It is no secret that the videogame industry is going through a rough patch. Not only because of the pandemic, which had (and still has) massive effects on both game releases and the functioning of the companies, but also due to some controversial behaviours that took place inside some of the most popular gaming businesses.
Despite being an industry that’s ordinarily thought as young, innovative and progressist, 2020 and 2021 so far have brought shame and disagreement upon the community. The reasons are some of the practices that specific companies carried out.
Firstly, backlash. Just before the pandemic began to alter the world around us for good, “The Last of Us Part II” was released. Undoubtedly amongst the more anticipated games of the year, as the “Naughty Dog” sequel gathered millions of fans around the world. An epic voyage through an infected-filled post-apocalyptic America in intends to protect and deliver the only known immune human known? Sign me in. It all changed when the second part reached stores. A new story was about to unfold, and some would remain hateful for years.
In this new beginning, fans got an unobstructed view and some of the characters identity. This translates to Ellie, one of the leading characters, being openly interested in girls. Also, Lev. The kid that joins Abby in her journey turns out to be a runaway, whose escape reasons were it’s transsexuality. Whenever some people fully grasped what they had just witnessed, this part of the community gave birth to an enormous wave of hate directed towards “Naughty Dog” and Neil Druckmann, the game’s director. Some said the LGBTQ+ agenda was being pushed down their throats and could never forgive them for ruining such a remarkable series. On the other hand, some were thankful for the inclusivity in their stories.
Many years later, it is still frequent to find people on social media arguing between these two points.
Moving on to some of the industry’s wrong practises. This means “crunch culture” and the infamous lawsuit for harassment directed to Activision Blizzard.
Gaming has grown to be the biggest grossing entertainment industry in the world. As such, people in power inside the companies aspire to deliver a product as quick as possible, sometimes making sacrifices along the way. This led to “crunch”: a situation in which videogame workers are forced to stay for extra hours without receiving compensation for it. To make it simple: their lives are reduced to the game they’re working on. The testimonies of employees are heart-breaking. People crying in the office or taking the leave in order to preserve their mental health. When the price to pay for having a polished, in-time product is the well-being of other people, the videogame itself becomes stained and a sad reminder of the rules in which the vast gaming industry machinery is based. This becomes specially true when we refer to all the talented people who’ve made the project a reality.
Finally, let’s have a quick look at the lawsuit the state of California (and now the US government) filed against Activision Blizzard.
Up until this day, thousands of employees have signed an open letter towards management in which they aim for the victims to be heard. According to several workers, the company allowed for a “frat-boy” community to be formed inside the offices. This led to several years of mistreatment, harassment and discrimination, specially towards female employees. It is sorrowful to witness an industry that’s supposed to be a reference in open-mindedness and inclusivity battling these behaviours. Thankfully, the affected (and those who support them) are speaking up, and it is time for Activision Blizzard to pay. As a community, we mustn’t allow these episodes to be broomed under the rug.
Every single person who enjoys videogames possesses some power. All of the people who enjoy videogames, together, hold a lot of power. Enough to face whichever gaming company. It is time for people to realize this can’t continue. It is time to stand alongside with the victims in order to prove once and for all that these behaviours are not welcome in our beloved industry.