This year’s Penny Arcade Expo has finally come to a close but the three-year, never-fucking-ending controversy surrounding a rape joke made in Penny Arcade’s popular comic has once again come back from the dead.
While the story is convoluted and a full wrap up of the original controversy as well as Penny Arcade’s subsequent bungling of a response can be found here, it goes something like this: In late 2010 a comic was published in which a slave character in an RPG dungeon setting pleaded to the hero for help describing being “raped to sleep by dickwolves.” The comic was meant to illustrate the humorous aspect of quests in World of Warcraft that only required the player to save a certain minimum of characters to complete the quests.
Kind of funny, right? Maybe not? The original comic was not immediately a huge point of contention. However, when a feminist-oriented blog took issue with “The Sixth Slave” comic, Penny Arcade responded with a tongue-in-cheek comic in which one of its main characters says, speaking to the reader, “It’s possible you read our cartoon, and become a rapist as a direct result. If you are raping someone right now, please stop.” This is, at the very least, an insensitive response to those that felt personally attacked or uncomfortable but this sort of call out and subsequent insensitive overreaction by Penny Arcade has continued ad nauseum since. This past week’s PAX convention was no different.
In a panel on Monday between creator Mike Krahulik and business manager Robert Khoo, the two reignited the “Dickwolves” controversy by admitting they both regretted pulling the Dickwolves merchandise from the Penny Arcade Store after the initial round of controversy began to snowball into something its creators could not control. While the audience cheered, the internet offered only a resounding boo.
In a public letter to Penny Arcade’s Jerry Holkins by game designer Christine Love, she admitted that she doesn’t “feel comfortable attending PAX,” and if she didn’t feel it was necessary to her viability in the videogames industry she “would not be there.” Wired also ran a piece by Rachel Edidin explaining that due to Penny Arcade’s failure to keep a handle on the situation, especially in regards to the sensitivity of rape victims, she will never “be going back to PAX again. Not as a professional. Not as an attendee. Not as press.”
I guess we’ll just have to tune in next year to see if Krahulik and gang can finally keep their mouths shut and protect their intellectual property.
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