As part of our commitment to making gaming open, approachable, and safe for everyone, we set and adhere to serious standards of behavior for everyone working with us. In order to make gaming better for everyone, we believe we have to lead by example.
When listeners raise concerns about the content of our podcasts, or the character of the people we choose to work with, we take them seriously. We do not agree with or act on every concern brought to us. We do scrutinize our actions, and measure them against the ethical standards we believe we must uphold.
In serious cases, we feel it is necessary to investigate claims and publicly announce what they are and how we plan to address them. The ONE SHOT Network will have to formalize and post our ethical standards so this process can be transparent in the future.
What is going on?
During our network panel last Gencon, we announced our intention to add new actual play programs to our network. More than that, we announced our intention to add hosts who were people of color, so we could uphold diverse voices and embody the growing face of the gaming community. In October, we announced that Jim McClure and Priyanko “Pranks” Paul would be hosting new actual play programs on our network.
A few months ago, we were contacted by an outgoing Patreon backer with this message:
Pranks has been an active member of the ONE SHOT community, friend, and collaborator since we met at Valorcon in 2015. We have even collaborated with him on projects like Never Tell Me the Pods. However, sexual harassment is something we approach with grave seriousness.
We decided to halt production on Adventure immediately while we conducted our investigation.
To ensure that we are fair to victims, and to mitigate the influence of rape culture, when someone says harm has taken place, we assume harm has taken place. Meaning we are not looking for reasonable doubt to exonerate an allegedly guilty party. We were contacted by someone claiming that because of Pranks’ actions, people were harassed. Therefore, we assume that Pranks did something to provoke harassment of another person. The investigation is to determine how we will respond to this information, not whether or not we believe it is true.
The first thing we tried to do was ask the accuser for more detailed information about this harassment. Before we confronted Pranks, we wanted to be certain that we understood exactly what took place. However, this message was sent to us after the accuser left our Patreon. Once someone leaves us as a Patron, we lose access to information like their email address. We reached out in the following ways:
- Responding to the initial message. We did not receive a response. We discovered that we were the only project this person was backing on Patreon, so it is likely they were ignoring updates from Patreon after they stopped backing us.
- We hunted through any archived Patreon information. Unfortunately Patreon no longer provides archived information. Once someone leaves, you cannot contact them, which is probably a good thing generally speaking.
- We searched our gmail inbox and found a message from another backer that mentioned the accuser by name. We reached out to that person to verify that:
A. This was the person we were trying to talk to.
B. If so, to see if they would be willing to talk to us.
We received a response notifying us the accuser did not wish to discuss the matter further. In accordance with their wishes, we stopped attempting to communicate with them.
Not having a way to speak further with the accuser to find more information, we were forced to confront Pranks with only the original accusation.
Pranks took the accusation as seriously as we did. He pointed us in the direction of this article published in his campus newspaper in 2008. The article was about “dormcest,” a slang term for a relationship between two people from the same dorm or residence hall on a college or university campus. In the article, Pranks is quoted saying he and his friends kept a chart/betting pool tracking relationships on campus:
A lot in this article matched up with the accusation made against Pranks:
- “Dormcest,” a slang term that was completely new to us being used to describe campus relationships.
- The presence of a chart tracking relationships matches “keeping a list of…sexual partners.”
- The ability to bet on the viability of certain relationships implies the dissemination of this information.
All of that could lead to people being harassed for their sexual histories. If we didn’t already assume harm, this article clearly implies the potential for harm.
This is where things got complicated. Pranks claimed that there was no such list and he had intentionally mislead the journalist he spoke to in order to make the article more interesting. He shared a gchat record from 2008 about the article in question to corroborate this.
In addition he provided testimony from his classmates at the time who said there was no such list or chart. Pranks explicitly stated that he said “a lot of horrible, false things,” in the article, but does not state which things were false. Also, “it should be entertaining for those in the know,” could imply the existence of a circle of people with knowledge of a list of relationships. The testimony of Pranks’ classmates corroborates his story. However, because these witnesses are Pranks’ friends we have to take into account their bias towards him.
While Pranks denied the existence of an actual betting pool or chart detailing people’s relationships, he did not deny the possibility that he could have disseminated information about people’s sexual histories through rumors and gossip.
We’ll let Pranks admit to wrongdoing and apologize in his own words:
I’d like to take this opportunity to state how sorry I am for the harm referenced by the Patreon subscriber in their communication to James and Kat. I have no information as to the identity of this person, and they have made it clear to James and Kat that they have no wish to be contacted further. Regardless, I believe that when an individual has been harmed by your actions, the first, best course of action is to apologize and take responsibility for the harm that took place. Whoever this person is, I sincerely regret the harm that was caused them and their friends.
Next, I would like to take responsibility for my role in the harm that occurred. My recollection of the events in question is imperfect, as they took place over nine years ago. I state this not to provide an excuse, but to be open and honest about the information I have.
The article in our college newspaper was on the subject of “dormcest”, a phenomenon when two people from the same dorm enter into relationships. My inner circle of friends had long joked about dormcest and many of us were engaged in dormcest relationships. I thought it would be funny to tell the reporter that bets were being placed about the length that intra-dorm relationships lasted, and that a chart existed tracking these relationships. This was a purely tongue-in-cheek comment, and I was oblivious to the potential harms this would cause. It was extremely poor judgment on my part, and it appears to have resulted in injury to others in the form of harmful gossip. Though I can’t remember specifics, gossip is definitely something I was guilty of in college; I take full responsibility for my role in causing this harm.
Having taken responsibility, it’s time to make sure I am doing the work. I will be extremely careful moving forward about what I say to media sources that are writing about any communities I am part of. Though the harm in question took place several years ago, I can make sure I minimize my involvement in the practice of gossip in the future. I and any spaces I control will be vigilant about ensuring that no harassment of any kind takes place, and I will continue to use my platform on the ONE SHOT Network to be as supportive and inclusive of as many voices as possible. Though I can’t undo the harm that was caused, I hope you all will accept my sincere apology.
Based on the information we were able to obtain, We believe the following:
- When Pranks was in college, he likely lied to a student journalist about “dormcest” as an ill-advised “joke.”
- Related to the actions described in the article or not, Pranks likely disseminated information about other’s sexual histories in the form of gossip. This could have easily led to one or more parties being harassed.
- The harassment in question did not come from Pranks personally, but likely occurred because of his actions.
With this information, Prank’s apology, and the fact that all this occurred when Pranks was 19 in mind, we have decided to continue producing Adventure as planned, with Pranks as its host.
We personally believe that people should be held accountable for their mistakes, and also be provided the opportunity to grow from them. This happened at a time in our friend’s life when he was more careless and irresponsible. A time when we were careless and irresponsible. We acknowledge that Pranks has done things in his past that have caused real harm. Based on our knowledge of his current character, his ownership of, and apology for his actions, we believe he is still a good voice for our network.
In the interest of transparency, we have laid out our investigation here. We acknowledge that not all people would draw the same conclusions based on the same evidence. If you have a moral objections to what Pranks did in his past that will make listening to Adventure impossible, we have provided you with the opportunity to avoid it. If you have lost faith in our network because you disagree with our decision, we are sorry to see you go, but we stand behind it.
This decision was based on all the information we currently have available. We reserve the right to new action based on new evidence should it become available.
James and Kat