Board gaming trade association GAMA (Game Manufacturers' Association) has canceled its upcoming Origins Online event. A number of participants recently pulled out of the event, citing GAMA's perceived silence regarding Black Lives Matter protests over the death of George Floyd.
This news comes via the official GAMA Facebook page. In a statement posted to the page, GAMA says it "unequivocally condemns racism and violence against people of color" but that it was "too late in making that statement with force". The organization goes on to say that holding Origins Online in the current climate would be irresponsible and inappropriate, so the event is canceled. The statement makes no reference to the participants who have pulled out. GAMA is offering every exhibitor, sponsor, and advertiser a full refund, as well as gamers who purchased badges. It's also pledging to match any of the above who donate their full Origins Online refund to any of the following organizations:
- Black Lives Matter Global Network
- Black Trans Advocacy Coalition
- Columbus Freedom Fund
- The Community Justice Exchange
- The Innocence Project
Why was Origins Online canceled?
Although GAMA did put a call out on Twitter for Black creators and designers to share their projects with the Origins Online fair, many participants due to take part in the event did not think the organization was sufficiently vocal in its support for the ongoing protests. It's worth noting there is still no definitive statement of support for Black Lives Matter on the official Origins Online website or on the official GAMA news feed.
Influential board gaming platforms like BoardGameGeek, publishers such as Restoration Games, and individual designers like Wingspan designer Elizabeth Hargrave have all dropped out of the event. Hargrave also posted a Twitter thread that contains a number of major voices in the board game industry dropping support for Origins Online. They join others such as To Die For Games' host Mandi H (one of the earliest people to withdraw) in rescinding their offers to take part in Origins Online. With GAMA hemorrhaging speakers and participants, it appears to have had no choice but to shut down Origins Online.
After careful consideration, I have decided to step down from my hosting duties at Origins. Thank you to Danni for the opportunity.— Mandi H (@boardgamerpinup) June 10, 2020
At the time of writing, GAMA's physical Origins Game Fair event is still scheduled for October 7th through October 11th this year. This is, of course, subject to change; nobody knows in what state the ongoing coronavirus crisis will be when the event is due to take place. GAMA says dates are "being reassessed" and will be updated as soon as possible. We'll bring you more information on this as we get it.
To read TechRaptor's official stance on the Black Lives Matter protests, see what we're doing to help, and find out how you can get involved, click here.
Were you due to "attend" Origins Online virtually? Were you an exhibitor who pulled out of the event? Let us know in the comments below!