Ben Kuchera and Jonathan McIntosh are at it again, waging war on Twitter against the games of your youth by recasting such classics as Tetris and Super Smash Bros with their political views. While its not surprising that Jon and Ben think such genres as fighting games and first-person shooters should be censored, it is surprising that to learn they believe we were fed Soviet propaganda via a puzzle game.
Every day, some fresh nonsense comes to light on Twitter concerning the misguided beliefs of the anti-GamerGate hate mob. Rather than heed The 48 Laws of Power (specifically Law 4: Always Say Less Than Necessary) and mitigate their propensity to say stupid things by saying a smaller quantity of those stupid things, these people continue to take to Twitter to show just how nonsensical the beliefs they are trying to force on us are. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving.
As in most Twitter convos where nonsense is occurring, below is a conversation involving Jonathan McIntosh (producer of the Tropes vs. Women video series made by Feminist Frequency). In his attempts to foist politics into every possible crevice of gaming, he has now reached back into our youth and begins by defaming Super Smash Bros:
Even while Scott Dempsey is dropping knowledge on Jon, he doesn’t seem to acknowledge the logic. Super Smash Bros is a game about acting out battles with your action figures. It has no bearing on a political message. I wasn’t thinking about class warfare while playing with my Ninja Turtles.
It’s at this point that Jon’s BFF Ben Kuchera pops in to defend his bestie by saying even more nonsense:
WOW. I mean, that’s reaching. Even for these guys. What else to you think about Tetris, Ben?
Gotcha. Factual inaccuracy, Ben! On multiple fronts, in fact.
Picking apart a flimsy argument
Most of what Jon and Ben are saying above is arguable. Your opinion could be that fighting games are about solving conflict with violence, if you managed to forget you were playing a game, and the multiple psychological studies citing that video game violence does not cause real-world violence, and gave yourself a lobotomy with an electric drill. But opinions, by their very definition, cannot be wrong, no matter how stupid they sound. Facts, however, are a different matter.
Let’s take a closer look at Ben’s assertions concerning Tetris.
Ben believes that the music of Tetris is “Soviet.” I assume by this he means that this music was created during the existence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which existed in some form (by addition or subtraction of territories) between 1922, shortly after World War I, and 1991, when it collapsed. So to be considered “Soviet,” the music would have been written in that time period, according to Ben.
Sadly, that is not the case.
The song Korobeiniki was actually written first as a poem by its author, not unlike The Star Spangled Banner. However, its content is completely apolitical. It is actually about a woman and a peddler haggling over wares, and first appeared in a Russian magazine in 1861. It was submitted by its author, Nikolay Nekrasov, and quickly afterward became a popular Russian folk song. And it predates the Soviet Union by a good sixty years.
So that’s that settled. What about the “theme”?
While Tetris first appeared on IBM PC’s in the United States in 1987 (and not 1984, as Ben insists), the version that proved most popular was the original Game Boy launch title in 1989. It did contain Russian themes, like on the title screen above, but not Soviet.
For those who are unaware, the picture above features the unique domed roofs of the Kremlin in Moscow. A very famous and distinctive piece of architecture, this too predates the Soviet Union. Though the Kremlin is actually a group of palaces, from the distinctive striping on the most prominent roof in the scene, this building can be identified from its spinach-colored homage as St. Basil’s Cathedral. Below is a picture for reference:
Unfortunately for Ben, St. Basil’s Cathedral was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible and constructed from 1555-1561. So yeah, also not Soviet.
Not making it difficult, are they?
To be fair, a Twitter conversation is not always representative of a trend, but in this case, Ben Kuchera’s trend of not doing minimal research before putting his words online is held intact. This is the same Ben Kuchera, after all, who published on the Penny Arcade Report sexual harassment allegations against Brad Wardell, CEO of Stardock. In that article, he stated that the evidence against Mr. Wardell was “damning.” Mr. Wardell not only won the lawsuit, but was issued a letter of apology from the plaintiff!
Ben also accused Erik Kain of supporting piracy after Mr. Kain published an article on Forbes describing a Super Nintendo game that had never been released and linking an emulator. Ben went after Mr. Kain despite the fact he had written his own article about video game emulation for ArsTechnica in August of 2011. Of note, ArsTechnica is owned by Conde Nast, which also owns Wired (an employer of multiple anti-GG writers) and Reddit (where posts about Zoe Quinn and GamerGate were deleted en masse).
So the trend continues. Don’t expect it to end anytime soon—where Jon McIntosh and Ben Kuchera can be found, you can expect nonsensical rantings about political messages in games on one side, and poor research attempting to prove those assertions on the other. I enjoy my 140 characters of nonsense, though. I think I’ll go pop some popcorn and wait for them to say something else.