ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) — A local arcade released a new set of promotional buttons, and some Facebook and Reddit users are frustrated with the choice of message.
High Scores is a video game store located in Alameda that offers classic gaming in a retro atmosphere, and it has been in business for nearly a decade. On August 18 the store posted a photo to Facebook which featured custom promotional pins. The pins used phrases such as “I’m triggered” with an image of a video game trigger controller, and “My pronoun is…” before listing out the actions in the Konami cheat code, a common sequence that many classic gamers know.
Users on Facebook and Reddit criticized the business’s use of language on the pins. Negative and supportive comments piled onto the business’s Facebook page where the photo of the pins had been shared with the statement, “Choose your preference and find your people!” The store’s owners, Meg and Shawn Livernoche, responded to the comments explaining the store’s reasoning behind the pins:
We are fully aware that not everyone thinks the buttons are funny and some even find them offensive. We appreciate and respect the fact that you are a long term customer, and thank you for your respectful approach, but we must agree to disagree here.High Scores Facebook comment
Some users stated that they were disappointed by High Score’s use of the language, and the store’s response felt “defensive” and only made the situation worse. Other users stated that they would no longer be patronizing the business due to the choice of language on the pins.
The response wasn’t all negative by any means, many users came to the store’s defense over the issue. A few said they wanted to buy all of the pins.
The Livernoches say that their intention here was never to hurt anyone, “I think it’s okay for people to use language and bring levity to current social issues, people should feel free to express themselves,” Meg told KRON4. The couple also says that they are not the first ones to toy with this language, and they can’t believe it has caused such an outrage.
Every person who comes through our doors is welcome. We don’t care about sexuality or identity politics. They will have to leave us with the freedom to judge people on an individual basis. We expect the same respect in return even if we’re white and cishet.Shawn Livernoche, co-owner of High Score
By far the most difficult part of this scenario for the Livernoches has been the personal attacks, especially those aimed at Meg, “I’ve been getting some really nasty feedback about my character that is inappropriate, abusive, assumptive across the board…There seems to be no one who will listen to our perspective,” she told KRON4.
When speaking on the matter Meg also noted that, “intent isn’t always the most important thing, but I don’t want anyone to feel personally unwelcome and I’m sorry that the nuances of these might hit upon a personal life experience for them, but the intent is to speak to our customer base.”
Reddit users also criticized a recent job posting that was seen at High Scores. The posting lists job requirements including, “You recognize that doing the job you’re being paid to do take priority over expressing yourself while you’re on the clock.” Another listed requirement for any future employee of High Score is knowing how to take a joke.
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Though the language in the sign may appear off-putting, the Livernoches say they try to create a tolerant environment in the workplace, “our focus is on the business and it’s not on the individual who is working there,” they said. At one point in the store’s history, they even employed a person who identified as a wolf, “He wore a tail and various other wolf accouterments,” Shawn said.
Ultimately the Livernoches have been disappointed with how people have approached them with their negative feedback. They hope the personal attacks can be traded for more civil conversation, “We’re all learning here, and it’s important that we remember that,” they said.