Hi there. Black Gamer here (more on this later). I’ve spent my entire life playing games. I’ve played as Black dudes, White dudes, Black girls, White girls, and all colors in between. I’ve never been the type to look into a deeper meaning with games (for the most part) simply because they’re an escape from real life and an opportunity to visit worlds that were once impossible to visit. From saving the Galaxy as Commander Shepard, advancing on the enemy nexus on Summoners Rift, to constantly getting C- teammate scores in NBA 2K, I’ve played all sorts of games.
Growing up, I was primarily a Nintendo gamer. I was subscribed to Nintendo Power and would wait eagerly for the next great issue to come into the mailbox. It might have been my impressionable mind as a kid, but I always had the idea that Nintendo made the best games and make the best experiences for my friends and I. I eventually grew into opening up to Sony and Microsoft (while shunnung Nintendo during the Wii era), to a point now where I can only stomach a few PC games and Nintendo titles.
I don’t know exactly what changed between the late 90s and today. It could have been my taste in games, or growing out of some titles, but one thing has never changed, and that is my love for video games.
Over the past week, all gamers have heard about the Zoe Quinn scandal, and the ensuing #GamerGate movement happening on twitter. Over the past half decade or so game “news” has taken a sharp turn from informational to opinionated, and not just about games. While the internet is an amazing thing in which people can share their ideas and convictions, those who claim to be journalists must still adhere to a code of ethics and professional decorum. I learned this in my basic level communications classes.
Racism, Sexism, Mysogyny, Feminism. If you were to ask me, these are some dirty words being used quite frequently in all aspects in gaming talk. These blanket statements are used to silence critics, prop one’s ego, and shape the way the video game industry is viewed. Not only that, review sites are sent pretty generous gifts from studios and developers to get a good word out on that blockbuster title it just released. It’s hard to see where the line separates fairness from influenced writing.
Let’s not pretend this doesn’t only happen in games. A left leaning person will spit venom at Fox News, while MSNBC will gladly stretch the truth for its left leaning viewers. Conservatives will claim Fox is the end all be all in information, while scoffing at anyone who watches MSNBC is ill informed. While both sides have valid arguments, these people will cling to what they want to believe and hear, and take it as fact.
Game news is no different. Whether it’s an article about console wars, Social Justice, or Battlefield vs. Call of duty, we all have our own opinions, which helps advance the medium every day. When opinions are silenced, censored, or plain ignored by the media, this will cause a stagnation in the conversation about games.
Living in Los Angeles allows me to rub elbows with the Game Industry on an every day basis. The Industry has some of the best people I’ve met, and some of the most creative and wonderful minds I’ve come across. I hate to see developers go under because jobs are lost and I see what effort it takes to put out good games. These people work hard to give us our experiences, and I don’t want to see those handicapped because of radical views on what a game should be. These same developers may be too afraid to take a risk in their game because of backlash from the media, while a less deserved game will be propped up as the game to end all games.
As a Black gamer I’m told to be upset about the lack of diversity in games. I’m told to hate the straight while male demographic that dominates the industry. Maybe I’m out of touch with my people or my roots, but I simply don’t care. Give me a chance to make a Black character, and I’ll take it… But I won’t boycott a game simply because it has 3 White protags. I won’t blackmail a developer because of the story THEY want to tell. It might be my upbringing, but I just can’t bring myself to be offended about these things.
That being said, developers have an expectation to deliver great games, with FULL experiences out of the box, and give us VALUE for the money I spend.
I want games discussion to be open. I want to be able to engage with SJWs on a person to person level without being called nasty blanket terms because I disagree with a point. I want to have a civil conversation as to whether or not Wii U will come back as a desirable console. I’m hoping for too much, only because human nature will always get in the way, but in the meantime, #GamerGate will have us THINKING about how we talk to each other about games, and will hopefully encourage transparency to the media that covers it.