The developer of crowd-funded PC space game Star Citizen has issued a response to accusations of sexism within its forum after moderators banned a player who started a thread titled "Female Gamers Group".
On Saturday 3rd May user "Lauresh" posted on the Star Citizen forum stating her intention to create a community exclusively for women. The response to this from other users was negative to say the least.
Lauresh was subsequently banned for her trouble by the forum's moderators, and the thread was closed.
Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games has now responded to the situation, lifted the ban, reinstated the Female Gamers Group thread to the forum, and removed the moderator who issued the ban "pending further review".
"Let me begin by stating what I'm surprised isn't obvious: Cloud Imperium Games is not in the business of preventing women from playing our game," CIG's Ben Lesnick wrote in a post on the Roberts Space Industries forum.
"Part of the Star Citizen dream is to build a game that crosses traditional gamer boundaries and includes an experience that everyone can enjoy. Certainly, we are not sitting around in smoky boardrooms dreaming of ways to exclude 50 per cent of the planet in our space adventure."
However, Lesnick went on to say Lauresh was part of a group from the Something Awful website community that had been "using this as an opportunity to troll the forums".
"As always, this is extremely tedious," Lesnick said. "The user in question is also part of the Something Awful group, which made the moderator dealing with the issue believe the entire thread was a setup. This would not be the first time SA Goons have created an issue.
"However, on review and in spite of the sheer volume of concerned Goons coming out of the woodwork on this, I do not believe the thread was necessarily a setup and that several mistakes were made in terms of moderation."
Lauresh insisted her post was not made on behalf of Something Awful, "but as a female gamer". "My organisation should not have been an issue but apparently is," she added. "It wasn't a troll, the thread was a genuine attempt at establishing a group for female fans of Star Citizen."
She also explained why she wanted to create the group in the first place, saying: "Some women need a non-confrontational place to talk with other females in this community."
Lesnick said the Star Citizen community should "go out of our way" to create a safe space for women within the game's virtual universe.
"Women online, and especially women in gaming, have it very, very tough in ways that men absolutely do not understand. This isn't an argument for the community to have, it's a fact. Our moderators (and game designers and programmers and everyone else involved in Star Citizen) should do everything possible to create a safe environment, not encourage typical internet knife-fighting in this regard."
Lesnick concluded: "And as if it even needed to be said, there is more than enough room for a female-only group in the 'verse. Making connections like that is what our Organizations system is for, and there's absolutely no additional room to argue with that."
Lesnick also issued a personal apology to Lauresh over Twitter, but she's still upset, and called for CIG to change its moderation policy.
"I feel that the community manager is neglecting the community by not being involved in the issues beyond the absolute bare minimum and there has been no word on whether the moderation policies and procedures are going to be changed since they seem quite heavy handed and it's quite obvious their record keeping is shoddy at best," Lauresh said last night.