The never-ending social justice crusade of discovering more and more things that are “racist” and “sexist” continues on in earnest. Its so widespread that you’d be lucky to go a week without hearing the words “white privilege” or be made aware that something or another lacks sufficient amounts of “diversity.”
One of the latest gaming targets of this hysterical activism is a game I, like many gamers, am very fond of: Skyrim. If you are white and played the game then pay attention because, based on which side you chose in that fictional civil war, you could be legitimizing “white supremacy!”
Or so says Victoria Cooper, “a PhD candidate at the University of Leeds,” who was the subject of an article on a history buff website which covers the Middle Ages. The tone of the piece is immediately established with this quote from her:
“The Middle Ages is a space where white supremecy is legitimised. The maintenance of white privilege. The gamer community use ‘historical facts’ to legitimise this kind of literacy.” ~ Victoria Cooper
So gamers are using historical hate facts to legitimize hateful hatred. Now that sure sounds alarming, doesn’t it?
Medieval representations in video games was the focus of Victoria Cooper’s paper, Playing Politics: Exploring Nationalism and Conservatism in Fantasy Video Games, which was given earlier this month at the International Medieval Congress. Part of the session, The Use and Abuse of the Middle Ages in the Modern World, IV: Nationalism and Identity, it examined the ways in which medieval imagery and history are often hijacked by far-right political groups and nationalist organisations to legitimise their historical narratives.
“Groups like the BNP in England often attempt to tie a medieval past to their nationalism by framing it with shirts like, “White and Proud”, or “Anglo Saxon”, as a form of identity politics.”
The horror! The outrage! They should all be arrested and imprisoned! Don’t those privileged racists understand that they belong to the only racial group that’s not allowed to display their identity in any way that could be construed as admiration, let alone engage in identity politics?
Cooper’s thesis focused on this game and the way players transpose their heritage and national identity onto the fictitious races of its gaming world. Skyrim is home to the Nords (Stormcloaks), a pseudo-Viking race. Tall, fair-haired, and pale, they are a sea-faring warrior society that values honour, family and glory.
Well, we all know how they should be portrayed then: as a barbarous, evil group whose only contribution to human history was to mercilessly oppress others and steal their ideas. We wouldn’t want white gamers to transpose their heritage and national identity onto a fictitious race that is seen as honorable and worthy. Talk about problematic!
34% of the players interviewed picked Nords, the vast majority of which were from Europe and the United States because they felt an affinity with Nord values and ancestral identity.
Seems I’m not alone.
Players associate themselves with the Nords/Stormcloaks because the Imperial soldiers remind them of Roman Britain, and they feel connected to Northern people, their plight, and this sense of “Englishness”. The Stormcloaks legitimise their cultural heritage.
So what? I know I am supposed to be feeling a deep sense of unease right about now but I see this as perfectly natural and healthy.
In players who identify as Scottish and Northern English, the Nords/Stormcloaks stimulate a sense of a northern, white nostalgia, that is ancestrally connected to a medieval place. Cooper suggests that, ‘medievally-themed video games are a space where whiteness can be anchored, in a “happy history” where a world is free of multiculturalism and white guilt’.
White people enjoying a space free of white guilt and multiculturalism? Well, we cant have that now, can we? To her and people like her, always on the hunt for hideous vestiges of whiteness to force “diversity” upon, a group considered “too white” is always a problem in and of itself.
Popular spaces where whiteness can be expressed as anything other than a contemptible blight on humanity and not be attacked for it are increasingly scarce. Here we have an extremely rare and refreshing “world free of multiculturalism and white guilt” which she desperately wants to extinguish. She would rather white history be reduced entirely to a cautionary tale of slaves and death camps.
What she is implicitly stating is that its morally wrong for white people to have any positive connection to their own heritage. And should this happen, it becomes a moral imperative for good people like her to put an immediate end to it.
Cooper recalled the infamous “#GamerGate” – the 2014 scandal that erupted in the gaming world when several prominent women challenged the status quo of the community.
Is that what happened? I seem to remember a mass collusion of gaming sites all promoting the same narrative attacking gamers in support of these “prominent women.” When the people supposedly “challenging the status quo” receive the full support of the majority of mass media outlets, wield the power to shape the popular narrative, seek to effectively ban dissent altogether, appear on national television for sympathetic softball interviews, receive invites to lecture developers at major conferences, are partnered with major corporations, and successfully demonize gamers as “sexist” at will with impunity, something is very wrong.
The women received rape, violence and death threats. They (and their supporters) were also “doxed”; a tactic whereby private information, like a home address, phone number, place of work and personal details are made public in an effort to silence and publicly shame the person.
Cooper noted that the gaming community has traditionally had horrible reactions towards academic inspection of games because players want to maintain them as apolitical and are resistant to changing the status quo.
“Academic inspection of games”: is that what the kids are calling it these days? If by “inspection,” you mean a wholesale determination that games cause real world sexism and/or violence and gaming is filled with evil white men who create and play sexist and/or racist games and mercilessly terrorize all females and nonwhites who dare enter their toxically white male space, then no wonder gamers have horrible reactions.
If by “changing the status quo” you mean forcing your warped ideology on the gaming community and creating a culture of fear wherein only ideas vetted by goodthink overlords are allowed to be heard and only games which push a certain narrow view can exist, where violators of thought crimes are permanently banished, then no wonder gamers are resistant.
The predominantly white, male players of Gamergate insisted that representations of the games should be divorced from modern politics.
See what she did there? Nothing invalidates an opinion quite like claiming that it came from white men.
According to Cooper, they subscribe to the popular idea of the Middle Ages as ‘gritty, white, male, and powerful’. They cling to the notion that women didn’t fight in the Middle Ages, fiercely stating this as ‘as fact’, and steadfastly refusing to allow women agency in warrior roles.
Are they seriously trying to claim that woman warriors played a major role in battles of the Middle Ages? What’s next? You going to tell me that half of Viking warriors were women? This same site tried to talk everyone back down to reality when feminists were jubilantly trying to pass this ludicrous assertion off as fact in the throes of mass elation.
Note the careful wording of “the notion that women didn’t fight in the Middle Ages.” There is a big difference between saying “the significant contribution of female warriors to the brutal warfare of the period was crucial to the outcome of many decisive battles” and “women did fight during the Middle Ages.” They deliberately worded it in such a furtive way so that the distinction would be clouded in ambiguity.
I don’t think anyone is clinging to the notion that women didn’t fight in the Middle Ages, specifically, that not a single woman engaged in combat even once during that entire period of history. I’d wager that far more people cling to the notion that female participation in medieval warfare was much more than negligible at best and was certainly not the rare exception.
I eagerly welcome games that are based on the Middle Ages sticking closer to reality in this regard and including a realistic percentage, based on actual accounts of history, of female warriors engaging in battle. Hint: it would occur much less frequently than it currently does in these games.
Skyrim: A Marvelous Land Of White Supremacy And Women Warriors Lacking Agency
Skyrim is a terrible example to use if you are trying to push this preposterous “female characters in video games have no agency in warrior roles even though in real life women fought bravely and died horribly throughout the ages just like men” narrative. Bethesda went out of their way to include gender equality fantasy in their fantasy game.
I can’t count how many times my immersion was obliterated while wondering the wilds only to be ambushed by a shrieking female bandit leader charging me with a two-handed battle axe that seemed like it was almost as big as her entire body frame. Even as a vulnerable new character at a measly level 5, the high-pitched “battle cry” of a random female bandit desperately trying to come off as intimidating was so silly it could only inspire annoyed laughter.
It seemed like almost half of the marauding groups of hostiles were led by badass chicks with a healthy supply of face paint. Even the second-in-command of the Imperial Legion was a woman (yet another reason to reject siding with those milk drinkers).
Unfortunately for gamers, the tide is turning and the inspection of their identities is happening whether they like it or not, and will continue to gain momentum. Games like Skyrim, and The Elder Scrolls are only the tip of the iceberg. What Gamergate tried to shut down, instead, opened a Pandora’s Box that can never be closed.
Unfortunately for Social Justice Warriors, the tide has turned and their ability to invade entire communities and dictate what is acceptable has been severely weakened by gamers who set an example by refusing to bow to them. The resistance has been awoken and will continue to gain strength. GamerGate is only the tip of the iceberg. What SJWs tried to shut down instead mobilized the very force which will be the instrument of their downfall. Our resolve is unwavering.
Academics, like Cooper, will continue to challenge, examine and illustrate the ways these groups misappropriate medieval history.
What you call “misappropriate,” I call “celebrate.” Just because certain groups of white men that you despise tend to gravitate toward medieval history does not constitute an actual problem, no matter how badly you want it to. Resilient developers will continue to create games based on medieval history and white men will continue to enjoy playing them, whether you like it or not.
I happily chose to fight alongside the Nords and assist in reclaiming their homeland. Their struggle appealed to me on a profoundly visceral level. It felt natural for my allegiance to lie with the Stormcloaks and I don’t feel ashamed to admit it. It was easy choosing sides in the Skyrim civil war: almost as easy as choosing sides in this real world culture war.