Novelist and comic book creator Jon Del Arroz announced he plans to sue The Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA) after the organization suspended him for “hate speech and bullying.”
After being accepted as a member of The Game Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Del Arroz introduced himself to the group’s private Facebook group.
He wrote, “Thank you everyone for the warm welcome! I’m very excited to be working with TGG Games as well as starting the process and design of my own card game. For those who don’t know me, I’m Jon Del Arroz, the Leading Hispanic voice in science fiction. I’m a #1 bestselling author and an award winning comic creator, and I’ve loved board games my whole life.”
He went on to detail some of the work he’s previously done, “I’ve done some small work in the sphere doing lore and art direction work for AEG for their Doomtown: Reloaded, as well as some lore work for The Captain Is Dead which are both excellent games. I’ve also written the novelization for Star Realms.”
Next, he shared some of his favorite games, “Card games are my favorites (which is why I’m designing one) with my faves being: Summoner Wars, Star Realms, Doomtown, Imperial Settlers, and Ashes: Reborn. My family also likes to play some medium weight board games like Paladins of the West Kingdom, Five Tribes, Above & Below to name a few.”
Del Arroz concluded, “Just sinking y teeth into industry work and I hope I can make this a nice chunk of my career along with my hit books and comics to help make board gaming the most diverse and inclusive place possible. Cheers!”
In response to his post, Rodney Smith, who runs the YouTube channel Watch It Played wrote, “Jon says below that he’s here to ‘help make board gaming the most diverse and inclusive place possible’. Perhaps some of you might want to watch this video from Jon:”
Smith continued, “When referring to characters in DC comics who have come out as gay or pansexual, Jon says: ‘they are so tied into the weird identify spirals, that they don’t have any *normal* people.’ Who are the normal people Jon? Who are the abnormal Jon?”
He then questioned, “Perhaps the GAMA board members can let us know who they think the normal people are?”
Next, Smith took issue with another of Del Arroz’s YouTube videos writing, “Or this: The Top 5 HOTTEST Board Game Reviewers!:”
“Perhaps the GAMA board members can let us know who *they* think the hottest board game reviewers are? Take a look through Jon’s YouTube channel to get a sense of how he wants to contribute to diversity inclusion in the hobby,” Smith wrote.
He concluded, “I will await the hit piece video Jon will now be fueled to make about me because of this post. Or will he feel compelled not to because I’ve called for it? Who can say? His reaction is irrelevant to me. I’m mostly curious about the reaction of the other GAMA members.”
Smith would claim on Twitter, his post was actually removed by GAMA Facebook moderators while reposting it.
He claimed, “I made a post today to the GAMA FB group after seeing that Jeff Bergren had hired Jon Del-Arroz and both were now GAMA members. The post was removed by moderators for violating posting rules, so I’m posting it here in the hopes that other GAMA members see it.”
In a second post, he added, “Who GAMA keeps as its members is their business. But membership should be aware of who they’re welcoming to their club. If they know, and are cool with it, fine. At least we (and they) then know what’s acceptable conduct from their industry partners.”
He concluded, “Also, in case it’s not clear, Jon’s YouTube video about who the “hottest” reviewers are, is not talking about hotness in the way gamers generally use it to describe popular games. He’s using it the *other* way.”
GAMA’s Twitter account would respond to Smith on Twitter noting they were investigating the situation and explained why Smith’s original post was removed.
They tweeted, “Full disclosure, we are investigating. We remove the post to avoid a flame war between members, which is prohibited on our FB group. I hope it makes it clearer.”
They would also encourage Smith to lodge a formal complaint tweeting, “Code of conduct is here with a form to complain. I understand it looks bad and slow but all organizations need a due process. Feel free to fill it in.”
GAMA member Eric Lang would also react to Smith’s post being removed from the Facebook group by describing Del Arroz as a “serial harasser.”
He tweeted, “After learning that Rodney Smith’s post highlighting a serial harasser’s pattern of abuse and violations was erased, I followed up with GAMA.”
“Let’s be clear, though: this is not a ‘GAMA is the enemy’ post. It’s a renewed public reminder that harassers don’t disappear,” Lang added.
He then proceeded to share a screenshot of a post he shared to their Facebook group. It reads, “Welcoming a member who has been banned from multiple social media platforms for hate speech violations and a pattern of public attacks on minority creators (leading to their harassment and then silencing a post from a highly respected content creator warning about this behaviour pattern (using clear citations) … is not conducive to a safe environment to our minority members.”
“I understand the need for decorum and process, but on matters of harassment like this I urge the matter to be taken urgently and in good faith by leadership,” he concluded.
Lang would continue his thread tweeting, “Industry spaces, especially in trade, are VERY hard to moderate (and I don’t envy GAMA’s responsibility in this). However, they must be. A good faith vetting process is required, as is accountability + swift corrective action when there’s a mistake.”
“This is nothing new, by the way. It’s part of a pattern. Harassers will often mendaciously attempt to sneak into public spaces under false pretence (particularly under the guise of “being one of the good guys”) They rely on two things: leadership passivity and overreaction,” he wrote.
Next, he tweeted, “Leadership passivity allows them to thrive in public space without accountability for their abuse, and overreaction gives them fuel to cry bullshit like “cancel culture!” and gather reactionaries under their banner. But silence is not an option. Inaction is not an option.”
“Some recommendations: Please don’t name or signal boost harassers,” Lang wrote. “And _definitely_ do not engage with them. That’s exactly what they want; They’ll use your clever takedown as fuel for their ‘cancel culture’ narrative. Block block block block.”
“This bears restating: Even on the timeline of a content creator under fire, it’s not helping them for you to “own” their harasser. It helps the harasser. Best harm reduction: block the troll, all their followers, and all who liked the harassing post,” he concluded the thread.
GAMA would eventually announced that Del Arroz was suspended for 28 days for violating the group’s rules on hate speech and bullying. Although they did not provide any specific examples.
The organization tweeted, “Earlier today, it came to the attention of GAMA staff that a new member was involved in many instances of behavior and activities that are in violation of our Facebook group’s rules.”
“During this time, the involved accounts have been suspended up to 28 days due to their violation of rule #8 [Hate speech and bullying],” they added.
Next, they announced a new code of conduct, “As a note, GAMA has instituted a new code of conduct. You can find this information here with ways to voice your concerns. We value the health and safety of our membership and will continue to monitor this situation closely.”
Del Arroz would then announce he does plan on suing GAMA. He tweeted, “I will 100% sue them for libel if they’re going to go down this route and mess with me when all I did was say hello and express interest in making games.”
He would also address the suspension on his YouTube channel saying, “I think it’s important to speak out. I think it’s important to say this kind of behavior is not acceptable in industries and I think it’s important to be a voice of an alternative so that people can know they are not alone out there against these mobs.”
He further added, “If you just speak out. If you just say these guys are harassing somebody for no reason, they can’t do this anymore. They lose their power. That’s what they are desperately afraid of, and that’s why they push so hard.”
Del Arroz previously successfully sued WorldCon76 after they attempted to label him a racist. WorldCon76 Chair Kevin Roche issued an apology to Del Arroz as part of his settlement with him, “SFSFC acknowledges the importance of reputation, especially for a relatively new author, and regrets that its public statement about barring his attendance might have led people unfamiliar with Mr. Del Arroz and his work to infer that he is or was a racist.”
He continued, “For that, SFSFC apologizes. This attendance ban was specific to the Worldcon 76 events produced by SFSFC, and Mr. Del Arroz has the same opportunity as other members of the public to register for future SFSFC events.”
“Worldcon 76 does not tolerate discrimination in any form — including through cosplay — based on but not limited to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical/mental health conditions,” Roche added.
He concluded, “SFSFC firmly believes that healthy political discourse requires active, mutual, good faith participation by members of the community with differing opinions.”
The San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions Inc. also agreed to pay Del Arroz $4,000.
What do you make of GAMA suspending Jon Del Arroz and his threat of suing them?