Stanton reiterates that she isn't calling for an end to PAX, but that she's concerned that the Dickwolves incident has transformed Penny Arcade from a welcoming, inclusive public commons to a place with a constituency — however small — that is hostile to outsiders. Although Stanton doesn't have the same specific emotional connection to Penny Arcade and PAX that I have, she shares my high expectations for any con that claims to be for "everyone." Such a con should, theoretically, endeavor to include rape survivors, as well as other marginalized groups, from non-white gamers to disabled gamers to genderqueer gamers.
"How do you make all of those people feel welcome?" she says. "How do you make all of those people feel accommodated and safe? How do you make the conference or the convention useable for everyone? I think that stuff is actually easier to address on a smaller scale like this. And it's something that is totally within [Penny Arcade's] scope to do, should they ever choose to do it. So I don't think that PAX should be punished. It's just, I'm saying, as someone who supposedly is part of all gamers, I don't feel comfortable with it right now. And so if they want people like me who feel the way I do to feel comfortable and feel like it's for all gamers, then I would like them to listen to us and be willing to consider some changes."
A week before Stanton and I spoke, the toxic debate over the Dickwolves had gone awry and struck the creators of Penny Arcade. On February 2, a Twitter user, @ghostpostin, posted the following: "A Funney Joke: Go to Mike Krahulik / @cwgabriel's house, Literally Murder His Wife and Child #jokes #funny #murderwolves."
Although users like Stanton had been enduring far worse for months, that lone Tweet acted as the trumpet of Jericho, and Krahulik's wall tumbled down. The next day he finally broke his long silence in a post titled "Okay that's enough." He wrote, "We have people on both sides of this ridiculous argument making death threats and worse. Kara was certainly upset to see someone mention on Twitter last night that it would be funny to come to my house and murder my wife and children. I know there are people who see themselves as being on our side that have made equally disgusting comments in the other direction. I want to make it very clear that I do not approve of this kind of bullshit."
It was his final word on the Dickwolves. It had taken an unfunny threat on his family to convince him to call out his alleged supporters for their behavior. And still — even when he'd tasted a hint of the poison that the Dickwolves had unleashed — Krahulik did not explicitly state that users like @teamrape were unwelcome at PAX.
That same day, Holkins wrote a long post titled "On the matter of Dickwolves." "The fact of the matter is that the strip that started all this is about how empty, amoral, and borderline vile electronic heroism actually is," he wrote. "When I look at it now, it's hard to imagine the chaos this comic stands at the center of." He said he'd "received an incredible education during the ordeal," which seemed to imply that the ordeal had been something that had happened to him. And he said the reason he had failed to communicate on the issue previously was that he believed "genuine dialogue was impossible."