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Custom-made Etika Joy-Cons are “a way to honour Etika’s legacy”, creator says

Alex Blake defends his decision to sell Etikons online

It’s been 18 months since Desmond ‘Etika’ Amofah died and fans are still trying to find ways to eulogize his memory. After a wave of controversy around custom-made Nintendo Switch controllers, Amofah’s family has spoken up about how they feel the Etika brand should live on.

The influencer, best known for hyping up Nintendo products and offering his own take on the world has left a massive imprint on the online gaming subculture. Those choosing to honor his memory have created murals in Brooklyn, made hashtags go viral, and raised money for charity in his legacy.

Alex Blake has been designing custom controllers for consoles since 2013, creating shells with custom graphics that he sells on his Etsy store. In August of 2019, Blake created the first IndieGoGo campaign for a pair of custom Joy-Con controllers for the Nintendo Switch in honor of Etika. These ‘Etikons’ had the influencer’s signature ‘E’ on the handle, as well as the name of his fan base, the JoyCon Boyz. All profits on these controllers went to the JED Foundation, a charity that focuses on positive mental health and suicide prevention.

Though Blake’s first campaign failed to gain traction, the second was an immediate success, raising nearly $37,000 from 300 backers. These Switch shells were produced and shipped out to backers, with any extra pieces being sold on Blake’s Etsy store. According to Blake, over 450 different controller sets were sold in total, with $10,000 of the proceeds going to charity.

However, in September of 2020, Nintendo sent Blake a “cease and desist” letter, noting that the use of the word Joy-Con infringed on its copyright, making it seem like no more would be produced (Nintendo did not respond to a request for comment).

Everything seemed settled until December 6, when YouTube channel ‘JoyConBoyz’ published the video ‘Nintendo hates us.‘ James ‘JoyConJames’, who runs the channel which was created to catalogue and discuss Amofah’s legacy, had reached out to Blake wanting to procure a pair of ‘Etikons’ before being informed of Nintendo’s threatened legal action.

The JoyConBoyz video was posted to Reddit and Twitter, going viral among Amofah’s devoted fans. Large YouTubers like Stephen ‘Omni‘ Silver and Charles Xavier ‘penguinz0‘ White Jr created their own videos pulling in millions of views and agitated commentators. Hatred for Nintendo had reached a boiling point over the past few weeks, with the company receiving massive backlash over how it shut down a third-party Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament.

“I’m happy the information is spreading, quite honestly because I feel pretty personally attacked,” Blake tells The Loadout. “Nintendo targeted me and my work over hundreds of other creators who make and sell custom Joycons.”

Riding off this wave of publicity, Blake launched a new IndieGoGo campaign for ‘Etikons’ without the Joy-Con Boiz iconography to avoid the ire of Nintendo. In under a day, the campaign reached its $5,000 funding goal.

With this new wave of attention though, critics started to pop up online. Twitter user Clowfoe, in a now deleted tweet, claimed that only a portion of the proceeds were going to charity and that the new IndieGoGo shouldn’t be trusted. On Reddit, user raikkhan wrote a post on the Super Smash Bros sub claiming that Blake was “shady as hell.”

Soon, more dissenters started to speak up including Amofah’s brother Cardinal Valery, who posted his disapproval on his Instagram story. He claims that he nor his family were asked for permission.

Valery shares that his family members would like to be “closer to the Etika community.” Moving forward, he plans on streaming more online and selling Etika branded merch to “give back to the fan base.” .

“I don’t want to shut down people having access to him or the community, it’s a lot,” Valery says during his stream. “I want to make sure his legacy is secure moving forward.” Valery did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

“His family is not public,” Blake adds. ”They’re not exactly out advertising who they are or opening up a charity in his honor that I could’ve donated to. They didn’t make themselves accessible, and I found a way to honor Etikas legacy in the best way I could for his community given the circumstances.”

Blake responded to the critics on Twitter, explaining how only $10 of the $65 the original ‘Etikons’ cost went to charity. Costs like assembly, fees, and the product itself, cut into the fundraising amount. For the new IndieGoGo campaign, Blake says that the purchased shells cost $35 instead of $65 and that “30 percent is going to charity and all costs clearly stated up front.”

Etika’s strong fan base continues to keep him relevant long after his passing. Figuring out what is considered proper when a public figure passes away is difficult, especially in niche fandoms. Though his memory will live on, it’s unclear where the future of memorial projects will go.