Rolling for Initiative is a weekly column by Scott Thorne, PhD, owner of Castle Perilous Games & Books in Carbondale, Illinois and instructor in marketing at Southeast Missouri State University.  This week, Scott Thorne reached out to a GAMA board member to try to understand the board’s latest steps.

Just about the time all of the discussion (at least that discussion taking place in the public commons) had died down, the GAMA board decided to stir things up again.  For whatever reason, the BOD decided to send out a survey asking the membership what they think of retaining John Ward’s services for another term as Executive Director.  Apparently, getting a 65% percent approval response to keeping Ward on from publishers at the special membership meeting last month wasn’t good enough, so the BOD decided to reach out to not only publishers, but also distributors and retailers, who each have their own division but little say-so in the overall direction of the organization.  Since I was interested in the reasoning behind conducting the survey and since he has expressed willingness to respond, I emailed GAMA BOD member-at-large Jeff Tidball with a few questions.  Tidball contacted other BOD members and got back to me with a joint response from the BOD.  My questions are in bold with Tiball’s response following:

What was the board’s purpose in conducting the survey?
To get information similar to the information we received at the Special Membership Meeting, but for all membership classes.  Because of the way the Zoom meeting was set up — that is, only PMMs were identified separately from public attendees — there was no possibility to collect that information at the meeting.

Has a search started yet for a new ED or will the survey results affect that?
Yes, a search is underway; the position was posted some time ago, and applications are being reviewed by a work group of board members.  A separate work group of board members is also negotiating the best possible terms of a possible short-term contract with John Ward.

Both of these are moving forward under a motion passed at the most recent board meeting, which has been made public (see below).  Neither of these processes assume that either will be carried all the way to completion, but moving the work forward expands options, rather than closing any off.

The full motion was:

Motion that the board simultaneously (a) appoint three board members to work together to negotiate the best possible terms of a short-term contract with John Ward, while also (b) appointing three board members to work together to interview new applicants for the Executive Director position and recommend to the board the best five candidates from that pool.  Both of these groups are directed to move these efforts as far possible within two weeks, at which point the board will re-convene within seven days to discuss their efforts.

Further, that the President direct the ED and staff to poll all membership classes anonymously on the question of whether that member strongly agrees, modestly agrees, neither agrees nor disagrees, modestly disagrees, or strongly disagrees that John Ward should continue as GAMA’s Executive Director, such poll to also be completed within 14 days.

Further, that the text of this motion be communicated to the membership in order to inform them of the board’s best efforts to respond to their concerns raised at the Special Membership Meeting.

Are there any plans to give a fuller explanation as to the reasons for the contract's nonrenewal?
Not that I’m aware of.

I also inquired about the reasoning for surveying the full GAMA membership now instead of before taking action on Ward’s contract.  Tidball responded that each member had their own reasons, and given my time constraints for the column, it would not be feasible to construct a joint statement from the board in the time available.  Thanks to Tidball and the rest of the BOD for getting back to me on such short notice.

On an unrelated matter, I was sorry to hear of the passing of Chaosium's Greg Stafford.  I had the opportunity to meet him once or twice over the years and have several early Chaosium titles in my collection including RuneQuest and Pendragon, which are still a couple of the best designed RPGs ever created.  No White Bear and Red Moon though, although I have seen a couple of copies over the years.  Many of the first generation of the industry’s creators are getting on in years, so if you happen to see one at a show or convention, it is likely a good idea to thank them now, rather than waiting until later.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of