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What’s Going on With Wyrmwood Gaming?

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In February 2023, Wyrmwood Gaming, a maker of tabletop gaming accessories long used by Dungeons & Dragons and other TTRPG players, came under fire for how executives allegedly handled allegations of sexual misconduct that occurred on the company’s premises. The situation was brought to light by a tweet, as these issues often are, and Wyrmwood’s handling of both the allegations and the resurfacing of them has drawn ire in the weeks since the initial statement.

Here’s what you need to know about the Wyrmwood Gaming controversy.

Allegations of sexual misconduct on Wyrmwood Gaming premises

On February 15, 2023, a Twitter user named Liz posted, “Friends, a buddy of my husband’s was SA’d by a Wyrmwood employee. When another employee came forward about it, that employee was fired and they kept the rapist. Fuck Wyrmwood.” The tweet gained momentum, accumulating more than 300 retweets and more than 1,500 likes.

Three days later, former Wyrmwood employee Andy Morocco posted a video in which he alleged that he was the employee fired by CEO Douglas Costello after reporting that one of his co-workers had sexually assaulted someone on the company premises.

“I was taken behind the shop by the CEO Douglas Costello,” Morocco said in the video. “I assumed he wanted more information directly from the source, but instead he fired me in retaliation for, in his words, ‘creating shop drama.'”

Wyrmwood Gaming’s response to the allegations

On February 21, Wyrmwood Gaming posted a four-page PDF document to its Twitter page in which it lays out events on its own interpretation of the timeline. In the statement, Wyrmwood says an investigation was conducted by its current Head of Human Resources and states that the accused sex offender was fired and “escorted out of the building by the CEO personally.”

The first version of the statement also claimed that no one at Wyrmwood knew the alleged assault had taken place on company premises, which has since been retracted. In the updated statement, the last page reads, “CORRECTION: After further investigation, the CEO did indeed receive an email a week following the incident (January 13, 2020), which noted the event was on company property. The CEO missed that detail, and was incorrect in stating that we were not notified of the location until present day.”

When it released the first version of this statement, Wyrmwood also published a YouTube video that has since been made private, in which Wyrmwood management and the head of HR hash out the contents of the written statement with their lawyer. Backlash to the video was swift, with some people asking if it was “performance art” and others calling it “abhorrent” and “disturbing.”

This prompted Wyrmwood to release an additional statement about the video itself. In this statement, CEO Douglas Costello wrote, in part, “We are pulling down the video we posted. We reacted viscerally out of anger and disbelief at the false allegations that were spreading online, and we did what we always do — post a video addressing it to defend ourselves. However, many of our partners and customers have contacted us and have explained that the video was tone deaf and harmful. We agree with them and apologize.”

Costello further noted that “the victim of this incident should be the focus and they may wish to have privacy.” He also stated that Wyrmwood’s lawyer recommended the company not give any further public comment, and the company agreed.

How Wyrmwood’s response affected its business

Wyrmwood’s poor handling of the allegations has affected business. Take This, a non-profit organization that aims to support mental health in the gaming community and industry, partially by removing stigma, released a statement on February 22 in which it said that it would no longer be working with the company.

“The serious allegations involving egregious employee behavior and the termination of the person reporting the behavior at Wyrmwood Gaming violate the ideals and mission of our organization,” the statement reads. “Wyrmwood has since released a written statement and accompanying video that are troubling and fall outside the ethical standards of Take This.”

One of Wyrmwood’s longtime collaborators, Dispel Dice, released a similar statement on February 23 in which employee Karen Wang wrote, in part, “Sexual assault is a serious matter, and victims MUST be treated with the dignity, respect and privacy they deserve. At the center of this is a person who has been irrevocably harmed and is suffering. This is not for our consumption and entertainment on social media.” The company also pledged to donate to RAINN and encouraged its customers to do the same, if possible.

Wang stated that Dispel Dice would continue fulfilling its recent Elemental Kickstarter campaign, but in a tweet reply to someone asking if the company would work with Wyrmwood in the future, Wang said, “No.” Fans have asked them to release an additional statement to clarify this point.

Despite the controversy surrounding the allegations against Wyrmwood Gaming and its response to those allegations, its most recent Kickstarter for a modular gaming table has raised more than $1.8 million, which may indicate a lack of awareness in the broader TTRPG community, or that a significant portion of the company’s customer base is accepting its apologies.

(featured image: Wyrmwood Gaming / The Mary Sue)

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Samantha Puc (she/they) is a fat, disabled, lesbian writer and streamer whose work focuses primarily on LGBTQ+ and fat representation in pop culture. Their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., and elsewhere. Samantha is the co-creator of Fatventure Mag and she contributed to the award-winning Fat and Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives. They are an original cast member of Death2Divinity, and they are currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School. When Samantha is not working or writing, she loves spending time with her cats, reading, and perfecting her grilled cheese recipe.