For small independent game developers, authors, and industry artists of all kinds, conventions are our lifeblood. In a very real and meaningful way, they are an essential part of the process of putting food on the table. We use them to connect to fans, make contacts in the industry, and gain support for ideas, hobbies, and lifestyles that are often outside of the mainstream.
They should be safe havens for us, not a threat to our security.
Harassment of women has long been endemic in the convention community. I have been greatly heartened over the last decade as strides have been made in the direction of combating this harassment. Many conventions have developed zero-tolerance policies, refusing to allow people who have a history of making others feel unsafe to attend their conventions, and helping to educate convention goers on what should frankly be basic human decency. Standards have been developed that make people safer.
Odyssey Con has failed to meet those standards.
In a serious breach of professionalism, Odyssey Con published a number of private emails sent to them by a guest who felt threatened by a known offender. When the guest asked that this person be withdrawn from her for safety reasons, she was told (paraphrase) that she should spend more time with him. After all, they’d been working with him and knew him to be a great guy.
This is a travesty for a number of reasons, but mostly because it puts the burden of making someone feel safe on the person being threatened, not the organization that is allowing the threat to take place. That is unacceptable and wrong.
I understand wanting to support someone who works hard for you. Someone you think is a good person. But bringing a known predator into safe space isn’t support, it’s enabling.
Somewhere in the deleted, reposted, saved, and redeleted posts going around the internet right now over this issue are a number of apologies from the convention to the guest, ranging from a “non-apology apology” to an actual apology. The fact that in the modern information age this took days and tons of social pressure to come together is a mark against Odyssey Con, demonstrating that they have a lot to learn about harassment and how it actually works.
If I choose to attend at this point I’ll be sure to fly United Airlines to get there. I think I’ll get the same sense of warmth and caring.