I have to say, E3 has nev­er real­ly tick­led me his­tor­i­cal­ly or was an event to look for­ward to over­ly much. That’s why what I am cov­er­ing in regards to the expo will take a slight­ly dif­fer­ent bent than what our oth­er con­trib­u­tors will have out soon; I just don’t feel I can detach my bias again­st talk­ing heads spout­ing buzz­words at our faces while they show off pre-rendered footage and con­trolled slices of games that more and more do not match what the final pro­duct looks like.

That said, the gam­ing front of E3 2015 did have a lot of great games to look for­ward too. Some decent pre­views of titles we had been wait­ing to see more of and even the legit sur­prise here and there — I’m look­ing at you Final Fantasy VII. Despite the calls to action for pre-orders (they do know the fans are watch­ing), E3 has always been more of a cir­cle jerk for press, though, and is one of the myr­i­ad ways a com­pa­ny lets its investors what path it’s tak­ing in the next cou­ple of years. And that just nev­er plucked my strings in pre­vi­ous years.

So E3 has always been some­thing of inter­est to me in a momen­tary, side­ways glance, sort of way. This year I have been mak­ing a con­cert­ed effort to stay up to date on this, given that videogames are my beat in a lit­er­al sense. I’m glad that I did too, because some of the best things to hap­pen in gam­ing this year occurred dur­ing it. Call it a sig­nal.

Games mat­ter. Fun mat­ters. Art mat­ters.

A very inter­est­ing thing hap­pened dur­ing this E3 2015, and the best not even com­ing from the show itself. With the past year being marked with the heav­i­ly politi­cized vol­ley­ball being played in regards to iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics, and with a ramp up in shame cul­ture com­ing from some crit­ics, we saw fans and devel­op­ers show what mat­ters: The Games.

The Horseshoe Personified

Our first point of study comes from before E3 offi­cial­ly start­ed. June 14th marked Bethesda’s first E3 con­fer­ence, and was placed two days before the events them­selves kicked off. Their show­ing was a pret­ty strong one — minus the astound­ing­ly bland look­ing Battlecry — and the start of their show is where enters our first phe­nom­e­na. People got to see the Horseshoe Political the­o­ry in action after Bethesda opened the show with their Doom trail­er and game­play footage.



This start­ed to draw crit­i­cism in social media, with com­par­isons even being drawn to Jack Thompson. Sarkeesian and McIntosh have been com­pared to Thompson before, but their recent attempts at sham­ing Bethesda for Doom struck close enough home for this to become way more apt than pre­vi­ous com­plaints from the con­trar­i­an pair.

Since I am stand­ing on my soap­box for this, I’ll say this is heart­en­ing to see peo­ple call this as they see it. Gaming is becom­ing more diverse in rep­re­sen­ta­tion and ideas each and every day. There is a game out there for lit­er­al­ly any taste.

Everything from Doom to more artis­tic expe­ri­ences, Call of Duty to Murder She Wrote. It’s get­ting increas­ing­ly dis­ap­point­ing that some crit­ics would rather shame games and the devs that make them for things that are not to their tastes. It is increas­ing­ly eas­ier as each day goes to fire up engine like Unity or RPG Maker and start futz­ing around with your own expe­ri­ences.

But no idea deserves suc­cess in the mar­ket­place. Niche expe­ri­ences will always have niche audi­ences. The con­stant sham­ing is get­ting tir­ing, to more than one audi­ence it seems. I would like to see folks like Sarkeesian, McIntosh, and their media friends embrace and pro­mote what they feel is best rep­re­sen­ta­tive instead of engag­ing in call-out cul­ture again­st prod­ucts that are not to their tastes.

Some oth­er choice cuts from the “Let’s hate on Bethesda” mix tape:

Here we see it’s not enough to have equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion. A game must fea­ture exclu­sive­ly a female pro­tag­o­nist to get the “I apol­o­gize for the patri­archy” seal of approval.

I think she wants Minecraft. Or Kerbal Space Program. Or Lego Worlds. Or one of the dozens of oth­er craft­ing cen­tered and building-centric games out there.

Want to know the thing that gets to me when I see things like this? I agree that we should have more rep­re­sen­ta­tion of cer­tain demo­graph­ics in games, and more diverse ideas in the mar­ket­place. And we are get­ting them! But when the press and crit­ics like Sarkeesian engage in such log­i­cal fal­lac­i­es as their argu­ments from igno­rance and reduc­tions to absur­di­ty, it pulls the whole weight of the argu­ment down.

Every year that pass­es, gam­ing becomes a big­ger mar­ket. A more diverse mar­ket. It just doesn’t seem to be hap­pen­ing fast enough for some, and some peo­ple can’t seem to come to terms with the fact that not every great idea is going to trans­late into a pro­duct that the mar­ket en masse wants to pur­chase.

When Developers Have Had Enough

I was going to expound more on the impli­ca­tions of what we saw ear­lier when anoth­er gal­va­niz­ing event hap­pened. A devel­op­er had enough.

Square Enix has been hyp­ing up Deus Ex: Mankind Divided for some time now. The Deus Ex series has always dealt with some heavy themes in its his­to­ry, and Mankind Divided was not stray­ing from this path. Making a pro­duct that is able to speak a mes­sage while also being an engag­ing expe­ri­ence that has mar­ket suc­cess is a great achieve­ment and this is what games like Deus Ex have been able to do time and again.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was going to be no dif­fer­ent, with an ear­ly trail­er — and hell, even its name — indi­cat­ing that some heavy themes of class war­fare and sep­a­ra­tion would be present. In fact, apartheid is defined just as that: The state of being apart.

While being exem­pli­fied by the state of South Africa at a point in his­to­ry, and a word orig­i­nat­ing from Afrikaans, it is not inher­ent­ly racist to use this as a the­me in fic­tion to express an idea or tell a sto­ry.

In fact, as a recent exam­ple, the movie District 9 leaned heav­i­ly on themes of apartheid to tell it’s sto­ry. I per­son­al­ly enjoyed that movie very much (men­tal note to rewatch it), and it show­cased how touchy themes can still be applied to art, to tell a mes­sage, and not be dis­taste­ful.

To tell some­one they are not allowed to touch on a the­me or idea in telling their sto­ry gets into the area of chill­ing effects to me. Creating an atmos­phere where peo­ple are afraid to tell their sto­ries because of the reac­tionary seg­ment out there.

To tell some­one they shouldn’t use a the­me or tell a cer­tain sto­ry because of their nation­al­i­ty or cul­tur­al back­ground is out­right big­otry to me.

Queue the call-out cul­ture par­tic­i­pants, as they start to tell Eidos Montreal why they were not allowed to use the the­me of apartheid.


The asser­ta­tion that Eidos Montreal shouldn’t touch the themes of apartheid also came from oth­er areas of the press includ­ing an Editor at Giant Bomb, EiC of GamesRadar, and even Kotaku UK putting in their snarky two-cents — but at least with­out the thought implied by Gita that they shouldn’t do it because of their cul­tur­al back­ground.

This did not sit well with some of the devel­op­ers of the game, and it wouldn’t with me as well. Gilles Matouba from Eidos Montreal took to Reddit board /r/KotakuInAction with his reac­tion. I couldn’t help read­ing this in my mind in the cadence of Howard Beale from The Network

I can­not do his state­ment bet­ter jus­tice than post­ing it ver­ba­tim:

Sorry for the typos and weird syn­tax, eng­lish is not my moth­er tongue.

I am Gilles Matouba and there is a thin chance of you know­ing me. Still, I am a vet­er­an french game devel­op­er with 15 years of expe­ri­ence in the indus­try. Mostly at Ubisoft and Eidos Montreal.

Until sep­tem­ber 2014 I was the Game Director of DXMD at Eidos Montreal.

3 years ago Andre Vu, the Brand Director of the DX fran­chise, and I coined the term ‘Mechanical Apartheid’.

Thing is… I am Black (& French…). And Andre is Asian (& French).

When we decid­ed to go all-in on deliv­er­ing the expe­ri­ence to play as Adam Jensen, an Augmented, in a world agres­sive­ly seg­ra­gat­ing his own kind, we actu­al­ly want­ed to offer to our audi­ence some­thing unique. Something that was close and very per­son­al to us: The expe­ri­ence of being torn between 2 worlds and 2 iden­ti­ties. Augs call­ing you the ‘uncle Tom’ of the non-augs, non-augs always inse­cure when you’re around, always deeply being scared or appaled by your mechan­i­cal body.

Somehow, it was our own indi­vid­u­al sto­ries… We want­ed to share a lit­tle part of our own life expe­ri­ence (on a super dra­ma­tized degree, of course) as vis­i­ble minori­ties in a world of prej­u­dices some­times not well tai­lored for us.

We also used the ref­er­ence of south africa, israel, even brasil, french and amer­i­can ghet­tos and any coun­try ressort­ing to walls in order to seg­rat­gate a part of their own pop­u­la­tion. We meant it. This was impor­tant to us to not half-ass the­se analo­gies. BECAUSE THIS IS DEUS EX.

Deus Ex is a very mature and thought­ful fran­chise that wants to hook gamers on essen­tial ques­tions and con­sid­er­a­tions: pow­er, con­trol, species, sci­ence, soci­ol­o­gy, sin­gu­lar­i­ty, etc.

Racism is a ey dark part of our human nature and we want­ed to treat this sub­ject. It was espe­cial­ly impor­tant for ME to treat this.

So it makes me sad and angry that the­se igno­rant peo­ple just ASSUME that every­one behind this game is ill-spirited, stu­pid, and more impor­tant­ly for me, that they that they are all WHITE. (For them devs==white, gamers==white)

What the­se blog­gers and tweet­ers did to me here is beyond mere insults: They have degrad­ed me and have lit­er­al­ly erased my iden­ti­ty as a black devel­op­er and as a black cre­ator that just want­ed to share a piece of him­self with this game.

I wish that they will feel bad about it. I wish they will have the decen­cy to apol­o­gize of their gross false assump­tions and accu­sa­tions. To apol­o­gize to all the peo­ple back in Quebec that have been work­ing hard FOR YEARS to make this game to hap­pen. But since they have no spine, no shame and no self respect they will sim­ply ignore this post (once again deny­ing me voice, legit­i­ma­cy and iden­ti­ty) and will at best move on anoth­er AAA tar­get to toss their fresh­ly defe­cat­ed shit at.

They don’t deserve anyone’s atten­tion. They don’t deserve our indus­try, our games and the ded­i­ca­tion we put into them. They dis­gust me.

TL : DR Asian guy and black guy came up with the term Mechanical Apartheid 3 years ago. Black guy not hap­py about the SJW shit tweets and wants to call them out and expose their stu­pid­i­ty. Black guy is not their shield.”

This details what is at the crux of the oth­er side of the coin in the debate in gam­ing and media after the events of #gamer­gate. The sham­ing, cen­sor­ship, and chill­ing effects that some hold­ers of an ide­ol­o­gy try to wield in the indus­try. The flip side of that coin being the lack of stan­dards and uneth­i­cal behav­iour that some out­lets main­tained while help­ing this politi­cized agen­da in gam­ing gain influ­ence.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

This Animal Farm–esque envi­ron­ment cre­at­ed where some devel­op­ers can touch on heavy and emo­tion­al themes but not oth­ers can­not stand in an healthy indus­try. Diverse games are being ignored in the press and at award shows because of the pol­i­tics of their cre­ators, devel­op­ers get called out for touch­ing on tru­ly adult themes in games while at the same time get­ting accused of being close mind­ed and exclu­sion­ary.

And peo­ple have had enough.

The debate will, and should always, rage on about inclu­sion in games, about how gen­der, sex and cul­tures are por­trayed — how we can push the medi­um of gam­ing forever for­ward. It is beyond dis­ap­point­ing to me, though, to engag­ing in such call­out cul­ture because some­thing isn’t tow­ing your polit­i­cal line or ide­ol­o­gy.

We have a wealth of games out there touch­ing on all areas of sub­ject mat­ter. More and more future devs are tak­ing their first step and pick­ing up the myr­i­ad free and paid game engi­nes out there and are becom­ing the next crafters of worlds and cre­ators of expe­ri­ences. This is to be cel­e­brat­ed.

This year seems to be the year when peo­ple are notic­ing the line being crossed between cri­tique of a medi­um and sham­ing. When the cul­tur­al crit­ics and aca­d­e­mics start­ed to cre­ate a chill­ing effect in the indus­try, with devel­op­ers afraid to explore ideas and speak their mind with­out being called out and dog-piled.

This week, Games won out over faux out­rage and iden­ti­ty pol­i­tics.

(Editor Note 4:00pm EST 6÷18÷2015: Had a gram­mar derp. Changed the instance of “looked” in the first sen­tence to the cor­rect­ed “look”)

(This is an opin­ion piece and does not nec­es­sar­i­ly reflect the views of SuperNerdLand or it’s staff.)

https://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/e3-2015-logo-june-11 – 13-los-angeles-convention-center-646x325.jpghttps://supernerdland.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/e3-2015-logo-june-11 – 13-los-angeles-convention-center-646x325-150x150.jpgJosh BrayConsoleOpinionPCUncategorizedCulture,E3 2015,Video GamesI have to say, E3 has nev­er real­ly tick­led me his­tor­i­cal­ly or was an event to look for­ward to over­ly much. That’s why what I am cov­er­ing in regards to the expo will take a slight­ly dif­fer­ent bent than what our oth­er con­trib­u­tors will have out soon; I just…
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Josh Bray
Josh has worked in IT for over 15 years. Graduated Broadcasting school in 2012 with a focus on A/V pro­duc­tion. Amateur pho­tog­ra­pher with a pas­sion to make things work… by any means nec­es­sary. Leader of the crazy exper­i­ment called SuperNerdLand
Josh Bray

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