Daniel Vavra has been an avid supporter of Gamer Gate, the ‘consumer rights’ tantrum-cum-hate group whose stated aims include ‘keeping politics out of games’ since day one. He must have softened on those beliefs since then, because he is also the studio director of Kingdom Come: Deliverance and feels it necessary to wear politically driven and inflammatory messages on t-shirts while marketing his own game – an RPG set in eastern Europe during the twilight years of the Holy Roman Empire which purports to be historically accurate but somehow manages to largely omit people of colour from that part of the world at that time. Apparently, there is a place for politics in video games, it’s as a whistle to help Daniel market his own game. Kingdom Come: The Fuckbois Aren’t Fun has been championed for years by the group he publicly aligned himself, with its half a million in sales being seen as a political victory against the ‘reprehensible SJWs’ and the ‘Press’. They’ve created an enemy they can and need to defeat by buying this game. It’s incredible. Hypocrisy aside, good on Daniel for not separating himself from his art. Don’t hide who you are, it is important for consumers to know who their purchase supports, we both want them making informed decisions, right?
For a man who has claimed that “The whole concept of victimhood is bullshit” Vavra sure likes to dance to that tune. Daniel’s been injecting his tweets with a persecuted mentality for years, he’s a ‘Gamer under attack’. Like recently, for example, Vavra “expected 20 angry guys” to be the only attendees at his launch/signing event. And that’s fine. If someone wants to create their own narrative and play themselves up as a victim to help push their game, go for it. If they want to set themselves up as the innocent target of the evil gaming press to potentially disregard any negative criticism as being politically or personally driven, that’s their prerogative. You can already see the most dedicated fans screaming in the comment sections over every criticism levied at the game outside of the undeniable bugs. They are spending more time insulting the people who are writing about the game than playing it.
Normally you’d build an audience around your game with people who are excited to play it, but this new approach of creating an audience out of people who support your hateful views is a bold new approach. If the omission of Vara’s support for the alt-right and Gamer Gate in reviews are anything to go by then he has vastly overestimated how many journalists remember or care about his grandstanding. All this is to say, Daniel Vavra cannot be separated from his art.
I must applaud Daniel for fully utilising his position though. Making it a point to not include people of colour, even though the historians that I’ve spoken to are more puzzled by their pointed exclusion than possible inclusion, is a work of genius. As an unintentional marketing stunt for a game claiming historical accuracy it sure did generate a lot of buzz. Nobody can prove there were or were not people of colour at this exact time and place, even Vavra. Although most feel it’s safe to assume there were at least a few POC around, Vavra chose the more controversial option.
Making the decision to keep your game all white, in a specific location where there may or may not have been POC and taking a perceived ‘stand against the mad liberal and SJW agenda’ is a piece of accidental marketing genius. It’s just vague enough to allow room for doubt on both sides and thus arguments. It was guaranteed to piss off many liberally minded writers. It spawned multiple “Is this racist?” articles, which in response galvanised those in the Gamer Gate camp Daniel set up with. In an industry where half a thousand games are released every month, keeping yours in the conversation is huge. Any PR is good PR and getting your game championed by some of the loudest and most aggressive people, who want it to succeed primarily as a form of protest, however ‘unintentional’ was brilliant. Whistle and they will come. They’ll also market your game for you. The fact that the ‘ethical Gamer Gate movement’ has become nothing but an easily manipulated group of free marketers is never going to stop being funny.
A creator’s position, behaviour and history, be it in games films or music is very important to consumers. We’ve recently seen people lose their mind over a Subnautica sound engineer being dismissed because of reprehensible tweets, people STILL claim to boycott Star Wars every year and many are even refusing to give Metal Gear Survive a chance because of how Konami allegedly treated its staff and industry darling, Hideo Kojima. We’ve all got a line. Heck, I can’t listen to The Smiths anymore because of Morrissey’s ever-rising knobbery. I’m sure I would feel a familiar feeling if I ever got around to playing Daniel’s title.
@Nero was Milo’s handle before he was banned from Twitter
Daniel Vavra’s positive engagement with members of the alt-right community, how he publicly comes to the defence of mega-cunt Milo Yiannopoulos or supports “That” ex-Google employee, definitely-not-a-twat James Damore is enough to make many people question a possible purchase. A bit more research into Daniel Vavra and a pattern emerges, it’s not a pleasant one and understandably, due to his tweets and the people who he chooses to support, many people believe he holds racist and sexist views.
Daniel, who has throughout the years yelled about the “corrupt games press” and “ethical journalism” seems more than happy to place journalists in ethical quagmires when it comes to his own game. Of course, today’s industry is unrecognisable to that of 2014, with more games being released than the press could ever keep up with, outlets who may choose to ignore Kingdom Come: They’ll Throw A Tantrum because of possible conflicts could do so easily. Press received copies of the game mere days before its release. Having just the weekend to play and review a game on a similar scope as Skyrim is ridiculous. Outlets could have not bothered reviewing it under a logistical argument if not a political one, which is fine, it’s not owed coverage. But to completely exclude the game director’s history in a review? That feels disingenuous.
Yes, when a member of the alt-right drove a car into a crowd at Charlottesville and killed Heather Heyer, this was Daniel’s position two days later. More interested in equating the protesters opposing literal Nazis who invaded their hometown with the KKK and Terrorists. NOTE: Daniel has recently unliked and deleted many of the more telling tweets from prominent members of the Alt-Right such as Paul Joseph Watson. His Twitter has been noticeably better behaved since New Year. Aside from the Paul Joseph Watson’s tweet, all those shown are, unless stated otherwise, still live.
So what a shame, that as of writing this, days after the review embargo, despite the vast discrepancies in score, the majority of the reviews all share one similarity. They do not provide the reader with any context or information on its director. Information that may not only colour the reviewer’s opinion on the game itself (it’s been made clear that full disclosure is of biblical importance to Gamer Gate) but information that readers and potential customers need to know in order to make an informed decision.
As of writing, only Eurogamer And Video Gamer mention his affiliation with Gamer Gate in their reviews, with Polygon and Rock, Paper, Shotgun at least pointing out the contention people have over the creator’s choice to not include POC. And it is a choice. The publications that informed their readers of the specifics have received the expected spew of ‘outrage’. A quick trip below into the comment section proves that many other people also feel Daniel’s history is a bit too much for them. What’s troubling is professional ethics champion Daniel Vavra and the other Gamer Gater’s silence on this widespread omission in the reviews. I’d have thought they of all people would be raking the press over the coals for not mentioning how they may already have a negative perception with Kingdom Come: Thy Toxic Fandom because of the said toxic fandom.
The director, Daniel Vavra supports a movement that harassed, threatened and insulted many journalists, their friends and their colleagues. A practice they continue to do this very day. It’s only ethical their readers be made aware of the reviewer’s position in all of this. Especially after Daniel had the gall to insinuate he would be punished, that his game would not be covered because of his own actions, there’s that whistling, that ‘victim mentality’ again. And to be fair, according to Gamer Gate’s own logic, he should be right. It would be impossible for journalists to ethically cover Kingdom Come: Eye Roll Ad Nauseam, without disclosing their past relationship with the director. And yet silence. Maybe because its reception as of writing has been generally favourable, bugs notwithstanding. Who knows.
Despite Vavra’s and his Gamer Gate supporters’ tin foil level of rhetoric, the kicker is everyone who reviewed Kingdom Come: Tiresome honestly does not care enough about Daniel to actively want his game to fail. They certainly don’t care enough about him to potentially compromise themselves and their own work over some imagined ‘liberal conspiracy’ or ‘agenda’. Seemingly terrified of being accused of the dreaded “bias” they instead opted to ignore all the above, all of the necessary context and thus do a disservice to anyone who looked to their review to help inform their purchase.
It’s rather hard to keep up with what some people claim Gamer Gate was supposedly about, though in between the death threats, I recall mention of ethics and the phrase “Keep your politics out of our games”. Looking at their response to all of this, the operative word evidently was “YOUR” politics.
It’s a stupid notion but here we are. Everyone has a bias. Trying to stifle your own position, your own opinion and to strive for “Objective Journalism” especially when reviewing art or even commenting on it is ridiculous. If a journalist felt this information was in their reader’s interest (they bloody well should have), it needed to be included in the review. If Vavra’s very public position is enough to justify a purchase, then the opposite holds true. It appears that some have been intimidated by the notion of upsetting Gamer Gaters and inciting the proverbial shit storm that would have been directed at them. It’s an understandable, if disappointing precedent. Press being too scared or too worn down to deal with the screaming hate mobs to write the whole entire truth. For people who decry anything that could be considered censorship, I’m sure Vavra and the Gamer Gaters are very proud of what they have helped do to the industry. Bravo.
Kingdom Come: Press At Ransom looks OK. It’s got more bugs than you can count and will undoubtedly be a much better game in 6 months time. No, it’s not early access. Like any other Two Worlds looking RPG, I might have considered picking it up in a sale, but like Morrissey, Daniel Vavra has personally crossed my line. I cannot see myself enjoying a game created by someone who I am at odds with on such a fundamental level and nor would I want to support him. His actions and tweets over the years, whether he deletes them or not, have proved what kind of person he is, and I can’t get past that, not even for an ‘OK’ game. The sourced links provide more details on Vavra. If all of that is not a problem for you personally? Great. I hope you enjoy the game.
This tweet has since been deleted.
How closely you relate an artist to their art is a personal decision, however, Daniel has tied his worldview to his game in an indivisible way. He CHOSE to wear an incendiary t-shirt while marketing his game. He CHOSE to create a game that would not include POC. He CHOSE to not address or provide any commentary on the medieval views his game features, instead, he’s almost fetishised it. He CHOSE to say, appropriately, absolutely nothing of substance. So yeah, Daniel’s worldview appears to be reflected in his game and excluding that from reviews, where people look to inform their purchase, is negligent. If his recent response to total randoms on Twitter is anything to go by, I’ll probably be receiving a thinly veiled threat to sue me for this disquisition. It’s not a hate group, they don’t attack anyone.