Recently Games Workshop have been at the forefront of some worrying social media developments. Globally, hobbyists and staff members alike have voiced concern over the companies decisions recently that seem to many to be putting the business beyond the community that supports it. Whilst certainly, I understand that sometimes the community has to make sacrifices for the business so that the business can continue to support the community (the one man store model, as an example) there are sometimes events that make my mind boggle. I genuinely believe that my insistence on supporting the community was instrumental to my dismissal from the company back in December.
Take today's development for example. Continuing from the recent concerns when all of Games Workshop's internal social media closed down (and I am sad to report that none of them reopened as I had hoped) the latest hit was on Facebook.
There's been a group for a while called 'Eavy Metal after the eponymous team that paints all of Games Workshops models for the box covers and army books. It was a group that aimed to promote painting to the highest standard and all were welcome to post their models and to seek advice from other painters. It was a cornerstone group with a huge following. Many beginners sought out the expert advice there from experienced painters who were showing off their models and miniatures.
I argued in it recently to support the idea of beginners being able to question there, and to seek advice, which earned an overwhelming tide of support in the face of a few elitists seeking to show only their "high quality" paint jobs, and sought to stop anyone of a "lower standard" from posting. If you've read my blog before, you'll know how I feel about elitism.
Today, however, it was invited to a new group called 'Eavier Metal. At first I was confused. I set the invitation aside and headed into the original group, to find a post, which I've screenshotted below:
This was most disappointing. "The decision has been made to close it down" he says, with no further information. Who made this decision, and why? The post has naturally spawned hundreds of angry and disappointed responses, but no official answers have been given. There don't even seem to be any good theories going around, despite several over-zealous commenters blaming those who posted miniatures produced by Mantic, Scibor or Privateer Press. This makes no sense as the groups rules explicitly stated that this was fine.
My first thought was to find out who this Tom Merrigan was. The name didn't ring any bells, and I know the Head Office team fairly well, or so I thought. Certainly, this wasn't any of the social media crew, or customer support team or any of the web team. So who is he?
A quick Google search for "Tom Merrigan Games Workshop" brought up a LinkedIn profile. I've taken a screenshot of that too.
"Range & Packaging Manager - Games Workshop" - this guy works the warehouse side of Games Workshop. He has nothing to do with the official web or social media divisions. This confused me even more in regards to the previous questions.
"The decision has been made to close it down" - was this decision made by the Games Workshop higher brass and pressure put on Tom as one of its admins? Did Tom make this decision on his own? That much is currently unclear.
I am hoping it is the latter as it seems incredibly unfair to get one of the warehouse team, not even anything to do with internal web/social media or the 'Eavy Metal (painting) team to post up such an announcement. I want to think that the company is above making a fall-guy from some random division of its company, but my dismissal - as much as I try to not to let it get to me - makes me think otherwise. I've witnessed firsthand just how cruel the corporation can be sometimes. I've promised I won't go into details of my dismissal, but I was forced by my Regional Manager to - after being informed of my suspension - to write my own notice on Facebook and explain to two customers why my store would be closed until cover could be arranged. I was force to explain explicitly why, with full details, by my Regional Manager. Let that cruelty sink in for a moment.
I truly hope that Tom has not been caught in some kind of horrible crossfire here and it should be noted that I include his details only because a quick Google search can reveal them, and the information is important to the discussion.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave comments or questions below, or to contact me on Twitter @BKellyCS
I'll update the blog with anything else that turns up if and when it does.