After a controversy over transphobic chat moderation which led to rival review bomb campaigns on Steam, Tabletop Simulator developer Berserk Games has announced that it is closing the game’s global chat channel for good. The studio has also donated an additional $ 10,000 National Center for Gender Equality for Transgender People, an influence group that works “to increase the understanding and acceptance of transgender people.”
The problem began when a desktop simulator user named Xoe was repeatedly fired from global chat and eventually temporarily banned, for sharing the fact that she is gay. Similar announcements about heterosexual sexuality did not trigger any kicks, and attempts to clarify the matter failed. When the situation became widely known, both negative and positive user reviews – many containing actual homophobic and transphobic feelings – peaked on Steam. Berserk Games eventually disabled global chat while working to improve its moderation policy, but has now decided to eliminate it completely.
“We apologize for harming the Tabletop Simulator community, especially those from the LGBTQ + community,” Berserk Games said in a Twitter message. “With global chat, we only intended to create an open platform to discuss the hobby we all love, but we have obviously fallen below that standard and therefore we have decided to officially take down global chat for good.
“Over the past week, we have spent a lot of time evaluating our company-wide practices. We understand that our silence may have been perceived as passivity, but we realize the seriousness of this situation and believe it needed to be discussed and treated with careful and deliberate consideration.”
Together with the donation to the National Center for Transgender Equality, Berserk Games also undertook a series of demonstrations of TTS content created by members of the LGBTQ + community. It also continues to review its moderation policies “to ensure everyone has an inclusive place to enjoy our great hobby of table games.”
“We promise that these measures are only the first step in our renewed commitment to creating a culture that values inclusion in board games and the world,” Berserk wrote. “We appreciate all the feedback and suggestions from the wonderful TTS community and hope, with hard work, to regain the trust and respect of the Tabletop Simulator family.”
Some on Twitter and Reddit has praised the answer, while others see it as either sincere or ugly; a few have asked Berserk to let the owners refund the game (probably without restrictions) to show their remorse. Xoe, whose experiences triggered the uprising, continued Twitter that Berserk’s statement is “undoubtedly good” if it is true, but that she needs to “see receipts to believe them”.
“I’ve completely resigned from TTS, and I do not know when I’ll feel emotionally safe using it, even to play test other people’s prototypes. I’m sorry, it feels selfish, but this culmination of events leaves me incapable to engage with a sense of design, or a spirit of fun, “she wrote. “I can not decide for you if you can use TTS again. I just ask that you consider,” I want closure so that I know that society is properly respected and honored, or is it so that I do not have to laboriously adopt new infrastructure without such harmful patterns? ‘”
Creators of LGBTQ + Table Simulators who want to appear in Berserk’s upcoming showcases can submit their work here.