Help me create an anti-harassment policy for Chicago Gameday

I’d really like to have such a policy in place for the gameday I manage. I realize that, since I don’t actually own the space in which we play (a local store) I don’t know that I have all that much power to enforce such a policy. However, it seems like having a policy helps to send a clear message: “If you can’t abide by these rules, or think they are unnecessary, then maybe you don’t want to attend.” Which, honestly, is fine by me.

So, any examples or boilerplate anyone can point me to? Are there special considerations I need to keep in mind given that this is a one-day event in a local store, run by just lil’ ol’ me?

Thanks in advance!

80 thoughts on “Help me create an anti-harassment policy for Chicago Gameday

  1. Does GamePlus have an official policy? If so you might want to use that as a starting place, if not share yours with the owners. If you and the owners are on the same page, you will likely have a better ability to enforce.
    Hopefully that will not happen.

  2. < ![CDATA[Does GamePlus have an official policy? If so you might want to use that as a starting place, if not share yours with the owners. If you and the owners are on the same page, you will likely have a better ability to enforce. Hopefully that will not happen.]]>

  3. Here’s a first stab at a policy, liberally cribbed from John’s GoD document.

    Chicago Gameday Policies and Expected Behavior

    Chicago Gameday aims to create a safe environment for enjoying our shared hobby, and to do that we need your help. When you attend Gameday, we assume you will abide by the following rules.

    You are encouraged to:
    • Treat everyone around you with respect and courtesy;
    • Share the spotlight and help your fellow attendees have fun;
    • Embrace the theme and tone of the game you are playing;
    • Step away from the game table if you need to use your phone or eat;
    • Never use “It’s what my character would do” to justify disruptive behavior;
    • Say something when you see others cheating or acting in ways described in the “asked to leave” section below;
    • Clean up after yourself and help to keep the Games Plius play space tidy.

    You will be asked to leave if you:
    • Harass anyone physically, verbally, emotionally, or by other means;
    • Behave in ways that are aggressive, argumentative, racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic;
    • Handle other attendees possessions without their permission;
    • Take pictures without the subject’s permission.

    You are aware that Chicago Gameday’s organizers and volunteers will not be held liable for:
    • Any damage to of loss of personal items;
    • Any personal injury that occurs during the event or on Games Plus’ premises;
    • Any punitive, incidental, consequential, or special damages whether or not such damages could have been foreseen and/or prevented.

  4. < ![CDATA[Here's a first stab at a policy, liberally cribbed from John's GoD document. Chicago Gameday Policies and Expected Behavior Chicago Gameday aims to create a safe environment for enjoying our shared hobby, and to do that we need your help. When you attend Gameday, we assume you will abide by the following rules. You are encouraged to: • Treat everyone around you with respect and courtesy; • Share the spotlight and help your fellow attendees have fun; • Embrace the theme and tone of the game you are playing; • Step away from the game table if you need to use your phone or eat; • Never use “It’s what my character would do” to justify disruptive behavior; • Say something when you see others cheating or acting in ways described in the “asked to leave” section below; • Clean up after yourself and help to keep the Games Plius play space tidy. You will be asked to leave if you: • Harass anyone physically, verbally, emotionally, or by other means; • Behave in ways that are aggressive, argumentative, racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic; • Handle other attendees possessions without their permission; • Take pictures without the subject’s permission. You are aware that Chicago Gameday’s organizers and volunteers will not be held liable for: • Any damage to of loss of personal items; • Any personal injury that occurs during the event or on Games Plus’ premises; • Any punitive, incidental, consequential, or special damages whether or not such damages could have been foreseen and/or prevented.]]>

  5. “Never use “It’s what my character would do” to justify disruptive behavior” almost makes me wonder if it implies that it’s okay to use some other excuse to justify disruptive behavior. 🙂

    Also, I want to go over the liability section with my wife (a former paralegal) and run it by Games Plus. Since we’re playpen in their store, I don’t know liability works w/r/t us versus them.

  6. < ![CDATA["Never use “It’s what my character would do” to justify disruptive behavior" almost makes me wonder if it implies that it's okay to use some other excuse to justify disruptive behavior. 🙂 Also, I want to go over the liability section with my wife (a former paralegal) and run it by Games Plus. Since we're playpen in their store, I don't know liability works w/r/t us versus them.]]>

  7. Mark Delsing, the only thing that jumps out at me are the inclusion of “handling other attendee’s possessions” and “taking pictures without the subject’s permission.” It’s not that I think those are bad guidelines (they’re not!). It’s that they look particularly harsh under the header of “you will be asked to leave,” which reads to me like “one strike and you’re out, no exceptions” — and also next to the prohibitions on harassment and aggressive behavior.

    I completely understand why you are including these policies, but if I roll someone else’s dice or take a snapshot without realizing there is someone else in the background, I think a warning is more appropriate (if it even gets to that level). Obviously, however, using someone’s stuff without permission and taking pictures can be a form of harassment in certain circumstances, but perhaps just spelling that out would be enough?

  8. < ![CDATA[Mark Delsing, the only thing that jumps out at me are the inclusion of "handling other attendee's possessions" and "taking pictures without the subject's permission." It's not that I think those are bad guidelines (they're not!). It's that they look particularly harsh under the header of "you will be asked to leave," which reads to me like "one strike and you're out, no exceptions" — and also next to the prohibitions on harassment and aggressive behavior. I completely understand why you are including these policies, but if I roll someone else's dice or take a snapshot without realizing there is someone else in the background, I think a warning is more appropriate (if it even gets to that level). Obviously, however, using someone's stuff without permission and taking pictures can be a form of harassment in certain circumstances, but perhaps just spelling that out would be enough?]]>

  9. Have we had incidents at any Gamedays lately warranting this? Obviously plethora of examples on the Internet of some seriously shitty behavior from gamers, but hoping nothing local. That said, probably good to have something in place.

  10. < ![CDATA[Have we had incidents at any Gamedays lately warranting this? Obviously plethora of examples on the Internet of some seriously shitty behavior from gamers, but hoping nothing local. That said, probably good to have something in place.]]>

  11. Jason Ambrose the number one thing you can do to make sure you’re not just biding time until something happens is have a policy. They really work as deterrent! (Which is why I’m so happy to see this post!)

    Mark Delsing – my one comment is is there any way to rephrase the “never” line in the “encouraged to” section to give it a “positive” phrasing? Generally with policies like this humans tend to see a word like “never” as harder to buy into than the same principle phrased in a positive way. My quick take would be something like, “to remember that I am not my character and disruptive behavior affects other players poorly.”

  12. < ![CDATA[Jason Ambrose the number one thing you can do to make sure you're not just biding time until something happens is have a policy. They really work as deterrent! (Which is why I'm so happy to see this post!) Mark Delsing - my one comment is is there any way to rephrase the "never" line in the "encouraged to" section to give it a "positive" phrasing? Generally with policies like this humans tend to see a word like "never" as harder to buy into than the same principle phrased in a positive way. My quick take would be something like, "to remember that I am not my character and disruptive behavior affects other players poorly."]]>

  13. < ![CDATA[Jason Ambrose No incidents of which I am aware. Mostly I am trying to get out in front of it. It also makes sense that we should have a policy in place, given how long Gameday has been around.]]>

  14. Avonelle Wing That’s great link; thank you!

    I started with G+ because I knew there were a lot of people in my circles who’d worked on such policies before. 

    I’m also curious about the issue of enforcement. My gamed happens inside of a local store, so I am not the actual owner of the space. What more can I really do beyond ask someone to love the general vicinity of our event area? How does the store figure into this?

  15. < ![CDATA[Avonelle Wing That's great link; thank you! I started with G+ because I knew there were a lot of people in my circles who'd worked on such policies before.  I'm also curious about the issue of enforcement. My gamed happens inside of a local store, so I am not the actual owner of the space. What more can I really do beyond ask someone to love the general vicinity of our event area? How does the store figure into this?]]>

  16. Hi Mark Delsing, Have you discussed this with Kurt @ Games-Plus? I am concerned that we might be overstepping our bounds as we are their guests, since we do not actually rent the space. I’m not saying a having a policy is bad at all, just that they may have something in place.

  17. < ![CDATA[Hi Mark Delsing, Have you discussed this with Kurt @ Games-Plus? I am concerned that we might be overstepping our bounds as we are their guests, since we do not actually rent the space. I'm not saying a having a policy is bad at all, just that they may have something in place.]]>

  18. Here’s a second draft, incorporating everyone’s feedback. I’ve put the stuff about photos and possessions in the “strong encouraged” section and assume that should those behaviors turn into harassment, they essentially fall under the harassment section. I also replaced “aggressive, argumentative” with a more general “actively disruptive”, i.e., you’re being argumentative specifically in order to harass someone or prevent their event from happening.

    Chicago Gameday Policies and Expected Behavior

    Chicago Gameday aims to create a safe environment in which all attendees — regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion —  can enjoy our shared hobby. To do that, we need your help. 

    When you attend Gameday, we ask that you abide by the following rules.

    You are strongly encouraged to:
    • Treat everyone around you with respect and courtesy;
    • Share the spotlight and help your fellow attendees have fun;
    • Embrace the theme and tone of the game you are playing;
    • Step away from the game table if you need to use your phone or eat;
    • Remember that you are not your character — you are a real, live human being sharing a table with others;
    • Say something when you see others cheating or acting in ways described in the “asked to leave” section below;
    • Ask permission before handling an attendee’s posessions;
    • Ask permission before taking someone’s picture;
    • Clean up after yourself and help to keep the Games Plius play space tidy.

    You will be asked to leave if you:
    • Harass anyone physically, verbally, emotionally, or by other means;
    • Behave in ways that are actively disruptive, racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic.

    You are aware that Chicago Gameday’s organizers and volunteers will not be held liable for:
    • Any damage to or loss of personal items;
    • Any personal injury that occurs during the event or on Games Plus’ premises;
    • Any punitive, incidental, consequential, or special damages whether or not such damages could have been foreseen and/or prevented.

  19. < ![CDATA[Here's a second draft, incorporating everyone's feedback. I've put the stuff about photos and possessions in the "strong encouraged" section and assume that should those behaviors turn into harassment, they essentially fall under the harassment section. I also replaced "aggressive, argumentative" with a more general "actively disruptive", i.e., you're being argumentative specifically in order to harass someone or prevent their event from happening. ​ Chicago Gameday Policies and Expected Behavior Chicago Gameday aims to create a safe environment in which all attendees — regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, age or religion —  can enjoy our shared hobby. To do that, we need your help.  When you attend Gameday, we ask that you abide by the following rules. You are strongly encouraged to: • Treat everyone around you with respect and courtesy; • Share the spotlight and help your fellow attendees have fun; • Embrace the theme and tone of the game you are playing; • Step away from the game table if you need to use your phone or eat; • Remember that you are not your character — you are a real, live human being sharing a table with others; • Say something when you see others cheating or acting in ways described in the “asked to leave” section below; • Ask permission before handling an attendee's posessions; • Ask permission before taking someone's picture; • Clean up after yourself and help to keep the Games Plius play space tidy. You will be asked to leave if you: • Harass anyone physically, verbally, emotionally, or by other means; • Behave in ways that are actively disruptive, racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic. You are aware that Chicago Gameday’s organizers and volunteers will not be held liable for: • Any damage to or loss of personal items; • Any personal injury that occurs during the event or on Games Plus’ premises; • Any punitive, incidental, consequential, or special damages whether or not such damages could have been foreseen and/or prevented.]]>

  20. < ![CDATA[That is a lot better. 🙂 "Step away from the game table if you need to use your phone or EAT;" People eat at the tables all of the time, snacks and meals. I'm not sure I understand this part.]]>

  21. Reid San Filippo I cribbed that from the GoD doc that John provided. I can see the purpose, though, as I often find it disruptive when people eat during the game, especially if it’s messy food that gets all over the table.

    Now, I’m mostly defining “eat” as “eat a meal” here. Snacking seems fairly innocuous.

    Regardless, it’s an encouragement, not a prohibition.

  22. < ![CDATA[Reid San Filippo I cribbed that from the GoD doc that John provided. I can see the purpose, though, as I often find it disruptive when people eat during the game, especially if it's messy food that gets all over the table. Now, I'm mostly defining "eat" as "eat a meal" here. Snacking seems fairly innocuous. Regardless, it's an encouragement, not a prohibition.]]>

  23. OK…no offense meant to anyone. I’d go as a first attempt – this allows adjustment as the gamedays go by and you find you need it. I’d go with something like this..

    Chicago Gameday aims to create a safe environment in which all attendees can enjoy our shared hobby. To do that, we need your help. When you attend Gameday, we ask that you treat everyone around you with respect and courtesy.

    You will be asked to leave if you:
    Harass anyone physically, verbally, emotionally, or by other means;
    Behave in ways that are actively disruptive and/or contrary to these goals.

    You are strongly encouraged to:
    Share the spotlight and help your fellow attendees have fun;
    Embrace the theme and tone of the game you are playing;
    Step away from the game table if you need to use your phone or eat;
    Say something if you see others acting in a manner contrary to these goals;
    Clean up after yourself and help to keep the Games Plus play space tidy

    I’m not sure about these two. I can see the objective, I’m just not sure how to accomplish it.
    Ask permission before handling an attendee’s posessions;
    Ask permission before taking someone’s picture;

    IMHO, YMMV, etc.

  24. < ![CDATA[OK...no offense meant to anyone. I'd go as a first attempt - this allows adjustment as the gamedays go by and you find you need it. I'd go with something like this.. Chicago Gameday aims to create a safe environment in which all attendees can enjoy our shared hobby. To do that, we need your help. When you attend Gameday, we ask that you treat everyone around you with respect and courtesy. You will be asked to leave if you: Harass anyone physically, verbally, emotionally, or by other means; Behave in ways that are actively disruptive and/or contrary to these goals. You are strongly encouraged to: Share the spotlight and help your fellow attendees have fun; Embrace the theme and tone of the game you are playing; Step away from the game table if you need to use your phone or eat; Say something if you see others acting in a manner contrary to these goals; Clean up after yourself and help to keep the Games Plus play space tidy I’m not sure about these two. I can see the objective, I’m just not sure how to accomplish it. Ask permission before handling an attendee's posessions; Ask permission before taking someone's picture; IMHO, YMMV, etc.]]>

  25. Jim Skach with all due respect, removing all of the text regarding racism, sexism, etc. defeats the purpose of the document.

    As for asking permission, all that’s necessary is asking before you act. “Hey, do you mind if I use your dice?” “Anyone mind if I take a picture?” It’s basic manners and doesn’t seem a lot to ask. I do it all the time when I take pics of the tables.

  26. < ![CDATA[Jim Skach with all due respect, removing all of the text regarding racism, sexism, etc. defeats the purpose of the document. As for asking permission, all that's necessary is asking before you act. "Hey, do you mind if I use your dice?" "Anyone mind if I take a picture?" It's basic manners and doesn't seem a lot to ask. I do it all the time when I take pics of the tables.]]>

  27. You’re right about the permission thing. Leaving them in the strongly encouraged section is probably the best approach. For some reason I’m getting hung up on the picture thing. I’ve had my kids at Game day when they were very young (I think 7 and 8). I took a ton of pics. I’m sure there are people in those pics that I did not intend to capture. Sometimes I posted those pics in various places to show-off CGD. Perhaps I’m concerned this might curtail that great way to showcase CGD.

    I assumed the purpose of the document was to be “anti-harassment”. Once one starts listing the nature of the harassment, it can subtly (or not so subtly) shift the purpose of the document and can lead to rules lawyer-ing – “Well, I don’t see my particular kind of target listed, so I didn’t violate the rules.” The beauty in leaving it open ended is it gives CGD more room to maneuver if necessary.

  28. < ![CDATA[You're right about the permission thing. Leaving them in the strongly encouraged section is probably the best approach. For some reason I'm getting hung up on the picture thing. I've had my kids at Game day when they were very young (I think 7 and 8). I took a ton of pics. I'm sure there are people in those pics that I did not intend to capture. Sometimes I posted those pics in various places to show-off CGD. Perhaps I'm concerned this might curtail that great way to showcase CGD. I assumed the purpose of the document was to be "anti-harassment". Once one starts listing the nature of the harassment, it can subtly (or not so subtly) shift the purpose of the document and can lead to rules lawyer-ing - "Well, I don't see my particular kind of target listed, so I didn't violate the rules." The beauty in leaving it open ended is it gives CGD more room to maneuver if necessary.]]>

  29. Jim Skach, if I might, the picture thing, in practice isn’t a big deal. I had similar feelings to yours when someone first mentioned the idea of asking for permission first. As someone who is used to taking pictures in public and at events, the idea of stopping to ask for permission seemed weird and potentially inhibiting to the way I like to do things. But the truth is, most people don’t mind, and it didn’t really slow me down at all. Plus, I just had to adjust my attitude and realize it’s more about making everyone else comfortable than about my great photos.

    As far as capturing someone in the background, I don’t know. It’s never been an issue, but most people who don’t want their photo taken are pretty awesome at leaning out of the way without me even realizing it. If it became an issue, I suppose I’d delete the photo if requested.

    It’s not a policy I’d like to see spread everywhere, but I think it makes sense when people are trying to roleplay/game in a non-public place. And it’s certainly appropriate to implement it as a policy at a private event like GameDay.

  30. < ![CDATA[Jim Skach, if I might, the picture thing, in practice isn't a big deal. I had similar feelings to yours when someone first mentioned the idea of asking for permission first. As someone who is used to taking pictures in public and at events, the idea of stopping to ask for permission seemed weird and potentially inhibiting to the way I like to do things. But the truth is, most people don't mind, and it didn't really slow me down at all. Plus, I just had to adjust my attitude and realize it's more about making everyone else comfortable than about my great photos. As far as capturing someone in the background, I don't know. It's never been an issue, but most people who don't want their photo taken are pretty awesome at leaning out of the way without me even realizing it. If it became an issue, I suppose I'd delete the photo if requested. It's not a policy I'd like to see spread everywhere, but I think it makes sense when people are trying to roleplay/game in a non-public place. And it's certainly appropriate to implement it as a policy at a private event like GameDay.]]>

  31. Jim Skach The flip side is that if no kinds of harassment are defined, then the subject becomes a moving target. This way it’s clear was the basic parameters are, plus the line about harassment is fairly all-encompassing, so actions beyond those defined are also covered.

    As for photos, in the past I never asked permission, but then I was made aware that various people were not comfortable with that, so I changed my behavior. It’s worked pretty much fine ever since.

  32. < ![CDATA[Jim Skach The flip side is that if no kinds of harassment are defined, then the subject becomes a moving target. This way it's clear was the basic parameters are, plus the line about harassment is fairly all-encompassing, so actions beyond those defined are also covered. As for photos, in the past I never asked permission, but then I was made aware that various people were not comfortable with that, so I changed my behavior. It's worked pretty much fine ever since.]]>

  33. One more update. I’ve rearranged the document a bit to more clearly separate the harassment policies and liability stuff from the “it would be nice if you did this” list of behaviors, in hopes that the two don’t get confused, i.e., you will be asked to leave if you eat something during a game.

    Here it is as a Google Doc:
    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1txpjZ3sivE7V98w7XG_sPmu-bnPhfgv1GsAu11rPNt0/edit?usp=sharing

  34. < ![CDATA[One more update. I've rearranged the document a bit to more clearly separate the harassment policies and liability stuff from the "it would be nice if you did this" list of behaviors, in hopes that the two don't get confused, i.e., you will be asked to leave if you eat something during a game. Here it is as a Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1txpjZ3sivE7V98w7XG_sPmu-bnPhfgv1GsAu11rPNt0/edit?usp=sharing]]>