A lot of times, when people ask for more equal racial or gender representation in games, the gaming community scoffs and says, “Great another social justice warrior.” They react with the same exhaustion they would react to seeing the latest new meme, like the Harlem Shake. It’s just everywhere, and they are getting tired of it, as if the “correct” thing to do was to ask in moderation, or better yet just be happy with whatever the golden gods of game design deign to shower upon our unwashed peasant heads.
Meanwhile, in every corner of the internet you can find people asking things of game developers. Maybe you want to see a patch that evens out the roster of your favorite fighting game. Maybe you want new maps in your favorite shooter. Maybe you want to see Goku in the new Smash Brothers. In fact… there are a lot of people who want to see Goku in the new Smash Brothers. Seriously guys it’s not going to happen. Yet, for some reason these requests aren’t looked at with the same sort of exhaustion that “social justice warrior” posts.
Here’s the thing. There are really only two outcomes of asking a developer to do anything. Either A) they listen, or B) they don’t.
In the case of developers listening to social justice warriors, we get basically the least impacting changes that anyone has ever requested ever. “You can play as a woman” effects gameplay far less than even a tiny increase in bullet speed or a small extension of a hit box. It’s all, basically, aesthetic, and requires very little effort, far less effort than putting in most new mechanics. There is basically no way that anything “bad” could come out of these changes, unless you are actually against seeing more equal representation in game, and by against I don’t mean “it doesn’t matter” I mean “I actively don’t want to see more women and minorities be represented fairly in games” which… kinda puts off a scary white power vibe.
In the case of developers not listening to social justice warriors…well… big shock. People are complaining about something and developers just ignore them. It’s not like this doesn’t happen every single day since the creation of the video game industry. I’m sure somebody out there complained about the lack of levels in Donkey Kong when it first hit arcades. In that case, these social justice warrior complains can be put into the trash bin with everyone else’s desire to see Goku in the new Smash Brothers.
And that is actually why I dislike the idea of social justice warriors. I don’t actually see how they are all that much different from other gaming fans. Every gaming fan wants something. Even the people who tell us to praise the golden developer gods instead of asking for women in something other than a bikini will turn around and say, “Hey it would be awesome if we got a bigger selection of assault rifles in the next game.” We are all really the same. The only difference is what we are asking for.
In the end we are all gamers, and to an extent all gamers love to complain about something.
Former Contributing Writer