Due in part to recent comments from Penny Arcade co-creator Mike Krahulik, developer The Fullbright Company has announced that they will not be exhibiting their game, Gone Home, at this year’s Penny Arcade Expo.
Speaking through a blog post on the company’s website, co-founder Steve Gaynor says it’s an issue that’s been a long time coming, “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.’”
The breaking point apparently came when “a panel was announced for PAX Australia entitled ‘Why So Serious?’” The panel, created to examine the intense examination video games undergo, originally featured this description on the PAX Australia website:
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?
While the description was eventually changed, it led to a series of tweets from Penny Arcade artist Mike Krahulik, who defended the statement as free speech, before eventually expressing his opinions on gender:
These comments, along with the previous controversies, were enough for the small developer to turn down admission into the Indie Mega Booth.
“We believe that people’s opinions and actions on social issues and business ethics are important,” wrote Gaynor. “We believe that agreeing to pay the organizers of PAX over $1,000 for booth space, and to present our game on their show-floor 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.”
“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.”
Despite Karhulik apologizing multiple times, we’ve heard rumblings of more panelist and exhibitors considering their options. Is this the beginning of a trend? Is it a warranted reaction? Let us know in the comments.
UPDATE: Mike has issued another apology, and has announced a $20,000 donation to the Trevor Project, a leading LGBTQ teen support charity. It doesn’t appear to have changed the minds of The Fullbright Company, but at least good is coming out of this ordeal.