Pong: The Original Source of Video Game Bigotry

Nick Soapdish is here to apply his "progressive lens" to possibly the most problematic game of all... Pong.


Similar to Polygon’s state­ment that “all video games are stu­pid” I’d like to state that “all video games are racist and sex­ist.” All of them. You see the prob­lem stems from the very first suc­cess­ful video game back in 1972. While there were games be­fore Pong, it can be said Pong is when the in­dus­try tru­ly be­gun. It’s mas­sive suc­cess lead to video games ex­plod­ing in pop­u­lar­i­ty. Without Pong it is rea­son­able to as­sume that video games would not be as pop­u­lar nor the in­dus­try be as large as it is to­day. However, while video games since have copied Pong’s for­mu­la for suc­cess, in do­ing so they have also brought over Pong’s aw­ful big­otry re­sult­ing in all mod­ern video games hav­ing hor­ren­dous so­cial issues.

Let’s start with Pongs hor­ri­ble racism and di­ver­si­ty prob­lem. In Pong you can are ei­ther one of two white pro­tag­o­nists. There are no peo­ple of colour in this game at all. Diversity is non-existent. It’s as if this game was de­signed by Stormfront. Not only are you two white men (more on that lat­er) you are play­ing over a “black” back­ground. This is ob­vi­ous­ly a metaphor for the white man com­plete­ly run­ning over black peo­ple as if they were noth­ing. Think about how much whites stand out when black peo­ple are put in the back. This was all pur­pose­ly done to sym­bol­ize white superiority.

Now in re­gards to Pong’s sex­ism prob­lem you may won­der how any­one could as­sume that the play­er char­ac­ters in Pong are male giv­en their com­plete lack of de­tail. Well if you are won­der­ing that you ob­vi­ous­ly don’t pos­sess a pro­gres­sive mind  like mine, that can find big­otry and out­rage in even the mi­nut­est de­tails (it tru­ly is a curse). The two Pong “pad­dles” are clear­ly two phal­lus­es which are a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of male sex­u­al­i­ty. This also re-iterates the white male patriarchy.

Now you may as­sume that this game has no fe­male rep­re­sen­ta­tion which makes it sex­ist but the truth is ac­tu­al­ly far worse. You see as Jonathan McIntosh, and lat­er Anita stat­ed (it’s un­can­ny, it’s like they’re the same per­son!), “In the game of pa­tri­archy, women are the ball.” So that ball that you’re hit­ting around is ac­tu­al­ly a woman, a woman be­ing passed around from one male to the oth­er by be­ing slapped around by a hard white pe­nis. Children were be­ing taught at a young age that pass­ing a woman around like cur­ren­cy was fun.

Even more hor­ri­bly sex­ist is the scor­ing sys­tem. If you man­age to hit the woman so hard she avoids be­ing raped by the oth­er play­er you get a point. Do this enough and you win. It demon­strates that the most im­por­tant thing is the pa­tri­ar­chal dom­i­na­tion of fe­males. You are meant to own that woman/ball and wreck her so hard that “if you can’t have her, no one else can.” It would have been bet­ter there were no fe­males in the game in­stead we get a de­plorable do­mes­tic vi­o­lence simulator.


To fur­ther prove the point of sex­ism look at the con­troller for the home ver­sion of Pong — does it re­mind you of any­thing? (Once again you may need a “pro­gres­sive mind” to no­tice this.) The home con­troller is clear­ly two breasts that you are meant to fon­dle to play and have fun. The twist­ing nob is clear­ly a nip­ple, are­o­la and all. Even worse is the idea that you’re meant to ha­rass this con­troller with a friend or fam­i­ly at the same time. If sex­u­al mo­lesta­tion isn’t bad enough, Pong was teach­ing peo­ple that for max­i­mum en­joy­ment you need to dou­ble team the woman.

It is no won­der that video games are the atro­cious cesspool of racism and misog­y­ny they cur­rent­ly are when Pong was what start­ed it all. This ap­palling, ghast­ly piece of tech­ni­cal big­otry was the grand­fa­ther of all mod­ern games so I think it is fair to blame it for the down­fall of all hu­man­i­ty. If only Gone Home was that orig­i­nal trend­set­ting game back in 1972 then video games wouldn’t need saving.

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.
If I did­n’t have a fam­i­ly to feed I’d spend all my mon­ey on video games and ani­me fig­ures. Satirist.

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