Friday, November 7, 2014

The games we play

I'm a gamer. I come from a family of gamers. Just about every one of my friends growing up was pretty heavy in to video games. I'm 26, but I can remember a day when video game nerds were begging for video gaming to become mainstream, and during the last few years, this has happened and the world is better for it. Of course, with anything that becomes mainstream, it has to be able to work for a larger audience. This is why hip hop has evolved from being dominated by one part of NYC in the mid 80's to being a global phenomenon in the year 2014. It's why blockbuster movies are test screened in front of several different types of audiences. Nothing that plans on being mainstream, and accepted in America, and the world in general will stay exactly the same way it was when it first started in some guy's basement.

Of course, for some people, the very idea of having other people enjoy their hobby and wanting it to be more representative of how society actually looks, is about as offensive as kicking their grandfather in the face while he's enjoying dinner. This seems to be especially true for gamers during the last couple of years. As consumers, critics and even the industry itself have pushed for games to be more inclusive and actually represent it's broad customer base, there has been a backlash by a subset of gamers who just can't deal with games that don't feature the same tired, white, male anti-hero who basically has women and minorities as either racially insensitive sidekicks, stereotypical villains, weird sexual objects, background decorations or someone that the hero just has to save if he's ever gonna get laid by something that isn't a hooker. Even in games where you can build a character from scratch, the options for female and minority custom characters are scarce. These are just some of the broad things touched on by Anita Sarkeesian in her Tropes vs Women in Video Games series on youtube. For just mentioning this, she got death threats. In what world does a slightly boring video that brings up a few major points about sexism in media warrant constant death threats?