Thursday, June 28, 2018

FF14 'The Moogle Post' Founder Accused of Harassment & Blackmail

What happens to a gaming community when the founder of a well-known MMO fan site is accused of sexual harassment and blackmailing? That's going to be the test as fans, followers, and staff of The Moogle Post try to grapple with the recent allegations against Oldbear Stormblood. In a detailed exposé by PC Gamer, over a dozen women have come forward with their stories (and screenshots) of harassment by The Moogle Post creator.

Much of the harassment took place through Discord and Skype; mostly online. Rarely with staff members. His targets were women who were lonely, vulnerable, and looking for some form of companionship. The tactics employed are known as 'love-bombing.' One person showers another with an overabundance of affection, making them feel safe and comfortable. And then the affection turns into something devious: Name-calling. Trashing-talking. Mental and physical abuse when the recipient acts in a way that the first party does not approve of. This type of behavior can lead into coercion, where the recipient is asked to do or perform things they are not comfortable with. The backlash for not following instructions is severe.

This type of behavior happens a lot. More than we realize. And it's easy to capitulate in an online space where you feel closer to your MMO friends list than your real life. You want to appease them in order to stay involved in their group. Any dissent and you feel a part of you has been ripped away.

PC Gamer did an amazing job with verifying the stories of the women that came forward. Many instances shared similarities to how Oldbear ensnared his victims.

Initially Oldbear resigned from his position at The Moogle Post and handed it off to 2 lead staff members. The team quickly announced on Discord that they did not condone Oldbear's actions and will work to rebuild the trust of the community. However, what's been happening since the story broke has been odd.

Oldbear still maintains The Moogle Post's social media accounts, Patreon, and PayPal. The original announcement on Discord regarding his resignation has been removed. The Twitter feed was updated and reflected conflicting information. Oldbear is supposedly no longer involved with the online magazine, and yet he is. In a statement, he said that he never resigned but stepped away from the Discord server. Nothing more. He claims that a misunderstanding took place and others with The Moogle Post announced his leaving. (But the internet never forgets!) Since then, Oldbear has handed over social accounts to two people at The Moogle Post who side with him. And as of right now, those people are going to be taking over the project. The rest of the staff will be leaving to focus on a new venture. This is according to a reddit post from someone working at The Moogle Post (confirmed by moderators).

Whatever happens to The Moogle Post, it is never going to be what it was. The accusations against Oldbear are too strong; the remaining staff too loyal to him. Those who have left will be under the thumb of the fallout. Any new project they start may not last due to their former affiliation with Oldbear.

Another fan site will crumble and players will have to look elsewhere for their FF14 content. Most of them may not care. They see the drama. They want to be away from it. Doesn't matter what it's about. As long as they get their gaming content from any resources, they will be appeased.

Situations like this remind us that these abusive scenarios still happen. There are people, male and female, who are duped into relationships and become victims of coercion, sex, and blackmail.  While the community may not forgive Oldbear (though he maintains his innocence), there's nothing to stop him from scrubbing his accounts and starting over. Unless the women file a lawsuit against him for blackmail (sexual harassment laws are still an issue with U.S. courts that most accusers are not prosecuted), or SE steps in and decides to ban him from the game, this could happen again.

We need to continue telling the story of The Moogle Post and make people aware that this happened. We need to keep it on their minds to help prevent it from occurring again.

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