Posted December 15th 2017 by CardGameGeek

'No-One Should Be Made to Feel ...Unwelcome'

Wizards of the Coast has targeted social media behavior with recent Magic: The Gathering player bans as it attempts to make the game welcoming to a broader player base.

The series of events appears to have been sparked by the announcement by Magic cosplayer Christine Sprankle in a now-deleted Instagram post that she was canceling her upcoming appearance at a Grand Prix event and deleting her Facebook account because she was tired of the harassment within the community.  And in a now-deleted Tweet, Sprankle called out YouTube channel Unsleeved Media (Jeremy Hambly) specifically as the source of her distress.  "It has been a rough year." she posted.  "And I have blocked and not said anything about him because I wanted it to die but without a doubt MtGHeadquarters/UnsleevedMedia has made my life hell this whole year with his unnecessary videos/tweets about me and other members of Magic."

Wizards of the Coast Vice President, Global Brand Strategy and Marketing Elaine Chase posted on the Magic site on November 28 that the company was "taking action on harassment and bullying," noting the value the company places on the community of players, and the danger that the "sense of community can be spoiled by the behavior of a few individuals."  In a manifesto of sorts, she laid down the principles behind the company’s response.  "No one should be subjected to threats and intimidation." she wrote.  "No one should be made to feel unsafe or unwelcome while enjoying something they love.  All people should be able to express their joy for the game without being attacked, whether that’s in a local game store, online, or somewhere in between."

Chase announced three steps that the company was taking in response:  investigating reports as quickly as possible, reviewing and updating policies and reporting processes for Code of Conduct violations, and being more proactive about setting expectations for behavior at Magic events and in all Magic spaces.

Then on December 7, Hambly was given a lifetime ban by WotC’s DCI, the official sanctioning body for Magic: The Gathering competitive play, for violating the Magic Code of Conduct, which "prohibits players from bullying and harassing other players."

An accompanying statement was released by Chase.  "Last week we shared some steps we are taking to help foster a better, more inclusive Magic community," she said.  "As part of this effort, today we took action against a number of players for violations of the Magic Code of Conduct."

In another case based on social media posts the same day, Travis Woo was given a one-year suspension, a suspension related to his creation and administration of Facebook group Magic for Bad, according to a Twitter post by Woo.

Both Woo and Hambly had substantial social media followings, with Hambly’s YouTube channel boasting over 147,000 followers, and Woo’s Twitter followers topping 8000.  A petition urging their reinstatement has appeared and collected over 15,000 signatures.

But WotC has vowed to press on.  In Chase’s post on the bans, she noted that they were "a first step," and that others would be taken.  "Tackling harassment and bullying is a larger initiative for Wizards of the Coast, and we feel it is important to address the issues in the ways we can," she wrote, promising "you’ll see more in the coming months."

Original Article published by ICv2.