Home Gaming Is Gabe from Penny Arcade a real bully?

Is Gabe from Penny Arcade a real bully?

3 min read

Fighting back doesn't make you a bully

Penny Arcade have been getting a lot of grief in the last year and in a surprisingly honest posting from their founder, Gabe, he goes on to explain how he grew up and why he turned into the person he is today. A bully.

Now the entire post is a very interesting read and while it isn’t exactly about gaming I would recommend giving it a read to see how Gabe sees himself and sees the industry that he has been in, and led, for over 15 years. And don’t worry this isn’t our move to become like Kotaku who don’t appear to post anything about gaming anymore, this is just something I felt the industry needed to see.

You can check it out here

But after reading it I have to say that I think Gabe is wrong, Gabe feels he’s a bully as he learned from a young age that he couldn’t physically defend himself but was really good at verbally abusing someone. He could rip them down with a few well placed words and even though he then received a beating more times than not he felt that he’d at least got some real shots in.

This doesn’t make you a bully, the definition of a bully is

a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.

Now Gabe is using his power of words to harm people but for me the key difference is that Gabe only used it in self defence. He never went out to antagonise people but he also wasn’t afraid to hit back if people starting abusing him.

Put it this way, no one thought the gentle giant at school was a bully for hitting the loud-mouthed bully back after receiving one too many smacks to the head. They thought he was a hero for finally putting the annoying bully in his place and that is exactly what Gabe did. He simply refused to be bullied anymore and planned on how he would react and defend himself against the real bullies.

Who’s the bully in this video

So why does he feel like a bully now? Well I don’t know Gabe or his circumstances but what I do know is that many people, including us, have lambasted them for their ideas in the past year. We don’t think twice that something as large and powerful as Penny Arcade and PAX are still run by normal humans with feelings and some of them and us are subject to emotional pain.

What the gaming media have done in the last year is bully Penny Arcade and their founders either out of spite for their success or in my case simply because I feel the PC brigade has infested our industry far too much and are now making problems where problems never existed before. And PA got the backlash because they tried to help the PC brigade, they wanted to make something so open and safe that in my opinion it pushed us back 10 years.


By the odd chance that Gabe reads this, I’d like him to know that I personally definitely do not see him as a bully. Maybe antisocial or generally mean spirited but definitely not a bully. And someone who gets bullied their entire school career rarely makes it out as a whole person – antisocial and mean spirited is the best we can hope for.

Everyone who was bullied at school takes delight in seeing how poorly the jocks have performed in life, if that’s not mean spirited then I don’t know what is.

Maybe a 2014 resolution for us all is to stop abusing people in multiplayer games and if we hear others doing the same then don’t just stand by and accept it. Tell them to shut it and report them.

Who am I kidding, it would be easier to organise peace between Israel and Palestine than clear the muck out of our online world.

Last Updated: January 2, 2014


  1. UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

    January 2, 2014 at 08:54

    SO much respect for him going public with all this information. He did not have to do this, but still felt like he needed to be completely honest. Something very few people tend to do nowadays.

    I am glad that he is going to start working on it. Not for the good of PA or for the fact that it will keep other people connected to PAX or Child’s Play happy, but for himself. I feel a lot of empathy with what he is saying. In no way did I have it as bad as him, but I understand where he is coming from. In the end we become who we are with the goal to survive. I feel empathy too, because this year I started REALLY looking at myself and things that I say and do. I didn’t like what I saw and well I am working on it now. It is hard to undo who you have become over 28 years.

    So Gabe well done and good luck. I, for one, believe you will only come out a better person. I just hope I follow the same path towards being someone better.

    I just hope we can one day bring children into a world where they don’t NEED to become assholes to survive.


    • Gavin Mannion

      January 2, 2014 at 08:59

      That’s what I’m trying with my kids… carefully select their school, extra murals, things but in the end it’s totally up to society.

      My daughter did smack a guy over the head with a bottle for teasing her sister.. still proud about that even though everyone thinks it’s wrong.. screw the bullies. Her sister and her are now treated nicely by the entire school.


      • UltimateNinjaPandaDudeGuy

        January 2, 2014 at 09:05

        Sometimes (most of the time) with bullies you need to push back even harder. To teach them you aren’t a soft target, because let’s be honest the bullies are just insecure and need someone to dominate to feel better about themselves.

        The one thing I have found to be as much a problem as just a cause of sadness is not the bullies, but the fact that you rarely see an individual stand between these two and say that it needs to stop. This being the “Robin Hood” type of figure. I think your daughter has this down and good for her! The world needs more people like her!

        There will always be bullies. A thing my dad taught me. It is not a matter of if you will deal with these people. It is WHEN and then HOW you deal with them. I think my dad saved me from becoming like Gabe at 38 years old still being trapped in a shell he had to create.

        One of my favorite quotes: “How we survive is what makes us who we are.”

        I live by that and a few others and I feel many people can benefit from it.


      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

        January 2, 2014 at 09:32

        Good on her. Bullying shouldn’t be tolerated and since the schools are so reluctant to do anything about it even when it is reported by the kids and parents that sometimes a bully needs a good smack upside the head from another kid to put a stop to the nonsense


        • Gavin Mannion

          January 2, 2014 at 09:57

          That reminds me, the worst I’ve seen was in 2012 where the school had a bullying mother. She used to push other kids around and spread rumours about them to get her kid better treatmnent by the school.

          Was pretty disgusting, but I can’t stand bullies so she’s thankfully moved on now. How bad a human can you be to abuse other kids for the betterment of your child


          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew. Jelly!!!

            January 2, 2014 at 10:39

            Please tell me you are joking. That’s disgusting. What kind of example does that set for her kid? Oh my word. Some people

      • DarthofZA

        January 2, 2014 at 10:01

        My brother was being bullied at school for almost 6 months. At least once a week my mother would go to the school to complain about another bruise he had. The headmaster kept saying they are kids being kids and to ignore it.
        My dad then decided to teach him how to fight properly (my dad was an army man himself). After 2 weeks of my dad teaching him stuff every evening, my brother was being bullied by 5 kids 2 grades above him. He proceeded to defend himself, and beat all 5 of them up, and broke the 1 guys arm in the process.
        My parents got called in because my brother was apparently bullying, my dad just stood up and said that it was simply kids being kids and they must ignore it, and he walked out. They stopped bullying him after that.


        • Gavin Mannion

          January 2, 2014 at 10:06

          love it… don’t care what hte PC brigade think.

          I always see the bullies as the popular extroverted kid that teachers like.. they don’t like the introverted ones who get bullied


        • VampyricSquirrel Monk

          January 2, 2014 at 10:19

          I just chucked my bully off the 1st floor corridor onto the grass… those 2 days of Judo finally paid off lol

          His dad then proceeded to klap the snot out of him for bullying… Lebanese parents can be interesting…


  2. iAmWeasel

    January 2, 2014 at 10:04

    Maybe the real issue here is that journalists need to stop trying to be online personalities and focus on their jobs… that being delivering top drawer content. A journalist should not focus on or care about abuse that might be directed at them.


    • Gavin Mannion

      January 2, 2014 at 10:44

      Gabe has never been a journalist though, he’s an ojnline comic creator..


  3. Alien Emperor Trevor

    January 2, 2014 at 12:09

    I hate this idea that’s now prevalent that you’re not allowed to defend yourself, and that if you do then you’re somehow the aggressor & the person you’re defending yourself from is just a poor, misunderstood person who’s a victim of your aggression. It’s complete & utter bullshit. You also not obliged to be nice when doing so either.

    You are allowed to defend yourself & you don’t have to be nice & polite to that person(s) when doing so, they certainly didn’t show that consideration.

    Everyone likes to complain about rudeness or offensiveness these days, but the reason it’s becoming the norm is because the threat of retaliation has been taken away. That’s partly the basis for our whole system of politeness & manners – if you don’t comply with that, you can face retaliation. You’re not allowed to retaliate anymore because if you do somehow the other person becomes a victim.


  4. Purple_Dragon

    January 2, 2014 at 15:58

    That was one hell of a throw in that video, he really hurled him to the ground there.


  5. Ragny

    January 2, 2014 at 17:25

    “it would be easier to organise peace between Israel and Palestine than clear the muck out of our online world.”

    I’m sure you meant that as a hyperbole but even then this is a really fucking stupid comparison.


    • Gavin Mannion

      January 3, 2014 at 06:59

      Really? Some of the worlds biggest corporations are pouring money into trying to tame comments and to remove the bad elements of the online world and are getting absolutely nowhere.

      Israel and Palestine have been at each others necks since the UK gave a block of land to Israel while the worlds super powers have been powerless to resolve the problems.

      One is far more severe than the other but the fact remains that both are impossible to resolve


  6. Kimble Justice

    January 2, 2014 at 17:55

    Yeah, you go bro. Gotta protect poor, defenseless Gabe from all those awful bullying transgender people and rape survivors he insulted. Repeatedly.

    BTW, that last line comparing the online world to Israel and Palestine? I’m sure you thought it was a very smart, whip-dash piece of journalism, a killer line that would really stick in people’s minds. And it does! Trouble is, it means that you stick in the mind as an awful, blinkered offensive idiot with no sense of perspective whatsoever. Using real life conflicts where innocent people are dying as a punchline.,,go away forever.


    • Gavin Mannion

      January 3, 2014 at 07:00

      I gave my reasons below so I won’t repeat that… but also remember that people die from online bullying as well

      Not trying to compare the two on a severity level more on a solutionless issue no matter how hard we try


  7. Jeremy Lassen

    January 2, 2014 at 18:44

    Anybody who uses the phrase “PC brigade” to support their arguments is not doing their arguments any good. Sad to see an otherwise thoughtful piece marred by such claptrap.


    • Gavin Mannion

      January 3, 2014 at 06:59

      Maybe it’s a cultural thing, but thanks for the other compliment


  8. hm

    January 3, 2014 at 08:05

    But Gabe was the one bullying rape victims, It isn’t standing up for yourself when you are the one who is bullying.


  9. Umar of The Rebellion

    January 3, 2014 at 10:24

    Unrelated to this piece but related to bullies….hope all bullies end up homeless under the bridge..thank you 🙂


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