Monday, November 29

Why we want to forget the abuse in the games industry, BUT SHOULDN'T!

2021 has been a rather horrible year for gaming. Ubisoft has been found guilty of workplace bullying and sexual harassment on a sickening level. (source) This was at the start of the year and yet nothing has happened besides false hollow apologies from the publisher. Twitter @ABetterUbisoft continue to tweet out the ongoing abuse.

Then we have Activision Blizzard which finds itself in the middle of maybe the biggest gaming lawsuit of all time at the moment. Being taken to court by the state of California for its continued workplace abuse that includes but is not limited to sexual abuse, death threats from the CEO and so on. (Source) Since this has happened during the summer, nothing has really changed besides more hollow false promises of things "improving" in the future. It's enough to make you feel sick. At least it is for me. I don't want to go into detail but I'm a survivor of sexual abuse myself. The idea of the men behind this stuff walking away with nothing more than a slap on the wrist makes me want to punch a hole in a wall.

Where do I go when I want to distract myself from the horrors of the world? Well normally, and for most of my life, the answer to that question has been video games. Now gaming is the source of some of the worst parts of what I want to hide from. When I wake up from a trauma nightmare at 2am, covered in sweet and the memories of my abuse painfully fresh in my head I want nothing more than to sit up, pick up my Switch and play some Diablo 2 Resurrected, or head downstairs to explore a virtual London in Watch_Dogs Legion. These were 2 games I was looking forward to that I've not been able to play because when I go to lose myself in their virtual worlds I'm reminded of the abuse I'm trying to escape in the real one. Due to me hearing positive things from Vicious Visions, the team that was absorbed into Blizzard to make the Diablo 2 remake, I persuaded myself to buy the game. I've not even finished the second act through because when I start it up and the big BLIZZARD logo precedes the gameplay my stomach turns.

This is why I understand why and even how most people have already moved on from all the abuse stories that are still ongoing. Call of Duty Vanguard has covered Activision Blizzard's abuse stories like wallpaper over the still-wet blood from a crime scene. Instead of stories updating gamers of the ongoing stories and court cases we're now getting glowing reviews, Easter egg videos and tips and tricks articles. Even the negative coverage is aimed at the glitches, bugs and broken gameplay instead of the abuse and hate speech in the games and industry. The recent Grand Theft Auto The Trilogy The Definitive Edition release shows this better than any other game. Rockstar and Groove Street Games are getting flack for the poor quality of the games but not the hours of crunch and horrid content of the games themselves. Why mention the invisible bridges in San Andreas Remaster but not the radio ad that says trans women look like drag queens, the "Transfender, Body swap shop" car garage and so on?

I know why. It's because it's much, much easier to point and laugh at the stupid, silly-looking bugs than face the reality that a game you love or have loved when you were younger has and continues to contribute to the horrid dehumanization of workers and marginalized people. I get it. I've put hundreds of hours into the GTA Trilogy as a teenager. These games are important to me. The world of Sanctuary from Diablo is a place I used to feel comfortable. It's why I've brought the tie-in novels and replayed all of the older games to scrap out every morsel of lore. But ignoring this abuse and the real-world costs of these games isn't going to make the issues go away. It will only make them worse.

I'm not sure what the answer is, to be honest. I've recently picked up Pokémon Shining Pearl, a remake of my first Pokémon game and I'm dreading a news story talking about abuse from Nintendo and/or the Pokémon Company. What I did want to say is, I understand why you want to hide from this. But don't let these vile men and corporations use your willful ignorance to continue their abuse. Keep mentioning it. Keep up the pressure online. Every Ubisoft, Take2, Rockstar, Activision Blizzard and so on game review should be flooded with comments reminding the publishers of their continued abuse.

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