my standards on sexual behavior tend to view merely consensual as a really low bar to be passing. I'm not inside this gaming industry sub-culture, and maybe you are, but is it really true that know lots of men that are like OK with rape? Is that the problem here, that you know all these guys that are like down with rape and have never been told 'don't rape' and I in my naivety don't?

I tell you what, you want to join me in condemning the porn industry as exploitive and denigrating?

Or is this really not the place to be doing that?
 
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I

Immortal Sun

Guest
Silence, Celebrim, is tacit acceptance of the bad behavior. So, no, your discomfort is not sufficient to stop this discussion.

There's probably a reason Celebrim feels uncomfortable when these issues come up. Maybe before he continues to involve himself in this conversation, he should talk about that.
 


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