(Edit: The Aftershock Kickstarter campaign has been cancelled. Apparently due to the quiet response to some of the “deluxe” things they were offering. Nothing about this controversy, but I thought I would update you on that part at least.)
(2nd Edit: I’ve since posted an open letter to Stronghold Games suggesting that they do the right thing and end the Twitter silencing, as well as address the naming controversy.)
(3rd edit, in case you find this post first. A resolution has been reached!)
(Original post below)
I love Stronghold Games. I really do. (Look, I even still linked to their site).
I have nothing against them. In fact, I love many of their games (two have already appeared on my Top 25 Games Played ever, and there will be more, and sorry the Top 15 hasn’t shown up yet, but I’ve been sick).
From everything I’ve heard, and from people who I also like and respect, Stephen Buonocore is a great guy. One of these days, I’d love to go to a con and get a pic of him kissing me on the cheek like he has so many others.
Which is why I am completely mystified at what they’ve been doing on Twitter over the last few days.
What could have justified this?
Let’s tell a story.
Stronghold Games has a new Kickstarter project called Aftershock.
However, Rex Brynan had already designed and published a non-profit game called Aftershock: A Humanitarian Crisis Game that has been used for first-responder training.
Rex has written a nice post explaining what the problem is:
“Since PAXsims published a game called AFTERSHOCK in 2015, this caused some considerable confusion. We received multiple queries—via the blog, Twitter, email, discussion forums, and even in person—asking if the new game was somehow a newer or updated version of our original game. It’s not.
The new Aftershock (by Bobby West and veteran game designer Alan R. Moon) is an earthquake-themed Eurogame. You actually cause earthquakes in this game.
The original AFTERSHOCK is a serious (but enjoyable!) game designed to teach about humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. It has been used for training humanitarian aid workers, medical students, UN peacekeepers, and military personnel. We have run games for the US State Department, USAID, the Department of National Defence, the UK Ministry of Defence, and others, and it was a featured game at the Military Operations Research Society’s wargaming conference and the recent Serious Games Forum in Paris. The original AFTERSHOCK is also a non-profit fundraiser for frontline UN humanitarian agencies who respond to actual earthquakes and other humanitarian emergencies.”
Polite inquiries were rebuffed, and when the Stronghold Games project was first tweeted about, Rex tweeted a clarification that it wasn’t an update to his game.
And he promptly got blocked on Twitter.
My friend over at the Mountain Navy blog either tweeted about it or also contacted them, and he got blocked too, prompting this post from him.
To support my friend from a completely unfair move, I tweeted this.
— Dave – Wishing for another Con (@whovian223) February 4, 2019
And now I’m blocked too.
So obviously it wasn’t a mistake.
Others have been reporting that they’ve been blocked after also questioning the naming of the game.
This is all so childish and unnecessary.
Rex has made a couple of very good suggestions for how to handle things.
One is just to change the name to Aftershocks. That shouldn’t be too hard.
Even better would be to acknowledge the original game in the campaign and rulebook, perhaps even coordinating some marketing efforts.
But no, let’s just go all Billy Crystal on everybody who even so much as mentions the controversy.
I still like and respect Stronghold Games.
But I stand by my opinion. This is a bush league move, and they keep compounding it with every block.
I’m not going to stop talking about any of their old games that I love (like I said, there’s at least one more coming on my Top 15). After the Top 25 is complete, well, we’ll have to see.
But rest assured that I am no longer going to be publicizing any of their new stuff, nor will I be buying any of it, as long as this tantrum continues.
Hopefully somebody will point out to them that they are acting in a terrible manner and they may want to put on their big pants and actually stop trying to avoid anybody who has something even mildly negative to say about them.
In fact, if you are reading this and do have any link to Mr. Buonocore or Stronghold Games, please point out to him (or them) that there are a lot better ways to handle this than what they are doing.
In my opinion, it’s seriously harming their brand.