Tuesday, August 18, 2015

How feminism is slightly ruining video games for me

I have been playing video games for quite a long time (since the early 80's, in fact). I have never cared much about what kind of playable character or characters a game might have. Male, female, robot, dog, white, black, blue, neon... it doesn't make much of a difference. The important thing is the gameplay, the story, and the playability of the game. If the playable character is "empathizable" (I don't think there exists an actual word in English for this), all the better. If the character fits into the story well, all the better.

Moreover, whether the playable character (or any character for that matter) in the game is, for example, a woman, or eastern Asian, or whatever, I don't think much of it. It can sometimes add some exoticism to the game (as in, for example, Mirror's Edge), but that's it.

The current feminist barrage against video games during the last few years, however, is a bit changing this, and I think it's sad.

You see, now whenever a playable character is, for example, female (and there's no choice), or black, or whatever, I get the unavoidable instinct of thinking whether the game developers made it so because it fits the narrative, or even just because they thought it would be nice... or whether they are trying to force-feed me some social justice ideology and cram it down my throat. Was the choice made for storytelling reasons, personal preference, or even just semi-randomly without any deeper meaning behind it, or was the choice made because "we need strong female characters" or "we want to be inclusive and have diversity". In other words, was the choice of gender or ethnicity artificially tacked on because of ideological reasons and to try to send some kind of implicit message to the player?

I am probably being a bit paranoid. And that's exactly the problem. This feminist barrage against video games (and the mostly positive response by the video game press and industry) has caused me to become a bit paranoid about it. And I hate that. I don't want to get an instinctive feeling of aversion when I start a new game and notice that the playable character seems to conform to one of the "politically correct" demographics, making me suspicious about why that choice was made, and whether the game developers are trying to shove an ideological message down my throat.

I want to go back to the time when video games were innocent fun, and not potential tools for politics, propaganda and bigotry.

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