Harassment within gaming

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Harassment within gaming

Post  PaulC on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 09:37

This blog was linked from SUSD this week. It's hard to read, but if there is a grain of truth in it then it's an issue that needs to be tackled.

http://latining.tumblr.com/post/141567276944/tabletop-gaming-has-a-white-male-terrorism-problem

In retrospect it was possibly naive of me to be surprised that behaviour like this existed within the gaming community. Personally I've only ever witnessed acceptance of any and all; bound by a common love of boardgames. I'd like to think that our little club was welcoming to all, but just for the record, anyone exhibiting sexism, racism, homophobia or any other hateful marginalisation at SBGC is not welcome at my gaming table.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Kes on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 10:25

Totally agree Paul. To be honest, I think we've lucked out and somehow avoided some of the more troublesome characters that appear in the gaming community.
I was very surprised by quite how far some of the stories went in the article, is that more typical in US/Canada or do you get similar behaviour at UKGE?
I think it's fair to expand your final comment to the whole club, perhaps it should be added to the etiquette section.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  DaveB on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 10:57

Kes wrote:Totally agree Paul. To be honest, I think we've lucked out and somehow avoided some of the more troublesome characters that appear in the gaming community.
I was very surprised by quite how far some of the stories went in the article, is that more typical in US/Canada or do you get similar behaviour at UKGE?
I think it's fair to expand your final comment to the whole club, perhaps it should be added to the etiquette section.

I've personally never witnessed anything like the toxicity of behaviour described in that blog post anywhere - including game stores or the Expo (nor for that matter have I heard of anything like it before), but I have seen a bit of condescending behaviour towards women from stereotypical "Comic Book Guy" gamers before now.

I guess all we can do is be vigilant and stomp on any such behaviour we encounter
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Kes on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 11:32

Yeah, i haven't seen anything at that level but I guess I'm wondering if it's happening but I haven't seen it.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Lizzy on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 11:58

It’s horrific to think that people have experiences like this in the gaming community. Fortunately I’ve never had problems like these and (so far) I’ve always felt very welcome by the various gaming communities I’ve become a part of. That’s not to say I’ve never experienced rampant sexism, however. It’s common for me to turn up somewhere to play games and it be assumed that I’m not there to play, but have been dragged along to support someone else. There’s also definitely a strong feeling that women don’t belong in the gaming community and their presence is something of a novelty. 90% of my friends and colleagues are men, so this imbalance doesn’t put me off joining groups, but I can see that many people would be put off gaming as they fear they wouldn’t be safe in such an environment.

I believe the link SUSD posted was in response to a recent upset in the Netrunner community, in which Quinns himself has been working to promote the inclusion of women. A woman suggested on a Netrunner Facebook group that she wanted to start women only sessions so they can try the game out in a friendly environment. She was met with such a barrage of hate and abuse she was forced to leave the group and started a Facebook group for women gamers to specifically talk about these issues. My reaction was that separate groups and events are unnecessary and patronising, but it seems to be the only option if we’re otherwise harassed and marginalised. Games such as Netrunner can be played on an equal footing by men and women, gender is completely irrelevant, and yet there’s this barrier to entry for women who feel that they wouldn’t be made welcome. Lots of women on the site have stories about being sexually harassed during play or being made to feel out of place and shouted down by a largely male community. Even if the vast majority of the main group is very supportive of women (which they are, they’re lovely - the main group imploded in rage at itself when the issue surfaced) a few dickheads can ruin it for everyone.

The X-Wing community is even more male-oriented. I’ve not met a single other woman who plays at a competitive level. The difference between the X-Wing and Netrunner communities is that the X-Wing players never talk about how to get more women to play other than asking each other for advice on getting their partners to play at home. I’ve never seen a discussion about why so few women play competitive X-Wing - I guess they don’t see it as a problem. I myself would never start a discussion about it as I know it’s likely I’d kick over a hornets’ nest as the lady Netrunner player did in her respective community. I’ve never once commented in the X-Wing Facebook group because I know my gender would be open and it’s possible I’d get a faceful of hate simply because I’m a girl. Despite the fact that I know I would be supported by my many friends in the group, it’s just not worth the risk when the worst case scenario doesn’t bear thinking about.

Anyway! Sorry to go on. We do need to be aware of these issues in our own group as, even though we welcome women and have a lovely group, I feel women must be put off coming along because of a fear of such issues. How we make it clear they’re welcome, I don’t know, but I think making it obvious that women are already a significant part of the group would help.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Lizzy on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 11:58

Kes wrote:I think it's fair to expand your final comment to the whole club, perhaps it should be added to the etiquette section.

Also this ^
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  PaulC on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 12:15

Kes wrote:I think it's fair to expand your final comment to the whole club, perhaps it should be added to the etiquette section.

Absolutely.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  RikTheChief on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 15:22

Thanks for your post Lizzy, it was interesting to read about your experiences.

Any behaviour as described in the original post obviously can't be tolerated (not just in gaming, in any walk of life). I can only hope that if it does go on somewhere in the world at least our corner is open and friendly and safe.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Aneurin on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 15:43

Lizzy wrote:That’s not to say I’ve never experienced rampant sexism, however.

You mean like when Kes insists you play as the Pink Meeple?

Unfortunately sexism and other forms of prejudice are rampant in most walks of life still. You hear about (hopefully isolated) events like this happening everywhere. So why wouldn't that include gaming venues? Sad but true. Seems that the human race is just crap...  Look at football - I've never understood why or how team A supporters beat up team B supporters because their team lost? Mental.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Lizzy on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 15:53

Aneurin wrote:
Lizzy wrote:That’s not to say I’ve never experienced rampant sexism, however.

You mean like when Kes insists you play as the Pink Meeple?

He does that because he knows how much it annoys me when people assume I want to play as the girl/pink meeple. I have had that happen and it's really patronising.

I was at a bar once looking down the selection of beer pumps and a guy at the bar kindly suggested I tried one of the fruit beers that was on offer (strawberry Fruli). I ordered a pint of their smoked porter.

Like you say, this happens everywhere.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Aneurin on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 16:19

Lizzy wrote:
Aneurin wrote:
Lizzy wrote:That’s not to say I’ve never experienced rampant sexism, however.

You mean like when Kes insists you play as the Pink Meeple?

He does that because he knows how much it annoys me when people assume I want to play as the girl/pink meeple. I have had that happen and it's really patronising.

I was at a bar once looking down the selection of beer pumps and a guy at the bar kindly suggested I tried one of the fruit beers that was on offer (strawberry Fruli). I ordered a pint of their smoked porter.

Like you say, this happens everywhere.

And if Kes' comment is taken out of context someone (else) could get really upset about that - that is why this is such a difficult subject to control.

Just to play devils advocate on the bar situation - did you ask the barman if that was his favourite drink? It could have been... and he was just recommending it (wasn't wearing a uni rainbow lanyard was he Twisted Evil )... also in the worst case is it really sexism or just a barman working from a 'mean' perspective? I would argue the latter in that his experience the majority of women probably don't order smoked porter (whether that is a social pressure thing is a whole other argument). Should he be punished for that? Is it possible to be fully inclusive - most of the time we work to means right (Door height, shoe size etc)? No/Yes/Maybe... who knows. It's a incredibly difficult thing to enforce because as I say it is very context dependent.

Look at 'us' with the Mulberry. Plenty of comments were prejudice against/looked down upon the patrons of the Mulberry. It's just sometimes impossible to avoid no matter how righteous we are.

I myself can say some pretty dumb things... and for the record am currently wearing a rainbow lanyard Razz
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Lizzy on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 16:40

It wasn't the barman, just a guy standing at the bar. I didn't ask his opinion, he just offered it. He didn't ask me what I normally like so he could make an informed recommendation, just made a wild assumption. He wasn't drinking Fruli himself and I doubt it's his favourite drink. I wasn't even ordering for myself. Gary likes porter, I rarely drink at all.

Yes we all make mistakes sometimes, but my point is don't make assumptions about people based on gender or anything else. Just ask them what they want, it might be anything.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Aneurin on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 16:52

Lizzy wrote: and I doubt it's his favourite drink.

but my point is don't make assumptions about people based on gender or anything else.

Caught you out Wink.

It's just too damn difficult. We all make assumptions. We have to.  Impossible not to. There are some that are dumb founded and upsetting, true... but its too hard to Police.

I was visiting my father in law in hospital on Sunday night. I over heard two nurses basically taking the piss out of one of the difficult patients. Very very wrong and they were stupid to do it yes - but it was a private conversation. None of my business really. It doesn't mean they are abusive people - it probably was them letting of steam (stressful job etc)... should they be reported? Banned from caring for people? I don't think so...

If I were someone else (perhaps visiting this difficult patient) it might be easy to say yes - but one comment does not reflect how caring they actually have been or are to all these patients.

At most they should maybe taken to the side and told there is a time and a place and near ear shot of visitors isn't it... but then pretty sure they know that...
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Jamie on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 17:17

I've never had anything but positive experiences with the board gaming community (that said, I've not been around much), practically everyone I've come across has been friendly and inclusive. I just can't imagine there's a problem with this kind of behaviour; such that it happens more in the board gaming world, than in society in general.

Aneurin wrote:Look at 'us' with the Mulberry. Plenty of comments were prejudice against/looked down upon the patrons of the Mulberry. It's just sometimes impossible to avoid no matter how righteous we are.

I didn't think we were that bad, were we?

Aneurin wrote:I myself can say some pretty dumb things... and for the record am currently wearing a rainbow lanyard Razz

Me too. Especially wary online too. It's basically a permanent record of your words, and it's very easy to be misunderstood when 'words' are the only channel of communication.

Well, 'words' and smilies! Shocked
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Lizzy on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 17:25

Aneurin wrote:
Lizzy wrote: and I doubt it's his favourite drink.

but my point is don't make assumptions about people based on gender or anything else.

Caught you out Wink.

It's just too damn difficult. We all make assumptions. We have to.  Impossible not to. There are some that are dumb founded and upsetting, true... but its too hard to Police.


So, what are you saying exactly? I was wrong to be offended?

I don't understand why you're arguing about this. I'm trying to explain why similar comments are offensive. Now I'm regretting getting involved at all.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  JohnH on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 18:20

It's always difficult to talk about these sorts of things online as it's really easy to become offended.

For me, I'm always very wary of putting people off gaming, but I wouldn't narrow this down to any gender. I, however, can distinctly remember becoming slightly paranoid after we played Santavalon: The Chrisistence that I may have offended Kirsten by continually referring to the team character (I have no idea how to eloquently and fully describe "jointly playing" and fit it into this sentence, I'm writing a lot at the minute so I'm a bit burnt out) that her and Kes were playing on together as simply "Kes". I'm just terrible with names, and I wasn't 100% sure I knew hers and so tried to avoid the situation where I would call her the wrong name and it would be awkward, but I am aware it may have come across as me excluding her or being an ass in general (even more so than usual), especially as she kept repeating her name to me and I kept saying "Kes", but by then I'd already labelled the team in my head and this explanation is getting convoluted so I'll stop. I'd just like to apologise for that and any other offence I've ever caused anyone. Oh and any mistakes I've made in games that have caused me to win (I'm still unsure if I had an extra hand in Trickerion last week, I know my special power cards pretty much squashed everyone else anyway and it wouldn't have made much difference to my total points, but since I'm cleaning my conscience I thought I'd mention it).


That's me done. My only input into the unravelling discussion happening above this will be that I like Fruli. It's annoyingly expensive, but delicious.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Aneurin on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 18:33

Lizzy wrote:
Aneurin wrote:
Lizzy wrote: and I doubt it's his favourite drink.

but my point is don't make assumptions about people based on gender or anything else.

Caught you out Wink.

It's just too damn difficult. We all make assumptions. We have to.  Impossible not to. There are some that are dumb founded and upsetting, true... but its too hard to Police.


So, what are you saying exactly? I was wrong to be offended?

I don't understand why you're arguing about this. I'm trying to explain why similar comments are offensive. Now I'm regretting getting involved at all.

No I'm not saying you shouldn't have been offended... you were (and have every right to be)... but others may not have been offended by that statement.

As I said earlier I'm playing devils advocate here...

There have been thumbs up for adding this or a similar/general statement to the club etiquette...

"anyone exhibiting sexism, racism, homophobia or any other hateful marginalisation at SBGC is not welcome at my gaming table."

How on earth can we police that? Yes there is an obvious hard line of anything harmful... physical abuse... but we all know that already surely... do we really need to add anything about that? Its just standard social etiquette not 'club' related right?

But what of the grey areas (as an example the guy at the bar for you) what happens when person A finds something offensive (some out of place words) that person B doesn't. Who is right? Both?

If you find something offensive You can fall out with people and not play or socialise with them again on a personal level fine... and I'm pretty sure we all do this from time to time... is that really transferrable to a club policy? Should we shut the door on someone for a comment that offends/upsets someone? Is it a vote on whether a statement was offensive? Do we employ a 3 strikes and your out policy?...

If society cant sort itself out (this isnt just a gaming problem) and police this - how can the club?




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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  psychomansam on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 18:36

Lizzy wrote:
Aneurin wrote:
Lizzy wrote: and I doubt it's his favourite drink.

but my point is don't make assumptions about people based on gender or anything else.

Caught you out Wink.

It's just too damn difficult. We all make assumptions. We have to.  Impossible not to. There are some that are dumb founded and upsetting, true... but its too hard to Police.


So, what are you saying exactly? I was wrong to be offended?

I don't understand why you're arguing about this. I'm trying to explain why similar comments are offensive. Now I'm regretting getting involved at all.

I don't think Aneurin was really arguing or even disagreeing with you, just attempting to inject some humour and then using a slightly whimsical tone (in his  ineffable wisdom).  And I certainly agree with both of you. Assumptions and subconscious biases are a pain in the arse and we need to try to recognise them, stunt their growth and weed them out of our own mentality. When we see them in others, I think a charitable and empathetic correction of their misconceptions is often the best we can do in response. And doing worse in response is certainly forgivable. I've experienced similar biases with regards belief structures to some small degree, and find it very frustrating. I can't imagine how frustrating it must be in the case of gender assumptions* which are so much more universal and pervasive**.

Humans aren't crap, but they can be and we're all hugely imperfect.*** According to Iain M. Banks (RIP) our best hope is to create and then be ruled by near-omniscient super computers. A current academic movement in the realms of personhood and ethics genuinely argues for post-humanism - the idea that we need to chemically, biologically and neurologically alter humans to make us morally better (google 'Savalescu TED' for instance).

In the meantime, I think we need to keep on doing our small bit, both with our own thinking and when we get a chance to influence others.



*I obviously can imagine and do experience these assumptions from a male perspective. And have at times been disadvantaged by these. But I've far more often been advantaged, and the experience is incomparable to that of women and transgender people.
**A study trying to identify genuine biological difference between male/female behavior studied baby boys and girls in the first hour of life (so as to get in before parenting&culture started altering them according to gender biases). It conclusively showed that boys have greater limb movement in the first hour of life and thus there is a real behavioural difference. Success! Except a later study showed that mothers hold boys less in the first hour of life, this being the probable cause for the altered levels of limb movement. So we already treat people differently in their first hour of life. Ideal.
***Mother Theresa 'helped' poor people die who could've been saved because she thought it was for the best. Aung San Suu Kyi is an Islamophobic bigot. Obama is a war criminal. Anyone prior to the middle of last century can largely be assumed to be a sexist homophobic racist by modern standards. By UK standards, a high proportion of men globally are paedophiles. The current attitude to the travelling community in this country (gyspies) is fairly similar to the  attitude toward Jews in the 1930s. Hitler also killed gypsies by the way****. Humanity, on the optimistic view, is a work in progress.
****https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  BeardyTom on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 18:53

Aneurin wrote:There have been thumbs up for adding this or a similar/general statement to the club etiquette...

"anyone exhibiting sexism, racism, homophobia or any other hateful marginalisation at SBGC is not welcome at my gaming table."

How on earth can we police that? Yes there is an obvious hard line of anything harmful... physical abuse... but we all know that already surely... do we really need to add anything about that? Its just standard social etiquette not 'club' related right?

But what of the grey areas (as an example the guy at the bar for you) what happens when person A finds something offensive (some out of place words) that person B doesn't. Who is right? Both?

If you find something offensive You can fall out with people and not play or socialise with them again on a personal level fine... and I'm pretty sure we all do this from time to time... is that really transferrable to a club policy? Should we shut the door on someone for a comment that offends/upsets someone? Is it a vote on whether a statement was offensive? Do we employ a 3 strikes and your out policy?...

If society cant sort itself out (this isnt just a gaming problem) and police this - how can the club?

No, we can't sort out all grey areas in all our social interactions and I don't think anyone wants to start drawing up rules. Having a clear statement of principle, however, at least gives us a solid place to stand if we ever have to deal with those grey areas.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Jamie on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 18:57

Aneurin wrote:There have been thumbs up for adding this or a similar/general statement to the club etiquette...

"anyone exhibiting sexism, racism, homophobia or any other hateful marginalisation at SBGC is not welcome at my gaming table."

How on earth can we police that? Yes there is an obvious hard line of anything harmful... physical abuse... but we all know that already surely... do we really need to add anything about that? Its just standard social etiquette not 'club' related right?

I'm not sure we need to, or should add, that kind of thing. Not that I'd have any problem with it if we did, and I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment expressed by Paul in the OP...

I just don't see a need for it, because I don't see any unsavoury or unfriendly behaviour at the club; but if it did become an issue, and people were being mistreat etc, then yes, I think we should have something written down and address it. As things are now though, I think we're a pretty friendly and inclusive bunch, and any of us would be quick to nip intolerance in the bud (if it did raise it's head).
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Ste on Tue 05 Apr 2016, 19:19

Oh shit, where am I going to go to be sexist, racist and homophobic now? Shocked

I notice that everyone saying that they've had nothing but good experiences in the gaming community are white men. Think about that for a second!

Also I agree with Aneurin, this is a very difficult subject. Forming prejudices is obviously terrible but without it we probably wouldn't have survived as a species. I'm not saying that's a good excuse to do it, but it's deeply ingrained into human behaviour whether we like it or not and getting rid of it in all its forms will be difficult. I think we just all need to look out for it. If anybody says or does something that comes across as offensive either to them or to others then tell them. Perhaps they didn't realise they had offended someone. Hopefully they will take note and it will stop. If not then I guess further action would be necessary.

Just my 2p.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  RikTheChief on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 14:33

I'll quite happily drink fruity beer and play Rokoko with you John!
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Andy S on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 15:57

Ste - Blinky wrote: I think we just all need to look out for it. If anybody says or does something that comes across as offensive either to them or to others then tell them. Perhaps they didn't realise they had offended someone. Hopefully they will take note and it will stop. If not then I guess further action would be necessary.

This makes sense to me.

For my part, I think the most important thing, more than having any officially documented rules, is a reassurance to all who visit SBGC that if someone offends them, they have the right to say so.  I wouldn't want anyone to fear being mocked or judged for speaking out against something that upset/offended them.  And once it's brought to light, communication can take place and possibly apologies can be made.

Though ultimately, I have seen nothing of the sort in SBGC in my time there (not to say no one has ever been offended by something someone said or did, I just didn't notice).

On a side note - if anyone ever detects anything offensive or prejudicial in the aspects of The Path to Panic, please tell me.  It might be intentional, e.g. in the fact that Vince is a jackass, but it might not and if not, I'd like to know so I can reassess.

RikTheChief wrote:I'll quite happily drink fruity beer and play Rokoko with you John!

Rokoko!
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  Evilevan on Wed 06 Apr 2016, 18:26

I agree with what Colonial Andy says... Lets have a space where we can play games and have fun without any discrimination or offense. And if someone is offended by something someone says or does, with or without intention, then lets support those people to speak up about it and resolve the matter. I don't know if we have to have an "official statement" about this - It's just common sense isn't it? If people are obnoxious in a game I'm in, I won't be playing with them again.

I've got to say I've never noticed anything bad being said... although I did notice that people were being a bit loud and sweary a few weeks ago when they were getting excited in a game, and not noticing perhaps that there were kids involved in a game on the other side of the room... maybe people could be conscious of that kind of thing!

Very Happy
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Re: Harassment within gaming

Post  paulyg on Thu 07 Apr 2016, 09:30

Are we in danger of falling into a trap of survivorship bias here, in our conclusions that none of us have seen or experienced any harassment or undesirable behaviour at the club? Everyone who has contributed to the thread is someone who came along, enjoyed the experience, and has kept coming. But there are plenty of people who have come along for one, two, three weeks and then stopped. Perhaps they didn't like the types of games we played, perhaps they didn't like the venue or they found something else to do on a Tuesday night, but it's not impossible that some of them stopped because they didn't feel welcome.

But if they felt unwelcome, harassed or uncomfortable about someone's behaviour then they'd have told someone, right? Except that they're the new person in the situation, they don't know if that kind of behaviour is just accepted in the club and they don't know who they could talk to anyway. So I think it's great that, as individuals, we're saying that we wouldn't accept this kind of behaviour at our gaming tables but I'm not sure that just having it here, in this forum thread which will soon get buried by lots of other topics, is quite enough. I definitely agree that adding something to the pinned etiquette post is a good idea at least. If we ever decide to do membership cards then it wouldn't be a bad thing to write on the reverse of those too...

Here's what a games group in Huddersfield have adopted as a 'policy' (expand the first pinned post):
https://www.facebook.com/groups/nobleorderhuddersfield/

Do we want a big list of rules and regulations? I don't think so. But I'd hope we could come up with something succinct to distil this down, pretty much as PaulC wrote in the OP.
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Re: Harassment within gaming

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