For independent developers, being able to show off their work at the PAX Indie Megabooth is a great opportunity. It's a good way to get exposure from both the press and the general gaming populace. Following a string of questionable remarks and business practices from the people at Penny Arcade, however, Gone Home developer The Fullbright Company is willing to pass on the convention and, as a result, the Megabooth.
"First," says studio founder Steve Gaynor via the company's official blog, "there was the entire 'Dickwolves' debacle, during which Mike said that it 'felt pretty good' to 'support rape culture'. Then there were the Penny Arcade Kickstarters, one of which offered to let backers pay them $7,500 to work as a Penny Arcade intern for a day. When critics recently raised objections about the over-the-top depiction of female characters in Dragon's Crown, Jerry referred to opinions that differed from his own as censorship."
The studio took similar issue over the approved panel at PAX Australia entitled "Why So Serious," which is slated to discuss, according to its official description, why "Any titillation gets called out as sexist or misogynistic, and involve any antagonist race aside from Anglo-Saxon and you’re called a racist. It's gone too far and when will it all end?" The official description has since been changed, but the panel will presumably proceed as planned.
For the small team of four, two of which are women, and one whom is gay, it came down to a matter of principle. "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."
I guess this is the part where some would say to separate business and personal, but realistically, you can only do that up to a point. I don't disparage or commend Fullbright's decision to not show up to PAX, but do respect the hell out of anyone who is willing to take this kind of hit for what they hold true. I guess that's real indie spirit for you.
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