Indie Developer Pulls Out Of PAX, Citing Penny Arcade Controversies

The small studio behind the upcoming first-person exploration game Gone Home say they're pulling their game from the next big PAX show because of their rising discomfort with the show's organisers. "This morning we stopped pushing those long-held reservations about [Penny Arcade founders] Jerry and Mike into the back of our minds," writes Steve Gaynor, head of The Fullbright Company — a four-person indie studio.

"We talked to each other and did a simple show of hands — do any of us feel comfortable presenting Gone Home at PAX? No hands went up."

PAX is the thrice-annual gaming convention that has become the most popular gaming-centric showcase of new big-publisher and indie games in the US. Everyone from Nintendo and Ubisoft to the smallest indie developers regularly show their new works at the Seattle, Boston and, soon, Australia-based events to tens of thousands of gamers. Gone Home was accepted to the "Indie Megabooth" earlier this month, which is a showfloor area dedicated to indie games.

The objectionable behaviour Gaynor cites includes the "Dickwolves" debacle of 2010, Mike Krahulik's more recent statements that were exclusionary toward transgender people, as well as a number of other controversial statements and stances. The expo itself, however, has had a number of inclusive panels in the past — and it's also banned booth babes.

It's the more questionable incidents that came together to make The Fullbright Company uncomfortable operating with Penny Arcade. Gaynor writes:

We believe that people’s opinions and actions on social issues and business ethics are important. We believe that agreeing to pay the organisers of PAX over $US1,000 for booth space, and to present our game on their showfloor for four days, provides explicit support for and tacit approval of their publicly demonstrated positions on these subjects. And we have finally come to the conclusion that we cannot support Jerry, Mike, and their organisation by participating in this event.

We know that this will do them no harm; that’s not the point. Another developer will take our slot at the Megabooth; they won’t lose any ticket sales; we won’t hurt their feelings. If anything, we’re hurting ourselves– our ability to reach new fans who might not have heard of Gone Home, to connect with players, sell stuff, meet with press and video crews, and so on.

But this is not something that we’re doing for practical reasons.

We are a four-person team. Two of us are women and one of us is gay. Gone Home deals in part with LGBT issues. This stuff is important to us, on a lot of different levels. And Penny Arcade is not an entity that we feel welcomed by or comfortable operating alongside.

We've contacted Penny Arcade for comment on the situation and will update this post if we hear back. Incidentally, Mike Krahulik posted a blog in which he laments the current controversy, apologizing over his recent tweets about sex and gender.

"I’m very good at being a jerk," Krahulik wrote. "It’s sort if my superpower. When it comes to Penny Arcade it has served me well but it’s not OK when I make a bunch of people who are already marginalized feel like shit."

He said he is not the "bigot" others have made him out to be. "I hate lots of people it’s true. But I’ve never hated anyone for their sexual orientation or their gender situation." He added: "I don’t want to be the reason people don’t go to PAX or don’t support Child’s Play or don’t watch the shows on PATV." He's promising, going forward, he'll be keeping quiet about topics like these. He did not address the Fullbright Company's move, but if and when Penny Arcade does, we'll update this story.


Comments

    Well thats a big over reaction to stupid shit. Penny-Arcade are occasionally offensive, have been since their inception. Just because one of the creators revealed his ignorance of gender issues, and that when thinking of women he didnt instantly think of the transgender women that must mean he is evil and shouldnt be supported.

    I had been interested in Gone Home, not any more, I wont buy it, hows that for an over reaction to stupid shit?

    Last edited 22/06/13 8:24 am

    It is VERY common for people to think that way about transgendered people but if the creators of the game want to take a stand and stop that way of thinking, more power to them

    im getting pretty sick of this and so are my gay friends.

    I agree with a lot of my gay friends that in 2013 this should not be an issue, yes there is real bullying yes there is real discrimination, so why are there always needy egocentric groups like this and in such high frequencies of them.

    And to add to it straight crusaders who are apparently fighting for them whether they want you to or not, yes we all know them and pratricia your guilty as hell of it,

    I've had some of my friends who have had to deal with years of abuse look at your articles and go.... wow.... how about you worry about your own sexuality there.

    In this day and age sexuality should not be an issue, this developer pulling this crap when young people become suicidal and need help over real LGBT issues, and need the help of a lot of the people I work with, especially a few of my gay friends who read stuff like this and think, wow f*** your part of the problem.

    Wah wah wah LGBT issue, wah wah wah the world is so evil and cruel and we have to wrap ourselves in cotton wool.

    not doing a lot to give people who need the help strength hey? You want to be part of the positive change, start telling people that these issues arent an issue.

    Sticks and freaking stones. Declare an international war on a-holes and direct hate at them instead of fighting for future discrimination and turmoil.

    If orientation stops being the issue, then hell, you've already got somewhere, but nope I reckon within the month you'l have more articles on LGBT and your usual line grabbers.

    I think you need to have a chat to marcus beer and discuss your future as a journalist.

      Congrats, head back to reddit with the other aggressively entitled pasty white males. This isn't just about being gay - gay people have a whale of a time compared to trans people. Thanks to the magic of TV, most workplaces can handle a dude with an effeminate voice as long as he is funny/bitchy.

      A dude with a moustache and breasts? Not so much. Your gay friends are obviously so young and/or stupid that they don't realise the only reason they don't get slung in jail for their foul sodomy is that, not that many decades ago, people were making things like this 'an issue' about gay people.

      Your buddies need to time travel back to 1952 and 'Declare an international war on a-holes and direct hate at them instead of fighting for future discrimination and turmoil.'. If they're lucky they'll only get jail time rather than bashed to death in an alley behind a diner.

      Being entitled is fine as long as you read a few history books and find out HOW you came to be entitled.

      Your comment is bullsh!t. To say that gender and sexuality in 2013 shouldn't be an issue is a fallacy. When should this have been an issue? 5 years ago? 10? 30? I remember social issues from 10 years ago that people claimed shouldn't have been an issue at the time; Our support for the U.S.'s warmongering, asylum seekers, gun control. Why, are we somehow so far evolved to the point that we should implicitly accept them as they are without public discourse? 10 years on and we're still talking about illegal wars and boat people and gun control.

      The time for addressing social issues is always the present. Why do you think the issues are being raised? Because people want and need to address them for change to happen.

      I'd like to point out your hypocrisy with this shallow quote:
      In this day and age sexuality should not be an issue, this developer pulling this crap when young people become suicidal and need help over real LGBT issues, and need the help of a lot of the people I work with, especially a few of my gay friends who read stuff like this and think, wow f*** your part of the problem.

      The LGBT issues do exist in this day and age because there are still problems with suicide and support for LGBT people. To dismiss it so callously is only contributing to the "we don't believe this is an issue so we're not going to address it" problem. It's people like you who sweep this under the rug to be dug out by the next generation when it's no longer your problem.

      Wah wah wah LGBT issue, wah wah wah the world is so evil and cruel and we have to wrap ourselves in cotton wool. not doing a lot to give people who need the help strength hey? You want to be part of the positive change, start telling people that these issues arent an issue.

      All the while the LGBT community is ignored and ostracised for another 10 or 20 years because of a public refusal to acknowledge there's even a problem. No one is strengthened by ignorance. Offering your acceptance, understanding, and support for LGBT issues is what will enact change. Eventually that acceptance and support becomes just another part of life and only then does the issue truly end.

        one of my business advisers who is a well respected friend lived through the 1950's purge on homosexuals where mobs would catch suspected homosexuals in the parkland near the torrens and either beat them or throw them into the torrens.

        And hey nice job assuming im white burnside... not sure your a little bit prejudice there? be a bit shocked if you were talking to someone of Ngarrindjeri aboriginal ancestry?

    Mike made an ignorant statement not a deliberately offensive one, if the developer wants to pull out of PAX that's their call but I don't really see this as news worthy. What IS interesting is that Kotaku is the only site reporting on this....Look I know you guys don't like Mike and Jerry and I know they give you plenty of shit in return (The Trenches)..but seriously, can't you guys just get along!?

      That's the best summation of this: An ignorant statement was made, which was not deliberately offensive. Though I suppose if you hadn't read his post (which only went up after the fact of course) then it might be easy to impugn his statement with character of intent.

      Still, people need to be a bit more forgiving about this kind of crap. Also, frankly, a person's twitter account is not fairly the same as their corporation's, especially when the corporation takes a lot of good actions (c.f. Microsoft and the 'online isn't a big deal' tweet; the corporation had no redeeming features)

        Also it shocks me how little Mike seems to talk to Jerry about these kinds of things. Jerry, I am fairly confident to assume, would be -right- up there in terms of awareness for this kind of thing. There could have been a succinct explanation before the shitstorm even began!

    While silly (but funny) tweets from Gabe, what gets me honestly is that the LGBT and its supporters are a little brutal with their treatment of people who are not 100% in line with their views. While I myself have zero issues with any sexuality a person chooses and have lived with a transgender person too as a housemate, I find the LGBT supporters tend to want to crucify people who don't immediately display the lgbt's own gender/sexuality acceptances. A little hypocritical really when spewing hate at people then crying over hate being spewed at you...

    Last edited 22/06/13 10:39 am

      I agree. I think this particular furore is completely misplaced as well - getting angry at the ignorant comments Mike made is such a waste of energy when there is so much real damage being done to social equality by forces much more malevolent and focused. This gesture accomplishes so little and creates a rift where there doesn't need to be one. Mike could have been a powerful ally, and now the LGBT community has alienated him by lashing out at his ignorance instead of just educating him.

      And the origin of all of this? Particia Hernandez writes an article about a game that teaches women how to masturbate, and she dings the game because it assumes the woman has a vagina - "Not all women have vaginas. This fact makes the game exclusionary"... Just typing that out again made me lose a few IQ points, I have real problems with that sentence, way too many to list here.

      LGBT supporters really need to stop punishing people who don't understand their very strict definitions of gender terms - when I was growing up the word women was synonymous with female, and meant "someone who has a vagina" and for the vast majority of people it still means that. We don't know the redefinitions because they're not widely used, we haven't been marinating in these issues the way LGBT people have. It's not bigotry, it's ignorance, and ignorance should not be met with anger, but with understanding and education.

      Last edited 22/06/13 11:30 am

        LGBT supporters really need to stop punishing people who don't understand their very strict definitions of gender terms

        Now that I can agree with. Especially considering how you identify is such a personal decision for each individual and that the entire community is built around the idea that strict labels exclude people who don't match them.

      the LGBT and its supporters are a little brutal with their treatment of people who are not 100% in line with their views. [...]I find the LGBT supporters tend to want to crucify people who don't immediately display the lgbt's own gender/sexuality acceptances.

      To be fair Mike himself turns into a total psychopath if you manage to wedge the word bullying into something. He'll stab a five year old if you can hit on that nerve.

      Reading that PA post Mike takes so much personal offense at having a community come down hard on him/the people around him about something, yet he takes pride in the fact he brought down the full force of Penny Arcade to absolutely destroyed Paul Christoforo over what started out as a friend being treated poorly by customer service. He was totally unrelenting on it because he decided bad customer service was a form of bullying and then got into a petty flamewar. The guy was an asshole but Mike knowingly brought down complete overkill on him, his wife and his kid.

      I don't think he did anything wrong here but if Mike was on the other side of this argument and thought a single word of it could be considered bullying transgendered people he'd be screaming for blood.

        I have zero respect for Mike, personally. He does some good stuff, but he's also a massive arsehole and is a huge hypocrit (which he even admitted to, and was proud of!). However, fighting fire with fire is usually a recipe for more fire, so turning up the heat on him is not a good way to go about achieving a peaceful resolution ^^;

          Indeed, I don't have much respect for Krahaulick or however it's spelt. I'll stick with Mike too lol. He's shown over the years that his tendency to go 'full retard' is second nature, thank god he's got his offsider to reel him in...

      I get where you're coming from and I agree with you that it seems some of the more vocal members of the LGTBI community can sometimes overcompensate in their push for acceptance - and while I don't excuse the fight fire with fire approach with anyone / any group - I can understand why they feel they need to adopt this attitude.

      What views are you talking about out of curiosity? If by 'people who are not 100% in line with their views' you mean that is ok to leave homophobia, bigotry, racism etc. un-addressed because people are entitled to those views I think that's a big problem. The ignorance implicit in your statement of 'any sexuality a person chooses' makes your views reasonably clear unless I'm misinterpreting what you're saying.

      If you really believe that, then one could ask - when did you choose to be straight?
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QJtjqLUHYoY

      I was raised to be tolerant and accepting - so I was shocked and saddened to learn that when a good friend of ours from high school had been hospitalised for a suicide attempt it was because her family (European background) had disowned her for coming out as gay. (She moved overseas several years ago and we've lost touch but the ties with her family were pretty much permanently severed). I don't think anyone would choose to go through that.

      On topic for the article, it seems a bit sensationalist. The guy was a tool, people got offended, he apologised for the comments - end of story? I think education is important for the people that make mistakes - even for the intentionally hateful groups - rather than crucifying them, otherwise we'll just go around in circles.

        What views are you talking about out of curiosity? If by 'people who are not 100% in line with their views' you mean that is ok to leave homophobia, bigotry, racism etc. un-addressed because people are entitled to those views I think that's a big problem.

        I think he means if you're not 100% in line with the terms that any random over zealous LGBT community member/supporter within ear shot uses you can get yelled at, and reflexively the rest of the LGBT community will side with them even if the person who originally took offense is being a little over sensitive or unreasonable (which in itself is understandable enough considering how much crap they have to put up with).
        Ie, if I refer to a transgendered person who was born a man as a man there are people who will take serious offense to that. It's ultimately a harmless statement once that person chooses to tell me their preferred identifier, but it escalates out of control very quickly when someone who has decided all transgender people are to be referred to by their current gender enters the conversation. Even though there are some transgender people who prefer to use their original gender, and it's a matter of what the individual person decides not a hard set rule.

        Last edited 22/06/13 1:04 pm

          Precisely this. Sorry but having gay family members of various genders, gay friends and as I said, a former housemate (who I still keep in touch with) who himself was born a herself and changed at 18 after years of hormonal treatment in Europe, I've experienced the gamut. From people who could not care less when people insult them, their opinion being 'Well, its their ignorance, they can deal with it', to the over exaggerators 'OMG why can I not be referred to as alternate lifestyle? WHY must I be labelled by society???' (a literal comment from one lol, granted, an 18 year old striking out at whatever he could at the time). Like any group LGBT has its good members and its bad, however, on the internet rarely does it extend to reasonable lengths of discourse. The LGBT on the internet has displayed quite regularly the same mentality as the ignorant have, that of 'You're either with us or against us'. This turns off a lot of people like me, who don't 'tolerate' gay people and transgendered people, but accept them as a part of humanity equal to everyone else in every way. We support every right they have and should have, support every ideal they strive for and will give every bit of help we can, but people like myself won't support a group that puts out the ideal 'You're either with us or against us'. The greatest problem here, is the victimisation and the condemnation, instead of doing this, education is the key. People want resolve overnight. It's *not* going to happen. Chances are, it's not even going to happen in our lifetime. But it will happen eventually. There has been great advancement but there's still great ignorance. Granted not everyone thinks it will change overnight, but enough radicals are out there, like the people I have personally experienced from the LGBT which leads me to conclude: Noble intention, less than noble execution.

          Last edited 22/06/13 1:18 pm

      Agreed as well. We seem to be getting close to the point where some person is going suddenly to yell "Look, look at my magnificent penis, and tell me, I'm a woman! Tell me I'm a woman, or I'll expose you to the whole Internet as an ignorant bigot, and boycott you and destroy your reputation."

      Seriously, 10% of the world's population (or whatever the accurate number is) if you don't want the 90% of the world to impose on you their views on your identity, do not attempt to impose yours on them; it is a losing fight, by definition. We don't go around telling people who lost a leg "hey look at those two amazing legs that you so definitely have" not to hurt their feelings.

        LOOK! LOOK AT THIS AMAZING CAT! Is it not the most splendid pitbull youve ever seen???

        Heh...

    *edit* sorry for the double post. Using phone. Damn it :/

    Can someone report this comment and ask for it to be removed!

    Last edited 22/06/13 10:38 am

    I am always surprised by people actively trying to be the mistreated minority in order to feel special

    This reeks of PR for me.
    Why would they have submitted the game to be accepted, only to say "well we don't actually want to attend".

    Really, it just seems like a really quick way for the small team to get their name, and their game's name, out there quicker than by any other means.
    Advertising through controversy is one of the easiest ways to gain exposure.

    Edit: It also helps that this sort of thing is what Patricia specialises in.

    Last edited 22/06/13 11:15 am

      I don't think it was initially done as any sort of PR, I'm a cynical person naturally, but I believe that their objection is the primary cause of their actions. It sure is getting them more noticed now, probably more than a PA booth would have been.

      Patricia Hernandez is such a shit stirrer. That's her speciality, and she's good at it, which is why we know her name and discuss her articles. I don't approve of what she does, but it probably works very well and at least creates a dialogue - too bad it also creates such negativity.

        but it probably works very well and at least creates a dialogue - too bad it also creates such negativity.

        It's always a very us vs them dialogue though so it's sort of pointless. She'll ensure that one side is completely against the other from square one to generate friction. It gets her page views but ultimately destroys any chance of actually persuading people to think differently or even just discussing the topic.

        [Edit: I probably shouldn't say 'to get page views'. Maybe she actually feels like she's making a difference or has some other misguided motivation.]

        Last edited 22/06/13 2:10 pm

    Really looking forward to this game. Unfortunately they spoiled some of the themes here. Would've liked to uncover this stuff in the game. :'(

    http://www.adventuregamers.com/articles/view/24761

    Adventure Gamers posted a cool write-up of this game if you're going to PAX and wanted to see these guys.

    Oh man, that sounded really self-obsessed. I get that there might be bigger picture things going on here, so don't mean to dismiss that or any thing...

    Edit: That was supposed to be a reply to my own post above.

    Last edited 22/06/13 12:11 pm

    This reeks of a marketing ploy more than a moral stand.

      Of course. They even said themselves, their personal choice here has no effect on Penny Arcade, sends no message and causes no damage. It should have been done privately, without a song and dance. The only reason to publicise it is to try to score a bit of back-patting 'good on you for taking a stand, I will buy your product in support', which is a cheap way of turning a complex issue that deserves better into a completely unrelated grab at sympathy sales.

      If it's their decision not to attend PAX on moral grounds, I support that 100%. But I do not support their attempt to score points or sales on the back of that decision. It completely undermines any high ground they might have had.

      Last edited 22/06/13 2:55 pm

        In saying that though, it's also am extremely crappy marketing decision. $1000 for a booth at a 80k+ attended convention would have massive return on investment, particularly for a small dev team. I don't think pandering to a minority group (cause lets get real here, it is a very vocal minority of keyboard titans who would truly care about this issue enough to base a purchasing decision on it) is an effective long-term strategy for such a high-risk high-reward industry.

          I think it would have been more a case of 'now we've made the decision, how do we turn it to our advantage' rather than 'what's the best marketing choice to make here'.

    I suppose the problem is the oppressed feel that they need to yell rant and rave their views, and for some people that's the only method that will work. But sometimes they come across people who just don't understand and could simply have it explained to them.

    I have no issues with the LGBT community, my whole if nobody is getting hurt and it makes you happy than do it, but if I ask to be left out please leave me be philosophy applies here.

    Religion for example, I'm happy for others to enjoy it, but it's not my thing. Knocking on my door randomly will not help you. I've heard of Jesus and if I wanted to know more I'd go look for a church they are quite easy to find.

    I am honestly quite ignorant of LGBT issues, calling somebody who appears to be a man a man is not meant to be an insult. I will say that I support the right of two adults of sound mind, with reasonable intelligence to know what they are in for and over the age of 21 to get married to each other. If your 20 and you can't wait a year to get married perhaps you shouldn't.

    This kind of feels like someone saying they won't buy The secret of Monkey Island because Orson Scott Card wrote the insults for the insult sword fighting section and they disagree with his views on homosexuality. From what I've read on PA, the current debacle is because people weren't realising the difference between sex and gender. There are certain physical truths about being a person with XX chromosomes or someone with XY chromosomes and I really hope we haven't gotten to the point where we have to start saying "XXes have a vagina and XYs have a penis", just to ensure we don't insult a transgendered person.

    Last edited 22/06/13 9:27 pm

    everyone knows that one of Mike's closest friends is transgender...right? He(she) has been in all of the D&D podcast they have ever done.

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