Paizo's position on Zak S?


Paizo General Discussion


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It's been over a month since credible accusations of sexual and emotional abuse were made against RPG designer Zak S. Many leaders in the RPG industry issued statements condemning him (including WotC, GenCon, and DriveThruRPG). One voice that was conspicuous in its silence is Paizo's.

While I don't believe this individual has ever done work for Paizo, products he'd written had once been for sale at the Paizo online store. (Those products seem to have been quietly removed, and I do applaud their removal.)

Some individual Paizo staff members have made public statements of support for the people Zak preyed upon, and you should be commended. Thank you!

But as a leader in a small industry, I believe that Paizo has a responsibility to protect its customers and fans from malicious actors like Zak S, and to publicly condemn such people when their actions come to light. We are a small community, and we cannot allow predators in our midst.

So, Paizo: Will an official statement be forthcoming?

I believe Mandy.
I believe Vivka.
I believe Hannah.
I believe Jennifer.


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Meh. What does this have to do with anything here? Are you forcing them to make a statement on something that has nothing to do with this website?


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PFRPGrognard wrote:
Meh. What does this have to do with anything here? Are you forcing them to make a statement on something that has nothing to do with this website?

No, I am asking them to make a statement in support of promoting a safe and welcoming community. Predators like Zak (and his supporters) should have no place in our community, and I believe that should be made abundantly clear.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Haladir wrote:
No, I am asking them to make a statement in support of promoting a safe and welcoming community.

Paizo has done that. Many, many times. They're conspicuously inclusive and supportive.

Quote:
Predators like Zak (and his supporters) should have no place in our community, and I believe that should be made abundantly clear.

To be absolutely clear, I know zero about this specific issue except what you have brought to the table. In your opening paragraph, you indicate an individual is accused of a crime. Not convicted, accused. I am fully aware that sexual accusations are complicated and that there's an - understandable - recent push towards placing the burden of defense on the accused. That said, publicly prodding a company to make PR statements on a situation that isn't backed by law is a bit disingenuous, regardless of what other companies have decided to do. Frankly it's most appropriate for individual staff members to register their personal views and support (or hypothetically lack thereof) and for the company entity to stay silent until and unless legal actions conclude.

Finally, the topic of sexual assault is a very real-world one, and the RPG hobby is about fantasy escapism. I personally don't thank you for dragging real-world muck into the game forum while trying to shame Paizo into making a statement. As sympathetic as I may be to the alleged victims and as repulsed as I am by predators, I respectfully recommend moving this to off-topic so I don't need to start my day depressed.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

(I deleted my post because I decided I needed time to word things more thoughtfully. Just noting that here in case some weirdo thinks Paizo "silenced" me or something (though I was speaking in their defense)


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I feel this would be better handled via email, personally (not least of all because I think a statement of the kind you’re referring to loses a lot of power coming after a heated debate on a company’s forum).

EDIT: I didn’t mean to imply anyone here was being heated and/or aggressive. I meant it could easily go that way and I think that would ultimately detract from the message (should it eventuate).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Vivka Grey's statement

Mandy Morbid's statement

Sweeping this under the rug won't make it go away.

The TTRPG hobby has a long and shameful history of marginalization of underrepresented voices, and outright harrassment. How many voices don't we hear because of toxicity on these very boards?

Zak has a well-documented history of leading targeted online harrassment campaigns.Just by bringing this up, I'm painting a giant target on my back for Zak's army of online harrassers... I post here under a screen-name, but it is not hard to find my real one. A risk I'm willing to take.

I agree that Paizo has said much to promote open and welcoming gaming, and has tried to bring underrepresented voices to the table. With mixed results.

But I think that, as an industry leader, Paizo's silence was deafening.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

People like him love being the center of attention. Dropping him without fanfare and moving on seems like the best-case scenario in this situation.


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So how many statements do you want?

Do you require individual statements from everyone in the company? Do you want it broken down like a group blog post.

I haunt many gaming websites. The first I heard of this is here, from you.

This thread is inappropriate for this forum as are your demands. If you want to show your support for the individuals involved, then follow your own links and go support them.


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I don't think it's reasonable to demand statements from Paizo on every scandal that comes along. It seems to me that most of the statements from big players in the industry were from those that had worked with him or otherwise featured him and thus had a real connection to repudiate. That seems an appropriate place to think some official statement should be made. More than just "in the same industry".

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

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Adding on to what thejeff said: WotC spoke out because Zak S had a large role in Next's playtest, and they were noting that he would no longer be credited. GenCon was noting he would be banned from attending; he has been an active participant and attender before. DriveThruRPG, which carries many of his products, decided to remove those products.

In other words, all of the people in the industry who have spoken out/cut him lose had connections to him and therefore are distancing themselves. We can absolutely hope they are doing this in good faith because they genuinely want to repudiate someone accused of a terrible crime and stand by his victims. But even if they weren't, they have legal and public-relations reasons to distance themselves from this person.

To the best of my knowledge--please correct me if I am wrong--Zak S has no previous ties to Paizo. Searching for his name on the store reveals nothing.

Paizo--and any other RPG company who hasn't already made a statement or who has no ties to Zak S--has little reason to make a statement. Indeed, companies who have no connection to this man's (alleged, which I note for legal reasons; I believe the victims) activities are better off NOT making a statement, lest they get themselves embroiled in possibly ongoing investigations against this man. Why? If they say something, it sounds like they have a past connection (even if they don't), then they get drawn into the investigation, and that pulls resources away from legitimate leads and evidence.

In short, does not make sense for Paizo--or Green Ronin, or Fantasy Flight Games, or Pinnacle Entertainment or what have you (is anyone demanding statements from them?)--to get involved in this, and indeed it is best they don't, so investigations into this a%+@+$@ remain as uncomplicated as possible.

I am a woman who has been a member of this community for over 10 years; I have sometimes worked as an Independent Contractor for Paizo as well (but to be clear I do not represent Paizo's opinions on this matter). As a fan, customer, and contractor I have always felt safe, heard and respected by Paizo's staff. This includes when other community members have made me feel unsafe or behaved unsafely toward other members--I have seen them bend over backwards to help me and others feel and stay safe. As a freelance editor, when I brought up concerns about stuff I saw in products that might even be /barely/ offensive to someone (very rare incidences), they always listened and removed the questionable content.

I have every confidence that Paizo--a company run by a woman who is also a survivor--does what it needs to do keep people safe and stand by victims of sexual abuse and harassment. Sometimes that means making a public statement. OTHER times it means remaining quiet and letting proper legal authorities and procedures do their thing.

I have to say it is very hard for me--also a survivor of sexual abuse and harassment, and close to many other victims of sexual abuse and harassment--to see "demands" on Paizo and other people like this and NOT presume it is self-aggrandizement in the guise of consciousness-raising. Or indeed, trying to just make Paizo, a company well known for supporting women and the LGBTQ+ community, look hypocritical in order to be spiteful. Either way, I know that if I were a victim of this guy's mistreatment, I would not want to see some rando male stranger from the Internet speaking "on my behalf" (which I likely assuredly did not ask him to do) to demand statements from completely uninvolved parties about what happened to me. I would not feel like it was helpful. I would, in fact, feel used. I might also feel more vulnerable in a situation in which I probably already feel extremely unsafe.

In spite of this, I hope, Haladir, you are making your own statements out of a sincere, if perhaps misdirected, concern for these four women. But if they did not ask you to speak for them, I don't think it's right for you to demand statements from companies on their behalf. Raise consciousness and tell people what happened, sure. Ask people, including Paizo, to boycott and not promote this person's products (again, Paizo doesn't appear to sell his stuff anyway). You can be genuinely helpful without grandstanding and making demands on parties not involved in the situation. Thank you.


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DeathQuaker wrote:

To the best of my knowledge--please correct me if I am wrong--Zak S has no previous ties to Paizo. Searching for his name on the store reveals nothing.

I can't verify, but Haladir does say in the first post "products he'd written had once been for sale at the Paizo online store. (Those products seem to have been quietly removed, and I do applaud their removal.)"

Still, that's much less than actually doing work with him and selling his stuff here is likely a much smaller part of Paizo's business model than of DriveThruRPGs.


I too would like to see a proper response from Paizo on this issue, but I think Steve Geddes has a good point. A direct email (or phone call, for that matter) might be a better option for this kind of thing.

I honestly don't think a thread in the General Discussion section of this forum will have any real effect. The real issue will be muddied down by back-and-forths.

Better to send an email addressing your issues in a direct manner, methinks.

Paizo Employee VP of Marketing & Licensing

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Paizo stands with the victims of harassment/abuse and condemns those responsible. We've addressed these issues in the past, and our stance hasn't changed. You can read the statement from CEO Lisa Stevens here: Community Guidelines

-Jim


Jim Butler wrote:

Paizo stands with the victims of harassment/abuse and condemns those responsible. We've addressed these issues in the past, and our stance hasn't changed. You can read the statement from CEO Lisa Stevens here: Community Guidelines

-Jim

Hmm. I have thoughts. I'll refrain from sharing them here, though.

Thank you for addressing the issue, Jim.

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