VentureBeat OpEd: The video game industry must stand up against the right’s bad-faith attacks

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Selected quotes below, but I'd recommend reading the whole thing, it's quite eye-opening, or at least was for me. It just shows how flat footed the industry is and how caught off-guard they were.

The video game industry took two hits on Wednesday, in the aftermath of the double shootings across the weekend. ESPN, which had been planning to air an Apex Legends tournament as part of the X Games, decided to delay the program until after the X Games tie-in. Meanwhile, Walmart, which had been the site of the El Paso shooting, decided to remove advertising for “violent video games” — despite, absurdly, continuing to sell the guns used in the shootings.

The latter illustrates the core issue facing the video game industry: It’s too cowardly to actually speak the truth about why it’s being targeted, thus Walmart (and ESPN, or its corporate parents Disney/ABC) felt like they would face absolutely zero consequences for scapegoating games. The video game industry will continue to fail in the political arena as long as it is terrified to speak the truth that it is deliberately being targeted by Republican politicians as a distraction for their failed gun policies and complicity in hate crimes.
Bad faith, worse logic

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this whole story is how detached it is from reality. It’s a ritual, not an argument, at this point: a shooter murders people in America; Democrats call for gun control; and Republicans suddenly pretend to care about mental health and violent video games to grind all debate to a halt. They don’t even talk about which video games the shooters might have played anymore! It’s just that the idea that violent video games exist is sufficient to mention.

The facts are obvious: The United States is the only nation where this happens regularly because of its incredibly lax gun laws. Video games exist all over the world without this happening elsewhere. There’s no evidence that violent media causes violent actions, let alone in games specifically. We all know these things. They’re barely even worth mentioning! Yet Republicans think it’s safe to use video games as a punching bag.

The statements released by two of the most influential groups, the ESA and IGDA, demonstrate the cowardice on display here. Both statements do nothing but state the fact that games don’t contribute to violence. They do not name names — saying that they’re under attack by conservatives specifically — nor do they explain why this is happening again — that those Republicans need a scapegoat to distract from their failed gun control policy. They are playing the turtle, hoping it goes away, instead of taking the simple, just, and pragmatic tack of stating the obvious.
Yes, it’s the right

Some of it is historical. Back in the 1990s, at the height of the violent video game moral panic, attacks on the industry were bipartisan and generally in good faith, albeit ignorant. With good faith criticism, simply presenting the evidence, or lack thereof, would have helped.

Now, the criticism is in bad faith, and explicitly partisan. It’s the Republican party, from the president to the governor of Texas and Congress members in-between. Only Joe Biden of major Democrats — the most conservative of the major presidential candidates and a relic of the 1990s culture wars — gave any attention at all to violent video games, saying in essence that he didn’t like them, but that they were irrelevant. This is party politics: Republicans are in favor of guns and opposed to violent video games. The NRA knows this and supports the GOP. The ESA and IGDA are still confused.

But the bigger reason that the video game industry is paralyzed in the face of direct attacks is that it’s terrified of looking like it’s taking sides, and it’s terrified of the conservative video game “fans.” Decades of attempting to do nothing in an attempt to play both sides of the culture wars have left the industry unable to see that a side has already been chosen for it.

This learned helplessness damages the industry already. Its pathetic reaction to the alt-right GamerGate movement gave it a deserved PR black eye that it hasn’t shed, as well as hurting game developers, particularly marginalized game makers, across the world. An inability or unwillingness to police users have led to game spaces like Steam or Discord to be used as white supremacist recruitment and organizational tools.
 

Gentlemen

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Click on every link by the way, it builds the strongest existing case against the continued existence of the ESA. Above and beyond its egregious neglect to protect the safety and privacy of the people who cover its events, and on top of its spineless political inertia, it is actively donating to the causes that use its member publishers and customers as punching bags in the face of racially-motivated mass-murder, the same political leadership that gives cover to the right-wing psychosis that attacks anybody who shines a light on the toxic boy's club that has claimed exclusive domain over capital G Gaming.

The Entertainment Software Association is drawing a line in the sand today, warning Donald Trump that his disgraceful remarks linking recent gun massacres to violent video games may have earned him a “marginally reduced campaign contribution”. Scathing!

Only days after the shooting deaths of more than 30 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump used a news conference to blame those deaths on violent video games. Yikes!

Thankfully for our beloved hobby, the ESA came swooping into action immediately, warning the President in no uncertain terms that they are strongly thinking about refusing to donate even one cent more than the $28,200 they have already donated to the Republican Party this election cycle.

Thinking about retiring, Mister Trump? I know I would be after that kind of pwnage!
Rowan Kaiser is the hero we barely deserve.
 

Instro

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Gamergaters and conservatives in the industry must really be having a mental break over this lol.
 

Gentlemen

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Gamergaters and conservatives in the industry must really be having a mental break over this lol.
why? they're clearly in command of the cultural divide. By doing nothing, the industry serves the need for gg'ers to be comforted in a nonjudgmental way about their pastime. By doing nothing, conservatives see their leadership as 'winning the fight.'
 

Jarhab

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"And it only takes one user following through on the rhetoric to have deadly results."

That Steam article has pretty flimsy reasoning. If only one user follows through on the rhetoric with deadly results, it stands to reason that it was the user, not the rhetoric, that led to said results. In fact, the article's flawed reasoning could also be applied to violent video games. Sure, 99.99% of players aren't affected by playing them but if just one player is inspired to go on a killing spree, that's enough to justify banning them!

Ultimately, both sides of the political spectrum rely on the "think of the children" crutch and it's never been particularly convincing. This isn't to say that Steam shouldn't crack down on troll groups. But trying to link those groups to mass murders is tenuous at best. Just ban them for being asshats. That's a good enough reason as any.
 

Gentlemen

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It's the fact that the industry at large is willing to stand still like the problems will go away on their own that is the crux of the article. It's not 'flawed' to say platform holders have allowed right-wing hate and extremism to flourish across the spectrum while abrogating any responsibility for quelling it.
 

faceless

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Oct 25, 2017
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they were in bed with the right up until now.

against minorities. against women. against predatory practices like gambling.

fuck 'em, let it burn.

it would be amazing if walmart didn't carry the new modern warfare videogame this fall.

not as bad as previous years as digital is taking over though.
 

mescalineeyes

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Or, you know, we could just ignore the dumb shit the right is spewing instead of signal boosting it by arguing against something that was only made up to distract from the issue of THE GUNS
 
Nov 23, 2017
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"And it only takes one user following through on the rhetoric to have deadly results."

That Steam article has pretty flimsy reasoning. If only one user follows through on the rhetoric with deadly results, it stands to reason that it was the user, not the rhetoric, that led to said results. In fact, the article's flawed reasoning could also be applied to violent video games. Sure, 99.99% of players aren't affected by playing them but if just one player is inspired to go on a killing spree, that's enough to justify banning them!

Ultimately, both sides of the political spectrum rely on the "think of the children" crutch and it's never been particularly convincing. This isn't to say that Steam shouldn't crack down on troll groups. But trying to link those groups to mass murders is tenuous at best. Just ban them for being asshats. That's a good enough reason as any.
This ain’t it, chief. The entire problem is that lone wolves are created by radicalized communities. You’re being really weirdly dismissive of that fact.
 

Messofanego

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Who knew socially inept nerds who never interact with people different to them in real life in gender, race, age, sexuality, etc were the perfect clientele to be radicalised into extreme conservatives. And centrist companies are so scared of taking sides, so here we are.
 

Jarhab

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This ain’t it, chief. The entire problem is that lone wolves are created by radicalized communities. You’re being really weirdly dismissive of that fact.
Except that "fact" is a gross oversimplification of a complex issue. Case in point: the Dayton shooter didn't ascribe to the alt-right. He was far-left. As far as I know, there aren't a lot of far-left communities that encourage mass murder. When someone goes out and kills a bunch of random people, they aren't doing it because of an internet forum. They're doing it because they don't want to feel worthless anymore. They can't find validation through relationships, careers or genuine accomplishments so they seek it by doing something infamous. It's an ultimately narcissistic act by someone who has nothing to lose.

The problem is that we give them what they want. We put them on television and news sites and we talk about their actions. We give them the recognition they were willing to kill for. Obviously there's no simple solution for this. If a mass murder happens, of course it needs to be reported and discussed. Unfortunately, that only reinforces this cycle. That's why this is a complex issue.
 

Funyarinpa

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Turning the conversation to the attacks on the video game industry lessens the presence of the issue of American government and companies contributing actively to gun violence.

Nobody means to actually do anything against video games.

The correct retort to this would be to mobilize as an industry to speak up against the support of American domestic terrorism by the government and American corporations, but that's not going to happen, so...
 

mescalineeyes

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While the industry could directly target the conversation towards lax gun laws and white supremacist rhetoric, your response is "just don't talk about it"?
no, I’m saying don’t engage in a conversation that bases it’s premise on “it’s the video games fault” because no one that is saying that is trying to have a good faith conversation with you
 

Gentlemen

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Oct 25, 2017
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My primary takeaway from this article is that whatever entity takes the place of the ESA it needs to be better at more than just securing websites, its membership needs the backbone to actually demand it take its political responsibilities as seriously as it takes its financial ones. Otherwise we end up right back here the next time republicans need an easy punching bag to dodge having to lift a single finger against white supremacists or gun violence.
 

fiendcode

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Except that "fact" is a gross oversimplification of a complex issue. Case in point: the Dayton shooter didn't ascribe to the alt-right. He was far-left. As far as I know, there aren't a lot of far-left communities that encourage mass murder. When someone goes out and kills a bunch of random people, they aren't doing it because of an internet forum. They're doing it because they don't want to feel worthless anymore. They can't find validation through relationships, careers or genuine accomplishments so they seek it by doing something infamous. It's an ultimately narcissistic act by someone who has nothing to lose.

The problem is that we give them what they want. We put them on television and news sites and we talk about their actions. We give them the recognition they were willing to kill for. Obviously there's no simple solution for this. If a mass murder happens, of course it needs to be reported and discussed. Unfortunately, that only reinforces this cycle. That's why this is a complex issue.
The problem is extremely easy access to and lax laws regarding firearms. We're the only first world nation on Earth with this "complex issue".
 

olag

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Oct 28, 2017
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It's an industry were the mantra has steadily become spineless in its apolitical stances....why would that encourage people to use it as a punching bag 😂

That was sarcasm by the way.
 

mutantmagnet

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Oct 28, 2017
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Just this morning I was thinking really hard about Goeff's timing in promoting the various publishers who is backing his game awards and his mention of THQ was even more flagrant once I really absorbed it.

THQ willfully signal boosted 8chan despite their reputation and THQ fans warning them explicitly not to do their AMA.

Their apology was so terrible they did nothing to solve the problems they still created after the apology until a Microsoft rep told them to stop doing it publicly.

That is how bad THQ was. They needed not their fans, or journalists to tell them to fix their shit but a platform holder before they took it seriously enough.

So Goeff fully aware of this incident like everyone else immersed in gaming culture promotes THQ when the entire country he is citizen of is actively in debate about the influences that caused a few recent shootings to occur and videogames specifically was called out.

He basically lowkey supported that argument by giving a pass and promoting a company that helped to promote 8chan.


Fucking hell.
 

fiendcode

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Oct 26, 2017
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Really? Did you forget what happened in Christchurch?
Oh sorry, I thought I was dealing with someone arguing in good faith. My mistake.

NZ has a tenth the proportional deaths by gun violence that the US does, in fact no nation comes close to us, we more than quadruple the next biggest one (Switzerland from what I can tell). Try again.
 

Nome

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We should collectively spend more of our loot box fortune on lobbying I guess
 

FallenHeroX1

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Gamergaters and conservatives in the industry must really be having a mental break over this lol.
Conservatives I know are typically poor, missing teeth and don't have any health care, but you think the government taking away video games is the straw breaking the camel's back? lol These people aren't interested in benefiting themselves, they are interested in making other people feel like shit because they are miserable dumb fucks.
 

Slayven

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Will never happen im a meaningful way. They aren't trying to be "political" remember?
 

TaySan

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You figured the gamergate crowd would be upset that their leaders they look up to are attacking their precious video games....
 

Jarhab

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Oh sorry, I thought I was dealing with someone arguing in good faith. My mistake.

NZ has a tenth the proportional deaths by gun violence that the US does, in fact no nation comes close to us, we more than quadruple the next biggest one (Switzerland from what I can tell). Try again.
You said: We're the only first world nation on Earth with this "complex issue". The issue in question was that of mass shootings, of which there was recently one in Christchurch. Therefore, the U.S. is not the only first-world country to have mass shootings.

Now, if you had said that the U.S. has more mass shootings than other first-world countries, I'd agree.
 

Exit Music

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Nov 13, 2017
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Conservatives I know are typically poor, missing teeth and don't have any health care, but you think the government taking away video games is the straw breaking the camel's back? lol These people aren't interested in benefiting themselves, they are interested in making other people feel like shit because they are miserable dumb fucks.
It’s ridiculous that we think it’s okay to talk about people like this. You’re no better than the “toothless conservatives” calling people “Demoncrats” on Twitter with this kind of nonsense.
 

Jarhab

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I'm not sure what point you're trying to make. I never claimed that violent video games lead to gun violence. I claimed that internet forums don't lead to gun violence. The shaky reasoning used to draw a link between social media and mass murders could also be used to draw a link between video games and mass murders. Correlation does not imply causation.
 

fiendcode

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You said: We're the only first world nation on Earth with this "complex issue". The issue in question was that of mass shootings, of which there was recently one in Christchurch. Therefore, the U.S. is not the only first-world country to have mass shootings.

Now, if you had said that the U.S. has more mass shootings than other first-world countries, I'd agree.
Scale and frequency is the issue. Having literally one mass shooting this century like NZ had isn't a complex issue. The US is entirely different and our gun laws (or lack there of) are the primary reason for that. Anything else is NRA scapegoating.
 

ISOM

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Nov 6, 2017
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I don't see the game industry doing too much considering how much right wing opinions and movements are within the industry.
 

Parmenide

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Sorry but I can’t help it. This is just an article to push a certain political agenda. I’m more interested in what causes hate and leads to a crime. Before buying a gun there must be something else, I’m sure, these monsters don’t come out of nowhere. I can’t believe everybody is more interested in the tools than the causes. No wonder America has this huge problem if you face issues this way.
I mean who are these guys? I don’t want your standard responses, I want experts to analyze them and find the breaking point in their mind and what caused it. Bad education? Abuses? Or a society more concerned about losing video games than caring about the ‘strange kid’ at school?