'BattleTech' Developer Accused of Sexual Harassment, Resigns


#1

In the past few days, Harebrained Schemes designer Tyler Carpenter has been accused of sexual abuse and harassment by at least six women on social media. The allegations range from inappropriate groping to repeated expressions of romantic and sexual interest after repeatedly being told to stop. Carpenter, who recently worked as a systems and missions designer on BattleTech, told Waypoint via email he’s resigning over the allegations.

“My bullshit is not the kind of thing HBS [Harebrained Schemes] stands for or tolerates, and HBS had no idea any of this happened,” Carpenter told Waypoint in a statement. “Because of that, for the good of HBS and my victims, I've resigned from HBS effective immediately. There doesn't need to be any inquiry because, frankly, everything is true.”

Carpenter’s Twitter account is currently locked, but he allowed me access, in order to verify his identity and recent comments.

Harebrained, who was recently acquired by strategy publisher Paradox Interactive, confirmed Carpenter was no longer with the company, calling it an immediate dismissal. They also released a statement on Twitter.

“There has been communication between Paradox and Harebrained Schemes on this matter and it has already been dealt with internally,” said the companies in a joint statement. “Tyler Carpenter has been dismissed from the company with immediate effect. All of this took place prior to the acquisition deal between Paradox and Harebrained Schemes being finalised, so therefore Paradox have no comment to make.”

Carpenter has been at Harebrained for more than three years, according to Linkedin.

“This person repeatedly stated that he had romantic and sexual feelings for me, even after I asked him to stop,” said Lauren Bond, a cosplayer and streamer known as RandomTuesday online and who worked with Carpenter on various role-playing streams, on Twitter. “He openly flirted with me in front of my girlfriend.”

Besides Harebrained, Carpenter was a gamemaster and host for various streams, including Death From Above, a playthrough of a homemade BattleTech game, and Games of Divinity, where a group of six played Exalted, a high fantasy RPG with a mixture of mythologies.

Sally Jordan was one of the people who played Exalted with Carpenter, and said from the moment she met Carpenter, he regularly engaged in sexual harassment. Jordan shared an email she sent to Geek Space TV, the production company that hosted the Exalted stream, in which she detailed various encounters she’d had.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong, one of the previous games from Harebrained Schemes.

It started as “creepy behavior,” in which Carpenter would spam her Facebook inbox with messages and leave comments on photos saying “cute butt.” Then, it escalated. Carpenter became fixated on Jordan. At a social gathering for folks involved in various RPG streams, he made an in-person comment about her body which Jordan called out. Carpenter, however, “laughed it off,” and said he was in an open marriage.

“I was floored at how he completely wrote off me telling him straight up that I didn't like him commenting on my body,” she wrote in the email, “suggesting it wasn't about how it made me feel personally but simply that I was worried about his own personal life.”

Jordan said that, like most women, she was uncomfortably used to men treating her poorly, but it was complicated with Carpenter; he was the kind of well-connected person who could, in theory, affect her career. She tried to convince herself his actions weren’t a big deal, and focused on the work instead.

“Because this was someone who worked at the same place as me, in a 'field' I was trying to move up in, “she wrote, “and he was friends with people I very much enjoyed, as well as people who could be hugely influential on my career, I just continued ignoring his advances and creepy messages, hoping he'd eventually 'get it' and stop, allowing me to maintain a cordial acquaintanceship without having to make it an issue.”

Until Exalted, Jordan and Carpenter hadn’t worked on a project together, they’d merely been in the same space and came to know one another, due to sheer proximity. She was hesitant to join Exalted, but the situation snowballed, and she ended up in the cast.

When the stream was announced, there was a private cast party at someone’s apartment. Towards the end of the night, Carpenter approached Jordan and physically grabbed her butt.

“My immediate knee-jerk reaction was loudly saying, ‘No, I don't like that,’” she wrote. “He laughed and said, ‘Too bad, it happened.’ He left shortly after that.”

“I was floored at how he completely wrote off me telling him straight up that I didn't like him commenting on my body, "suggesting it wasn't about how it made me feel personally but simply that I was worried about his own personal life.”

Moments later, Jordan shared what happened with the group, sparking a larger discussion about Carpenter’s behavior, and what he’d been saying in private about Jordan and others.

“I went home and cried,” she wrote. “But again, I convinced myself not to press it further. If I did, I would ruin the show for everyone.”

His attention towards her continued, but she remained silent. What changed was #MeToo, and the growing conversation about sexual harassment women regularly experience each day. She decided to seize the moment, write down what happened, and tell someone.

(In our conversation, Jordan repeatedly emphasized her time with Geek Space TV was otherwise enjoyable. She considers it a company that takes sexual harassment seriously.)

After the email was sent, Carpenter was dropped from the game. Hyper RPG, the channel that hosted Carpenter’s Death From Above stream, issued a vague tweet about how it “does not and will not work with people accused of physical or emotional abuse in any form.” Zombie Orpheus Entertainment, the video production studio that's taking over Death From Above, was much more pointed and called Carpenter out by name.

“Believe every accusation,” Carpenter told me. “I don't recall each one, and some I have a different recollection of, but obviously the sheer mass of shared experiences means that I'm the one who's got a faulty memory, not them. I hurt, emotionally manipulated, and wrong [sic ]every one of those accusers due to my own selfishness, thoughtlessness, and need for validation.”

And as Carpenter’s comment suggests, Jordan was not alone.

“When he crossed the line, I pushed him away,” said Guild Wars 2 writer and editor Elan Stimmel, who previously worked on Shadowrun: Hong Kong at Harebrained, on Twitter. “I stopped talking to him. He got angry. He would flip back and forth between ‘it's okay you're not talking to me’ and ‘don't you care about how I feel?’ Sent me emotionally manipulative messages for months.”

Stimmel said she’d “lived in fear of him for years,” even after she started pushing back. Though Stimmel told Carpenter “no over and over,” he’d “repeatedly test my boundaries.” She remained silent out of fear it might impact her career in games, a common refrain for why individuals who experience harassment in video games—and society writ large— choose to remain silent.

She eventually stopped hanging out with certain people in her life, folks who were in Carpenter’s social circle, because she was afraid this might lead to another encounter.

But as women broke their silence, more came forward, one after the other.

“I'm so glad someone finally named him,” said Jessica Price, a writer and editor on ArenaNet’s narrative team, on Twitter. “because I haven't been able to talk about this because none of the victims (AFAIK) had gone public. This guy is a gaslighting, assaulting, harassing abuser and people need to be warned.”

On a now-locked Twitter account last weekend, he issued a broad apology about doing “some pretty unforgivable things to quite a few people, but one in particular.”

He told me this was in reference to Jordan, the woman he touched inappropriately.

“I harassed and abused a friend of mine for a variety of shitty reasons,” he wrote, “and I don't want anyone making excuses for me. The things I did should not be excused by anyone.”

In January, after realizing “something was deeply wrong with how I was relating to people,” Carpenter began seeking professional help. He hasn’t reached out to any of the women who’ve made allegations against him, and has considered a revised apology.

It’s unclear whether an apology, sincere or not, would make a difference.

“I feel vindicated and also terrible at the same time,” wrote one of the accusers yesterday.

Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: patrick.klepek@vice.com.

Have thoughts? Swing by Waypoints forums to share them!


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/yweqk5/harebrained-schemes-designer-accused-of-sexual-harassment-resigns

#2

That’s a big shock to me.
I had really enjoyed this person’s tabletop Roleplay Streams, but knowing they were harassing women in the community is unacceptable.
It’s really fucking gross.
I hope those affected get the comfort they deserve.
I grew up sexually harassed and assaulted by an older girl in highschool, and know how shitty that can be, and how it can affect you years down the line.
Only it’s worse, as these women were harassed by someone who can affect their careers. I can’t imagine if my abuser had that power over me, and I suppose that’s part of my priviledge being a dude.

I recommend anyone reading this story wondering how to navigate relations, getting consent, flirting, whatever,
to check out the video series, Hot for Teacher, by GM Adam Koebel.
Each episode focuses on 3 reader submitted questons, and I think most folk will come away from a few videos knowing a bit more about how to handle this stuff.

I found it put to words some of the things I had to learn the hard way, decades ago.
Our society and our school systems, don’t properly address how to do all this stuff the right way.
It’s not remotely acceptable, even if there is widespread ignorance on the subject, for these folk to hurt others.


#3

I think this is necessary context to anyone who might otherwise consider this a refreshingly open-and-shut case.


#4

also:


#5

That kind of self-flagellating acknowledgement reminds me a lot of my ex from college, who used to stub my own cigarettes out on my arm.

IME, the"I’m a monster!" routine is frequently a sympathy ploy, unless you’re Buster Bluth.


#6

I continue to find these stories unsettling in the level of detail published about the victims.


#7

While I’m happy this is being reported on, I have to agree with the two tweets posted earlier. I wish Patrick had gone a bit harder on Carpenter’s self-flagellation. To me it’s creepy and damaging, but the amount of people happy he just “owned up to it” is telling. I don’t know if there’s really a way to temper that response, maybe quoting Harebrained’s statement (which I think was good and appropriate), rather than closing on the words of a serial abuser and an unattributed quote.

Sorry if this sounds a little passive aggressive. I generally think what’s happening here is good, but this one big misstep is bothering me.


#8

What would the appropriate response, in terms of helping the victims, be from the people who do this kind of thing?

Upon first reading the comments from the guy, I was of the “well at least he is sorry and apologizing”. But reading the comments here its clear its…well likely just a long-history of this kind of behavior.

Which leaves me feeling bad for the victims, and wondering what they would best benefit from Re:what their harassers do when this stuff comes out. What should we, as a community who wants to support the victims and shine a light on behavior like this so it stops happening, expect from the people who do this sort of stuff?


#9

I think I’d like it best if they went away and lived in caves and were shunned by society.


#10

Public Admission, Private apology / Restitution, Termination of Contact. Privately getting the help to fix your bullshit - First Victim

There is nothing potential helpful or appropriate- Victim 2, 3, 4, etc, X years down the line.
The best response to finding out you hurt someone is to do the work to stop abusing people, and if possible to make things right.

The main issue is that our communities are so screwed up.
We aren’t isolated so much that our random bullshit put out to twitter or message boards doesn’t have an impact on people.
Why offer up a kind word for someone admitting something monstrous, especially in an environment for the victims to read?
How many folk who read Waypoint, or follow the Roleplay Streaming community, decided to go that route?
It’s not appropriate, and that’s where we need to challenge each other to do better, with the realistic expectations that we can’t solve all of it.
There will always be imperfect folk in our community, but the best response to finding out the community hurt someone, is to do the work to stop it.


#11

I can only heart this response, but I wish I could frown-heart it.


#12

The appropriate response is not to level our anger at a journalist doing their job with integrity. This is a facts based news piece, not an op ed or a blog. That means quotes were clearly sourced as on record (including the victims), as clearly anonymous, or already in the public square (such as Twitter). That means you print the quotes of the abuser as well because they are material facts to the story. No where is Patrick “patting this guy on the back” for his clearly self-serving flagellation (which it 100% is, clear abuser behavior).

Making value judgements about what facts you print and which ones you don’t is dangerous. Printing a thinly veiled op ed as a facts based news story is equally dangerous. That way lies madness and Fox News.

I agree with people who are frustrated with the “Well at least he admitted it” responses…but I didn’t read this piece as that in the slightest. Neither do I lend much credence to that being Patrick’s position. I’ve followed his career for years and he’s always firmly placed himself on the side of victims and has never been easily bamboozled by an abuser’s motives. Don’t confuse stating facts in a disconnected manner with being an apathetic fool.


#13

That’s as may be, but it’s also the job. Most any reportage I can think of makes choices about which information to include and which to exclude. And, yes, those choices are value judgments.


#14

It is extremely possible for someone to both always firmly place themselves on the side of victims and make an occasional mistake with the way they cover something. Twitter is obviously going to have a breadth of opinions, but the vast majority of people replying to the story there and commenting on it here, as far as I can tell, aren’t “leveling anger” at Patrick—they’re giving respectful and constructive criticism. (If they were all super-angry, I’d agree with you on that point, but they’re not.) He’s new to reporting on sexual harrassment, and isn’t very experienced with how to cover a story in ways that ensure it won’t be damaging.

Meanwhile, this idea that news reporting needs to/can ever be 100% factual and 0% value-based is an impossible concept. The choice of what to cover, first off, is always going to a) be a value decision, and b) feed into whatever kind of power relationship is in play in whatever scenario is being reported on. And the choices of how to cover it—literally every writing and framing decision made over the course of an article—are value decisions as well. Specific types of stories can be dangerous for specific groups of people if covered in a certain way. In this case, the way in which the story was written enables a serial abuser who thrives on coverage like this and manipulates it to continue avoiding consequences for his actions.

Specifically here, focusing attention differently throughout the story (because there is no “objective” way to focus attention—attention will always be focused somewhere, either intentionally or as a byproduct of “reporting the facts,” and both are going to have the exact same effect), could have alleviated that. Choosing to focus attention in a way that protects victims or does not enable an abuser does not break some standard of journalistic integrity, because an article is always going to focus attention on some aspect of its content. Not just by what it includes, but by the order in which it places things, the length to which it discusses them, etc. If that’s ignored, it’s just going to happen accidentally anyway, and the result will be the same.


#15

100%. People reacting to this story by getting angry at Patrick…for being a responsible journalist…is just…wow.

No lets report on this and not get a statement from the accused…that’s great journalism there, jfc.


#16

It strikes me that people are holding Patrick to a higher standard than they might other reporters / media outlets because Waypoint’s mission statement has very much been to do better and they perceive that Patrick might actually listen to them, which seems like it could only be a good thing?


#17

It is utterly bizarre to me that people are getting pissed at Patrick for this article.


#18

Agree with @ncortes, and the twitter thread with the_strix (linked up above) basically shows that.

And hold up, actually, where are these people getting pissed at Patrick? I’ve seen maybe two tweets out of ~40 replies to his tweet and others that mention it that I could characterize as that. Everything else is “hey, thanks for writing about this, but here’s how you could have done it better.” If there are actual angry people, I’m not seeing them, and I’m looking.

Y’all, criticism and anger are not the same thing, and a constant stumbling block for internet discourse is that they get conflated and one gets hyperbolized into the other. This happens all the time, someone writes something, someone else offers constructive criticism (which the vast majority of this is), someone else asks why people are angry about it, and suddenly a mob gets invented that doesn’t exist.


#19

We’d like to remind everyone to be mindful of our code of conduct when weighing in on this discussion. Obviously it’s a heavy subject and that is why it’s important to consider other peoples’ perspectives when giving your own two cents. We welcome critique of the piece, as does Patrick, so we needn’t be jumping to his defence over a few folks suggesting changes in regards to how the article was handled. Disagreements over that reaction are also fine but that doesn’t mean you have to then make blanket statements or hyperbolise the situation in a way that inflames the conversation for all involved. In order for this to remain a safe and healthy place to have this discussion we ask that this is kept in mind and we all continue to work to de-escalate and act in good faith.

Thanks
Waypoint Mods


#20

These articles are hard to write in a way that pleases most people and meets the standards of good journalism, and I think Patrick did a decent job at it.

Especially considering that it’s not like his career to date has given him a ton of practice at this kind of article