Michael A. Stackpole has resigned as an Emeritus Director of the Game Manufacturers Association. He published his resignation letter on his blog January 6:
To the GAMA Board,
It is my great pleasure to have been part of the gaming industry since 1972 when I first discovered it. In 1977 I sold my first article, in 1978 I sold my first game design and in 1979 began working for Flying Buffalo, Inc.. In 1985 I was able to go freelance and since that time I have made my living through creative arts including game design and game based fiction. My work has been honored with Origins awards, and in 1993 I received the GAMA Meritorious Service award, and was a first ballot inductee into the Academy of Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame. I have worked long enough in this industry to have survived many of the companies for whom I worked, and have continued to enjoy fruitful associations with what companies remain.
A long time ago, to honor the industry which gave me my start, I made a personal pledge to serve it however I could. I have been a long time volunteer. I have been an advocate for gaming in perilous times. With Loren Wiseman’s help, in the late 1980s and early 1990s I successfully led the fight against the religious right and their attempts to censor and abolish the games we create, enjoy and share. I still take pride in gamers reporting to me that The Pulling Report enabled them to fight back against anti-game bigotry even to this day. Though the work is difficult, I have been pleased to continue the fight as part of the Industry Watch Committee of GAMA.
The greatest privilege I have had is to serve on the Board of Directors, initially for three years as an elected member, and the last eleven as an Emeritus member. I feel the Emeritus role on the board is a crucial one, since board turnover requires a repository of knowledge so we can avoid the pitfalls of past mistakes, and maintain the benefits of what we have learned in past times.
I regret that I must now tender my resignation from that post.
I have not reached this decision based on any political divide within the Board. I have come to it because the Board is broken. Since June, the board has had more meetings than ever before, and has done less than ever before. In one recent meeting, it took the board 45 minutes to word a resolution empowering a committee to hire a lawyer to negotiate with another lawyer. Three-quarters of an hour, in a meeting scheduled for two hours, which stretched to four.
The board is broken when the organization’s membership indicates its will; and then the board commissions a poll to second guess the membership’s will. When that poll comes back confirming what the membership wants, the board hires a lawyer to tell them they can ignore the membership.
The board is broken when it, having previously enjoyed robust and detailed discussions about GAMA harassment policies, down to the minutia of the structuring of an investigative team to be in place at our shows, chooses only to censure an officer who physically assaulted a female security guard.
The board is broken when, in wishing to discuss me in email, without my being aware of the chain, they actually send it to a list which includes me. (Thought I’d let you know about that so you didn’t think your emails were leaked to me.)
This is not a decision reached easily, and one that comes with profound sadness. During my time in the industry, I have seen incredible change for the better, and an incredible resilience to recover from all manner of disasters—economic, social and board-generated. I have great belief that the gaming industry will survive and thrive in the future. It is bigger than any one person, or a board. It can be defined only by the pleasure and joy it brings everyone it touches, and, therefore, will be eternal.
My resignation is effective 3 PM, 5 January 2019
Michael A. Stackpole
The Game Manufacturers Association has been down a very rocky road this past year:
- May 2018: GAMA runs Origins Game Fair.Shortly after publicizing that Larry Correia had been added as a guest of honor, John Ward, GAMA Executive Director, received so many negative social media comments (on Twitter, particularly) that he announced Correia’s invitation had been rescinded (“Origins Game Fair Drops Larry Correia as Guest”).
- June 2018: Harassment allegations by one participant against another about an experience during the Origins Game Fair received wide coverage. Polygon’s story covered responses from the accused, and by Origins’ administering body, GAMA: “Accusations of sexual harassment rock the board gaming community”.
- August 2018: GAMA announced it would not renew Executive Director John Ward’s contract (however, this was a non-renewal, not an immediate termination, and Ward has continued to assist the transition to new leadership.
- August 2018: Industry news reported GAMA Deputy Director Angela Ward, whose employment was terminated by the Board on July 25, had retained a Columbus, Ohio employment attorney as counsel.
- August 2018: GAMA President Stephen Brissaud initiated an incident with the security staff of Gen Con and was ejected. He was censured by the GAMA Board in September, as referenced above by Stackpole.
- October 2018: A survey of all GAMA members, voting and non-voting showed 72% of respondents favored retaining John Ward (see “GAMA Member Survey Confirms Board’s Executive Director Decision Unpopular”). An earlier member vote at a meeting in September produced a 65% majority vote of confidence in Ward, (see “GAMA Executive Director Ward Gets Vote of Confidence”).
- December 2018: John Stacy took over as GAMA Executive Director. Ward continued to assist with the transition.
[Thanks to BravoLimaPoppa3 for the story.]