Here in Ars, we have seen on several occasions that table simulator is one of the best ways to play virtual versions of physical games over long distances. But developer Berserk Games is now facing controversy over its chat moderation policies and alleged treatment of LGBTQ discussions. In response, the developer has now removed the global chat feature from the game and announcement a “renewed commitment to creating a culture that values inclusivity in board games and in the world”.
Keep it on topic?
The recent controversy started when a player going through the Xoe handle published a detailed Google document document what she called “the suppression of gay/trans identities” in table simulatorglobal cat. The chat logs cited in this document include numerous instances of temporary bans being issued right after Xoe discussed his personal sexual or gender identity in chat.
In these cases, the moderators cited published rules that “chat is expected to be family-friendly and centered around Tabletop Simulator, tabletop games, and chatting with other players.” The moderators specifically told Xoe that “discussing sexuality has no place in the world chat” and that “table simulator consists of playing table games, not a place to discuss sexuality, fetishes, politics [emphasis added]. Keep this in your private lobbies or public discussions where these things are the topic of discussion.”
When asked why discussion of personal sexuality or gender identity fits into these categories, a moderator told Xoe that the global chat is primarily for gamers looking for a group to hang out with. play and was not intended to “bicker about differing points of view…we ban people for their identity is a misinterpretation and hyperbolization of this policy. All we ask is that you discuss board games, rather than sensitive topics unrelated to what table simulator is about.”
Writing in Google Doc, however, Xoe said discussing personal sexual and gender identity is necessary for some when looking for a support group of gamers to participate in a game. Banning this kind of talk makes some gamers feel left out, wrote Xoe:
Removing identity tells these people that it is not safe to be themselves in these spaces… It sets a precedent that you are not welcome here, that you can be here as long that you leave your identity marginalized at the door. When other people are allowed to talk about their straight cis experiences but queer and trans people are silenced, you use your platform to say that only straight and cis people are accepted here.
What if we didn’t talk at all?
Berserk Games has not ignored the issues raised by Xoe. Early last week, the company announcement he had “decided to remove the global chat as we re-evaluate our moderation process, as we clearly have shortcomings”. The company apologized for the prohibitions outlined above and emphasized that it “has not condoned and does not condone the equating of sexual orientation/gender identity with fetishes, politics or sentiment. anti-family”.
Friday, the company followed with an announcement saying that he has “decided to officially remove world chat for good”. The move comes after what Berserk Games called “a lot of time evaluating our company-wide practices” and a realization that while “we never intended to create a -open form for discussing the hobby we all love…we obviously fell short of that standard.”
Berserk also announced that it will donate $10,000 to the National Center for Transgender Equality, and he plans a series of blog posts highlighting the work of LGBTQ+ members of the gaming community. These movements are “just the first step in our renewed commitment to creating a culture that values inclusivity in gaming. society and the world,” Berserk wrote.
So far, this decision does not seem to have quelled the controversy among the table simulator community. the recent Steam reviews for the title are now overwhelmed with discussions about team moderation decisions, removal of world chat, and trans issues in general. The spike in these reviews has activated Steam’s “review bomb” mitigation policies for what the service calls “an anomalous set of reviews that we believe are largely unrelated to the likelihood that you enjoy the product”.
Xoe Noted that Berserk has reached out to personally apologize and that the moderator in question has apparently been removed from the team. But after being “portrayed as a deceptive assassin” for raising these issues, Xoe wrote, “I got rid of STT entirely, and I don’t know when I’ll feel emotionally safe to use it, even to test other people’s prototypes.”