Indie Developer sacrifice sales for principles
The small indie team Fullbright announced today they have cancelled their plans to occupy a booth at PAX. The reason behind their cancellation is a noble one at that.
Steve Gaynor (lead developer) wrote up a hard-hitting and semi-personal attack at the PAX founders today in an article that can only be described as ‘fair enough’. Calling out Penny Arcade founders Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik for their outspoken views on controversial issues such as rape, transgenders and even bribes.
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.
Steve goes on to explain that the small team of 4 consist of 2 women and 1 gay man and the controversial opinions of the PAX founders simply don’t wash with them. They cancelled their attendance to PAX under the knowledge that some other developer will simply take their place and it’s no real loss to the PAX founders.
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.
PAX will continue with or without the Gone Home developer and the organisers Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik will no doubt shrug this off and simply say ‘their loss, not ours’, however this is still a victory for TeamBright. They stood up for their own personal views on subjects that matter most to them and at the cost of publicity and potential sales.
There are some that would accuse Fullbright of “missing the joke” or taking things too seriously. All that can be said is that they’re standing by their convictions, and perhaps other developers will follow suit.