“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.