Gamers have long been complaining about the major gaming sites, for all the obvious reasons: Their reporting tends to be biased, sloppy and unprofessional, while their reviewers are surprisingly incompetent (even Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was deemed too hard by GameSpot’s Carolyn Petit).
However, in recent years things have gone from bad to worse as gaming sites began pushing a far-left brand of identity politics that closely mirrors the Social Justice Warrior slacktivism we’ve seen on online communities like Tumblr. Having “found religion”, the so-called gaming journalists clearly wish to convert their readers to gamers plus feminists and left wing activists.
The fact that most gaming enthusiasts have no interest in basically becoming Gamers+ just highlights the disconnect between them and the glorified bloggers covering the industry they love. It also helps explain why many gaming sites were so eager to declare The End Of Gamers after the Zoe Quinn scandal. However, if GamerGate is a culture war, the gaming “journalists” are clearly the aggressors.
Some might ask whether pushing the SJW agenda really is a problem. After all, what’s the problem with supporting aocial justice? Isn’t that a bit like saying you like puppies, an uncontroversial statement everybody can get behind? If that’s your position, please keep reading – there are actually plenty of reasons for gamers to object to this sort of thing.
Games are at their core Escapist Entertainment
People primarily play video games to have fun, whatever form “fun” takes. It doesn’t matter whether you enjoy playing hard games that push you to the limit, or you just want an easy, relaxing gaming experience, it all boils down to you wanting to have a good time. This doesn’t mean gamers are unhappy, socially inept people incapable of dealing with the real world (though gaming has certainly helped plenty of troubled souls through difficult times), just that gaming can and does brighten a bad day, and helps all sorts of people recharge their batteries.
It also doesn’t mean gamers are uncritical consumers simply playing whatever we can get our hands on; quite the contrary—new games are expensive and since there’s always the risk of picking up a deeply flawed game, we’ve tended to go to established gaming sites for information about what games are worth the money, as well as news about upcoming games. That’s why we visited these sites, for information and news about games, helping us get the most out of the time we spend on them.
We certainly did not go to these sites for self-righteous lectures about all the evils of the world – if we wanted articles and discussions about sexism, racism and bigotry of all kinds, there are plenty of places on the internet dedicated to that stuff. Whatever limited credibility gaming writers have, it’s not readily transferable over to issues of social justice – even if you’re a good reviewer it doesn’t necessarily mean you have any credibility when talking politics, so don’t use your gaming-related platform to push your ideology on the reader.
It’s bad enough when gloomy off-topic articles dominate the front page – it’s even worse when the score a game receives is dictated by the political beliefs of the reviewer. Most gamers care about controls, content, graphics, sound and replay-value—whether a game’s depiction of women would offend a radical, sex-negative feminist is less interesting. Mentioning “problematic” elements is fine (it helps the consumer make an informed purchase), outright punishing the developer for them is not. Remember, something can still be a great work of art despite offending you greatly.
Identity Politics is divisive and toxic
It’s not just the fact that politics in general hardly belong in coverage of an escapist hobby, there’s also the matter of how SJWs mainly deal in identity politics. Identity politics, rather than focusing on equality of opportunity on a micro-level and the common good on the macro-level, instead defines individuals by the various groups they belong to, and deems any and all inequality between the groups the result of oppression.
My objection to identity politics isn’t merely based on platitudes about the need to “unite, not divide” – the way identity politics effectively erase the individual should be offensive to all thinking humans. But divisiveness is certainly a real problem as well – especially since some groups are portrayed as perpetual victims, while others (primarily straight white males, the largest hardcore gamer demographic) are smeared as oppressors. As a result, identity politics cultivates resentment and bitterness.
Furthermore, identity politics is defined by double standards; whether something is right or wrong, important or irrelevant is dependent on what groups are involved, and how they’re involved. That’s why males harassing females online is deemed a national crisis, while males harassing other males to a significantly greater degree is ignored. That’s why a female hero beating up a bunch of male mooks is deemed empowering, while a male hero beating up a bunch of female villains would cause a scandal.
Hypocrisy is indeed the name of the identity politics game (do I even have to point out that many SJWs are wealthy and white?), but the SJWs’ stated commitment to equality of outcome nevertheless has real consequences: The fact that most hardcore gamers are male is held up not as an example of men and women having different interests, but as proof of the gaming community being misogynistic, and used to justify attacks on games of all sorts, the gamers that play them and gamer culture as a whole.
What’s supposed to be a fun hobby is instead turned into a political battleground, where a non-gamer faction, assisted by a sympathetic establishment gaming press, is trying to force gaming to change in a way actual gamers don’t want it to, while the gaming press regularly shames its readers for being insufficiently inclusive. Nevermind the fact that they’re the ones trying to destroy the neutral and inclusive “Gamer” identity, while pushing divisive and toxic identity politics.
If you’re reasonably sane, the biggest question about identity politics might actually be who should be most offended by its version of reality: the straight white males, basically deemed to be the root of all evil, or women and minorities, considered too fragile and stupid to function is the real world without the social justice warriors protecting them. Either way, this sort of garbage has no place in video game coverage.
This might sound surprising, but I actually do believe a lot of the principles the SJWs advocate are at their core quite sensible: yes, some people are blind to their own privilege and as a result unable to put themselves in the shoes of other people. Yes, those who have suffered real trauma can be triggered in various ways and being considerate to them makes sense. And yes, businesses and public buildings having wheelchair ramps is the decent thing to do as well as common sense.
However, SJWs inevitably take everything way too far. “Check your privilege” is not a call for empathy, but instead a way of telling straight white guys to shut up. Meanwhile, seemingly everything that can offend someone now requires a trigger warning, if not an outright ban to protect the precious feelings of SJWs. As for ableism—did you know that the word “lame” is now a no-no? “Stupid”, “idiot” and “dumb” are also deemed highly problematic.
A consequence of going overboard in this way is that SJWs devalue all sorts of serious terms, like “harassment” and “misogyny” —just like how some extremists used to claim that opposing affirmative action was inherently racist, SJWs rush to label anyone disagreeing with them about rape culture or the wage gap a misogynist. Moreover, while those terms have been watered down to the point of being nearly meaningless, SJWs still act like anyone labeled a misogynist is a woman-hating monster.
Indeed, their belief in their own moral and intellectual superiority, coupled with their limitless contempt for their “misogynistic”, “racist”, “homophobic”, “transphobic” and “fatphobic” (at some point you have to conclude that these people have no idea what a phobia actually is) critics lead them to be extremely mean and nasty to everyone who disagrees with the SJW agenda. To them it makes sense—why should you bother showing respect to a racist or a misogynist?
If you’ve been a part of #GamerGate you’re no doubt familiar with all of this: SJWs insult, bully and attack anyone associated with the consumer revolt, smearing them as harassers while they themselves try to doxx and put the lives of their critics at risk. Meanwhile, the gaming media is busy defending the SJW bullies while declaring the gaming community toxic and endorsing the smear that gamers are just a bunch of racist, misogynist losers angry about having their toys taken away.
I believe most gamers are primarily playing games to have a good time. The gaming media should be helping us pick out the games we’ll get the most enjoyment out of—not try to indoctrinate us into their particular brand of identity politics, shame us because of our sex, skin color and sexual orientation, or smear us for finally pushing back against this unacceptable state of affairs. Thankfully, gamers are fighting back and sending a message to the gaming community that the demand for non-SJW gaming sites clearly exceeds the supply.