If you want to control information, putting your email archive behind a password is a pretty good idea

Self-exiled GAMA BoD president Treasurer Ryan Dancey says he didn’t “hack” into anything – rather, he found that GAMA’s internal communication email list archive was available for all to see on an un-password-protected web server. He claims he made someone at GAMA aware of this situation, and when he didn’t hear back about it, he just shrugged his shoulders and kept reading. Given my direct experience with disorganization and lack of web-savviness in the industry, I’m inclined to believe Dancey’s claim.

My BS detector starts to stir back to life when I read about his motivations for saving GAMA, however. He says that “[i]f GAMA fails, and the ORIGINS Awards fail with it, a dozen individuals will create separate trade associations and Awards programs, each with different charters and objectives, and each will aggregate a small, vocal minority of participants and none will ever be as successful or have as much chance for future success as GAMA does today.” That is certainly true if your criteria for a successful industry awards body is one in which the majority of voters understand little about the majority of categories. Balkanizing the awards doesn’t seem like a disastrous idea to me – the ENnies have demonstrated that a more focused awards program doesn’t have to mean a drop down to amateurishness. I could certainly see a world in which separate trade groups for D20 publishers, board and card game publishers, and miniatures companies could more productively serve the industry as a whole – after all, when it comes to doing market research, how much do, say, Privateer Press and Looney Labs really have in common?

Dancey has likely heard this kind of talk before, and it likely gives him a nightmare vision of the industry steadily dwindling down to nothing. Well… I think that might happen no matter what we do. But that’s another post.

[Update: for those who need still more drama in their gaming life, the remaining GAMA board has some more to say too.]


  1. You honestly feel that much smaller, focused trade organizations will get more done than a big, industry-wide entity? I can’t imagine trying to go to several trade shows each year, one for card games, one for board games, one for miniatures and minis games, one for RPGs… This industry’s a small, small slice of the entertainment industry. Slice the pieces any smaller, and only the diehard fans will even notice they exist.

  2. RE: the claim. Maybe it was behind a password protected server, maybe not. It’s irrelevant from my perspective as a businessman. Willfully accessing information that one isn’t authorized to simply because “you can” doesn’t make it any less unethical.

    Blaming the protection-schema is a poor response. To me, it’s the same as someone who’s willing to steal if everyone’s back is turned simply because no-one stops them from stealing …

  3. Brian: I didn’t mean to suggest that Dancey did or did not breach laws or codes of ethics, simply that his account of facts seems plausible to me. How we interpret the facts, whatever they really are, is a separate matter. And Allan: I also didn’t mean to suggest that an industry with two or three trade orgs couldn’t see those trade orgs collaborate profitably when appropriate. If I implied otherwise in either case, I regret the miscommunication.

  4. The one organisation that is can not collaborate with itself. Two or three more have no market incentive.
    It was interesting that Dancy pit his own website on Active hiatesis during the reading of the Gama BoD Mail.
    Why want the security increased over the site after he securied the election when he xould have done it before to show good faith.

    In has a slate out has a slate.

  5. Mike: Understood – I was merely commenting. I did read Dancey’s “excuse” for myself, and found it lacking, and pathetically long. Once I got to the “clear and present danger” BS, I tuned out. It was an incredibly large amount of verbiage and justification for what I view – as a professional who deals with confidential information on a daily basis – as inexcusable amd willfull (mis)behavior.

  6. Quite simply, Dancy stole the identity of one or more BOD members. That is illegal. Identity theft is just that, theft. I do not understand why he is not up on charges. GAMA’s own counsel said it was illegal.

    That said, small trade orgs does not mean a Trade Show could not continue. If GTS is needed and profitable someone will run it. If Origins is needed and popular someone will run it. This is nto the reason for GAMA to exist. GAMA should exist to help member companies, grow the industry and improve the market. GAMA can die. Origins and GTS will carry on.

    Just my thoughts,

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