Tabletop Simulator found itself at the center of a duel comment bomb campaign on Steam after a user who complained they were gay and transgender was kicked out and temporarily banned from the game’s global chat channel.
The problems started earlier this month, when a desktop emulator user named Xoe said she was repeatedly kicked out of the game’s global chat channel for sharing the fact that she was gay. Subsequent efforts to clarify the details of the chat moderation policy culminated in the channel being temporarily banned; an email sent to desktop emulator developer Berserk Games went unanswered.
Xoe then went to the desktop emulator Discord, where she was told that the global chat channel was mainly for players who wanted to join the game, “not to discuss sex, fetishes, [or] politics. But later efforts to push the boundaries in chat, by talking about being outspoken or in favor of prison abolition — sexual and political, but not queer — didn’t elicit such a response.
One moderator, Tyam, tried to explain these issues during the discussion, saying Berserk Games was just trying to avoid a worse outcome. “The fact that nearly every instance of this language in Global Chat is used in a way different from what Xoe advocates has resulted in these topics being on the ‘inappropriate’ list since Global Chat began,” they wrote. “As much as I enjoy discussing the merits of internet censorship, there are only a few keywords that lead to bans, and to be honest, most of them are ad hoc and automated.”
The problem with this approach, Xoe said in an article Lengthy Google Docs Describing her experience in detail, it was “impossible to find the queer community in chat, or ask about queer games in chat.”
“You can’t ask for games with gay/trans representation or about gay/trans experiences because you’ll get kicked,” she wrote. “It was considered a violation of their rules.”
“The suppression of identities tells those people that it’s not safe to be themselves in those spaces. I occasionally see people joking about celebrating their queerness, people saying they like to be gay and so on, and I think all of them have to There were the same kicks that I did when I joined. It set a precedent that you are not welcome here, you can be here as long as you leave your marginalized identity at the door.”
Shortly after Xoe posted the document, Berserk Games issued a statement calling the whole thing a misunderstanding: Xoe was kicked out of the channel not for expressing her identity, but “for trying to be seen as disruptive by sending different keywords. mark.”
a day later it Disable global chat It’s all about redefining its moderation policy.
“The purpose of the moderation team is to maintain global communication on the topic of board games and reduce toxicity and hatred,” the studio said. “Desktop Emulator recognizes that our current global chat review process has failed to uphold its original intent, and we apologize for that and to anyone who has been hurt or felt unwelcome over the past few days, as this was never our intent.”
One of the moderators involved, Chry, also apologized for the “thoughtful response” [that] Pain, emotional harm, and reputational damage have been done. “
Xoe’s complaint is fair: “You’re using your platform to say that only straight and cis people are accepted here when others are allowed to talk about their heterosexual experiences but gay and trans people are silenced,” she wrote. . For now, Berserk’s response also seems reasonable. Xoe also admits that she doesn’t think Berserk is “a conscious, intentional attempt to bring harm to the LGBT community or that they have an anti-LGBT agenda.” But when her experience became more widely known, it quickly — not Avertedly, really – turned into a culture war clash. steam.
Negative user reviews for Tabletop Simulator started rising on Jan. 8 and spiked two days later, largely due to complaints about the developer’s transphobia and homophobia and statements in support of trans rights. But there was a similar uptick in positive reviews, many of which, unfortunately, expressed actual transphobia and homophobia.
These competitive bombing campaigns have a relatively small number of reviews compared to the overall total: 674 negative reviews and 568 positive reviews since January 8, which is the desktop emulator’s nearly 30,000 “absolutely positive” since its launch ” in a small selection of user reviews. 2015. Still, the sudden influx was enough to trigger Steam’s automatic anti-comment bomb system: all user comments (both positive and negative) posted after January 7th were flagged as “off topic”, meaning they would remain visible but not Affects the calculation of review scores.
But while the raw numbers may not add up, toxicity in the Tabletop Simulator community appears to be a real problem, and Berserk needs to do something about it. The studio’s initial response seemed sincere and encouraging, but Xoe says she won’t be back no matter what happens.
“Thank you for saying that trans rights are human rights, but when you told me before that it was inappropriate to share with others, it sounded hollow,” she wrote. “I will share my pride elsewhere, screentop.gg It looks promising. “
I’ve reached out to Berserk Games for comment and will update if I hear back.