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The Shadow Complex Conundrum

shadowcomplex.jpg

To borrow a phrase, Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe. Obviously he disagrees, but by the current, widespread definition of the word, it fits. To Card, gay people are "tragic genetic mix-ups," and legal gay marriages mean "an end to democracy in America." More than just casual homophobia, he stands on a bully pulpit and rages against gay rights, using enough lies and distortions to make a staunch conservative say, "Hey now, let's just back up a minute." He has every right to do it, and to his opinion, even if the only result seems to be an increasing antipathy towards him and his work. This is all well known to anyone who's been paying attention, so why bring it up now? Well, Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe with an Xbox 360 game coming out this week.

If Shadow Complex were a bad or mediocre game destined to flop, we could probably shrug it off as a punchline like Advent Rising. By most accounts, however, Chair Entertainment and Epic Games have created a high-quality adventure, a fresh take on a genre much loved by old school and hard core gamers. Of course, until the reviews hit, it could all be hype, but the pre-launch buzz on the title is putting it near the top of the heap as far as XBLA games go.

By his own admission, Card didn't have a lot to do with the day-to-day of the game itself: It is set in the same universe as his novel Empire and uses a few of the same characters, and takes place before the events of the book. Furthermore, the game is actually written by Peter David, a straight but extremely gay-friendly comic book writer. David recently participated in the Gays in Comics Panel at the San Diego Comic Con, where Fruit Brute quoted him saying, "I've always included gays in my comics because it never occurred to me not to." He also just "outed" two characters, Shatterstar and Richter, in Marvel's X-Force, giving the company its highest profile gay relationship yet. From what I can tell, Chair Entertainment, based in Utah, has no history of overt homophobia, although they have had a lengthy relationship with Card, and Epic Games, beyond a few cheeky achievements, has a similarly blank record on gay issues. Again, we can't be sure, but there is likely nothing homophobic in the game itself.

Still, money spent on the game is money in a homophobe's pocket, and no doubt some of it will be spent on efforts to end legal gay marriage or perhaps research ways to eliminate our "reproductive disorder." We're faced with fighting a potentially stellar game because some grumpy old man says mean things about us, or indirectly supporting attacks on our rights.

I still don't have an answer for myself. I think if you're obviously too disgusted to enjoy the game, avoid it, and speak out. However, if you want to play the game, play it. Enjoy it, but offset the hate: if you buy Shadow Complex, donate $5, $10, $15 if you can spare it to a gay charity. Let them know why you're giving the money. Card won't get nearly that much per game. In message boards or user reviews, in blogs or tweets, if it comes up, let people know exactly what Card has said on the matter, and where, and damn him with his own language.

Money is important, but far more important to him, and to history, is his legacy. You can tell from his reactions how much being called a homophobe rankles him. Increasingly and through his own work, the line on Orson Scott Card has moved away from "respected science fiction author" to "kind of insane about this whole gay thing." As his views become more and more fringe, and we continue to gain the rights he's fighting against, he'll retreat further into a conservative ghetto. At that point the country will either persist as it has for hundreds of years, or Card will be right, we'll lose our reproductive imperative, and civilization will be over. If that happens, I'll owe him a coke. Caffeine-free, of course.

66 Comments

wolverinefactor said:

I'm sorry but this entire post is not needed. Card is an amazing sci-fi writer. He has his own thoughts and opinions but out of all of his novels and the brief time I've spent with him (2008 ny comic con, both a panel and attack of the fans) he was not only very nice and pleasant but never stated his thoughts or opinions on the gay community. I for one will be buying SC on day one. It looks great, I get an extra 800 ms points and Empires was a rather well done novel. It's bound to be an instant classic for the xbla (IMO). Asking people to boycott the game seems a bit much.

Essex said:

I disagree this post was very much needed. While it may not bother you to buy a game that is in some ways the product of a homophobe for others on this site it is very important. Many may not have known it was based on a Card novel or know about Card's hatred.

If he never really spoke about it I wouldn't care but he does and as Dawdle has pointed out as time has gone on he's gotten even more outspoken about it.

I don't own an x-box but even if I did there is no way I could feel comfortable buying this game.

dawdle said:

Actually Wolverinefactor, I explicitly say that people *shouldn't* boycott the game.

"I think if you're obviously too disgusted to enjoy the game, avoid it, and speak out. However, if you want to play the game, play it. Enjoy it, but offset the hate..."

Then I offered suggestions on what gay people and supporters can do to counter the money they've spent that will certainly go to anti-gay causes, either directly or through donations to the Mormon church. The game does look great, and I'm still considering a purchase, despite my distaste for the man's views.

I'm glad that Mr. Card was respectful to you, he certainly isn't a full time anti-gay activist. At the same time, he's used his position as a respected author to express semi-violent, incredibly destructive rhetoric when discussing gays and homosexuality in his non-fiction writing. It's his right to do so; it's our responsibility to make those views known.

Thicketford said:

Thanks for this post. I had no idea Shadow Complex was based on one of Card's books.

SagaDarvulia said:

Well, I for one just took this game off my list. No matter how much I respect the developers themselves, I can not in good conscience make the purchase.

Oldtaku said:

I used to like his books a lot; I remember how crushed and disappointed I was when I hit that five book series (Homecoming?) that was basically just the Book of Mormon in spaaaaaaaaace. I don't mind religious overtones, overt or otherwise (Simmons's Hyperion is still wonderful, and Card's own early Alvin the Maker books were interesting), but it was dumb and boring and self-indulgent.

And then oh god what he's since done to the Ender series. I think he's crossed that threshold where he's famous enough now that he can just write any old crap - the Piers Anthony Zone. One more Mormon travesty, though not really in the same league as Prop 8.

I gave up on him a while ago and I'll be skipping the game.

Shawn said:

Our money is always going to end up in at least one homophobe's pocket. Just like gay people, they make up a certain percentage of our population and, like gay people, have made significant and important contributions to society. But they're always going to be involved in SOMETHING, even if they're not openly homophobic, and we're always going to end up supporting them unconsciously just by being everyday consumers.

Scott Summers said:

Wow, this is very interesting!
I've actually been holding on to a good deal of MS points just to buy this game when it comes out(after demoing it first of course), but I have to admit, this will play a factor in wheter or not I do buy it now.
The game will have to be damn good lol.

Also, minor correction, while Shatterstar and Rictor were long standing memebers of X-Force, they were actually outed in X-Facter, and are currently not on the X-Force roster.....sorry, I am geek after all....

rick said:

I know this is probably just nitpicking but when pointing out lies and distortions coming from someone you should edit your article and keep from doing it yourself.

I have not read everything that Card has written on the subject and he may have spoke differently at some point but I don't believe he said legal gay marriages mean "an end to democracy in America." The quotes I have seen have him saying that judges making laws is "an end to democracy in America."

While his other opinions are stupid there is still a difference. The judge could be making a law about anything, it was the fact that a judge was making a law. Now it is very possible that if the judge made a law outlawing gay marriage then he wouldn't have a problem with that and wouldn't see it as the end of democracy even though he should.

He has enough crack pot things coming out of his mouth without other making up stuff.

Snipzor said:

I've known about this for quite some time and I thought about this for a second. Is a purchase of this game going to benefit Orson as much as Peter David? I doubt it, that alone is enough without bringing up the fact that I want to support the makers of this game. So in the end, I would rather think about the fact that I am supporting multiple people rather than this one guy who has a history of pure stupidity.

This is one case where I would say, ignore the politics and enjoy the game.

kybarsfang said:

While I'm saddened by Card's views, I'll be picking up this game anyway, for several reasons. First, because I've been wanting to play it for weeks, even before I heard about Card. Second, to support all of the other people who worked on the game, same as Snipzor.

While boycotts can be effective, I think this is a case where it'd be alright to just go ahead and purchase the game as if Card had nothing to do with it, especially with David at the writing helm.

Game-Boy said:

What's sad is how the characters and messages that are featured in some of Card's stories support abstracted ideals of tolerance that he clearly fights against.

I really want to be able to support the developers of this game since it looks like a fun and highly polished experience, but being based on one of Card's most "Hard Right" stories doesn't help. While I'm not going to begrudge anyone for buying what looks like an otherwise great game, I refuse to lend my money to any of Card's projects. He's a gifted writer, but supporting him effectively gives money to the Mormon church by way of tithing (remember those big financial backers of Prop 8?) and gives him one more form of media to propagate his hateful message no matter what glbt-positive writer his work is filtered through.

motordog said:

If I do buy it...which is doubtful...I'll get a second-hand copy.

R Lang said:

The deciding factor for me is that Card is getting money from this. No matter if he's getting a large or small cut, I just couldn't knowingly put money into his hands when it might easily end up invested in some crappy Mormon organization that he's part of, like National Organization for Marriage.

Sorry guys and girls at Chair. It looks like you've made an awesome game, but you've totally backed the wrong horse this time.

Denis said:

A fact that is also rather disheartening, but to consider in whether or not you purchase the game: Have you played and enjoyed The Secret of Monkey Island? Card wrote the insult swordfighting bits.

I merely bring this up to support Dawdle's point that one can enjoy the game and still fight against Card himself. Personally, when I found that out I was crushed, but more adamant about supporting my local communities and talking with people about these issues.

Snipzor said:

Just an update, Giantbomb gave this game 5 stars. Sorry, but regardless of how bat guano insane Card is, I want to support the company that made the game and I want everyone here, including the person who wrote the article, to buy this game.

SoxFan13 said:

It's fine to make known Card's opinions. What about the tens of thousands of writers, artists, producers, and programmers making games in the industry today? Should we have a list with all of their personal views on homosexuality? Where should it end?

Enrique said:

It's important to be informed (Thanks Dawdle). What you do with the information is up to you.

Mihpe P. Hertz said:

To be honest, I'm a proponent of government having no say in marriage in the sense that the state doesn't recognize two people as a married couple. Regardless, I'd buy multiple copies of the game to spite angry liberals who don't like the fact that the enemy is a leftist militia.

Halifirien said:

Thanks for this post. I like the offset idea, as I've been pretty conflicted about buying this game. Card is a loon, and I don't want my money supporting his anti-gay crusades. The idea of donating $15 to a pro-gay cause has definite appeal.

I was directed to this site by an online acquaintance of mine who is a gamer. While I am not a gamer myself, allow me to offer my thoughts.

Of the various literary genres available, science fiction is usually my pick. The first short-story I read by Orson Scott Card was "A Thousand Deaths," which appeared many years ago in the long-gone OMNI Magazine. I thought it was a great story. I read the first four books of the Ender series and enjoyed them immensely. I slogged through all FIVE books of his "Homecoming" series and found them OK, although I was a bit puzzled by the Mormon imagery used in the final book.

Not long after I began hearing about Mr. Card's notoriously anti-Gay views, so I started doing a little investigating, a little Googling ... and it turns out that, YES, this guy is quite beyond the pale as far as homophobia goes.

I haven't read anything by him since. Not only would my enjoyment of his fiction be forever tainted by my knowledge of his prejudice, but I simply don't want my hard-earned money going to someone that would in turn use it to wage war against equality for Gay individuals and couples. If I was a gamer, I definitely would not be purchasing a game that he enjoys profits from. Aren't there plenty of other games out there?

Pete S said:

I reached this post via Twitter. The tweet said in full:

"Donate to a gay charity to offset the Scott Card homophobe taint on Shadow Complex? http://bit.ly/2dU9EB (heads up from @ChrisA9)"

Now I was lucky enough to win a code for this game and I've been playing it since Monday night. It's very fun, and I was *extremely* puzzled at it being accused of having a homophobe taint, based on what I've seen of it.

Had I read this tweet first, I would've skipped the game, thinking the content was homophobic, and that isn't the case, insofar as I've seen. (I'd never heard any of this info about Scott Card -- honestly didn't even realize he was still writing.)

I respect that Dawdle suggests donating to a gay charity to 'offset' whatever Card gets, but I don't think that a 140 character tweet is the right medium for this message. (I do understand that Dawdle can't control who tweets what!)

With the video game industry struggling as much as it is, I don't feel it's right to not buy a quality product because some nut-job was tangentially involved in it. Why would you punish the programmers, artists, testers, and all the employees who're trying to feed their families and had no involvement in the decision to base the game on a novel?

If the gaffer or one of the caterers involved in a movie is a homophobe, do you refuse to see it? Well, realistically you just wouldn't know.

Shadow Complex is a great game and if you're concerned about this issue, please follow Dawdle's advice and 'offset' rather than 'boycott'

Patrick said:

There are a lot of great games out there and there are always more on the way. So I don't really see a burning need to go out and put money in Cards, pocket. I'm sorry about all the others that were a part of the project but thems the shakes. Make better choices about your partners next time.

I really, really enjoy Card's work as a writer and was really, really dissapointed when he started coming out with his prejudices front and center. So I stopped reading his books, even though I wanted to.

Its called "self-restraint", and its something that adults are somtimes called upon to practice. Even without bondage gear. If you can't put off a need for instant gratification enough to skip a videogame then you are pretty pathetic.

"....Pathetically stomps off to feed his WoW addiction..."

David in Houston said:

My question is: Why did Peter David agree to work with Mr. Card in the first place, knowing what a blatant homophobe he is? How could he not know? It's pretty common knowledge by now.

For those that can still buy that game after reading the insane rantings above (Orson Scott Card is a hateful homophobe), more power to you. I don't think I'd be able to play the game (or live with myself) knowing that some of the money is going to that homophobic jackass.

BlackRabbit said:

So many people seem to argue that we shouldn't keep our money away from the Developers since they aren't Card, nor share his ideas. In that vein, they shouldn't share his ideas at all. If you want people to respect your product, and have it free from the taint of associations like this... create an original IP. I'm sorry, but the Developers made a conscious decision in this one and no one, certainly not the GLBT community, should be faulted for calling them on it and choosing not to purchase the game if that's how they feel.

Thatguy said:

I don't give a hoot what the author of whatever some game is based on is thinking as long as the game is good.

Thermidor said:

Do you honestly think that not reading or playing a game by a man who is homophobic will make that same man sit down and change his views?

You ask for people to respect your views, buy why can't you respect other people's conflicting views?

Peter David said:

"My question is: Why did Peter David agree to work with Mr. Card in the first place, knowing what a blatant homophobe he is? How could he not know? It's pretty common knowledge by now."

This question was pointed out to me by friends, and I'm happy to answer it.

My disagreements with Orson's politics are hardly limited to his views on gays; we are at opposite ends of the political spectrum on pretty much everything. Why, then, did I agree to work on the game? Because among my most cherished beliefs is that , while I disagree with everything you have to say, I will defend to the death your right to say it. John Byrne has said no end of vicious things directed at me personally; I still buy his comic books because I like his work. I never, EVER, allow someone's stated opinions to impact on whether I support his work so long as those opinions don't transform the work itself into something that I have no desire to support.

"Shadow Complex" wasn't a huge paying gig for me because Chair is a pretty small outfit. But I took it because I thought Don and Laura Mustard of Chair were a nice couple of kids, and I found the story of a reluctant warrior being forced to find something worth fighting for to be a compelling narrative. By the same token, all the money in the world could not have gotten me to be involved if the story was something I personally found repellant.

If anyone wants to boycott the game and thus damage me or Don and Laura or Chair while doing nothing to change Orson's opinions, that's naturally their right. Or...

They can display the sort of tolerance for someone who is different from them that they feel is lacking in Orson and thus prove they're better than he is.

Your choice.

(Oh, and feel free to cross post this anywhere you choose.)

PAD

JeffreyOSU said:

Having read through several of Card's articles, it is clear that he is "quite beyond the pale as far as homophobia goes," as stated by Chuck. This is not just someone that _disagrees_ with gay rights on an individual level -- he actively pursues anti-gay policies as a matter of law, and influences, though his platform as a writer, others to pursue the same anti-gay policies.

What I see a lot of in this thread is people falling into a rhetorical trap that conservatives often use against liberals: the idea that if you don't tolerate intolerance, that you are intolerant yourself. This, of course, is ridiculous -- a thing cannot admit its opposite. The idea that, in order to be "tolerant," you have to accept all ideas as equal and not question them is intellectually immature and falling prey to a word game.

This is different from the point PAD makes when he says "while I disagree with everything you have to say, I will defend to the death your right to say it." I fully support Card's _legal_ right to say the things he says, but I also support the rights of others to speak out against what he says through a variety of means, including encouraging a boycott against projects with which he is associated. I do not have to "tolerate" his views to the point where I remain silent about them in order to prove how "tolerant" I am.

With all of that having been said, I think this particular situation is extremely complex because of the nature of the participants on both sides. Sometimes situations might be "black or white", but I don't think of this as one of them.

P.S. to PAD
Your conversations between the sharks in Aquaman stand out as one of my favorite comic memories. Thanks.

Peter David said:

"I do not have to "tolerate" his views to the point where I remain silent about them in order to prove how "tolerant" I am."

I think you're going to have to search a long time to find anyplace where I suggest that anyone should remain silent. And once you're done searching, you're going to have to admit that, no, I didn't say that anywhere.

What I have said, in fact, is that the answer to free speech is always more free speech. If you believe that Orson Scott Card is saying things that are wrong at the top of his lungs, then you say so at the top of yours. If you believe that he's donating money to organizations dedicated to infringing gay rights, you donate money to organizations that support them.

A society that embraces free expression depends on an unimpeded exchange of ideas.

The disconnect comes from those people who believe that boycotts are likewise a form of free expression. They're not. Boycotts are the opposite: They are designed to be punitive. To hurt someone financially. The message it sends is, "I dislike what you have to say and therefore am going to strike back at you in order to punish you for saying it." It has nothing to do with attacking the things the person says; it's about attacking the person.

That is antithetical to the notion of a free society because it promotes a chilling effect. It's the equivalent of Archie Bunker growling, "Stifle yerself," because the message it sends is, "If you say something I don't like, I'm going to find a way to hurt you." Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Boycotts have nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with trying to give the other guy a financial bloody nose.

Do you have a "right" to do it? Of course. No one is saying you don't have that right. It always bugs me when these conversations devolve into questions of having the right to do something when that's never at issue. What's at issue is whether you SHOULD do something. I CAN wear a Speedo to the community pool; trust me, though, I really shouldn't.

What's the end game here? To try and send a message to as many sources as possible that if they hire Orson Scott Card to work for them, they're going to take a financial hit? To put Card out of business? To make sure that someone is going to face financial ruin because he has opinions that differ from yours?

That is intolerant. It's inelegant. It's cheap and vicious and small-minded. And if you're okay with that, then fine. But admit that that's what you're doing.

And also be aware that I've dealt with this any number of times coming from the other direction. If you think I haven't had threats of boycott from people who want to take me down precisely because I've been openly supportive of gay rights, then you are kidding yourself. Gay fans were overjoyed about my portraying Shatterstar and Rictor as an openly gay couple in the Marvel Comics series "X-Factor." But what if I had said to myself, "Hmmm. This is going to piss off a lot of people. I could wind up taking a financial hit over this. Probably it would be best if I just stayed away from such a hot-button issue." For that matter, what if anti-gay forces organized boycotts that hurt Marvel and Marvel management said, "Okay, that's it; no more stories having anything to do with gays or gay rights." Supporters of those causes would likely decry Marvel as being cowardly and knuckling under to financial pressure from the exact same tactics that are being called for here.

So by extension, if Orson Scott Card refuses to knuckle under to scare tactics, then he's brave and noble for holding to his principles.

And you're okay with that?

How is instilling fear of financial ruin conducive to a free society and intellectual progress? Especially when you're supporting an attitude that, when it comes from the other direction, can potentially kneecap support for the very causes you hold dear?

PAD

Neo said:

Peter David, I've followed this thread, and I see absolutely no recourse for what the people of this site have been saying and implying, you have stated your point incredibly well and I see no holes in what has been said.

The jump tactics and ridiculous dismissal of opinions is why this site offers nothing, it's writers are abysmal and have no sense of balance or any modicum of tact.

I wouldn't expect any kind of intelligent discussion, nor a classy rebuttal, as evidenced here there is nothing of that.

JeffreyOSU said:

Mr. David,
I think we agree on most of the points that you make. I apologize for the inelegance of my writing -- I did not mean to imply that _you_ were saying that we should tolerate intolerance to prove that we, ourselves, are tolerant. What I was trying to say is that is the rhetorical argument that conservatives often use when a liberal speaks out against conservative beliefs. I have seen that argument used time and time again in the media, in class discussions, etc. Again, I apologize for making it seem like I was attributing that to you.

I do disagree with your assessment of boycotts, however. Most of us don't have the kind of public forum that Card has as a writer (both of fiction and as a columnist) and as a member of the National Organization for Marriage board. He uses these positions to raise money to enact laws to fight against same-sex marriage. Almost assuredly, some of his personal money went to this fight in California (where he does not live according to the biography in his online column). This is someone whose _actions_ have been aggressively anti-gay, not just someone with a different opinion, as he has often been characterized in this thread. It is completely reasonable to assume that at least some of the money used to buy this game is going to support the continued fight against gay rights (Card also advocates for laws against "homosexual behavior," not just same-sex marriage).

In this particular case, any "boycotting" of the game seems to be more about not wanting to financially support an extreme gay rights opponent than trying to bring about a change in his opinion. In general, however, for those of us without the kinds of access to media that Card enjoys, sometimes collective economic power is the only effective means for getting across our opposition to a message or to policies. Not all of us can afford to make donations to causes to be able to offset what he is able to raise with his position and influence. I therefore disagree with your assertion that boycotts are "cheap and vicious and small minded." I disagree that choosing not to support such an extreme voice in the anti-gay movement is intolerant. From the perspective of not wanting to fund efforts to disenfranchise members of the gay community, I am not particularly concerned about a chilling effect on Card himself.

Your point is well-taken, however, about a potential chilling effect on the collaborators involved, which is to what I was referring when I originally wrote about the complexity of the issue because of the "nature of the participants on both sides." Card is not the only one who could be financially damaged by a boycott of the game. There are those in this thread who have, quite reasonably, argued that supporting these collaborators outweighs supporting Card. My original point -- again lost due to the inelegance of my writing -- is that a boycott is certainly reasonable, as is the offset idea proposed in Dawdle's original article, but that the issue itself is certainly not unproblematic. Like others have expressed in this thread, I'm not sure what my personal answer is yet.

doug rich said:

Neo: isn't your entire post a dismissive jump tactic? You offer nothing but bile, and seem pretty antithetical yourself to any kind of tactful discourse.

Mark Steward said:

I'm not gay myself but I have gay friends and a gay colleague. I value being able to look them in the eye without feeling ashamed more than I value playing a single videogame. For me, that's what all this comes down to.

jigsaw said:

@doug rich:
Neo is one of those people that like to hear themselves talk. His posts usually do not contribute, in any way, to a discussion but only include insults. The fact that he is the one saying the writers here have no "modicum of tact" is just pure irony. The best you can do is never to respond to his posts, because, like all trolls, he will only respond with another insult.

I have to say though, that I find boycotting this game not a good solution. You can boycott this man's books, which is certainly a very good idea. But if you want to buy this game but don't, that will hardly hurt Mister Card, but the programmers and publishers of that game. Boycott is a very good way of hurting someone economically, but in this case, it hits the wrong people.

cbjames said:

Mr. David seems to reduce the purpose of a boycott to this...

"To make sure that someone is going to face financial ruin because he has opinions that differ from yours?"

This is a comfortable position to argue from, but it assumes that the issue of gay marriage is little more than a game of semantics.

It's not. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of rights and benefits that are denied my spouse and me because we are both men.

We cannot file joint income tax returns.
Our "spousal" medical benefits are taxable.
We cannot make medical decisions for eachother.
We may not be allowed to see eachother should one of us be hospitalized.
We get no survivor benefits from Medicare.
Inheritance of property is in doubt.
We are denied "family rates." and memberships.
We may not recieve bereavement leave.
We may be denied custody of children.


I could go on. And on.

We are not talking about a simple "difference of opinion." Mr. Card wants to keep us in a state of inequality. He actually wants to do much more than that, let's be honest about it here. To allow him his right to speak is one thing.

To give him money is another.

Bob said:

Yes, CHAIR ENTERTAINMENT IS MORMON.

www.joystickdivision.com/2009/08/beyond_the_game_shadow_complex.php

I am honestly surprised at the lack of coverage about this topic. One post noting the existing controversy is not enough.
I was hoping that gaygamer.net will come to the forefront on this; Penny Arcade has said something about that before.

WHY:

1) Orson Scott Card, being on the board of a virulently anti-gay organization (National Organization For Marriage) and a major donor to another (Mormon Church), will use your money much more efficiently than whatever gay organization you give offset donations to. Imagine giving $15 to Greenpeace, versus $15 to your local, 12-member Rotary club. Which do you think can use the $15 to more effect, good or detrimental?
National Organization For Marriage has explicitly stated that it wishes to criminalize homosexuality.
2) The two people that make up the core of Chair Entertainment, the developers of Shadow Complex, are themselves Mormon. Guess who they donate to.

HOW:

1) Just watch gameplay videos for now. Full walkthroughs already exist. Besides, how fun is getting lost? You will derive more enjoyment from the inevitable 4% speed runs than you will getting lost, yourself.
2) Wait until next calendar year, when the PC version comes out. Don't pay for it immediately THEN--try out the game first by borrowing it, as a peer, from a peer.

dawdle said:

Thanks for your comments Bob.

As far as not saying more, we do have a post planned for (hopefully) Monday, that has statements from the game's creators. Beyond that, I don't think you can expect us to call for a boycott or lead some organized charge against the game, but I can't speak for the other writers here. We're all individuals with different opinions on the matter. Remember that this really isn't anyone's full time job, and rather then just post a series of hyperbolic and rushed rants, we'd rather take the time to hear from a number of voices. This post was just my opinion: getting the issue on the table, asking questions, looking for a range of opinions. The writers working on the next week's post want to make sure that it has more substance.

Regarding the Mustards, the owners of Chair Entertainment, and their Mormonism, I'd hate it if anyone started attacking people of faith who aren't on the record on this issue. I think we can disagree with the Mormon Church without making blanket assumptions about individual Mormons. But you're right: through tithing, Mormons in good standing are required to donate to the church, and no doubt some of that money goes to fighting marriage.

As for the National Organization for Marriage, as hateful as I find their cause, I can't find any stated goals as an organization that include criminalizing homosexuality. I do know that Orson Scott Card has that goal, and I'd be surprised if other individuals on the board don't share it, but as far as I know it isn't currently on NOM's agenda. If I'm wrong though, please let me know.

I hope the post next week meets at least some of your expectations. To restate my personal opinion from above, I'd rather people fight ideas with ideas than shame others into not buying the game if they think they'd otherwise enjoy it. To me, the main goal should be making sure more people know about Mr. Card's abhorrent statements on homosexuality and letting them make up their own minds. Of course an individual wanting to keep their own money out of the hands of outspoken homophobes is their choice, but hoping to somehow bankrupt the Mormon Church or NOM (or Chair or Epic games) isn't really realistic or laudable.

Bob said:

dawdle, good to hear from you. I absolutely look forward to any, more coverage of facts surrounding this issue, and I'm especially glad that it will be this website that does so.

Just to clarify, I don't mean to imply that I hate all Mormons, because I don't. HOWEVER, the organization that they regularly contribute to--the Mormon church--IS consistently active in denying gay people their rights. Any money given to Mormons is extremely likely (100%) to help fill the coffers of the LDS church...which is then used in places like California and perhaps Maine.

I will try to track down a reference for you on what I said about NOM's previously published platforms...no promises of progress on this front, however.

Eshto said:

High-minded political debate aside, I honestly could not play this for the simple fact that I would be physically nauseous the entire time.

I would involuntarily think of Card, and the image of that ugly, ignorant piece of human trash in my mind would ruin my enjoyment and taint the entire experience.

kevinski said:

Punishing an entire development team for the views of one person is just wrong. Anyone who passes on this game because of one person's involvement has problems. No matter how ridiculous or outspoken someone is, you should accept that fact that people are entitled to their opinions, no matter how horrible they may seem.

Bob said:

@kevinski:

Your points appear based on incorrect data and are invalid.

1) The core developement team actually consists of two people aside from Card. Both are Mormon, and have worked closely with Card before.

Donald Mustard himself attended BYU.

2) They do not merely hold opinions. If you give any of these 3 people money, they will give it to the LDS Church, who will in turn use it to impose legislation against gays. In Card's case, he may use it directly against gays--he is on the board of NOM.

Bob said:

I forgot to attach this point:

3) Chair Entertainment is based out of Provo, Utah. Any money you give them will further be diverted towards the LDS in the form of taxes.

Buying this game is financing anti-gay legislation three ways: 1) Card, who is on the board of NOM and is virulently anti-gay, 2) donations to the LDS by Chair core members, and 3) Taxes derived from Chair being based in Utah.

For the money that this crew and the LDS will get, you might as well personally tear up your gay friends' marriage certificates.

Eshto said:

kevinksi, anyone who presumes to tell other people where, how and why to spend their hard-earned money has problems.

People are entitled to hold opinions, but that doesn't make their opinions good, true or right; and they certainly are NOT entitled to be free from criticism or consequences for stating their opinions in public.

SagaDarvulia said:

...And I grow further disgusted by this whole thing. I'm sorry, Peter David, but I do not agree with you. Card is not a person who 'merely states his opinion', which we may or may not agree with. It's a bit beyond that. He seeks to actively enforce his views, and by golly, are those views quite horrid.

"Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society."

You might have missed the fact that this is not some random programmer who have added "Faggots are gay" to his signature on some suspect forum. This is a person with quite some influence and wealth. His views may not be comparable to those of neo-nazis, but they are by no means far from.

To make a comparison, let's consider Koichi Sugiyama. Before reading Christian Nutt's article on Gamasutra, I did not know of Sugiyama's nationalist views. I did not know he denies the Rape of Nanking, nor that he was so vocal about it. Learning about this, I can't help but feel disgusted by it all. Will I for this reason boycott Dragon Quest? Not overly likely, seeing as how he's expressing an opinion that, however horrible it may be, does not seek to limit the rights of any people currently alive. (At least, to my knowledge...) I, of course, fully understand people who will stop buying the series. However, I personally consider it a moral fence. Card's views go beyond merely expressing an opinion.

After reading further on the subject of Orson Scott Card and the owners of Chair Entertainment, I will not just refrain from buying the game, but make it an active point to educate people on the views of its creators, and recommend that they too think everything through before they spend their Points on it.

(Also, if anything in my post does not make sense; please forgive me. English is not my native language.)

Bearfamily said:

"If you don't Fight your enemy, they win."

Was interested in this game but now I'm not even gonna bother.

Sami said:

@kevinski: So people who aren't buying this game are *punishing* the development team? Boy, I've done a whole lot of punishing in my life, if that's the case! :P

Not being American, I didn't know these facts about Orson Scott Card. I do know him from his Alvin-books, which I've read in my teens.

But I want to thank Dawdle for this article. It has made me physically incapable of even touching anything produced by Card ever again.

kevinski said:

@Sami - Essentially, yes. While development teams, themselves, probably see the least monetary return for their work, successful projects can mean job security for them. It's immature to penalize a lot of people for what one person did.

I mean, sure the guy seems like he can really be a jerk about the whole thing, but you'd find yourself seriously in a bit of a bind if you never bought anything that was developed by anyone whose own opinions differed from your own.

JeffreyOSU said:

As many people, including myself, have pointed out in this thread, Card is not simply someone "whose own opinions differed from your own." He is someone who has used his wealth, position, and considerable influence to _enact laws_ against those who hold a difference of opinion from him.

I find a literal reading of the Bible to be ridiculous. There are people who believe in it with all their hearts. Would I boycott something produced by such a person, simply because we have different opinions? No, but if that same person were trying to enact legislation making it illegal NOT to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible? Maybe. Especially if that person was on the forefront of the fight and was using money from products of his/hers that I might buy to fund such efforts.

I can't stress this point strongly enough: Card is NOT a garden-variety homophobe. Outside of elected officials, he is undoubtedly in the top tier of people working AGAINST gay rights in the United States. While it is correct that it's difficult to avoid buying things from people whose opinions differ from mine, it is considerably less difficult to avoid buying things from such outspoken and influential adversaries. As I've stated before, I find this particular case to be complex, but not because of how I feel about Card's positions -- he has made those abundantly clear.

Sami said:

@kevinski:

Sorry to repeat myself, but I just have to make this clear: are you *honestly* saying everyone should buy this game because otherwise it would be punishing those who made it?

You sure are a capitalist's dream consumer, I must say! XD You must buy every product you ever see, just so that no one is punished by the lack of your money in their pockets.

Seriously speaking, people don't have to buy anything they're not comfortable with. Whatever their reason is. No matter how good the product is.

Killface said:

Yeah, that's sure showing the rest of us.

Man, even your boycotts are gay.

SkorpyoBrat said:

Thanks for flagging!

No Card for me. No way, no how. As a Californian burned by the Prop 8 outrage, I'm very careful to make sure none of the money I spend is going to end up in the coffers of the LDS or the pockets of its members.

WizzkerWoo said:

Card is a horrible, horrific excuse for a human being.

The thing is, we buy things related to horrible, horrific human beings every day. We buy gas from companies that certainly have Orson Scott Card's working for them. We watch television made by companies that no doubt have a Card on staff. We eat food that's most likely been raised or at some point handled by someone like Card.

Where do you draw the line?
I fully understand wanting to show people you won't deal with them if they knowingly seek out and choose to deal with someone like Card. There was no need. They could have created their own world just as easily.

But then we hurt a lot of people that had no idea. That may have been ignorant. None of this is in Card's work. Sure, some knew, but not everyone involved.
Beyond that, we deprive ourselves what looks to be one of the best games of the year.

We've voiced our complaints. People fear this kind of controversy, and you'd better believe that Card will have trouble moving into new media after whatever deals he already has lined up.
But that's no reason to deprive ourselves the game and hurt those more involved, and more open-minded, than Card.

kevinski said:

@Sami - I'm not saying that you should buy it solely to support the development team. I'm saying that you shouldn't pass on something that you happen to desire and is of very high quality just because one idiot was involved in its creation.

You don't see athiests not buying certain food projects because Catholics work for the respective companies. I mean, they might go and do something crazy and buy a Bible with the money. I realize that the guy's very vocal about things. Let him look like an idiot. You can be the better person and not allow people's opinions to influence your buying habits. That's a form of discrimination, in my opinion, because you're penalizing someone because their opinion differs from you own.

Had anyone here not known about his involvement, then they would've bought the game and enjoyed it if they were interest. And I'm sure that nothing horrible would come from it.

If you don't need or want something, then don't buy it. Don't pass on something that you want because it somehow supports someone you don't agree with. Does the game happen to speak ill of homosexuals? No? Then who cares?

Bob said:

@kevinski:

Those are noble sentiments, but wrong because they rely on false assumptions. I hate point-by-points, but there are only a few so...

1) "You don't see athiests not buying certain food projects because Catholics work for the respective companies."

There is a current move to stop shopping at Whole Foods because of what its CEO recently said in the WSJ.

2) "Had anyone here not known about his involvement...I'm sure that nothing horrible would come from it."

The 2 core members of Chair and (of course) Card himself are Mormon. If you give them money, they will use it to directly take away gay rights (Card himself) or will contribute to the coffers of an organization that does (Mormon church).

If someone explicitly states that he will use money he receives to ban interracial marriage, are you still willing to blindly give him money?

3) "Does the game happen to speak ill of homosexuals? No? Then who cares?"

You're 100% missing the point, the same way Peter David himself backed off in various forums on the web because he knows he has no valid arguments left. This isn't why people aren't buying Shadow Complex. People you give money to WILL help enact legislation against gays. THAT is why.

kevinski said:

News flash: A lot of religions don't accept homosexuality (which is why it baffles me that homosexuals bother practicing certain religions when those religions condemn their own sexuality, but that's another argument), and a lot of people put their religious beliefs before all else. Don't get me wrong: This is a shame, because I feel that you should always put respect for other people before your own beliefs.

You've got Card, who's obviously not the sort of person who cares what anyone who opposes his religious beliefs thinks. I honestly would've recommended taking this whole situation up with the publisher long ago. I mean, it's been pretty much universally stated that the game's story (or setting) couldn't matter less in the game, so I doubt that it would've been a problem for these things to change partway through the development cycle. Wouldn't it have been far more beneficial to remove the person who so offends you from the project, rather than to try to coerce people into not buying a finished product?

Still, the guy has his talents, and he's human. He has to eat, as does his family. Nobody should be denied the opportunity to make money base on their beliefs. I mean, really, wouldn't that be workplace discrimination? He didn't drag his hatred of homosexuality into the project, so it shouldn't be an issue.

In either case, I still wouldn't boycott a game based on the beliefs of one person. A lot of people donate money to their religions, and a lot of those religions don't condone homosexuality.

Bob said:

@kevinski:

Still 100% missing 100% of the points. I don't get how you can parrot the same lines even with so many replies that are trying to empower you with knowledge.

"Nobody should be denied the opportunity to make money base on their beliefs."

The don't just believe. They are directly funding the removal of people's rights.

"In either case, I still wouldn't boycott a game based on the beliefs of one person."

- It's at least 3 people.
- And the company is based in Utah.

So in summary, kevinski,

1) It's not just Card
2) These go beyond mere belief into action.

Want to give another boilerplate reply?

kevinski said:

I can see the futility in arguing the point. Like I said, you'd be surprised just where your money goes to on a regular basis. I still feel that the boycott is immature, and it's yet another step back in the battle against prejudice, because you're giving into your own prejudices. Final reply. Out.

JeffreyOSU said:

An important point of clarification...

"Prejudice" means "an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason" or "any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable." Key words: "beforehand" and "preconceived."

There is nothing "preconceived" about the criticisms of Card that have been posted, therefore this is not about "giving into your own prejudices." Postjudices, perhaps, as the criticisms have been aimed at his actions and writings AFTER they have occurred.

Sorry -- I had to get that off my chest... I just hate it when people use the word "prejudice" where it doesn't apply.

waterlilly said:

Oh, I get it. SO, you have a bunch of people like "BEN" who are mad that some guy who happens to be Mormon is speaking out with generalizations against gays. So,to show he's a better person than Card, "BEN" speaks out with generalizations against Mormons.

Maybe we'll see real progress on gay rights once people LIKE "BEN" start addressing the issues directly instead of showing they are just as mid-guided as people like Card.

Attention gay people - some author doesn't like gays so you should hate all mormons.

My parents are catholic and they don't agree with my lifestyle either. Its not just mormons!

Seriously, "BEN" just because I have one friend that is stupid doesn't mean ALL my friends are stupid.

The Sarge said:

Attention Bob: Based on the views you've shared, YOU sir, are as big a bigot and part of the problem as Mr. Card. See below. Do YOU personally know EVERY person at Chair and have you CONFIRMED what churches they attend? I personally don't give a crap about someone's religion and prefer to judge people on their actions. Such as I am judging you on yours!

Bob said:
Yes, CHAIR ENTERTAINMENT IS MORMON."

www.joystickdivision.com/2009/08/beyond_the_game_shadow_complex.php

I am honestly surprised at the lack of coverage about this topic. One post noting the existing controversy is not enough.
I was hoping that gaygamer.net will come to the forefront on this; Penny Arcade has said something about that before.

WHY:

1) Orson Scott Card, being on the board of a virulently anti-gay organization (National Organization For Marriage) and a major donor to another (Mormon Church), will use your money much more efficiently than whatever gay organization you give offset donations to. Imagine giving $15 to Greenpeace, versus $15 to your local, 12-member Rotary club. Which do you think can use the $15 to more effect, good or detrimental?
National Organization For Marriage has explicitly stated that it wishes to criminalize homosexuality.
2) The two people that make up the core of Chair Entertainment, the developers of Shadow Complex, are themselves Mormon. Guess who they donate to.

HOW:

1) Just watch gameplay videos for now. Full walkthroughs already exist. Besides, how fun is getting lost? You will derive more enjoyment from the inevitable 4% speed runs than you will getting lost, yourself.
2) Wait until next calendar year, when the PC version comes out. Don't pay for it immediately THEN--try out the game first by borrowing it, as a peer, from a peer.

Bob said:

Uh, yeah, Sarge, you don't have to quote me again. The things I said is barely 1/4 of the way up the page, as well as posted in the general gaming forum of this site. A link would have sufficed.

See, here's the thing.

quote: "I personally don't give a crap about someone's religion."

Big, noble, vapid words. Buddists don't have an organized church in the US trying to take away gay rights. Mormons do. Their central church does. Donations to any one of their branches are funneled to the central "branch" or what have you.

*I* don't need to know every human that works at Chair. It is sufficient to know that it is based out of Utah and as such parts of its taxes will be given or utilized by the Mormon church, which has tried to take away gay rights.

*I* know that at least the two core members are Mormons and *I* know that one of them is devout enough to attend BYU.

*I* think using facts and probabilities. *YOU* just like typing in caps and exclamation marks.

Bob said:

@waterlilly:

Very heartfelt; however, it's not that I don't like Mormons--it's that I hate the organization that they donate to and who benefits off taxes generate for Utah: the LDS church, which is actively trying to take away gay rights.

See, the world would be nice if I hated Mormons for no valid reason. That means there's just one more bigot in the world.

However, the world isn't nice. I don't hate Mormons just for the hell of it. Also, even worse, there is a valid reason: their central church is actively trying and succeeding in taking away gay rights.

So now you have no bigots and one huge church trying to take away gay rights. Which would you have preferred? Is that why you saw me for what you WANTED me to be, rather than the whole situation for what it is?

U said:

I did just read this article and have already bought the game so the idea of giving money to a gay charity seems like really good solution.

But as a Swede I dont have any overview of the US gay organizations. And the legal status in Sweden of same-sex marriages are exactly the same as that of opposite-sex marriages so I would like to support an US charity. Could anyone list a couple?

Shaun said:

Although I'm interested in Science Fiction novels, for some reason I could never develop an interest in Orson Scott Card, either the author or his concepts. Now I see that he's also a jerk with strange dogmatic views. Hm. Not that I saw it coming, but interesting. He seems to be of the creepy "social activist" sort of science fiction writers.

U said:

No good suggestions for some organizations?

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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