A special "ConGlomeration Almost Live" co-production between All Games Considered and Green Ring Ethos, with Mark Kinney, Chris Heim, Carol, and Russ Wallace. Fear The Boot's disqualification from the ENnie Awards (complete statement below). Wisdom of the Gamers: Sorry, you can't come back. Crossovers of video games with tabletop games. Convention survival.
Please note that this episode was recorded before the ENnie Award Presentation at GenCon, and look forward to an AGC Extra coming soon following up on this.
The full text of the statement from Fear The Boot:
Before I begin talking about the issue at hand, I would like to start by thanking Mark and the entire AGC crew for giving us the opportunity to state our side of the story. My comments may get lengthy, so I apologize in advance. However, I feel I can't do justice to this situation without covering the material very carefully.
On Wednesday, July 25th, 2007, we released episode 62 of Fear the Boot. Near the beginning of that episode, we reminded people of the ENnie voting that was in progress and requested their votes.
This comment was followed by a series of ambiguous statements about my brother's actions at Microsoft and several jokes about multiple-IP voting. As of today, I regret these comments.
Our show was founded on irreverent humor. However, this was not an RPG but rather a public voting system that stands or falls on the perceived integrity of the system and its participants. So while we were joking, I fully accept that the jokes were in very poor taste. As the man that edits the show, I take full responsibility for what
A short time later, we recorded episode 63 and released it on Tuesday, July 31st, 2007. At the beginning of that episode, we took the time to explain our comments in episode 62. We made clear that the comments made about my brother implied a form of cheating that never happened -- something I blame myself for not stating more clearly in 62. We also made it clear that our jokes about cheating were indeed nothing more than jokes and plainly stated that we did not even want a trophy that was won through cheating and did not endorse any form of "gaming the system", so to speak. The analogy I used was that it's like playing a game in "god mode". Sure, you'll get to the end, but there's absolutely no sense of real accomplishment. A trophy won by false measures is not recognition of fan support but rather a piece of metal to clutter my mantle.
Unfortunately, it appears this episode was released a bit too late. I was greeted hours later by a letter from the ENnie board, informing me we had been disqualified from the ENnie nominations. I had the option of either withdrawing myself or being publicly kicked out in a matter of days. Obviously, I had no choice but to withdraw.
At this point, let me pause to admit our guilt of two actions and take full responsibility for them.
1. As I stated before, we made some jokes about cheating. They were only jokes -- and I believe that anyone who follows our podcast would have recognized them as such -- but they were still in poor taste, particularly for a contest that rests on the necessary perception of credibility.
2. I also fully confess that some of the hosts (not all) voted once from both their work and home computers.
However, the accusations that we were guilty of sophisticated forms of cheating are patently false. Even more frustrating, we were given no chance to defend ourselves whatsoever.
We repeatedly asked to see the IP data so we could review it. As computer professionals know, there are many nuances to IP addresses that can give the impression of cheating unless very thoroughly examined.
Knowing they would be hesitant to release their data, we also offered to give them the ranges of IP addresses we have access to so they could see whether we did indeed engage in cheating. This offer was never accepted.
My brother went on to tell them that if any of those IPs were from Microsoft, he would like to report them to the corporate offices to track down the real abuser. The abuse may not have been just a crime against the ENnies, but also a violation of their corporate policies.
This offer was also not accepted.
So what do I take away from all of this?
First, I only admit we were guilty of certain actions. Limited as they may have been, they were still wrong, and I have no one to blame but myself. I apologize deeply to anyone I hurt, whether you are a voter, nominee, or ENnie employee.
Second, I feel very stung by the way we were treated. We were offered no chance to defend ourselves. Furthermore, other nominees have stepped forward to admit they are guilty of the same, limited crimes, yet no actions or investigations have been taken against them. My
mother taught me at a young age that two wrongs don't make a right, so I know that the crimes of others do not in any way excuse my own poor judgment. However, it does lead me to question the fairness of their system.
In the end, we recognize that no matter how you choose to view this situation, we are still part of the same RPG community. We believe in and love the same hobby. I would rather see us unite behind that than divide over this ENnie mess.
To that end, I have asked my community to end discussion of this topic and look to the future instead. We have great plans for the future -- as I know many other podcasts and publishers do -- and I want to look there instead of backward. We, therefore, chose to withdraw from the ENnies, and to remain a non-issue for that competition, we will have
no further interactions with them. We will not submit ourselves for nomination in future years or endorse their contest.
To the listeners as a whole, I apologize again for this whole ordeal. I never set out wanting this sort of a fight with the ENnie board or to see this sort of rift form in the RPG community.
To the ENnie board, I want to offer three positive suggestions for next year's competition that will help avoid situations like this again. And please take these as helpful suggestions, not an attack on the current system.
1. Please publish a clearly codified set of rules on exactly what is and is not acceptable, leaving no question about what podcasts, publishers, and voters can say or do, even in jest.
2. Please publish a clearly codified set of procedures for dispute resolution that gives the accused an opportunity to review the accusation and present evidence of their own before simply dismissing a nominee.
3. Please create a voting process that is more transparent to the public, so real cheating will be obvious to everyone while false accusations can be easily refuted.
Thank you again for taking the time to listen to our explanation of this situation. I will not dodge responsibility for what we truly did wrong, but I also ask that you not judge us wrongly by the things we did not do and have not been allowed to defend ourselves against.
Please have a wonderful day and keep enjoying the hobby that brought us all together in the first place!
Moderating Host, Fear the Boot
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