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Gamasutra's Best Of 2009: Top 5 Controversies
Gamasutra's Best Of 2009: Top 5 Controversies
December 8, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander

December 8, 2009 | By Leigh Alexander
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    79 comments
More: Console/PC



[Continuing Gamasutra's 2009 retrospective, Leigh Alexander looks back on the year's biggest controversies, rounding up the news stories and scandals that generated the most buzz. Previously: Top 5 PC Games.]

Generally, video games are fun, touching or sad; the video games business is just business. But there are always more complex news stories that surface from among the daily reports of publisher revenues and franchise sequels -- with such a passionate community of players and creators in the industry, controversies always get a major share of buzz.

Now, let's look back on 2009 to reflect on some of biggest controversies; here are the news stories and sagas that got us really talking and thinking this year.

5. Brutal Legend's Love Triangle

Gamers were saddened when Brutal Legend, the joyous heavy metal opus from fan-favorite designer Tim Schafer, was unceremoniously dropped from Vivendi's publishing slate in its merger with Activision -- it was a creative risk that lacked franchise potential, according to the company.

So when the game found a new publisher in Electronic Arts, everyone cheered it as the de facto avatar of the creative and quirky, creating a narrative that pitted Brutal Legend against the ills of big corporate. And that plot only thickened when Activision sued, ostensibly to hamper the game's release by claiming it still had the rights.

Ultimately, of course, after a countersuit by Schafer's Double Fine and a settlement in court, EA launched the title.

But almost as fun as the success story was the visible show of ill will, albeit good-humored, between the rivals -- EA's comment that Activision was behaving "like a husband abandoning his family and then suing after his wife meets a better looking guy" was nearly as delightful as Schafer's own timely reference to pop star Beyonce's homage to single women: "Hey, if Activision liked it, then they should have put a ring on it."

4. Richard Garriott, Fraud Victim?

Famed Ultima Online forbear Richard Garriott returned from his much-publicized trip to space to find his latest project, NCsoft's Tabula Rasa, had become little more than a heavy drag on the publisher's finances, and declared he would leave NCsoft to pursue other interests inspired by his stint as an astronaut. That was last year.

Early in 2009, Tabula Rasa shut its doors with a bang, and that's when the surprise came: Garriott's claim that his was no peaceful resignation, but a force-out grossly misrepresented by NCsoft. Garriott now claims he'd objected to his dismissal but was forced to leave -- and that the company re-categorized his termination as "voluntary" so as to impact his stock options.

He claims he was forced to choose between exercising his options in "one of the worst equity markets in modern history," or take the risk that the company would refuse to honor them later. Garriott now claims he's lost "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in costs and taxes, and has sacrificed "millions of dollars in value" having lost two-and-a-half years of his options period.

3. The Complex Orson Scott Card Issue

Swaths of gamers couldn't wait for Epic and Chair Entertainment's Shadow Complex, a refreshing return to the exploration-driven "Metroidvania" style of gameplay many remembered fondly from a simpler time. That was until some began to take a closer look at the personal philosophies of author Orson Scott Card, friend to Chair lead Donald Mustard and writer of the fiction from which Shadow Complex was derived.

The problem? Card is vocally against gay marriage, and is in fact an active political opponent to it as founder of the National Organization for Marriage, a group formed to address "the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures."

Those who believe that same-sex couples should have an equal entitlement to marry as heterosexual couples balked at the idea of allowing such an active opponent to profit even in small share from their purchase of Shadow Complex; game fans on the popular NeoGAF forum discussed and debated the issue, and Gamasutra's own Christian Nutt took a close look at the proposed boycotts.

Political beliefs and causes are highly personal. But as state governments across America begin to consider the issue, passions and polarities are increasingly prevalent in mainstream media and news. More importantly than arriving at a "right-or-wrong" answer for Shadow Complex was the fact that a wider world issue had reached gamers, generally more likely to get up in arms about far more insular issues.

It may or may not be appropriate to politicize video games, but the Shadow Complex controversy got everyone thinking about the places where our entertainment medium of choice and issues of wider relevance can overlap.


2. Who's The Ultimate DJ Hero?

Developer 7 Studios started out with the kind of story that makes small developers everywhere take heart: A rep for publisher Genius Products visited the cash-strapped studio -- still reeling from the Brash Entertainment collapse -- and stumbled upon "a labor of love" tucked away in "this audio engineer's closet of an office," and was swept away.

That little one-man experiment, or so the story goes, was a turntable controller, and from that discovery was birthed the project that would become Scratch: The Ultimate DJ, an inventive concept that sought to leverage the tide of the music game boom in the direction of DJ music with the help of legendary musician-producer Quincy Jones.

No sooner had the team announced their project, however, than things got ugly very quickly. Activision, monarch of the music genre with Guitar Hero, wanted to put out a turntable-equipped video game too. Claiming it was helping out a cash-strapped studio -- and indeed, Activision had given 7 Studios staff contract work in the past to help them stay afloat -- the publisher purchased the developer.

Genius Products and partner Numark didn't quite buy the charity act and found the timing a little too coincidental, and it wasn't long before the pair slapped Activision -- along with its former collaborators 7 Studios -- with a lawsuit, alleging conspiracy and claiming 7 Studios was making it hard for Genius to get its assets back. According to Genius, there was a plot afoot to keep Scratch from launching before Activision's own DJ Hero.

There was a restraining order, and a countersuit from 7 Studios claiming it was Genius' "unsavory business practices" that caused Scratch's delay, and the costs kept ramping up: Activision reportedly shelled out at least $350,000 in legal fees, while Genius and Numark had to put up a $2 million bond to have Scratch's source code returned.

Genius and Numark say they still haven't gotten back everything that's theirs, but plan to finish the game anyway with a new developer, Commotion Interactive, for release in the year to come. Just before the release of DJ Hero, Activision gave some 30 developers at 7 Studios their walking papers, saying it wanted to focus the studio more on music games. Unfortunately for all involved, most analysts think the music game heyday has passed; although DJ Hero generally received a strong critical reception, its sales were only modest.

1. Modern Warfare 2

Where popularity goes, scrutiny follows, so perhaps it's to be expected that the biggest game of 2009 was also the most controversial -- not just one, but three of 2009's scandals emerged from this title alone, and that's excluding the silly back-and-forth over whether to put the "Call of Duty" branding on it or not. First, there was the revelation that PC gamers would have no dedicated servers for the game's multiplayer -- and PC gamers can always be relied upon to sound their displeasure the loudest when they end up with the short end of the stick. Just one of several online petitions received 234,351 signatures.

Infinity Ward revealed details of IWnet, the matchmaking service unveiled in place of dedicated servers, but they still weren't enough to please vocal PC fans, many of whom permanently soured on the game. Then, fresh on the heels of the dedicated-server debacle came F.A.G.S, an unbelievably ill-conceived marketing video designed as a fake PSA warning against grenade spam -- but offending many for its frathouse-homophobia brand of humor.

And if that weren't enough, there was, of course, "No Russian," the game's much-buzzed sequence wherein the player must accompany his enemy in an airport terrorist attack on civilians. Certainly the implications were offensive to Russians, but the critical consensus, encapsulated here by Rock Paper Shotgun's Kieron Gillen, was that the scene -- heavy-handed and inappropriately following an adrenaline-fueled snowmobile chase -- missed the mark so badly that it was offensive to gamers.

Of course, none of it seemed to hurt the game's record-breaking, 4.7 million-unit day one launch; probably, the most likely damage was done to the blood pressure of Infinity Ward community manager Robert "FourZeroTwo" Bowling, the one who had to field all the drama (and who incidentally appeared among 2008's top controversies, too).

Other controversies this year: Gamers decry EA DICE's Battlefield Heroes price restructure, possibly indicative of just how EA plans to shift to a primarily-digital revenue model; Tim Langdell angers the development community with his vigilant ownership of the word 'Edge' in game-related trademark form; WoW goes dark in China as it battles government regulators; Steam rivals call Steamworks a 'Trojan Horse'; 3D Realms and Take-Two brawl over Duke Nukem.


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Comments


Leonardo Ferreira
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The "No Russian" so-called "controversy" is so cynical that it angers me profoundly; this sequence must have gone throught contless focus groups, in orders to measure the right amount of "controversy" it could generate.



Apparently, instead of creating a meaningful discussion, the guys at Infinity Ward just put together a flashy and misguided marketing act that is just going to do more harm than good to the industry as a whole.



Is just like Britney Spears taking her clothes off in some music video; calculated by PR guys and executives to shock impressionable soccer moms and the like.We can't just make everything a formula.

Mark Kilborn
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Figured Tim Langdell would be on the list.

Buck Hammerstein
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Great article Leigh Alexander, nice to have new details of some of the controversies from this year. As with most issues in this industry, it all comes down to the business of making money but it was interesting to address topics involving political and morality issues as well.



Personally, I am a fan of Tim Schafer and have played all his previous games. But I found Brutal Legend's design had stepped from child-like wonder to somewhat childish with its take on metal lore. The difficulties this title battled did not help to make this game appealing to me, in fact it made me wonder why it was having publisher problems.



I wonder what controversy will be created for Modern Warfare 2's first round of DLC maps? Perhaps one will have us play Domination in a school yard full of disabled children or Hardcore Team Deathmatch in the middle of a GLAAD parade or maybe something subtle like Search & Destroy among tumbling racks of vodka within a Russian warehouse? Gotta keep the 'net fire aburning.

Jeffrey Fleming
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Just to weigh in on the whole "No Russian" issue: I'm old enough to remember the Black September attack on airline passengers in Athens and the subsequent news images that showed rivers of blood splashed across the airport tile left me deeply frightened. The idea of reenacting such a scene as part of a game seems pretty repugnant.

David Delanty
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The 'Duke Nukem: Forever never actually existed and is the biggest Ponzi Scheme in video gaming history' controversy would have easily made top spot in this list...if everybody hadn't already deduced that years ago.



I'm going down this list, and I don't know what irritates me more. The fact contemporary business strategy seems dependent upon suing everyone, or the realization I should have gone to law school to make gargantuan bank off of this bickering.

Michel McBride-Charpentier
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Tim Langdell should have been number one.

Adam Bishop
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That someone railing against the inclusion of the Shadow Complex/Orson Scott Card thing would assume the author of the article to be a male is pretty humorous (hint: Leigh isn't a man).



Anyway, whether or not anyone happens to agree or disagree with the controversy, it certainly was one, as the massive comment threads in numerous articles here and elsewhere would attest to.

brandon sheffield
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Yeah, I definitely pick the guy who says "the default pronoun is male" and implies that believing in traditional marriage necessitates not supporting any other as the "more experienced and open-minded" one.

Chris Remo
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Jeffrey,



A controversy was generated. Whether you find the reasons hilarious or not doesn't change the fact that the subject created a huge amount of commotion within the industry's sphere.

Kevin Jones
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"Card is vocally against gay marriage, "



It's not just Card who is against gay marriage.

Every single state that has had a referendum on gay marriage has voted AGAINST gay marriage. Even liberal states like Oregon and California have voted against gay marriage.

The American people simply do NOT want gay marriage. Period!



"Those who believe that same-sex couples should have an equal entitlement to marry as heterosexual couples balked at the idea of allowing such an active opponent to profit even in small share from their purchase of Shadow Complex"



It's not up to the gay marriage mafia to dictate to me what games I should and shouldn't buy. I reject that idea out of hand.

And how did that "boycott" of Shadow Complex thing go then?

The game went on to become one of the highest selling XBOX Live games ever, because it's a great game.

The "boycott" of Shadow Complex was a MONUMENTAL FAILURE and rightfully so!

Thank heavens common sense and sanity prevailed.

Bob Stevens
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All of these were pretty significant (or at least received significant coverage) except for Richard Garriot's. The Tim Langdell controversy is much bigger than that... or should be. But aside from a blog or two it hasn't gotten much coverage on Gamasutra anyway.

brandon sheffield
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Awesome, this is the homophobia thread now. I don't eat meat, can we talk about that too? As part of the vegetarian mafia I demand that all people only eat vegetables forever. Also I want a pony to ride. Why must people eat ponies when they could ride them? I'm sure Kevin will agree with me here.

Chris Remo
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Kevin,



The purpose of this article isn't actually to jump-start the controversies in question, it's to reflect on them after the passage of time. Nobody is telling you what to buy. This article is saying there was a controversy. It is not taking a political stance on it. Please don't confuse the two.

Kevin Jones
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@ brandon sheffield



"this is the homophobia thread now"





Nice try.

Being against gay marrige (which every single state has voted aginst) so far), is NOT equal to "homophobia"





"As part of the vegetarian mafia I demand that all people only eat vegetables forever."



Straw man's argument if ever I heard one.

That's like comparing there being laws against child abuse, to someone being a vegetarian.

Your analody makes about as much sense as saying murder should be legalized just because some people don't eat meat.

Way to go with that nonsensical analogy.





"Also I want a pony to ride. Why must people eat ponies when they could ride them"



Go to paragrapgh 5 above.

brandon sheffield
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"Way to go with that nonsensical analogy."



Ah, you finally picked up on that! My nonsense meets your nonsense for a tea party. We can make ridiculous claims til the cows come home!

nathan vella
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Kevin Jones is now my favorite Gamasutra poster. He's frigging hilarious.

Kevin Jones
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@ brandon sheffield





:" My nonsense meets your nonsense for a tea party"



# 1. While my post makes good sense, your analogy makes about as much sense as a plank of wood.

# 2. Americans have continued to overwhelmingly VOTE against gay marriage in every single state that the gay marriage vote has come up.



Most Americans DO NOT agree with your nonsense.

You will need to learn to accept the democratically arrived at decisions of the American people, Mr Loony Left Daily Kos Kid.

Adam Flutie
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Interesting. Lots of Activision stupidity in these top 5, for better or worse.

brandon sheffield
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I am not too sure how much sense ploanks of wood make, I'm not even sure what one is! you're getting pretty existential on me here, guy!



Hey P.S. did you know that if you don't want black people and white people to marry, you're not racist you're just concerned for their kids! True story.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/15/interracial-couple-denie
d_n_322784.html



Still waiting on that pony gol-dang-it.

Kevin Jones
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@ Christian Keichel,



You again huh?

Still smarting from the beating you took on the other thread I see.

Now what has MW2 sales versus NSMB(Wii) sales in the other thread, got to do with gay marriage proponents pushing the boycott of Shadow Complex?

If you want a fight over MW2 sales versus NSMN(Wii) sales, i'll take you on in that thread any day.

Kevin Jones
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@ brandon sheffield





:"I am not too sure how much sense ploanks of wood make"



BINGO!

You are starting to get it..finally.

You DON'T make any sense.



"Hey P.S. did you know that if you don't want black people and white people to marry, you're not racist you're just concerned for their kids!"



Nice try.

What the heck has that got to do with the gay mafia pushing a boycott of Shadow Complex , and failing miserably?

Blacks and whites get married all over the world every day, not just in America.

Gay mariage on the other hand, is banned in every single country in Asia, Africa, South America and most of Europe. It's not just the so-called "right wing" in America that is against it. Most of the population of the world is against it. Go figure.

Tom Newman
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The nail has been hit on the head already with this one. Orson Scott Card I'd rank at #1, because in addition to his wack-o views on gay marraige, he is also one of those "end times" Christians who believes the temple in Jerusalem needs to be re-built at the expense of one of the Muslim's most holiest sites, and that Jesus will come back, and all the Jews will convert or perish in hell. He is very vocal about these beliefs. It's kind of like borrowing from Glenn Beck's books without realizing that he is a right wing zelot.



Brutal Legend and the necessity for a DJ hero would tie for second in my book.

Buck Hammerstein
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Uhhhhh, I'm not an american but even I know that there are states where same-sex marriage is legal (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont with New Hampshire beginning on January 1, 2010).



Is this information not available to the Kevins or does it deflate his argument?



I believe, as a heterosexual Canadian, that it is unfair for the majority to ban marriage to the gay minority population in today's modern climate. Many European and Scandinavian nations have long had the progressive view that this does not "hurt" the values of marriage by state or religious organizations.



Whether this is everyone's view or just my own delusional, non-ultra-rightwing, unhomophobic, deepseeded-gay-fear/desire opinion... it does make for "controversy" and stirs the pot more than lawyers and Activision-douchiness topics could every hope for.

Kevin Jones
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@ Christian Keichel





"Can you tell me exactly, when "the gay marriage mafia" tried to dictate you what games you should play?"



The gay mafia, as I call them, tried to get everyone else(not just gay people) to boycott Shadow Complex, no?

Why?

Because one of the guys that made Shadow Complex is against gay marriage ( just like most of the population is against against gay marriage.)



"Where in this whole process can we find you? "



One of the XBOX Live users, who the gay mafia tried to get to boycott Shadow Complex. Of course that only made me buy the game even quicker, not to mention its one of the best games on Live ever.

Is that clear enough for you?

brandon sheffield
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Buck you ruined everything by using proper logic and proving him wrong the real way, it's less fun now :(



Kevin was busy busting up my expose on wood ploanks, the meaning of which he totally knows and was about to enlighten us with! I figure it's like a donk, but for polish folk? And then made of wood.



Man I should join the gay mafia, I bet they have awesome suits.

Kevin Jones
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@ Buck Hammerstein





"I'm not an american but even I know that there are states where same-sex marriage is legal (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont with New Hampshire beginning on January 1, 2010)."



You might want to check your facts buddy.

New Hampshire voted AGAINST same sex marriage just last month.

Not a single state has so far voted for gay marriage.

You have the internet. Do some research will you?



"I believe, as a heterosexual Canadian, that it is unfair for the majority to ban marriage to the gay minority population in today's modern climate"



Everyone is entitled to their opinion.

What you are not entitled to, is to demand that people boycott a very good game ( Shadow Complex), just because one of the guys that produced the game is against gay marriage.

Chris Remo
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Kevin,



Are you sure people are not entitled to attempt boycotts? I believe they are as entitled to that as you are entitled to ignore them. I'd also be curious to see your supporting evidence for any kind of coordinated attempted boycott. As far as I can recall, mainly what happened was individual people choosing how to spend their money. In fact, I remember a lot of those people explicitly noting that they were not calling for an indiscriminate boycott, merely exercising their own rights and giving their reasons.

brandon sheffield
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nobody demanded a boycott. it was more of a MANcott.



(but seriously nobody demanded it)



I'm out for a bit, so you're gonna have to argue with yourself for a while, sorry :( but you can come up with some pretty good stuff on your own I bet.

Kyle McGee
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Kevin,



What your saying is not based in the world we live in. Civil rights issues should NEVER be put to a vote. If you put slavery to a vote today it would pass depending on how you worded it. Just because ignorant and misinformed people were given the chance to deny other people civil rights doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.



Gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for nearly a decade. Guess what? Nobody flocked in droves to change the gender of their partners. It's legal in six states including Iowa. This isn't 1950 anymore. When the states that voted to make these people second class citizens have their votes challenged up to the Supreme Court, the court will have to decide.



Gay marriage is not banned in most of Europe. You are misinforming people to justify your ideology and it's wrong.



As for the "No Russian" chapter, that one didn't really fit into the game IMO. I also found it was kind of disturbing to play that part. Seldom in a shooter game do I feel like I'm doing something unethical but that airport scene was different.

Kevin Jones
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@ Chris Remo



"Are you sure people are not entitled to attempt boycotts?"



It's a free country.

You can attempt boycotts anytime you want.

But then is anyone even going to listen to you?

As the great sales of Show Complex peoved, this "boycott" was a total failure.

I looked upon it as sheer arrogance on the part of the gay mafia, and an attempt at stiffling free speech of Orson Scott.

Given the great sales of Shadow Compples, XBOX Live users didn't think much of the boycott either.

All they cared about is: was the game really great? And the answer was YES!



Anyone can support gay marriage.

Equally, anyone can be against gay marriage.

You shouldn't be trying to starve some guy's familly, just becausde he doesn't support gay marriage.

That's insane.



This is how I see it.

If a game is really great, no amount of boycotts is going to work.

If the game sucks, people won't buy it, boycott or no boycott.

That's the way it should be.

Chris Remo
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Kevin,



You didn't address the underlying point I was making in my post, which is that hardly anybody was actually trying to instigate a true boycott. As I said, even many of the people who said they weren't buying the game explicitly noted that they were not demanding others do the same. Furthermore, it doesn't matter in the context of this article. Yes, you're right; there wasn't any real boycott. You've said so many times, and you are correct. However, nobody has said otherwise.



Also, what does "gay mafia" mean? I'm not feigning ignorance. I've heard the phrase, but I don't know what you are actually implying with it in this case. Are you referring to the single poster on NeoGAF who proposed the idea of a boycott? Does some random individual on the internet qualify as a mafia-like organization?



I would request that everyone in this thread attempt to refrain from that kind of inflammation. We really don't have any need for a gay marriage argument here, regardless of stance. It isn't the place for it.

Buck Hammerstein
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@Guy Under Attack By All



Used the 'net for the other states but I have a friend who was married in Massachusetts to his longtime companion. Most everyone there was american and they were really happy for the couple. None of them mentioned boycotting some XBL game or asked if I would sign a petition to ban a player who used the word "gay" in their gamertag.



Why so angry? Does same-sex marriage threaten the very fabric of your existence? Are people not allowed to start a boycott, successful or not, to make a statement?



Your comments seem erratic and the number of people here who are citing previous hilarious threads from your keyboard make me want to check out your history on Gamesutra... you know check my facts, do some research on the 'net. I'm guessing it will be good times and lots o laughs.

Kevin Jones
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@ Kyle McGee





" Civil rights issues should NEVER be put to a vote"



Gay marriage is not a cvil rights.

Everything is ultimately put to a vote.

The Civil Rights Act in 1964 passed under Lydon Johnson because enough US Senators had been voted into power to muster a majority to pass that legsilation, after John Kennedy had tried and failed to get the bill passed.

Adam Bishop
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Presumably if organising a boycott renders one a "mafia", then Ghandi was running the "Indian mafia". And if trying to convince people to change their opinion on political issues renders one a "mafia", then man, Martin Luther King Jr. was totally running the "black mafia". There are a lot of mafias out there. It's a scary world.

Kevin Jones
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@ Chris Remo





"You didn't address the underlying point I was making in my post, which is that hardly anybody was actually trying to instigate a true boycott"



Oh yes there was.

There were great big internet campaigns started to boycott Showdow Complex.

At NEOGAF, there was this huge thread started by the gay mafia, before Shadow Complex was even launched, that actively pushed the boycott.

You can't pretend there was no concentrated, well organized attempt to crush Shadow Complex sales by the gay mafia, just because the boycott FAILED miserably.



The point I am making is, such boycotts will always fail if the game is really geat like how Show Complex was insanely great.

You are just not going to get gamers to stop playing some really great game, just because you don't like the opinions of one of the guys that made the game.

Chris Remo
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Kevin,



Again, who is the gay mafia? An individual person started a thread. Because the issue was contentious, many people replied, creating a huge thread. I am asking what you mean by "mafia," and asking for evidence supporting your claims about the involvement of whatever this mafia is. If your only support is a NeoGAF thread, which only requires an individual person to create, I simply can't take your accusations seriously.



And yes, you're right, except presumably in very extreme cases, people aren't going to not buy a good game because somebody else doesn't like a developer's opinion. That is demonstrably true. I'm not saying otherwise, so you don't need to keep trying to convince me. I still don't see anyone disagreeing with that. I'm taking issue with other things you are saying.

Kevin Jones
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@ Buck Hammerstein





"Why so angry?"



Why on earth would I be angry?

The boycott failed didn't it?

The game had wonderful sales.

I am happy.



" Does same-sex marriage threaten the very fabric of your existence?"



Nope.

But why the heck should the gay mafia try and starve some guy's family, just because he has different opinions than they do?

And why on earth are these people trying to CRUSH free speech in America?



" Are people not allowed to start a boycott, successful or not, to make a statement? "



Oh feel free to launch any "boycott" campaign you want.

Just don't cry when your boycott fails miserably, and the game sells gangbusters.

Adam Flutie
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I guess it was a pretty big controversy after all... This whole set of comments is nothing but the whole wasted controversy again. If only it had something, anything, to do with the game other than a failed 'boycott it' internet memo, then I would think it actually belongs on the list.

Chris Remo
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Adam,



That's basically it. It was clearly a controversial episode; the fact that even mentioning it causes such a flare-up is indicative of that. If it wasn't actually a controversial issue, people wouldn't be driven to keep replying about it, on both sides.



I find it unfortunate though that we have ended up actually reprising the controversy itself in this thread. I suppose that kind of thing is somewhat inevitable with this kind of article.

Mathieu Rouleau
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Kevin is right, majority is always the true indicator of whether something is right or wrong, Chinese is obviously the one true language and English is wrong.



Oh and the Wii is the best home console too, just to keep this game related y'know?

Buck Hammerstein
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@Kevin



Look, this appears to all who are here that this is an important issue for you. Though I have never heard of the Gay Mafia (perhaps I would know more if I play Ballad of Gay Tony) I would not put it in the same category as the end of slavery hurting plantation farmers and their families.



I only want to say to all who argue against same-sex marriage to consider this: Imagine your spouse in the hospital and they won't let you see them because your "just a friend" and not family, that the insurance company won't pay the life insurance because your "just a friend", that you don't receive spousal support from the retirement plan because your "just a friend". It's not only about love and commitment but about the legal ramifications of not having a civil union bound by law.



Also, isn't America the country with the highest divorce rate per capita on the planet? Kevin, you are so right, the internet is great for finding irony.

Kyle McGee
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@ Kevin Jones



"Gay marriage is not a cvil rights."



Poor grammar aside, this is a civil rights issue. I had to go to the City Hall before getting married. I had a right to go get married. What if the tables were turned? Nobody in the state stood in the way of my marriage because my wife is a woman but what if they had? Should a state be allowed to deny straight marriage if the people vote for that? If so, I might have been stopped at City Hall. Wouldn't that make me and my wife second class to those who are gay?



Marriage is recognized by state and local government as a legal status and should be the right of two consenting adults regardless of religion, gender, race or anything else except being of legal age.



Yeah, what exactly is the "Gay mafia"? Is that anything like the nice people who hold up protest signs saying things like "God hates fags" at the funerals of dead gay people?

Kevin Jones
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@ Buck Hammerstein





"I would not put it in the same category as the end of slavery hurting plantation farmers and their families"





Anyone who campares gay marriage to slavery is totally NUTS. That is an insult to every black man in America, inlcluding me.





"Also, isn't America the country with the highest divorce rate per capita on the planet?"



Nice attempt at bait and switch.

What dose that got to do with anything?

A 100 years ago, divorce rates in England were close to zero.

Why?

Because the laws made it very hard for a woman to survive without her husband. A woman couldn't even open a bank account or buy a house without her husband's signature on the document. So women stayed married even when they hated their husbands.

Today, Islamic countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia have very vey low divorce rates, because women don't enjoy much freedoms out there. Are you going to hold those countries up as great examples of human rights and how people should live today?

Divorce rates have everything to do with how free a country is, and how independent the women are, and how much money the woman make as compared to men.

Kevin Jones
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@ Kyle McGee





"Poor grammar aside, "



It's a typo.

I don't have time to go over what I am posting on some internet board.

This is not an English class.

Get over it.



"this is a civil rights issue"

Of course it isn't.

Marriage is a previlege.

It's not a human right.

Gay marriage is not practiced in even a SINGLE country in Africa, Asia or the Middle East and even most of Europe.

That means over 80% of the human beings on this planet, don't consider gay marriage as even previlege, let alone a right.

Here in America, the proposition to legalize gay marriage has FAILED in every single state where voters have voted on it.

It's time you listened to the will of the people for a change.

You can't go about imposing you will on the majority that don't want it.

Adam Flutie
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@Chris Remo



Sure its controversial, but really the controversy had .01% relevance to gaming or the game industry. That's all I'm saying. The only thing we learn from it is watch out who's name gets credit for the story of a game. Not much controversy there.



The game didn't mention anything about gay rights, for or against, but that is the only controversy that flares up over and over when people discuss it. Really, maybe you can rename it to the "Orson Scott Card vs Gays controversy" and just leave out all mention of Shadow complex... same result.



As for the topic. I find it interesting that just this year the whole 'Hot Coffee' controversy finally ended. 4 years in the making... Now that is a controversy (and a really slow legal system).

Kevin Jones
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@ Mathieu Rouleau





" Kevin is right, majority is always the true indicator of whether something is right or wrong, Chinese is obviously the one true language and English is wrong. "



Don't you feel silly when you come up with such obvious straw man's arguments which are so eay to take apart?

Why is Obama president?

Because the majority of the electoral college voted for him according to the will of the people.



How are laws passed in the congress(US) and in parliament(UK?

By congressmen/parliamentarians, who are in turn voted in by the majority vote of the people, make the laws.

The people vote for candidates that they think will carry out their will.

Ergo, laws are made to reflect the will of the people that put the lawmakers in congress/parliament in the first place.



It's got about as much to do with Chinese as Sanksrit.

Jacek Wesolowski
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You know, articles like this are a perfect opportunity for you to present a thoughtful opinion on how ongoing cutural and social debates influence games as a medium and an industry, so that next time when you apply for a job, and your potential employer searches the Net for your Gamasutra comments, you will appear as a responsible and mature person who knows the basics: you don't break your NDAs, you don't call your current employer names, and you don't insult / flame people, especially over politics. Why, instead of that, you chose to have the exact same kind of argument you could have on pretty much any other news website, is something of a mystery.

Kevin Jones
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@ Christian Keichel



"The divorce rate in Iran, (according to the "Heritage Foundation", a conservative think tank) is 0.69, the divorce rate in Italy is 0.6 and the divorce rate in Georgia is 0.4. Does this mean, the women in italy don't enjoy as much freedom, as the women in Iran, but more then the women in Georgia? "



I'll turn that round and ask you, the divorce rate in Saudi Arabia is close to zero, does that therefore mean that women in Saudi Arabia have more freedoms than women in Western Europe and America?

See how the game is played?

Tom Newman
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yeah... gay marraige is as much a basic civil rights issue as is Mario a key charachter in the new Super Mario Bros Wii

Bruno Dion
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Great list Leigh but I think that the Orson Scott Card thing should take the number one spot. Looks like it is still an hot topic. I also think that it's way more productive to have controversies that forces gamers to look at themselves and think about what they believe than controversies that mostly run inside the business side of gaming. Garriott loosing a ton of money mostly affects Garriott, same-sex marriage affects a lot of people through the US.



I'm happy to be Canadian. We solved the issue years ago. In my country, gays too can be unhappy.

Kevin Jones
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@ Christian Keichel





That just the point I am making.

Buck Hammerstein tried to use high divorce rates in America as a weapon to attack America with.

Way I see it, if 2 people who are married find out that they can't stand each other, it's good for the both of them if they get a divorce. You can't easily do that in lots of countries, especially the Mid East.

Too many people get married too young anyway, when they don't really know what they want in life.

You can't make a law against naivity and idiocy.

Kevin Jones
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@ Adam Coate





"Gay marriage will be legal in all American states eventually, just as marijuana use will be"



I don't see the polls that say that.

All states that have voted on it, have rejected gay marriage, even the most liberals state like California.

Marijuana?

Heck it used to be legal, as was cocaine.

Coca Cola used to have some cocaine in it in days gone by, before cocaine was made illegal.

Is Amerca going to turn round and make illegal drugs freely legal again?

I don't think so.

But we will see.



Remember some states already allow for the use of so-called "medical marijuana"(whatever that means).

I just don't think there are going to be laws, freely allowing anyone to use marijuana at will.

Jeremy Reaban
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I can't believe you missed the whole ECA thing. Get 1000s of people to sign up with a free membership and the promise of a 10% bonus off games at Amazon.com. Then kill the bonus and make it almost impossible to cancel, thus ensuring lots of people will end up renewing automatically?

Bryson Whiteman
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I had never even heard of the ECA until Jeremy's post. Some info: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/12/eca-members-re-up-thei
r-attack-describe-exploits-cry-scam.ars

Frank Stallone
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Kevin Jones, stop being a douche. Whether you like it or not, the masses are idiots and the fact that the majority of the country votes against gay marriage doesn't mean much.



I'm sure if the country left slavery up to a vote back in the 1800s, 99% of the people would be against freeing the slaves.

Kevin Jones
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@ Frank Stallone





"Kevin Jones, stop being a douche"



A Douchebag pinhead that calls himself "Stallone" is calling me names?



" Whether you like it or not, the masses are idiots and the fact that the majority of the country votes against gay marriage doesn't mean much."



That's like saying the majority of the country voting for 0bama doesn't mean much, because the masses "are idiots".

Reality: It's the only thing that means anything as far as making our laws and who governs us are concerned.

Why are you loony left liberal crazies always anti-Democratic when the vote goes against you?





"I'm sure if the country left slavery up to a vote back in the 1800s, 99% of the people would be against freeing the slaves. "



You left out one little detail there.

600,000 Americans fought and died and gave up their blood in order to abolish slavery during the civil war.

Craig Stern
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Kevin Jones, polls show that the younger generation is far more supportive of equal rights for gay people than the older ones are. It is simply a matter of time before the states no longer discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. See e.g.: http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=16224

Matt Cascio
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Another No Russian comment (simply because I'm not too savvy on the other controversies).



I went into the No Russian mission knowing it was going to be controversial. I was bracing for a big impact. And it hit big. It's is arguably one of the most powerful scenes ever depicted in a video game, for better or worse, in my opinion. I personally think it was well designed. Obviously there's no achievements/trophies coupled with it, as that would be suicide. It's not glorified in any way. For me though the biggest way in which they send their (Infinity Ward) message is that after all of it, you are not rewarded for it. You don't go on to become a hero for your actions; you're killed. Even though you're killed because you're a double agent, you're still killed. You're shown on a surface level that what you have done was not good, and that you are punished for it, in more ways than one (i.e. starting WWIII)



Though I do see the other side of things (one person here mentioned the shootings in Athens I believe?), and believe me I respect that 1000% percent, I just think that in this case I believe IW handled the matter maturely. It's a rough subject matter, but that shouldn't stopped developers from trying to tackle said topics. I think video games can be an interesting avenue for bringing these sometimes highly controversial events to the minds of gamers.

Bruno Dion
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See Matt, the problem is not with the mission itself, but rather the context of the mission. Seriously, five minutes before that mission, you are jumping canyons with a snowmobile, and five minutes after, you are shooting civilians. The tonal shift is just way too abrupt. As Kieron Gillen said: "That tonal shift isnít brutal. Itís laughable. At best, youíre comedy. At worst, youíre cheap exploitative trash. Modern Warfare leans towards the latter." If they had worked their way toward a more serious tone or if the whole game was that serious it could have been okay, but it's like Micheal Bay putting a scene from Schindler's List in the middle of Transformer. It's just tasteless.

Bob Stevens
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I've only played through the first few missions of MW2, but all of the transitions so far feel rushed. They clearly set up their missions first and then try to craft a story around them... there's nothing wrong with it, but when you're trying to jump between such hugely different settings with only 30-40s of intro between levels, it's going to feel rushed.



They could have set up No Russian much better with an intermediate mission. But I don't think missions to setup story exist in the IW style of game. It's the exact opposite... the story is to setup the missions.

Al King
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Kevin, imagine marriage were banned for all Kevin Joneses. The majority of the population is not named Kevin Jones, and as the move does not impinge on their rights they feel pretty okay about it. But the collective Kevin would probably be a bit miffed. Would you deride Kevins who are vocal about their inability to marry as a "mafia", and call their position unwarranted because other people, who happen to be in the majority, disagree with them? What right do Kevins have to complain? On what basis would they feel they ought to be allowed to marry? Marriage is a privilege after all, and society has deigned to deny them that privilege.

Believe what you will about the appropriateness of gay marriage, I have difficulty understanding your position against those who express their wish to be granted that right. Even if we were to say that gay marriage is, for whatever reason, definitively wrong - are you incapable of empathy?



"You can't make a law against naivity and idiocy."

Bully for you, eh? ;)



"600,000 Americans fought and died and gave up their blood in order to abolish slavery during the civil war. "

Well, no, 360-something thousand Americans died to abolish slavery, and 250-something thousand died to keep it. So it's looking pretty even.

brandon sheffield
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hey guys did I miss any fun uses of the word "ploank?"

Al King
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I think maybe yes, there are too many fun uses of the word "ploank" for one man.

Rushan Shekar
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I think Kevin Jones has refuted his own point. This comment thread shows that the Shadow Complex + Orson Scott Card debacle was the #1 most controversial event by far. I'm quite glad to live outside the US in a country that thinks denying two people the right to marry just because they're of the same sex is ludicrous.



I must agree with the posters saying that the ECA Anti-Consumer decision and Tim Langdell deserve a mention.

Joe McGinn
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>>Being against gay marrige (which every single state has voted aginst) so far), is NOT equal to "homophobia"<<



Yes it is. Being against gay marriage is exactly the same as being against interracial marriage. No difference whatsoever.And as someone else said, thanks for making this the homophobia thread, you homophobe.



Getting back OT, quite a poor article IMO. Poor for Gamastura, which is supposed to be about and for game developers. In which case to not mention Tim Langdell makes the article an automatic fail. If it was the Top 5 Controversies For Gamers that might be different but then it's on the wrong web site.

Tadhg Kelly
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I've met several NCSoft people who feel the exact reverse about the Garriot situation. Rumours of who exactly paid for his space trip whispering around, and whether TR was launched in an untimely fashion in order to cash out.



Not knowing the ins and outs myself I wouldn't like to publicly speculate on it but it seems safe to say that it's by no means a one-sided matter.

Joe McGinn
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>>How long has your nation been around? More than ~250 years?



Canada, ~140 years.



>>That's why gay marriage is legal there.

The reason it's legal in Canada is because we enshrined freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation as a human right in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Which was actually pretty damn forward-thinking in 1982, a time when prejudice against gays was still quite rampant world-wide.

Toby Hazes
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@Adam Flutie (Orson Scott Card controversy no relevance to gaming)



I think that's exactly why it's on the list, as stated in the article:



"More importantly than arriving at a "right-or-wrong" answer for Shadow Complex was the fact that a wider world issue had reached gamers, generally more likely to get up in arms about far more insular issues."

brandon sheffield
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Just a note to all, Tim Langdell IS mentioned, just not as one of the big 5. He's down in the honorable mentions there.

Meredith Katz
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I feel like I need to start wearing a pin-striped suit and fedora now. I don't think this is a bad thing, though. I mean, pin-striped suits are *awesome*.

Russell Carroll
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I'm surprised the Super Guide didn't get mentioned. It generated a lot of press and feedback.

Yannick Boucher
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Dammit, I arrived too late !! I missed all the good stuff with Mr. Jones, there! Argh. Is there a "Best of 2009: Top 5 Douches" feature coming up ?

Kyle McGee
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@ Kevin Jones



"600,000 Americans fought and died and gave up their blood in order to abolish slavery during the civil war."



Countless gay teens and adults have committed suicide because of people like you trying to deny them a life of happiness and joy with someone they love. How about how many gay people have been assaulted, maimed or killed for simply being who they are?



Let me ask this of you: Would it be okay if we put it to a vote and America decided Jews shouldn't be allowed to marry? How would that be any different than what you're advocating? Do you see the lunacy of simply going by any vote you want to throw out there? Sure we stand by who we elect as leaders, but on issues of equality you can't just trust the public to decide who loves, who doesn't, who marries, who doesn't, who lives and who dies.



What part of "all men are created equal" don't you understand?



Yes, when you're throwing around misinformation and promoting legalized discrimination against a single group of Americans I am going to hold you accountable for using proper spelling and grammar. Get over it.

Joe McGinn
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>> Is there a "Best of 2009: Top 5 Douches" feature coming up ?



Yeah right here:

Tim Langdell

Tim Langdell

Tim Langdell

Tim Langdell

Kevin Jones

Yannick Boucher
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Sounds about right.

Kyle McGee
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LOL! Too funny, and true.

Mark Venturelli
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@Joe McGinn just nailed it. Now let's please stop feeding this retarded reactionary troll.

Joe Siqian
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Hi, I'm fairly new here and this is my first post.



I felt I just had to throw in my opinion here. The "No russian" mission made a huge impact on me, especially since I had no idea it was coming. I don't really keep up to date on video games(ironic since I'm posting on here) because I am completely absorbed in playing Go(thus not spending all my times on video games anymore). My personal reaction was just stunned silence. I'm not sure about the whole pacing of the game, but when I went into the level, I had pre imagined a completely different level and was slightly confused when the level started. Then the shooting happened. Wow. I can't believe this is happening.

I do feel this was on purpose but I don't think it was meant to be a "let's see how much controversy we can buzz up to build sales" move.



Personally, it's sheer terror and confusion sets the stage for what becomes a world gripped by war. I haven't played all of the remaining missions but I hope they keep that terror and confusion going because isn't that what war really is? Terrible, terrifying, and bewildering.



As far as gay marriage is concerned. If two people of the same sex want to get married, let them. Just my opinion.

David Tarris
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Once again the credibility of the Gamasutra community is brought down by an endless stream of puerile debating.



I am curious, however, if I understood Leigh correctly when she stated that:



"Those who believe that same-sex couples should have an equal entitlement to marry as heterosexual couples balked at the idea of allowing such an active opponent to profit even in small share from their purchase of Shadow Complex..."



So was this about boycotting the game, or not wanting Card to receive royalties from sales of the game?



To me, it seems simple enough that people who wish to boycott something have a right to, for whatever reason, in an economically free nation such as America. However, suggesting that these activists should be able to have their cake and eat it too, and enjoy the game, but also restrict Card's own economic rights to profit from his own IP, is ridiculous.



As the childish comments above illustrate, it's one thing to disagree with someone, and accept that people can discuss and hold different opinions, but it's something else entirely to say that someone's views constitute hatred and antagonizing from those whose opinions differ.


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