League of Legends’ Ghostcrawler on diversity vs. politics in gaming

    
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Don’t think politics belong in games? Maybe your problem is a mangled understanding of what politics is. That’s the gist of a blog piece out yesterday from Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, whom many MMO players will likely remember from his long stint as World of Warcraft’s lead systems designer, though now he’s lead game designer over on League of Legends next door.

Street was responding to a gamer worried about his belief that “Liberal politics is forcing [its] way into games.” “I just want to enjoy a fun experience, or take part of someone’s artistic vision,” the player wrote, seeking validation for his worries.

Street agreed that he would be annoyed if League of Legends “tried to sneak in lessons on how taxes should be structured, or opinions on health care, or state versus federal power” as that would be too political. But the mere presence or acknowledgement of diversity? That’s not politics, he argues — that’s reality.

“[E]xamine the game from the point of view of a player with a different set of values. Just as you may not have the same values as a bunch of game developers living and working in California USA (and again I’m just going by what you’re saying in your question), a lot of gamers out there may not have the same values as you do (or that we do for that matter). For some players (like me), it seems really weird when a game doesn’t acknowledge that the real world of other gamers or the fictional world of game characters are diverse places with different religions, genders, skin colors, and economic statuses. Having an openly gay character or punishing a player for calling another player a racial slur doesn’t feel political to me. It’s just a reflection of Earth circa 2017.”

Ultimately, he concludes, it’d be one thing if a game like LoL “start[ed] focusing too much on social messages at the expense of gameplay,” but he gently suggests to the player that it is neither fair nor healthy to “somehow wall [him]self off (in a game or anywhere) from the diversity that the world offers.”

If you gotta learn basic life lessons from a famous video game developer who used to be a marine biologist, well. At least you learned ’em.

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CloakingDonkey .

What? People don’t like their entertainment being politicized? Oh I know, just claim it’s not politicization and tacitly imply that the complainees are backwards isolationists! Genius! :P

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Peregrine Falcon

Not sure if I can even comment on this. I made a comment on another article, just a few days ago, about not wanting politics in gaming aaaaand…. my comment was deleted by a moderator.

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Utakata

Whelp…Mr. Ghostcrawler says politics ingame *don’t really exist. So there you go.

*Note: At least outside your local guild drama. :)

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CloakingDonkey .

And we all know Mr. Ghostcrawler is the final authority on basically anything. :P

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Jeff

Yeah the new Massively OP isn’t like the Old Massively where you can actually have an opinion, even if it’s just diametric to what Bre ummm I mean the mods thinks.

Long Story short just like in real America if you don’t have the “correct” opinion you are somehow evil and must be silenced.

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Johnny

Yeah I’ve had many opinions deleted and even been banned several times in the past for disagreeing with a certain mod. Feels like abuse to me. But its not my site….

miol
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miol

If the sheer existence of someone is considered “political” to another person, then it’s the other person, who’s being “political”!

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Estranged

Some folks just start to tune out the language and hyperbole. When you paint people as “racist”, “thugs”, “uneducated” or “lacking acceptance” due to their place of birth, skin color or place of residence – you have lost the majority of those people before you state the case.

You win over people on common ground.

When a person says they accept people for “what they are” and you don’t believe them, it is on you at that point. The politics has just saturated and hurt the cause. Might as well be Charlie Brown’s teacher ranting away.

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GiantsBane

Pretty much, though I would say complaining about “diversity” in regards to character design in a fantasy world is silly, it either is or isn’t, the world’s made up so whatever’s done doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. Now whether or not people have a problem with openly gay character and the like is their own personal preferences, a characters sexual orientation isn’t really relevant to game play (unless fulfilling the fears of homophobes and chasing them around trying to rape them) so it doesn’t matter one damn bit.

Diversity is fine, diversity for diversity sake is fine as long as it’s not the key focus of your hiring practice.

It’s like watching the hypocritical douche bags screaming against white washing in hollywood, turn around and continue screaming about other media not changing canonically white characters as some other race because hey, we gotta be more diverse, we need more representation. Canon is only important when it supports our argument, and when it doesn’t well you’re just being racist and my childhood was sad because I didn’t see more (insert random ethnicity here) on the silver screen.

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Estranged

Why give entertainment this much power over our lives anyway?

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Schmidt.Capela

Funny thing about the question is that the “artistic vision” closely reflects how the artist sees the world, and that includes political leanings; there is no such thing as an apolitical “artistic vision”.

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Estranged

Absolutely. Artists just state their case from that perspective. Same goes for most people.

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Utakata

@ Schmidt.Capela

Conversely if some art director wanted to create LGBTQ characters because he or she wanted the game to move in that direction, would it not be a political agenda to oppose it? I mean this is sword that cuts both ways. As it always seems those are objecting to the “political” tones are the ones are being all *political about it.

*Note: Just to be fair though, that’s not always a bad thing either.

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styopa

Some crazy people might wonder how a toon’s sexual orientation even MATTERS in a MOBA?

I know, crazy, right?
Because in reality we all know that IDENTITY IS EVERYTHING, and we must all wear it on our sleeve for the constant validation provided by all the people around us.

Heavens, it’s impossible for me to even consider playing a toon of another orientation just like it’s impossible for me to play a toon of another orientation, gender, species, or even kingdom.

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GiantsBane

Yup, I just play mobas to have fun competing, whether whatever character im playing likes dicks, chicks or robots has zero impact on how he plays.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

There’s a lot of diversity in games, otherwise people would get extremely bored of playing the same generic repetitive games that’s no different from the millions of other identical clones in the market.

I guess some people are arguing for/against certain types of diversity. If devs want to add whatever diversity to their games, fine by me. If the players like it, more power to the devs. If the players hate it, well, sucks to be the devs.

Also, EVERYTHING is politics if you put your mind to it.

Antheriel
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Antheriel

I appreciate developers of globally-ambitious games who attempt to represent global diversity.

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Arktouros

It all matters what context it arrives in.

If your reasoning is “It’s (currentYear), we need to represent our current culture!” then your reasons are political. Also making a big deal out of it completely misses that very point that it shouldn’t be a big deal in our current culture.

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Tiresias

If their reasons are political, that’s fine. Game developers of large, successful companies are concerned about optics and messaging — as well they should be. There is also a definite financial incentive to be inclusive, as their products are likely to reach a broader market.

Let me say that again for you: there is nothing wrong with game developers thinking “politically”. In fact, it’s good for business and the industry as a whole.

Furthermore, diversity and inclusivity are HUGE deals in our current culture. That’s the point that Street is trying to make: our modern world is aware that these concerns are important, and it would be foolish for game developers to not take them into account.

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Nathan Aldana

except it is a big deal in our culture, You can see that every time any game puts even a single gay or foreign character in it in a role of even vague importance and people throw a fit about “the liberal sjw cuckservative agenda”

You can convince me it isnt a big deal when we dont have every single game like Horizon or Nier or making Tracer revealed as gay in a pretty tasteful way as sudden flashpoints for internet screaming.

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Schmidt.Capela

Kinda.

There is, unfortunately, a sharp divide in society nowadays, to the point you sometimes can’t even talk about shared values. In some ways the culture itself seems to have diverged. So, for a large part of the population it actually isn’t a big deal, and for another large part of the population it is.

This makes the whole mess even harder to fix.

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GiantsBane

What usually triggers those kinds of responses are game companies putting that kind of information front and center as if it were an important part of the fictional character and their role in said game world.

So yes, it shouldn’t be a big deal, but people continue to make it a big deal because they’re addicted to drama. If we god forbid were to run out of drama, you can guaran-damn-tee people would create something new to be offended by and scream about.

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CloakingDonkey .

Yes and you also see it every time some korean game releases with lots of boob and skin on show… then, MIRACULOUSLY and entirely unexpectedly, the sort of people who claim this isn’t politicization but simple artistic vision are not ok with this other artistic vision. ;) Hypocrites, all y’all.

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jay

The root of much of the issues regarding politics, diversity, racism, etc is a lack of perspective. Perception is everything in our lives. In California diversity means something totally different than to someone in rural Illinois. In cali 37% of the population is Hispanic, that’s Cali in general. If you live in a more urban area like LA, it jumps up to 47%. So for someone in LA, having 1/3rd to 1/2 of a cast on a TV show or game be a minority wouldn’t be far fetched.

On the other hand, in Illinois Hispanics only make up about 15% of the population. In some rural town? It could be as low as .5%. So having a game that is a cast of 1/3 to 1/2 minority for them is jarring. That’s not what they understand to be diversity, that’s the studio’s playing to the left wing politics, and trying to “check boxes” for equality. It’s all a matter of perception.

Now many of you would say well there’s a lot more people in the major metro areas where diversity is actually diverse, and that poe dunk town in the middle of no where doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. But again, that’s your miss-perception of how the country actually is. Yes against that one town, there are a lot more consumers in major metro areas, but against the country as a whole?

In 2010, the census said something around 70% of American’s lived outside of major metro areas. (that includes smaller urban cities, and towns). Diversity in most of those places means something very different than that of a major city like LA, NY, SD, etc. Those rural areas, towns, and smaller cities suddenly become a much bigger driving force for market consideration when this is taken into account.

This is the major point in contention in conversations like this. Like everything else in life, it’s all in what you know, and if you’ve never been outside of your area (aside from random vacations) you don’t know any different. This is also a big reason why the last Presidential election happened the way it did, and why many Democrats were dumbfounded when it came to understanding what happened.

Antheriel
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Antheriel

Diversity in most of those places means something very different than that of a major city like LA, NY, SD, etc.

What does diversity mean in those places? I have little experience of rural America.

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Nathan Aldana

In a rural town like mine? Diversity is having a baptist church and a catholic church, both largely white and redneck in population.

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McGuffn

Diversity there is somebody that doesn’t go hunting.

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Estranged

Want to go hunting and be more diverse? Open invite.

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McGuffn

I’ve fielded plenty of offers thanks. And I’m not kidding, kids that didn’t hunt stuck out like sore thumbs in elementary school where I grew up.

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Estranged

Ditto. I go to hang around outside. Might never lift a gun. Good excuse for some quiet time. lol

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Estranged

Stereotype for rural America: KKK and public lynchings. Reality: People living their lives.

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McGuffn

Nobody thinks that. The bad parts of Deliverance maybe.

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Estranged

I get silly when I play my banjo. :)