Tabletop Simulator Developers Stop Global Chat after Mods Ban Users who Mention Being Queer
Berserk Games is the developer of Tabletop Simulator. This was after a user discovered that the game’s global chat system would prohibit players from using terms related to queer identity.
Last week, the whole situation was documented in a Google Docs file by Tabletop Simulator user XoeAllred. She used the screenname Xoesheher to describe her experience and shared it on her Twitter account @XoeAllred. After being banned for discussing gay and trans identities, she questioned a moderator about why this was happening. Moderator replied to her by referring to bold text in the chat rules. It reads: “When using Global Chat there is an expectation that discussion (centered around Tabletop Simulator and tabletop games) will be family friend family-friendly then kicked out of the chat room and temporarily banned.
Allred reached Berserk Games via the Tabletop Simulator Discord Server after an email regarding the situation failed to respond. CHRY, a Berserk Games moderator, told Allred that “discussing homosexuality has no place on global chat” and continued to say to her that Tabletop Simulator’s chat was not the place to discuss “sexuality fetishes [and] politics.” Allred did not receive a reply when she asked CHRY if he suggested that being transgender was “a fetish, or political.”
Allred delved deeper into Tabletop Simulator’s chat rules, testing keywords that are associated with cishet identities like “cis,” “straight,” and political topics such as “abolish prisons” and “BLM,” none of which were subject to an automatic ban. The ban was only issued after she posted the word “vore,” part of the “fetishes CHRY” category. It seemed that Tabletop Simulator’s banned offenses didn’t include straight sexuality and political terms.
Allred brought the matter back to the Discord. CHRY stated that the term “straight” referred to a heterosexual identity and was not a bannable term. The account was temporarily banned for clear trolling.
Berserk posted a response on the official Tabletop Simulator social media channels. It was posted on Saturday. It stated that the moderation team would not “censor, suppress, or ban users who express their identity, race, or orientation” and also said it had measures in place to ban players harassing queer users. After Allred tested out keywords, the moderation team described her behavior as disruptive. She then claimed she misunderstood this as punishment for expressing her identity. Despite direct responses from moderators that indicated identity discussions were not allowed in Tabletop Simulator’s Chat.
As word spread, Tabletop Simulator’s Steam user reviews (CW: homophobia/transphobia) saw a sudden influx of negative and positive scores. Many of the negative reviews are based on the company’s apparent inability to discuss queer identities. At the same time, the positive reviews post homophobic and transphobic garbage.
Berserk Games issued a second statement, discrediting the handling of the conflict. They also announced that the game’s global chat system would be shut down while the team reviews its moderation process.