The UK based development studio, Playtonic, recently removed gaming YouTube star JonTron from its upcoming game, Yooka-Laylee, for a series of comments he made over the internet. His comments were pretty outlandish, to say the least. However, the biggest question at hand isn’t about the thoughts of some dude who makes money filming himself, but rather, it's why should we care in the first place?
How and when did we, the gaming community, allow political views and certain forms of free speech to dominate specific segments of our landscape? Why do we press for the politically correct answers when someone goes against the prevailing views of society? First-person shooters, in particular, have gotten a bad wrap in this category. Why should we force the hand of developers to delivers games that jive with the media’s agenda? Every politically correct viewpoint has been shoved down our throats until we gag from the lack of varying thought. When did our platform become a soapbox for political discussion?
Last time I checked, most of us play video games for two reasons. We want to be entertained and seek some form of escape from the trials of the real world. If my preconceived notions are correct, then politics have no business being intertwined into our beloved past time. We don’t want to hear about what you need or want and how the gaming community must cater to your personal agenda. We need to organically develop ideas on their own. Horizon: Zero Dawn is a perfect example of this. Aloy represents a strong female character that’s rivaling the likes of Lara Croft.
The same can be said for a game like Ghost Recon: Wildlands, which is centered around players taking down a Bolivian-based drug cartel. The Bolivian government threw a fit when Ubisoft used their country as a platform to recreate a rather realistic storyline. They were upset the game negatively portrayed Bolivia as a drug heaven. Several folks jumped on the bandwagon to voice their displeasure as well. Ubisoft was called every name in the book. In the end, their game was outside the box and presented a fresh and new storyline the gaming community desperately needed, even if someone’s feathers were ruffled as a result.
Using JonTron’s distasteful and rather ridiculous comments might not have been the greatest example to springboard off of for this discussion, but I think the relevant part is about allowing the political agenda of others to make its way into our creative zone. Gaming companies are awesome at one thing, and that's making epic interactive experiences that leave us with lasting impressions. I fear that if we keep crying foul every time someone is slightly offended, our beloved platform will fade into bland obscurity with no difference of option. This is also the fastest way to turn on one another, especially when games are typically a unifying medium.