It feels somewhat unreal that it’s been almost one year since we did our last interview with Doug TenNapel, but it’s true. Anyways, since there has been quite a lot of drama going down between Doug TenNapel and Kotaku’s writer Heather Alexandra (it’s related to Heather’s Kotaku post about “Earthworm Jim”). I decided to reach out to Mr. TenNapel for an interview, and he said yes. So we talked about everything from censorship, the SJW madness, #GamerGate to the drama surrounding him, Earthworm Jim and Kotaku’s Heather Alexandra. So without further ado, please enjoy our interview with TenNapel 😉
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview with us Doug =) And we’re going to kick-off this interview by letting you introduce yourself to our readers. So, please go ahead and do so 😉
I’m Doug TenNapel, a 6’8” tall and 51-year-old Christian, a father of four, husband of one. I make TV shows, video games and graphic novels. I have also raised over 25 species of amphibians.
Would you be so kind and shed some light over what went down between you, Kotaku and Heather Alexandra? Because to my knowledge, this is what you tweeted out to Alexandra:
“Heather, you’re a good man and entitled to your opinion. If you ever want to go into why we created the way we did in the 90s let’s chat.”
Well, that very tweet set the Internet on fire (there is even a +19 pages long thread over at NeoGaf about it). So now you’ve been called transphobic and god knows what more…
Yeah, people say a lot of things about me, and they have no correspondence to reality. I do find it interesting. It’s far harder for everyone else around me or for fans to try to figure out than it is for me. I can’t control what goes on in everyone else’s tiny little mind, so I have to be pretty sober about it.
Back in 2015 Pencil Test Studios and Versus Evil released their point-and-click adventure game “Armikrog”. Well, the game didn’t exactly become a GOTY title. As it received pretty blended reviews…And since you were one of the designers behind the game, I would like to ask for your point of view on the matter? (why did things turn out the way it did? Didn’t Pencil Test Studios get enough of time or money to pull everything off?).
I would also like to ask if you’re aware that some reviewers, sites and magazines stated that you were a homophobe in their “Armikrog” reviews? (I’m almost 100% sure that PC Gamer Sweden was one of those magazines). So where do the homophobe accusations come from? I mean, how, when, where and why did it all start?
Armikrog was a great opportunity that got about 90% there. Sadly enough though, we ran out of resources to put the polish on it. So those final 10% is a lot of where the smoothness and stability of a game comes from, and the bottom line is we were stretched too far with too little resources. Every dime and then some went into that game. It’s difficult when it doesn’t work out as well as we wanted. I’ve played it with my kids and there is a lot of fun to it.
As for the homophobe stuff, I don’t buy any of that. A phobia is an irrational fear of something and almost every use of “homophobe” I’ve seen regarding nearly anyone was unjustified. It’s a sloppy word that sloppy thinkers throw around. It’s shorthand for “opposes gay marriage” but it’s not unlike using racist slurs to describe other groups. That we live in a culture that throws that kind of language around and is dead dog serious about it only shows how willfully hateful and ignorant we are.
Do you think video games journalism has been improved due to GamerGate’s launch in 2014? And what do you think about the current state of the games industry and games journalism in general?
I’m not a formal GamerGater, and I get lumped into that a lot. I’m not an alt-righter, anti SJW etc. I really don’t burn that many calories fighting this stuff. I just find a lot in common with the GamerGate kids because I have a low view of gaming journalism. I think the net gain from GamerGate was that the consumers of gaming journalism were informed that people’s hard work was being judged by the creator’s business practices or political positions and consumers should be aware of skewed reviews for or against things because of ideology. That’s been good for games journalism.
As for the state of the games industry it’s certainly doing well as a business, but I don’t see much creativity blazing new ground in the medium of gaming. Those are expensive risks to take, so I understand the industry’s caution. However, the audience experiences a kind of fatigue, not unlike what audiences feel with some Hollywood movies.
I don’t know if you have thought about it, but it has actually been one year since we did our #GamerGate 2nd year special interview with you. That’s also I would like to ask you if your thoughts about GamerGate has changed since the last time we spoke?
My thoughts have not changed about GamerGate. I do find their radical spirit a breath of fresh air in a culture where people are afraid to simply speak their mind. I’m glad they have a voice, and I’m interested in their opinion. My fear with GamerGate is that they would just become a mirror image of the SJWs… everyone tweeting and saying the exact same thing. It’s lazy to repeat one’s culture and not contribute your own perspective. I read 100 SJWs thinking they’re making some mind-blowing insult by saying, “Doug TenNapel wrote for Breitbart, need I say more?” only to read 100 GamerGaters say, “She writes for Kotaku, need I say more?” I just expect better content from everyone. I’m sorry.
While looking through some of the really salty tweets and comments about you due to the Heather Alexandra aftermath, I couldn’t help to notice that quite a few SJWs whined like crazy because you wrote for Breitbart some years ago. Why is that such a big deal for these people you think?
That is the weirdest thing to see. It’s like a short-hand that someone uses for their own tribe. I make a lot of jokes about Huffington Post, but I can’t imagine going to a forum with a bunch of Republicans and saying, “They write for Huffington Post. It’s pretty stupid, eh?” and even if they all applauded I wouldn’t think I was being very clever.
I had a great time getting to know Andrew Breitbart. He’s one of the best guys I’ve ever met. He helped create both the Drudge Report and Huffington Post, probably two of the most influential political blogs ever. They influence elections. What I wrote for Breitbart was just kind of pop-junk, but he always encouraged me. He’s a hero of mine for another reason in that he was absolutely hated just for being himself.
Breitbart demonstrated how to stand up and not take anything from people who just want to destroy you. His enemies tried to ruin him. He told me a story one time of how his career was ruined, and his reputation was being slandered by all forms of media, and a thought suddenly struck him. He was not going to ever get out of the reputation liberals in media were trying to hang on him. He said he was strangely liberated. Once they’ve smashed you, what more can they do? I think about that when for the last ten years people write, “Doug TenNapel is a horrible monster.” What can I do or say to change that person’s opinion? That person has not gained power over me, they’ve lost their power over me. I’m liberated. Breitbart taught me I was free to finally be myself, and now I don’t have to be in the silent majority. I can be as vocal as I want.
Youtube has been pretty well-known for their censorship practices throughout the years. However, the new Youtube censorship policies is worse than anything that has ever been implemented on the site before. So I would like to hear your stance on that matter and censorship in general.
Censorship is bad because it’s usually not fair due to human nature. What if I was the president of YouTube, and I got to decide what should or should not be censored? Well, there’s just another group of big brains over at YouTube who will decide that pot smoking should not be censored but cigarette smoking should be. Thanks, YouTube, I could never figure out morality for myself so scrubbing what you think is pornographic (probably cigarettes or hand guns) is going to turn me into the Borg you want me to be. That said, I like censorship, in principle (I don’t want snuff clips on YouTube), I just don’t trust it in practice given our culture.
Due to the “The Last Night” aftermath that followed during and after E3 2017 (the whole thing was pretty much based on some old GamerGate, anti-SJW and feminist tweets by Tim Soret), I/we couldn’t help to think about the “Separating the creator from the work” aspect of it all. So I would like to ask for your opinion on that subject?
In logic, we call it the Genetic Fallacy to go after the source of an argument instead of the argument itself. I buy all kinds of art, movies, books and games from terrible people and terrible companies. I buy what is worth my money. If O.J. Simpson painted the Mona Lisa I’d admire that painting all day. Or what if Donald Trump discovered the cure for cancer? Would I not give that treatment to my son because of the source? The art being made has value that has almost nothing to do with the artist. My creations aren’t about me. We make things for millions of people to enjoy, people who don’t know me and whom I will never meet.
I have written quite a lot of posts about censorship, SJWs and political correctness in the past. Even so, it wasn’t until just recently that I actually wrote an OP about why today’s games media so disgusted and afraid of digital booty and sex. So, what’s your thoughts on that subject?
I won’t defend the objectification of women or the use of pornography, but as a human being, we think sex is good and women are beautiful. I’ll always champion decency, even if I start to sound like those virtue-signaling feminist journalists. I do have a high view of women, and they don’t need me to save them. Given women are beautiful I can see why men both ogle at them and want to be a knight and protect them. They’re too amazing and bizarre to ignore.
Did you hear that Polygon’s Nick Robinson is being accused of sexual predation by a whisper campaign among SJWs? (Nick has now been suspended by Polygon). I’m bringing this subject up since I have noticed that SJWs working really hard to ruin lives and people’s careers if they find something about you that they don’t like (such as having the wrong set of opinions, for example). So what’s your take on that matter? And what could we do about it?
One Angry Gamer
Some of the guys who have written that I am a despicable human being have been caught with child porn on their computers. Anyone who calls me a despicable human being needs to recalibrate their moral compass. However, we all sin, all of us, every day. In fact, the Bible commands me to only boast about my own sin, my own weakness, so that anything good in me will not be to my credit. I’m not a good person. So I give a normal judgment to sexual predators and say, “You’re wrong.” Nevertheless, it’s never from a place of me being some super self-righteous guy. The only good we have in us is given by God. My hope is that Nick Robinson (if he’s guilty, and we should always be open to the idea that he may not be guilty) repents and restores himself with his God to go on and live a better life.
Revenge is a terrible thing. We all want justice for our enemies and grace or forgiveness for ourselves. I see that a lot among SJWs, they want me destroyed with everything in their being. It eats them up. It ruins them, not me. We on the right side of things can’t do that to ourselves. This was always my warning to the GamerGaters, don’t do to them what they did to you. When our enemies fail it’s not delicious even though my sense is that if I fail many of them would celebrate. I know this because after the Kotaku thing I got more than a few emails saying, “You’re old, washed up, I’m glad Armikrog is a failure, Catscratch sucked and Earthworm Jim was terrible!” I felt bad for that person. For starters, I don’t tie up my identity in my accomplishments. I create because I can do no other. I happen to make a living at it, but I’d do it, even if I made nothing from it. Their vengeance is only going to eat them.
I’m not sure that you have noticed this…But quite a few big games industry people have become full-blown SJWs as of lately (people like Tim Schafer, David Jaffe and Cliff Bleszinski, for example). Why do you think that is? And do you think it’s like some kind of trend that people follow just to be hip? (or perhaps they simply think that they will cash in big time if they do so?).
David Jaffe is a big hypocrite? Calls out a prom picture for being “sexist” and “racist”
Tim Schafer and the GDC 2015 Sockpuppet scandal
Schaefer is a SJW
When did David Jaffe become such a cuck?
I am pals with Tim Schafer and he’s a normal liberal. They are SJWs but I don’t think most people sign up for that cause to be popular, though I have no doubt they get a side perk of some amount of cultural favor for that move. I may get some social favor for working with the Special Olympics but it’s not why I do it. Most of the SJWs I’ve met sincerely believe it. Is there virtue signaling? Yes. But don’t we all have to admit that we can say certain things and do certain things that bring us favor with our tribe? That’s just human nature. And yes, these developers are humans.
How did you get involved in comics? (when, where, how and why?) And what are you currently working on? I would also love to hear your take on the SJW madness that has infected the comic business as of lately (Marvel and DC comics, in particular).
I’ve always done comics for myself. I love it. There was a poster insert of the first EWJ game that was a comic I made of his origin story. So even then it was something I was comfortable doing. However, games are expensive to make. As they take a lot of people and a lot of time. With comics, I can do them by myself for pretty cheap. That’s very good for someone like me who has limited resources. I can make anything I want and that makes it just about the best story-telling art medium in the world. My first official comic was probably “GEAR”, which came out in 1998, right around the end of my work at “The Neverhood”. Making that first comic was some of the most fun I ever had in my life.
I’m currently working on my 18th graphic novel. I’ve written the script, and I’ll be doing the art through the end of the year. Readers who are curious about my work should pick up my best seller called “Cardboard” or my recent trilogy called “Nnewts!”.
I’ve seen the SJW madness show up at the big comics publishers and that’s just the way big companies and editors think. Like I said about game developers, they believe this stuff. All of us can’t help but put our beliefs into our work. A good artist knows how to bury it deep enough that it doesn’t become some giant screaming statement, “LOOK WHAT I’M DOING! I’M A SENSITIVE MAN, SEE? NOW APPROVE OF ME!” As I think of my favorite works, they are full of ideology, morals, deeper human thoughts. I’m thinking of comics like Bone, Hellboy or Watchmen. I’m thinking of movies like Iron Giant, Brazil or The Black Stallion. I don’t want ideas drained out of comics. I just wish there was a bigger variety. It’s artfully thin to just flip a character into a gay black woman when pat yourself on the back for being deep. It’s boring at this point.
It’s no secret that you have worked on quite a few game titles over the years games such as “Earthworm Jim”, “The Neverhood”, “Skullmonkeys”, “BoomBots” and “Jurassic Park”). However, I don’t recall that you have ever mentioned which game project (s) that you enjoyed the most (at least not to my knowledge). So, which game did you have the most fun with during its development process?
That would probably be “The Neverhood”, because that was a project where Spielberg himself gave me free reign to make something new. We were a brand-new start-up with just my pals and I. I don’t remember ever working so hard, crying so much, but being completely satisfied with what we came up with. Of course, the games journalists were there to slam the game, but an audience around the world found it. It’s the most popular game I’ve ever worked on and it’s because that game was played by so many families in so many countries around the world. It was largely distributed through piracy. So I didn’t make much money on it, but I was satisfied with the outcome. It just worked on this transcendent level.
What’s your thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency? I’m asking you this since FF and Anita is very much for censorship (games, the Internet and pretty much everything else) and pro anti-freedom of speech.
In overall, I see Anita as a young lady, who has something to say, and I disagree with some of it. Her early work on calling out the way women were depicted in games was an interesting overview, but she seemed like an academic talking about games to gamers. Academics would, of course, largely agree with her. However, gamers aren’t trying to make statements about women by the games we make. She mentioned Earthworm Jim and Princess What’s Her Name in her first piece and I just kind of shrugged. She didn’t get the joke. Nevertheless, look, Anita is just one opinion, and I’m another, and millions of players around the world don’t care what she or I think. They’re just playing games. So if you cover the players hit-box with a woman-hero texture instead of a beefy man texture, and change the princess into a man being rescued, would then any of that matter to the player?
My beef with Feminism is that it suspects that women stay at home because of some form of male manipulation. However, women naturally love to work at home. The women who don’t love working at home get a job, and they love that. Women love being rescued, and the women who don’t love being rescued simply go out and rescue men. My daughter plays EA football video games, and if we put a bunch of meaty women on the field, she wouldn’t want to play it. So, is there something wrong with her?
I doubt if Anita is against freedom of speech, but if she is good luck with that.
What’s your plans, hopes and expectations for the rest of this year? And is there anything that you would like to tell our readers?
Like I said, I’ll be working on a graphic novel for the rest of the year. I’m working on a couple movie pitches for Dreamworks/Comcast and a few Netflix series pitches. I’m pushing my Nnewts trilogy graphic novels and readers can get those at bookstores, or Amazon or check them out at their local libraries. Oh, and about 65 episodes of VeggieTales in the House (I just finished running that show for four years) are already available on Netflix! Thank you!
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
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