Major Role Playing Game convention apparently bounces event that banned Zionists

Photo by Dietmar Rabich / Wikimedia Commons / “Würfel, Ikosaeder (W20) — 2021 — 5591” / CC BY-SA 4.0

The world of role-playing games, historically a space that welcomes individuals from all walks of life and has been a safe haven for those who don’t quite fit in elsewhere, has been the latest to become enveloped in exclusion over Israel.

On June 24, Uri Kurlianchik posted a warning on X for “geek friends” who were planning to attend Gen Con, a longstanding convention for tabletop gaming, that an event that was to be hosted at the convention was excluding Zionists. Several online boards in the gaming community also were discussing the ban.

Within hours, that event, the Creator Recognition in TTRGP Awards, announced that it was no longer able to have its event at the convention due to “safety concerns.”

Gen Con is the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America, held Aug. 1 to 4 in Indianapolis. The convention includes role-playing games, strategy games, collectible card games, miniature war games and more. Founded in 1968, the convention draws around 50,000.

The CRIT Awards “is a peer driven award show striving to recognize creators in an inclusive and positive way,” but the guidelines for this year’s awards excluded as nominees “individuals who identify as Zionists, promote Zionist material, or engage in activities that without a doubt support Zionism.”

Zionism is the belief that Jews are entitled to national self-determination in their ancient homeland, and surveys show that well over 80 percent of Jews identify with Israel in some manner.

The nominee guideline about Zionism was listed under a section called “inclusivity and respect,” which stated that the CRIT Awards does not tolerate racism, homophobia, ableism or sexism.

Kurlianchik noted that the guidelines “officially excludes nearly all Jews, Israelis, and anyone who believes Israel has the right to exist,” calling it “insane bigotry.”

A few hours later, “Ivy and the CRIT Awards Board” issued its statement, “due to recent events and the attention that we have received, it is with an extremely heavy heart and much disappointment that the CRIT Awards will be unable to return to Gencon for it’s (sic) 2024 event, due to safety concerns.”

Instead, they will have a virtual event, and acknowledge that there may be nominees “who wish to remove their participation.” They will issue refunds for tickets to the event.

They added, “We want to take this moment to reaffirm our stance that hate in any capacity will not be tolerated, by any individual or groups within our event. We ask for patience as we come to terms with the situation, and want to thank the community for the outpouring of support and positivity.”

Nominations for the awards had been taken through May 31, and on June 3 they announced that their Gencon event was almost sold out. Finalists were announced and voting opened on June 14, and on that day the awards coordinators stated on X that “we at the CRIT Awards would like to take a moment to publicly acknowledge this so there is no confusion” reiterating the “updated portion in our Code of Conduct” that barred Zionists.

Earlier in June, the CRIT Awards feed touted a fundraiser by TTRPGs for Palestine, with a goal of $100,000 for Medical Aid for Palestinians. NGO Monitor says the British-based charity was warned by the Charity Commission for England and Wales in 2019 because part of the money raised was being used “towards political propaganda rather than for its stated purpose of providing medical aid.” A $300,000 grant from MAP from 2019 to 2021 went to a Gaza organization founded and directed by senior members of the terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

This publication has reached out to the CRIT team for comment.

CriticalBard, who said on X that they are a host for the awards, said Gen Con “has chosen money over morals” and that due to “backroom bull—” the awards were told to “leave or we’ll make you leave.”