Zen Of Design

The design and business of gaming from the perspective of an experienced developer

Kern Being Kern: Part Gazillion

You may remember Mark Kern from his little temper tantrum from earlier this year – a temper tantrum that may or may not have resulted in him being shown the door from the company he founded. Whether this was due to his spending all of his time shitposting rather than getting work done, or whether there were more egregious problems, who knows. All I know is that this time around, they didn’t involve a $3 Million dollar bus for what was probably the most awesome planned Speed update of all time.

Welp, he’s back and he’s declared that he’s…. no longer neutral!

Yes, previously, he was being neutral as he slammed the press, coddled idiotic conspiracy theories and then cheered on the trolls of GamerGate as they brigaded the #GDC hashtag with insults, ad hominem attacks on game developers and anime porn, among other filth. But now he’s committed to #GamerGate because some people saw that the new Deus Ex is using the term ‘mechanical apartheid’ to describe their story, and some tiny number of that thought that merited a conversation.

For what it’s worth, I think that ‘mechanical apartheid’ is an awesome starting point that’s completely appropriate for the Deus Ex I know and love, and ties directly into the time-honored tradition of using alleghory in sci-fi and geek culture to discuss tricky and controversial subjects in modern society. Where Deus Ex’ narrative was going in their previous release was reminiscent to me of how Marvel Comics used the X-Men as an alleghory for the struggle of the Gay Rights movement. In a note to KiA, the game devs discussed how that was actually their plans. But hey, it’s just the start of a conversation, and if some are offended, we could actually listen to them and see if they have something worthwhile to say, right?

Ha ha, just kidding. Instead people like Mark are just going to freak the fuck out. Once again, the outrage from the Perpetual Outrage Machine that is KiA and GG vastly outstrips the supposed outrage from the other side. Seriously, I have a fair number of supposed SJWs in my twitter feed, and saw nary a kerfuffle in casual observation. Certainly nothing that compared to KiA’s utter shitstorm, or Mark Kern’s continued meltdown into nonsensical blather.


  1. No, we really don’t have to listen to people who clearly don’t know what apartheid was. Sometimes people have stupid opinions and those opinions are fair game to being mocked.

    It was embarrassing that anyone cried about the term, and the sooner the bruhahah dies down, the better.

    • Damion Schubert

      June 18, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      And as mentioned in the story, any objection to the term ‘apartheid’ has been light and almost entirely imagined. The people blowing up about this are basically building up paper tigers to rip them down.

      • Allan Schumacher

        June 18, 2015 at 10:49 pm

        I found most of the protest in my feed against the term was more side eying at its use.

        I’m sure you can find some that responded much more outwardly/aggressively.

        My questions regarding Deus Ex are more along the lines of “Augmentations were typically a thing for the privileged rich, but now those people have been flipped around and are the oppressed? I’m curious if they explore that in more detail.”

      • I don’t know who you follow, (nor do I care) but I saw plenty of trolling and bullshit about various games during E3, Deus Ex among them.

        Just more evidence that twitter is an outrage machine, and not much else.

  2. John Henderson

    June 18, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    I just wonder if that’s Gunther Herrmann at the end of the trailer. He wanted orange.

    I care more about that than Mark Kern or what he thinks. Show me he has hustle to actually get another game made, then maybe I’ll care.

  3. Hm. Googled Mechanical Apartheid. Went through five pages of google results. I think there was ONE person in a comment who didn’t like it.

    Follow a number of SJWs on Twitter. Nothing.


    But not as baffling as Mark Kern thinking he used to be neutral.

    • I just did what you did and I’ haven’t found anything outside neutral press announcements and reactionaries bashing “SJW” for having an opinion because FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION.

      Given the tendency of the people of the internet having all kind of opinions, failing to find a decent number people having a serious problem with the term is baffling indeed.

      • I follow someone on twitter who is actually disabled and uses an actual prosthesis, and he was pretty upset about the idea. But you know what? He’s got a point, and a perspective worth listening to.

        Once again, the chuckleheads of GG mistake critical discussion for silencing, because they don’t know any way to be critical themselves without pitching a fucking fit and trying to silence people they disagree with.

  4. So he’s officially attaching his name to a group that is so past it’s time that nobody gives a crap about it anymore? Will he buy these pair of parachute pants, too, if I show him a pic of MC Hammer wearing them from the 90’s? Hahaha!

  5. Like everyone else here, I only really saw what amounts to side eyes at the use of “mechanical apartheid” as a term used to market the game (with a few exceptions, and I understand that it was referred to as a “white game” by someone which strikes me as unfair). Taken outside the context of the games story and sandwiched between explanations of the rad ass weapons you are going to be blowing things up with, it starts to look a little crass even if that actual game handles it well.

    I also think that the previous games (HR not the original 2) POC characters are not doing the phrase any favors. Look on youtube for “Letitia the Trash Lady” and get a sense of the kind of representation any person of color who played the previous game got in the detroit sections. I can understand a little skepticism that the concept of a “mechanical apartheid” will be handled with a sensitivity to the racial implications of the term in the context of its history. But of course, to know for sure we will have to wait and see before we can pass judgement on the game. I think a little side eye is warranted though. Just like Ubisoft has an uphill battle to convince people the graphical bars they set in press conferences are accurate post Watch Dogs, Eidos Montreal has an uphill battle to convince people that they will handle race with sensitivity.

    That having been said, if they do handle it well, I think it has the potential to be a great game. I’m glad they are tackling serious subjects, as Deus Ex has always done. It’s in twitter form, so super hard to follow as a conversation unfortunately. But Austin Walker has some discussion on this down his timeline for anyone who is interested.

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