In a Twitter post last night, user @XoeAllred revealed issues she had recently with the global chat system on the popular virtual gaming platform Tabletop Simulator from Berserk Games. XoeAllred (AKA Katie via her bio, an openly trans pan mom) was banned from the global chat on Tabletop Simulator for talking about being gay. My first thought was: “people actually use the global chat on Tabletop Simulator?” Once I got over that shock, it was replaced with surprise that mentioning that you are gay would result in any kind of ban. At first, I assumed it was a set of automod filters to weed out trolls. But not so.
After reviewing a set of screenshots from her chat history she posted into a google doc, it seems this is the policy per Berserk Games. The moderator told Katie that the discussion of “sexuality, fetishes, or politics” has no place in the global chat. The fact that a person’s sexuality is being lumped in with fetishes and politics as unfriendly topics seems pretty absurd. But you’d assume that the policy was equally applied to all identities. Katie tested this by talking about being CIS/Straight. As you might imagine, no ban resulted. After bringing that fact up with Berserk Games via their discord, the moderator temporarily added bans to those terms to stop trolls or disruptive behavior. But it doesn’t appear that talking about being straight is actually against their policies.
So far there has been no response from Berserk Games, despite many on social media asking for one. In addition, publishers and designers have said they are pulling their mods from Tabletop Simulator until these policies are corrected. For those wishing to read the entire exchange, you can view her google doc here.
Tabletop Simulator has long been one of the popular ways to play board games online, via official and definitely unofficial mods. For those wishing to avoid Tabletop Simulator now, you can check out Tabletop Playground on Steam, Tabletopia, Board Game Arena and Screetop.gg as one of the many alternatives.
Edit 1/10/22: Berserk Games has posted an official response on Reddit:
“Hello Tabletop Simulator community, we once again want to stress our commitment to inclusivity in everything we do and would like to apologize for the handling of a user being ban from global chat. Initially, we were misinformed about the sequence of events as well as the full context of the situation that led to this user’s ban. The subsequent messaging around why this ban took place does not reflect the beliefs or sentiments of Tabletop Simulator. Tabletop Simulator has not and does not condone equating sexual orientation/ gender identity with fetishes, politics, or anti-family friendly sentiment.
At this time we have decided to take down global chat as we reassess our moderation process as clearly, we have some shortcomings. The purpose of the moderation team was to keep global communication on the topic of board games and to reduce toxicity and hate. Tabletop Simulator recognizes that the current moderation process of our global chat has failed to uphold its original intention and we apologize for this as well as anyone who was hurt or made to feel unwelcome the past few days as this was never our intention.
Tabletop Simulator community, we hear you and the entire Tabletop Simulator team is prioritizing our commitment to making the TTS community inclusive and safe for everyone. Community feedback and communication is a key aspect in learning and improving. We hope over time to once again regain your trust and respect.”