So I know that PAX Controversy is a really generic title, but anything else I could think of ended up sounding a bit too much of a joke for something that is really a controversial topic. So if you do not know what Dickwolves are be grateful, and they will be explained further in some other articles I will be linking to. The basic concept is that Penny Arcade created a comic that used rape to look at the contradictory nature of questing in games such as World of Warcraft where you can only save a certain number and then you have to leave the rest to often horrible fates. There were a lot of people who felt that the use of rape and how it was portrayed was insulting to actual rape victims.
Now they could have just left it there, but as creators being attacked they got defensive that someone was making claims about what they meant. So they reacted and reacted in possibly the worst way you could react to something like this. It ended up enraging the other side of the issue and it ended up breaking down to both sides name calling, threatening, and generally moved past any sort of civilized debate on the issue. Escalating so far as having a Team Dickwolves shirt made for sale on the Penny Arcade site, which was then removed weeks later. The issue eventually seemed to die down and then PAX happened this past week and Dickwolves got brought up again.
Dickwolves Part 2
So apparently this past weekend at PAX they had a time where they were doing a casual interview between Robert Khoo with Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins. In the session, that was attended by a lot of people, Mike was asked whether there was a time that they thought Robert made a mistake. Mike, not having planned answers, said he regrets pulling the Dickwolves shirts after the fact. The reaction to this comment has been negative from all the blogs that I read. It is possible that the only people commenting are the negative comments, which is understandable.
The couple of comments that I have read are people who were already a bit taken aback with how the controversy was handled in the first place. Then to have it brought up again they felt was a slap in the face to everyone who had been offended in the first place. They make comments about not feeling comfortable at PAX anymore and having what used to be a safe place feel questionable at best. Especially with how violent the argument got, it makes sense. If I make a comment about not liking Dickwolves or something similar am I going to be met with an overreaction from someone else.
So first here are the two articles that I read about the situation; Why I’m Never Going Back to Pax and What Are Dickwolves, and What Do They Have To Do With Rape Culture? A Cautionary Tale of How Not to Respond to Feminist Criticism.
So I had read these two articles and it made me really disappointed. It just makes me sad when people with such influence and who do create some pretty amazing work do not move past something that was not one of their best moments. I really like Penny Arcade, but I do remember questioning whether I was going to keep reading the comic after the situation. I can see both sides of the situation and even though someone who is in the public eye needs to be more careful about what they say; they are just human. At the same time if they really are unapologetic for how they reacted to the whole controversy, it does make me question how much I want to support their efforts. As the articles show I am not alone in this thought.
So, when I was looking at Penny Arcade the other day, I spent a second to look through the news items and found Krahulik’s Clarification that he posted. When I read it, I felt that it was authentic look at what was behind his answer. He felt that taking down the Team Dickwolves shirts just kept the controversy going instead of just letting it die down and moving past it. He does express regret over the whole reaction that they had to the controversy, which I do commend him for. It gives me some hope, but there have been a couple things that have definitely been bad decisions.
Well, really I have no final decision, because I really do love most of the stuff that Penny Arcade does. They do some great stuff and it is hard combine the idea of no booth babes and trying to create this welcoming experience in PAX to then having people wearing Team Dickwolves t-shirts. Now the thing that Krahulik does not seem to understand is that by removing the t-shirts they are acknowledging that some people have a problem with the concept. Even if it was not the intention of the original comic, and the controversy afterwards turned everything into an internet flame war, there were people who really felt hurt over this. While, we cannot make everyone happy, when it comes to victims of sexual assault I think trying to be more sensitive to their situation is the better way to go. Especially if we have not had to go through a similar experience. We can never really understand what goes through their mind. So, what do you think, does this make you want to not support Penny Arcade, still on the fence, or do you think it is such a small part of what they have done that it does not blot out all the good stuff?