GDC 2015; Tim Schafer Stunt Fell Totally Flat

And it’s got nothing to do with the context of the joke either. I’ll keep this short and brief because I want to go to bed soon.

Tim Schafer’s now-Viral “GamerGate Gaffe” at GDC 2015 was offensive.

Of course, you can be offended by it in many ways; he reckons anyone who used the #NotYourShield hashtag was little more than a sock-puppet (we’ll get to that in a moment), basically disregarding the opinions of hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals in minority groups using the hashtag for a variety of reasons including but in some cases not limited to the #GamerGate movement. Yeah, he’s an over-privileged, extremely wealthy straight white cis-male whose only hurdle so far in life was when Bobby Kotick dumped him from Activision for failing to meet development targets repeatedly, an accusation we dismissed at first but now I personally feel like I want to apologise for calling Mr. Kotick a c— back then, and that just makes me feel dirty for a number of reasons. Seriously, the moment you’re contemplating an apology to a man who looks like he is the servant of some kind of Hell-Dimension Overlord with a smile that screams Candy Van Mass Murderer is the moment something has gone seriously wrong.

These are good reasons to hate on the guy; but they’re not career suicide. I’ve seen bigger twats do more; Kotick, for example, and John Riccitiello, and Yves Guillemot and christ I don’t have time to list more. No, to really cement the coup-de-grace, Tim had to do something really special. And it was the sock-puppet.

The actual sock-puppet, that is.

As an unwritten rule, you don’t use a sock-puppet unless you’re being purposely ironic about it (which he wasn’t, he was literally suggesting #NotYourShield was about sock puppets), or you’re a parent or a presenter for kids television aimed at kids below the age of six or seven. There’s a very good reason for this; use of the ‘sock puppet’ is seen as insulting to the intelligence. You are suggesting, in using the sock puppet, that the people witnessing the joke or statement being delivered have the intellectual or reasoning capacity of a child.

Tim Schafer did this live. On TV and Twitch. Broadcast to everyone who was watching that GDC Award Presentation. Your market. Your consumers. Your audience. That was particularly stupid.

But even more amazingly, Tim Schafer did this in front of tons of gaming journalists and in front of some of the biggest names the industry has to offer.

THAT is where he committed the career seppeku that so many speak of; being offensive is easy. No really, it is. Offending the easily offended is a job only reserved for those who have an inability to do anything more productive with their time, and when gamers feel the need to add fuel to the fire of some people who would be quite capable of self-destruction on their own terms I wonder if they shouldn’t just go and play games and let some of these people just burn up on their own time.

But to pull off that sock-puppet stunt in front of an audience of respected games industry people and the games press; that was the moment the Career Grim Reaper came on, hauled away what remained of his damaged reputation and left him in front of an audibly-stunned audience utterly bewildered in the knowledge he’d gone that far. Seriously, Tim Schafer could NEVER AGAIN work in the games industry, he’s not just torched that bridge – he’s napalmed it, cackling and throwing the middle-finger whilst doing it.

And if YOU, as a GAMER, are offended by what he did, here’s how you can ram that final nail in the coffin; don’t buy his games. Don’t buy any Double Fine game ever again.

It’s that simple – because to now, if Tim failed in the Indie/Crowdfunding scene, he still had some reputation and respect left to bargain his way back into the AAA-Development sphere of traditional games publishing market. Last night at GDC, Tim Schafer simply threw all of that away. He’s never going to get back into that world. There are many things these privileged people will do for money, but insulting their intelligence the way Tim Schafer did will never stand.

Now he’s got nothing left. No escape route. He HAS to make his studio work, and pay its way, or frankly the studio is doomed. And by not buying their games, you will contribute to that inevitable and eventual doom. And it will happen; Grim Fandango is a niche title for a niche audience, exactly the niche audience that he so eloquently decided to take a massive dump on with his little joke. It’ll probably still sell a bit, but many will simply cancel their pre-orders. For a game due next week. Yeah, he pulled this literally the week before a games release that he needs to make money on to fulfill his KickStarter pledge and finish Broken Age (because $3.3 million wasn’t enough). It takes a special kind of privilege to pull that kind of stunt.

I’m not mad so much as disappointed; Psychonauts is one of my favourite games ever made, and I’ve been buying games from this guy since 1991 when Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge was released (and probably before that, I remember Maniac Mansion on the NES. I’m pretty sure that was a thing. It’s been a long time but I’m positive that happened!). I guess this has been the lesson of social media and t’Internet in general though; I’ve been given the opportunity to look at the man I idolised for years of my life in the kind of detail I could only have dreamt of back in 1991. And it turns out he’s a bit of a dick, actually. Untrustworthy, stupid opinions and clearly has no respect for anyone, save perhaps himself. But hey, he’s fabulously well-off, so he can afford to love himself, especially when it turns out many of us just can’t any more.

But hey, I’m just a mixed-race disabled guy on the Internet. He doesn’t respect me. Hell, his little stunt only proved he doesn’t respect ANYONE.

All that said; it’s not worth getting mad over. I’m simply staggered at the contempt he exhibited. But it’s not worth being cross over. I believe that he will be an irrelevance in the industry very soon. And it’ll be nothing to celebrate either, because he is a guy with one hell of a legacy to leave.

You just can’t do what he did though. I can understand so many being offended – hell, I probably should be offended too. But I’m just still reeling from the sheer force of WHAT he’s done, and the ramifications for him and Double Fine (who must have – as a studio – had a collective, The Naked Gun-style group facepalm).

But the only way to disagree is to cancel those pre-orders. And I know it hurts. Because I love Grim Fandango. I want(ed) it in HD. But buying it would to be endorsing what Tim Schafer did on stage. And I’m sorry… I just can’t do that Tim.

Soooooo… yeah. Dumb move Tim. And I’ll leave the #GamerGate pros and cons to people far more versed in it than I. I don’t want to get involved in that scene. And in some ways Tim… I really wish you hadn’t gotten involved either.

If anything, one might argue it’s better the industry not get involved… it’s toxic enough as it is, let’s not make the poisonous atmosphere in the industry lethal…

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