Back in August, Penny Arcade did a comic that some people found offensive. And pretty much everyone agrees that the way Penny Arcade handled someone taking offense to their work was pretty much the least-sensitive way they could have dealt with it. I don’t really want to talk about either the comic or the response. If you want to know what I think, just pretend that I, rather than Amanda, wrote this. Also, Leigh Alexander, and Ashelia have some interesting things to say on the topic. I think that’s the last I’m going to say about the controversy per se. If you’re an absolute glutton for watching train wrecks, here’s a timeline.
What interests me is this: there are at least 10 million, and perhaps as many as 27 million, people in the world for whom panel 2 is nearly-literally true*. In this entire conversation, we seem to have ignored or forgotten the slaves. No one is speaking of them, or for them. In 2011, slavery is as real as a punch in the gut. This is not a problem confined to the 3rd world.
What shocks me is the fact that I didn’t think about the slavery implications of the comic. Slavery is a fairly major hot-button of mine, both in and out of games. I don’t ever talk about “p0wning” people, and I’ve never been one to turn away from a “free the slaves” quest. Slavery is something I’ve spent a lot of time reading and thinking about in my life. Yet when it came up in this context, I allowed myself to forget about it.
That ends right now. If you’re reading this, and you both have money and give a damn about your fellow human beings, donate some money to an anti-American-slavery organization. Or perhaps to an organization that helps fight against slavery world-wide.
*I say “nearly”, because there is no such thing as a “dickwolf”.