Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: diversity

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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Keep Your Football Out of My Politics!

clutching my pearls.
Where are my smelling salts?!?

I watched the Super Bowl, but this post is not about the spectacular collapse of the Atlanta Falcons that I couldn’t stop watching, much like a horrific car crash. I want to talk about the commercials, many which could be considered political in nature. * I had seen the Audi commercial in which a man is musing about pay inequality and what is he going to tell his daughter before the Super Bowl, and I read about the backlash by people who considered it anti-male. Basically, the man says in a voice-over (and I’m paraphrasing), “What am I going to tell my daughter about her worth? How her grandfather was worth more than she was? How I’m worth more than her mother is? Will I have to say the same about her? Maybe I won’t.” I thought it was OK, but people on my Twitter TL responded very positively. To me, it was hard to feel positive about it because it’s fucking Audi. Rightly or wrongly, I view them as a 1% car, so I rolled my eyes a bit at the ad. However, I couldn’t understand the vitriol aimed at it. A semi-prominent female conservative…I’ll call her a pundit for a lack of a better word…tweeted that we passed the Equal Pay Act so they were just being ignorant. We all know that when a law is passed, everything is magically better, right? It’s a fact that men get paid more than women do for the same job,** laws be damned. In other words, Audi is right. Men are still paid more than women are, and I applaud them for addressing the issue at the very least. It’s astonishing to me how people see this as anti-male. Stating the facts and saying you hope it’s different for your daughter is about as milquetoast as you can be for a protest ad.

The thing is, when you’re used to getting perks simply for being who you are, anything that challenges that is seen as a threat or as a net loss. Especially if you don’t consider the perks you have as being given to you. “I earned this through hard work! Nothing was ever given to me.” They don’t understand that other people work hard, too, but aren’t afforded the same pathways of advancement as they themselves have been. There is a plethora of documentation about these phenomenons, and it’s willful ignorance at this point to not realize it. But, I also understand that it’s not easy to understand a negative. What do I mean by that? A lot of privilege is not being exposed to negative preconceptions people have about different groups. For example, I have been asked to show my identification when writing a check at my local grocery store. I watched the person after me, a white woman, pay with a check and not have to show her identification. I’ve been followed in stores and stopped by police while being Asian in a white neighborhood. I remember being in a gas station in a rural area of the Midwest (can’t remember if it was Iowa or Wisconsin), and the woman refused to look me in the eye. When she was giving me my change, she dropped it on the counter next to my outstretched hand. When I used to fly regularly, I was ‘randomly’ searched every time I flew. If you’ve never had someone refuse to touch your hand because of the color of your skin, you won’t see it as a privilege to be treated pleasantly as you shop.
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