Videogames, Fuck Off – Part 2

I said I was done. But I’m going to keep playing games, and I’m going to keep writing about games. Because I love the medium, and because there are things out there that give me a glimmer of hope for the future. So I don’t mean that I’m done with games. I’m just done being an apologist for them.

But I’m also done hoping that the games industry is going in the right direction, because I haven’t got a single reason to believe that to be the case. And I’m done hoping that the ‘indie scene’ will address these problems and rescue the medium, because it hasn’t and it clearly isn’t interested in doing so any time soon. That doesn’t mean that everybody’s part of the problem, it just means that too few of us are part of the solution.

Things might get better eventually, but it’s not looking good right now.

If you think I’m wrong please let me know. And if you have something you think will restore my hopes in games, and the culture surrounding them, please let me know. I really want to be wrong on this.

So what can we do to improve the situation – if things aren’t going in the right direction how can we fix things ourselves? I really don’t know. But the following plan is as good as any: Don’t Stop Talking About It.

It’s so easy to ignore this stuff, because it’s everywhere. And it’s exhausting to make a fuss every time we see it happening. But we can’t just ignore it, because nothing will change that way.

If you see a marketing campaign focusing in on women’s tits or legs or slow, corseted deaths then complain about it to the people responsible. If you read an article that’s problematic, call them out in the comments thread. If your friends are calling someone a faggot then call them the fuck out on it. If a game is really egregious in some important way, don’t buy it, and don’t do it silently.

A lot of fuss has been made recently about how you should ‘vote with your wallet’, but that’s only half the battle. The other half is explaining why someone’s lost your sale.

Make sure the people who made that game know why you didn’t buy it. If you’ve already bought a game and it’s really problematic then complain to the developers. I think this is useful for two main reasons. One, without direct input from their customers, companies are often very bad at pinning down just why one of their products is a success or a failure. And two, lots of people don’t really realise that stuff like this is a problem, and by explaining that it is a problem you might convince them to change the way they operate.

If you’re a journalist: keep asking difficult questions. If a marketing campaign is bullshit then say that to the developers when you interview them, even if they’re not responsible for marketing the game. If a game is stupid, crass, or offensive in some way then write about that. Mention it in the review, the preview, the interview, whatever.

On my part, I’m going to try my best to challenge bullshit when I see it. On this blog and elsewhere. I’m not deluded, though – I know I’ll have little to no effect, because I’m just one person. But I still feel it’s worth doing, and if enough of us keep talking about these issues then who knows – maybe things will eventually start to change.

You may think this kind of behaviour is obnoxious, but we’re not making a fuss over nothing here. This isn’t about EA shutting off servers for its old titles, or Ubisoft delaying a game when we don’t want them to – this is about treating people as human beings,and addressing very real problems both in our culture, and in society as a whole.

So maybe it’s obnoxious. Maybe it’s inconvenient, and maybe it’s confrontational. But if anything in these two posts has rung true, then you need to ask yourself two questions – do you want things to get better, and are you willing to fight to make that happen?

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