Separating art from the artist - and the game from...?

I know this has been discussed before. E.g. the Kingdom Come: Deliverance thread comes to my mind. But I have not found a dedicated topic. I hope it’s okay to make a new one and I hope it’s not P&R.

So, what is this about?

You play a game you enjoy and find out the guy who made it is nuts. You really don’t appreciate what he’s publicly(!) doing when he’s not making games.

Does this have an effect on you?

It’s the first time for me I wonder if I want to continue a game I really like… because I have accidentally found out the guy who made it preaches ‘fake medicine’ and is also selling books on that topic.

When it comes to art my stand is clear: Art shines a light on things we sometimes don’t understand, can’t understand, that are beyond our capacities. And it’s not meant to be alright. Art often deals with stuff I actually don’t want to have in my life. When I deal with art it’s like a search. The least thing I’d asked for is that the art I appreciate comes from a sane mind / shares my political view. In that sense I clearly seperate the art from the artist. If the artist is nice… that’s nice. But it really doesn’t matter.

But when it comes to games… I’m not so sure. It’s just jumping, puzzles, shooting… and I know who made it is someone who’s selling books telling unscientific/dangerous things about illness.

I have no problem separating the author from his work, as long as his views don’t directly seep into the work itself. So far with games that I’ve played at least I didn’t get that feeling, regardless of the political leanings of the author(s).

I don’t like the idea of my money finding its way into the pocket of someone I consider reprehensible.

Where do you draw the line with something like this? Something like video games is touched by many different people. What if you found out the publisher has a different political view then you? What if one of the artists or programmers for the game tweeted something bad out? If you find out the head of Sony or EA or Microsoft are preaching fake medicine will you really never buy any of their products again?

Man, that happens a lot to me when I hire a lawyer or pay taxes but in those cases I don’t always have easy alternatives.

As far as games go, I’d say it’s up to the buyer, just like it is with any product. Most of the time I don’t know much about the developer. But if I did, and I didn’t want to support the asshat, then I probably would not buy it.

This is the only issue for me; otherwise I don’t care whether art I like is made by a bad person.

I have no problem giving my money to an asshole, mind you, if said asshole makes a good product. If they are actually a criminal, or have really vile beliefs, it might be an issue. Hasn’t come up much compared to other media (Polanski, etc.) because I suppose game devs either keep lower profiles, are more boring people, or some combination of both.

Well, that’s not very likely to happen :-)

The stuff the guy has been writing makes me feel very uncomfortable. I just don’t know: there is that nice sandbox-world he has created but he’s also telling very creepy stuff.
It’s a good product… maybe I’m just playing the game, watching out for creepy stuff and acknowledge the good stuff he’s capable of.

There’s no hard rule. Sometimes, I can indeed separate art from the artist with no issues at all. Other times, not so much. It varies wildly depending on a lot of factors.

From a purely “practical” point of view, if you appreciate someone’s work, they’re entitled to the money they get from it. If you don’t want them to get the money, it’s fine, as long as it’s before you take/use what they created.

But what I always try to do, before deciding on anything, is to understand why they’d have different opinions compared to mine. Reducing people to a list of public opinions is very short-sighted; figuring why they think that way, the extent to which it could be changed (or not), and how far it goes in terms of intent is key to make a real, informed decision. In times of echo chambers and instant pitchforks, I think that’s what we should be focused on doing.

And from a pragmatic point of view, if you’d avoid reprehensible people in any step of the production of any product you consume or any art you appreciate, you’d probably have to give up on all of them. There’s something noble in trying to get everyone in the same page, one that makes life better for everyone - but there’s wisdom in knowing that the definition of “better” varies wildly with culture and history and context. There’s great value in trying to increase tolerance and diversity, but that also includes accepting that people will often be different from us in pretty important issues. Diversity and tolerance are not about making everyone think the same way (or maybe shouldn’t be), but about realizing that we come from different places, how we perceive things differently, and then finding together a way to coexist in spite of those. That’s hard as hell, and it isn’t very compatible with a “black-and-white” view of things.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that that is a complicated question with no easy answers. I can’t speak for all of us, but I’m “playing by ear”, so to speak, most of the time.

I think that’s key. People nowadays are all too eager to find other people’s flaws, without spending a similar time and effort in finding what’s positive about those same people. We’re hunting werewolfs and forgetting that, at some point and to some extent, they’re human.

Not a problem.


It all depends on the specifics, and the work. A AAA game with an asshole lead? Eh probably won’t make a difference, unless it’s clearly driving the direction of the game. Some low level programmer or artist? Won’t care. The studio and publisher however? The higher up the misdeed, the more powerful the actor, the more likely such things are to influence things.

I mean I stoped buying things from EA before due to publisher actions.

With smaller games it’s different. The closer one person is to the work, all the way to one man game devs, the more likely it will make a difference. To pick an easily identifiable example here, Cleeve. Had his game been amazing, and had it been a style I liked, his behavior would still have prevented my purchase. But it’s an inconsistent application for me, I wouldn’t have the same hesitation buying a book from Card, for example.

Basically the scope of the impact an individual Has matters. But without strong reason I do separate the work from he individual, unless said individual is the reason for the work. I mean if the Dwarf Fortress guys were some kind of socially corrosive force it would be really hard to separate the artist from the art. But if Sid Meier was a jerk, it would be hard to mark that as critical to Civilization.

Which is a long way of saying most the time I don’t care. It takes an exemplary reason for me to care, and impact my decisions, due to the large scale corporate nature of games.

Yes it is. That’s why there is no right answer and it really is up to each individual to spend his or her money the way he or she wants.

And I think the severity of the situation can matter. Not buying something because that person will use that funding to promote violent crime, I think most would be ok with not supporting that.

Not buying the writing of a competing expert in your field because that person has different politics? You may only be hurting yourself.

And in the end, does your one non purchase even make a difference?

Edit: what @CraigM said. He beat me to it.

Maybe we should separate punctuation from thread starters.

Funny. But I’d like to learn. What’s wrong? In my language you use those dots to mark a missing word. The dash indicates a mental leap.

Beware the grammar Nazi’s…

Just kidding, but some people hate those dots. Really hate them.

I don’t support/buy MyPillow crap for this reason.

Why would anyone hate an ellipsis? Sometimes they are a nice way to indicate a pause. I also sometimes use them to precede a bulleted list.

The dash is normally used to insert a parenthetical, which I guess you could term a leap in thought.

The topic title reads like an ACT question: "Separating art from the artist is like separating the game from the ___

[ ] Game box
[ ] Game publisher
[ ] Game store
[ ] Game developer

I would never support any game creator that has anything against ellipsis. And I find it hard to support publishers who like dashes and subtitles in game titles, except if they are from Japan (in which case they can also use other characters freely, like in Re;Quest or Late[st]).

Once I find out a creator or anyone that participates in something artistic I enjoy is awful, I do not use their product, game, watch them in movies, anything like that again. I don’t want to reward that behavior, and too often it’s used as an excuse to continue to support horrible actions and beliefs.

It does depend on how involved they are though. There are too many not sexist, not racists, not horrible people I can give my time and money to as an alternative.

I must plead ignorance to almost everything game designers, musicians, authors and directors do on their own time. When I do find some that do something I object to I try to remember we live in a nation where that is allowed, almost encouraged. Sure somethings are worse than others so maybe if I am aware of it it might creep into my thought process, but usually as only a part of the why I would buy or not buy something.