You know, I get it. I get the claims that video games aren’t inclusive. That they lack minority heroes, or heroes of colour, or things like that. I understand why that is a concern, and that people want to see improvement in it. But you know what, I disagree, vehemently, with the notion that the time for change is now and only now and that it must be forced upon the world.
No, I’m not speaking as a straight white cis male who wants games to cater to him and to him only. I’m speaking as a homosexual autistic that thinks that creative liberty and kindness go a much longer way in promoting harmony and inclusion. You see, there are no gay heroes. There are no autistic heroes. We don’t have our token characters, our token champions. At least, not as far as I am aware. Does that bother me? Not really. One thing I believe is that passive exclusion is not an act of hatred. So there are no gay heroes? Okay. Doesn’t mean the game devs are homophobic.
Now I want to talk about the title: Natural evolution. For this, I’m going to borrow an example from the comic industry, or at least the way I understand it. Several years ago, apparently someone thought it was homophobic that there were no gay superheroes, and that this had to change. A comic series was started that would feature a gay hero, some cowboy themed character.
Their intentions were good, and I really think that. However, the comic industry simply wasn’t ready at the time. The character that was created had every single gay stereotype included in it, pushed to overdrive. The result was, frankly, insulting. Extremely flamboyant, fashion expert, even innuendos if I recall correctly.
See, this… This is what I absolutely do not want to happen. Sure, I’d like the representation to happen, but only when the industry is ready for it. Only when people are comfortable discussing the subject, when people are willing to push themselves just a bit harder to make such a representation shine and fully integrate it into their culture.
When, not if, WHEN it happens, it has to be well executed. Research, compassion, empathy and many critical eyes on the production process. In other words: Inclusion when the industry is ready for it. This is natural evolution, and prior to Gamergate, I felt we were headed that way. Heck, according to Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, we actually were headed that way! She stated that millennial males, the core demographic of gamers, are less sexist than previous generations, less racist, less homophobic. That’s wonderful; society is improving, steadily ascending!
But now, with what “Social Justice Warriors” have done recently, I feel we’re grinding to a halt, if not reversing entirely. I’m afraid that if the issues Gamergate are fighting for were to be lost, we WOULD take a step back. The industry would be terrified to handle any subject for fear of the iron fist of “Social Justice Warrior Feminism” bearing down on them. Make a gay hero? “Not perfect enough!” Black guy? “Token black guy, improve please.”
Natural evolution. I choose to be optimistic. I choose to look at the industry and say “Hey, if the gaming community is THIS diverse, all it takes is time.” I want healthy growth, I want that community to bloom without the ministry of rightthink (Editor’s note: Leftthink in the USA). I want there to be room for mishaps and constructive correction.
Every tree needs pruning as it grows. If you cut off every branch that will be out of place by the time the tree is fully grown, it will never grow out into a mighty oak. It won’t have the energy to grow. It will wither and die. Gaming culture and industry are not unlike that. Give it room to experiment. Give it an environment where they are not harassed for every mistake they make. Help them where they need help, offer your support, and nourish it. Don’t force it to bow to your ideals. Let it grow.