By Crystal Colwell / March 30th, 2017
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect oprainfall as a whole.
Author and YouTube Manager Dalton recently released an article in which he spoke of his opinion on politics in gaming. He asked me to look over the article and give him feedback. This is something we do quite often with opinion pieces, as it gets all parties involved thinking. In this case it definitely got me thinking. Unfortunately I was going around in circles trying to decide where I stood.
In general I have no problem knowing which side of things I stand on. As I read this opinion piece, however, I realized that I had a lot of questions. I could see Dalton’s side of things but I wasn’t sure I agreed. Sure politics and gaming are separate entities. I want my games to be fun too, but can you really do that? I guess I could if I never knew any of the politics behind a game. That isn’t the world we live in though, is it?
As co-owner of this website I realize that we have people volunteering here of all different mindsets. We don’t all agree on a lot of things and that is OK. We also have disclaimers everywhere. Hell I have a disclaimer on my social media accounts stating that my opinions do not represent oprainfall as a whole. Is that true though? When people think of me do they think of the site? Do they think that my opinions must be reflected on the site? I am after all one of the people who has final say on everything we do here. Why wouldn’t you think that my personal opinions would be called into play? Does that disclaimer really make you think that my personal opinions don’t represent the site? If people won’t buy a game because they don’t like someone affiliated with it… will they not visit this site if they disagree with me? If so is that fair? The site is about so much more than me. I am a tiny tiny part of it.
Anyhow, realizing that I was going back and forth on how I felt about this topic, I decided to ask Dalton to do a Q and A. The hope here is that picking his brain would help me see where he is coming from, get me thinking even more, and help me to make up my mind. Do we really need to leave politics out of gaming? Can we honestly do this?
Q1: Do you think this (politics being so prevalent in gaming) is a new thing or is something we are just more aware of now with the internet and news traveling so quickly?
1A: Politics have always been there, saying that games are causing kids to be violent, are killing brain cells, etc. However, I do think that the internet has made it a lot easier for people to get information on their games. This, combined with the tiny political renaissance that we’ve been in of late, has made a nasty combination.
Q2: If you had a business would you hire people whom you fundamentally disagreed with or who you thought might harm your brand?
2A: If I had a business, I would never deny any employee a job just because they disagreed with me politically. Everyone has different thoughts and opinions, and that’s what makes the world go around. A bunch of my friends disagree with everything that I’m about, but I’m still friends with them. Disagreements get people thinking about more than just one side.
Q3: Do you think there are any situations in which you would agree with politics being brought into gaming?
3A: There are plenty of instances where political issues have been fused into a game’s story to make it better. Take for instance Pokemon Black & White, which was largely about truth vs ideals, or relative vs. absolute truths if you will. On one side you have an absolute truth (forcing Pokemon to fight is evil), and on the other you have the relative truth (fighting with Pokémon increases your friendship and brings you closer, and also helps them grow). This is the main premise behind the games and is incorporated into every little detail of the game really well.
I think that the behind-the-scenes politics are what’s ruining gaming, not so much in-game politics.
Q4: As stated in my intro, I am back and forth on this issue. I do agree that games are about fun, however. Do you have any suggestions on how we can get back to that fun and get over all of this political crap?
4A: I think we should go back to focusing on the game and how it plays. Censorship should never go without criticism, but at least that way we’re focusing on how it affects the game. We aren’t just giving mounds of hate to a game where the developers did something really dumb, which admittedly they did. We can go back to playing games and judging them for what they are.
Q5: You mention being a fan of Jon Jafari. Do you think this fact has anything to do with you being upset at his being removed? Would you care as much were this some random person that you were not a fan of?
5A: I think it escalated the issue because a lot of people are fans of him. I think people would still care because it is an issue, but they probably wouldn’t care quite as much.
Q6: As a website we put disclaimers everywhere. We do this so that everyone knows not any one view point represents oprainfall as a whole. Do you think the disclaimers help or do you think people still look at that person and think they represent the company they work for in at least some capacity?
6A: I think they help for the people that read articles online, but there are going to be those cases of people not entirely reading into it. Some people will always put the blame on the company that they work for, but I believe that a firm majority will see that disclaimer and heed what it says.
Q7: You state that if people do something wrong they should be punished for it. What about people that see not buying a game, or firing someone over something they did, as a punishment? What other course of action would you offer or why do you think they shouldn’t be punished in that way?
7A: To me it all depends on how wrong they’ve done. In this case all they did is remove a voice actor. The developer should be called out, but a game should be judged as a game. They can judge the developer for the situation, but saying the game is going to be a terrible game because of it isn’t really the right thing to do.
Q8: Were you surprised by Jon’s reaction to this situation? Given how outspoken he is, his reaction was quite understated. Do you think he should have made more of an announcement or fought it at all?
8A: I really wasn’t that surprised about his response. I’ve been a fan of his for a while and he seems like a really respectable person. He’s a gamer at heart, and in the end even if he isn’t in the game, he’ll still probably play it because he has a deep love for those games. I disagree with him politically, but that made me respect him as a person and was one of the main reasons I wrote this. Because no matter how outspoken he is about his political stance, he still just wants to play games and enjoy them.
Q9: Playtonic was very clear in their reason for dismissing his work from their game. I know you don’t agree with the decision at all, but do you think it was better that they were open and honest about it or do you think they should have just removed him and not offered a reason why?
9A: I think the way they went about stating it was one of the things that really hurt them. They did the right thing by being open and honest, but they said all of the wrong things. They stated that “in light of his recent personal viewpoints we have made the decision to remove JonTron’s inclusion in the game via a forthcoming content update”, and that “Playtonic is a studio that celebrates diversity in all forms and strives to make games that everyone can enjoy. As such, we deeply regret any implied association that could make players feel anything but 100% comfortable in our game worlds, or distract from the incredible goodwill and love shown by our fans and Kickstarter backers.”. This caused the opposite effect, because by removing him they alienated his personal fanbase, and people who agree with him. To me they made it look like he was evil, like they were purging him from their game. This isn’t the right way to go about it, and it made them seem really unprofessional. You should always be 100% clear with your fanbase, but be professional about it.
This Q and A session barely breaks the surface of the issues here. There are so many more questions and debates to be had. You all had fun on Twitter, and the original article, discussing this. Please use this opportunity to continue to do so. Let us know if you agree or disagree with any of this. Ask us questions and leave your comments below.