Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
If You Are Going to Hate on a Game Company, Do It For the Right Reasons

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 8 Jul 2014 12:00
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Assassins Creed Unity co-op

No, the fact is, the lack of diversity may well be a result of big companies not wanting to take risks. And I'm not saying female-driven games would definitely be a risk, but if white-dude-driven games are bringing in the cash, then it is the nature of the soulless corporation to not try to fix what isn't broke. And why SHOULD they? It's not something they can do casually, experimentally; the jobs of hundreds if not thousands may depend on a game's success. Even more so with budgets being so ridiculously high these days. I don't think you can blame a corporation for keeping things safe and bland out of the desire to maximize its chances of continued existence. More to the point, I don't think you should be 'blaming' anyone.

I personally take the view that the over-representation of male game protagonists stems from an over-representation of male creators in the triple-A industry. And while one could certainly find individual cases of misogyny in action, I think the broader explanation is that less women are game designers for the same reason that less men are fashion editors: they are less likely to consider it an option because of societal gender roles. Which are ingrained into us from birth because of instincts we have retained from our evolutionary history that we may no longer require.

Whether you agree or not, my point is that I don't find 'X has an irrational hatred for Y' a satisfactory explanation for any lack of diversity, and to claim it is the basis hurts the debate. I didn't find Assassin's Creed Unity's content an ounce as disturbing as some of the response: the anger, the misinformation, the self-righteous refusal to accept apologies or explanations. The internet is far too willing to let emotion fuel the argument, and to leap to irrational hatred as an explanation. Perhaps understandably. It's human nature to want to identify enemies, so that we know what to blame our problems on.

But I don't think Ubisoft hates women, if for no other reason than because there's no profit in doing so. And I don't think Tomodachi Life hates gay people. It is at worst only trying to avoid complexity in a rather poorly thought-out way. There may be some who genuinely do hate you for your gender or race or sexual orientation (Finnish Hearthstone tournaments, maybe), and by all means hate them back, but when you cry hatred where none exists, you do nothing but weaken your position. You will persuade no-one to a cause by associating it with unfounded hysteria.

And besides, these arguments distract from the broader issues. Don't hate Tomodachi Life for homophobia, hate it for being dull with no apparent purpose to its existence. Don't hate the games industry for being sexist, hate it for being bloated, uncreative and dishonest. And don't hate me for being a heterosexual white guy disparaging slacktivism, hate me for all those murders I've done.

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