And recently, I haven’t wanted to go anywhere near games.
In this series of article, I want to explore what's making me put down the pad and some other things that make me want to carry on playing, so that I can answer the question...
Is this The Death of Video Games?
Okay, let me lay the cards out on the table right here: GamerGate is a fucking mess.
Now I’ve used the G-word, no doubt there are already people threatening to dox me or asking that I check my privilege, but GamerGate pissed me off immensely. Not because of the subject matter, or the behaviour of those involved (Although, we can pretty much agree that everyone acted equally like twats), but because it happened.
Gamergate was a controversy that caused a social divide and made it unacceptable to enjoy games because they were games and were fun. This is the first of my problems; Fun didn’t even come into it.
For some reason, any game that was worth a damn during GamerGate were games made by people claiming the 'gamer' identity was dead and who wanted to use games as a vehicle for social justice issues. Look, I’m not saying that issues can't be interesting or insightful, but it’s not something that compels me to pick up a controller and play. I mean, we’ve come to a point where somebody made a puzzle game about his dad abusing him, for fucks sake.
Speaking as someone who is leaning developing games right now, I sympathise even less with this kind of SJW click-bait bullshit. Look, we all have our problems and our demons; I get that, lord knows I have mine. But I'm not picking up your game because I want to lobby for a certain issue or a certain right. I'm picking up the game because you've made something worth playing. A cool mechanic, a fun story, a co-op game for my friends circle, ESCAPISM; THIS makes me want to play a game. If I want to lobby for your niche issue, I'll pick up a fucking picket sign and join the mob.
On one hand, you have despicable human beings like Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathan McIntosh, who manipulated people into giving them literally thousands of dollars for a critical video series, which then failed to deliver on content and releases to focus on paid talks (Which they get more money for cancelling, which they have), who then cry foul and slaps the blame on the so-called patriarchy as soon as she’s bought to question about it. On the other hand, people who flagged this issue up also thought it was a fully acceptable idea to send these people death threats, or call swat teams to game streamers houses on fake terror threat calls, thinking that it will either silence them or intimidate them to stop engaging in the thing they love, which is obviously not cool.
If you took GamerGate as the defining event it was perceived to be, then anyone who even remotely likes games is seemingly an arsehole. And that’s my quandary; In most cases, I don’t fancy being labelled an arsehole because I like playing games. And I just want to talk about why games are great.
It’s cool to learn about how game mechanics pull us in and make us care about the seemingly mechanical task of playing games. What isn't interesting is when some bint decides to profit off saying games are misogynist by generating a press hullabaloo because ‘gaems r sexists guise’, pocketing the money, not using it on her actual production and literally going out the next day and giving into the stereotypes she hates by buying new shoes with her crowd fund money. Oh, and then making a sub par, bare bones feminist video series that is still far from completion, which never actually outright proves that games are misogynist, but instead offers the opinion of two very, very misinformed and stupid people.
Here’s a thought; I shouldn't even have to fucking talk about misogyny in video games unless you've actually made a game with a misogynist character in it, hopefully to show that misogyny isn't cool. If you seriously believe that people are making video games in order to make your life as a woman worse, then consider the following:
A) You’re out of your tiny tree,
B) The whole world does not revolve around you being female, despite how society has made mistakes in the past over equality for females. Equality starts with those who wish to set the example. If the example is bitching about it day and night and calling for a zero discussion policy on your opinions, how can you expect the opposition to act? And finally,
C) If the personal views of one of the many, many people who make video games conflict with your personal agenda, that's not your problem. Play the game, make your own mind up. If you stop playing the game because of a certain personality you disagree with having a hand in its creation, you give up your right to critically comment on it. Again, play the game, then make your own mind up.
To me, it feels like is that games are dying because people, normal gamers like me, are so totally disillusioned by this whole out of proportion and mis-represented social debate. Again, I come to games for escapism, not for this insanity. Look at Doom. Doom didn’t have a fucking subnarrative aimed at ethical propogation sub-culture; it was a game where you shot aliens on Mars. And if you didn't shoot the aliens on Mars, the aliens would kill you, resulting in a game over. No ulterior motives, no hidden agendas, nothing to say other than ‘if aliens on Mars want to rip you limb from limb, use a gun to shoot them’. I miss games like this; Games that didn't have to justify itself by having a message or making a ‘contribution’ to a debate. Can we not play games because we think they’re fun?
Alas, this is what we're stuck with. People complaining about people complaining about people complaining. A neverending cycle of people just constantly moaning about literally anything, and that colouring the identity of a gamer. And now I'm complaining about that. I'm a monster.
And I guess that's what I'm tired of. I should take a leaf out of my own book and 'play the game and make my own mind up'. But it becomes so much harder when on the few occasions I do managed to lose myself in a new virtual world, I find this shitty one crashing it's party.
Join me for future articles, looking at retro gaming, the farce of the Triple A game, DLC woes and the evolution of games over the past 20 years.
The Editor in Chief of Foul Entertainment, Mike edits most of what you see on the site. He runs the production of all three of our current podcasts, he is responsible for logo, art design and site design, and does a good deal of writing across the spectrum.