In our linkspam, you may have seen the post “Why Iâ€™m Not Speaking at PAX East 2011.” If you haven’t, here’s an excerpt:
A couple of months ago, I got asked to be on a panel at PAX East 2011. Iâ€™d attended the IGDA Leadership Forum in October and been kind of a bitch (aka myself) on Twitter throughout the conference, mocking the verbal fuck-ups of men speaking about an industry thatâ€™s supposedly trying to be less of a sausage fest. [...] This got the attention of someone who was (and maybe still is, for all I know) working with the PAX East team to put together some less sausage-fest-ish content for the convention, and I got offered a spot on a panel about women and video games in some way or another.
I said no, which given the circumstances probably doesnâ€™t surprise you. Leaving aside the fact that I think itâ€™s a little wrong-headed for people in the industry to get too tied into a fan convention in general, what I want to say is that as someone working in the game industry, I think the recent merchandising decisions of Penny Arcade have made PAX and PAX East into spaces that I donâ€™t want my industry to align itself with, and Iâ€™m not going to give Penny Arcade content as long as they keep selling that merchandise.
Penny Arcadeâ€™s continued use of rape as a punch line on their merchandise, and their sale of that merchandise on their site and at their events, is poisoning video game culture and video game fan events. If their charity work and structuring their cons to be less creepy to women were in the name of positively changing the perception of video games and gamers, then I do not understand their decision to pander to a puerile, sexist portion of their fan base, especially when it is so starkly prohibiting the participation of the people whose lives are being used as a punch line. In short: Why have they stopped following Wheatonâ€™s Law?
It seems that this post and other well-reasoned emails have made a real impression:
We want PAX to be a place were everyone feels welcome and weâ€™ve worked really hard to make that happen. From not allowing booth babes to making sure we have panels that represent all our attendees. When I heard from a few people that the shirt would make them uncomfortable at PAX, that gave me pause. Now whether I think thatâ€™s a fair or warranted reaction doesnâ€™t really matter. These were not rants on blogs but personal mails to me from people being very reasonable. Itâ€™s how they feel and according to them at least, removing the shirt would make them feel better about attending the show. For me thatâ€™s an easy fix to the problem. I really donâ€™t want to have this fight and if not having it is as simple as not selling a shirt then Iâ€™ll do it.
They have also offered to refund anyone who bought tickets to PAX but still feels uncomfortable attending.
Despite talking about why the offending comic itself was effective for me (and this does not mean I think it should be effective for anyone else), I did think the t-shirts were an incredibly inappropriate and tacky response, and I’m glad I won’t be seeing them for sale.