In May I will be celebrating my seventh year as an ordained minister. I became a minister in order to perform the wedding of a former co-worker. I quickly realized that after I became a minister I could do a lot more good than just marry, baptize, or perform certain other ceremonies.

However a few years after becoming a minister several terrible things happened. I became the target of verbal & mental assault where I worked. My general manager, at that time, would verbally abuse me while I worked & one day almost physically assaulted me by tossing a hand trolley at me.

I brought this to the attention of the assistant manager & supervisors. Of course not one would believe me. So I took it to corporate who told me that they would look into the situation. They came back saying that it was my word against his. What could I expect? I had worked with that very company for a long time as a key holder with the store with an impeccable record of excellence.

I did end up leaving six months later after he kept trying to catch me doing something wrong. Him constantly following me around the store hiding behind things & watching me just got to the point of harassment. It was several months later when he picked another target that people actually started believing me.

That same year I lost my home to fire. It was the most horrifying experience that had ever happened to me. I was at my new job when it happened so I wasn’t there when it was taking place. Even when I arrived on the scene the emotion hadn’t yet kicked in. Not until I started calling people did the wave of fear & sadness actually happen to come over me.

I even had a co-worker at that time drop me off. He saw the devastation. Things were broken, ceilings caved in, no outer wall, & the doors were kicked in. I remember calling into the store I worked for just an hour after I arrived on the scene letting them know I’m going to have to take several days off. Then I remember them calling me in the morning that next morning telling me I have to come into work. It almost sounded like a huge surprise to them that I was sleeping on someones floor because I lost almost everything I had.

I was basically homeless at the time with just the clothes I had on at work. It took several weeks of looking day after day dealing with the fire department, the landlord where I lived, the insurance department, & trying to find a place to live. It was a dark time.

But I didn’t waver. I remembered that I had my family, my friends, plus my faith to guide me. I have always been that guy who believed the pot was half full & not half empty. I always look for the silver lining in things.

After I found a place I started looking for a new place of employment. I was lucky & found something right away. A guy I worked with for several years a decade or so was a manager at a large retail store & they were hiring for exactly what I do. I was hired right away & went to straight to work.

At my new place of employment is where I met a group of gamers. I had no idea that there was a “board game” community outside of what I played, which was Magic: The Gathering. I really didn’t want to be reminded of all the cards I lost due to the fire.

It was truly an eye opener after I was invited to join a small group of people to play board games. I mean, I have worked in retail for over twenty years selling things like Monopoly,  Scrabble, & the like. So at that time I had no clue about “designer” games.

After joining my co-workers for several years I really got to enjoy playing games with groups of people. I loved it so much that I started writing for a website called Geeks Podcast. Basically a geeky group of guys that wrote about geeky things. It is & has been fun working with them.

Again it seemed like harassment followed me as I was ushered out of the place I was working for. A company I actually worked with on & off for almost fourteen years. I was told that I was no longer needed after I had complained about how others were being treated.

But again I bounced back after being hired on to work at my local gaming store. I had finally become part of the family friendly gaming community. I worked really hard at making sure that everyone had a good time. I, myself, have experienced the dark side of life.

So after reading both sides of every story in the past year in what seems to be an ongoing saga of pain & harassment in the gaming community I had to throw in my experiences.

I’ve dealt with the elitist gamer, the bullying gamer, the hateful gamer, & the raging gamer. I personally have never witnessed nor have I or will I ever take part in harassing someone during a game or outside of playing a game. But that doesn’t mean that these things don’t actually take place. I know in my heart & soul that they do.

There are mean people out there but there are also good & wonderful people out there. I can say that 99% of the people that I have worked & played with represent the good folks of the gaming community. The other 1% are horrible vile folks the spew hatred telling others that they are no good or making comments about others that they should keep to themselves. These are the bullies.

So how are we to deal with bullying or harassment of any type during or after playing? If any of these things are actively happening to you, be you man or woman, then it needs to be dealt with posthaste. No one should ever sit back & take any type of harassment or bullying. Go to the organizer, head of the gaming group, or the person running the store. If it gets to the point where it can’t be dealt with leave with someone you trust so there is no chance of retaliation.

But here is the stark truth for those looking for equality in the gaming community: it isn’t going to happen. You could constantly take people to the side & tell them to straighten up or even remove them from the play or the store but it isn’t going to solve the problem. What we need is to educate the community a little better with the conversation that is occurring.

Harassment or bullying of any type will never go away, that I’m sure of because the world is not perfect. What we should be looking for is “respect” in the community. Only by respecting each other will we feel equal in gaming.

I love this community because it has brought me in & embraced me with many great friends. I keep meeting great people every day because of the community. But those who are poison I cut out.

We as gamers must unite in educating those who look to contaminate our community with their dirty, vile hatred. We need to keep our eyes out for bullying & harassment so we can keep our friends & families safe.

-Christopher Richter

Twitter: @Boardgaming_FTW