Recently, the Game Manufacturer's Association (GAMA) welcomed a brand new member to their organization: Jon Del Arroz. Del Arroz is a sci-fi and fantasy novelist, a comic creator with ties to the right-wing associated comic book movement Comicsgate, and has contributed to lore and artwork for several board games in the past including Doomtown: Reloaded and The Captain is Dead. Shortly after this announcement, however, GAMA suspended Del Arroz for violating their rules of conduct. In response, Del Arroz has announced he plans to sue the organization for wrongful suspension.
As mentioned before, GAMA are one of the biggest organizations in the entire tabletop gaming industry. Not only do they assist their members in regards to promotion, manufacturing, as well as creative and business contact networks, their influence when it comes to condoning or condemning the actions of their peers reaches far. Last year, in response to The Gaming Goat's Jeff Bergren's handling of an artwork controversy, GAMA ended up banning him from attending Origins 2021.
The story begins with an official post on Del Arroz's Facebook page. The post states that Del Arroz had been accepted by GAMA and would be planning on making the tabletop industry, " the most diverse and inclusive place possible." For the record, Del Arroz's Facebook page is filled with alt-right posts, including "Anti-SJW" memes that insult marginalized groups while praising the virtues of conservative Christian viewpoints. Furthermore, the one who hired Del Arroz for his first official tabletop project was TGG's very own Jeff Bergren.
In response to this news, tabletop industry content creator, Rodney Smith of the Watch It Played YouTube channel, vocalized his concerns. In a string of tweets on the official Watch It Played account, Smith made his concerns known to GAMA regarding Del Arroz's views as well as his content. Smith cited a few official videos from Del Arroz' own YouTube channel, wondering why someone who claims to stand for inclusivity would produce such content. The videos in question were an inflammatory video about the state of DC Comics characters coming out in some form of LGBTQ+ and that they "don't have *normal* people" anymore. The second video cited was a "Top 5 Hottest Board Game Reviewers" video. The video was not about rising critical or entertaining voices in the industry.
As part of our research we looked at Del Arroz's YouTube channel's content to see if these videos were outliers. They are not. We will not provide links to those videos here but the subject matter of the videos include claiming Hollywood celebrities partake in satanic blood drinking rituals, stating that the newest Doctor Strange movie contain coded messages promoting a "woke agenda," and that the latest season of Power Rangers is "grooming" children. The latter is particularly telling since the use of the term has been used consistently to dehumanize and harrass the LGBTQ+ community in conservative spaces.
Another board game designer, Eric Lang, reached out to GAMA regarding the hiring of Del Arroz. While the response didn't explicitly name anyone, the post did state that "welcoming a member who has been banned from multiple social media platforms for hate speech violations and a pattern of public attacks on minority creators (leading to their harrassment) and then silencing the post from a highly respected content creator" wasn't conducive to a safe environment. Considering that Del Arroz has a documented history of harassment, it can easily be surmised who Lang is referring to.
Shortly after these comments and concerns, GAMA tweeted out a response. Once again, while directly stating no names, the organization mentioned that certain members were in violation of their rules of conduct, specifically about hate speech and bullying. The accounts in violation have now been suspended for 28 days. In addition GAMA have instituted a new code of conduct.
As for Del Arroz, he tweeted out that he would sue GAMA for libel since all he did was "say hello and express an interest in making games." Del Arroz's Twitter account has been permanently banned as of May 5 for racist remarks.