Update on the situation with Daniele Tascini
In early January, reports surfaced of racist remarks (along with other insensitive or problematic statements) made by Daniele Tascini, a freelance game designer we have worked closely with for the past several years and also a dear friend of some years prior.
As soon as we became aware of his racist comments—before the situation escalated on social media—we reached out to Daniele, in private, to express our condemnation of his words. Both as a company and as individuals, we (Board&Dice and its employees) do not tolerate any form of racism, intended or not. (Further, we condemn all expressions of discrimination and bigotry, whether related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, culture, ethnicity, age, or religion.)
With great disappointment we realized that Daniele initially did not fully understand the gravity and seriousness of his words and the very real harm and hurt that they would cause. We pleaded with him to make a strong public apology, acknowledging the racist nature of his words, while taking full responsibility for his actions and pledging to learn and improve. His initial attempt at an apology failed to acknowledge wrongdoing, being primarily aimed at providing context to his racist remarks. As a result, we informed Daniele that we would suspend all collaboration and work with him, effective immediately. We also issued a public statement announcing this action. (Read more …)
Even though our public statement may have left some questions unanswered, our communications with Daniele (in private) were clear: despite our friendship, for there to ever be a hope of salvaging our work relationship, real actions must be taken. While we have never publicly shared the nature of our many discussions with Daniele—despite repeat accusations from some onlookers that we had overreacted, taken words out of context, or failed to communicate adequately with Daniele himself—rest assured that we have been in close and frequent contact with him this whole time, both in January and during the months that followed. At our cost, we have provided thorough training for Daniele (the same training that every new employee at Board&Dice must undergo) covering topics of racism, diversity, inclusion, cultural respect, and other matters. We have also had numerous long discussions about why his words were wrong, why they caused offense, and why we do not tolerate any form of racism, intended or not.
No matter any apology issued by Daniele, any training undergone, or any assurances of changed behavior or newly awakened understanding—we recognize that we (Board&Dice and its employees) were not directly targeted by his racist statements, though we were disappointed that someone we work with (and would call a friend) would be guilty of outdated racist thinking.
For those offended, hurt, and harmed by Daniele’s words and actions—we hear you. We will never ask of you to forgive him. We will never ask of you to give him a second chance. We will never ask of you to welcome him back into the board game community. His words were racist. He failed to acknowledge wrongdoing and take ownership of his actions. We (Board&Dice, its employees, and Daniele) do not pretend to understand the gravity of the offense, hurt, and harm you suffered.
When the suspended relationship between Board&Dice and Daniele Tascini became public knowledge, a lot of questions arose: How would this impact availability or future support of previously published games involving Daniele as a designer (whether as the sole designer or as a co-designer)? What about the impending release of the third-and-final expansion for Teotihuacan (Teotihuacan: Expansion Period)? What about announced, but not yet released, games involving Daniele as a co-designer (Tabannusi: Builders of Ur)? What about the prospects of expansion content for recently released games involving Daniele as a co-designer (Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun)?
In our initial statement, we confirmed the following: “While we are under contractual obligation to continue to support previously released games designed by Mr. Tascini, we will not consider any future designs of his for publication.” What does this mean? What is the current status of all affected games?
The aforementioned “contractual obligations” are a complex matter involving individual agreements with numerous publishing partners (localization partners or distribution partners) and designers (not just Daniele himself).
Teotihuacan: Expansion Period
This third-and-final expansion for Teotihuacan was already in production in early January. From the very beginning we made it clear that we would not cancel its release. This expansion has since then been released.
Teotihuacan: City of Gods, Late Preclassic Period, and Shadow of Xitle
We will continue to support (and keep in print) Teotihuacan and its expansions in both English and other languages (the latter as determined by the respective localization partners) for the duration of all established contracts, licenses, and agreements.
Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun
We will continue to support (and keep in print) Tekhenu in both English and other languages (the latter as determined by the respective localization partners) for the duration of all established contracts, licenses, and agreements.
Tabannusi: Builders of Ur
While this game was officially announced in August 2020, its final fate was uncertain for a long time, initially likely to be canceled. We have now made the decision to proceed with its release. Tabannusi will therefore be released in October 2021 as initially announced.
Tekhenu: Time of Seth
This unannounced expansion for Tekhenu, spear-headed by Dávid Turczi, will be released in October 2021.
What does this mean for the future?
Until further notice, this does not change anything. Any presently released or upcoming games and expansions are covered by contracts, licenses, and agreements established prior to 2021. We have not signed any new agreements with Daniele Tascini.
In the case of Tabannusi: Builders of Ur, we especially want to honor our agreement with David Spada, the originator of the game idea, though the final game is a co-design between him and Daniele Tascini.
In the case of Tekhenu: Time of Seth, we want to honor our agreements with Daniele Tascini and Dávid Turczi (being equal-parts co-designers of Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun), especially considering that this expansion was spear-headed by Dávid Turczi already in 2020 (though final art was not commissioned until more recently).
We want to stress that no new agreements have been signed with Daniele Tascini, although we are now guardedly opening the door for potential future collaborations with him. Any such collaborations will be dependent on Daniele’s continued path of learning and education, and a marked change in behavior indicative of subscribing to the same principles we do.
Although we may not make public every conversation we have with Daniele, and while he is free to share or not share his personal journey and actions taken, we want to make it clear that this should in no way be interpreted as us regretting or taking back our initial statement or condemnation of Daniele’s racist remarks. Even if we eventually choose to work with Daniele in the future, we are not saying that we definitely intend to do so. We are also not saying that we definitely never will either. We believe that everyone can (and does) make mistakes. Although we trust that Daniele’s (second) apology was sincere and are supportive of his actions, we are ultimately not the ones who Daniele should seek forgiveness from, nor do we believe that forgiveness is something that can be expected or earned. Only given the grace of those who were offended, hurt, and harmed by Daniele’s words and actions can forgiveness be received. Until such a time, even if it never comes, we will continue to support Daniele in his desire and efforts to learn and improve. We all have room to learn and to do better than we did yesterday, particularly when it comes to matters of race, equality, diversity, and inclusion.