One classic game developer’s response to a game review by a transgender game journalist has people losing their minds because he “misgendered” the author—who goes by the name Heather.
Game developer and graphic novelist Doug TenNapel hasn’t really been in the spotlight since he released Earthworm Jim in the ‘90s to critical acclaim. Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra took the classic game to task as a “mean-spirited satire that doesn’t hold up” over two decades since its release.
“I’m calling out Kotaku for doing a passive aggressive hit piece on my work out of their gender politics,” TenNapel wrote on Twitter. “No other reason for the article.”
It’s worth noting that while the title of the Kotaku review seems like scathing criticism of the game for being politically incorrect, it’s in fact a criticism of the developer’s decision to mock other games through its game mechanics and level design. Earthworm Jim was designed for adolescents, and its innocuous content spawned a two-season cartoon series. The title is clickbait.
TenNapel has been targeted by the progressive video game press in recent years for his Christian religious beliefs, which he sometimes injects into his creations—and for openly stating his opposition to gay marriage in a now-deleted blog for his comic, Ratfist.
In a 2010 interview with a UK-based magazine, TenNapel expressed that most of his fans could enjoy what he made despite disagreeing with his philosophy. “It’s no different than me loving the work of people who don’t have my world view,” he said.
“Heather, you’re a good man and entitled to your opinion,” TenNapel said. “If you ever want to go into why we created the way we did in the 90s let’s chat.”
“I challenge [Heather] to call or do an interview over Skype,” he added. “His readers would value an open discussion over passive aggression.”
When a handful Twitter users accused TenNapel for “misgendering” Heather Alexandra, who is biologically male, TenNapel shut them down.
“He misgendered himself,”said TenNapel in a series of tweets. “If people ignore his madness to arbitrarily go after my sanity, they impugn themselves. There’s no harm in what they call themselves. There’s harm in demanding everyone in the world to endorse it. That’s how adulthood works.”
“I would hope (and assume) my opinion of Heather doesn’t keep him up at night,” he stated. “The ability to change one’s name is a fact. But nobody can change their sex.”
TenNapel’s problematic perspective was highlighted by a progressive Twitter troll, garnering thousands of likes and retweets. It sparked a firestorm of outrage on social media and gaming forums like NeoGAF, with thousands of social justice-minded gamers frothing over his words. Gaming personalities like Yogscast content producer Hannah Rutherford, popular gaming streamer Renee Reynosa, and SomethingAwful founder Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka were among them.
Gaming journalists were also on-hand to clutch pearls and express their disdain.
*touches hand to earpiece* hold on folks i’m being told the worst human currently alive needs to weigh in on Doug TenNapel pic.twitter.com/aMTpTvWZcE
— Wow, Bob Mackey! (@bobservo) August 3, 2017
Like popular “problematic” authors Dan Simmons, Terry Goodkind, and Orson Scott Card, Doug TenNapel has never backtracked on his personal beliefs. His choice to exercise his religious freedom hasn’t stopped him from producing content. It’s doubtful he’ll quit just because people want him to.