RPG: Kickstarter’s Head Of Community Cancels Campaign Amid Controversy
A Kickstarter Collection titled ‘The Perfect RPG’ has been canceled after designer Adam Koebel was revealed to be one of the contributors.
Over the weekend, Kickstarter’s VP Head of Community Luke Crane, launched a project of his own, titled The Perfect RPG, which was to be a zine-style anthology of RPGs from multiple contributors. But after it came to light that one of the contributors was designer Adam Koebel.
Adam Koebel, co-creator of Dungeon World, a fantasy RPG Powered by the Apocalypse, and then-streamer with Roll20, faced public backlash after a roleplaying a non-consensual sexual assault scene during a livestreamed game of the Far Verona campaign. After the initial controversy, Koebel issued a public apology, widely criticized for not acknowledging his role in the unfolding scene. Later that year, Modiphius announced it was parting ways with Koebel, who had been slated to work on the upcoming Dune RPG.
After Crane announced The Perfect RPG on Twitter, the discussion around the announcement quickly turned to questions about Koebel’s involvement with the project. On the project’s Kickstarter page, the initial contributor list was ordered reverse alphabetically, and included many big names in the RPG scene, like D. Vincent and Meguey Baker. Koebel’s name appeared last.
Initial responses expressed dismay, and many of the creators involved withdrew, stating that they hadn’t known that Koebel was among the contributors, alongside anger or confusion at his inclusion.
Hey folks, you may have seen my name on this. When I contributed I did not know the full list of contributors or the final campaign structure. Based the final campaign I've asked that my name be pulled. https://t.co/iiHMO6Yr8fAdvertisement
— sage latorra (@olde_fortran) February 27, 2021
That’s Sage LaTorra, the other co-creator of Dungeon World, expressing his withdrawal from the project.
By the end of the day, Luke Crane canceled his project, though public backlash continued to build in response to the cancellation, which came in the form of a project update titled “That Went Well.” The Kickstarter page’s contributor list had been redacted “to avoid harassment” though, none of the designers involved have expressed that they have been harassed.
I was not harassed out of the project. I had something sprung on me, was pissed off, said so, thought it over a bit, and pulled my work. Shortly after that, the project folded.
— Meguey-shaped spooky bundle of bits (@NightSkyGames) March 2, 2021Advertisement
Quite the contrary, here’s a thread from Meguey Baker outlining the events from her own perspective. According to Baker, she was not “badgered, bullied, censored, or harassed into leaving the project,” but rather did so because she could not stand by it. Other authors have expressed similar experiences.
I don't have much to say about the Perfect RPG thing. Just that I found out on Twitter, same as most of us. Meg and I called Luke when we found out. After the call, we decided to pull our submissions. We told Luke later in the afternoon, a bit before he canceled.
— Vincent Baker ❧ Defund & Abolish (@lumpleygames) March 2, 2021
Notable designer Eric Lang has issued a statement on the matter, expressing his own dismay at Crane’s behavior.
Luke Crane is a friend and esteemed industry peer, who is doing a big thing very badly.Advertisement
I hated writing every single word of this, but when it comes to protecting our community, you don't get to cherry pick: pic.twitter.com/P3zChTuDBN
— Eric Lang (@eric_lang) March 1, 2021
Crane’s statement reads as follows:
An open letter to Luke Crane:
We talk a lot about how to make the hobby industry safer for women and marginalized professionals. Lots of talk – words that make us feel good, righteous, worthy.
Then we get put to the test. And that’s when we find out if the words have any meaning.
You are our esteemed peer, with earned respect and accolades for miles. You are also, as the head of Community at Kickstarter (former head of Games) in a position of great power and influence. People all over the industry listen to you; look up to you; respect you.
You are also doing a big thing very badly.
The salient point I want to address is this: you stealthily lent your social and political capital to a creator who committed an egregious sexually violent act on a highly public RPG stream. That creator then apologized (ish), quietly disappeared from the scene and now resurfaced on your project … unbeknownst to the other creative collaborators.Advertisement
This is an abuse of trust and very hurtful to those who would never willfully associate with this man, and had to find out in public (causing them no end of grief on social media). This is also lending your power and credibiliity to a man whose recent act very clearly flags him as “unsafe” at minimum until he does a lot of work to rebuild that trust. And maybe not even then.
Framing the cancellation of the kickstarter around a narrative of harassment only feeds the anti-cancel culture trolls who I _guarantee_ are harassing most of the content creators who trusted you with their work.
You are doing a big thing very badly.
You owe, at minimum, a meaningful pulic apology to those whose trust you abused. You owe a public apology to those who would never dare ask this of you in public for fear of their careers. More than that,, you (and all of us who ever covered for those with abusive behavious) owe it to our community, our hobby, the work to repair and rebuild that trust through meaningful action.
This is one of those times where we’re put to the test. Do we care more about protecting our buddies, or making the industry safer for the ones they hurt?
Please, my friend. I implore you to do right by the community who trusted you.
At press time, Koebel has deleted his Twitter account and Crane has yet to address Koebel’s involvement or why he was concealed from other contributors.