YouTube removes large channel for killing suffragette in ‘Red Dead Redemption 2'
Shirrako, a UK-based gaming-oriented YouTuber with a respectable half-a-million subscribers, was removed from YouTube today without the usual channel strike system (which issues warnings for violations of terms of service) after a video he posted went viral. The video in question featured Shirrako having the protagonist of Rockstar Game’s ‘Red Dead Redemption 2', Arthur Morgan, punching and lassoing an NPC who interrupts in-game trade with dialogue about women’s suffrage. He then proceeds to end the video as any potentially political discussion does in the modern age: feeding her to an alligator. It’s your regular “save, kill everyone in the town, reload your save” thing that we’ve all done.
Just me? Oh, well. Awkward.
Personal psychopathic tendencies aside, the video gained a lot of attention, reaching over a million views. Whilst clearly in the spirit of shit-posting, it unintentionally garnered some distasteful comments from a mixture of run-of-the-mill sarcastic trolls, and no doubt a few genuine misogynists.
However, following negative press coverage from Kotaku, Polygon and even mainstream news outlets, YouTube decided to forgo usual policy of their three-strike warning system, and instead removed the channel from the website entirely. This is no mistake on YouTube’s behalf: from articles proclaiming the prevalence of misogyny in gaming, to op-eds declaring that virtual simulations of violence being indications of prejudice in reality, this is undoubtedly a move to cater to the outrage culture perpetuated by online social justice warriors.
These articles neglect to mention the in-game crime system making such actions morally reprehensible, with authorities placing a bounty on the player (as is in many role-playing games). They also appear to downplay the role of the main-story mission in which the player escorts a wagon full of protesters and picket signs to a demonstration for women’s suffrage. Rockstar is undoubtedly portraying the suffrage movement as a noble cause, particularly as they don’t include any women who opposed the gaining of the right to vote (wishing to avoid conscription or fire duty) who were also politically active at the time.
Despite the politically-charged circumstances around the controversial ban, was the video in fact created in reaction to identity politics, and the prevalence of “progressive” ideologies seeming to intrude into gaming (see all of Gamergate)? It would seem not, actually. A statement given to Motherboard in their article sheds light on his motivation for posting:
“I know you’re probably expecting some political answer but the truth is it was simply a funny moment from one of my streams which I’ve decided to upload as a separate video,”
Shirrako explains that he simply found the NPC’s constant interruptions “rather annoying” as he simply wanted to “shop in peace”. He closes with:
“I’m sure that as a gamer you’re familiar with these annoying NPC situations.”
To those familiar to the recent “NPC” meme, you may have had a good laugh at that one.
Fortunately, at the time of writing, Shirrako has announced via twitter ( @ShirrakoGaming ) that the channel has been reinstated; due in no small part to channels such as Boogie, The Quartering, and Sargon of Akkad bringing the YouTube community’s attention to the story.
No matter your political leanings, censorship of perceived social messages is not the hill to die on.