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And while this may seem a bit crass, I am a freelance wordsmith looking for new gigs, so why not click on my LinkedIn page and see if I can help you?
Should my purchase of Shadow Complex turn on what I think of Orson Scott Card’s politics?
“Just so you know, we’re ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas.” — Natalie Maines, The Dixie Chicks
“While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system.– John Mackey, “The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare”
“However emotionally bonded a pair of homosexual lovers may feel themselves to be, what they are doing is not marriage. Nor does society benefit in any way from treating it as if it were.” — Orson Scott Card, “Homosexual “Marriage” and Civilization”
I never really thought much about Orson Scott Card’s politics. Why should I? Card was the guy who wrote Ender’s Game, a science fiction classic with special relevance to gamers by the nature of its plotline (a genius child is run through a series of games to prepare him to become a military leader fighting off an alien invasion). I mean, I knew he was a devout Mormon — his five book Homecoming Saga was a deliberate sci-fi analogue of the Book of Mormon and it’s not too difficult to discern the Mormon strains in his Tales of Alvin Maker series — but I was OK with that. I loved the Alvin series and never got past the first book in the Homecoming series because I found it boring. In each case I made the decision based on whether Card’s writing entertained me, not on his status as a Mormon. Why should that matter?
The thing is, recent events have proven that Mormons do matter. The Mormon Church became the center of attention in the controversy over California’s Proposition 8, the constitutional provision that eliminated same-sex marriage in the state. While they were hardly the only organization pushing for passage of the proposition and not all Mormons agree on opposition to same-sex marriage, that cannot be said of Card. He’s a high-profile advocate against it, a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, an organization founded in 2007 to resist the legalization of gay marriage.
For gamers, this bears special relevance as Card is also connected with the creation of Shadow Complex, a side-scrolling shooter that’s being hailed as one of the best games of 2009, a return to a classic genre and a throwback to the best of the Metroid series. Non-gamers may not appreciate those references or the significance of Shadow Complex, but imagine if Star Wars: The Phantom Menace had actually been good.
That leads to a dillemma for some gamers that’s roughly equivalent to what was faced by Dixie Chicks fans a few years back and shoppers at Whole Foods who disagreed with the political positions espoused by Natalie Maines and CEO John Mackey — should I support something I like with my dollars when the person I’m supporting holds political positions I disagree with? In other words, should I boycott? This is a discussion that began with a user named “Coins” on a popular (if insane) gaming forum called NeoGAF who simply asked if the game should be boycotted because of Card’s political views. The result was a sober and intelligent discussion by NeoGAF standards — meaning that only half the posts read like they were written by an escaped mental patient suffering from Tourette’s.
Oddly enough, all these verbal fireballs surrounding Shadow Complex actually has me running over the issue of boycotts — not same-sex marriage. For the record, I happen to be in favor of it, something that often surprises my liberal friends in Hollywood where I’m referred to as the “right-wing guy.” Of course, this is Hollywood, a place where they’ll tell you with a straight face that the New York Times is part of the vast right-wing conspiracy and everyone to the right of Sean Penn is viewed a potential jackbooted fascist. Boycotts fascinate and disturb me though because it seems to me that they’ve taken on a punitive “wrongthink” quality in recent years. It isn’t so much that boycotts are being organized to protest a particular practice or right a particular wrong but that boycotts now seem to be organized to economically destroy someone who thinks the wrong thoughts and anyone who has the temerity to deal with them.