Harassment of women in geekdom has come to the forefront in the Magic: The Gathering community after cosplayer Christine Sprankle announced on November 24 that she was unloading her Magic inspired costumes and cosplay gear after months of harassment.
Sprankle has been an ambassador for the game for years and even had a contract with Wizards of the Coast the publisher of Magic. Sprankle singled out the harassment from Jeremy Hambly a controversial and some consider toxic YouTuber who posted a degrading video about Sprankle and other cosplayers.
In a since deleted Tweet, Sprankle said:
It has been a rough year. 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.
Hambly has two Magic focused YouTube accounts, Unsleeved Media with 153,000 subscribers and The Quartering with close to 24,000 subscribers. One of the videos by Hambly about Sprankle was taken down by YouTube for violations of its policy concerning harassment and bullying. Hamble described those videos as “Playset of Beta White Knights Protecting Sprankle from literal email assault!” and “Playset of Beta White Knights Prevent Rape of MTG Cosplayer Sprankle.”
Hambly uses dog whistle techniques by using full names of individuals and Twitter bios a common tactic taken by online bullies and regressive fandom to signal attacks on individuals that are singled out often due to their politics, sexuality, gender, or religion.
Over the weekend Wizards of the Coast released a statement via Twitter.
We’re saddened by what happened in the Magic community this weekend. Cyber bullying and harassment are unacceptable, and we support those who come forward with their experiences. No one should be made to feel unsafe or unwelcome. We’re working to be a part of the solution.
Elaine Chase, Magic VP released a longer response on November 28.
We are incredibly proud of the Magic community and the tremendous good it does in people’s lives. Magic is a game meant to bring people together—it’s right there in the name “The Gathering.” Our community is filled with stories of lifelong friendships and bonds forged through tapping lands, casting spells, and swinging in with everything for the win.
Sadly, that sense of community can be spoiled by the behavior of a few individuals. We at Wizards of the Coast are disheartened about bullying and harassment in the gaming community; unfortunately, the Magic community is not immune. No one should be subjected to threats and intimidation. 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.
She goes on to say they are investigation reports, reviewing and updating policy, and be setting expectations for behavior. The post includes handy suggestions, links, and email addresses to report harassment.
Chase ends her post by stating:
The culture of harassment and bullying in the gaming world has to end. We are all in this together, and everyone here at Wizards of the Coast wants gaming to be a welcoming, inclusive, fun space for people to explore, make new friends, and, yes, gather.