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Diversity and Gaming; Progress is Slow

back in black.
Come at me, bro. (SR IV)

I read an article about Anita Sarkeesian being harassed at a panel by Gamer Gaters, and it doesn’t surprise me at all. She’s become a lightning rod for all the problems hidden within the gaming community, and she’s dealt with a ton of harassment, much of it vile. She was targeted from the beginning when she announced that she was going to look at games from a feminist perspective because she loved games. That was it. It was enough to get the haters hating her, and someone made a game that allowed the player to beat up Anita. Before she even had one video, the hatred was intense, and it made me wonder why gamers’ egos were so fucking fragile. When her first video came out, I watched it. It wasn’t terrific, but she had a couple good points. I’ve watched a few more, and I’ve had the same conclusion every time. She makes some good points, but she’s overly broad (ha!) in her assessments. Also, she needs work on her presentation.

That said, there are a ton of problems with game and representation. Not just of women, but of any minority. Ian once asked me why I spent an hour customizing my avatar, for Mass Effect, I believe it was, when I can’t see my character as I play. It’s hard to explain why I do it, and I do it for every game when it’s possible. My favorite avatar is from Saints Row IV because she looks like me if you squint and as long as I keep sunglasses on her. I was so in love with her, I took dozens of pictures. Because of her, I liked the game even more than I normally would. Here’s the thing about representation. It does really fucking matter. Whether it’s movies or books or video games, seeing people like me makes a difference. Being invisible in media is a way of society saying, “You don’t matter. I don’t see you, and I don’t care.” It’s hard to explain if you’ve consistently had representation in media how alienating it is not to see yourself anywhere. I was watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix, and it would occasionally show an ad for one of its shows. I would say, “It’s white people doing white people thing!” Every fucking ad was predominantly white people. It’s 20 fucking 17, and I will not watch something without people of color in it. It’s really that simple. There is no excuse for it, and it’s just willful at this point.

Back to video games. It’s funny how the assholes bleating about special snowflakes (those of us who want diversity in video games) are the same ones who are upset when, say, Mafia III deals with racism in America. At the last E3 conference, there were three games coming out that I knew would piss off the Gamer Gaters. Gators? Whatever. Far Cry 5, Assassin’s Creed Origins, and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The enemy in the first game is far-right Americans; the second is set in Egypt with mostly non-white characters, and the third is set in America in the sixties, and the leading character of the American resistance in a black woman with a big Afro. The minute I heard about the last game, I tweeted:

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