This week, our partnership with game criticism site Critical Distance brings us picks from Kris Ligman on topics including the meltdown of GAME_JAM and what Assassin's Creed gets right about race.GAME_JAM
(This section bears a content warning for discussion of sexually charged harassment and intimidation.)
We start on a low note, with the assurance that it all goes up from here. Recently, several well-known independent game developers participated in what they believed was going to be a filmed game jam, but in fact became more of a reality show. The environment was so inhospitable and toxic that the participants unanimously walked off the set after only one day of filming. Jared Rosen, a journalist who was present for much of the production's meltdown, has the main thrust of the story.
Participants Zoe Quinn and Adriel Warrick have both weighed in to the extent that they are able (emotionally or contractually) about what went down. Meanwhile, fellow participant and SoundSelf developer Robin Arnott put things like this:
A particularly useful ethical code is knowing where your loyalties lie. Zoe's loyalties lay with the young girls she teaches game-making to. She could be beacon for a safe and expressive community if she were publicly shamed as a coward, but she could not do that as an actual supporter of misogyny, lies, and the unsafe creative environment she claims to be fighting.
I think her code went something like this:
If your actions will directly support an unsafe space...
Then jack out. That's it. No matter what. Abort additional consideration. You've found the right thing to do. Leave.
To account for videogames as performative media, then, we must think of gameplay as not merely mechanics, but the experience of the player as she interacts with them, becoming a co-performer in whatever drama has been scripted. Gameplay is not simply solving a puzzle or defeating an adversary; it is the moment of shock when we realize the game is something other than what we thought, of disappointment when we fail to accomplish an in-game goal, or of exhilaration when we succeed -- all at particular junctures, at particular moments in time that can never be exactly repeated.
If I had played Gone Home or Dragon Age when I was twelve, my life might have unfolded differently. I pay attention to mass market titles because I know that some queer people are subsisting on them, even if they don't know they're queer.
As Todd Harper reminds us, they've "been making do with what matters to other people all [their] lives." Some closeted queer people might not see themselves in a game until Call of Duty includes a gay soldier. I don't want to burn down a forest in which people are still trying to find their way.
He is wearing a purple and luminous green Michael Jordan sweater with long Michael Jordan shorts and socks to match. His hair is thick and dirty blonde, his self-confessed best feature. His fingers are long and calloused with the nails cut deadly short so that they can bond with his cobalt blue Gibson, and his glasses are something out of a 1950s drama. Tim Rogers is a non-fiction anime character. He is a writer, co-creator of Insert Credit, the CEO of Action Button Entertainment, and he has worked in games, AAA and otherwise, all his adult life. He is thirty-four years old and is the internet's biggest rumour.
This is the End, the End, My Friends
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