After first coming under fire for their refusal to publicly support the Black Lives Matter organization, which resulted in a mass of exhibitors withdrawing in protest from an upcoming online convention, The Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has cancelled the convention and promised to match a donation of the proceeds raised by the event.
On June 10th, numerous creators and members of the board game community publicly announced that they would be withdrawing from GAMA’s Origins Online event, a virtual convention meant as a placeholder event for the physical Origins Games Fair due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, due to the absence of a statement of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Hey @originsgames I notice that you have not made a Black Lives Matter statement. Also a bunch of people are no longer working on Origins Online. What’s up with that?
— Emma Larkins #BlackLivesMatter (@emmalarkins) June 10, 2020
I agreed to be on 3 separate panels for @originsgames with a diverse group of presenters and panelists. Now many POC have withdrawn over @TheGAMAOnline refusal to say that Black lives matter. I stand in solidarity and won’t do Origins Online without them.
— Elizabeth Hargrave (@elizhargrave) June 10, 2020
Girls’ Game Shelf will no longer be assisting at Origins. We actively support fostering a more diverse game community and @originsgames silence is deafening. Our industry needs improvement – that starts with openly supporting marginalized voices in this space. Black Lives Matter https://t.co/mwJVxWN0th
— Girls’ Game Shelf (@GirlsGameShelf) June 10, 2020
In support of our friends and colleagues withdrawing from participation in Origins Online, we will not be participating this year. We said Black Lives Matter. We meant it. We said actions speak louder than words. We meant it.
— Restoration Games (@RestorationGame) June 11, 2020
To clarify, the organization did not decry or refuse to support either the official organization or the general movement, but simply had opted to not comment on the ongoing events in the United States.
Following the backlash and numerous withdrawals, GAMA released a statement later that day stating they could not “responsibly hold our virtual convention,” announcing that “Origins Online is cancelled.”
The statement begins, “The Game Manufacturers Association believes that Black Lives Matter. We unequivocally condemn racism and violence against people of color. We have been too late in making that statement with force, and we apologize.”
It continues, “The injustices of today demand that every person of good conscience make clear where they stand and we wish we had been more proactive, more strident, and more effective with our voices. Innocent people of color are being killed in the streets of the communities where we live, and it is not acceptable.”
They then note they won’t be holding their online convention, “We cannot responsibly hold our virtual convention, Origins Online, in this setting. Even if it were possible to hold it, it would not be appropriate to do so. So, we are announcing here that Origins Online is cancelled.”
GAMA also indicated that they would be offering full refunds to exhibitors, sponsors, advertisers, and attendees.
They also indicated they would offer to match “dollar for dollar, any exhibitor, sponsor, advertiser, or vendor who donates the amounts they are owed for Origins Online to” one of several Black Lives Matter supportive charities.
Their statement continued, “Every exhibitor, sponsor, and advertiser will be offered a full refund, as will every gamer who purchased a badge.”
It added, “GAMA will match, dollar for dollar, any exhibitor, sponsor, advertiser, or vendor who donates the amounts they are owed for Origins Online to one of the organizations listed below. It is difficult to predict how many will take this opportunity, but the potential exists for the matched amounts to exceed $100,000, which we wholeheartedly hope will happen. The Board sees this as the next step, but not the final step, in the Association’s journey.”
They then listed the organizations were donations could be made that they would match.
* Black Lives Matter Global Network
* Black Trans Advocacy Coalition
* Columbus Freedom Fund
* The Community Justice Exchange
* The Innocence Project
Finally, they concluded their statement saying, “Further details will be sent to these companies by email in the coming days. The Board thanks every person whose voice reached us in recent hours and days. It is hard, we know, for those voices to speak when they have so much at stake. We are grateful for your persistence, eloquence, and will. GAMA’s vision statement is “A game on every table, a table for every gamer.” We commit to working toward that day.”
Apologizing “for our recent actions and inactions”, GAMA will be hosting “a community conversation on June 23 to gather input and ideas to create actionable steps that will address these issues within our industry and move forward together.”