You may have heard that Mike Krahulik (the artist behind the internet's eldest webcomic Penny Arcade and the IRL version of character Gabe) has had a year of offending people over numerous topics - recognition of transgenders, the appropriateness of rape joke merchandise, and other crummy behavior. Yesterday, he put out a blanket apology for his behavior, along with some insight into why he behaves the way he does sometimes, a promise to be better in the future, and an announcement that he plans on removing himself from PAX gradually.
And while this is a positive step in the right direction (we'll see how it actually shakes out), here are 4 more things Penny Arcade should apologize for.
1. Mike Krahulik Proposed To His Girlfriend Via Videogame Webcomic
In February of 1997, Mike Krahulik (aka Gabe) proposed to his girlfriend via webcomic. While the words are very sweet and heartfelt and it seems like they have a lovely marriage and life together 14 years later - he proposed to her with a freaking jpeg. A TINY JPEG. WITH COMIC SANS FONT. It's hard to imagine any person on this Earth's dream is to be proposed via a webcomic posting featuring your webcomic alter-ego. Shouldn't he himself (Mike) have been proposing instead of the character Gabe? Pretty much the most romantic thing you should ever do with a webcomic is....Hm. Okay. I just spent 15 minutes thinking and came up blank. Lesson of the day: don't ever try to do a romantic gesture with a webcomic.
2. Charging $500 For A Retweet
Over a year ago, the guys at Penny Arcade had a brilliant idea - use Kickstarter to fund the site for a year, instead of dealing with advertisers. And they ended up meeting their goal and then some. And sure, it's a little abusive of the entire notion of Kickstarter to use it as a platform to fund something you clearly could have funded through other means (non-intrusive advertising) pretty easily and many viewed it as sorta holding their site hostage until viewers paid them cold hard cash, but that's a gray area we won't get into (with the exception of Zach Braff's terrible Kickstarter). What was objectively horrible about the Kickstarter were some of the 'rewards' - most notoriously the $500 level got you a retweet on Twitter (pending Penny Arcade's approval).
Maybe you think that with the influence and audience these guys command (they each have about 100k followers on Twitter), a retweet could actually be worth it. You are probably not correct. Here's one of the reward tweets (it got 12 RTs total, including the 2 from Penny Arcade, meaning about $42 per RT). Here's another (5 RTs, or $100 per RT). That is a pretty shitty return on investment, especially considering some other Kickstarter rewards they coulda gotten for that kinda cash. Just look up any bigtime Kickstarter and weep at some of the great stuff you can get for $500.
3. Making Droves of People Compete For the Shittiest Job
Penny Arcade is doing just fine. They sell tons of merchandise, they run immensely successful conventions, their fans literally pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to sponsor their site for a year, etc. So it's particularly offensive they would advertise a job for a systems admin as someone who will be doing the work of four people, have a terrible work-life balance, enjoy a shitty salary (they specifically say they're not "money-motivated"), and shouldn't complain about the "potentially offensive environment" (aka Laugh and Nod When Someone Makes Jokes About Transgender People).
Really, they're using the internet honor of working for Penny Arcade as an excuse to abuse and underpay naive applicants. They can absolutely afford to hire more than one person for these four jobs, and they could definitely afford to pay them a decent wage without destroying their work-life balance, right?
Then again, they seemingly can't (or won't) fork out the money to buy the domain "www.pennyarcade.com", so maybe they should really crank up the goal for the next Kickstarter.
4. This Fruit Fucker Figurine Broke, Like, Immediately
I don't know the Penny Arcade guys personally (or impersonally. Really, I don't know them on any conceivable level). But they sent us a Fruit Fucker figurine, which is pretty cool! Actually, they sent it to someone else I worked with and that person gave it to me, but I'm still counting it. However, I must have fallen off my Penny Arcade Merchandise News, because I thought this thing was some kinda legit juicer. It was just a figurine, which was fine (hugely disappointing, but fine), except the thing broke pretty much right away. Actually, this is probably more on the manufacturer than the Penny Arcade guys. And I guess TECHNICALLY I got it for free, so I shouldn't complain.
But someone out there probably paid for this. And if you literally spend $40 for something called Fruit Fucker and it doesn't make you juice and it breaks...well, this is kinda on you, actually. $40 is a lot of money to spend on anything with the word "fucker" in it. Do your research first, bud.
Penny Arcade, you should apologize for the other ones, but the fault of this one lays with the people buying it.