Brad Wardell Is A Douchebag, And I'm Never Buying Anything From StarDock Again

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Heya everyone! I'm pretty insulting in this blog post, but that's it. They're just bad names, nothing threatening. If you threaten anyone, or even worse, threaten their family, regardless of what side you think they're on or how bad you think they are, you are literal human trash and don't deserve to be on this planet. Don't do it.

I rarely participate in boycotts. They're terrible coordination problems, and almost never accomplish anything. But every once in a while something is so heinous that I can't morally support a company with my dollars anyway. Today, that company is StarDock.

I love StarDock's games - I've sunk several hundred hours into Galactic Civilizations 2, and highly anticipated doing the same for their new Gal Civ 3. But today I saw several tweets from their CEO, and was blown away by how much of a sexist fucking jackass he is.

It started with an offensive comic drawn about Zoe Quinn, repeating the lie-that-won't-die about her sleeping with game reviewers to get them to give her games good review scores:

(The artist took down their comic, so I'll honor their intent and not show it either.)

Sometime a little later, the comic artist mentioned how much they loved doing comics for GG, which prompted Brad Wardell, StarDock CEO, to respond by encouraging them to apply to StarDock as an artist.

Brad Wardell inviting the artist to apply

This is some bullshit by itself - the person's a half-decent artist, but they're being explicitly courted due to their contribution to a harassment campaign.

But it got really bad afterwards. Zoe complained on Twitter about this behavior, and Brad went off the fucking deep end calling her a "liar" and explaining why she is so "reviled".

Brad Wardell being a dick

More of Brad Wardell being a dick

This seemed astonishing to me - a highly visible gaming CEO, harassing a woman and lying about his own actions? So I checked the rest of his Twitter feed, and lo and behold, he's a GamerGater and a complete dick.

Wow. I can't support someone who's that much of a jerk, willing to harass and support the harassment of innocent people, and then lie and misrepresent his own actions. I really wanted to play more of his company's games, but I've already got plenty of backlog to burn through, and I don't need to throw money at that trash. I'm boycotting StarDock for the foreseeable future.

This is almost literally the tiniest sacrifice I can make, costing me almost nothing at all, but every little bit of support helps for those people dealing with this harassment every day. I support Zoe Quinn and all like her who are being abused by the misogynistic hate group called GamerGate, and I encourage all of you to do so too.

Updated Dec 21 to remove comic, fix some pronouns, and add a disclaimer, after having a polite conversation with Brad.

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I've invested a lot of time into GalCiv 2 too, but now, yeah, it seems I won't buy any games by Stardock anymore.

In his “version” he is just playing with words responding not to the situation, but to the actual wording of the Quinn's tweet. And all his other tweets are utterly disgusting.


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Shameful to see a fellow cartoonist engaging in weaponized storytelling. I always say it's over when the cartoonists make comics. The world will forget most everything but a comic, even an erroneous one. They're too easy to pass around.


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Thanks for sharing this Brad, they've lost another customer. And yes, I own a few of their games.


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Can we stop the GamerGater witch hunt already? No. GamerGaters are NOT misogynists. Do rude and vile misogynists rally under the GamerGate banner? Sure. That's their right, whether we like it or not. But making blanket statements declaring all GamerGaters misogynist is just as douchey as Brad Wardell's behaviour.

Its because influential people like you, Tab, are willing to make these blanket statements that GamerGate as an entire movement gets a bad rap that doesn't address the actual subset of individuals who don't know how to respect other human beings. Every movement will have its fair share of assholes - just look at the history of the United States! Don't be one of them, I implore you.

GamerGate, contrary to popular belief, is not a hate group. Does the existence of the Westboro Baptist Church make all Christians homophobic monsters? Stop assuming that your absolute opinions are the only viable ones. Just because you're not slandering a woman doesn't mean that you're not slandering someone - in this case, a large quantity of both men AND women who DO identify as GamerGaters, and NOT misogynists.


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Sorry, nope, GamerGate's a hate group. It was started with a slanderous pile of lies from a jilted ex-boyfriend with a chip on his shoulder, got picked up and popularized by misogynists, and has been explicitly about harassing women (and feminists, and trans people, and "sluts", and a few other groups they like to hate) the entire time.

I've watched this from the beginning. I've seen it evolve over time. It has never stopped being terrible. The comic I talk about in this post is one example - Quinn did not sleep with game journos to get them to give her game good reviews. It's just one of the persistent lies that GGers can't stop telling each other, because they're terrible.

The founding mythos that it's about "ethics in gaming journalism" was never true; you can tell (if the constant death and rape threats weren't enough) by the people who get harassed whenever there's an accusation. Hint: it's always the woman! Plus, nobody cares about the big, important ethics issues that don't involve the possibility of harassing women, like the disturbing and ethically dubious relationships between big game publishers and game journo sites, paid-for review scores, etc. It's only the indie games, particularly those created by women, that get the hate.

There are some people who are not actively misogynistic, sure. They're willfully blind, and willing to completely ignore the massive problems with GG and misrepresent the group. That's better than being a vile troll, but not by a lot.

(And women can be misogynistic too, you know!)


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This weekend, I was watching a dev livestream celebrating the launch of Infinite Crisis, the new DC Comics MOBA. One of their community managers (the senior one, I believe) happens to be a transgender woman. She is a very competent individual and has very obviously worked hard in an industry and position that isn't often friendly to people who fail to meet prejudicial expectations.

As a segue between a couple bits of programming on this 12-hour livestream marathon, she made her first appearance on-camera, interviewing one of the devs. What didn't surprise me happened next. What surprised me very, very much happened right after that. Someone made the inevitably transphobic and ignorant comments in the livestream's chat feed. What I did not expect, what almost made me cry for happiness and pride in my fellow gamers was that not one other person repeated, agreed with, or even condoned the transphobic remarks directed at the community manager. And more than a handful immediately spoke up on her behalf.

Thank you for speaking out. Thank you because I know what it's like to be the "different guy" or the token gay in a gamer setting. Thank you because I know how demeaning and dehumanizing the hate feels when you're on the receiving end of it. Thank you because several of my close friends who happen to be transgender need all the strong allies they can get. Thank you because I personally know people who struggle to come to terms with sexual violence done to them. Thank you most of all because I am one of them.

That said, I'm of two minds on this. I don't think boycotting StarDock will do much good. Boycotts work when targeted against a toxic culture, not an individual. The bus boycotts during the civil rights era were justified because almost every driver directly participated in an inherently racist system. Until and unless the corporate culture at StarDock is shown to be as reprehensible as Wardell himself, I don't feel a boycott is the right move. If StarDock does poorly, Brad Wardell will most likely be the last employee to lose their job, not the first, and bankrupting StarDock would hurt a lot of good people who just want to make stuff. I don't feel like Wardell's employees should all be punished for his sins. That doesn't seem fair to me.

But... I don't know of a better way to get Wardell out of the picture or (better yet but far less likely) to apologize, make meaningful amends, and renounce GamerGate and their misogynistic hate-fest. I'm not boycotting StarDock, but I am open to figuring out other (more just) means of achieving just ends.


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#9 - michagorov:

Brad comes off rude and pissed off in his replies, but he has a valid point. All he said in his response tweet was that they're hiring artists. Sure, he asked if they guy is American and expressed clear interest in interviewing him for the job, but that he did not "offer to hire" him. What Zoe said may not have been an outright lie, but it sure is implicative and annoying.

That said, I do not agree with Brad's response at all. It's obvious that what really pissed Zoe off was that the guy was even considered as a candidate, after she told Brad all about is "evil deeds", his offensive drawings and his GG membership. Instead of nitpicking on Zoe for "lying" about the exact wording of his tweet, or accusing her of attention seeking (even rightfully so), all he had to do was ignore her.

There's nothing wrong in interviewing or hiring a guy, even if he picked on Zoe in the past and even if he is, or was, a GamerGater. Nothing. I'm not affiliated with GamerGate, nor am I fond of them in any way. Most of them come across as pitiful beta basement dwellers and /b/tards who live with their parents at 30 and are terrified of the opposite sex. But they have a right to exist and voice their shallow thoughts.

It may come off as a big shock to some of you out there, but not everyone has to partake in your vendetta against groups you hate, or else be considered a "douchebag". Brad runs a business and it's fully within his rights to (legally) hire any specialist, if he thinks their skills can improve his product and increase his revenue.

I'm glad you decided to post about your decision to boycott StarDock. Firstly, because it's a great exercise of your free speech, which is always a good thing, no matter how I feel about the actual content . But mostly, because it's a great consumer recommendation for people like me, who are bound to enjoy all the things people like you despise. This approach has proved itself when, thanks to your kind advertisment, I found StarDock's website and browsed through their wares. So far, I've spent $120 for games and a bunch of useful Windows tools they offer and I can say I'm a happy customer. I'll certainly tell my friends about them and be sure to come back for more.

Please keep up with your boycotts and don't forget to tell us all about them. I'll be following up close!


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#10 - Tab Atkins Jr.:

Man, don't even try this shit. The tweet screenshotted above is a clear request for the artist to come work with them. Zoe's comment was a reasonable gloss; we're not debating a legal contract here.

Yes, there is something wrong with hiring someone specifically based on their work with a hate group. If the artist had said "I wish making comics for #KKK was my job. It's fun and let me connect with the religious community in ways I couldn't imagine. You guys rock" and a business owner responded to that tweet with "yo, we're hiring!", it would be obviously gross, and show off some very sad beliefs in the business owner.

Sure, people have the right to do that crap anyway. And the rest of us have the right to point out that they're shitty human beings for doing so.

And, uh, I don't despise Stardock. Use some reading comprehension - I explicitly say I'm sad about this, because I enjoy their games. I just can't morally support the company.

(And pretending that you're not associated with or sympathetic to GG is sad. The "people like you" thing makes it obvious. At least be honest, then you'll have a glimmer of good in your soul.)


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#11 - someone132:

Hmm...I discovered this, and a bunch of other articles, after the underwhelming Star Control: Origins trailer finally got me to Google Wardell. I like learning more about various developers, and meant to do this sometime after Ashes of the Singularity's release, but life got in the way.

"But mostly, because it's a great consumer recommendation for people like me, who are bound to enjoy all the things people like you despise."

So, your instinctive response to someone calling for a boycott is to immediately go up against it? It's a position I can sympathise with, as it likely contributed to a massive, and undeserved failure of Ender's Game, which I liked quite a lot. Of course, I can see the other side's arguments too.

Still, how do you then feel about Wardell and Stardock boycotting UPS over their boycott of Fox News, 7 years ago?

Would your logic now obligate you to do some business over UPS, and then buy some Fox News documentary or whatever, just to compensate for these consecutive boycotts? To me, this is an rather interestive quandary, and I would like to know your opinion.


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#12 - Tab Atkins Jr.:

No, they're only pretending to support things that "people like me" despise (despite the fact that I say quite clearly in my post that I don't despise Stardock's stuff, and actually like it quite a lot; the boycott is for personal reasons). They're not claiming a general "support everything that anyone ever boycotts" position.


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Yet Brad deletes his old Twitter account to mask his douchebagness... new account in 2017.


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