Game Developers Who Stood up to Progressive Crybullies in 2016

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 7:00 am, December 29, 2016

In the religion of identity politics, no video game is free from sin. As Feminist Frequency founder Anita Sarkeesian once must have said somewhere, “Everything is racist. Everything is sexist. Everything is homophobic. And you have to point it all out.” And game journalists, who consider themselves gatekeepers of the medium, are full-fledged acolytes.

By and large, members of the game industry kowtow to the enthusiast press, which they perceive as having power over how their products are covered. But not everyone is keen to toe the line.

With the sharp rise of consumer voices and the growth of online platforms like Steam and Reddit, the importance of game journalists is diminishing as gamers no longer rely upon the media to interact with creators. Developers have begun to speak out and air their grievances with the crybullies who think to dictate them.

We look at five prominent game developers who spoke out in 2016.

Tynan Sylvester

When game journalists accused Tynan Sylvester of misogyny, homophobia, and ableism through a flawed reading of the mechanics of his strategy-sim game, RimWorld, he did not back down or apologize to the bullies.

Instead, Sylvester gave their accusations an articulate response, explaining how their assertions were wrong and went right back to work on the game, dismissing the negative press as nothing more than a temporary distraction.

Brad Wardell

Brad Wardell, creator of Galactic Civilizations and Sorcerer King, has tangled with the press since Kotaku smeared him for sexual harassment based on claims by a former employee, which were later recanted. It was a false claim that others in the media regurgitated and later apologized for. He also became the subject of a concerted effort by Crash Override Network founder Zoe Quinn to attack him.

The Stardock CEO has been outspoken in his support for GamerGate, defining it as a consumer movement for ethics in game journalism. Earlier this year, Wardell spoke out against biased reviews and a lack of editorial standards after one of his new games was poorly reviewed by a staunch anti-GamerGate writer on GameSpot who had blocked him on social media without any prior interaction.

Brian Fargo

In my interview with Brian Fargo about his upcoming game, Wasteland 3, the InXile Entertainment CEO discussed everything from being one of the first companies to fully crowdfund a major title, to the inclusion of social and political issues in games.

But one of the biggest things that stood out to me was his statement that he doesn’t use his games to push social agendas. “We’re here to entertain people,” said Fargo. “We’re not trying to change the world. Hence, I think that’s the most important thing for us. We recognize how ripple patterns work and so we want to be realistic in that way, but our number one priority is to entertain them.”

With game journalists now urging for developers to push progressive politics, Fargo’s views couldn’t be more grounded—or based.

Adrian Chmielarz

When Arthur Gies’ Polygon review of The Witcher 3 slammed it for being problematic for its Slavic-inspired medieval setting, Polish game developer Adrian Chmielarz completely deconstructed it with a scathing article rebutting the arguments point by point. Gies also accused the game of being “oppressively misogynist,” never mind how women hold some of the most powerful roles in The Witcher 3—not just within the narrative, but the game world itself.

Chmielarz has been taking game journalists to task ever since, with quips and mockery of their incessant whining.

Markus “Notch” Persson

The creator of Minecraft has been incredibly outspoken in his fight against the tyranny of the SJWs, calling out their hypocrisy and bullying on both Twitter and Reddit.  He has spoken out about the double standard in using terms like “mansplaining” and how it would be as sexist as any other gendered term intended to be derogatory and insulting.

Notch took on the media when he revealed that multiple developers had contacted him to share their support of his opinions, telling him that they were personally afraid to speak out for fear of repercussions via the press.

Daniel Vávra

The lead developer of the upcoming medieval RPG, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, has been at war with social justice warriors who accused him of racism for wanting to maintain historical accuracy in the game, which is set in medieval Bohemia.

A strong backer of the GamerGate movement, Vávra responded to the crybullies not only with facts but with hilariously snarky quips that made fools out of Polygon writer Arthur Gies and freelancer Tauriq Moosa.

In 2015, Moosa blamed the Czech developer for the lack of games set in Africa, South America and the Middle East, to which Vávra replied: “Is it my duty as a white man to produce games not about my culture, but about yours? Why don’t you make them yourself?”

He has yet to back down.

Disclosure: The author is friends or personally acquainted with some of the game developers above. 

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken game critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.