Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Why getting rid of "isms" from games and discussions about games is important

I've already talked about the so-called "GamerGate". On occasions, I've mentioned the numerous other scandals revolving around the exclusion on "non-gamer", i.e. people who aren't white, straight, male youngsters.

Let's put that behind us. All of those sterile pseudo-debates. When the "discussion" is about standing for social justice or not, that is not a choice.

No, these flame wars and harassment campaigns are only hurting the video game industry.

Let's work our way in from the outside, shall we? For people accusing video games of creating real-life issues of violence, the would-be rapists and killers, as well as the onlookers idling letting the threats happen, are a blessing. These anti-videogame advocates are either confirmed in their beliefs or are gathering ammunitions for future campaigns.

Now, statistics show that more and more people are playing games on their phones, tables, or social media of choice. So how can they fall for the "video games are evil" routine? Simple, they often do not identify as gamers or even just vide game player. And why should they? The "gamer" label has been appropriated by insult-spewing bigots and said bigots are excluding "casual" games from the "true" video games.

As for people with more level heads that consider that "gamer" should only describe someone playing video games, and as such accept the qualificative for themselves... These persons are either reconsidering this acceptance or just walking away, like Phil Fish leaving the game industry. Even more resilient "gamers" lose then, because some interesting voices get muffled.

On the journalism side of things... well, it's a lose-lose situation. You have to cover this, even if the accusations from the sexist are total, utter BS. Since the discussion inevitably shift from the real, possible issues of corruption, or quality of the developer's work, or any deep subject to a shallow, uninteresting pseudo-debate (because this is not really a debate, see above) about whether games include example of sexisms. Which of course they do, because society at large is still shedding the old shell of patriarchy and that involve growing pains; video games are only a small part of a much larger issue, but as gamers or industry veterans, we start with our own backyard.

Of course, the reader of gaming sites also lose. I'm pretty sure you'd rather read, and I know I'd rather write, another simple review to get your gaming fix of the day. Or at least, not have to cycle through the same arguments about the same old questions.

Heck, even people who don't like Depression Quest (since Zoe Quinn is at the centre of this latest debacle, let's use her game as example) see their opinion muffled. As the Escapist explained in two videos about Anita Sarkeesian, all discussions about the quality of her videos have to be tabled to present an united front against the torrent of hate and harassment. The Gamergaters are clamouring for free speech, but they are seriously stiffling it... And the "united front" mentality is a relic from the "censorship Wars" as Bob Chipman put it.

Finally, even the so-called, exclusionary gamer do not benefit from this. If they lose this battle and the next, they eventually be left alone in their very small corner of the universe... but they will lose so much creativity and opportunity. they may lose games altogether, because if it becomes too much of a niche market, it won't be profitable any more... This is especially ironic and tragic when their main fear is that their games will be taken from them if more social justice is introduced in the narrative.

So yeah, I'm tired of always sounding like a broken record. I want to see better thing for the video games. But I'd rather keep repeating myself than let these bigots win this fight. Because if they do, we all lose, even them.