A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Gabe: We Made a Mistake Removing Dickwolves Merch

Click to embiggen.

Click to embiggen. (original image via wired.com)

Update: Mike Krahulik has published a response to folks upset by his comment. See bottom of post for brief comments. I have also written a follow-up post.

For anyone who thought that Penny Arcade and their lovable firebrand Gabe had learned anything from Dickwolves, Tentacle Bento, Gabe’s most recent outburst, or anything ever at all, news out of PAX yesterday should set you straight. In a Q&A, Mike “Gabe” Krahulik said he believed the company made a mistake in removing the “Dickwolves” merchandise they created not only to celebrate a rape joke but to ridicule critics (many of whom are rape survivors). If this is all new to you, you can read the whole sad, sorry timeline and catch up. The kicker? This time it wasn’t just Gabe talking out his ass. PA’s business manager backed him up.

Here’s yesterday’s entry from the Dickwolves Debacle timeline (emphasis mine):

On stage at PAX, Mike Krahulik (Gabe) says he regrets removing the Dickwolves merchandise from the Penny Arcade store. Robert Khoo, Penny Arcade’s business manager, agrees that those who were offended by it should have been ignored rather than engaged.

There’s video if you have the stomach for it. So far, I do not.

And from Alex Hern at The New Statesman this morning:

Today, that excuse is not available. These ideas have been mainstreamed to the extent that Krahulik and Holkins cannot get away with pretending that it’s only a vocal minority who see problems with using rape as a punchline which don’t extend to problems with using murder in the same way. But the last three years have not seen the pair toning down the rhetoric. From Holkins writing about the “censorship” of criticising a game’s exaggerated female characters to Krahulik being dismissive of trans people (leading to a $20,000 donation to the Trevor project), there have been no end of sub-dickwolves controversies, causing one prominent indie developer to pull out of their shows entirely. The Financial Post’s Daniel Kaszor summed them up in an article titled “Penny Arcade needs to fix its Krahulik problem“.

I’m going to say this again for anyone who didn’t hear me the first couple of times: Penny Arcade and Gabe/Tycho are major game industry influencers and as such, they have a responsibility to Not Be Dicks about stuff that affects a large portion of their audience and their community. In Gabe’s last apology for being an ignorant ass, he said he was going to keep his mouth shut to avoid doing any more damage to the PA/PAX brand. Apparently he forgot to do that. Now he’s doubled-down on his rape-apologist bullshit, and his BUSINESS MANAGER BACKED HIM UP. And I imagine Tycho is doing his ostrich act as usual.

Please don’t tell me this is “just Gabe,” and that “Penny Arcade does Childsplay” or “look, Tycho defended a rape victim the other day!” because none of that matters in this context. You don’t get to do Bad Things and get off the hook because you also do Good Things. Gabe just told a room full of fanboys (like the ones who supported PA’s original rape joke by dubbing themselves “Team Rape”)  that Penny Arcade’s mistake when it came to the Dickwolves Debacle was NOT SELLING T-SHIRTS. If you’re still willing to give him a pass–to give Penny Arcade and PAX a pass–then please at least examine and acknowledge the fact that you are doing so despite the fact that they repeatedly shit on rape survivors and anyone else who calls them out on their shit.

I understand that some of my friends have to go to PAX for work. I get that some people feel that they don’t have a choice. I’m not judging them.  I’m judging Mike Krahulik, Robert Khoo, and Penny Arcade and finding them rape apologists with no remorse. And considering how many people are rape survivors, they are apologizing for the perpetrators of rapes committed against a significant percentage of their audience and the games industry/community at large.

I’m not launching a campaign–not today, anyway. I’m just asking each of you to really stop and think about this if you’re in any doubt–about costs and benefits and consequences and influence. I’m asking you to speak up about this. Talk to your friends and colleagues. Have a conversation about how industry influencers who spread the message that rape is funny and rape survivors need to “get a sense of humor” are doing damage to our society. How rape culture is a real thing and Penny Arcade are currently its standard-bearers in the games industry. And then let’s come up with a way to either counter that influence or get them to once-and-for-all denounce all this bullshit and take steps to make it right.

Clever closing here. I’m just so sick of this shit. I’ll leave you with another line from Alex Hern’s piece in The New Statesmen (emphasis mine):

But by reopening the wound that first suggested that all was not well at Penny Arcade, Krahulik has also firmly reopened the debate about whether the pair can be trusted with the power they have in gaming. 

Update: Because I wasn’t there and haven’t watched the video, I was not aware that the audience cheered these remarks. I am just sick.

Update 2 (9/4): I just learned about this. From what I understand, a member of their Enforcer staff accused another of repeated incidents of sexual harassment, they quietly got rid of the guy, and PA mods shut down the forum thread where people were discussing the incident/issue, offering support and corroborating stories of harassment. I don’t know about you, but I feel kinda like putting another tick in the “Ways Penny Arcade Perpetuates Rape Culture” column.

Update 3 (9/5): Gabe has published a response to the Internet response to his comments at the Q&A. I think he has a lot of good things to say, but I do not think he has adequately explained why he thinks continuing to sell the shirts would have been a good idea. He has listed it among several other “mistakes” that fueled the fire, when the only fire removing the merch fueled (that I know of) was that of Team Rape’s entitled rage. He is still saying that NOT selling t-shirts that ridiculed survivors was a mistake. And that tells me that even though he’s sorry he hurt people on some level, on another level he still doesn’t get how selling those shirts would have hurt–and kept on hurting–those very same people. What do you think?

Update 4 (9/5): Here is my response.


Respectful discussion is welcome and encouraged. When in doubt, see the Comment Policy.

55 responses

  1. ToBe Kept

    As a Rape victim myself, I agree with Gabe actually. I would have worn a Dickwolves shirt and everything, because I am aware that it was simply a joke. Nothing more nothing less.

    September 17, 2013 at 8:41 am

    • And as a rape survivor, what I’m hearing is screw rape survivors who feel hurt by this. That and your “aware that it’s a joke” willingness to wear a rape joke t-shirt may make you feel superior to those of us who don’t share your nonchalance, but frankly, it just makes you someone who is willing to participate in hurting other survivors while telling us we’re not being hurt. It turns out rape survivors can perpetuate rape culture. I’m sure I’ve done it myself.

      September 17, 2013 at 9:07 am

  2. Krystyna

    Just a question… is that “hm…what to have for lunch” thought bubble meant to be a fat joke? Someone I am talking to read it that way, and I would like to know the intention behind it.

    September 5, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    • Absolutely not! It’s meant to be a “Tycho pretends Gabe didn’t just say that and avoids controversy” thing.

      September 5, 2013 at 5:54 pm

  3. Definitely the best apology he’s ever made (which might mean he’s merely getting more practiced, or got help writing it). Still, coming down on the finer points right now feels like saying he can do no right … I’m going to go with praise for a difficult job well attempted. And now I’m returning to my self-imposed task of compiling all the arguments that cropped up ALL over again, so that maybe the next time this hits the fan, we don’t have to start all over again from the beginning (“yes, I know the first comic wasn’t exclusively about…”).

    September 5, 2013 at 3:09 pm

  4. I just want to add that I think Mike showed here that while he’s still not clear on the damage the shirts would have done or the damage he does when he tells Team Rape they were justified, he is taking responsibility for causing pain through his willful actions. I see growth here, and that gives me hope. (See, I’m not all anger and rantiness!)

    September 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

  5. I’m adding links to other coverage as I find them (see bottom of post). I encourage folks to read some of these stories, especially if you want a better understanding of why this is an issue for many of us (even if it isn’t one for you).

    September 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm

  6. I’d like to offer this from the amazing Sam Killerman at Gamers Against Bigotry. He’s all calm and shit. ;)


    September 4, 2013 at 10:44 am

  7. What is there to understand? The comic was insensitive, unfunny and ill-conceived. People who were victims of rape, and their loved ones and friends, made it clear that this was not cool. Gabe fires back, they make t-shirts mocking the idea that anyone could be offended and their fans form “Team Rape” and seek out those rape victims in an attempt to punish them by making them relive their trauma all over again. People got understandably angry about this. But those mean ol’ rape victims! How DARE they express their anger at their trauma being used to belittle their experience!

    Understanding? The only thing to understand is there are three powerful men who just cannot allow themselves to be wrong, ever, and think their right to say anything they want no matter the consequences is far more important than other human beings. Not every side in a debate has equal merit, and not every argument has intellectual or moral worth. This is one of those times.

    September 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

  8. Pingback: Pax, You’ve Gone And Done It: An Open Letter | Shoshana Kessock

  9. trev

    Rape wasn’t the punchline, nice try though. The punchline was that “heroes” in games don’t give a crap about saving anyone, just finishing the quest.

    September 3, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    • sonofadiddly

      So? The joke still made light of rape. What the hell does it matter whether it was a punchline of a joke or just an accessory?

      September 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    • Pai

      Yeah, let’s forget that entire part where the hordes of foaming fanboys started harassment campaigns of the ‘uppity’ rape victims for daring to say they had a problem with the comic, while Gabe and Mike said nothing. Simple criticism snowballed into vicious pro-rape comments being celebrated by the fanbase, and in response PA made a fucking T-shirt.

      But that doesn’t make them reprehensible in your eyes, because the original comic joke was ‘just’ using rape to poke fun at MMO quests. Guess some folks’ Human Decency standards are just a bit lower than others.

      September 3, 2013 at 10:39 pm

      • The rape victims were equally guilty of harassment. Penny Arcade were doing what they always do and then here comes the outraged masses with their torches and pitchforks. Understanding should go both ways, no?

        September 4, 2013 at 5:40 am

        • Let’s see, on one hand you have people saying hurtful, unnecessary, dumb things that have real-world impacts on the way people treat rape victims. On the other hand, you have the people who have suffered from sexual assault and their friends and loved ones telling Penny Arcade that’s not cool. What is there to understand? That your right to be a totally insensitive jerkass totally makes belittling a major societal problem and those who suffered from it okay? There is nothing to understand except a couple of powerful men whose hubris is such that they cannot take criticism when they deserved to be criticized.

          September 4, 2013 at 8:56 am

          • Brian

            I dunno, man. I just see two sides who look at the world through very different lenses, an incident that hurt one of those groups, and a bad downward spiral of anger and pain on both sides. It feels very symmetric to me, if you put aside arguments about whose perspective is “valid” vs. “invalid”.

            September 4, 2013 at 10:55 am

            • sonofadiddly

              What exactly did the side that was attacking, harassing, and threatening rape victims have to be in pain about? What trauma was viciously brought back to the forefront of their minds when people criticized a single comic created by Penny Arcade?

              September 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm

              • Brian

                OK, so I saw your comment when I was on my phone which gave me a while to think about it rather than posting my knee-jerk response… and I’m honestly curious. Your wording here is, obviously, extremely loaded. You are painting the most extreme version of the perspective of those hurt by the comic.

                But are you truly unable to imagine what Krahulik’s perspective might be? Are you asking this because you honestly can’t imagine what he’s thinking? Or did you post this comment as a kind of rhetorical question, a vehicle to let you write out the extreme perspective of the aggrieved, to make a point?

                I haven’t spoken to Krahulik about this, of course, I’ve never really met the guy at all. But I just don’t think it’s very hard to see his side, too. I can pretty easily imagine a perspective he might hold that would totally explain his behavior without requiring him to be a crazy person, or sociopath, or deliberate asshole.

                I think it’s pretty obvious he doesn’t think of himself as “attacking, harassing, and threatening rape victims.” And I don’t think he’s completely unhinged, like, he probably wouldn’t actually be clinically diagnosed with a mental disorder. So therefore it is possible to empathize with him. And that’s all I was saying. And all you do in your comment is stay fixed to the most adversarial perspective and describe him through it, which is literally the exact opposite of empathizing.

                Which makes it very frustrating to read your comment, because his crime was refusing to empathize with those he hurt, and now you’re just refusing to empathize with him back.

                I’d really encourage you to try seeing things through his eyes, even though it’s obviously going to be a challenge with the pain and anger. I find when someone hurts me, working to see things from their perspective is a useful way to remind myself that everyone is only human and people are fundamentally good. Otherwise I just cling to my anger and feed it with stories of what a bad person the other guy is. And it’s like they say: when you hold a grudge, feeding your anger towards someone, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die.

                September 5, 2013 at 12:15 am

                • Anthea Brainhooke

                  Mike Krahulik’s “crime,” as you put it, was to hurt people and not give a damn. He has been told many, many times in many, many ways that even if he did not intend to hurt people, _he did_. And what did he do about it? Make t-shirts.

                  Yes, he is human. Yes, he may be fundamentally good. That is also true of the people he hurt and who informed him that they were hurt.

                  If we empathise with Mr Krahulik then we will, what, suddenly not be hurt by his treatment of rape survivors? Suddenly think the dickwolves “joke” was funny? Let him off the hook because he got upset too? Empathy is not a “get out of consequences free” card.

                  September 5, 2013 at 12:44 am

    • A joke which they could have EASILY made without taking a cheap shot at rape and sexual abuse victims. Try again, kthxbai.

      September 4, 2013 at 9:32 am

  10. Also, did anyone even bother to watch the entire interview?

    September 3, 2013 at 3:52 pm

  11. Saying to someone, “You deserve to be raped.” is not funny. Imaginary dickwolves raping imaginary slaves in the context of a joke about game mechanics (the freaking joke wasn’t even about rape) is funny. If I say, “I just got raped by that boss.” I’m not belittling rape victims, I’m not even thinking about rape victims. I’ve taken a word and used it in a different context to add flavor to my statement.

    Several of the definitions of the word “joke” include: An amusing or ludicrous incident or situation or Something not to be taken seriously. I’d say that most “jokes” that work rape into their narrative fall under those parameters. The Dickwolves comic definitely falls into that category and it certainly wasn’t a direct attack on rape victims nor was it mean spirited towards them.

    In this age of the internet it has just gotten ridiculous the stuff we get our panties in a twist about. I’m not here to defend Gabe and Tycho personally. I don’t care what they are like in person. They make a funny web comic and a crass and juvenile one at that. This should be kept in perspective. I am a rape survivor myself although I hate that term as rape is rarely life threatening so you don’t “survive” it as much as you suffer through it and move on. Anyway, I saw the Dickwolves strip for what it was, a joke that had absolutely nothing to do with me. If I were to go through life getting offended every time someone used the word rape in a joke I would be letting that event that happened to me over 25 years ago still have control over me. I am not defined by that event.

    September 3, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    • Anthea Brainhooke

      “If I say, “I just got raped by that boss.” I’m not belittling rape victims, I’m not even thinking about rape victims.”

      And if a person who’s been raped hears that it could do them some real damage. But that’s okay, you weren’t thinking of them.

      September 4, 2013 at 1:09 am

    • Anthea Brainhooke

      I should add: I’m sorry that happened to you, and am glad you have recovered to the point where rape jokes no longer bother you.

      Many others are not so lucky.

      September 4, 2013 at 1:11 am

      • Well, I think the term “rape jokes” has been broadly applied to the point where using the word in a sentence constitutes a “rape joke.” If I got bent out of shape every time I heard the word I would be psychotic.

        “I just got raped by that boss.” Isn’t really a rape joke. Its not even a joke, its a statement. Making someone out to be a bad guy when there was no ill intent on their part isn’t a very cool thing to do.

        September 4, 2013 at 5:39 am

        • Anthea Brainhooke

          Some people are still at stages in their recovery where just hearing the word “rape” _will_ cause them unnecessary psychological distress. And no, they don’t wear convenient labels so you can tell if there’s someone in this situation in the room when you talk about “being raped by that boss.”

          If you’re okay with causing people _unnecessary_ psychological distress because you’re determined to use one particular word when there are plenty of others that would work, I doubt we have much else to say to each other.

          September 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

          • I just want to thank you for your contributions to this conversation. So glad you’ve added your voice.

            September 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm

            • Anthea Brainhooke

              Least I could do. Thanks for speaking out.

              September 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm

  12. johnnyboy

    I disagree.

    I’m not going to tell you that rape is excllent or even acceptable. That is not what this is about.

    Nor is this an excuse for jokes or comedy. No, I disagree because their decision was bad.

    PA is going through a Jekyll and Hyde phase. It is a brand, a force now. It’s something with a lot of merch, profit, business. Yet Gabe and Tycho try to still be as approachable as they were when they did this out of an apartment after their jobs were done for the day.

    You’ll be outraged by this, and I couldn’t tell you if you even have any other setting, but humans are a pretty diverse bunch, and not everyone sees eye to eye on what’s too far or inappropriate.

    In my opinion, it’s difficult being both a person you can talk to, and a brand. Anything you do is evaluated, and has business consequences. In a way, I feel bad for Gabe. He has to touch on controversial topics to stay relevant, but controversy will mean he lights a fire under a one of the camps.

    What would you have him do? Make inoffensive, bland comedy so he never touches a nerve again? He’ll lose the company he has worked to build.

    I assume that you don’t really care if a man burns for his dreams if he steps in a little shit to get there.

    September 3, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    • Anthea Brainhooke

      You can have plenty of interesting, effective comedy without using rape jokes. Come on.

      September 4, 2013 at 1:08 am

    • Wow, you make a lot of assumptions. I’d take time to respond, but you seem to have me all figured out. If you’re curious, see my responses to others.

      September 4, 2013 at 11:17 am

  13. Brian Sharp

    Hey, look, I’m firmly on the side of “rape jokes are never OK,” but I feel like the timeline of this debacle is a single poor decision (the original comic looks tame now compared to the years-long fiasco it turned into) and then BOTH sides – PA *and* their detractors – reacting in a way that encourages outrage rather than level-headed thinking. I think this article does that and it upsets me.

    You go all-caps a bunch and say stuff like this:

    “If you’re still willing to give him a pass–to give Penny Arcade and PAX a pass–then please at least examine and acknowledge the fact that you are doing so despite the fact that they repeatedly shit on rape survivors and anyone else who calls them out on their shit.”

    I’m not going to say you’re deliberately being deceptive but I will say that you are twisting contexts to make the situation look as inflammatory as possible. I went to PAX and enjoyed the Indie Megabooth and the work of the hundreds of people who put the conference together. I spent time with all sorts of people. Straight, queer, cis, trans, all colors and creeds. It was awesome. I don’t think it’s true that PA and PAX “repeatedly shit on rape survivors and anyone else who calls them out on their shit.” I think what happens is, they say things that hurt people, and the hurt people lash out with the exact same language and tactics you’re using in this article, and yes, PA responds less maturely than they ought to. They take the bait and get angry back.

    But let’s be honest: the only reason they can take the bait is because you’re baiting them.

    Your words do not read to me as the earnest expression of someone who is hurt. They read to me as someone who is angry and unwilling to sit with that anger and would rather be self-righteous about it. I don’t think a reasonable individual would write these words expecting them to result in empathy and understanding from the other side, and so I do not believe that is your goal: your goal must therefore be adversarial. You want the fight, you’re feeding it.

    And that really upsets me. I think it is very hypocritical behavior.

    September 3, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    • Anthea Brainhooke

      “But let’s be honest: the only reason they can take the bait is because you’re baiting them.”

      If ever there was an excuse to use “They started it,” it’s this.

      First the comic.
      Then the merch.
      Then the removal of the merch.

      Now this?

      If they just LET IT GO then nobody would “bait” them.

      September 4, 2013 at 1:07 am

      • Brian

        I’m not arguing that what they did was not hurtful. But at every turn, when the ball is in your court, you have a choice of how to return it – spike or lob. I don’t understand how it’s ever helpful to reply with anger. It’s fine to be angry, and to say so, but why not choose words that encourage empathy rather than attacking? When I read articles like this one I just see hatred, and a kind of “taking sides,” like encouraging people to hate and perpetuating this adversarial thing.

        Again, I think Mike and the PA guys have sometimes responded the same way, by lashing out in their anger. And I’m not saying it’s OK for them either.

        All I’m saying is, if you’re both just angrily spiking the ball back and forth at each other, and you don’t want to be doing that anymore, at some point someone has to make the choice to stop.

        September 4, 2013 at 1:37 am

    • Hey, this is my blog. It’s where I rant. I understand you don’t like my tone, but I think you’ll find that pain often manifests as anger. Would you like me to be nicer? Sorry, but I’ve had enough of this crap from them. They sold t-shirts to mock rape survivors who called them out, and after all the attempts that people have made in good faith to try to educate this guy, he believes the mistake was not selling the t-shirts. You’re goddamned right that makes me angry. Sorry that makes you uncomfortable. I’m sure you’ll find lots of people out there discussing this more calmly than I. But I don’t owe anyone my calm. These young men are major influencers in an industry I’ve worked in for 25 years and I’ll be damned if I’ll let them keep perpetuating rape culture in my industry without a fight.

      September 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

      • Brian

        I understand exactly why you’re angry! And don’t worry, it doesn’t make me uncomfortable – I’m angry too! I’ve been in the industry nearly as long as you, and as a gay man I’ve found it an often lonely place with a lot of entrenched homophobia and sexism. And it makes me crazy that Mike does this stuff when PAX is otherwise the most diverse and accepting conference I’ve ever been to.

        I guess I’ve been thinking about working with unpleasant emotion a lot lately because it’s what my PAX Dev talk was just about. (I’d actually be curious for your response to it, if you have time; I put the video up here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogyIuDEqW-g .)

        I’m not saying you have no right to rant, or that you owe anyone your calm. I guess I’m just saying, what’s the value in ranting? What do you get out of it? And what’s the cost?

        *Being* angry and *expressing* anger are two very different things that I think often get conflated. I’m not saying, suck it up and don’t be angry. Be pissed! It’s painful and that pain manifests as anger! But you can just be pissed off without ranting. So I’m curious why you’re ranting.

        When you say you won’t let them do this “without a fight” what I’m reading there is, you’re at a point where you think fighting is the best option to stop their behavior. And my comments were saying, that’s not the way I see it. I’ve met the PA guys a handful of times and see them as fundamentally good people who are trying to do good things for the industry – and have, with Child’s Play and PAX – but have some ignorance around the sensitivities of people who aren’t like them, and the most unfortunate part is, they (Mike in particular) seem to get defensive very easily and get angry when criticized and act out that anger rather than staying with it and choosing a more constructive response.

        If that’s true, then I think the right way to work with them is to offer some education in the least inflammatory way possible. And I agree that they’re major influencers and so I want them on our side. I just wrote them a rather long email encouraging them in that direction. We’ll see if it does any good.

        But the most frustrating part to me is seeing the same pattern occur on both sides: a sense of feeling attacked causes pain. The pain spurs anger. The anger is indignant: “I didn’t do anything wrong, and you attacked me.” The indignation motivates a sense of entitlement: “I’m in the right here, you’re obviously in the wrong, so I’m right to be furious.” And then that fury is acted out. And the other side does the exact same thing. And that was the pattern I was observing in your blog post.

        But what’s missing – the reason both sides believe they are “in the right” to be furious – is a shared perspective. Mike has one perspective, you have yours. And you can have the argument about whose perspective is “right”, and you can call Mike an oblivious privileged straight cis white dude, but arguing about whose perspective is “right” (and therefore who “gets” to be angry) never solves the most important problem: it never brings the perspectives into alignment.

        Why not choose instead to share your perspective in a non-hostile way with him so that he may come to see through the same lens as you, and understand the pain he’s caused?

        September 4, 2013 at 10:23 am

        • It’s because I have seen how he responds to those who reach out and try to politely educate him.

          What I get out of a post like this is that I get to express my anger hurt an sickness and give other people a place to express theirs. I get to inform my readers about the latest and ask them to think about it and talk about it. You might have noticed my post isn’t all anger. It’s also a call for discussion about rape culture and about letting it slide.

          I’m all for education, and I’ll be doing work with others in the industry to try to counter the message I feel this behavior sends. This will not be my only contribution, I promise you. But this post was my response to this incident in the context of a list of other incidents and in the context of Penny Arcade’s statements that they aim for PAX to be a welcoming place for everyone.

          September 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

          • Brian

            OK, thanks for taking the time to respond – I think I understand better. I believe you and I have a basic disagreement about Mike, but then I don’t really have much evidence for my belief, and maybe I’m giving him far too much benefit of the doubt.

            But if you are right, then I will say that it makes me really sad. If Penny Arcade end up being villains in the long run, then PAX’s current diversity will wither, and that is crushing to me because there really aren’t better opportunities right now. People are forming reactionary cons but like most reactions I worry they will just be divisive. :(

            September 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

            • And that’s why it’s so important that you’re here talking about this with me. I’m so glad you showed up.

              I don’t think Mike is a villain, but I don’t think he’s the superhero he wants to be, either. When he does stuff like this, he’s not using his powers for good.

              I’m watching your talk now, and I just want to note we have the same haircut. ;)

              September 4, 2013 at 11:11 am

        • Engaging them calmly would be nice if that works but it hasn’t in the past. And basically, Mike is doing something he says he doesn’t want to do even though people are screaming at him for doing it. He’s engaging a group of people who basically have PTSD with scorn and bullying. He himself is triggered by these kinds of things and I’ve heard great things about him. But he pushed this issue to the point where a group of people were afraid to go to PAX. A place where he specifically wanted people who were scorned to feel safe. He has a bully pulpit in the games industry and he’s used it for marginalization and bullying and I’ve sent him multiple calm emails about it but it doesn’t seem to get past his criticism filter. By creating a “team dickwolf” shirt, it went beyond ridicule into a giant us versus you to a group who were already hurt. It gave legitimacy to a group of people who wanted to hurt others and they never once denounced those guys. It’s bullying, and Mike specifically should know better. But instead of taking criticism, he made the situation as bad as he possibly could. Who does that?

          September 4, 2013 at 11:58 am

        • Hey, Brian, I wanted to let you know that I finished watching your talk and I thought it was excellent. The only question I have or place I would differ with you is on giving equal weight to repression and expression of anger. I feel like you made a good case for repression being unhealthy, but you didn’t convince me that expressing my anger is equally or even comparably unhealthy. I would argue that depending on how you express your anger, expression can be a healthy thing that helps us “wear it out.” I know that without this outlet to express my anger when the person I thought was my best friend admitted to lying to me for months and betraying my trust, I would not be anywhere near where I am in terms of progress in wearing out that anger (and sadness and pain and and and). It was too much to keep in. I needed very much to talk about it because frankly, it was killing me.

          But learning to sit with it is not a skill that I have to any useful degree, and I think you make an excellent case for each of us practicing that skill not just to wear out the fear and anger but to give ourselves some time to contemplate them, to be aware of how they affect us physically, to look for ways to break the pattern of reacting first and asking questions later.

          In case you’re interested, I wrote a follow-up after Gabe responded to criticism. I have a feeling you’ll like this post better. :)


          September 8, 2013 at 11:09 am

  14. Pingback: So I skipped PAX this year | angelahighland.com

  15. Ethan

    There needs to be a bigger outcry from the high profile attendees. There are moral people heading up WotC and Gearbox and others. Celebrities like Wil Wheton, Jonathan Coulton and the like need to be pressured. Push them to speak up and changes will be made.

    September 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    • I agree. I really hope some of them speak out about this. And I’ll be working with others in the industry to bring awareness to the issue and hopefully educate the masses if not Gabe.

      September 4, 2013 at 11:19 am

  16. Have you seen this article about it? http://elizabethsampat.com/quit-fucking-going-to-pax-already-what-is-wrong-with-you/ it sums up so much of this intolerable behavior coming from Penny Arcade.

    September 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    • That is fucking awesome. Linking. Thank you.

      September 3, 2013 at 12:12 pm

  17. I’m so sick over this. Robert Khoo’s comments are completely reprehensible. Taking down the shirts was “engaging” those who were “offended” by it? Those shirts were created with the explicit purpose of spitting in the face of those who were triggered or just generally outraged by the original joke. You know how to not engage in controversy? Don’t make t-shirts mocking rape survivors and their supporters.

    These three could not be worse people. There is no reason that they should be unaware of the effects of their actions by now. Yet they continue on, telling the world that their ability to make a joke is more important than the well-being of survivors or preventing sexual violence. I’m so done with them.

    September 3, 2013 at 10:26 am

    • Yeah, I thought nothing could surprise me coming from them, but this did. I’m all GRRR and ARGH.

      September 3, 2013 at 10:28 am

  18. Reblogged this on Note To Self and commented:
    As a lifelong gamer, I am getting suuuper tired of Gabe’s diarrhea of the mouth. He has been told over and over again to stop using abuse victims as the butt of his jokes, and yet somehow the message never seems to get through. No doubt because, deep down, he thinks we’re all just being too “oversensitive”. After all, he’s a funny man on the internet. That means he knows everything, right?

    September 3, 2013 at 9:54 am

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