Where do I even begin? This has been coming for a while now and I think I’ve finally snapped. I’ve reached the point where I can’t just brush it off anymore as it is having a blatant effect on the gaming culture and painting it in a bad light. For the last few months I’ve been seeing a lot of “controversies” (or “nontroversies” rather?) over video games as well as pandering to people pushing agendas within our gaming communities and I think it’s about time we as gamers start taking the blinkers off and taking note of this venom that’s seeping into our culture, because let’s face it, gaming is a culture.
Take Amazon’s new game, for example, New World, which they are dubbing as a Survival MMORPG set in a 17th Centaury style fictional land about these explorers arriving and braving the ‘new world’ full of magic and danger. Many are comparing the game to Ark but I think it looks more like Conan Exiles had a love child with The Elder Scrolls Online or older MMOs from back before I knew what the internet was. There are the typical gameplay tropes you’d expect, surviving, crafting, building and exploring but mixed with hubs and character progression akin to traditional MMOs. I don’t want to go too much into the game as this article isn’t really about the game itself. It’s about the fact that upon reading two articles from two very different websites about the game, the one site has a brain when talking about the game and asking questions about the game with the intent to inform while the other site has an agenda.
The two sites in question are Red Bull Gaming and Polygon. I’ll provide links to both sites so that readers can read them both and come to a well-informed opinion but I will be including screenshots of certain things I’d like to comment on. So, in the same vein agenda driven ‘journalists’ like to say, this is my hot take.
Red Bull Gaming Article: https://www.redbull.com/za-en/new-world-amazon-games-mmo-interview
An attack on an ‘island resident’ the caption says, pretty sure that’s a zombie…but okay.
New World is a Problematic game according to Polygon. Why? It’s set in a new world where players are colonialists who have arrived on the shores of this new world and have to survive. It is also the time of tailcoats and Tricorne Hats which appears to be a big no-no in world building these days.
The writer of the article even states that this setting, although draws from history is set in a fictitious region. So he’s upset about a game set in a make belief world that just happens to pull inspiration from the time period. I may be going on a limb here but maybe some of these journalists may be writing down words and trying to make a fuss about something without realising what the words they are jotting down actually mean? It’s good to know what words mean before writing something, just a thought.
I’m not downplaying history here. History is full of people killing each other for land or money or just for the sake of killing each other. Greed is at the root of all evil, that we can all agree on. Throughout history, all kinds of people have been inflicting harm upon each other. This world has and always will be a bleak place. But by this ‘safe space logic’, certain parts of history are taboo or at least drawing from them is problematic? These ideas infringe upon creative freedom though. Imagine if all storytellers were scared or banned from touching upon certain things because it may or may not step on toes. But alas, this is exactly what these people want. They want everything to be their way, to conform to their ideas because dare it triggers someone, oh no we can’t have that.
The main thing here, or at least what the writer is trying to make the main thing, is the theme of the game. But let’s just point out that there are no indigenous people in this game. This is a fantasy game where players have to explore a land untamed with danger. A world where magic is real and the corruption it brings is real too. Any reasonable person would agree that there were no zombies in America during the 1600’s…
Oh geez, did Polygon just compare indigenous people to zombies? Isn’t that a little counterintuitive to their whole rant here? Looking at the image to the side, the writer just compared Native American Indians to shuffling zombies to suit his reasoning to take a stab at the game. Maybe he has it in for Amazon or something? Maybe he didn’t get a refund for a game that offended him? I am absolutely shocked that someone who is educated enough to string words into sentences and build paragraphs would make such a twisted and unfounded connection between zombies and indigenous people. By trying to find offence the writer ended up being offensive himself. The irony is as dense as the reasoning behind all of these nitpicks.
The lore of the game is similar to things we’ve seen in other games, like Path of Exile. The land is cursed or corrupt hence foul creatures emerge. But the writer of this article clearly wants to paint the picture that these withered creatures are an analogy for something. If you look for fault, you’ll find it. That’s how the world works. Are these people really progressive? I have to ask because looking at what was written there feels very regressive to me. Is he is going out of his way, beyond all reason just to try to look for something that isn’t there?
This entire article is basically one big nitpick at the game but just wait, the pulling at straws gets worse!
Now there is some fact behind this writer, as soon as he starts to make sense he tosses it right out of the window though, as expected.
Yes, the European Settlers had been exposed to some nasty germs which buffed their immune system, this is due to plague being ripe among overpopulation and/or lack of hygiene. Everyone knows that. And yes, when exposed to the germs that the Europeans carried it wreaked havoc on the population of the indigenous people.
The society at the time was very religious and they did write this off as a justification for everything that was going on at the time and for what they were doing. It was wrong, any decent human being will say it was wrong. But again, this game has no indigenous people. The zombies that do wander are former settlers who had come before and have turned into the wandering husks that they are now. There are no villages of indigenous people that players can expose to Cholera.
The game focuses on PVP between guilds. The game even allows players to create their own Settler determining their race and gender (whether these races are fantasy races like Drawves or Elves or just the colour of the player character’s skin remains to be seen) that alone throws out the writer’s earlier attempt of bringing race into the game. There’s this trend where these game journalists try to nitpick a thing in a game and spin it as something political and when the developer they are talking to says it clearly isn’t, the journalist rebukes them and goes on about how it clearly is because, well, you know, “I want it to be and also I need to make it so for the purpose of my article”. That’s the mentality behind this writer. I’ve seen this so many times and yet again, without fail, it happened again. Have to give them points for being persistent. I warn you, dear reader, the next image is so stupidly absurd that it may cause the death of some brain cells. I at least have the common decency to give a heads up before showing such utterances.
Polygon, word of advice, if a developer says a game isn’t what you are trying to make it out to be then it really isn’t what you are trying to make it out to be. Now you’re really just grasping at straws. They say that the devs are at fault for making these analogies (which is utterly absurd mind you) and the community are a bunch of bigots for enjoying the game but isn’t it funny how the only people who are complaining about this and reaching far and wide to pull at these straws are the writers at Polygon and sites like them? It’s like they really want it to be the case so that they can have something to rant about. Some could argue it’s all about getting clicks on their site but looking at that article I pick up signs of delusion, maybe at first these articles were designed to generate clicks but I think the clickbait game has played the players who play it. They try to depict that the gaming community is so intolerant but when one looks at the community as a whole we clearly aren’t. We don’t care about who loves who, who believes what or what someone looks like, we just want someone to chase that sweet Victory Royale/ChickenDinner/Apex Champion Status with.
Gaming is a diverse community and a South African Clan, named F2O, is a testimony to that. They have brought together so many people from different backgrounds and have formed a bond like family. So no, there isn’t an intolerance for diversity in gaming, there’s an intolerance for bullsh*t.
The only ones who are divided are people like this who write articles like the one shown above with intent to divide. The players who got into the alpha joined looking for fun and not a sensationalized political agenda and low and behold, they are a lot happier about it.
Talking to a fellow writer on this site about this made me realize something, after reading this article and the article by RedBull Gaming he said how reading the Polygon one was actually draining. The article was about 95% of the writer wanting to be offended but not being able to articulate a rational argument while the last bit briefly informed him on how the game is. Whereas the one by RedBull Gaming was actually informative and a joy to read that created hype for the game.
Here is an example of how different the writing is compared to the agenda driven one that was shown previously. As I said and I’ll say it again, the one writer had a brain. The other had an agenda. Are we going to let agendas taint games? Must all developers walk on eggshells for these apparent gamer sites that try to find social injustices in everything? Here’s a grand philosophy, I don’t think the folks over at these major game news sites can truly grasp this so it may be a mind boggler, but maybe…just maybe video games are a form of escapism from the harshes of reality and we play games to enjoy them rather than be fed a political agenda/message or look for things to nitpick at? Oh wow, mind blown. The crowd goes “ah” as this groundbreaking realization is revealed to them.
If I ever get to interview the devs of this game I hope I get to talk to Patrick Gilmore who was interviewed by both parties and ask him what actually went through his head when he was asked that ridiculous question by the Polygon journalist. Because I’d really like to know.
And if anyone at Polygon saw this, I’d undoubtedly be labelled as all sorts of nasty things because well, firstly I don’t share their opinion and secondly, as a fellow writer of all things video games, I’m calling them out on their misguided and agenda-driven ‘journalism’. (if we can even call it that..)
Well to them, I’m sorry if my abundance of common sense offends you.
New World is expected to have a beta in the coming months but no official announcement has been made as of the current time of writing.