Yahtzee’s Almost Perfect Article

Famous (and funny) video game reviewer Yahtzee, or Ben Croshaw for those with an aversion to pen names, wrote an excellent article on censorship in gaming that’s almost perfect. It’s titled “On Being Offensive”.

Its flaw? Once again, we have an advocate for “fairness” that doesn’t seem to register that one side is being vastly more unfair than the other, despite overwhelming evidence supporting that conclusion.

First, take a look at the article. There are some really beautiful sections in there. Referring to “Game of Thrones”:

Again, I’m having trouble following the logical thread. Point 1: Here’s a show that I like. Point 2: Here is a character that the writers have depicted with sufficient competence to allow me to empathize with them, to the point that I feel personally injured by their misfortunes. Then there’s a gap, followed by Point 4: I now hate this show and want it to go away. Why? The very fact that your outrage exists indicates that the show is doing its job alright. Again, I apologize if this is obvious, but a story does not put the work into making you like and empathize with a character so that you can then watch them go through life never suffering hardships. That’d be like constructing a ladder that extends to ninety feet long and then only using it to get your coat down from a hook.

And later:

For you see, the shouty fringe harassment squad only go after soft targets. Their pattern is to go after people nominally on their own side who got too comfortable and made a tiny slip-up. The hope is that an apology and retraction can be extracted, at which point the harassment intensifies, because that’s what happens when you show weakness to the pack. They swiftly get bored and move on when they realize they are having no effect. No effort against Hatred could be sustained because Hatred just waved its middle fingers and blew raspberries until its attackers used up all their energy. E3 came around so they all moved on, to compete in the now-annual Offended Olympics that goes hand-in-hand with the show, trying to concoct the best way to be offended about Doom being violent without seeming like a clueless bellend. Mostly unsuccessfully.

This is dead on. For an example, look at how quickly people backed off when Phil Robertson refused to back down on his views on gay marriage. Or look at how little effect the supposedly damning “Ender’s Game” boycott had. Why? Because Orson Scott Card had already made it clear that he didn’t care what other people thought of his views, and since it was clear that “Ender’s Game” had enough fans that a boycott was going to do jack all, people moved on quickly.

But then Yahtzee goes off the rails:

Meanwhile, Hatred positions itself as a symbol of defiance, and earns easy points among what I hesitate to call the ‘traditionalist’ side. Points that it took laughing all the way to the bank, because after that one hiccup where it was taken off Steam and then almost immediately put back on like the knickers of an indecisive virgin, Hatred was under no threat. It stood proud upon the battlements waiting for an onslaught that never came. But all its defenders bought it anyway, just so they could feel like they were getting one over an enemy that largely exists in their head.

So, this enemy that only exists “in their head” has, by Yahtzee’s own admission:

  • Nearly got the game removed from the most popular gaming market in the world
  • Harasses anybody on their side who shows “weakness to the pack”

Which means…

  • There is a pack

Let me say that again, in case you missed it:

THERE IS A PACK

There is a pack of people, run by extremists, who run non-extremists out on a rail as soon as they show weakness, and who campaign to get anything they personally deem “offensive” off of the market as quickly as possible.

And the pack that, in the article, Yahtzee calls the “traditionalists” apparently are just as bad, but what he’s missing is that everything they do is a reaction to the actions of the extremists.

Look at what the traditionalists do, by Yahtzee’s own admission:

But all its defenders bought it anyway, just so they could feel like they were getting one over an enemy that largely exists in their head.

And,

Hatred may be immune to slings and arrows from the opposition, but just as the offended brigade jumps all over its own side, so too will Hatred‘s chosen people turn on it the moment it ceases to sufficiently transgress boundaries.

Hmmm, so what does “turn on it” mean in this context?

Well, let’s go by the article: A group of extremists threatened to ban “Hatred”, and nearly succeeded in getting it kicked off of Steam.

People who disliked the extremists, the so-called traditionalists, came in and said they would support “Hatred” by buying it.

So, how would the traditionalists “turn on” Hatred?

By NOT buying it.

As opposed to the extremists, who did their level best to keep EVERYBODY from buying it.

It is a mistake to say that the traditionalists have turned everybody on “the other side” into extremists, because they aren’t attacking “the other side”. They are responding to an attack, and they deal with who they deal with. If you are not with the extremists, well, then you aren’t one of the people they are responding to, are you?

Here’s a question: In this whole debate about “Hatred”, who were the “extremists” actually attempting to hurt?

Answer: The developers of the game and the people who wanted to buy it.

Now who did the traditionalists want to hurt?

Answer: Anybody who agreed with the extremists.

Do you see the difference? One side is targeting a group of people who have already acted to hurt people.

The other side is just trying to hurt people for wrongthink.

There is no moral equivalency here. These are not two sides to the same coin. This is an action and a reaction – and if you’re not a part of the reaction, you’re just setting yourself up as the next target to be eaten by the pack as soon as you don’t toe the tribal line.

And if you’re not getting the connection to science fiction here, you haven’t been paying attention to the Hugo Awards.

The question, then, is this:

Are the Puppies the actors or reactors?