Now that I’m dabbling in gaming culture, I’m seeing a common complaint by some gamers that I used to see in politics, and, indeed, in society in general. “Why do you have to bring ___________* into it? I just want to enjoy ____________** without any of that icky identity crap that goes with it!” In case you can’t guess, the people saying this are usually white guys, probably straight, and they don’t understand why they have to deal with race, gender, sexuality when all they want to do is play a damn video game! They can’t understand why we minorities have to harp on these issues. Well, let me try to explain why it’s important to us who are not in the majority.
The default for video games is to have a white, straight male as a protagonist.. Even though gamers themselves are becoming more diverse, the protagonists have remained mostly a monolith. Blah blah blah developers creativity, but as I pointed out in a previous post, if every developer churns out the same product, it’s not really creative, is it? I will say that I started gaming in the heyday of its diversity with you having the ability to choose to customize your character to varying extents in more games than ever. However, if a game gives you one protagonist, you can bet that nine out of ten times*** said protagonist would be a white male. So, those of us tired of playing straight white males are going to point this out from time to time. Not all the time as some straight, white male (SWM) gamers claim. Probably not even half the time or a quarter, but enough to make it uncomfortable to those who wish to remain oblivious of the issues. Any discussion of an issue that one would rather not face feels like too much attention given to said issue.
If you’re a SWM in gaming, you have the luxury of not having to think about race, gender, sexual identity, etc. All the games cater to you because you are the default norm. When minorities point out the rather obvious fact that they are missing from the equation, it seems like THEY are the ones who are bringing up race, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and injecting it into the conversation. The SWMs don’t see that race/gender/sexuality already play a big part because you don’t come up with that kind of uniformity by accident. No, I’m not saying it’s some kind of conspiracy – I’m saying it’s societal norm that is invisible because of its pervasiveness and acceptability.