The video games industry has sure come a long way since its conception. One of the ways this industry is maturing can be seen in its heightened awareness towards inequalities in video games, as well as in the gaming community. A quick glance at any popular gaming website gives clear indication that the gaming press is calling for equality among different genders, races and sexual orientations as represented in video games and their subsequent treatment in the industry and community.
In order for the medium of video games to progress, it is required that these issues are given the appropriate attention. However, the methods of which these issues are being handled in recent years are not without their flaws. These said flaws may very well end up hindering progress towards equality in the industry rather than pushing it forward.
Personally, the idea of equality is one that I am completely, 100% behind. The problem I have, lies within the movement towards that goal and the way that movement is executed.
For example, let’s look at the issue of sexism in gaming.
Above: “Dead or Alive”, one of the industry’s most popular fighting games, puts more of an emphasis on sexualization than character development.
Are women often objectified in video game narratives and/or simply portrayed as flat, uninspired characters with no other purpose other than to serve as eye candy? Yes, diffidently. Are real life female gamers often treated with hostility with no provocation other than their gender? They absolutely are. So what do we propose be done about it? Do we point our fingers at game developers and attempt to dictate they way they do their work, or do we make an effort to teach people- especially the younger crowd- to be independent thinkers and not take their consumable media at face value?
Unfortunately, what many have witnessed is that a lot of the time, these movements for equality often boil down to simple finger pointing rather than working towards a solution, and as a result, those making the accusations of discrimination are often quick to label and marginalize others themselves (case in point in the picture below). Hostility met with hostility only worsens the problem.
So what would I offer as a comparison in this particular situation? Take someone like Rhianna Pratchett for example (lead writer of the recent Tomb Raider reboot, also known for her work on Mirror’s Edge and the Overlord series), or maybe Jennifer Hale (a prominent voice actress who’s voiced countless characters in countless video games). Company executives like Jade Raymond, and even longtime member of the gaming press like Morgan Webb. These women have made massive accomplishments for their gender in the video games industry by contributing their talents, and being damn good at it. Actions such as these, in my opinion, accomplish far more in terms of gender equality in the gaming industry than making the villain of an opposing group and labeling them as an oppressor, like many prominent industry figures have been known to do.
Above: A longtime writer in the gaming industry, Rhianna Pratchett achieved her first major success as the lead writer for 2013′s Tomb Raider reboot.
Now, of course, I’d like to make it clear that this isn’t a personal jab at feminism in gaming. This state of mind shows its detractions in many shapes and forms.
I understand that some people may believe that their movement takes priority over the thoughts and feelings of others, which is admirable to an extent, but what has pointing the finger at others ever accomplished? It appears as though it’s only served to raise the level of hostility in the gaming community, and people who are generally like minded with a passion for video games suddenly find themselves at odds over stagnant and unrelenting points of view.
I will stand by the fact that equality for all genders, races, and sexual orientations in gaming is one of the most important issues for the industry in this day and age, but if that industry is to achieve that goal and create an accepting and understanding environment for everyone, then more effort needs to be put on finding solutions to the problem rather than playing the blame game. Those with opposing ideas must learn how to coexist and engage in civil debate instead of casting harsh judgment over the other- something everyone has been guilty of, regardless of their ideology. Only then can any real progress be made.