A bunch of my pals have been quite enthusiastic about Shadow Complex, which looks like a pretty nice action game. Last weekend someone pointed out that the game has been marketed using the name of Orson Scott Card. There was a quiet chorus of “oh fuck” type of comments, a few people cancelled their plans on buying the game and today I heard that one former colleague who had bought the game made a donation for ACLU “as a carbon offset”.
So, who is Orson Scott Card? He’s a scifi writer, who is responsible for such classics as Ender’s Game, which I really liked when I was little. I’d like to re-read it, but unfortunately the title makes me think of its writer, which makes it too hard to enjoy the book itself. Why? Mr. Card is also an extremist Mormon and his views of homosexual rights are less than enlightened (be sure not to miss this hilarious leap of logic: “Any homosexual man who can persuade a woman to take him as her husband can avail himself of all the rights of husbandhood under the law.”) I’m not going to go to details about Mr. Card’s opinions, since they can be found all over the net and I don’t want to spoil my day going through them again.
There has been grumblings about using Mr Card as a marketing gimmick for Shadow Complex, which has gone unaddressed by Chair Entertainment, it’s owner Epic Games and the other parties involved in the game production and sales, until now. In a Kotaku article we got treated to the following comments:
“Gears of War was made by Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and even a few Canadians like me. It takes all kinds to make great creative games”
-Mark Rein / Epic Games
“If anyone wants to boycott the game and thus damage me 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. Your choice.”
-Shadow Complex writer Peter David
So, the bottom line seems to be that from the point of view of the game studio and Microsoft you should ignore the personal opinions of Mr. Card, who is used in marketing the game, because personal preferences like that don’t come into play in creating a game.
Fair enough. I would just like to ask Chair Games, Epic Games and Microsoft this: would you market a game using the name of a scifi writer who’s a well known and vocal Klansman and a board member of an organization whose agenda is that black people should not be able to marry white people and they should not have the same rights as those of the caucasian race? I mean, these are just personal opinions and creating a good game takes all kinds of creative people, be they fundies, NAMBLA-members, Klansmen or Canadian!
So, I’m going to boycott Shadow Complex, since in my point of view every penny going to Orson Scott Card is a penny for organized bigotry. For me this has crossed the line. Obviously a game company doesn’t have to (more precisely SHOULDN’T) screen its employees for their political opinions and no sane person gives a toss if one guy in the coding, graphics or writing credits has an extreme political view. Then again, it’s a completely different thing if the guy who is the face of the game and a major marketing point is a known organized bigot. It’s also naive to think nobody will pay any attention to a choice like that.
A game journalist in me finds it interesting that it took this long to have a moral outrage over a game that didn’t originate from the “games are murder simulators” nutjobs, but from the other side of the coin. The gamer in me is disappointed, since the game did indeed feel worth checking out.
“Regardless of law, marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”
– Orson Scott Card