Why I no longer support Penny-Arcade

I was a long time supporter of Penny-Arcade.  Since high school (and possibly even middle school) I read Penny-Arcade on and off.  I found them funny and I thought they were clever.  When they launched the Penny-Arcade Report I quickly found that I greatly appreciated the way Ben Kuchera covered games news and that he covered the news that I was actually interested in (usually).  When I started my RSS feed Penny-Arcade was one of the first RSS’s added and checking my RSS feed usually started off by checking out Penny-Arcade and the PA Report.

Then I found out about this PAX Prime panel:

Why does the game industry garner such scrutiny from outside sources and within?  Every point aberration gets called into question, reviewers are constantly criticised and developers and publishers professionally and personally attacked.  Any titillation gets called out as sexist or misogynistic and involve any antagonist race other than Anglo-Saxons and you’re a racist.

It’s gone too far and when will it all end?  How can we get off the soapbox and work together to bring a new constructive age into fruition? (via BorderHouseBlog)

There was a huge outcry and rightly so.  (I won’t be discussing why there the outcry was right, and if you’re unconvinced just reading it you should read the Border House Blog linked after the quotation)

While they later changed the description to no longer include lines with titillation, sexism, and misogyny the spirit of the panel was still clearly the same.

Then enter the transphobic tweets of Mike Krahulik (AKA Gabe of Penny-Arcade).

cwgabrial transphobic

All of the tacit support I had given Penny-Arcade was called into question.  I know that they made a few poor jokes here and there, but I never realized just how terrible they were in response to said jokes.  They refuse to apologize and when they do it’s a half-hearted dismissal which is clearly meant as some sort of “calculated” PR move for Penny-Arcade Brand and not because they realize any error of their ways.

At this point I had stopped clicking on anything related to Penny-Arcade.  Child’s Play Charity, PAX, Penny-Arcade Report, etc.  Anything which would create support for Penny-Arcade had become part of my temporary ban list.  (I call it temporary because I wasn’t sure if I would, I guess you would say, get over it and still think of them in a positive light).

Then I saw Dickwolves.  Somehow I had missed this whole debacle (probably because it started when I was still fervently studying in my isolated box filled with books written in the range of 100 and 2500 years ago attempting to graduate).  The Dickwolves debacle has been documented extremely well on debacle.tumblr.com.

The Tumblr post is long, and detailed.  Reading through just the post and not the source material took long enough, but reading through what had happened (and what was still happening) just made me realize what I had been supporting the entire time I supported Penny-Arcade Report.

Mike Krahulik, the face of Penny-Arcade, has been a constant voice against change that he doesn’t agree with.  He holds certain truths and then refuses to believe anything outside of it.  He has been lucky because some of those “truths” are considered socially progressive (such as his stance against bullying and the treatment of women).  However, when he is called out for something offensive he turns into the school-yard bully.  His Penny-Arcade thugs come out in droves, behaving like marionette dolls dancing to Krahulik’s offensive tunes.  They punish those who call Krahulik out (threats of rape and violence against them) and reinforce sexism, misogyny, and rape culture.

As such anything related to Penny-Arcade will no longer be getting my support.  I have removed Penny-Arcade and the Penny-Arcade Report from my RSS feed.  I no longer follow anyone related to Penny-Arcade on Twitter and will no longer be supporting anything related to Penny-Arcade.  Some may call it harsh (because Penny-Arcade has done some good).  However, I refuse to support a network which not only creates content which it knows is offensive but which also refuses to apologize and take responsibility for its actions.

Penny-Arcade I say this with no regret or sadness – Goodbye.

Gamers Teaching Through Gaming

Hello Everyone!  Originally I was going to do an article about trolling as social conditioning today, however I have been inspired to do a different sort of article today.

While many are talking about the shooting that happened in Colorado last night/this morning I want to talk about something that I think is more important.  Gamers who teach their children through gaming: a cultural phenomenon being used by gamers to teach their children.  The reason I am not doing a post about the shooting is encapsulated by Patton Oswalt on Twitter:

Patton Oswalt on Aurora Shooting

While it is important to recognize these tragedies we must also be able to move beyond them.  Dwelling on them for too long only makes events like these more effective as their point is to disrupt the natural flow of life and instill fear.  When we talk about them in the ways that we often do we empower those who wish to commit similarly heinous acts and increase their efficacy.

Now, on to the topic for today’s discussion.

I was inspired by Gabe of Penny Arcade’s Gabe and Tycho today.  There have been two comics: The Proxy Part 1, and Part 2 that have been about teaching children.  More importantly not just teaching children, but parents learning to know when to let their children fail and when to help their children succeed.  In The Proxy, Part 2 Tycho says: “You don’t want to be one of those guys.  We saw that shit in scouts.  We all knew whose dad worked at Boeing. You could tell who had access to a wind tunnel.”  In the panel you can see that he is referring to pinewood derbies.

Tycho makes a very obvious remark about our own society and culture: that parents don’t want to see their children fail – so much so that some parents will actually do things for their children so that their children don’t have to experience the harsh reality of failure. However, the thing that I love about the two comics most, The Proxy, Part 1 and Part 2, is that there is a direct connection made between teaching children card games (Poke’mon in the case of the comic) and teaching children sports.  It draws a parallel between teaching children through traditional methods, such as pinewood derbies, and teaching children through non-traditional methods, such as the Poke’mon card game.

Through sports we try and teach our children many things which will make them successful in life: hard work, team work, perseverance, and dedication.  All of these character traits are traits that parents love to see in their children.  Winning builds confidence, but failure builds understanding.  Through failure we all learn many things in life.  These things are often very harsh realities about life, but they are essential if our children, as individuals, are going to succeed in life.

Gabe notes in his update for today, Friday July 20th, that: “So the current storyline is indeed taken straight from my life. My son attended his very first Pokemon League night on Tuesday.” The comic that he made, while indeed made for laughs, was taken straight from his real life.  But what struck me most were a few remarks regarding his son later in the update:

I’m incredibly proud of him though. For one thing he kept playing which I can’t imagine was easy. Also he asked if we could practice before he goes back next week. The fact that he wants to go back makes me extremely happy and you can bet we’ll practice.

I can’t teach him how to hit a baseball but I can sure as shit teach him about synergies, draw engines and probability.

There are so many parallels that can be drawn between a child learning to play baseball and a child learning to play Magic: The Gathering, or Poke’mon the card game.  The most obvious, to me, is the pride that parents feel for their children.  I teach children martial arts three days a week and the thing that parents love to see most (usually) is not that their child is winning, but that their child is persevering, practicing, and working hard; they’re learning essential life skills for success later in life.  When working with parents and children the pride I see most often comes when a child, after losing, comes to understand that they need to work harder and thus develop a resolve to be better.

It’s important to recognize that traditional sports are not necessary for this development in children.  When a child wants to do well at something we should be willing to push them to make them better, but in a way that they will enjoy it and understand why we are pushing them so hard.  This can be achieved through baseball or soccer, but can also be taught through card games, board games, and many other non-traditional sports games.

Gamers can and do use games to make teach their children these lessons.  Gabe demonstrates all of this through his son’s experience playing Poke’mon.  We can teach children how to think, analyze, and understand through gaming.  We can teach them about how to make themselves better through practice and hard work.  This is what parents want to see in their children.  It’s important to begin recognizing that sports are no longer the only way that we can teach character traits like hard work, team work, perseverance, and other life skills that children should learn in order to be successful.

Gamers are teaching their children in new ways that the old tradition wouldn’t have thought of.  This is the ingenuity that I love to see in the gaming world and I can’t wait until these sorts of games becomes a mainstream way to teach children the character traits that parents want to see in their children.

Your Resident (Not Really) Anthropologist