As a software developer with a side-interest in making game [prototypes] and mods I not only play (and enjoy) games I also follow the dev-press and happenings behind the scene for different game projects. This includes for years following John Carmacks .plan, reading postmortems on Gamasutra and even purchasing licenses to multiple game-engines without ever having a plan to release anything publicly. Or, I used to visit Gamasutra a lot. Their suppression of voices that doesn’t toe the line has forced me to rethink that. And that is in part what this post is about.
As I mentioned in the blog-post about Kickstarter I have backed a number of projects and a few of them are games. One of them is what was called ‘Project Eternity‘ during the pledge-campaign days and later was renamed to ‘Pillars of Eternity‘. The game went gold and was released on Steam on March 26.
Some days after the game was released a person tweeted that they had found a ‘memorial stone description‘ that they saw as somehow offending an presumed transsexual ingame-character (never seen or heard) and/or perpetuating a stereotype that men would be upset of a transsexual person lied to them and slept with them under false pretenses. It isn’t explained why the text is actually bad or offending, it is just presumed that it is. (Please note that I am out of respect to the poster not denoting the person with a gender-specific pronoun of he/she as I am not aware of the persons legal state nor their preference, while noting that the person is indicated to be identifying as a transsexual to some unspecified degree.)
A [manufactured] outrage was astro-turfed from an extremely small subset of users/gamers and Obsidian, trying to be overly sensitive to perceived offense, decides to ask the pledger to submit an adjusted text to replace with. The pledger complies, finding the outrage silly and misplaced.
Text that was:
Here lies Firedorn, a hero in bed.
He once was alive, but now he’s dead.
The last woman he bedded, turned out a man
and crying in shame, off a cliff he ran.
Here lies Firedorn, a bard, a poet.
He was also a card, but must didn’t know it.
A poem he wrote in jest was misread
they asked for blood, so now he’s just dead.
The new text instead of being silly mini-story changes the memorial notes into a direct stab against those in the #SocialJusticeWarrior squadron that piled on Obsidian and the pledger, asking for blood. One of the more disappointing details is that the person that pushed hardest in their tweets argues for genocide of half of the worlds population. This isn’t a person any rational being should listen to or try to respect to opinion of.
There are several objections to be had of what happened. And there are several discussion to be had about when and what content of a game – a fantasy game of that – should undergo censorship, to not run the risk of causing offense to anyone.
Should the aim be to never cause anyone offense? Or should there only be care if the offended cause enough trouble? The dictatorship of the loudest minority?
Games shouldn’t try to never cause anyone offense. Art should never try to never cause anyone offense. If you are offended, stay away. Don’t support it. Don’t watch it. Don’t buy it. But never-ever try to prohibit others from being able to enjoy the art that they have elected to enjoy. That is social-fascism.