Letter_Taini_and_Artix

AE

A Letter to you from Taini and Artix

Artix Krieger | Friday, May 6, 2022

Dear AdventureQuest 3D Community,

It is just past 2 am. For the last six hours Taini Flaremist and I have been talking and co-writing this letter to you. If you're a member of our community and are aware of what has been happening the last few days, you're probably wondering why we're here together and what kind of lasting change is going to come out of this... because that is the only possible good outcome after these last few rough days.

If you don't know what has been going on, just know that Taini and a junior AQ3D developer had a personal relationship that ended badly last October. They were both off-site and have never met each other in person. While she continued to receive unwanted personal messages, she did not make that explicitly known to me until the end of March. That does not excuse the developer's reaction, but because she did not feel like the situation was addressed thoroughly enough, she chose to leave the team. 

We are here today to reunite, to resolve all of the issues, and to move forward together from a place of change, action, and accountability.

Today, we acknowledge what we’ve seen and heard from our staff and from our most important group – the community. The last three days have been an absolute whirlwind of emotions, and we know that the community has taken a huge hit because of it. We want to make it known that it is our commitment to you that we will be changing going forward and we could not do that without Taini’s help. This will be a long process, for both Taini and us, and we will all need time to heal. 

We know that if you're still reading this, it is because you really care about what's been going on in the game and community. We want to sincerely thank you for still being here and apologize for everything you just went through. 

Here is how we got to this point over the last few days, and these are the steps we take to ensure you never need to go through this again.

TL;DR ("Too Long, Didn't read") 

  1. This past monday, after a paid month off, AQ3D Community Manager Taini quit. (She was not fired, nor let go. She was given a paid month leave, after which she chose to resign.)
  2. On Wednesday, we demoted the developer who instigated this situation. Moving forward, Yergen will return as the game lead of AdventureQuest 3D. 
  3. We spoke with all parties involved over the last 48 hours.
  4. Investigation and legal counsel concluded that there was no sexual harrassment. However, that does not excuse any other inappropriate behavior.
  5. Taini and Artix spoke and resolved all remaining issues. (Together, we are writing the letter you're reading now.)
  6. Taini is rejoining the community as a player during this healing process.
  7. We are setting up salary reviews with team members to address disparities. 
  8. We are clarifying how all team members can contact our Human Resources manager for any concern or question.

Up until now, this letter has been written as a joint effort. But it is important that you get to hear directly from Taini, in her own words.

Taini's Letter

I have been a part of this community for at least half my life at this point, and while my recent actions may not have come across this way, I have always had its best interests at heart. Even in writing and posting everything I did, I did not want Artix Entertainment to crash and burn. I never even originally wanted to leave, and I want to be sure to reiterate that fact so that hopefully this course of action makes sense to you after everything.  

I recognize that these games and this community are people’s childhoods. That they mean a lot to people, and that they have invested so much time and love into them. That there are wonderful staff with ideas and passions here that had no part in what happened, and they do not deserve to lose their livelihoods over this. I wanted better, for my colleagues as well as myself, and the best way I can help work towards better is by being an active part of it. I understand that some of them probably are upset with me and my actions, and I fully understand and accept that. I hope one day that those that haven’t reached out for whatever reason know that I did mean well, and that I am sorry for the distress I have caused you. 

Leaving, as well as my recent actions, are a direct result of frustrations I have harbored and not feeling heard, and there are better ways to solve these problems. I recognize that. It is an explanation for my actions, not a justification. I want to repeat that no, the harassment was not happening in the staff server. It was not happening in the community server. My leads were not watching this happen and ignoring it. I had to explain that it happened in private. I recognize that as a contractor I do not have what are considered traditional working hours, so I understand the validity in the phrase that it did not happen on work hours. Digital spaces are tricky, and while there is room for improvement with how situations in them are handled, this is not purely an AE specific problem. After this discussion, and the further investigations, I feel we are moving forward the best way we can given what happened and the medium in which it took place.

I recognize that AE is a small company and has limited staff in some positions. They are specialized talents that take a lot of time to learn and do well. Me asking AE to fire someone that is 1 of 2 people in a very specific position would only be detrimental to the games and the community that loves them so much. I want to move forward, but I do not want to do that at the expense of the game. When I talked with Artix, I said that part of my battle was wanting better, and it would not be better for me to make a demand that cripples the game’s development. I recognize that this person’s expertise is needed.

I appreciate Artix reaching out to me personally and trusting me with sensitive information, as well as still being willing to build a bridge forward with me after everything I did. It was a very large show of trust and vulnerability to contact me how he did, given I have been a raging tower of fire for the last 3 days. I genuinely appreciate it. I also appreciate you guys. I want to give you the full, unvarnished truth. 

This has been a really emotional couple of days.  The messages the other developer I was sent were unwanted and inappropriate, and because we had had a personal relationship, some of them were of a sexual nature but I never claimed they rose to the level of sexual harassment in my original document. On Twitter, the term "sexual harassment" started being used. I got caught up in the moment and used it as well. 

We can address that what happened was wrong and that Artix and AE are helping me heal without painting me as a drama queen. Helping me heal and the messages I received being unwanted are not contradictions. We are rectifying the situation together. 

I now feel as if I have been heard, I feel safe in what has happened and what will happen going forward, and how things will be handled in the future. I feel as if justice has been served.

As far as rejoining the community, I will not be rejoining in a staff /moderation capacity at this time. I would like to think we can eventually work toward that possibility. I loved what I did, and AE recognizes that I loved what I did for you. But first we all need time to heal. 

Artix's Letter

Five years from now, I want to look back and know that we did the right thing here. I'm so grateful that Taini took my call. She has been a long-time member of the community and represents the best of us. 

As this unfolded over the last 48 hours, I could not imagine how something positive could come from this. But it has.

The key words here are change, action, and accountability. This situation has led to us updating policies to make sure that all our team members know the resources available to them if they should ever encounter a situation that makes them uncomfortable.  And furthermore, we are now addressing some of the deeper issues mentioned above.

We will listen, we will learn, and we will grow. And to those who say that they'll never forget, don't forget. But it's okay to forgive.

Thank you for being here, for reading this, and for caring. We would not be here without you.

Sincerely,

Artix and Taini ♥

 

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