No Easy Choice: Should We Support Doug TenNapel?

The judgemental look on your face is not helping your case, Doug.


While I was researching for last week’s article on marriage equality, I learned of some things that left me feeling most uncomfortable.

As it turns out, Doug TenNapel, the creator of classic game series like Earthworm Jim and The Neverhood has returned to the gaming scene after a 16 year hiatus to bring us the third entry in The Neverhood series; Armikrog. After starting a Kickstarter campaign in 2013, we should be seeing it released this year.

This should be exciting – at least for an old school gamer like me. But I instead find myself conflicted.

You see, many people from my generation remember TenNapel, not only for his off-the-wall interactive comedy that feeds the inner man-child within us, but for his extreme conservative Christian views (which, for the record are OBVIOUSLY not speaking for all Christians). He’s has said a lot of rather hateful things regarding same-sex couples (check the comments on that article for his subtle AIDS stab), attacked the ACLU by claiming that they defend pedophilia (don’t ask me how he worked that into a half-assed smear on Obamacare), and has also been generally sexist towards men and women alike on multiple platforms.

As I said in my review of Screaming Soup!, it’s really hard to defend good art when the person is being offensive – intentionally or otherwise (Side Note: if the creators of Screaming Soup are reading this, thanks again for taking my advise to heart). It’s even worse though, when you know they mean it because there’s a real possibility that they could use the money they make off their project to fund campaigns to promote their bigotry.

But, then again, a straight up boycott would be unfair as well. The production company, Pencil Test Studios, probably doesn’t share TenNapel’s agenda. Neither do the legends that offered their talents to what should be an amazing game. I don’t want to punish great men like actors Rob Paulsen and Michael J. Nelson for the hatefulness of one man.

Like I said, it’s a complex issue with no clear cut answer. Those that support the sales will be criticized for supporting a known bigot while those who boycott it will be accused of not being able to separate an artist from his work; the end result being the Kobayashi Maru of consumer politics.

Unfortunately, this is one of those times where I have no answer – at least not just yet. The sad fact is that we may see a great piece of art commercially fail this year due to one man’s despicable words. And that is something that no one on either side of this issue should be happy about.