Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Principles vs the Need for Entertainment

The other day there was a small discussion over on Google+ concerning Orson Scott Card, his homophobia, and the question of whether or not one should still buy the books even if one has a great distaste for the author. This extends to other products, including games as well. Me, I might seem torn on the issue. I have bought books by OSC since I know his views on homosexuality but on the other hand I’ll refuse to buy Apple products because I don’t like the company.

In the case of the books I argued that whether or not OSC is a bigot doesn’t have any influence on the quality of the books (except for the ones in which he lets his views show. Luckily, those are far and in between.) I still believe that to be true, but one could of course argue that I’m supporting his bigotry by buying his books. I find that connection to be rather thin though, whether or not people buy his books will have no influence on him being a bigot.

In the case of Apple, the connection is much more direct. By buying their products I’m showing them that their marketing strategies are working and fine and directly telling them to continue their business practices.  That is something I’m not willing to do, hence no Apple products. (Well, kinda. I do use an Apple Keyboard at work and I’m still not 100% convinced I won’t cave in and get an iPad.)

What does this mean for games though? It is rather obvious that we will buy future games made by companies who made good games in the past. That’s why I’ll pretty much blindly buy each and every Bioware game released. This is directly related to product quality though and not really the issue I’m trying to address.

Ubisoft might be a better example. I detest their DRM policy and therefore don’t buy their games. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything though, since I don’t lose anything by disregarding Ubisoft games – they don’t interest me anyway. Maybe Stardock works here? I used to buy Stardock games not because I believed in their power to make really good games, but rather because I like the company.

Talking about Stardock, Impulse has been bought by Gamestop (indicating dark days ahead for digital distribution.) I don’t like Gamestop, should I therefore refuse to buy games on Impulse from now on? What if their deal is better than what I would get elsewhere?

What about you, do you boycott companies that do something wrong (in your eyes)? And does their misbehavior have to be directly connected to the product or service you are trying to buy? Are you still buying books by OSC? At which point does your entertainment need outweigh the evil of the entertainer?

  • I don’t buy from Gamestop, but only because they don’t sell PC Games anymore. Though, even on the rare occasion they do sell them, I prefer to order it online. I still like getting the box copy, which is why I have it delivered, but there is just something about Gamestop that I don’t enjoy.

    I recall a similar argument from one of my roommates. He is a music major, and there was an old German composer who had a significant impact on…I want to say Classical music, but there was a specific time period that it’s called and he might yell at me if I call it Classical. Anyway, he was an anti-Semite. And there was a constant debate on whether his music should be taught because of his personal views. Still goes on today.

    It’s a rough issue.

  • What we need is a way to quantify moral outrage. Then we could add the value of the product, minus the outrage we feel, and from that decide whether to buy.

    @Straw Fellow: Were you referring to Wagner? Possibly not, but if you were, as I’ve learned it he wasn’t an anti-Semite, but his Nazi sister twisted everything around.
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  • The problem with holding authors/etc accountable for their beliefs/behaviors is how ridiculous the argument gets. It is not that OSC is homophobic, it is because you know he is homophobic. If you did not know, you presumably would not have any problem whatsoever with his books. Which merely highlights the fact that unless you rigorously screen every author/designer/CEO before buying any products, you are not holding them to similar standards simply out of laziness/willful ignorance. Righteous indignation cannot be half-assed without being hypocritical.

    Remember that Mel Gibson antisemitic rant? Doesn’t change a thing about Braveheart (etc). I might have less respect for Mel Gibson as a person, but his work stands on its own merits.

  • @Azuriel: Hmm, you’re right of course that it is hardly fair to condemn OSC while not caring to “check” whether other authors are equally problematic. Then again, I’m not going to pick up smoking simply because I’m not sure whether there are other things I do which prove a similar danger to my health. The potential existence of equally bad alternatives doesn’t turn the bad choice into a good one.

    But yeah, I’m pretty much in the same boat as you. I’m trying to distinguish between the person and their work. (Even though I’m sure that there is a certain level at which I can no longer do so.)
    scrusi´s last blog post ..Principles vs the Need for Entertainment

  • Maybe “Moral Outrage Offsets” like Carbon Offsets? Maybe Al Gore could cook something up.
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