Sunday, February 6, 2011

PAX East vs Dickwolves

There's been a lot of uproar in the past few months about Penny Arcade, the Dickwolves fiasco, and the upcoming PAX East

I'm not going to go into the entire history of it all.  If you've managed to remain ignorant, thank your lucky stars.  For those who caught part of it, or who want to know what the hell happened, here is a good timeline linking to nearly all of the relevant players.

Here is my personal stance on the issue:
  • The original comic that is at the origin of the whole fiasco is not the most offensive P-A's ever put out.  It's also not the most clever work they've also put out.  Not the hill to die on, for any side or party.
  • Everything the P-A team, but most particularly Mike (Gabe), has done since the original criticism of the comic, is a huge problem.  That's where the fiasco came from.
My personal take-away is very in line with what Lesley Kinzel wrote here.  

All that said: this is a thing that happened, and it sucks, and was a mess.  But what do we do going forward?  I agree, and argue, that boycotting is not the answer.  If women aren't visible, then we continue not to matter. 

This is why we need "Women in Gaming" panels at events like PAX East.  I don't know if there's going to be one this year, but I hope there will be and I hope it will be better than last year's.  I know of two rejected proposals on the topic, one of which was ours. 

So in short: I am going to PAX EAST 2011, and here is why:
  • I am going to listen to what is said, and what is not said, and to who is and isn't saying it.
  • I am going to be looking to see if anyone questions Jerry on his silence, and Mike on his total failure to adhere to Wheaton's Law.
  • I'm going to be seeing if anyone's talking about this and, if so, what they're saying.
  • I'm going to the girls' brunch meet-up on Sunday, and meeting loads of lovely ladies.
  • I am going to be meeting fellow gamers of all kinds, and by my presence, reminding them I exist.
  • I am going to be meeting industry folks of all kinds, and by my presence, reminding them I exist.
  • I am going to be having fun, deeply immersed in the world of games and gamers, where I feel most at home.

 Also, thanks to my shiny new phone and a well-timed release of the official Blogger App, I will be blogging and Tweeting (@KCoxDC) from the event (March 11 - 13).

What I will not be doing, as mentioned above, is participating in a panel.  It's okay; I never really expected we'd be approved.  But what I will be doing is spending the next year -- from PAX East 2011 to PAX East 2012 -- blogging the Panel That Never Was.  We wrote up a good, robust outline and these are great topics for discussion.  So from March to March, you can use the "BTTG Series" tag over there in the right sidebar to catch up on "Beyond the Girl Gamer."


  1. Also, I have no idea how to make this comment show up on the actual site. Did you access the post from a mobile device, by any chance?

  2. There's neutrally helping people establish context, and then there's agenda-driven "establishing context" ... the latter of which that list strongly seems inclined toward. Perhaps I'm wrong, and the authors really don't have a dog in the race, but given the actual content I find on the ends of their links, the list's arrangement and phrasing comes across, well, distinctly slanted.

    Today I went through all the Twitter stuff and Ms. Leslie's post, and on those fronts I can finally see some of the concern. If there was ever a better argument for why Twitter is a dangerous use of time if it's not conveying actual data or news, those tweets are definitely in the contention for top honors. Just. Keep. It. Private.

    (Although some of Ms. Leslie's commenter's agree on the impression of the timeline as less than neutral in its reportage)

  3. 95% of my commenting in mobile, so almost certainly yes. You're getting me on dinner break tonight.

  4. That timeline was ... distinctly slanted.

    I had previously been unaware of this WisCon-esque tempest in a teapot beyond the actual pair of strips themselves, and the subsequent, ridiculous Merch (which I had also been unaware of having been pulled). Given some of the vastly more glorious foulness of previous Penny Arcade strips, the debut of the demonic, Cthulhoid dickwolves struck me as nothing more than "Triumphantly Offensive Comic Mocking Online "Heroism"," followed immediately by "Bitterly Mocking Comic Putdown of Anyone Who Possibly Considered the First Comic to be Advocacy."

    The linked timeline's endless litany of "so and so objects" without any decent, logical support of what they object to leaves me having to consider the timeline's creators as either slothful or uninterested in engaging in good faith discussion. The primary impression from the "so and so objects" links I have followed so far is a bunch of people who seem intent on shame-censoring any truly monstrous monster, who furthermore seem incapable of deciphering the rather simple, plainly evident reality that the monstrous monster in question is quite obviously a Bad Thing. The follow-up comic is now, in retrospect, even more scathing and mocking of the initial criticisms, and unless there are better argued initial criticisms than I'm seeing so far, I believe that comic is entitled to its scathing mockery.

    The Merch is ridiculous, and, much like the Fruit Fucker, is obviously rooting for team Evil. As someone who has rather a lot of Cthulhu for President Elder Party paraphernalia, I would expect anyone who hopes to convince me of the inappropriateness of the paraphernalia in question to be able to muster an actual argument, rather than a ditto list of "so and so objected again" and a willfully ignorant refusal to engage with the actual comic, while hiding behind veiled "how dare you" shame-censorship.

    And as someone who actually has been molested, I further find all the disingenuous, bad faith links trying to ignore the actual comic that was printed to instead fixate on strawperson "rape culture" theory to be deeply demeaning to what rape trivialization actually is, and utterly unserious about engaging with the topic.

    Wheaton's Law has precious little bearing here, in my getting-up-to-speed read of this. The comic, like any blog, isn't a public space, but a private one, and unless the host specifically singles a guest out (which I haven't seen seen happening in my time reading the blogside), there is no "being a dick" involved in the comics or their related Merch, unless it is the "being a dick" or having actually monstrous monsters in the first place, which is back to efforts to censor by "how dare you" shame. The hosts set the rules, not the guests. Period. If any guests have a problem with that, they can leave or talk about it, but the persons to talk to are the hosts, not the Internet at large. Massive fail.

    If random assorted people want to boycott a Con I've never attended and probably will never attend, whatever. They can knock themselves out. It's a free country, and no one is forcing them to build up the already enormous Penny Arcade brand or spend any time on it if they don't wish. But if they want their boycott to have any actual effect other than deservedly marginalizing themselves, I believe they'd be better served by articulating an actionable objection more convincing than junior high school drama and hurt feelings.

    That said, since Our Critic will not be marginalizing herself, perhaps she can get a word in with one of the hosts about doing a panel next year on the history of offensive humor in electronic media. Or score some clearanced Dickwolves Merch to put in a bonfire.

    Cthulhu for President!

    (Edit because: DISQUS!)

  5. Ooh, where can I find more information on this laydeez brunch?

    I dig your list o' reasons, and I will be doing the same.

  6. Thank you for being so level-headed about this whole thing, and for going to PAX East to stand up for gaming culture.

  7. Is here:

    I RSVP'd for me, as well as S and the friend I'm hotel-sharing with, so that's three of us. Would love to find you there too. :)

  8. About the only gripe I have with the post is this: the timeline itself is meant simply to be a list of bookmarks, not to provide rich context or flesh out the arguments. The timeline isn't meant to be what you're trying to make it; it's a straight-up laundry list, period, meant for helping folks create a sense of context or find that post they remember reading somewhere.