Is Gabe from Penny Arcade a real bully?

4 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

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