There has been some controversy in the gaming world lately surrounding the Xbox Live Arcade game, Shadow Complex. Not specifically about the game or any content within it, but about who's getting some royalty checks from the sales.
It is based on Orson Scott Card's novel Empire, which means he is receiving some amount of money from every sale of the game. Why this doesn't sit right with a lot of gamers is comments like this:
"Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to be
indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating
them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who
flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual behavior cannot be permitted
to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society."
This comment is one of many that has been openly given by Card, an outspoken opponent of gay rights such as marriage.
It has struck such a nerve with many gamers that they have attempted to organize mass boycotts of Shadow Complex. Still, many others argue that it is unfair to boycott the game as whole just because of Card's minor involvement.
While it may be true that Card has done little more then allow his book to be used for the story of the game, this still means he's receiving a paycheck from the money we are spending. And even though boycotting it will likely make only a small dent in the games sales, it is still worth it.
A majority of people who buy this game, providing the marketing team does it's job correctly, will have no idea of the controversy behind it. So why does a boycott matter? Because producers HATE controversy.
Even if the game sells better then expected, active chatter of boycotts and petitions will most likely cause second thoughts when the next game comes around that has Card's name attached. There will always be that sinking feeling in a bigwigs stomach that maybe they could be making much more if they got rid of that tiny little controversy.
If we all just ignore this and tell ourselves that boycotting it will make no difference, then nothing will ever change. Sure we won't cause them to drop everything and strip all of Orson Scott Card's involvement out of the game, but we will bring attention to the fact that people are upset by it.
Some gamers are worried that the developers of the game will be unfairly punished for Card's name being on the credits. That's the marketing teams job to worry about that. I guarantee that the gaming site surfers who know about the boycott, will not be enough to deter what the marketing has already done.
We don't need to worry about hitting the wrong target, because we will surely miss completely. But someone will know that we have fired a shot. Maybe they won't react, but if we don't fire at all then its guaranteed we won't see a reaction. So I'm willing to risk that we won't be heard, rather then ensure it.