’90s Politics Are Dead, Long Live ’90s Politics!

Opinion: the term political correctness can go away now, please.

The title of this IGN article is “Opinion: The Problem with Political Correctness in Video Games.”

Mattie Brice has already critiqued it heavily (from erroneous ‘free speech’ issues to the issues of the free market in an industry that is expensive). This is also a day when Leigh Alexander wrote a piece entitled “Opinion: In the sexism discussion, let’s look at game culture” (focusing on moving the industry forward now that we’ve had many recent battles with sexism).

What do I have to say? Well, first, freedom of speech, thought, or whatever you want call it, is not freedom from criticism. Simple. So painfully simple. Every time you make the suggestion that ‘we can just ignore it,’ I will point out that by your logic, you can just ignore my criticism (and the larger media often does). Or, I am perfectly content for people to argue my criticisms in a respectful manner. I am not actually trying to censor people (though I would question my ability to do so anyway, but that’s another discussion). There is, however, an expectation from some of us gamers for the industry to do better. I critique largely because I care and want to see games improve.

Criticism should not be seen as an enemy, it should be seen as an opportunity to engage.

Should certain topics be off the table? No. As Brice pointed out, the problem with Tomb Raider is not that rape is involved, it is the public’s access to what that rape looks like, and how it has been framed. Games can (conceivably) handle rape and discussions of it, but so far we have not many, if any, good representations of it. So, yes, given what we know, some people have been offended so far. That is for Crystal Dynamics to deal with. We had concerns, we had questions, and so far they haven’t really been addressed.

As Alexander points out, there is an issue with the marketing teams and what we are being advertised, what we’re being sold, and what gets decided as kosher. These are questions we need to ask of games and the industry at large. We will continue asking these questions, because we love games, we want them to be inclusive, and we want to see them tackle more subjects. Games are in a unique position to communicate as a medium, and right now the larger industry is seemingly stuck in a rut.

Now, the idea that everyone will be offended by someone is akin to just throwing your hands up in the air and saying we may as well not to anything and just let things be. There is a certain person for whom this is a viable response, and it is typically a person to whom the market is advertising. Even if it is in an increasingly puerile and stock manner. For people who are not represented fairly or equally, it is not just a matter of being ‘offended,’ it is a matter of desiring a more rich landscape. Leaving that to the free market might sound good, but unless a desire for better and more is expressed, companies, who are typically conservative in how they want to spend money, will continue pumping out the formulae they feel are safe.

Also, today has been a day where I have seen ‘political correctness’ thrown about, as if it is a bane against people who may bring forth their concerns about inclusiveness. Political correctness, at this point, has become a phrase that automatically signals to me that a person has less interest in actually discussing the matter, and wants to automatically place me on the defensive for believing in being inclusive and fair. As I’ve heard it said, it is not about political correctness, it’s about not being an asshole.

P.S. “Don’t let the few ruin everything for the many?” Yegads, talk about upholding the status quo. This also assumes the many are all wanting to stay in a stagnant medium.

About Denis Farr

Writer interested in intersectionality, games, comics, nerdy stuff in general, theater, and how it all mixes. Graduate of Wabash College, with studies in Theater, English, German, and Gender Studies.
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