Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Wraith » 06 Sep 2013, 12:25

It's not like I pulled it out of thin air here; I responded to the OP. The OP gave two examples; one (the dick wolves thing) that I'd actually not heard of, and one (the cis blowup) which I'd heard entirely too much about. So I commented on the cis blowup; which was where the idea of "The Mike Problem" really began. And the trans issue is central to whether or not the cis issue should have even been an issue. Discussion grew organically from there just as it did with the Dick Wolves thing.

Why is discussion of the incident that started the issue, and was one of two listed as examples, less appropriate to discuss than the second issue?
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Duckay » 06 Sep 2013, 12:43

The whole "dickwolves" thing started well before "the cis blowup", as you call it. It's just that it's only recently been brought back up.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby My pseudonym is Ix » 06 Sep 2013, 12:51

Re the whole 'cis blowup', as we're apparently calling it: as I always understood, the original complaint (correct me if I'm wrong, it was a while ago) was that Krahulik made some comment about a game that teaches girls to masturbate and was rather bizarrely criticised for not specifying cis-gender women. This on its own was a fairly petty complaint from somebody who really should have something better to be doing, but since Mike didn't really understand the whole cis/trans issue he ended up getting shouted at by a few militants and rather unwisely joined in by arguing with them, thus prompting people to call him transphobic thanks to some of his comments in an argument he should have left well alone. Am I right, or not?

Oh, and Wraith: I'm actually with Lying on this. You did come across as a bit... too aggressive.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Lurkon » 06 Sep 2013, 12:57

My pseudonym is Ix wrote:Re the whole 'cis blowup', as we're apparently calling it: as I always understood, the original complaint (correct me if I'm wrong, it was a while ago) was that Krahulik made some comment about a game that teaches girls to masturbate and was rather bizarrely criticised for not specifying cis-gender women. This on its own was a fairly petty complaint from somebody who really should have something better to be doing, but since Mike didn't really understand the whole cis/trans issue he ended up getting shouted at by a few militants and rather unwisely joined in by arguing with them, thus prompting people to call him transphobic thanks to some of his comments in an argument he should have left well alone. Am I right, or not?

Oh, and Wraith: I'm actually with Lying on this. You did come across as a bit... too aggressive.

That's pretty much how I saw it.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby psychopez » 06 Sep 2013, 12:57

The main issue for this latest PA mucking about comes from comments regarding Dickwolf merch from a PAX Q&A.

Any of Mike's trans* comments are usually brought out to support various things in relation to the Dickwolf comments from the Q&A (Either 'see, he just doesn't get it' or 'see, he can learn from his mistakes')
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Wraith » 06 Sep 2013, 13:23

Duckay wrote:"the cis blowup", as you call it.


My pseudonym is Ix wrote:Re the whole 'cis blowup', as we're apparently calling it


First of all, just to clarify something:

JackSlack wrote:But then there's Mike. The twitter 'cis' blowup


That's how the thread started, so I stuck with the term.

My pseudonym is Ix wrote: as I always understood, the original complaint (correct me if I'm wrong, it was a while ago) was that Krahulik made some comment about a game that teaches girls to masturbate and was rather bizarrely criticised for not specifying cis-gender women. This on its own was a fairly petty complaint from somebody who really should have something better to be doing, but since Mike didn't really understand the whole cis/trans issue he ended up getting shouted at by a few militants and rather unwisely joined in by arguing with them, thus prompting people to call him transphobic thanks to some of his comments in an argument he should have left well alone. Am I right, or not?

Oh, and Wraith: I'm actually with Lying on this. You did come across as a bit... too aggressive.


1. Yes, that's how it started (and I couldn't really remember all the details either, just that I rolled my eyes a lot). But the bottom line is that the ridiculously obscure indy game used the correct scientific definition of the word "woman" and Mike - a man who makes his living doing commentary on games through his art and his words - commented on the complaint by saying "I always thought people with vaginas were women." That made people flip out and criticize him for not qualifying a statement that is true in literally over 99% of cases.

And again, I'm asking what exactly what I said that was so damned aggressive. I mean, yea, what I said to lying was aggressive (also 100% true and really screwed up), but that was in a direct response to a post which at no point addressed the topic or my arguments and instead entirely criticized me for "firing artillery." Look up my history. This isn't me "firing artillery." This is me at 3. I go to 15. This is me discussing something calmly and rationally. To take it down a notch I'd have to eat a bunch of turkey, fall into a deep sleep and sleep-talk into a voice-to-text machine.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JackSlack » 06 Sep 2013, 13:36

empath wrote:*gulps regretfully* And you know what? I am going to give you props for this statement (honest, I am - I SWEAR), but I also respected your equating Harlan to Mike.

...because Mr. K may yet grow and age into another version of Harlan, the self-proclaimed "possibly most contentious person on Earth", Ellison.
...
...but I'm betting not. Here's why:
...
But don't stop being reasonable; don't stop having a positive influence.

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...but that's no reason to not journey down it.


First, thanks for that post, Empath. Well reasoned, well discussed, strong. Here's my two problems.

1. It's a big leap to suggest that kind of good faith on Mike's part. Indeed, at many points this is the biggest question of the whole thing: Trust. Mike's got one of the loudest megaphones in gaming. He has used it in the past to do damage to minority groups. He claims to want to improve. Does he?

2. What do we do that helps gaming the most? I mean, if Mike could be brought onside, and helped what I think the best path for gaming in the future is, then yeah: I probably should keep supporting PAX, keep supporting Penny Arcade, etc. But what if not? I mean, my vision of the future of gaming (broader topic base, play style, fewer AAA and more indie; stronger efforts on social justice/equality issues in the community and especially in multiplayer communities) may not be one he agrees with. Which would be his right... but it wouldn't make him a voice I want to strengthen.

You're right: The road is long. But that also means it's a long way back if we venture down the wrong road.

Finally, there is of course a fairly heartless, but important point to note in this: I couldn't care less about Mike as a person. Don't really know him, he's not a friend, he's not someone in my life. What I do care about is the gaming community. If Mike continued to be a giant bag of dicks, but he lost his megaphone and gaming carried on without him? That'd be just fine in my book.

You make a very impressive case that still going to PAX is the best path towards reforming Mike. Granted. But the question isn't that. It's: Is supporting Penny Arcade the best path towards reforming gaming?
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Duckay » 06 Sep 2013, 13:38

There's something about the "cis-scum" Facebook post that doesn't feel right to me. I am not accusing you personally of any misdeed there, nor am I saying that you should have breached someone's privacy to provide a name. I'm just saying that with how easy it is to fake up Facebook statuses, I'm not sure if I am prepared to take that on face value as proof that "typically" people who use the term "cis" talk like that.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Duckay » 06 Sep 2013, 13:41

I should also add that as I have said in previous posts in this thread, I know there were some very aggressive, extreme and thoroughly unpleasant comments thrown at Mike in that blow-up as well as the dickwolves thing and I completely understand why he reacted defensively. Those people were out of line, but his responses don't help matters either.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Wraith » 06 Sep 2013, 13:48

Duckay wrote:There's something about the "cis-scum" Facebook post that doesn't feel right to me. I am not accusing you personally of any misdeed there, nor am I saying that you should have breached someone's privacy to provide a name. I'm just saying that with how easy it is to fake up Facebook statuses, I'm not sure if I am prepared to take that on face value as proof that "typically" people who use the term "cis" talk like that.


That's become you don't want to believe it. That sounds snarkier than it should, but it's true. You don't want to believe it, and I don't blame you one bit for that. I didn't want to believe it, either. Then I started WTFeminism and I began actually interacting with these people.

The thing you have to understand is that "cis" is not a word that exists in the common, average vernacular. There's a reason most people have to look it up. As I said, in a word of 7 billion people, I'm sure there exists those who are perfectly rational and use the term; but the overwhelmingly, its most common use is by SJW's and oppression Olympians.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JackSlack » 06 Sep 2013, 14:00

Trisha Lynn wrote:Late, but my take seems to rehash a lot of what's been said elsewhere.
[Removed link, but Lord_Hosk already linked me on page 3 or 4]

I remember a time when I was a total asshole to my friends. One person had the guts to call me on it; my response was to hermit-up, get into therapy, and stop binge drinking.

I know I can never get those friends back, but I hope that the things I've learned in therapy will help me keep and retain the new friendships I've made.

I hope the same kind of revelation is coming for Mike Krahulik.


Trisha, I respect your opinion here. What should a guy who is (also) sometimes an asshole, but wants to be a solid ally for feminists and other activists do here? Should I stop supporting Penny Arcade? If so, why? Or should I keep going? If so, what should I do there to make things better, not worse?
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Duckay » 06 Sep 2013, 14:01

Wraith, I am willing to respect your arguments, if not necessarily agree with them, however I want to ask that you don't talk down to me.

I am not a newcomer to this issue. The problem is not that I fail to understand how commonly used the term is.I regularly run in circles where the term is commonly used, and in those where it is virtually unheard of. I have seen it used as an epithet (though most often in a context such as "cis people just don't get it", though of course sometimes worse), and I still think it is a tremendous exaggeration to say that aggressive usage like "cis-scum" is "typical".
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Wraith » 06 Sep 2013, 15:06

Duckay wrote:Wraith, I am willing to respect your arguments, if not necessarily agree with them, however I want to ask that you don't talk down to me.


For crying out loud. When I'm blunt with people I'm asked "not to fire artillery" and when I make an effort to tone down what I say so it's not taken as too aggressive, I'm "talking down to people." And if I hadn't deleted what I initially typed, I'd be "just unnecessarily mean."

Duckay wrote:I am not a newcomer to this issue. The problem is not that I fail to understand how commonly used the term is.I regularly run in circles where the term is commonly used, and in those where it is virtually unheard of. I have seen it used as an epithet (though most often in a context such as "cis people just don't get it", though of course sometimes worse), and I still think it is a tremendous exaggeration to say that aggressive usage like "cis-scum" is "typical".


It's not that "cis-scum" is the norm (although it is far more common than you'd think). It's that it's used by people who are over-dramatic and - as is Mike's case - are the type to throw a fit and cry oppression when someone refers to "women" without qualifying it to include people who are women but don't think of themselves as such, or men who are not women, but think of themselves as women, or the less than 1% of the world that has a vagina and is not identifiable as a woman.

Like I said, the point of his post was "save the drama, I don't want to hear it." That's all he was really saying, and people took it and screamed that he hated trans people.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Duckay » 06 Sep 2013, 15:21

I think I see what you're getting at, but what confuses me is that I don't think that was in dispute. The type of people who say things like "cis-scum" are very probably the same people who responded aggressively and confrontationally to Mike in the first place (leaving aside whether or not the more measured criticism he also received was valid; we can leave that for another time).

The question is whether those people are representative of people who use the word "cis" ever, which I think is what Fayili was getting at, and certainly what I was getting at when I said that I don't think one Facebook post of unclear veracity was proof that it's "typical".

I have a question that I'm interested in hearing you answer, but because it's skewing from the topic I understand if you don't want to go into it. Do you think there is a context in which the term "cis" is useful?
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby JayBlanc » 06 Sep 2013, 15:34

Yeah, that whole equating killing another player in Call Of Duty as similar to enacting Rape is totally overblown.

I mean it's not like there's a culture in the online game 'community' that prompts people to simulate a sex act on the digital corpse such as tea-bagging.













OH WAIT.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby King Kool » 06 Sep 2013, 15:43

Am I the only one who never saw the whole "teabag" thing as sexual, merely vulgar? When called "Corpse humping," well, yeah, but... I dunno. Maybe I'm oblivious.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Lord Hosk » 06 Sep 2013, 16:21

I am with you Kool, I dont see tea bagging as sexual in any way, more of degrading, rubbing in the superiority.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby The Jester » 06 Sep 2013, 16:24

Hrm.. I would always interpret the act, literal or through digital proxies, of a person dipping their balls into the mouth of another (in the digital sense - the mouth of a defeated foe) as sexual.

And in the case of a display of superiority rather distasteful.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Wraith » 06 Sep 2013, 16:28

Duckay wrote:I think I see what you're getting at, but what confuses me is that I don't think that was in dispute. The type of people who say things like "cis-scum" are very probably the same people who responded aggressively and confrontationally to Mike in the first place (leaving aside whether or not the more measured criticism he also received was valid; we can leave that for another time).

The question is whether those people are representative of people who use the word "cis" ever, which I think is what Fayili was getting at, and certainly what I was getting at when I said that I don't think one Facebook post of unclear veracity was proof that it's "typical".


Except that's not the only proof. The evidence is the fact that I've seen the word thousands upon thousands of times, and never - not once - have I seen the word used outside of:

1. A ranting social justice blogger
2. Someone talking about otherwise MOCKING a social justice blogger
3. Someone who HEARD the word FROM a social justice blogger and is asking what the hell it means - because they've never heard it anywhere else.

Duckay wrote:I have a question that I'm interested in hearing you answer, but because it's skewing from the topic I understand if you don't want to go into it. Do you think there is a context in which the term "cis" is useful?


ehhhh, it can be; I can see it being used if you're actually having a conversation about the complex sex & gender concepts. But ultimately, I think the growth of the word's popularity is symptomatic of something that I see as a problem in modern society: the growing need to catalog and label each other. In the 90's, people were all about defying labels. They were about not being boxed in. Now, everyone has to be classified according to their their sex AND their gender AND what they believe their sex is supposed to be, AND what country they come from AND what country their parents came from AND what religion they AND what their political beliefs are AND what music they listen to AND what sub-culture they belong to AND what their "privilege level" is AND whether or not they are actually mystical fantasy creatures trapped inside mortal hosts. And I wish I was making any of that up. But I'm not.

Mark my words, if we keep going at this rate, in 10 years, we'll all have paragraph-long business cards describing what we are. I don't get that. Maybe I'm just old-school, but I don't understand the need to so extensively define and reduce yourself to a mile-long list of tittles.

Myself? My name's Wraith. That's pretty much the only label I need for myself. I'll leave the rest for people who think it's important.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Wraith » 06 Sep 2013, 16:44

JayBlanc wrote:Yeah, that whole equating killing another player in Call Of Duty as similar to enacting Rape is totally overblown.

I mean it's not like there's a culture in the online game 'community' that prompts people to simulate a sex act on the digital corpse such as tea-bagging.


Yes. The digital corpse. In the game. By that logic, killing anyone in game should be considered homicide.

Equating someone doing anything in game to raping a woman is atrocious. I'm so sick of people redefining rape to include increasingly lesser acts. Not because I think "there's nothing wrong with [offensive act that's not really rape]" but because it lessens the impact of the word. Once upon a time, if a woman said she was raped, the initial reaction was "oh man, that's horrible." I'd get angry and feel sick thinking about the concept of someone doing that. But the more crap like this comes up, where a woman says "I was a rape victim" and then says "I think killing a female player in a video game should be considered rape," it makes me start to wonder. It lessen's that instinctual sense of outrage, because it makes me think "when she says she was raped, does she man that a man forced her to engage in sexual intercourse...or did someone kick her ass at Gears of War?"

Because it's difficult for me to imagine someone going through something so utterly traumatic and then comparing something so utterly trivial that it happens to me dozens, sometimes hundreds of times a day to that event.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Aydin225 » 06 Sep 2013, 16:52

Maybe its because as a Christian I'm constantly having to defend myself against being called a bigot and a homophobe, but I have a hard time getting too upset about all of this. I've read the links in this thread, and I completely understand why people are upset about this issue--it has so much less to do with the actual issue as it does Mike's response to the issue. Dude said the wrong thing, certainly. However, I think there is way too much good in Mike's corner. The same man that said these things is the man who created a unique and amazing charity, a convention that hundreds of people consider the only place they can feel at home, a reality series that changed the lives of 12 wonderful artists, and is by all accounts and evidences a loving husband and father. One thing in a person's life cannot define that person as a whole, we are a product of all our choices, not a few of them.

My father in law is very similar to Mike in a lot of ways. He had a horrible childhood between his home life and routine verbal and physical attacks at school. When he joined the army, he got the power and training to ensure that no one could ever hurt him again, and he was not afraid to use it. To this day, despite how far he's come, his immediate response to any perceived disrespect is to intimidate whoever he is arguing with--using his power to go on the offensive to avoid ever being hurt again. This instinctual fear has held him back as a father, husband, mentor, and friend for over 30 years. He still weeps when he thinks about all the time he has lost apologizing.

Mike is the same way. Any limited research will tell you that his childhood was extremely rough. Even ignoring the awful school life he must have suffered, his own intense mental issues crippled him emotionally and socially. Through Penny Arcade, Mike has been given enormous power. It is only natural that he would use that power as a shield. The man is regularly receiving death threats and being called terrible names by the people who are supposedly in the right in these issues. While he certainly could have used more class in his responses and I DO NOT CONDONE WHAT HE SAID I cannot blame him for his reaction. This is a sad, scared man who provides for his family by making dick jokes. We cannot pin the hopes of the future of gaming on him.

Instead of boycott and abandonment, I think the only real way to help Mike is through love and support.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Cybren » 06 Sep 2013, 16:55

mikes ignorant of a lot of gender politics introspection so when he offends someone and gets criticized his instant response is defensive. it's, and i hate using this phrase, a case of him being unable to check his privilege.

I think he genuinely feels bad when he upsets a lot of people, not that that excuses anything he does. I mean, I dislike both absolutes and hyperbole so statements like "people wearing the dickwolves shirts are rapists" or "rape jokes are never funny" annoy me. Like most things language is complicated and nuanced and the issue with both the dickwolves and "cis scandal" was less that he said something offensive and more than he said something offensive and then proceeded to double down after instead of back off. (or, back off and then bring it up again without thought that bringing it up would upset people).

Also i kind of never really liked penny arcade the webcomic. Maybe I'm just taking cathartic enjoyment out of gabe being taken down a peg
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby korvys » 06 Sep 2013, 16:56

I don't see it the same way. Or at least, that may be true, but I don't think it makes the word "cis" any less useful. Discussions of the non-binary nature of gender, gender expression and sexuality reached a place there there was a need for a word that wasn't needed before.

If it were me, and the only time I had ever heard the word "cis" was in a negative context within the circles I travelled, and yet was assured that people use it in a respectful way by someone (like Duckay), I might reconsider the company I keep, or the discussions I choose to be a part of.

In any case: I am a cis-hetro male. There. Now you have evidence of use outside of your categories.

Also, I didn't realise there was a mute in this forum. I can see why that might be useful.
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby Cybren » 06 Sep 2013, 16:58

a problem with the cis thing was that he was legitimately being bombarded with assholes that see all issues in black and white and were more interested in calling him a fucker than educating him on non-binary gender identity.

then again i also don't think it's fair to criticize a female masturbation game for assuming all women have vaginas. Like, there's really not that many transwomen that the market is going to get confused, and "vagina-haver" seems more otherizing and misogynistic than most actual pejoratives for women
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Re: Penny Arcade and 'The Mike Problem'

Postby korvys » 06 Sep 2013, 17:09

Yeah, I'm perfectly ok with him making that assumption. It's not unreasonable if you aren't familiar with the topic to assume that the medical and colloquial definitions are the same.

The issue seems to be the sort of one-way communication that we see. He gets 990 people telling him "Hey, that's not quite right" and 10 people call him Hitler, and then he responds with anger at the 10, but he does it from a platform where everyone sees it the same. And now you have 990 people thinking he's an arsehole, who then tell everyone. And it blows up.
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