I’m not sure what Total Biscuit is hoping to accomplish. His attempt to appear ‘neutral’ or nuanced while simultaneously marginalizing people like Sarkisian and her opinions are rather at odds with each other.
Let me take a bit of a step back. Recently, over the past 14 or so days, the discourse around certain vocal people in the video games development and commentary community has gotten rather poisonous. Zoe Quinn had to leave her home after targeted threats to hearth and family and within the past 2 days Anita Sarkisian has had to do the same. All, or at least some, of this stems from accusations of which I will not entertain in this blog post. Needless to say, the people accusing Zoe Quinn are desperate and aimless. In response to all of these awful occurrences, Leigh Alexander wrote up one of her textbook fiery and confrontational opinion pieces about gaming and “gamers”.
Total Biscuit, a YouTube celebrity but otherwise pretty okay guy, had mostly stayed out of the fray. He’d made a few comments here and there and voiced a bit of a persecution complex but otherwise stayed out of it.
Until today. He felt a reasonable voice needed to be heard. Unfortunately, despite his best intentions, I think he lost the thread beside what he feels is a legitimate reason to be miffed at the entire progressive video game movement.
He brings up Tim Schafer’s idea that everyone should watch Anita’s videos and then goes on for a long time trying to justify peoples responses to Tim’s idea.
Anita has actively condemned some parts of games that others find enjoyable. She was quoted in a lecture as saying she does not like games because she doesn’t want to go around blowing peoples heads off.
It’s perfectly acceptable for someone to ‘condemn’ parts of things that are overall enjoyable. A sticking point for most people who’re vehemently against “Tropes vs. Women” is that she’s tearing down Video Games as a whole with her baseless, contextless accusations when in reality she’s just pointing out some problematic areas that people would do well to consider when making the art of Video Games.
Well a great deal of people like the violence components of videogames, they’re often key to the mechanics and it echoes the all too recent negative press coverage that pops up around videogames and their violent content. It also demonstrates a certain level of either ignorance of the medium or pandering to her audience at the time (we do not know if she was sincere when she said that) and some people who play games do not like that. To them she is perhaps another person who has come along to try and make them feel bad about their hobby and some of the people who have either been attracted to or aligned with her are very negative individuals, extremists if you will who actively attack others online.
None of what he wrote excuses any personal attack on Anita or people who agree with her analysis. He plays the “I don’t agree with this” card afterwards:
I do not believe this is a good reason to criticize Anitas videos.
But doesn’t condemn those who DO believe this is a good reason to criticize. There is no middle ground with this specific issue. Those who think Anita’s critical videos are trying to destroy their hobby are, in no uncertain terms, wrong. They’re myopic and often times feel persecution from feminist circles because they’re not ready to come to terms with their own sexism and acceptance of misogyny in a hobby they enjoy.
This is emblematic of the entire ‘Nuance’ argument. TB (Total Biscuit) claims that people are too extreme on both sides without once entertaining the thought that relativity doesn’t have to exist in every discussion. The current campaign of attempted discourse surrounding representation of women in Video Games and developing those games is meant to be an inclusive discussion. Every voice should be heard and considered. That, however, doesn’t automatically mean that every opinion is valid. There are right ways to look at it and wrong ways and attempting to see the validity of each persons viewpoint is only going to lead to a watered down and impotent movement.
To be fair to TB though, he does go on to rightfully condemn the blind activism that Twitter encourages. 140 characters leaves little room for anything but extremes and when someone with a large following of vigilant fans decides, consciously, to say ‘I don’t like X and you shouldn’t like X either’ with no explanation or context… but he also lambastes Leigh Alexander’s excellent article while having zero understanding of what she’s actually saying in it. Despite having full means of contextual relations unlike he would normally have on Twitter.
Just a few hours ago an article was published claiming that “Gamers are over” It claims “Gamer” isn’t just a dated demographic label that most people increasingly prefer not to use. Gamers are over. That’s why they’re so mad.”. The article seems to revel in this idea of a “gamer”, defining what a “gamer” with terms like “obtuse shitslingers, these wailing hyper-consumers, these childish internet-arguers”. I guess it’s easy to attack someone once you’ve labeled them the enemy. It’s much easier than trying to understand where all this anger comes from.
He misses the entire point behind the article. That ‘gamer culture’ as predefined in the generations before, has become unnecessary, repugnant, and redundant. There are, however, a very few within certain communities who are fighting tooth and nail and claw to retain the palisades of ‘Gamer’ and keep it defined by what everyone else agrees is infantile. These people, as Leigh Alexander puts it, are wrong. There’s no nuance here. ‘Gamer’ in quotes isn’t needed anymore and it’s best if we just leave it behind.
Leigh Alexander wrote in her piece:
This is hard for people who’ve drank the kool aid about how their identity depends on the aging cultural signposts of a rapidly-evolving, increasingly broad and complex medium. It’s hard for them to hear they don’t own anything, anymore, that they aren’t the world’s most special-est consumer demographic, that they have to share.
The point being that progressive and inclusive attitudes toward art are always right, and always win out in the end. We cannot keep this nostalgic idea of gaming away from people who want to make new and different things anymore. This terrifies certain people. Those people lash out and attack the most visible and vocal targets. They are wrong. People who agree with the attacks are wrong. Those who are being attacked [I]cannot [/I]be wrong simply by wanting to discuss or make things in a different way.
TB spends an inordinate amount of time setting up a Strawman of Leigh Alexander’s article and then tearing it down and in the end unfortunately he accomplishes nothing.. There isn’t some imaginary battle line between ‘real gamers’ and ‘social justice warriors’. There are a few juvenile individuals violently lashing out and some people are agreeing with the violence. All of those people aren’t wanted or needed in this discussion.
If he wants to be nuanced, than he needs to stop giving shelter to this subset of our community. He needs to be firmly and unequivocally behind progress. If you aren’t with progress, then that means you’re against it. I guess TB has chosen his side. To again quote Alexander’s piece:
You don’t want to ‘be divisive?’ Who’s being divided, except for people who are okay with an infantilized cultural desert of shitty behavior and people who aren’t? What is there to ‘debate’?