Hey, Polygon: Take It Down a Notch

“It’s not funny anymore / try different jokes”
Kanye West, noted philosopher of our time

Breaking News: The Sonic the Hedgehog series of video games is primarily aimed towards grade school children and pre-teens.

As such, the fanbase around Sonic the Hedgehog, as a whole, is mostly comprised of pre-teens and teenagers—most of whom, if they have any sort of artistic expression, share it in things like fan fiction and fan art. It’s understandable: drawing is a lot more accessible than, say, making a fangame—especially if you’re a girl.

I should know. I’m a left wing queer progressive lady interested in video games, just like Danielle Riendau. And that’s why I think Polygon’s “Sonic fan art expert rates the pornographic potential for Sonic Boom cast” is bullshit.

It’s easy for those of us who are adults to look at fan art through the lens of someone older (and likely someone who either didn’t have the Internet or the early, lost to memory portions of the Internet) and mock something like a kid’s piece of fan art, but I know everyone goes through a phase of awkwardly, excitedly sharing what they like (hello, bad websites from 1997!) It’s just that in the age of DeviantART, these things are much more accessible to everyone—both for good and for bad.

So it’s easy to focus on the bottom of the barrel of this output and sneer. Honestly, I’d rather focus on making things better. But: I get it. It’s easy to make fun of kids doing weird things and people on the autistic spectrum, and hey, it’s cheap laughs and clickbait.

I know, because I’ve been guilty of it, too. Although I genuinely find the conflation of fandom and faith interesting, I put up an article a few years ago on Christian Sonic fan art knowing it would be just a laugh to most, and it did well because of that. It’s not something I’m proud of, and reflecting on it made me realize that it wasn’t worth it and I’ve steered away from things like that since.

Whenever any publisher does this, though, it perpetuates the very things that sites like Polygon claim to decry this “Bro culture” that discourages girls from wanting to pursue making video games on the exact same day, it’s two-faced to go and punch down towards the same girls who make fan art. I should note that the author has since apologized about the article, but the fact that a site like Polygon chose to even run a piece like this at all is disheartening.

And let’s be honest: if it was pornographic Pokemon or Zelda fan art, we wouldn’t be talking—because those series, to the gamer community, aren’t as fun to beat up on. It doesn’t matter that these same things happen with every game targeted towards the same preteen demographics; the Sonic series is just the lazy joke to fall back on.

So maybe Polygon and gaming culture as a whole could take it down a notch. Fight the fights worth having and cut the crap.

And hey, Danielle? If you wanna grab a drink the next time I’m in SF, I’m good for it. I’ll just be over here working on what I learned to do instead of making games.

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    If you must rant, Please be a bit more concise, I want to be able to understand what you are ranting about. I get that being ticked about this is a valid thing, (but seriously, rule 34 I think applies here) but I really had a hard time following along with your ideas.

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      Or they could just post it on Facebook where their personal opinion might actually be relevant. This is a site about games/news, not the personal opinions of admins. I don’t care what “Scarred Sun” thinks about anything. I want to know when Sonic 3 is getting a fucking mobile remake.

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    first, you said it’s especially hard for a girl to make a fan game. any particular reason why a girl would be unable to make their own game?

    also I didn’t see where the badsonicfanart guy apologized? was it on the tumblr? I haven’t been there. I saw him thank the author of the article on twitter.

    as for the polygon article, let me say I am a fan of the site (mostly because of the mcelroys), and I don’t know of they necessarily did anything wrong. but granted, it might not have been helpful. the sonic fan community, probably more than any other community, has this reputation for weird porn. it’s simply a part of it. I don’t think they necessarily produce more, but with all the characters being anthropomorphic and largely child friendly, I think it weirds people out even more, and sticks with them. it becomes a defining trait of the community. I don’t think this article was made to discourage anyone with legitimate fan art intentions.

    as for the badsonicfanart account, at first it did seem like it was making fun of people attempting to do art with these characters (which I certainly don’t enjoy or approve of) but lately it seems like it’s largely people intentionally making bad, funny art. it’s not a bad account and I think the creator did realize he didn’t want to make fun of people either (although I can’t speak for him).

    nintendo franchises certainly have just as much porn, if not more. and they absolutely do get what is probably an unfair pass, but I have to assume that’s because their games have maintained a high quality (to some people, I’ve never been a a fan) while sonic has had a lot of bad games and people wonder who could still be fans of it. at least sega has never leaned in to those weird fans with it’s characters, unlike Nintendo (zero suit samus and princess peach upskirts in games)

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      It’s a bit hard for me to keep up with all of this stuff, but I’m pretty sure the author of the Polygon article (Danielle Riendau) was the one that apologized for the article itself, not the BadSonicFanArt guy.

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    If there’s one thing that’s more of a joke than Sonic, it’s gaming journalism.

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    I’ll chuck in that gaming websites trying to “Kotaku-fy” (they made it particularly popular to run silly side articles under the guise of shared content a few years back) things by doing absurd little articles on the side like this (How I Laid A Girl in a Sonic Bed, anyone?)

    All that does though is draw more scorn not just from the targeted fanbase (oh, but that’s all right, they’re just Sonic fans. They’re used to the ridicule) but from people who do like to go to your site for your coverage. It something I think that’s forum mentality and deserves no publishing on a site, especially one trying to work with industry ties.

    There’s a reason why I, as an editor, explicitly blocked gawker media as source, since for a good while it feels less like a professional site and more like it’s run by a bunch of 15-year-olds. It’s a mentality with games reporting I’d love to see die and rapidly.

    You at Polygon get your fair share of criticism from your increased stance on supporting women’s equality in the industry, both recreational and professional. This, as SS said, gets kind of two-faced when you run something like the above. Glass houses, cast stones, etc. (oh, but that’s all right, they’re just girls. They’re used to the ridicule… see what I’m saying?) I’m glad you apologized for it, not as a Sonic fan, but as a colleague for realizing how absolutely dumb and petty a story this is.

    I imagine there’s going to be parties on both sides eye-rolling these posts but I’ll extend there’s no ill will here. It’s more of a, “Come on now. You’re better than running nonsense like that.”

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    I feel like this is a bit of an overreaction. While it was an indefensibly stupid and boring article it seemed pretty harmless. I’ll save my outrage for when they start running actual fan art and mocking the children that created it instead of just imagining that that could happen in the future.

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    NICE! Polygon! I totally agree about this!.
    Danielle, you are one of the best reviewers. actually, I have a tremendous stress about bad Sonic fans bad fanfic and fanfiction (such as yaoi,,,)

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      Congratulations. You’ve just missed the entire point of this article. Either that or you’re trolling.

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      oops. I misunderstand about this article,

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    “It’s hard to make a fan game… especially for a girl.” I stopped reading there.

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    I’m only now jumping into this matter, so I’m still vague on some of the details of what has actually transpired here.

    But I think part of the problem here is the reputation is that when one brings up fan fiction, fan art, fan ANYTHING, their mind immediately goes to the “bad” side of things, with the porn, the bad writing/drawing…and then stereotype it as it all being like that.

    Which is MY personal bone to pick on this matter, the fact that fan works get a bad rap when there’s actually a lot more excellent works out there that are leaps and strides better than the bad stuff everyone’s so focused on all the time. I know, because I’ve encountered it, seen it, and so forth. So my two bits, at the very least, is to not overlook the good things.

    I want to say more, but I feel it would be unwise for me to do, being not well versed in this whole matter.

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    The widescreen issue better be fixed…

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    Well shit, and here I thought I was on a Sonic Fan/News site, not Scarred Sun’s personal blog.

    Keep it on FB. And no one cares if you’re a girl or offended. Take it to some extremist feminism debate.

    We come to this site to get updates on Sonic news, not to hear you cry about some post on a website no one visits.

    SonicRetro is becoming the Kotaku of the Sonic fandom.

    [mandatory fedora tip and other related jokes]

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      BREAKING: local toddler learns how to type

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      If you think we just post news about games here, then I’m not sure how you’ve missed all the times we’ve posted silly stuff, reviews and other opinionated pieces.

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      >post, for years, multiple articles doing opinion pieces on the comics or animations
      >no problemo
      >mention in one sentence of an opinion piece that girls apparently have issues in the fangame medium

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    I have searched the Rule 34 website, with images off, for all of the new characters’ names. Nothing appeared. The Sonic community has, so far, retained its dignity.

    The article was fine. There’s an overwhelming supply of FILTH INVOLVING OUR FAVOURITE HEDGEHOG FRIENDS, and a vast chunk of it is presumably drawn by those old enough to know better. To quote Alan Partridge, “the sad thing is, the guy obviously had talent.”

    Note how a Good Sonic Fan Art Tumblr was created yesterday: //goodsonicfanart.tumblr.com/

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    Insightful articles like this are mostly the reason I still come and read Sonic Retro.
    …being an adult sonic fan who doesn’t share the same opinions on the modern series with most of the fans.
    (And doesn’t understand how Sega expects everyone to own all these consoles :P)

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    It bothers us. We, who write for the website, for the people who contribute to the site and I’m pretty sure it bugs the hell out of people at any other Sonic or SEGA website you go to. The community has gotten a seriously bad rap and frankly it needs to do what it can to give itself a better light to not only press, but to the general public.

    If I dare even mention something related to Sonic outside of Retro I just get bombarded by the usual “Oh those furry asshole fucks.” and other worthless bullying tactics that doesn’t give me much to build a discussion off of. Maybe I do want to discuss my hobby to other people, yet this nonsense continues to happen. So yes, you can expect articles like this to pop up, and if you’re not up for reading it or if it doesn’t bother you, you can always skip them, hell these kind of articles rarely happen anyway, so don’t knock yourself out.

    I mean, shit. This article is talking about how these websites with their pro-feminisim and anti-bullying agenda just contradicted all of that with this article. The one time you can actually cry foul to these people, but nope, your keyword search is too smart for that.

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