¨You're being racist.¨
¨Why do you think trans characters aren´t realistic?¨
Starting a conversation about people´s attitudes can be both difficult and awkward. It makes it even more challenging when the topic of the discussion is something one or all of those involved are passionate about.
Having a conversation about games — both digital and non-digital — is something near and dear to me. The articles for today were fairly different, but both held some common themes present in the gaming industry; namely the disproportionate amount of white, cis-gendered males, nearly 76% of development team compositions (Brewster, 2017), being both represented as designers and being ´catered to´ even though there is a market for non-pony-related ´girl-games.´
[Forgive me this keyboard is absolutely atrocious. Thanks, Hamline.]
Jaynath, a game designer, made a point to not only point out this disparity, but also create a game, 80 Days, that modeled the idea that fantasy games about the past can be altered not just to include cool tech or strange aliens, but also can represent a world a little more equal, a little more progressive (Brewster, 2017).
At one point the game models that the white, male protagonist can´t just use his privileges to fix the problem because they run a lot deeper than one person can fix in the course of a conversation or in the delivery of a little girl´s letter. The designer made a statement to her audience saying, ¨She does not trust you because you are an outsider, you are white, you are male — you are closer to the oppressor than you are to her, and all the good intentions in the world can’t change that¨ (2017).
In the same article Brewster discusses how some (go figure) big-wig game designers might not be as aware of the challenges minorities and other oppressed groups face. After interviewing some successful (white, male) designers their responses to questions contrasted with each other exemplifying the divide in the gaming community about exclusivity and representation (2017).
Another article writer, our favorite Ian Bogost, made a similar point to Brewster in pointing out the large amount of white males in the industry and how toxicity can come from the identity of ¨Gamer¨ (2015). Bogost writes, ¨Surely it would have stymied the sense of entitlement among gamers who have sought to exclude anyone — particularly women — who challenge their ideas about what games and gamers look like¨ (2015).
For us, we see such toxicity in the form of the notorious Gamer Gate where a female developer was horribly harassed, threatened, and doxxed (her personal information was given out) as well as other females in the industry because of some angry men who don´t want to share ´their´ gaming culture with women.
Bogost talks a lot about identity in his article, focusing on games that revolve around simulation where identity is placed (or not placed) by those playing the game rather than being told who the protagonist is. In an ideal situation, he ponders, ¨What if the real fight against monocultural bias …does not involve the accelerated indulgence of identification, but the abdication of our own selfish, individual desires in the interest of participating in systems larger than ourselves?¨ (2015).
To this is seems plausible that for those who are partial to simulation games like Cities: Skylines, Sims, and a huge base of other games of the genre (Prison Architect, for example) that not having to deal with individual identities, including ones own, might be a pleasant way to unwind and escape from the identity-focused nature of many cultures.
Regardless of one´s personal predilections for games or politics it seems no corner of the world, especially entertainment, is free of the fighting and clashing of minorities and oppressors, and the struggle of inclusive, representative identities in any community.
Bogost, Ian. (March 15, 2015). Video Games Are Better Without Characters. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/ technology/archive/2015/03/video-games-are-better-without- characters/387556/
Brewster, Kat. (May 22, 2017). The Pitfalls of Trying to Tell Stories Outside Your Own Experience. Vice: Waypoint. Retrieved from https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/ article/9k9vw5/the-pitfalls-of-trying-to-tell-stories-outside-your-own-experience