Tabletop game company Broken Token is beginning to feel the fallout of some harsh accusations. This has resulted in a number of companies severing business arrangments with the company.
First, a brief summary of events. Broken Token is a company known for making organizational inserts into board games and other such accessories. They have partnered with numerous board game companies before because of this. However, on August 19, a former employee at the company, Ashley Taylor, published a post titled "Speaking up to Protect Others" on Medium. In this piece, Taylor speaks up about a long stretch of mental, emotional, and sexual abuse done to her by the CEO of the company Greg Spence.
The piece itself dives deep into the circumstances Taylor found herself in. It encompasses five years of her time at Broken Token, starting from an optimistic 2013 to a tumultuous 2018, and revolves around numerous advances Spence made against her. The most extreme of these situations happened in a span of two months where Spence was separated from his wife and shifted as attention to Taylor. This lead to an abusive environment where she worked overtime hours and had to submit to Spence's desires, all without being paid. Taylor stated, "I eventually gave in to him and started to do as he wished in order for the abuse to stop. I was downright miserable at this point. I now fully understood the game that he was playing and I didn’t have a way out." Taylor goes on to say she wasn't the only one who suffered such treatment by Spence during this time. Shortly after the piece's publication, former employee Tricia Sydney confirmed Taylor's claims.
After the allegations went live, Spence addressed the allegations through Broken Token's official Twitter account. Spence stated that he would be taking these accusations seriously. As part of his official statement, he adds credence to Taylor's accusations. The statement goes, "During these last few years, as my wife and I continue to work on our partnership, I am confident that the close and consensual interactions I had with others in and outside the workplace never crossed the line of sexual harassment or assault."
As these stories continue to circulate, Broken Token's various partners have announced they are severing business ties. Cephalofair Games' very own Isaac Childres came out stating sexual assault had no place in the board game industry. He went on to say the company was exploring their production options since Broken Token had already made inserts for Kickstarter copies of Frosthaven. Evil Hat Productions, the company behind board games and card games based on The Dresden Files also spoke out against the company. They have publicly severed ties and have requested that Broken Token stop selling tie-in products to their games.
At the time of writing, more companies continue to condemn Broken Token's actions. These include Iello (who are also donating the last three years of licensing fees from Broken Token to RAINN), Grey Fox Games, Ninja Star Games, Pandasaurus, Greater Than Games, and Brotherwise Games. Even the organizers of GenCon have come out confirming that Broken Token are not exhibitors at this year's convention and that they've forwarded the information to their Policy Enforcement Team for future action. Board Game Geek came out shortly after to clarify that Broken Token hadn't even registered for BGG Con before these accusations came to light; shortly after they confirmed The Broken Token would be denied if they tried.
Another condemnation of Broken Token's actions came from an official statement by the Game Manufacturer's Association. They praised Taylor for speaking out on the harassment, and expressed a zero-tolerance policy to such behavior at their events and programs, and condemned it in general. They also stated they were working on a code of conduct, and that as part of their member renewal and application process, starting next year members would have to abide by it to be part of the organization.
As for how many more companies will follow suit severing ties is difficult to tell, as Broken Token had partnerships with a number of companies in the industry.