Recent events in the Game Development community have something very closely in common with Indigenous events in Canada over the last 200 years. The idea that those in charge, those in the highest positions in the land simply refuse to learn. One is left with nothing to say but, “Seriously? You thought you could get away with that?”
Today (July 2nd 2014), an E-Sports tournament in Finland came under fire for baring women from participating in certain events in an "effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports.” At E3 a few weeks ago, Ubisoft got the most attention not for the work they’re doing, but rather for the work they refuse to do. Namely, animate women characters into the newest Assassin’s Creed game.
The uproar on the Internet is quick, furious and amazing to watch. Twitter plays host to some of the best responses.
What’s crazy about that is it took me no time to find. It’s all from a story, published today and all of those comments were together.
Why do people think they can get away with this? Because in a lot of cases they still can. In gaming we (the mainstream) continue to accept the female as the kidnap victim, the female as the one dressed in pink with no other defining characteristics. We still buy, in mass quantities games that feature homophobia, transphobia and misogyny as a punchline. In Indigenous politics, the mainstream refuses to even acknowledge that such a concept as “Indigenous politics” exists. Indigenous people in Canada are seen in the same way women are in gaming. As afterthoughts that are ultimately inconsequential to the economic bottom line.
The positive side to all of this is unlike even 10 years ago, there is a loud voice and the ability of the communities to respond instantly to these decisions. Social media provides the ability to instantly respond and both communities are moving strong. The difference between the two at this point is that the Indigenous community is still not given the credibility the gaming community is by the wider media. While large operations like Polygon and Gamasutra often report and expand upon the outrage started in the social media community, Indigenous issues in Canada are brought to the general public by the big 4/5 (do we count Sun media?) media operations and they are often as problematic as the comment sections outlined above.
The important thing is there is progress being made and the tools exist to ensure that progress moves quicker than it has been able to in the past. As ridiculous as it is that we still have to have this conversation, at least progress is being made.