For decades the gaming industry and gamers have been under siege from countless politicians, overzealous parents advocacy groups and lobbyists who have pretty much used gaming as the go to excuse for all the problems in the world which in my honest opinion is a load of crap for a number of reasons but one thing I have noticed this year is that we as a society are becoming far too overzealous with political correctness and it’s rather worrying for reasons I shall get into now.
I believe Charlton Heston aka Ben Hur and Moses once said “political correctness is tyranny with manners” and to be honest I have to agree because in a strive to be more tolerant and progressive, we have become more intolerant to things in the process and it’s a very slippery slope that once you go down, it is almost impossible to climb back up.
Political correctness has hurt more than it has fixed, need an example than look no further than Chris Rock who doesn’t do shows at Cambridge and Oxford because his style of comedy offends people and you know you know something is wrong when a black comedian isn’t allowed to tell black jokes,
This mindset is a very dangerous thing especially for a creative medium like video games, it is an $80 billion dollar industry and it will benefit no one if the people who make games feel like they are walking on eggshells and are constantly worrying about offending one group or another.
Game development used to be about being innovative, creating something meaningful that challenged the standard way of thinking and letting the player escape into fantastical worlds and settings but my favorite medium has been bombarded with outside groups claiming that things need to be changed or the medium has to grow up and tackle difficult subjects only to be shot down by the very same people who said they need to grow up in the first place for even attempting to do so.
From my experience as someone who wants to develop games I wouldn’t enjoy my career if I was constantly berated and attacked for my artistic vision and products if they didn’t meet some moral standard requirement, I have seen this happen to countless developers and it’s a very scary thing because they are artists in a unique sense and political correctness and hypersensitivity will make their careers a living hell.
We have self proclaimed “pop culture critics” like Anita Sarkeesian claiming that current games are not inclusive enough and must be adapted and that we need more people of color and women in video games but only if they meet specific requirements and if they don’t than they are reinforcing a patriarchal, racist and sexist culture which I find hilarious because of the above image’s caption because that statement is pretty much body shaming but I digress.
I wonder what the Renaissance would of been like if iconic artists like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were forced to deal with overzealous political correctness, I would guess it would go something like this “Oh no you can’t paint a woman naked, it’s offensive to us so change it”.
If this was the the mindset back then we wouldn’t have astounding works of art like Michelangelo’s statue of David, incredible works of art would been deemed offensive by one person or another and shunned even though the creators poured their hearts and souls into their work so why are video games held to a different standard and under attack for trying to do the same.
The people who claim video games have to mature are the very same people that are holding the medium back from doing so, The Last of Us is a good example because a few people weren’t happy about the father and daughter like relationship between Joel and Ellie that develops throughout the game and some even thought Joel actually held Ellie back character wise because of this dynamic when he didn’t because the dialog between them both sold me on their characters for example this bit of dialog absolutely knocked the ball way out for the ball park for me.
Everyone I have cared for has either died, or left me. Everyone—fucking except for you! So don’t tell me I would be safer with somebody else, because the truth is, I would just be more scared – Ellie
To think that Ellie would of been better off without Joel is rather stupid, yeah she is dangerous but she is still a 14 year old child growing up in a world where every day is a fight to survive and not knowing who you can trust is enough to take a toll on anyone no matter how tough they might be.
I really wouldn’t want to be stuck in her shoes and I doubt many of you would either, firstly being chased by clickers is probably the most horrifying thing I could imagine because those things scare the crap out of me and I am not the most sociable person in general so you might say I would be good surviving in a world like this but it would drive me mad….well madder than usual anyway.
One thing fueling this atmosphere is modern gaming media to a degree and that is not a good thing because gaming media has more influence than it likes to admit but I will go into that now because it’s apart of the dangerous problem in my opinion.
Gaming journalism as of late is convinced that the only way for games to evolve into an art is for them to be politically correct, inoffensive and uncontroversial but in reality that’s the complete opposite of how literally every artistic medium has become what it is today, artistic and creative mediums evolve because of people that push boundaries, for example Rockstar and the Grand Theft Auto franchise.
The modern open world formula pretty much owes it’s existence to Grand Theft Auto 3, there were reasonable titles with open worlds but none had perfected the formula until Rockstar came along and ran with the concept, now we have a abundance of amazing open worlds, Red Dead Redemption, Sleeping Dogs, Watch Dogs and so many more.
Everything can be improved but not by slapping on half a dozen rules and regulations until it collapses under the weight of them and to be honest developers, writers and so on can do alot more without a insanely huge check list hanging over their head.
I seen a few people mostly “progressive media” and critics say they want games to mature like film and books but complain when video games attempt to become like film and books and while I am on the subject of video games becoming like other mediums, how come games are like the only entertainment medium that ISN’T allowed to handle sex and violence in an adult or graphic matter without being dog piled left, right and center while shows like Game of Thrones are applauded and books like 50 shades of gray are on the shelves and given gleaming reviews.
Hell I remember when news sites said Mass Effect 2 was a “sex simulator” when in reality you get one very tame 10 second cut scene right before you go through the Omega 4 relay nearing the end of the game right before you finish it but it caused out cry that a video game could have such content so the whole concept of “video games maturing” has a long way to go before it can be done, everybody’s outlook has to change on everything, the use of violence, the double standards on how characters are treated and the stigma about sexual content for crying out loud.
Witcher 2 was banned in Australia because you could have sex with either one of the two main female characters and the NPCs that inhabit the various brothels throughout the game and the game had a 18+ label so it being banned is somewhat stupid because it is a mature tale for mature audiences and the scenes were seconds long, it wasn’t like a something you would find on some porn site and just to be clear I have absolutely nothing against pornography…..just saying.
Moving on from sexual content another thing we need to change our perception about is violence in video games being used for the sake of being edgy, now this is something that has been bothering me for a while because of the HUGE divide between treatment of characters based solely on their gender and violence and I wrote something about this quite a while ago now titled “Gaming’s Great Big Double Standard” so give that a read if you want but I shall continue a bit here about the subject.
Now I am a pacifist away from the keyboard and I strongly believe that violence doesn’t solve problems but as a gamer I absolutely adore a well executed head shot or a 200 hit combo as much as the next guy, the subject of violence in video games has been a topic since Doom was taking over the world and letting us battle demon hordes with a shotgun and it’s still going on today.
No matter how many studies come out declaring that there is no link between video game violence and the real world there are some people that persist there is and it’s getting rather annoying to say the least in my honest opinion, just because I can rob a bank in GTA, doesn’t mean I am going to try and rob one in real life and that’s the beauty of video games.
I plan on going into this subject sometime soon but I am pretty sure you get the point, it’s a virtual world and isn’t it better to get your frustration after a bad day out in a make believe environment instead of being in a bad mood anyway I am going way off topic now which is both good and bad in a way so that’s about it from me and my thoughts on why political correctness and game development don’t mix, please leave your thoughts on the subject in the comments below if you liked this post.