Friday, February 03, 2006

Get on the Bandwagon

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, there is controversy stewing over Blizzard banning a GLBT friendly group. I'm glad that this has become an issue, that people are weighing opinions and are discussing identity politics, but the more I read, the more I feel that a lot of people have a hard time realizing heterosexual privilege.

Full disclosure: I do not play World of Warcraft. Therefore, I don't know the game, the atmosphere of the game, the politics of the game. I read and hear about it, but know nothing first hand, which is why I initially didn't want to post about this. However, I am familiar with how people generally act on gaming message boards and chat rooms. I know the language and assumptions that are thrown around, and know specifically that "yr so gay," "fag," and worse, are run-of-the-mill insults. Frankly, I don't think we'll magically see a change of heart any time soon.

Therefore, many people complain that a GLBT-friendly guild is openly declaring that other guilds, or generally that the world of WoW, is less than GLBT-friendly--or worse, homophobic. Well yes, GLBT-friendly guilds act as a "safe" place: a buffer zone from idiotic comments and harassment. It's also a place for community. It feels good to be around people who have the same interests as you, who have gone through similar life experiences. There's an instant bond. Frankly, Blizzard might be right that a GLBT group might incite unwanted harassment, but it's a hell of a lot easier to deal with harassment, which will occur anyway, when you're with a group of friends. Strength in numbers and all that.

There's another argument being tossed around that says that people need to leave their real-life identities behind when they play videogames. When you're privileged--say, you're white, straight, male--it's easy to leave behind your identities simply because you are society's norm. If you don't belong to the white/male/heterosexual group you are constantly being reminded that you're deficient, less-than, weak or dumb. You're not the default. I constantly think about how I'm a woman. It never leaves my head. However, if you've ever heard about how someone who's skin color isn't white is constantly reminded how they aren't white, you might catch my drift. If you're white, is race or the color of your skin something that you're always thinking about?

I can honestly say that I don't, and that's a privilege of mine. The same goes for sexuality. You can't just check it at the door, and in WoW, even though it might be beyond the scope of the actual game, people pick each other up, characters get married or "have" sex. Therefore, sexuality is an issue.

It's too bad that the members of the Stonewall Champions feel that they have to sue Blizzard over this issue, and I'm bracing myself for the inevitable backlash from people who aren't sympathetic towards GLBT rights. In short, because of our culture's history, it looks bad. However, I applaud them for sticking their necks out. Social disobedience gets attention, and if anything, suing Blizzard keeps this issue from being ignored--it's going to keep GLBT rights in the spotlight a little longer. Hopefully what this does is to keep people thinking about it--after all that's one of the few ways towards progress.

Also, in regards to those who think that GUN isn't racist: it's a game that glorifies killing Native Americans. Yes, free speech is sacred, but don't defend a crappy game that recycles the American naivete that Native Americans deserved to get slaughtered.


Jacob Saenz said...

I'm only commenting on the GUN portion of your blog because I recently rented the game and beat it. Yes, the game stereotypes big time, especially the Native Americans and the Chinese, (hell there's even a portion of a town that's full of pueblos and Mexicans wearing sombreros). Though the first few missions in the game have you killing some Natives, as the story progresses, the white men are turned into villains and the "hero" of the game (the one you control) ends up siding with the Apaches b/c *spoiler alert* it is revealed the hero's father acted as a healer to the Apaches and they even raised the boy for a bit.
I'm not defending stereotypes any way just clarifying that the game isn't about slaughtering Natives. It's about bringing down a greedy white man who seeks out the Apaches gold.

100LittleDolls said...

Thanks for pointing that out, Jacob. I hadn't seen past the beginning, and didn't want to go past that. I wish the article that I read it from would have brought up that point, but since it's a spoiler, I could see why they didn't want to.

I really wished they could have made the game from a Native American's perspective, instead of having the white guy come in and save the day, but I do enjoy knowing the fact that the game tries to move past those annoying stereotypes.