We made a difficult decision today.
Earlier this month, Gone Home was accepted into the Indie Megabooth at the PAX Prime expo. The Megabooth is awesome– a huge area of the showfloor dedicated entirely to indie games. We’ve attended a number of times as fans, and the energy there is inspiring. It’s wonderful that via the Megabooth, indie games can be such a destination at such a huge event. We were very excited when Gone Home was accepted by the organizers.
But in the back of our minds all along, we’ve been bothered by the public stances that Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik, the founders of PAX’s parent organization Penny Arcade, have taken on a number of issues.
First there was the entire “Dickwolves” debacle, during which Mike said that it “felt pretty good” to “support rape culture.”
Then there were the Penny Arcade Kickstarters, one of which offered to let backers pay them $7,500 to work as a Penny Arcade intern for a day.
When critics recently raised objections about the over-the-top depiction of female characters in Dragon’s Crown, Jerry referred to opinions that differed from his own as “censorship.”
And then yesterday a panel was announced for PAX Australia entitled “Why So Serious?” Its description initially included the lines
Any titillation gets called out as sexist or misogynistic, and involve any antagonist race aside from Anglo-Saxon and you’re called a racist. It’s gone too far and when will it all end?
Soon after, it was changed to a less inflammatory description, but the fact that the original panel was okayed by Penny Arcade still stands.
Which finally led to Mike tweeting ignorant dismissals of transgender people, then posting an email chain that, as part of a self-serving quasi-apology, includes him attempting to defend his position by saying
I hate the idea that because I think boys and girls have different parts I am “transphobic” that pisses me off it makes me angry and so I lash out.
So here’s where the difficult decision comes in.
This morning we stopped pushing those long-held reservations about Jerry and Mike into the back of our minds. 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.
We believe that people’s opinions and actions on social issues and business ethics are important. We believe that agreeing to pay the organizers of PAX over $1,000 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 organization 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 wish all the best to the organizers and participants in the Indie Megabooth, as we really do believe that it is an incredibly positive force for indie games and video games in general.
We just wish it weren’t at PAX.
The Fullbright Company
Steve, Karla, Johnnemann and Kate