Harassment and the Gaming Community – A few thoughts

Recently I was made aware of this article and was shocked and appalled by what I read. What the author of this post has endured is terrible and it’s a shame that all this has happened in the gaming community. A lot of people immediately dismiss the post because it just seems too outrageous, too far away from their personal experiences. But I have no doubts that these things happen way too often.

I actually wrote a long post with my thoughts on the subject, but eventually I decided against posting it because of several reasons. English is not my native language and even though I have a pretty good grasp of the language (at least I hope so) sometimes it’s hard to put my thoughts into the proper words. This subject is highly emotional and very complex, so it’s very easy to offend everyone even if you have the best motives.

My intentions with this post are twofold: first I want to point out the article and recommend everyone to read it and think deeply about it. I especially ask my fellow male gamers to not just dismiss it. Secondly I want to ask everyone to help changing the community for the better. Don’t look away, speak up and point out the bad apples, support your fellow gamers regardless of gender, sexuality, skin color, and religion. Make sure that your own gaming table is a safe and welcoming place for everyone! Remember that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

P.S.: If you want to read more about why we should take such reports seriously, I recommend this article.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

8 thoughts on “Harassment and the Gaming Community – A few thoughts”

  1. I had seen this article and was equally disappointed and disgusted by the ugly behavior of some tabletop role-players. While I understand that gamers (as well as comic book and other genre fans) tend to be predominantly male, there’s no excuse for harassment.

    I wish I could reassure the author and others who have suffered that a minority of us are jerks, but it’s up to the community to improve its own image and be more inclusive. You’re right that we must take responsibility for overcoming criminality and the stereotypes of “The Big Bang Theory” — if we can role-play heroes, we can be heroes!

  2. I fully agree with both of you. Our hobby is something that should be the inclusive to all, with no discriminations at all ! But we still have have to work for it !

  3. Is that the article with the “old enough to bleed old enough to breed” chanting? …yeah, I started skimming it, read that part then wrote the whole thing off as a bunch of lies. …politically motivated lies.

    Didn’t seem the least bit plausible and I don’t really feel like being manipulated by SJWs.

  4. A sad and unfortunately rather plausible tale. There’s a couple of game shops near me where I’d advise women not to go in on their own especially on games night, and I’d certainly recommend avoiding many Cons – though I would note that this isn’t exclusive to gaming cons, others also have similar tales coming out of them, with very similar reactions from people who are quite certain the stories are exaggerated or invented. Unfortunately a lot of people prefer to ignore the problem, and anyone ‘rocking the boat’ makes themselves unpopular. I certainly am in one of those local stores, after responding to what was meant as a question about whether anyone had actually heard the offensive comments a lady reported by saying yes, and that her ‘made-up story’ was in fact entirely true. While they didn’t outright ban me, it’s made me unpopular in there.

  5. Dear Michael,

    Since we already discussed about this issue, you know that I was already highly skeptical about this article before you even sent me a link to it. While reading the article I was not surprised by its content by any means. To be honest, I´m a bit shocked that you fell into the typical trap of “listen and believe”, but I´m not completely surprised by it and can understand why it happened. Sadly, it´s hard to bring up all facts and points in an ad hoc discussion, since this subject is a complicated mess. Luckily, a posting is a good way to convey the points in an easy to read manner.

    To understand this highly complex topic, we first need some background information. Disclaimer: There is no way that I can give a complete picture about all issues. This would take weeks, if not months to do. But it´s still essential to know some backgrounds.

    Let´s begin with the basics: In the last years there was a rise of individuals in northern America, who discovered, that they could get attention and – even more important – money, by playing the professional victim. They often take the guise of feminism, which has become a de facto religious ideology for them. They combine this (often referred to as 3rd wave feminism) with certain views gender politics, to form a highly toxic composition.

    Some of the more prominent individuals, who abuse this ideology for their personal agenda are: Anita Sarkeesian, Jonathan Mcintosh, Steve Shives, Laci green, Brianna Wu, Zoe Quinn, Jonathan Butler, Melissa Click, Chanty Binx, Emma Sulkowicz, Suey Park and Laurie Penny.

    If you do not know who this people are, what they stand for, and what they have done in the past, you should really educate yourself about them. These are some select members, who either tried to push their oppressive agenda against any common reason or abused it for personal gain or even the harm of others.

    The ideology itself, on the surface claims to fight for the rights of oppressed people. The enemy they fight against, is the white male privileged “patriarchy”. In their view everybody who is not a) white and b) male is oppressed by invisible force of “The patriarchy”, which is of course racist, sexist, anti-trans, homophobic and so on (you name it). In practice, they divide the world into the privileged (white males) and the oppressed (everyone else). Being oppressed is as simple as being either female, a person of color, transgender, homosexual, disabled and so on. The more of these things apply to you personally, the more oppressed you are as a person. A common denomination for this system is the “Oppression Olympics”, and it´s not far from the truth. Being oppressed effectively prevents you from being criticized, and the higher your oppression “level” is, the more other people have to agree with your opinion.

    The other side are “privileged” persons, which consist of the white male population. There are 2 categories for these. The ones that acknowledge their privilege (the de facto “Original Sin” of the religion of this ideology), repent for it, and are tolerated, as long as they are bending over and doing everything in their might to support the movement. They are not considered allies, but mere tools to use. The other group are people who either do not agree with this ideology, or actively fight against them. These people are “The enemy”. In their view, everything that these people do are problematic, as their actions might trigger, offend or hurt the feelings of “The oppressed”. This is especially true, if you openly speak against this ideology. Everything that is done by white males is either sexist, homophobic or racist in some way, and they have constantly to be reminded, that they are subhuman beings, who should not even dare to have an opinion of their own. There is also pressure put on everyone, who does not want to be categorized in the “enemy” camp. The only way to avoid this, is to comply with their demands. Their devise is “Listen and Believe”, which could also be phrased as “Shut up and don´t be critical”.

    One of their favorite methods is to play the guilt card. When someone, who isn´t informed about their ideology, is confronted with their claims, the answer is usually: “I´m not a racist, I´m not sexist, but there must be a lot of them (because they say so). To prove them wrong I will support them by uncritically believe what they say, and, in this way, show them that I´m not one of the bad ones.” Sadly, this doesn´t work, as you and your uncritical attitude is used to spread their ideology. And you wouldn´t dare to oppose them, since they make very clear what you are if you do: Another white male sexist racist asshole.

    The perfidious tactics of this people also involve the notion, that the can rightfully be offended on behalf of other persons. They rally people who are taught, that they themselves belong to “The oppressed” minority, and have to raise and fight against “The privileged white males”. This turned into a business model, as many of these people make a living by spreading their ideology by social media and online video blogs. They do not even shy away from tactics that involve creating fake accounts in social media services, sending threats of any kinds to themselves, to then declare that they are harassed and need support. This gives them the 2 things they want to have: Attention and money.

    They also very much like the idea of censoring language. This takes forms in stupid ideas like banning words, which they deem to be offensive. This orwellian kind of doublespeak is used to prevent other people from expressing controversial or uncomfortable ideas and opinions. It´s a frightening thought, but they regularly use their power to deplatform persons with critical and opposing opinions. Some of these people even got into positions, where they try influence and undercut companies such as Twitter and Google, as well as even the United Nations. But censoring language is not their only method. These people also have no problem with censoring free speech and the press. Someone who dares to write a critical article is often defamed and used as a bogeyman.

    Sadly, these people can´t even handle reality. In an attempt to block out any forms of criticism they erect “safe spaces”, where they can decide who is tolerated, and which opinions you may express. If you don´t comply with their ideology, you are banned from these “safe spaces”, since you might “trigger” persons or even offend their view. And this is on college campuses, places where people are to be educated.

    A commonly used description of these people is the term “social justice warrior”, which has become an infamous and well known term since at least since the gamergate controversy.

    Why do I know all this names, and why am I personally invested in this? This toxic ideology lead to a division in the Atheism Community, which happened in 2012 with the emergence of Atheism+. Sadly, a lot of people who had no problem with be sceptic about the existence of supernatural omnipotent omniscient omnipresent beings suddenly lost all their skepticism, when they were told, that they have to support the cause of feminism or are otherwise labeled as scum and not worthy of being a human being.

    Important: Don´t just take my word for it. Be sceptic. Educate yourself. I can´t provide multi source links for all the different subjects, but these are some things you should enter in your preferred search engine to get some results. Don´t read just the first one, instead try to find multiple viewpoints. Decide for yourself, what you consider to be reasonable and backed by facts:

    anita sarkeesian everything is sexist

    suey park interview

    Laci Green problematic

    zoe quinn eron gjoni

    jonathan butler mizzou

    melissa click muscle

    chanty binx protest

    Emma Sulkowicz rape case

    Kayla-Simone McKelvey fake threats

    rolling stone UVA rape case

    richard dawkins deplatformed

    duke lacrosse case


    If you want to see reports about this incidents, and have the arguments of these people critically debunked, I recommend these 2 youtube channels: “TL;DR”, “Sargon of Akkad”. While I do not agree with every view expressed on these channels, these 2 (and others) do a pretty decent job at debunking the ideology with scientific facts and reasonable arguments.

    Now let’s finally start addressing the article, shall we? I´m not going to cite the article, but I´m just giving a short view of my thoughts about each passage:

    The Heading: What can I say about this? “White male terrorism”. This is all you need, to identify this article as SJW agenda driven. While some of the alleged crimes (alleged is the key word here), which are described in this article, are very serious, calling them terrorism is really far fetching it. Having white males as the personification of the “enemy” is nothing to be surprised about when dealing with SJWs, but it´s very telling. Generalization for the win!

    Passage 1: The first passage seems to indicate, that the author is indeed writing about a community she herself is a part of, and I don´t doubt this. After just a few short lines, the accusations begin. “Overwhelming death and rape threats” are given as a way to accuse “wyrd miniatures” (which I personally don´t know) of failure to render assistance and instigate these threats. But that´s not what the article is about, which of course is why the author mentioned the company by name. The first telling sign is a complete lack of evidence. If there is overwhelming evidence, it shouldn´t be too hard to include at least 1 screen capture of such a case. Of course these threats could all have been made verbally, but do you honestly think that an overwhelming number of people are verbally formulating death and rape threats against this person? Remember, this is something which is usually done in the cover of anonymity on the internet to intimidate the recipient. I highly doubt that, and later on the passage refers to online threats. Since there is no evidence given, I´m not inclined to take these accusations at face value. Then there are even more claimed threats, which were allegedly done by “pathetic and insecure men” who are a part of the gaming community. And even before closing the first passage, we get the usual unspecified but generalized racist, sexist and homophobic accusation club. To be honest, it´s a very telling start. Do you see a pattern starting to emerge?

    Passage 2: Let´s throw in some irrefutable anecdotal evidence of a story that may or may not have happened while the author was a child. The whole passage is just there to demonize male gamers. While nobody can deny, that such an event might have taken place, this story is not backed by anything. It is told in a way to grab the reader emotional, since it involves helpless child which is the victim of anonymous male assholes. Drama and emotion? Check.

    Passage 3: This passage again frames online threats as being terrorism, and accuses the police of not reacting to such threats. To a certain extend I can believe, that the police can´t pursue every case of someone who receives an anonymous threat, but we all know that there is no real anonymity in the internet anymore. This whole case taking place in Canada (five eyes, I´m looking at you!) I absolutely cannot believe that the police wouldn´t be able to identify the sender of a threatening e-mail within mere hours. Since this was not the case, I´m very sure that the police (if even contacted) deemed the threats to be either negligible or non-existent.

    Passage 4: A dramatic telling, of an alleged case of getting drugged and raped afterwards. While it´s not impossible that such a thing happened, the story presented is lacking so much plausibility. The person is brought from a convention full of people to a hotel, where she is allegedly raped. At some point she stops the rapist (obviously somehow seeing him in the process), but then doesn´t call the police. She instead returns to the convention and is there pressure to remain silent by unnamed authorities. They use the very implausible argument of denying their admittance of the convention. This part is painfully non credible. There are literally dozens of ways to prove, that you attended the event, which would instantly lead to an investigation by the police. After this, she finally calls the police and claims that she was not taken seriously. I literally can´t believe that. If a police officer does not assist a caller, he risks being accused of failure to render assistance. This story really lacks any plausibility at all, but it´s again a great way to appeal by emotion.

    Passage 5: At this point the story starts sounding like a conspiracy theory. In the authors view the police works together with her so called white male terrorists to pressure woman into not reporting crimes against themselves. This couldn´t even be farther from the truth. The police are obligated to investigated accusations that are not downright discernable lies. Usually, an alleged rape offender suffers numerous repercussions, like for instance losing one’s job and being socially ostracized. This is usually true, even if at a later point it is discovered, that the accusations were false. I absolutely do not believe this claim. The story is starting to get ridiculous.

    Passage 6: Yet another instance of an anonymous male asshole that allegedly sexually assaults the author. Again the perpetrator is not persecuted, and the whole story is covered up by the police and her employer. She claims to have won a court case against her employer for firing her, but no details are given. I wouldn´t be surprised, if the alleged sexual assault was not part of this so called case. Conspiracy theory number 2.

    Passage 7: The author describes, that she is afraid to be outed as being female when writing something online. I´m willing to give her this point, as the internet can be a very harsh and toxic place. But in no way is this reduced to being a woman. Men also regularly face online threats, but the kind of threats differ. [Semi-off topic: The thing with threats is, that the idiots who post them do not really intend to do whatever they post. They just want to scare you and provoke a reaction, which shows them that they have might over you. Don´t give them the satisfaction. Luckily there is a good way to deal with these people: ignoring them. Their attention span usually is quite low. As a general advice, I would not post something with personal information online, unless you explicitly have no problem to be associated with it from today to the end of your life. Think before you post your personal information online.] Of course the notion, that the online gaming community is dangerous is total bullshit. Ask yourself: How often have you heard about murders or other crimes, which have been committed due to threats from internet trolls? Exactly.

    Passage 8: Another encounter with the police. This time the police obviously advises the author to disassociate herself from the gaming community, as she would otherwise face the consequence of being killed at some point. I´m unable to assess whether this discussion took place in the way it was presented, but I highly doubt, that the police would advise her to quit gaming because she might get killed. This is dubious. On the other hand, there is something to take away from this. If you are indeed harassed by individuals, you can and should disassociate yourself from them. But this doesn´t equal to giving up your hobbies.

    Passage 9: In this passage the author criticizes the idea, that a woman might need to be able to protect herself. [Semi-off topic: While I agree that in an ideal world there would be no crime, preparing oneself for the eventuality can prevent further harm. A common theme of SJW is the notion, that men need to be taught not to rape. Sadly, they don´t realize, that you can´t teach a criminal not to be criminal. If such a thing was possible, there wouldn´t be any crimes. But once again, this idea shifts the view from “criminal offenders are the problem” to “men are the problem”. Don´t get me wrong. It sucks to be a woman, and to have to prepare yourself to fight back against violence. But in practice this is the only thing you can do. Perpetrators look for victims, not for opponents.] Then all men are identified as the problem, as they either commit the harassment, or don´t actively stop it. I´m also starting to question, what people the author associated with. In her description it sounds, like she regularly meets up alone with people she does not really know. Even I as a white male (shocking!) wouldn´t do that. There usually is a way to get to know people while you are in a group of friends. There you should be able to judge, if the new person is a threat. Next up is political correctness. Yes, there are people who make offending jokes once and again, but if you can´t handle a person´s attitude either tell them, or stop hanging out with them. It´s really that simple. If someone is an asshole, you won´t miss him. On the other hand, if you are offended by everything that is just the slightest bit controversial, you might find yourself isolated. But this is all very subjective, and everyone has to find a balance for himself.

    Passage 10: This describes a coworker, who is not fit to do his job. Usually you can´t have a successful shop, if you are subtly insulting your customers. While once again nobody is able to verify this story, it just sounds dumb. But alleged racism is always a strong emotional argument.

    Passage 11: Racism incident #2. While this also could have happened, their examples seem to represent her employer in a pretty bad light. But well, it obviously proves, that sometimes white men can indeed be racist against people of color. It´s not, that this was an individual.

    Passage 12: Now the author tells us, that she is subject to multiple instances of sexual assaults over a 7-year timespan. While, again, no proof is given, and it´s a purely anecdotal description. I really wonder why this person seems to be unable to get any form of help against these alleged incidents. And I still don´t buy the “The police won´t do anything about it” Story.

    Passage 13: A description of a dinner conversation about disassociating from communities and individuals, that in some way seem to have offended other individuals. It´s not that unreasonable to stop seeing people who are hostile towards you, but being offended is a subjective matter. The reader can´t really asses if these people were reasonable or simply overreacted.

    Passage 14: There is not even much information in this. A discussion between the author and her husband. The essence: Gaming is dangerous, because I say so. And at some unspecified point in the future I will prove this!

    Passage 15: Another anecdotal point about harassment at gaming stores. The essence is again: Gaming is dangerous, that´s why women don´t go to game stores. Is there any factual proof for this, dear author? I guess the answer would be: “Of course, didn´t you listen to what I just told you?”

    Passage 16: Another story of sexual harassment somewhere. Again there is a conspirative element to it, as direct witnesses seem to deny that it happened and instead mock the author. The situation just sounds very unrealistic.

    Passage 17: This passage is about me, since I, as a straight white male, am obviously unable to recognize all of these instances of so called “terrorism” as what they are. Assholes like me completely lack any form of empathy, and they even dare to not just “listen and believe”, but instead want to know about the circumstances and the involved individuals, to let the authorities deal with the situation. And as we all know: Every organized event, that does not explicitly ban any form of harassment does not only condone it, but even promotes this kind of behavior. It´s not, as if we don´t have laws that are there to protect the society from criminal individuals. Sorry, but at this point I just have to use sarcasm. By the way: The link given in context about a harassment study does not point to the study. But following the arguments about 17000 attendees being harassed at a certain convention: It would be very interesting to see the numbers of reports of harassment following these events.

    Passage 18: Another instance of something that might or might not have happened. Apparently, not even the author was able to identify alleged culprit. I really don´t know, what the author expected from the other persons, who were focused on something else. Just imagine the outcry, if she found out, that another person was starring on her ass while the incident happened…

    Passage 19: Finally, the last point, I´m a bit tired now. So, in a nutshell: Victims can´t go to the police because all men protect criminal sex offenders. Gaming is dangerous for women and any women involved will sooner or later face rape or death. Gaming culture equals rape culture, as all men either harass women, or tolerate harassment of women. Men need to “Listen and Believe” and uncritically agree with the authors opinion. By the way: Please harass this company (they might not be assholes, but probably they are).

    After this long winded post, we finally come to an end. I hope it´s a bit clearer for you now, why I´m very skeptical regarding the authenticity of the article in question. It is rife of SJW terminology and summarizes the whole gaming community as one large mysagonistic, racist, sexist, homophobic collective. Blaming generic groups for the faults of some individuals is guilt by association. This renders all objective discussion moot, and we should know where these things lead to. I´m not in a position to assess whether the claims of the author are true or not, but I can easily identify, that I´m lacking objective facts to take her word at face value.

    Sorry for the length, but I really hope it might provoke you to reconsider your view on this subject. While it might sound a bit incriminating in some parts, it´s not about you, Michael, as a person, but about this dangerous new ideology, that tries to infect persons who I consider to be my friends as well as critical thinkers.

    Disclaimer: I consider my view to be egalitarian. There is no need for modern feminism to be about privileging women, as a compensation for the wrongs of the past. Instead we should focus to right the wrongs where they are indeed still present, but not at the cost of discriminating people based on gender (neither positive nor negative).

    Kind Regards

  6. How interesting – write an article on bigoted creeps, and, voila, the creeps come out from under their rocks to whine about how they’re the real oppressed minority.

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