Hello and welcome to Get Your Game On! Maddi here, hoping the new year is treating you kindly so far. While I generally feel that January 1 is a day like any other, I’ve been feeling particularly refreshed and ready to tackle new games and projects in 2022. We’re in a bit of a video game release lull, so I’ve been playing Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator and the 2018 Shadow of the Colossus lately in an attempt to tame my backlog of games. Have you been playing anything good? Let us know on Twitter, or, if you’re a member of our Patreon at the Sega Genesis tier or higher, drop a recommendation in our Discord! Now, here’s all the news you need to know from the last week. Please note that the third section, “Users Review Bombing Tabletop Simulator After Global Chat Controversy,” explicitly discusses transphobia, if you prefer not to read about this type of content. Take care of yourselves!

E3 Cancels In-Person Events, MAGFest and Katsucon Do Not

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies are handling the rapid spread of the Omicron variant with mixed responses. On Thursday, January 6, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the organization behind E3, announced E3’s cancellation, citing health and safety risks for exhibitors and attendees. The event is typically held every June in Los Angeles, where case numbers have recently spiked astronomically. After a cancelled event in 2020, E3 was held online in 2021, and while a digital event is still possible for 2022, the ESA has not yet announced it. Per IGN’s reporting, the event’s future may be in jeopardy; both the E3 and ESA Twitter accounts have been relatively inactive, and even before its cancellation, E3 2022 had no firm date attached. Given the increase in company-specific digital events like Sony’s State of Play and Nintendo Directs, it’s possible that the E3 format has run its course.

On the other hand, Super MAGFest was held between January 6 and 9 and required participants to wear masks and be fully vaccinated to attend, despite Governor Larry Hogan declaring a state of emergency in Maryland earlier in the week. Any attendees who test positive post-event can self-report through MAGFest’s website. Katsucon is also scheduled for February 18–20 as an in-person event. Be safe out there, y’all!

Zine Quest 4’s Future May Also Be in Jeopardy

Since 2019, Kickstarter has held an event in February called Zine Quest, in which challenged Kickstarter’s gaming community to create RPG zines. For independent creators, Zine Quest offered visibility and funding—at the beginning of Zine Quest 3 in 2021, Polygon reported that the campaign had helped 360 projects achieve funding over the two previous events. Last week a rumor surfaced that Kickstarter will not be holding Zine Quest 4 this February, though Anya Combs, Kickstarter’s Games Director, later confirmed the event has been postponed until August to coincide with GenCon. As some Twitter users pointed out though, pitting indie developers against the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America might not offer the benefit Kickstarter thinks it will. Anya’s Twitter account is now protected, but Dicebreaker has since reported on the situation.

This follows Kickstarter’s announcement in December that the company is planning to switch to a blockchain-based platform, which garnered serious backlash from users. Though these are entirely separate incidents, independent tabletop designers have nevertheless started organizing alternative events in the face of a perceived lack of support from Kickstarter. An interesting takeaway from both the Zine Quest confusion and Kickstarter’s pivot to blockchain is the post “The Trouble With Kickstarter” by Aaron Marks at Cannibal Halfling Gaming, which offers a look at the current state of the tabletop community and possibilities for the future.

Users Review Bombing Tabletop Simulator after Global Chat Controversy

Please note, his section explicitly discusses transphobia. Feel free to skip to the In other news… section, and take care of yourselves.

Tabletop Simulator, and its developer, Berserk Games, are (rightfully) under fire after a user named Xoe was repeatedly kicked out of the Global Chat when she shared that she identifies as gay and trans. When Xoe asked chat moderators and Berserk Games support why she was kicked, she received no response. A Discord moderator repeatedly referred her to the chat rules but later clarified that messages should be “family friendly” and are not allowed to discuss topics like “sexuality, fetishes, [or] politics,” which Xoe documented in a lengthy Google Doc. On January 8, Tabletop Simulator posted a statement on its Twitter account assuring users that it supports the LGBTQ+ community. On January 9, Tabletop Simulator posted another statement saying they “would like to apologize for the handling of a user being ban [sic] from global chat” and promising a reassessment of the moderation practices. By its own statement Global Chat exists to help users “find people to play with, look for play-testers and much more.” I’ve never used Tabletop Simulator, and I’m no expert, but it seems both disingenuous and outright harmful to kick users for seeking out identity-based communities under the guise of keeping a chat “family friendly.”

But what’s worse is that, in taking a wishy-washy stance on the matter, is that Berserk Games has explicitly permitted transphobia regardless of intent. Since Tabletop Simulator‘s initial statement, Steam users have been leaving positive reviews with transphobic comments or thanking the developers for banning users. The negative reviews on Tabletop Simulator‘s Steam page have also ballooned, with users calling out Global Chat’s rules and moderators’ uneven policy enforcement.

In other news…

Indie game hosting website Game Jolt suddenly banned content that “depicts, solicits, promotes, normalizes, or glorifies sexual acts, sexual solicitation, and sexual violence,” citing the large number of 13- to 16-year-old users on their platform. In many cases, the games were removed without notice. Though Game Jolt isn’t as well known as a platform like Steam, the sudden shift is troubling, and further stigmatizes queer creators and creators making games about difficult topics. For their part, Game Jolt has responded to users’ concerns with sarcastic and jokey tweets, which are just as embarrassing to read as you think they are.

The Pope started the year with some Undertale, as one does. Please don’t ask me to explain or understand this at all.

As Omicron surges all over the United States, Twitter user Wario64, who is known for alerting people to gaming deals and PlayStation 5 availability, has also been helping people source COVID tests.

My question is, what did Hard Drive Magazine know, and when did they know it?

Fallout is the next game to get the television treatment. A new series is reportedly in development at Prime Video.