‘Witcher School’ Forced To Shut Down Over Political Controversy

Geralt standing in a pub while a group of men look on.

Image: CD Projekt Red

Until recently, a “Witcher School” in Poland ran live-action role-playing (LARP) events for fans of the wildly popular fantasy series with the official blessing of Witcher-series game publisher CD Projekt Red. But last Friday, its organizers, a company called 5 Żywiołów, announced that the “school” would be permanently closing, citing CDPR’s decision to pull its license. The event’s organizers claim it was due to a staff member’s work in a far-right conservative group that opposes abortion and LGBTQ rights. (h/t Eurogamer)

According to a subsequent Facebook comment from the “Witcher School” organizers, CDPR “terminated the license agreement” with a three-month notice back in late February. While CDPR did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication, it was during the period of negative media attention surrounding one staffer, Anna Wawrzyniak.

In an email to Kotaku, 5 Żywiołów said Wawrzyniak worked on the Witcher School project from 2017 to 2019. She also drafted legal opinions for Ordo Iuris, an ultra-conservative think tank that was “instrumental in Poland’s near-total abortion ban and influential in the creation of LGBTQ-free zones.”

Event company co-founder Dastin Wawrzyniak (the spouse of Anna Wawrzyniak) told Kotaku that its relationship with the game studio had previously been “great.” He said that 5 Żywiołów frequently worked for CDPR and would even organize a picnic for the studio’s employees. CDPR wasn’t involved in crafting the LARP’s plot, but the Witcher School’s license allowed the event company to use characters from the Witcher games to tell original stories.

5 Żywiołów stressed that the company kept the professional and private spheres of its employees separate. “We still do not plan to evaluate the views and activities in the private sphere of our colleagues and participants,” it wrote in a comment reply under Friday’s statement. ”This would open a Pandora’s box full of prejudices and quarrels… You know that we have created a highly inclusive project, without paying attention to differences and divisions.”

The sentiment seems reasonable if you’re talking about pineapple on pizza and not, say, whether or not an employer is trying to ban abortion or legislate queer Poles out of public life. Which is exactly what Ordo Iuris has successfully achieved.

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