PAX Australia panel spurs international controversy

Leigh Harris
PAX Australia panel spurs international controversy

A panel for the upcoming PAX Australia was rightfully poorly received, and this morning only saw the outcry escalate further.

The panel in question was entitled 'Why So Serious? Has the Industry Forgotten that Games are Supposed to be Fun?'

The text for the panel was quickly changed after people took issue with its content.

The original text read:

Why does the game industry garner such scrutiny from outside sources and within?  Every point aberration gets called into question, reviewers are constantly criticised and developers and publishers professionally and personally attacked.  Any titillation gets called out as sexist or misogynistic and involve any antagonist race other than Anglo-Saxons and you’re a racist.

It’s gone too far and when will it all end?  How can we get off the soapbox and work together to bring a new constructive age into fruition?

The implication is that those people highlighting issues which perpetuate a problematic and alienating culture somehow cause a degree of harm to the games industry which outweighs the issues themselves - an argument which, considering this, this and this is facile at best.

By saying 'It's gone too far', it suggests that the people most oppressed are those being asked to have empathy rather than those actually experiencing serious prejudice, be it online, at events or in the workplace.

I doubt the author had any of this in mind when writing the description, of course, but it's that thoughtlessness which is the problem in the first place.

The matter was only further highlighted when Mike Krahulik from Penny Arcade, after noting that the community submitted the panels, issued an offhandedly transphobic statement via Twitter and bemoaning peoples' use of the word 'cis'.

There has been significant commentary around the internet since the story blew up, with some barking about peoples' rights to be offensive, while others defended PAX as a progressive show, arguing that its policies do not represent the inflammatory comments of Krahulik.

Regardless, it's an unwelcome blow to the inaugural international PAX event's perception in the weeks leading up to the show.

Krahulik has, however, just posted a further tweet linking to an email exchange between himself and a friend who was hurt by the comments, and has admitted fault and offense in this situation and confessing that it might be time to grow up - a positive sign indeed.

The amended panel description on the PAX Australia web site reads:

Does the games industry garner too much scrutiny from outside sources and within?  With review score aberrations often called into question, writers are constantly criticised and developers and publishers professionally and personally attacked.  Has it all gone too far?  Can we just get along and we work together to bring a new constructive gaming age into fruition?

MCV understands that most of the journalists involved in the panel weren't privy to the text prior to it being submitted to PAX, and weren't briefed on the content beyond the initial question of games and their reviews being taken too seriously.

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Tags: panel , controversy , politics , PAX Australia

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