Gone Home developer Fullbright Company has announced it is withdrawing from this year's PAX Prime's Indie Megabooth, citing behavior from the convention organizers.
Penny Arcade founders Mike "Gabe" Krahulik and Jerry "Tycho" Holkins are no strangers to stirring up controversy. From 2010's "Dickwolves" debacle to statements made by Krahulik just yesterday regarding transgender critics, Penny Arcade has established a public image often at odds with its charitable outreach through organizations like Child's Play and its successful player-focused Penny Arcade Expo conventions.
Not all are happy with the cognitive disconnect, to be sure. Quite a few critics have elected to steer clear of PAX in recent years, but this may be the first time that an independent developer is withdrawing from a coveted spot at PAX's Indie Megabooth in protest of the show's organizers.
"This morning we stopped pushing those long-held reservations about Jerry and Mike into the back of our minds," writes Fullbright's Steve Gaynor. "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."
Gaynor cites multiple statements from both Krahulik and Holkins, including remarks where Krahulik said it "felt pretty good" to "support rape culture" and Holkins deeming criticism of Dragon's Crown's sexualized characters "censorship." The tearing point for the team was Krahulik's recent remarks about transgender people, in which he said in part:
Wanna be a guy or a girl or a fox or whatever and I will be happy to treat you that way.
But I think that is very different from the physical reality of your human body.
[...] 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.
Gaynor writes that it is statements including these that drove Fullbright Company's decision to withdraw from Indie Megabooth at PAX.
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.
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