Shadow Complex and Orson Scott Card
Rather than derail the Shadow Complex catch-all thread, I thought I'd create a thread to discuss the political issues surrounding Shadow Complex and its connection to Orson Scott Card.
GamaSutra has an excellent editorial on the subject. The short version looks like this (from the same editorial):
A discussion erupted on popular gaming forum NeoGAF late yesterday morning. A user named Coins posed the simple-sounding question, "Should we boycott Shadow Complex?"
The question sounds simple, but the issues behind it are complicated. It's salient because the game is derived from the fiction of Orson Scott Card, and Orson Scott Card is a political campaigner against gay rights.
Card sits on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, an organization "founded in 2007 in response to the growing need for an organized opposition to same-sex marriage in state legislatures," according to its website. When you visit the site, a pop-up ad appears which contains a video defending ex-Miss California Carrie Prejean, who lost her crown amidst controversy about her opinions on the topic.
The game is based on the work of Orson Scott Card, specifically his 2006 novel Empire, but the game's dialogue was handled by Peter David, a comic book writer.
Empire is a novel in which a left-wing group called the Progressive Restoration overthrows the US government. The book's Wikipedia entry on literary significance and reception has this to say:
The novel's political stance has received both praise and derision. Booklist commended the novel for being "heartfelt and sobering" and expressed approval for "the author's message about the dangers of extreme political polarization and the need to reassert moderation and mutual citizenship". Other critics were less favourable. "Right-wing rhetoric trumps the logic of story and character in this (...) implausibly plotted departure from Card’s bestselling science fiction," wrote Publishers Weekly. Library Journal assessed the novel as "entertaining, though not one of Card's best efforts", and expressed reservations about its tendency to "lean heavily to the right" and sound "more like social commentary than fiction". In Locus, Gary K. Wolfe faulted the novel for constructing a world where "insanity is mostly the province of liberalism" and compared the characters and dialogue to "Mattel action figures" and "bumper stickers and political-convention applause lines". He also dismissed its afterword's claim of impartiality as a false centrism.
The most interesting part about this to me is this, also from Wikipedia:
Empire is not an original Orson Scott Card project, but rather stems from the development of the Empire video game. The game is being developed by the brothers Donald and Geremy Mustard, founders of the Chair Entertainment Group development studio. Card was contacted by Donald Mustard and offered the chance to develop the game's storyline as well as a novel to set the series into action. The Xbox Live Arcade Game Shadow Complex was announced by Donald Mustard to be a tie-in to the second installment of Orson Scott Card's Empire Trilogy and is a prequel to the Empire developed by ChAIR.
So, to what extent are the two things, Shadow Complex and Orson Scott Card, connected? And is that enough to justify a boycott of the game?
I'm not sure, honestly. I had planned to ignore the controversy and purchase the game, but now that I've read more about the game and Card's connection to it, I'm not so sure. I now have half a mind to pick up Super Metroid and Symphony of the Night instead. I haven't played either one of those, so I might be getting a better experience anyway.
What are your thoughts?
Edit: I've been in touch with Epic Games/Chair Entertainment for a story I'm writing about the boycott. I can confirm that Orson Scott Card wasn't involved with the production of Shadow Complex and receives no royalties from its sales. I just wanted to get that out there in case that changes anyone's mind about a boycott.