I Shouldn't, But I Will
Posted on Thursday, June 4 2015 @ 13:37:34 PST
Music: Kid Charlemagne - Cover by Kyle Bronsdon
One can complain about one's least favorite news outlets for good reason. The New York Times still hasn't repudiated Walter Duranty, The Washington Post hasn't done anything worth remembering since Watergate, Fox News is a punch line to the joke that is media credibility, Kotaku hires writers who routinely sleep with the subjects of their coverage, The New Republic still exists for some reason, etc. Today we're here to ***** about Polygon.
For the uninitiated Polygon's been in the 'worst news outlet in games journalism' competition for a while now. A few sins:
Taking blatant payola from Microsoft ($750,000 to make a 'documentary' about their site's founding)
Suspiciously coddling MS titles while throwing heat at exclusives for other platforms
The preceding two items are definitely unrelated
Hiring Ben Kuchera
Not firing Ben Kuchera
Doing predictably lousy journalism
Blatantly lying about Sim City, specifically the nature of its deficiencies
Framing paid mods as an 'abuse' story with potentially criminal malcontents as victims.
It was one Colin Campbell who defended paid mods here while his most-talked-about work is the 'all games are stupid and I'm such a special and beautiful unique snowflake look how Gonzo I am' piece here. Either way he's a terrible writer who needs to get out of games journalism/editorial/writing of any kind. Practically anyone could do his job better than he does and would probably enjoy it more. Granted you would work at Polygon but the money's probably better than McDonald's. We're not here to ***** about him and his blatantly obvious insecurity and narcissism. No, that's the blooper reel before we get to the really offensive stupidity.
We're here to celebrate a bush-league Al Sharpton. From one Tauriq Moosa comes "Colorblind: On Witcher 3, Rust, and gaming's race problem" and it is, without a doubt, one of the most Americentric, chauvinist, racist things I've read since the last time I saw a screencap of /pol/.
Here's a fine selection from the article:
"Many white gamers expressed concern, as Megan Condis documents, disliking being forced to think about race and having to play someone who didn’t match their own race. "The problem is lack of freedom of choice," one claimed."
Neither Moosa nor Condis actually document the relative frequency of any of this - what about people assigned white skin tones who wanted to be black? Are they telling me those people flat-out don't exist? How do they know any of the people, never mind all of them, making these requests are all white? Why do they dismiss the 'freedom of choice' concern and assume the person saying it is arguing in bad faith? Is it so that they can lump them in together to make their point seem more significant than it really is? Or is that they're just so used to employing base rhetoric to argue their points they don't know how to stop?
Later on in the article he whines about not getting many chances to play characters which look like him (why would you want to? Are you that self-infatuated? Are you still a child? That's like watching Goodfellas, not being Italian, and then *****ing about all the Italians in the movie; calling such a complaint stupid does this particular whine too much credit) and links to an image here. Given the title 'brown haired white guys' see how far you have to go into the image before you find a character who either doesn't have brown hair (hint, if you missed Jason Brody you went too far) or is not the only template for that character (they include the white male Alex D from Invisible War but the default was female while the nearest male type was black - in fact it seems deliberately engineered such that selecting the white male face/template required the most effort from the player - I don't think I ever even finished a 'male' playthrough, I liked the voice work for the female better) and you have just that far to invalidate the image's attempt at a point.
"When you complain, you’re making a fuss and being political."
He almost has a valid point here. Had he the intellectual courage to keep going he would manage to get there sooner or later. I'd be disappointed if I thought such a thing possible.
"Race shouldn’t only be an issue for gamers when some white gamers express concerns."
Why the hell does it have to be an issue at all? Couldn't the whole lot of absurd homuncular overgrown children represented by this lot either go away and leave the rest of us in peace or at least grow up?
"I even adore the white male lead for his dad jokes and genuine love for his friends."
You managed to relate to a character who doesn't look like you? And you even managed to not hate him for being white? Moosa we are making progress, brother. Why, at this rate, you'll be listening to classical music and not frothing with murderous rage at dead Austrian composers without justification in no time!
"While some reviews have mentioned issues such as sexism, none I read mentioned another crucial misstep: Not a single human in the game is a person of color."
And the progress is undone. Forget I said anything nice.
"[Editor's note: Hey, wait a second, Polygon's review did in fact bring this issue up!]"
Why do I get the impression that this piece and that particular bit of nonsense in that review are somehow...connected, as if this wave of race-baiting was all part of some pre-ordained plan? I'd have to attribute some measure of intelligence to Polygon's staff which I would believe otherwise impossible as they continue to willingly employ Ben Kuchera and Colin Campbell. If one is to be the village idiot it is well remembered that on the six days of the week one is not flashing traffic or committing mopery one should keep one's pants on in public. If one is to be a cynical peddler of pious frauds please have the decency and respect for human intelligence to not announce the fraudulence of the fraud as is in action. It's insulting.
"Let’s look at a few uncomfortable facts. Almost every Witcher 3 review I came across was written by a white man — excellent writers and all of whom I respect. But games media itself is, like the tech world, a very white-male dominated area. This is why we got a hundred articles confronting the Witcher 3 devs about less pretty grass physics, but not a single article asking them about no people of color."
The review *****ing about no fantasy black people was written by a pasty-white trustafarian from the Bay area. Also, the complaints about visuals had to do with an allegation of bait-and-switch (an allegation I don't think holds water) which is of a far more serious nature for consumer reporting than 'this fails to flatter my political prejudices'.
"But the lack of persons of colour, and the lack of questions about our absence, comes from ignorance rather than animosity."
Would anyone care to take up this thesis and actually argue for it? Moosa can't be bothered. He simply assumes it true.
"Because Slavic people are predominantly white, it therefore is in keeping with nods to that mythology to only feature white people in the game’s world. Just as you would feature Indian people if you were making a game based on Indian mythology, so you would do the same for Slavic."
Why not? It makes sense. It's called thematic continuity. It gives grounding to subject matter.
"But this misses a crucial point: Things are not equal. We are not in a medium that features predominantly Indian men, Chinese women, or focuses on stories from Africa. We’re part of an industry that frequently tells the stories of white people and stars white people."
First, how is this point crucial? Second, 'white people' is not a homogeneous group you racist punk, and white people are not, as the phrasing of this statement seems to imply, some kind of androgynous subspecies. Third, you're not part of 'the industry'. You're part of the industry which reports on 'the industry'. Get it straight.
"The Witcher world itself features Zerrikania, whose inhabitants seem very much inspired from the Middle East. In the first Witcher, a prominent Zerrikanian character is named Azar Javed, an Arabic name. Like mine! Culture and names are welcome, but skin color, it seems, is not."
The above paragraph has been edited from its original release - it asserted that Javed was in The Witcher 2. Anyone who has played the first two games would have known this not to be the case. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Moosa's full of it when he claims to have played any of these games. I suppose it matters that Azar Javed is blatantly not white and anyone who played the game would know that but, again, a Polygon editorialist doesn't actually like games or even play them, they simply throw tantrums about them to stir up ad revenue.
"You’ll often hear "based on mythology" as well as "historically accurate," in the same breath, even though it can’t be both. If it’s based on mythology, then it’s fiction. If it’s historically accurate, then we must talk about our ancestors’ legendary fights with sirens on shores of Arg Skellige."
Roman à clef. Try harder next time to understand art, please.
"Indeed, it shows again that humans are white humans and everyone else is non-human and oppressed."
Look up a photograph of a large crowd of random people from Poland. Then realize that the ethnic composition in Poland really hasn't changed much in about 800 years.
"Again: This is literal dehumanising of people of color. We are relegated to non-human species, their treatment is supposed to mimic real-world racist policies."
Bigotry comes in a wide variety of forms and targets a wide variety of recipients. Sapkowski, and by extension CDPR, are inverting Tolkien's archetypes to say something about human nature - namely that it's human nature to isolate, demonize and alienate those different from ourselves. Moosa's article is proof positive that Sapkowski was on to something.
"We want to be seen as people, too. There’s little more to it, for me."
Are you seriously trying to maintain that the Polish developers (who are from and operate in Poland, by the way) who made this game don't think you, personally, are a human being and this game's existence is an attack on your dignity as such? To quote Eugene Krabs, "I've never felt such a combination of pity and...indigestion." If it helps I think you're a person. A dumb, self-centered, entitled jackass but a person nonetheless.
One final point:
"That such hostility exists at all is the problem and it perpetuates the silencing of our concerns — leading to marginalised people leaving white-male-dominated industries altogether."
The flight of women from tech positions started in the mid-1980s. Before that, comp sci departments were actually dominated by women. Starting in the '80s the split started to even out and then reverse and it hasn't gone back. Instead of assuming it's sexism or whatever, why not try analyzing those trends and see what happened in detail? An article actually worth reading is waiting there.
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