The world of tabletop gaming ended up having an odd day in the world of social media when Bruno Faidutti made several tweets that lead to strong backlash from several publishers.
Around 2:00 AM on May 20, Faidutti, an acclaimed designer whose design credits include Citadels and Ad Astra, came into a discussion with another designer, Isaac Shalev. They were talking about networking in the tabletop gaming industry and how it always seemed to happen at bars with people being inebriated, and was hoping for things to be less so in a post-COVID landscape. Faidutti responded to this discussion by stating that he enjoyed such things. As a follow-up, he stated to never deal with anyone who doesn't drink because it means they have something to hide.
In fact, Faidutti felt so strongly with this that shortly after he repeated this advice in a separate tweet and posted it on his Facebook page. Several hours later, some highly vocal admonishment came towards Faidutti's advice and his insistence on them. His replies to the discussion continued to escalate with more bold responses. These included:
- "Having no opportunity for any kind of drunkenness can generate frustration, or lead to mystical drunkenness, which is the most dangerous kind."
- "Also, drunk people rarely lie, which can be a plus in the discussion."
- "There are a few people who don't like alcohol, but I think most people who don't drink and don't do any drugs are mostly afraid it will reveal something they'd rather keep hidden."
- "I don't consider having any religion as a valid reason for anything !"
- "I cannot imagine gaming without drinking, and while I can imagine the gaming business without alcohol, I think it would be less fun, and I'm not sure it would be safer since it would be harder to spot the few bad guys."
- "I've nothing against people who don't drink because they do'nt like it. But there are many people who don't drink because they're afraid of what it could reveal of them. When someone drinks when discussing a contract, I know they have nothing to hide."
He replied later that he regretted making the post, because several publishers had reached out wondering if this advice was aimed at them. Eventually, Faidutti deleted this inciting standalone tweet, but his first comments and replies are still posted (and shown below). His Facebook post remained up longer, but was also eventually taken down.
The Response To Faidutti's Tweets
This backpedaling is not surprising since the backlash to Faidutti's tweets were packed with notable talents in the board game industry. Manuel Correla, the talent behind games like Empire of Sin, responded saying he disagreed since he had several friends who didn't drink because they were either alcoholics or Muslim. Jon Moffat, co-founder of Stone Circle Games chimed in stating that such a claim came off "like an overly reductionist view based entirely on guesswork." Elizabeth Hargrave, designer of the bird preserve game Wingspan, chimed in with a catty, "well you can count me among them hiding... nothing at all." Veterans in the industry like RPG writer Tim Cox and Onyx Path Publishing's own Dixie Cochran spoke up, pointing out the borderline abusive dynamic at play, Cox even mentioning the practice was inherently toxic. Even legendary comics writer Gail Simone gave a short reply to proceedings simply saying, "What a sad little philosophy."
Then there were the multitude of responses from concerned players and fans of Faidutti's work. These ranged from understandable personal choices and life experiences with alcoholism or alcohol abuse or just plain not liking the taste of anything heady. Then there are the ethical ramifications of taking advantage of an inebriated person for personal gain, in a business context or otherwise. But above all, how such an attitude helps perpetuate the practice in the industry and how that can lead to unhealthy power dynamics with designers and publishers. One of the most damning of these responses came from Actor Rich Sommer (Mad Men) saying, "Publisher reaction isn’t the problem. The problem is that you had the thought in the first place."
Either way, it is clear that Faidutti's claims have been thoroughly condemned by his fellow colleagues, and the general public. Discussing business over drinks is not uncommon in the business world, but to claim you don't trust anyone who doesn't drink is incredibly disrespectful of people who may have a variety of reasons for not drinking. Here's hoping Faidutti understands that going forward and that developers and designers remain mindful of this practice.