Several Gen Con attendees reported targeted harassment by individuals claiming to be affiliated with the upcoming board game and tabletop RPG convention in Indianapolis. Gen Con has said none of the accounts they’ve reviewed, which contain bigoted language, threats of violence and Nazi dogwhistles, were sent by staff, volunteers or registered attendees.
On August 2nd, LaTia Jacquise, community manager at Monte Cook Games, shared to Twitter a screenshot of text messages she had received from an anonymous person claiming to be a part of Gen Con’s security team. The individual proceeded to taunt Jacquise with bigoted language and by impersonating a racist police officer.
In one message, the individual claims that they “have everyone’s number because I am a part of the safety team.” Jacquise claimed that her number isn’t publicly available, and as others began sharing similar anonymous harassment, people online began to suspect that someone on the staff or volunteer list had released private information in order to facilitate targeted harassment.
Later that same day, Gen Con released a public statement that it was aware that multiple people had reported anonymous texts, direct messages and emails harassing them. Officials said they were investigating each claim, along with providing support to those targeted.
Kelsey "Magpie" Danger, a diversity, equity and inclusion advisor and safety consultant, further clarified on Twitter that none of the affected people had their phone numbers in Gen Con’s system. Gen Con officials don’t suspect an information leak or insider collusion at this time.
According to Danger, targets were likely chosen basedd on interactions with online bad actors whose goal was to frustrate individuals into engaging with posts that were often insulting, bigoted or intentionally harmful. Gen Con’s inclusion of a dedicated BIPOC Lounge for attendees was picked up earlier this year by right wing outlets such as the Daily Wire, leading to an influx of attention from online trolls and alt-right instigators. Danger’s advice: “Do not engage. In the most literal sense of the phrase, don't feed the trolls. Just report them.”
We're aware that there are harassers attempting to impersonate Gen Con attendees and staff via text and email. We encourage you not to engage with them and instead report any in concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org or our safety consultant, @mx_danger.#GenCon #GenConIndy pic.twitter.com/UQ3c4N0jDB— Gen Con (@Gen_Con) August 2, 2022
Gen Con’s official statement clarified that convention officials will only ever reach out to individual attendees via email and never phone call or text. Any such messages, or emails that don’t end in “@gencon.com” are most likely from attempted harassers, and it encourages all attendees to report these incidents to the convention’s safety team. Dicebreaker contacted Gen Con for more information but did not hear back before publication.
Gen Con Indy is one of the largest tabletop conventions in the US and is held annually in Indianapolis. Gen Con moved portions of its show online in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is continuing that format this year with its mask and vaccine policies in place. Gen Con Online and the physical show floor will run concurrently and offer various panels, interviews and programming throughout the four-day event. Check out our guide to some exciting board games on the show floor this year.