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An open letter to the TTRPG community

Dear Community,

I wrote a letter to the community on Feb 11th, but a lot has happened since then. I’ve had conversations with a lot of caring people. People who care about me, and people who care about this industry and everyone in it. I’ve heard from those who have strong criticisms, and those who have offered support. I’ve heard from Evil Genius Game’s fans, from its detractors, from the current team, and from those who left. I am listening.

Many of my dear friends and colleagues in the industry gave me an earful, but not because they necessarily believe all of the things that were said about me; rather, because they know how much I love this industry, and because they, like me, want Evil Genius Games to thrive. These conversations gave me a completely new perspective on the issues. 

What I didn’t fully understand until now is that, unlike the industries I’ve come from, people don’t do this work primarily for the money; they do it out of love and passion for the hobby itself. Everyone deserves to make a living, but their passion always comes first. This perspective completely changed my understanding of how I should have led, made business decisions, and carried myself. What I didn’t realize is that Evil Genius is not only my company–it is everyone’s company who puts their passion into the products we sell. 

As soon as my game designers wrote the Core Rulebook, they were just as invested as I was in the success of Evil Genius Games. It then became their company. 

As soon as one of my ex-staff members laid out his vision for an Organized Play Program–something that he poured his heart and soul into–it became his company, too. 

Even my volunteers sat at our booth for 4 days at Gen Con out of sheer passion for the game. It is their company, too.

I should have realized that making what could be perceived as “typical startup business decisions” wouldn’t work in the way that I had imagined. I needed to consider the unique character of the hobby gaming community to lead with compassion, purpose, and humility. And from this day forward, I am committed to doing just that. I am committed to listening to those who have the experience and the passion to become successful, not only in business but in making the community of gamers whole. 

I’ve already put in motion several things that will put people first, above all else. 

  • First, I asked my legal team to review everyone’s contract to ensure that they have been paid in full for the work that they did. We now feel confident that all undisputed wages have been paid, and we’re working through the last remaining cases to reach successful resolutions.
  • Second, I’ve hired Michael Maggiotto, GAMA Member, Chairperson for the Market Expansion Committee, member of the Diversity Equity & Inclusion committee, and HR Consultant to the gaming industry, to step in and help me build an amazing work environment. All staff have independent, private access to him, and are encouraged to reach out to him whenever they wish. Last year, he was hired to start writing a staff handbook. He and I will be completing this project and releasing it in the next few months. We’re also going to be reviewing job descriptions and pay to ensure that we are competitive in all aspects. 
  • Third, I’m flying my team out to GAMA a day ahead of the show to have an off-site meeting (those who are immune-compromised will join remotely in order to include everyone). At this all-day event, we’re going to sit down, have some hard conversations, and create goal-oriented ways to build a positive work culture together. Michael will be facilitating this process. 

I understand, given what people have heard lately, that some people may feel the need to distance themselves from Evil Genius Games. We all have to follow our hearts, but I want to invite you all to keep an open mind for the future. I will do better, and that starts with listening.  But to listen, I need to hear your voices. With earnest and constructive criticism, Evil Genius Games can become a company that we all can be proud to support and do business with. My current staff members tell me that this is why they stayed. They’re here because they believe in the company, its products, and my capacity to grow and to improve as a leader. 

I’m taking the next week off to be with my family and to reflect on the past few months, but my door is open and I am ready to receive feedback. You can reach me via email, Discord, or Facebook. I want to hear what is on your mind. 

 

3 Comments

DS
David Scott
Hi Paul, our confidentiality agreement only pertains to keeping our business material safe. There is nothing in our contracts today that stop employees from talking about their experiences.
PG
Paul Goldstone
I can say this has been quite a saga for EGG. I missed the KS, but I did pick up the books later, and they are well written and clearly created & produced by folk with a love of the material. However, I really dislike gag orders and similar NDA type agreements that prevent employees telling the truth of their employment. (I have no issue on NDA in regards product development.) Perhaps if you are reviewing your contracts, take that stuff out. This is one thing that stops me buying anything from this company, freedom of speech should never be curtailed by any legal means. If employees/contractors etc have issues, you should be big enough and brave enough to face them head on. If there is no truth in the matter that will quickly be seen. From reading these posts you have clearly recognised you have fallen short of the bar, and since you have recognised that, there is no need for these types of contracts, or follow-up legal activity.
EM
Eric May
Hi! I am a gamer, gm, and early kickstarter on Everyday Heroes. I can only speak from my consumer standpoint. I have worked in education for the last 16 years, and have been playing rpg’s since I was in high school (class of ‘93). Most of my gaming time and imagination gets spent on traditional sword sorcerer games. But I was a storyteller in White Wolf World of Darkness games for a majority of my time as a GM. So I understand and enjoy a good contemporary setting + supernatural factors sort of play. I found something special and worthwhile backing in EGG’s vision for Modern Heroes. And I have been increasingly impressed with the books produced. I know and recognize the importance of this letter right now, and I highly respect you for sharing it with the greater community. Keep that humility as part of your determination and I see nothing but growth in this company’s future. Thank you for taking this important step. just a gamer, Eric May

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