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 shares his thoughts on recent GAMA news.

Things have been quiet on the GAMA front for the past month or so, ever since the GAMA Board of Directors  had a pretty active summer:  terminating the contract of Deputy Director Angela Ward, voting not to renew Executive Director John Ward’s contract, polling the membership to get a sense of the membership’s feelings about said non-renewals (0verwhelmingly in favor of retaining Ward, 65% to 35%, but purely advisory), and an open board meeting that included both the Ward contract and  the resignation of longtime BOD member Mike Webb over the response by the board to the actions at GEN  CON of GAMA BOD President Stephen Brissaud.

This past week, longtime GAMA member, past BOD member and President and current Board Emeritus member Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo sent out an email to all members which read, in part:

"Recently the board voted not to renew John Ward's contract, and that turned out to be an unpopular decision.  I was unhappy with it.  I like John, and he brought us out of a deep hole financially, and put us on a solid footing.  But the Board determined that it was time for a change, for someone with different skills.

"We have sifted through 90 candidates, winnowed them down to the 6 best, and then selected the top 3, who we interviewed today.  It is my considered opinion that any one of these three fine candidates can do a great job for our organization, but only if we all get together and support them.  There has been a lot of kickback, and some vocal complaining (and sadly, even some threats).  I didn't like the result of the vote, but if we keep arguing about it, it can do nothing but damage our organization and our businesses.  It is time to move on.  We have a committee negotiating with John for a friendly changeover.  John says he has nothing but good wishes for GAMA, and I (for one) have nothing but good wishes for John.  I sincerely hope we can keep him on as the Academy Chair for the Origins Awards."

I had hoped, due to the great job he has done over the past years as the Executive Director, that the BOD and Ward could have come to some sort of consensus in order to keep him on as the ED.  However, the disruption was so public that it would have been nigh impossible to do so without either leaving the Board or Ward in a weakened position, Ward, because the Board had obviously voted to let him go and was only retaining him due to pressure from the membership, and the BOD because the response from the membership indicated greater support for Ward than for the Board’s position.  After having made the original decision and muddied the waters by its actions afterward, the least bad option for the Board was to move ahead with its original plan, not renew Ward’s contract, and seek another candidate to take the ED position.  Since membership actions are advisory only, if a member doesn’t like the situation, pretty much their only option it to lobby against the re-election of the current members of the board or run for a board membership themselves.

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