Legendary game developer John Carmack has defended his decision to attend a science fiction and fantasy convention for “non-leftist” writers, following social media criticism.
Carmack announced he would attend BasedCon this week via Twitter, prompting displeasure from followers upset at the event’s description as an alternative to the “publishing industry’s hostility to authors who are critical of progressive dogma”.
The event’s name stems from the internet slang “based”, which BasedCon’s own About page describes as “the opposite of social justice activism” and identified by “based beliefs” such as “discriminating against white people is racism”, “men cannot give birth”, and also “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.
“If you think people with a certain skin colour can’t be racist or you expect people to use made-up pronouns when talking about you, you may want to do a reality check before coming to BasedCon,” the page continues.
Carmack is listed on BasedCon’s website as a guest, after an appearance at the same event last year where he gave a talk on AI and took part in panels on aerospace and fact-checking novels.
“Politics didn’t come up once in my conversations,” Carmack has now said, in a lengthy post published in response to the criticism.
My comments on BasedCon
It is unfortunate that Rob has made BasedCon so intentionally provocative. I told him as much after the event last year – I felt a little uncomfortable. There is a demographic that welcomes the in-your-face posturing, but it drives away sympathetic…
— John Carmack (@ID_AA_Carmack) May 18, 2023
“It is unfortunate that Rob [Kroese, event organiser and author] has made BasedCon so intentionally provocative,” Carmack wrote. “I told him as much after the event last year – I felt a little uncomfortable. There is a demographic that welcomes the in-your-face posturing, but it drives away sympathetic people that would otherwise be happy to talk about craft, stories, and technology.
“Even when someone gives you a clear signal, it is a mistake to extrapolate it to an entire constellation of beliefs and behaviours, and then to assume they are contagious by association. That shortchanges a lot of people.
“I’m not a culture warrior, and I don’t want to strike blows against anyone. I don’t follow activists on either side, including Rob, because I tend to think that all the negativity and resentment is detrimental to both the author and target.”
Carmack says he was simply interested in attending as a fan of “hard science fiction stories with a bit of a competent libertarian vibe”… “in contrast with the big commercial SF/fantasy conventions I had attended”.
BasedCon will run for its third year this September, at a hotel in Michigan. The event’s exact location is not public for security reasons, its website states.
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