RuneFest, a convention run by the creators of RuneScape, is supposed to be an annual celebration of the fantasy MMO that came out in 2001 and has stayed improbably relevant in 2018 due to updates, iterations and an active streaming community.
This year, some attendees raised concerns about one streamer in particular, Ali “Gross Gore” Larsen, who attended the convention. During the event last weekend and in the days since, multiple people have said that Larsen engaged in sexual harassment and — in one case — physical violence.
Larsen did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but said in a stream that the harassment claims were “overblown”, and that although a violent altercation had happened, he was not the aggressor.
Larsen is a popular streamer who at various points has been part of the Runescape, League of Legends and Twitch IRL communities. He has gained a reputation for controversial behaviour on the platform, which has included calling a popular female streamer a “slut” on his own channel and in her own channel’s chat in 2016.
That same year, he got temporarily banned from Twitch after claiming that several esports professionals had spread false rumours about him. After the ban, he apologised in a Facebook post, writing, “I’ll prove to everyone that I can change, and will change for the best.”
In June 2018, he spoke on stream about how he thought that his sister should’ve kept and then sold her virginity; after blowback from viewers, he posted on Twitter saying that his family was no longer speaking to him. At the time, he sounded optimistic: “after my mother will reach out to me & we can put all of this behind us & get on being a family.”
Later that month, he posted about how he had not yet sent his mother the donation money he had been collecting to help pay for her housing. After complaints, Larsen said he sent the money to his mother, but the “drama” of the incident had already led Discord to drop him as a partner.
On Tuesday, word began spreading on social media about Larsen’s alleged RuneFest infractions. One user posted a video in which Larsen appears to grab a woman’s face and try to kiss her:
The amnt of times I had to pretend Lee was my boyfriend and he still didn’t care lol pic.twitter.com/jLMe9s5itO— Hani (@han1jacqui) October 8, 2018
A different user also described meeting Larsen at the convention on Twitter, writing, “Only had a brief run into Gross Gore but regardless of length, I was still very uncomfortable. He said me and my friend should kiss for him because lesbians are hot, which was super uncomfortable.”
Kotaku reached out all the people who’ve come forward about Larsen’s alleged actions so far, but did not receive responses.
A streamer, Skiddler, posted a statement about Larsen’s supposed harassment of a woman named Rachel. Skiddler also said that he had tried to address this with Larsen after the fact, but that their conversation then escalated to physical violence.
In his statement, Skiddler described Larsen repeatedly making comments about Rachel’s breasts and continuing even after she told him she was uncomfortable.
“He continued not only making comments, but fetched multiple people whom he was with to validate his opinion on her breasts,” Skiddler wrote. “Rachel approached me shortly after, distraught, and left the hotel.”
According to Skiddler, he then approached Larsen in a “casual manner” at a hotel where many convention attendees and content creators were staying. He says he tried to explain that Larsen had upset his friend, and said to Larsen that “it’s absolutely not acceptable to talk to people like that”.
That, Skiddler claims, was when Larsen became aggressive, supposedly responding: “Are you really gonna fucking white knight that stupid bitch?” and “Really, you’re gonna fucking do this?”
Skiddler says he then made it “abundantly” clear that he didn’t want things to get physical, but Larsen kept yelling that Skiddler wanted to fight.
“As more people gathered round, Gross Gore became more aggravated and aggressive,” Skiddler’s statement continued.
“He turned to one of my close friends, recently just turned 18, Alex. He screamed ‘what the fuck are you looking at’ in Alex’s face, and then started pushing him. Alex’s brother, Dom, tried to stand in between the two and stop Gross Gore from shoving Alex, but he was relentless and was shoving and screaming in both of their faces.
“Alex, being quite young, is like a brother to me, and I’ll be honest, at this point, I felt as though I needed to step in. I ran over to them both and shoved Gross Gore out of Alex’s way, at which point I was grabbed around the back of the neck by one of Gross Gore’s friends and thrown into the side of a moving car.
“I was being held down by a couple of Gross Gore’s friends when Gross Gore and another couple of his friends ran over and started repeatedly kicking me whilst I was on the ground.”
Police, who Skiddler says were apparently there to address an unrelated noise complaint, appeared and broke up the alleged altercation. Here’s a YouTube video purporting to show the aftermath of that moment:
In it, police can be seen outside a hotel, holding back one man and talking to a few groups of people, including other well-known streamers such as Greekgodx.
Kotaku reached out to the Hampshire Constabulary, the police force that has jurisdiction over the general area in which RuneFest took place, who issued a statement confirming an incident occurred, but that no arrests were made.
“Officers attended the Aviator Hotel on Farnborough Road, Farnborough during the early hours of Sunday, 7 October after reports of a large crowd having gathered at the hotel. On arrival hotel staff were dealing with the crowds and two police officers assisted in dispersing the groups. The officers were then notified of an altercation outside the hotel. Officers attended but not offences were witnessed or disclosed.”
On Tuesday, Larsen took to Twitch to clear the air. His recounting of events is very different from Skiddler’s, although both men do say that a fight broke out between them.
Larsen says that Skiddler — from whom he said he sensed “bad vibes” before they even started talking — was the one looking for a fight, and that Larsen had repeatedly tried to de-escalate the conflict.
“The guy states that I was the aggressor,” said Larsen. “Guys, look at me. I get nothing out of fighting. I haven’t had a fight since I was 11, and I lost. Look at these muscles. I don’t believe in fighting. I don’t like fighting. It’s not me.”
He went on to say that when he gets loud and rowdy on streams with people such as infamous YouTube streamer Ice Poseidon, it’s just an act.
And so, when Skiddler got in his face, Larsen claims that he said in response, “Don’t do this. I know you want to fight me, but don’t do this.” That statement, he believes, was taken out of context in Skiddler’s account.
At that point, Larsen said, he noticed a crowd forming. That made him anxious but also angry. He says he shouted that one of them was a “cunt”. He also began to figure that somebody had egged Skiddler on into fighting him because “drama sells”.
“I feel like he used that whole harassment thing — which was absolutely blown out of proportion — to be the hero of his groupies,” said Larsen.
Then, Larsen says, he noticed another person, whom he believed to be Alex from Skiddler’s story. According to Larsen, this person was standing nearby and appearing delighted by the series of events. Larsen claims he felt Alex was making the situation worse, so he shouted at him to leave and says that he did something physical, though he didn’t specify exactly what.
That, claims Larsen, prompted Skiddler to rush over and say, “I’m going to fucking kill you,” at which point Skiddler threw a punch.
Larsen said that, even though he doesn’t fight, he dodged the supposed punch because “my mum used to hit me so much that I learned to dodge”. He also said he’s never done drugs, which he claims has further aided his reflexes.
At that point, Larsen says he wanted to make sure Skiddler was restrained, so Larsen “came at him” in retaliation, and Skiddler fell and smacked into a cab. Larsen again stressed, though, that this wasn’t his fault. “Look at these muscles,” he said, pointing to his arms.
Larsen’s recounting also ended with the police apparently breaking up the fight. He added that police talked to him, but said he wasn’t arrested or escorted off the premises.
Larsen denied harassing women at the event. He then said that when he’s had a few drinks, he can come off as “flirty”, going on to add, “Yes, I have a girlfriend, but my whole personality is very flirty.”
He then said he had made comments about Rachel, which apparently included noticing that she was wearing a “revealing top” and telling a friend to “meet Rachel and her tits”. He went on to say that he apologised for that comment, calling it “inappropriate”. He also put some of the blame on Rachel.
“I mean, no offence to the woman, no disrespect,” he said. “But the woman, she was wearing a really, really, really revealing top. And that’s great, we live in 2018. You can wear whatever you want. But people have to understand that if you’re going to wear something so revealing, people will comment on it. That’s life. If I drove around in a Ferrari, then people would comment on the Ferrari. That’s just the way people are. And I apologise if the woman took offence.”
Earlier this week, Runescape developer and RuneFest host Jagex told Kotaku that the company was investigating the incident but hadn’t come to a conclusion about what happened yet. Today, however, it announced that it’ll no longer be working with “a small number of content creators” that the company had ascertained to have been involved in the incident, but it did not specifically name which ones.
“Having reviewed the allegations we have found that the content creators concerned did breach our code of conduct,” said a statement emailed to Kotaku by Jagex.
“We do not tolerate inappropriate or offensive behaviour in any way and, while we had a limited working relationship with some of the individuals, we will not be working with them, or inviting them to future events, going forward.”
Kotaku also requested comment from Twitch about Larsen’s current standing on the platform; the company did not respond before publication.
As for Larsen, he said on his stream that he plans to stop attending RuneFest in the future. He’s also apparently going to stop talking to women at events entirely.
“I’m not gonna be talking to women or saying anything,” he said. “Because I’ve learned from this that I can be crazy, wild, flirty Gross Gore on my streams, but in the real world, I can’t — because people who don’t know Gross Gore wouldn’t understand Gross Gore. And then they see it as harassment or verbal abuse or being weird. So yeah, that’s it.”