Videogames, the people who make videogames, do not exist in a vacuum.
Changes to the political landscape, actions taken by those in power, those with power, directly influence the lives of the people who make videogames.
One political decision, somewhere, can be the difference between comfort and discomfort for a person, it can be the difference between eating and not eating, it can be the difference between being safe and being unsafe, it can be the difference between being alive or being dead.
It can be the difference between being able to walk down the street without being verbally or physically assaulted or not. It can be the difference between feeling comfortable and safe in your own home or not. It can be the difference between feeling comfortable and/or safe in your own skin, in your own mind.
Videogames are made by people and people can be hurt.
People can be hurt by words. People can be hurt by physical violence. People can be hurt by corporate decisions. People can be hurt by legislation.
Politeness will not rescue people from political violence. It will not improve the lot of people. Civility has limits in its utility when the world we live in leans towards acts of violence towards people.
Racism is violence.
Sexism is violence.
Transphobia is violence.
Homophobia is violence.
Violence is violence.
It is not in the interests of anybody to sit quiet and accept the status quo when the status quo hurts them, when it hurts friends, family, children, the environment.
Insisting that people stay polite, that people never complain, never raise so much as a whisper as the world does its level best to crush them is inhumane, at best.
There is no good reason to keep silent in games, as with any other artform, medium or space. We all benefit from this place being better – but being better is not just everyone is shush, says please and thank you and never complains. No swearing at the back.
Being better is more safety nets, more empathy, more work to stand up against people and ideas that seek little more than to hurt or damage people just because. This does not, necessarily, come with politeness. Historically, few gains are made by just asking for things nicely. Few gains are made by accepting the status quo. Few gains are made by never, ever, talking about an issue in case it upsets someone when there is so much more at stake than someone’s pride and sensibilities. When for people, just existing is a struggle – a please does not tend to yield results.
Pushing for change does.
There are times and places for civility, it is an important part of being human, being able to show compassion, respect and deference to those in need. Civility without compassion, without listening, without understanding is worthless. It is an empty and useless gesture. It only serves to perpetuate the damage that gets done to people daily.
Videogames are a part of the world we live in. People who make videogames have lives, loves, troubles. Empathy with that costs so little, takes so little work.
Unfortunately, so does calling for people to be quiet and never speak of things that upset or turn your world upside down because videogames or something.
Don’t shut up. Do make games. Make this place better. Make this place safer. Be upset. Be angry. Be happy. Be sad.
Be human. Be humane.
It’s all we can be. For the best.