Why we are not showing Gone Home at PAX

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

About Steve

Co-founder of The Fullbright Company
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123 Responses to Why we are not showing Gone Home at PAX

  1. Thank you for this. I am (was?) a Penny Arcade fan, but over the past few months it has become pretty clear that Mike has reached the point in his life where he has become a crotchety old man full of sexist, transphobic ideas that he’s more willing to defend (becuase criticism make shim angry) than reexamine, and Jerry too seems entirely unable to understand some of the key issues about sexism in the industry and in society.

    If they didn’t make a big deal out of any of this then maybe it wouldn’t be so bad, but they clearly see Penny Arcade as a platform from which to push their ideas, and the whole “brand” is just getting more toxic by the second, from the $1 Podcast Kickstarter to that latest email exchange about transphobia.

    Acknowledging how uncomfortable this makes all of you, and having the conversation about how we SHOULD be uncomfortable about all of this, is important, I think. The last thing gaming culture needs right now is for people like Mike and Jerry, who are the ‘mavericks’ who never hold back and always say what they think, to be continually spouting sexist, bigoted stuff, however much they might think their hearts are in the right place.

  2. Haley says:

    Just when I thought I couldn’t love this game and your company any more! Thank you for being willing to take a stand here, even though it’s certainly costing you.

  3. John Peat says:

    It’s refreshing when someone makes a decision based on their own moral compass and I fully respect that but in some ways you’re doing what they’re doing.

    I get where you’re at with the dickwolves thing, tho I feel it was their reaction to other people’s massive over-reaction which created the problem rather than the original cartoon itself.

    I get your dislike of their repeated mistake of mixing their own views with those of their business but then you’re arguably doing the same time. You showing your game at PAX isn’t for Jerry and Gabe – it’s for the people who you MADE YOUR GAME FOR!?

    and yes, there is a risk that all of this is ‘censorship’, sadly. We’re fully in the land of “I don’t defend what you do but I defend your right to do it” country and we’re all mixing business and personal views and at the end of the day we have to take our position but still listen to others…

    I don’t get the intern thing at all tho, it’s a Kickstarter reward, not slavery (as practiced by most companies these days anyway). If someone was offered the chance to spend a day on the set of a film would you consider that as ‘unpaid internship’ or just a chance to do something you want to do!?

    • Kate says:

      It’s a touchy subject now. There are A LOT of young Americans that are drowning in their college debt and struggling to find real employment. At the same time they are being told the only way to a real job is an unpaid internship at a company. The internships are jobs. You’re getting “paid” in experience all the while the company is benefitting from your work and you don’t even have a lock on a job at the end of of it. People are starting sue over it.

      In the case of the Kickstarter – I think they just used the word “intern” loosely. I’m sure you just paid to hang out with the team. However, it just demonstrates their continued insensitivity and ignorance to a whole slew of things. To pay that RIDICULOUS amount of money to be an “intern” is just gross. That being said, I don’t believe anything they do is out of spite or hate. I just think they are just ignorant and start crying about first amendment rights when people get upset and try to educate them. It’s juvenile and idiotic. For better or for worse, they are one of our community’s most visible ambassador and as it stands now – I wish they weren’t. (Though I do not endorse people threatening them…because seriously folks.)

      • John Peat says:

        I still think that including it with the other stuff is wrong as it’s out-of-context – it’s traditional to offer people a chance to be a part-of something they admire – Kickstarter works by offering people rewards for buying-into projects – that’s just how the world works and your judgement of the money aspect is just that – your judgement – $7500 to you is a lot – to someone else it could be peanuts – to someone else it’s a fair price.

        If you have a problem with unpaid (or even pay-for) internship – in the context of unemployment or just on principle – there are about 10,000,000 companies who exploit it for their own gain only – start with them…

        • Will Brand says:

          Uh, also, I very highly doubt that the ‘internship’ given to donors at the $7,500 level involves getting coffee and making copies. I’m sure it’s the sort of friendly tour/meet-and-greet that any organization would give to someone who’s given them $7,500 and may well do so again.

    • AHAmanda says:

      I can’t speak for the Fullbright folks, but a few thoughts I’d like to share:
      On free speech: freedom of speech isn’t freedom from feedback, and feedback isn’t censorship. My take on this is that Fullbright is refusing to associate their brand with a company whose public position on some sensitive issues doesn’t align with their positions on those issues (and kudos to them – by and large I agree with team Fullbright here). I don’t see anyone who has demanded that the internet police take away Penny Arcade’s right to be offensive license – rather, there are consequences for being offensive and in this case, it’s that you don’t get to continue to count on the support of people who have real, serious objections to what you said.

      On unpaid internships – again, definitely can’t speak for the folks here, but they’re a pretty controversial issue. Here’s a (very one-sided) editorial on it: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2013/06/18/robyn-urback-down-with-unpaid-internships/. I picked it because it speaks to your ‘day on a film set’ argument a bit with the ruling against Fox Searchlight they reference.

      As someone this game is ostensibly ‘made for’ (a fan of Mac compatible (! :-)) indie games), I don’t feel like they’re punishing *me* by not showing up at PAX. I’m actually really grateful that there are values-driven game developers out there who are being really transparent about their views on things like rape culture, and gender and GLBTQ inclusivity, ESPECIALLY in gaming. I think it’s great that there are options for me to purchase games (which I love) without having to purchase from companies that specialize in objectified, sexist,and/or rape is funny motifs (which make me sad).

      Looking forward to Gone Home!

      • John Peat says:

        Just to be clear, I’m not accusing or even suggesting Fullbright are involved in or advocating or committing any form of censorship. My point was that censorship is a valid part of the wider issues they’re concerned about – the moment you suggest something ‘should not be seen’ (as was happening with that dodgy Japanese artwork) you’re censoring things.

        As you say tho – censorship is not a valid defense against criticism…

      • prairie homo companion says:

        It was seeing Emily Carroll tweet about this that actually got me to check out Gone Home, so if anything Fullbright’s gained a buyer. 🙂

    • Some key problems with your reply:

      Size of platform. PA is a multimillion-dollar company with a massive audience of people that transcends white straight cisgender male American. PA has always – until now – touted itself as representing GAMERS, not white straight cisgender American men. That’s why their fanbase is so large. That’s why they’re so popular.

      Goals: Mainstream games are NOT made for white straight cisgender men alone. Literally millions of men & women who are not any of those things purchase games, as do our friends, partners, and family members who are, and are aware of and active in publicising and supporting our voices re: the issues being criticised. The industry depends on that. If they don’t change, we will stop buying the stuff that erases, abuses, and vilifies us.

      Segregation: Games that feature PoC, women, and LGBTQIA in respectful, humanised ways aren’t made ONLY FOR THOSE GROUPS, but cis white straight devs act like our requests to be represented as something other than targets or caricatured punchlines to violently bigoted jokes is like we’re asking for flying giraffes to be added to every skyline. We exist around you every day. We are people. We work in banks, restaurants, and schools. In the words of Bob from Sesame Street, WE ARE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR GODDAMN NEIGHBORHOOD.

      We’re not exotic, we’re not flying giraffes. We’re not asking for “special treatment.” We’re asking to exist in these created worlds. At this point, our exclusion from mainstream media that has multiple orgasms over engaging story elements, emotionally involving dialogue, the approaching-realistic portrayal of emotion, hair, terrain, the movement of skin over muscles is a product both of unconcious, observable bias AND bigotry.

      Our segregation from art that uses real-world moral conundra and sets out to enhance recreation and escapism by setting tones and moods with the hyper-real shine of starlight on water has no excuse for continuing to the bias you’re casually suggesting is no big deal.

      FALSE EQUIVALENT: You are invoking, equivocating, and normalising a segregation that simply does not exist. Fullbright is not making a game that excludes or trivialises the existence of white straight cisgender persons. I doubt they will feature rape levels, or scenarios that involve the mass murder of sexually objectified boys and men.

      PRIVILEGE: Being called out for observable, self-published bigotry is not in any sense or measure as harmful as the bigotry itself, which perpetuates and reinforces the cultural narratives that permit the ongoing, appalling, and disproportionate oppression and abuse of the intersectionally oppressed at the hands of a self-righteous majority who believe that we should be silent, meek, invisible, and preferably nonexistent (when they don’t have any present use for us) and who bring those values into a wish-fulfillment world of game creation.

      [Anyways, thanks for reading this far. I typed it out on my daughter’s 3DS, cos my toddler (in an attempt to be helpful in the 4th-birthday-cleanup) washed mummy’s iPhone. It’s largely irrelevant to the rest of my post, but I wanted you to know how urgently dedicated I am to replying, and that these are not exaggerations or rhetorical flourishes. If anything is unclear or you want to reply/comment, please contact me at @heySMM on twitter]

    • It’s not “censorship” for people to express their opinions, nor is it censorship for a private company to decide that based on the expressed views of another, they will not partner with them. It’s especially not censorship to decide that you will not provide the content for which people pay to attend PAX when PAX has come out as openly hostile to people like you.

      PAX has placed itself on the side of people who want to actively ensure this industry is not safe for women, people of color, trans people, etc. That is reason enough to opt not to support them.

    • Eric Brasure says:

      Boycotts are a time-tested method for marginalized groups to exercise outsize power over groups that are oppressing them. This is not about “mixing business and personal views”–it’s about power, and what one uses that power for.

  4. Eric says:

    I applaud you all for having the courage of your convictions. Professionals in any field have an obligation to take a stand for what they believe is right, as you have done here. Well done.

  5. Marijn Lems says:

    I have an idea – maybe everybody who agrees with this decision can buy an extra copy of Gone Home to gift to a friend when it comes out. Who’s with me?

  6. I have massive respect for you guys for making this call. Being an indie is tough and well to put your ethics before your bottom line takes real guts and a sense of conviction which I admire.

    Thank you!

  7. Rachel says:

    Thank you so much for your integrity and taking this public stance.

  8. Shadow2222 says:

    Thank you for this. I am gay, and it makes me very sad to see those comments by the PA guys as well.

    I now know of your company and your game, and am looking forward to it 🙂

  9. Thank you. This is all so egregiously unacceptable. I especially love Mike’s butthurt. Unbelievable. “I’m angry because other people don’t think I’m qualified as an authority to gainsay their personal experiences of gender, and because of that, I’m entitled to be an abusive jerkface, boo hoo hoo.” Glad your team realizes that this narcissistic, privilege-defending crap has nothing to contribute to gaming in any positive way and are willing to take a stand.

    • Jeff K says:

      Except that’s a quote you’ve made up, isn’t what he said, and isn’t reflective of his continued thoughts and words on the issue.

      Put simply, there are lots of people like Mike in the industry, and I don’t think for one second that he has a malicious bone in his body (Though he will be the first to admit that he is very quick to press the “Be an asshole” button when backed into a corner).

      Attacking these people as “defending privilege” and what-not solves nothing, and only widens the divide. I was like Mike and still am in a lot of ways. We don’t need your hatred, we need your help. Keep on communicating, keep on talking about these things, keep on providing information. It’s the only way all of us can gain understanding and respect for each other.

      • Jim Hague says:

        It’s not hatred, Jeff, it’s disgust. It’s finally getting fed up and sick to the back teeth of, yes, people defending privilege.

        As someone who has worked in the games industry for almost a decade at this point, there really aren’t a lot of people like Mike in it. Instead, you have a wide and diverse array of folks looking to make an inclusive experience for everyone. All too often, that gets shouted down or ignored, which is more than a shame or tragedy, it’s a crime.

        Mike says he’s quick to push the asshole button as a threat – don’t criticize him, or he’ll be an asshole, and it’s all the critics’ fault. That’s the very definition of privilege and willful obstinance. It deserves to be called out, harshly and loudly.

      • Eric Brasure says:

        You don’t think Krahulik (let’s not call him by his first name–we’re not his friends) “has a malicious bone in his body”?

        What else do you call it when people have told you that something you’ve said is offensive and hurtful, and instead of apologizing or at the very least shutting up, instead doubles down and continues to say hurtful and offensive things? That’s not malicious?

  10. Franny says:

    Well, I’m 100% more likely to buy your game now, because I hadn’t heard of it before, but now I have (via Warren Ellis’s twitter) and I totally support your decision. So who knows, you might catch more queer feminist geeks via the internet than random passers by at PAX.

  11. Incredibly brave move. Much respect.

  12. James says:

    I’ve also decided not to attend future PAX events for these same reasons. Many of the online-only gamer friends I have reacted similarly to how Mike acted. Hopefully soon this type of behavior will fade away.

  13. Talk about hyper-sensitive says:

    Not brave at all. You boycotting PAX is an attempt at getting more publicity for yourself and your indie game. Even if it’s not, this is an overreaction to say the least. I’m an avid and hardcore gamer, and I’ve bought dozens of indie games because I like to support indie developers. Your team will never get a dime from me, and many others.

    • You won’t even attach your name to your own words, yet you have the nerve to tell them they are not being brave at all. I’m pretty sure you’re the real coward here.

    • SO BRAVE says:

      Completely agree. If all the reactionary bullshit the Internet pitch fork team is spewing, this is the most self- serving and weak assed non-event of them all.

      The hypocrisy of not feeling welcomed by ‘and incredibly positive’ environment… I can’t even words. Internet social justice at its most embarrassing…

      This queer girl won’t miss you at PAX.

      • Noëlle says:

        What do you suppose are the odds on “Talk about hyper sensitive” and “SO BRAVE” posting from the same IP address?

        Please continue to defend the big guy. Those poor, beleaguered underdogs at the biggest video game exposition in the world need all the help they can get against the people who want them to not be hateful bigots.

        • SO BRAVE says:

          Because there couldn’t *possibly* be more than one person who sees the ridiculousness of this situation? Get real.

          None of my words actively defended PA, so you’re running on a lot of assumptions aren’t you. Full disclosure, I think mike said some shitty things – I don’t think he’s the only person on the Internet ever to do so. I also think he made an awkward semi-apology because he was embarrassed an frazzled, but if he genuinely felt bad and learns from it then I don’t see why that isn’t a victory for the fight against ignorance. Obviously that remains to be seen. That’s why I think this is a dumb, knee jerk and reactionary move. There’s not a shred of bravery to it.

      • Peter Vervloet says:

        So instead of just accepting their choice you choose to spit venom under an alias. Perhaps you’re just the original poster agreeing with yourself under a different name, there’s no method of checking.

        If you feel that Tycho and Gabe are a positive force for the community and for gaming, by all means, go to PAX and support them. But at the same time, Fullbright are in their right to feel that they’re being a detriment to the gaming community… And I wouldn’t even disagree, a lot of the stuff they do, particularly Mike, would be a PR disaster if any other organisation did it, but because it’s bloody Penny Arcade it’s somehow accepted if not applauded.

        Ultimately, the team had to decide if they wanted to throw a thousand dollars straight into the pockets of a pair of guys whose morals completely oppose their own, so I don’t see why you must send hate messages at them, anonymously no less, just because you disagree with them.

        • SO BRAVE says:

          I will continue to support them, because I don’t believe a few sarcastic, embarrassed tweets negate all the good that company does and stands for. The leap you seem to have made from these comments to ‘completely opposite morals’ is gargantuan. I can only assume you’re using hyperbole…

          I leave comments because I have an opinion and this is the Internet. Why are *you* commenting? Why is that even in question?

    • If someone you bump in a crowd casually reaches out and breaks the pinkie finger on your non-dominant hand with a subtle and barely noticable gesture, it takes almost zero effort. Out of everyone in the crowd, you might be the only one making a big deal out of it at first, unless you have a friend with you. Now imagine after your first shocked howl of pain (dunno if you’ve ever dislocated or broken fingers, but the pain is electrifyingly huge, glassy, and nausesting) picture the crowd averting their eyes and continuing on their way, and the ones who witnessed it, or part of it, walking up and patiently lecturing you about being oversensitive, on the apparent basis that their hands are FINE, and besides, he hardly touched you.

      Got it? Ok cool cos that’s what you’re doing. The damage done doesn’t affect you, therefore it doesn’t exist. Good thing that’s not the M.O. in dentistry, yeah?

      Anyways, in order to argue that an indie game dev company that gives up a massive opportunity to showcase their product is not “brave” necessitates the belief that LGBTQIA, women, and the companies who respect and support us represent a majority that can sink Gabe & Tycho into the violence of poverty with the strength of our market share.

      In which case, you know, every argument that says we’re too small to be catered to is revealed to be a great big lying-ass pile of bigotry.

      • SO BRAVE says:

        You’re making a lot of assumptions here. Seems to be a theme.

        ‘The damage done doesn’t affect you..’ – Oh really? Who says? You’re placing me in the ‘them’ box, when you know nothing about who I am or how my opinions are informed. I a ma queer girl and it could well be any of my friends with the broken finger in your unnecessarily dense analogy. ‘LGBTQIA, women’ does not denote a hive-minded swarm, I am allowed to dissent from the mob.

  14. This post 100% convinced me to buy your game, and I haven’t seen frame one of what you’re doing.

  15. Joby says:

    Much respect for taking a moral stand, when it would be so much easier to ignore the problems you have to get the showfloor exposure.

  16. Jason W says:

    Grow up. Seriously…the LGBT gets hurt over way too many things. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. You might not like it. Nobody waves their opinion in front of your faces. Then stop following Penny-Arcade and all those involved.

    1. Clearly Mike didn’t mean he really supported rape culture. It was a joke because people were blowing a stupid comic WAY out of proportion. It was simply a sarcastic remark. The fact that you are still bringing this up today is ridiculous. Let it go. They pulled their tshirt from the store and are clearly sorry for what happened.

    2. The issue with Mike and transgendered people. The only people offended, again, was the LGBT community. Don’t be so freaking sensative! Just because a transgendered person identifies as woman/man when physically…they aren’t…doesn’t mean ANYONE needs to identify them as such. Mike makes one statement about how he feels “women have a vagina” and suddenly he is the asshole and people turn around and threaten him. I get the whole “identifying” thing. I really do. It was a harmless comment he made. Just because it hurt your feelings…doesn’t mean it was hurtful.

    Tired of people/companies trying to make statements at the expense of someone’s free speech. I’m not buying your game for this reason…even though I think it’s a really cool game.

    This isn’t a “brave” move at all. The fact that you even have to say “yeah…we have a gay member on our team” is stupid also. Everyone should be treated as equals. You, in your own statement, had to bring additional attention to yourselves.

    • Craig B says:

      I’m so tired of people saying that “free speech” is violated or at risk. It’s such bullshit– no one says that PA doesn’t have “the right” to say dumb shit. Responding to it (also free speech!) and making a business decision in response (which Fullbright is free to do!) is in no way is a representation of anyone’s freedom of speech on either side.

      Also, “Just because a transgendered person identifies as woman/man when physically…they aren’t…” Dude, seriously don’t say you “get” anything. You don’t.

    • MickeyR says:

      “… at the expense of someone’s free speech.”

      Sigh. I really wish people understood what “Free Speech” means.

    • ndrofox says:

      “Tired of people/companies trying to make statements at the expense of someone’s free speech.”

      Well good job they’re not, then, isn’t it? They’re not impinging on anyone’s rights by doing this, they are opposing something they disagree with by ceasing any working relationship with them. The offending party remains free to continue with whatever is percieved to have caused offence, and the offended party is free to voice their opposition, just they are no-longer doing it in any kind of proximity to one another.

      Since this post doesn’t say “They shouldn’t be doing this” rather “We don’t agree with this,” Quite what right you’re referring to being encroached upon here is beyond me.

      This is the problem with the very absolutist view some people have on “Freedom of speech,” it is not, nor should it ever be a freedom from opposition or critique, as treating it as such ironically (and counter-productively) impinges upon other people’s freedoms. For instance, I may disagree with your comment, and am more than prepared to inform you as such, you’re free to continue making them as long as you see fit to do so.

    • Fredison says:

      “Then stop following Penny-Arcade and all those involved. ”
      That’s… exactly what they’re doing?

    • S. T. Stone says:

      “Seriously…the LGBT gets hurt over way too many things.”

      Yeah, because it’s not as if gender and sexual minorities (henceforth referred to as “GSM people” for brevity’s sake) have to deal with discrimination on multiple levels, amirite?

      “Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. You might not like it. Nobody waves their opinion in front of your faces. Then stop following Penny-Arcade and all those involved.”

      Everyone has the right to an opinion. Nobody has to the right not to expect criticism for said opinion. “Free Speech” does not mean “Consequence-free Speech”.

      “Clearly Mike didn’t mean he really supported rape culture. It was a joke because people were blowing a stupid comic WAY out of proportion. It was simply a sarcastic remark.”

      We don’t have the capability to parse sarcasm by text alone. Taken out of the context of his other remarks, it could damn well look as if he meant it. Taken in context, it just makes him come off as a smug prick.

      “The fact that you are still bringing this up today is ridiculous. Let it go. They pulled their tshirt from the store and are clearly sorry for what happened.”

      Did they ever issue a full apology for offering the T-shirt in the first place? Did they ever offer an apology for making a mistake and not for “offending people”? (Yes, a difference exists between the two.)

      “The issue with Mike and transgendered people. The only people offended, again, was the LGBT community. Don’t be so freaking sensative!”

      ‘Yeah, you only got offended because someone in a position to represent the interests of both gamers and game developers/publishers said ignorant things that could make both groups look insensitive towards the discrimination and real-life violence that GSM people face on a regular basis and make it that much harder for you to feel welcomed as a GSM gamer. Grow a fucking spine!’

      “Just because a transgendered person identifies as woman/man when physically…they aren’t…doesn’t mean ANYONE needs to identify them as such.”

      Thank you for your stunning display of insensitivity.

      Transgender people prefer for others to refer to them by whatever gender they identify as (e.g. a trans woman would prefer to have others call them a woman/”she” instead of a man/”he”). That you — and possibly Mike — would refuse a transgendered person that level of respect and dignity for whatever reason says more about you than their asking for you to refer to them with their given gender identity says about them.

      “Mike makes one statement about how he feels “women have a vagina” and suddenly he is the asshole and people turn around and threaten him. I get the whole “identifying” thing. I really do. It was a harmless comment he made. Just because it hurt your feelings…doesn’t mean it was hurtful.”

      You don’t get the right to tell other people if they can or can’t consider something “hurtful” to them. You can express the opinion that you don’t consider what Mike said as hurtful, but your opinion does not invalidate the feelings of other people.

      “Tired of people/companies trying to make statements at the expense of someone’s free speech.”

      As I said above: “Free speech” does not mean “Consequence-free speech”. You have every right to refer to a gay person as a “faggot”, but that right does not shield you from criticism or blowback. Fullbright’s response here does not prevent Mike and the Penny Arcade/PAX crew from speaking their minds and saying whatever they wish. Mike could go on Twitter right now and say something equally as ignorant and derogatory towards GSM people, and Fullbright would have no recourse with which to stop him because — and I know this might shock you — Fullbright, much the same as the government, has no right to stop Mike from expressing himself however he wishes.

      But that doesn’t mean Fullbright can’t take a stand against Mike, Penny Arcade, and PAX by refusing to associate itself with a group of people who would make and support such statements. Fullbright pulled its game from PAX as a protest against Mike’s language and behavior AND as a statement that it stands for principles and ideas which Mike, PA, and PAX clearly don’t.

      Neither Mike/PA/PAX or Fullbright have the right to censor each other. Neither group has asked for the other to censor itself. Both groups still have a platform with which to express themselves and the right to say whatever they wish.

      But hey, I think I may have gotten ahead of myself here. How did Fullbright infringe upon Mike’s right to free speech, again?

      “I’m not buying your game for this reason…even though I think it’s a really cool game.”

      Gee, look at that — you disagreed with a statement from Fullbright and have chosen not to associate yourself with the company or its products as a result.

      Just curious: how does that differ from what Fullbright chose to do regarding PAX?

      “This isn’t a “brave” move at all. The fact that you even have to say “yeah…we have a gay member on our team” is stupid also. Everyone should be treated as equals. You, in your own statement, had to bring additional attention to yourselves.”

      That statement lets Penny Arcade know that game developers, including indie companies, often have more than straight white cisgendered males on staff — and those people feel as if Mike’s perceived animus towards GSM people have made them feel uncomfortable with going to PAX and showing off the game there, which in turn hurts Fullbright.

      Fullbright could have gone to PAX, let the show give its game a bigger spotlight, and ignored their own moral objections to what Mike said. They chose instead to stick to their morals and sacrifice greater exposure for the game in order to send a message to Mike/PA/PAX. Their decision clearly took more guts than it would have taken for them to go to PAX and ignore the controversy.

    • “..tired of [people] [saying things] at the expense of free speech.”

      haha really?!


      I can’t think of any definition of “free speech” that disincludes the right to reply with vigorous condemnation. By your definition of “free speech,” your reply here is expressly forbidden, BY YOU. You are, by your argument, engaging in censorship. And by replying, so am I.


      No, you can call people whatever you want. And we can loudly call you a bigot.

      Here: you said bigoted things and I strongly suspect, from your willingness to say bigoted, gender essentialist horseshit, that you are a bigot.

      So uh, good luck with your fresh 1999 rhetorical debate tactic, but you might want to try it on people who aren’t struggling not to laugh.

  17. Auyx says:

    Thank you.

  18. Amber Scott says:

    I hadn’t heard of your company or “Gone Home” before, but I certainly have now. I’ll be checking out your game and recommending my friends come read your thoughtful post here. It’s all too rare today to see a company showcase its ethics in its behaviour.

    • Christa H. says:

      Ditto to all of this! I’d never heard of the Gone Home before, but found this post from a friend after the Penny Arcade mess. New fan here.

  19. Dimrill says:

    Thank you for your integrity. You have another purchaser right here.

  20. EntitledGamer says:

    Between this and Ben Kuchera’s writing PAX has gone from being some cool little independent empire into an irrelevant ivory tower.

  21. K. Dill says:

    I think the LGBT community reads into so much. They’re so quick to go on the defensive about things. Mike and Jerry are just two stupid guys, yet even within their own event they have panels that deal with the exact issues that people are complaining about. They launched the “no booth babes” rule with PAX as well. Mike’s an asshole, but he certainly doesn’t reflect the entire company as a whole, and I’m always confused why Jerry is under the gun just by association. He’s smart enough to just shut his mouth when it comes to things he doesn’t understand, where as Mike just lashes out.

    tl;dr, chill out and stop holding this infinite grudge. If somebody wants to pay 7,500 to be an Intern, go for it. If somebody wants to pay a girl on indiegogo 3,000 to have a 10 minute Skype session with them, that’s their prerogative.

    • Mike C says:

      If someone finds PA’s behavior abhorrent and no longer wants anything to do with them, that’s THEIR prerogative. So, as you say, just chill out.

    • randomfox says:

      These people do not speak for the LGBT community. A few members of it saying something does not mean the entire group is agreeing in a we are one mind we are legion type way. I’m sure there’s plenty of LGBT individuals who don’t have their heads up their ass, laughed the fuck outta that Dickwolves comic, respectfully disagreed with Mike’s opinions on something he clearly is ill informed on, and will be enjoying the hell out of PAX this year as everyone who goes always does.

      It’s a shame these people think the only way to “combat” their made up enemy is to let their own game suffer, since the couple dozen or so people who will wanna buy their game based on this will not be equal to even half the amount of those who would buy it after seeing the booth set up at PAX. But hey, that’s capitalism: you do something stupid, your product fails.

  22. Jay Griffin says:

    Thank you for being one of the few (so far) to put their principles first and actually take a stand. Doubtless you’ve got more than your fair share of backlash coming your way because of it, but there’s a lot of gamers and devs out there who genuinely appreciate what you’re doing. We’re not going to make things any better if we don’t do what little we can to effect some change in this industry, after all. Nice one.

  23. Pingback: Indie Developer sacrifice sales for principles | Gaming News & Game Reviews

  24. DrMcCoy says:

    Much love and respect for you guys from me as well. 🙂

  25. C. F. says:

    Way to siphon made up internet drama for a PR opportunity. Oh man, a joke Kickstarter tier? Uh-oh, this guy made a joke about the disturbing implications of MMO quests years ago! What do you mean genitalia determines gender! Hey, you better not sell this game in the USA, turns out that the House is dominated by people who are all for rape in the military. Will people have to fill out a questionnaire before they buy the game? Does my support for UHC mean that I am ineligible to buy the game?

    It seems that you made the biggest mistake you can on the internet, turning internet drama coming from mostly anonymous people into a pointless real world fight against imagined foes.

    • >>>What do you mean genitalia determines gender!
      You might want to update your bigot lexicon, all the cool bigots nowadays will at least grant that genitalia doesn’t determine gender, they’ll just say it determines sex and then drone on and on about how sex is what matters, not gender.

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  27. Dean says:

    That’s pretty courageous of you guys. I’m sure any PR is good PR for Gone Home, but if you feel presenting at PAX is a violation of your views, way to go.

  28. brodie says:

    Fullbright Company: integrity confirmed.
    Thank you for being rad human beings who stick to their convictions. Really looking forward to Gone Home.

    2 (idle) thumbs up

  29. jeverage says:

    I don’t agree with the things Mike said, but also respect him and feel I understand where he’s coming from, while acknowledging his very real tendency to go full-crazy when he feels threatened; A shortcoming he’s never been shy about admitting.

    With that said, I also have a great deal of respect for you guys now. I don’t have to agree with the motivations behind your decision to see that it was a difficult one, and to know how rare it is for a dev team to turn sound such a big opportunity for publicity because it conflicts with their principles.

    All I want to leave with is a message to the rest of the commenters, some of whom seem unjustly hateful towards the PA folks: That helps nothing. I mentioned in another comment (A direct reply, so may not be seen by as many people) that I have a lot in common with Mike. Less than I used to, but it’s still there. Assuming I’m reading him right, it doesn’t come from a hateful or LGBT-phobic place, but from a fundamental misunderstanding and lack of experience. Please, we don’t need your hate and your labels anymore than you need those things from other people. What we need is your help and communication.

    I believe I’ve come a long way in my understanding and respect for LGBT individuals. It’s something I’ve always /said/ I believed in, but there’s a line between saying you believe something and actually living by it. I don’t want to give the wrong impression- I was never a hateful dude tossing slurs around- but I didn’t always understand as well as (I think) I do now. That change couldn’t have happened had it not been for my own mistakes saying stupid ignorant things, and then being corrected and helped by people much smarter than me.

    Reading these comments hurts, because I see a bit of myself in Mike. I’m not asking you to be OK with the things he said, because they /are/ hurtful. But the absolute best thing that can be done is to endeavour to increase his understanding and, maybe thereby, increase the understanding of thousands of people who read his/their work. I guarantee you that’s a great deal more positive than congratulating one another on how you no longer read their work. That sounds aggressive and snarky because it probably is, but it’s how I feel right now. I know I’ll regret it in the cold light of 5 minutes from now.

    • mwr says:

      Hi Jeverage,

      It’s cool to see someone trying to approach a very complicated topic with a nuanced perspective. Though I don’t know the guy, I’ll bet you’re right that Mike is not acting out of malice, but out of a lack of understanding. I’ll also bet that the folks at Fullbright would agree that increasing his understanding would be far superior to a self-congratulatory turn inward and refusal to engage.

      Where I get confused with this post is that it doesn’t seem to me that their post/action is a self-congratulatory turning inward. They stated their reasons publicly and honestly. As far as I can tell this is about the only way one can increase the understanding of another person who isn’t in front of you chatting over coffee. They also put their money where their mouths were, so to speak. They gave up all the publicity and future purchases they would be basically guaranteed from the indie megabooth–a stupid move from a business perspective regardless of what some commenters here think–to change in the slightest way the community of which they are a part and in which they participate. Acting against fiscal self-interest is about one of the only ways you can get someone who has made up his/her mind to think about what you’re doing with an open mind for half a second. It’s such a shocking thing to do that people might consider your actions. As far as I can tell, that’s the reason there are so many commenters trying to say that this is some craven ploy for publicity–they don’t want to have to think about what is being said.

    • “full crazy when threatened”

      Its interesting that this is only defended as a reasonable reaction when the person being ‘threatened’ is a straight white male dishing out abuse on people who face the prospect of literal assault at the hands of bigots who see their shit ideas echoed, approved, and culturally at every level.

      The difference between our ‘hate’ (the word is ‘criticism,’ by the way) and Gabe’s is that we face more brutal and literal correction for who and what we are every day than a millionaire with a protective fandom will ever face for venting ignorant, culturally toxic ideas he could fix by learning what the fuck he’s talking about.

      I can’t learn to stop being queer or accept the rightness of my treatment at the hands of people who think I should, but you can learn to stop pretending ignorance is precious and basic human consideration is anathema.

    • Intent: it’s fucking magic!

  30. Passerby says:

    I think there is nothing wrong with the description of the PAX Australia panel. Discussing the possible oversensitivity to certain issues and the effects that has on the industry is as valid a topic as discussing the need to be sensitive to those issues. I share the view that people are too willing to accuse anything that a straight man might find attractive of being “objectifying” and that it’s rather shameful that the only possible villain to have without offending someone (who “matters”) is a straight white man (one who is preferably rich and probably votes Republican).

    Most of the rest is just those two being jerks, though. So good on you for not doing business with jerks.

    But more to the point, good on you for actually sticking by your principles and putting your business where your philosophy is. Too often people who state certain beliefs are all too willing to compromise their beliefs for a payday or even just some good press, and then complain afterwards how they were “forced” to do so. “Well I was FORCED to make a movie I found insulting to my race!” “Well I was FORCED to write a comic for a company that treats women badly!” “Well I was FORCED to tell those lies so that I could get elected!”

    People aren’t forced to do any of these things. They choose them because the outcome of doing them is in their mind preferable to the outcome of not doing them, be it because they get paid more than doing a “normal” job, because it gets them more press, or because it lets them keep a position they really wanted. The complaining after the fact is their attempt to sell their principles and then get credit for still having them.

    Whatever anyone may think of the issues you took offense to… some of them I agree with you on, some of them I don’t… you are to be commended for actually keeping to your principle. You could have gone to PAX, reaped all the benefits of attending, and then complained about how uncomfortable it made you to do so later. Probably most of the people who share your views wouldn’t have blamed you… it’s what they’re used to seeing, after all. “Benefit now, offense later” is such the expected response that your supporters wouldn’t have thought twice about it, would have gone to bat for you, would have rained hate mail on Penny Arcade and made numerous supportive posts to you, and just taken it for granted that you were going to do the same thing next year, perhaps claiming “victory” that no panels like the ones that offended you this time were held.

    You chose a better person’s path, and for that you have my compliments and respect.

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  32. MJ says:

    I had not heard of your game before, but I’ll definitely be buying it now. Thank you for doing the right thing.

  33. davidgaames says:

    “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.”

    I respect you for standing up for what you believe in, but I completely disagree with the quote above. A person’s handful of ignorant opinions, no matter how terrible, do not define them – nor do they negate everything good that the person has ever done, or continues to do. Buying your game and sharing it with friends would not be tacit approval of everything you’ve ever said – it would just mean that you did something great that is worth sharing. It’s not impossible to support the good things someone has done while admonishing the bad. Yet that seems to be exactly what you are saying.

    Furthermore, by removing your game from the show floor, you’re only making it less friendly and welcoming to the LGBT community. Wouldn’t it be better to have a positive voice dealing with LGBT issues at the show than it would to just abandon it altogether, leaving the non-LGBT attendees to possibly feel further justified in not including the community, and any LGBT attendees feel even less represented? Mike and Jerry are not the soul of PAX – all they really did was start it. The games, the gamers, and the developers are what makes PAX great. And ignoring those thousands of people because of the hateful things said by two of them feels more like a kneejerk reaction to the current events than it does a thoughtful one, considering the attendees as well as the creators. Hell, put up your booth with a big banner that says “Mike and Jerry are stupid jerks”. They’d probably love it. But don’t just make your voice go unheard in a place that could obviously use it just because you think having your voice there automatically makes it a hateful one. It doesn’t. You can still use a flawed platform to promote a great message. No two people should ever be allowed to ruin something for thousands of people – even if they created it.

    I have been following your game for a while, and I cannot wait to experience it. I was absolutely thrilled to see it in-person at GDC – which I did not take to be your tacit approval of everything that Chris Crawford has ever said – though I did not want to get my hands on it until it is fully released. It will certainly be a day-one purchase for me, wherever it is sold. And if that platform happens to be Steam, I don’t foresee anyone complaining that you approve of every position that Gabe Newell holds. But I think I have butchered this point enough.

    I respect your decision, and am in full support of your company and your game. I just think it’s a shame that it will get less exposure because of what I consider to be a false assumption. I hope you have a great day, and continue to make such wonderful pieces of art.

  34. Mary says:

    Good on you guys for sticking to your morals. I’ve stopped reading/supporting Penny Arcade beyond Child’s Play for these very reasons. It’s time for them to grow up, apologize, and move into the future.

  35. Danny says:

    Thank you for letting me know i want nothing to do with your game anymore. 🙂

  36. I applaud you. Courage is not about what you do when it’s easy, or when you’re not afraid, and I know how hard it can be to choose to forgo a great publicity opportunity when you’re a small company. You’ve gained a fan.

  37. Fredison says:

    I fully support what you guys are doing (and I roll my eyes at the tinfoil-hatted folks who think this is just a publicity stunt) but I also agree with some commenters who say that what the PA guys do is the result of ignorance rather than malice.

    That’s precisely why initiatives like this are so important: these guys are some of the most popular and respected in the gaming community and, often, our ambassadors to the rest of the world. Mike’s reaction to the latest controversy shows a step in the right direction, but that’s only what it is: a first step. He, and so many other icons of gamer culture, needs to learn, to understand, that this is serious, and that his words have consequences, positive and negative.

    In the end, I think it can only make the gaming community a better place.

    • Melissa says:

      Remaining ignorant for so long despite the many resources, the outcry, /is/ malice.

    • Passerby says:

      Hm, in defense of those claiming publicity stunt, at least half of the comments are saying “I’m going to buy your game because of this!” (Figure a quarter of those, maybe, will follow up on it.)

      But if it were a publicity stunt then it would be an extremely foolish one, since internet drama will simply not generate the same amount of visibility that an in-person visit at a high-profile convention would. Especially since as I note above, they could easily have done both, and doing so is generally so expected that probably 99% of people who felt as they do would not have given it a second thought. So I’m inclined to lean towards this being sincere.

      While I think their actions are laudable and respectable, I personally won’t be buying the game… because I don’t really particularly enjoy the type of game it apparently is. (Genre-wise, not message-wise, though I’m not much for “important issues” in games either.) While I’m sure they appreciate the money and the show of support, I would encourage people to reward their principle by sticking to it as well: buy the game if you think it looks like fun, not just because they Made A Stand.

    • No. Here’s the result of genuine ignorance without malice:

      Person X: You’re not a woman unless you were born with girl parts!

      Person Y: What you just said hurts me. I am a woman, and have been struggling my entire life with getting others to recognize that. It’s resulted in ostracization, belittling, and physical danger for me. Things like what you just said are representative of the societal attitudes that have resulted in so much pain for me. And it’s not okay. I’m a woman because I identify as a woman, and no one but me gets to make that determination.

      Person X: Wow, I didn’t realize that what I said would be hurtful to you — I just didn’t know. I’m sorry I said something that was hurtful.


      And here’s the result of malice:

      Person X: Jeez, can’t you take a joke?

      Person X: Stop censoring me!

      Person X: Too bad — I’m sorry you’re not a real woman.


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  40. I understand your point, and I accept it, based on the information you had up until right now, though you quoting his ““felt pretty good” to “support rape culture.”” shows you wouldn’t get irony or sarcasm if it showed up naked and painted in purple singing “Irony and sarcasm are here again!”

    But what do you think about this apology? http://www.penny-arcade.com/2013/06/21/well-that-escalated-quickly

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  42. randomfox says:

    So to combat the issues you have with penny arcade, you’re going to cripple your own games exposure in a fashion which will not harm Penny Arcade in the least. Bold, I must say, bold and probably will fail.

    As a side note, I still don’t get why people consider the Dickwolves thing an “incident.” I mean really? We can’t make jokes about things? I have such an aversion to the notion that we’re not allowed to make jokes about a serious subject, like if we laugh at an exaggeration of it (which is what all jokes of any given subject are, exaggerations) we give it more power or something, when in fact the opposite is true. I’m sorry, but if you’re in the camp that’s telling people what they’re allowed to laugh at, you’re not one of the good guys.

  43. Chad says:

    Boofuckinghoo, seriously what a waste of time this is. Dickwolves is still a issue? Its a comic about not being able to save more then x number of npc’s in a mmo and said npc’s needed your help to get out of a bad situation but you can only save x. It was over the top, no where was it about supporting rape. Why would you even apply to something created by people you don’t agree with? What is the point? So you can stand on your high “moral” grounds when you decide that you didn’t want to go all along? That was the whole point to prove you are better then someone else then brag about it.

  44. Phyrra says:

    I stopped being a fan when Dickwolves happened. I applaud you for your stance.

  45. I’m going to recommend all my friends check out your game. Hopefully everyone else will too, and you’ll get way better publicity than from going to PAX.
    Good for you for making this tough decision. In my mind, you made the right call.
    For me, the stuff those guys have said is very offensive, but what makes it really bad it is the way they handle the aftermath. Making more “jokes” and fueling the fire, refusing to apologize and just coming off as immature and crass. It’s frankly pretty disgusting.

    I feel anxious and awkward going to PAX East for the Protomen. I only go for the concert, just the concert, but the Dickwolves thing and such has really soured PAX for me forever. I don’t want to hang out around PAX, unless I’m with fellow Protomen fans I don’t feel very comfortable.

  46. AmanM says:

    Hi. I’ve been a fan of yours since forever, Steve, I’m writing to you for the first time in any form just to let you know how much I appreciate this show of conscience by you and your colleagues. A lot is how much, so there you go. Anyway, I’m sorry you guys won’t get to be at the Indie Megabooth this year, but I don’t think this’ll do much harm to Gone Home which has always looked to be something special. You guys always seemed to have high standards for your work, and it’s nice to see that that carries over into decisions about what kind of company you choose to be.

  47. Steve says:

    Hi all,

    Thanks so much for sharing your support, concerns, and lively debate. The conversation between some commenters here is devolving a bit, so before anything gets too overheated, we’re going to close comments on this post.

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