Discussing inclusivity in the gaming world is difficult.
Firms trying to support underrepresented communities can get stuck if they don’t do a job well enough.
Grouchy men and whites love to complain about games that do not provide “good enough” reasons for including non-white heroes, almost as much as they enjoy complaining about those games receiving awards or recognition.
But non-white people also have to think about how much they like non-white video game characters, as evident in this GameSpot review for Spider-Man Miles Morales Written by the black writer Jordan Rami.
In his review, he says that Miles has “the exaggerated boast of a black teen,” which has not offended people as much as activating social justice alerts to invoke the fact that he generalized on the basis of race around a group of people.
Rami’s editor claimed that the comment couldn’t be racist or impersonal just because Rami is black. The editor further claimed that anyone making this remark – which I don’t think is racist, but is technically based on racial stereotypes – must have assumed that Rami was white, and thus an ignorant donkey.
Hey, GameSpot Editor is here. If you’ve ever bothered reading and listening to Jordan’s review of Who’s Black, the majority of it examines Miles’ experience of being a black character in New York City. This shameful tweet of you smells bad on you, assuming that he is white and talking about others.
Alessandro Villari (@afillari) November 6, 2020
To some extent, this editor advanced the argument that people should have immunity when discussing their race, which is an even more reactionary idea than Ramy’s flustered attempt at praising Miles Morales’ acrobatic skills.
Instead of admitting his awkward formulation and moving on, Ramy and his editor redoubled it up, leading people to turn it into a complete meme that they might actually regret.
Unfortunately, some of these memes can be used as dog whistles for people who already hold legitimate racial beliefs, which is perhaps the worst ironic twist this disaster can make.
The bigger question is why video game criticism has reached a place where it is under intense scrutiny. On the one hand, it takes a bit away from the gaming focus, but on the other hand it is a sign that video games have become so important and influential that they are worth taking care of.
This kind of video game scrutiny won’t end anytime soon. It will only get more intense, so if you don’t really like it, you’d better avoid writing any and all games you just play.
Fortunately, this is not difficult. It’s actually easier said than getting involved in these discussions in the first place.
So people who are really agitated about what the game reviewer has said and want to flex their police muscles should realize that they enjoy summoning political error rather than pretending it’s their duty to be imposed on them.