I have been thinking about this for a long time and how to voice it without sounding angry, condescending or even biased. But also because I didn’t want to give the wrong explanation by accident. I didn’t want to miscommunicate. So here it goes.
Yes, it is to do with Mike Mearls at WOTC.
Firstly, I believe Mike Mearls did something horrible and gave his support to some disgusting people and thus, by proxy, hurting a ton of other folx in the process. I know some people don’t think there is enough evidence, but the evidence I have seen is enough to make me believe it. You don’t? That’s your call. This is mine. Suck it up if you have to.
I believe getting him put aside was the right thing to do. And putting him aside was enough consequence for me to believe he had done something the company thought was potentially libellous or disastrous because otherwise, a corporation like HASBRO doesn’t admit to responsibility even if it is by action and not words. If you disagree, refer to the previous paragraph.
Now… believe in second chances. I believe in redemption. I believe people can learn and can get better and realise they have fucked up and must do better.
I want to believe that Mearls can do that. I am even prepared to believe he has. Benefit of the doubt and all.
However (there is always one of those) I can’t and won’t believe in redemption without actions and reparations.
And I haven’t seen enough of that.
Yes, I have seen an inspiring WOTC that has done a lot better in terms of game design, publishing, diversity and representation in the last few years. I have seen some of their personnel being vocal about things I am very aligned to.
And now I have seen them bringing back someone who has not earned his redemption through action.
I haven’t heard anything from WOTC about how they have addressed the accusations of sharing information. I haven’t heard anything from Mearls about how he is sorry, he made a mistake…. Not even an attempt.
I am trying to weigh in everything. Even some conspiracy theories that I have found amusing, but I am going to keep as logical as I can.
I reckon Mearls has been reinstated because of some contractual obligation because they haven’t found anything that would technically made him a legal liability, just a PR one. And I reckon that WOTC finds the loss of business that may come from it acceptable. I reckon, by what I hear from some people (no, I will not cite my sources) that his colleagues won’t be happy about having him back.
So I can imagine that things at WOTC are going to be tense for a bit.
What worries me, truth be told, is not that Mearls is back. It is that he is back without any attempt from WOTC to do any restorative action or provide with any reason for us to believe that he won’t be a danger to critics of his friends and/or actions anymore.
There is nothing that WOTC that says “we have put measures in place to make sure the data we have from people is not passed around”. Or “we have done extensive training to address potential issues that could arise based on our customer’s complains”.
Which makes WOTC a dangerous company. Because I have no reason to believe that this won’t happen again.
Also, they haven’t addressed the damage that all of this did.
They haven’t gone to Zak’s victims, to pundit’s victims and given them the same platform to develop and have an input as those two abusers had. There has been ZERO restorative action from WOTC.
So I am going to withdraw some of my support from WOTC for the time being.
Am I turning my back on the company? No. I am going to keep playing D&D with my Friday group because it is what we play. I am going to keep buying the books as they become available in Spain because I want to support my local store.
I am going to keep buying D&D because I love D&D. More than most know.
But I will not be reviewing and recommending their products. I won’t be making The Role Factor based on the topics around D&D I had in mind.
At least not for the time being.
When I feel that it is safe to have Mearls there. When I see that WOTC is doing something, anything, to give a sense of safety, I will come back to them.
And I look forward to that day.
But, right now, I need to see a bit more goodwill from WOTC.