When it comes to politics, nothing is off limits including Video Games. As the realm of Gaming has continued to evolve into detailed stories with choice, we are often faced with the reality that some players will do the unthinkable. Players undertake actions in video games that almost none would take in real life. In many ways, this is what makes Video Games so compelling. However, as the technology becomes more sophisticated, so does the consequences of immoral choices.
Enter the latest craze from Rockstar, Red Dead Redemption 2. This is a prequel which takes place at the edge of the Old West, where America is entering the age of Industrialization and the Cowboy of the west is a dying breed. You play as Arthur Morgan, an outlaw part of a gang of outlaws trying to survive in this ever changing world. Naturally, your gang robs, murders, and otherwise breaks the law in order to survive. All of the people depicted within RDR2 are bad people by real world standards, but they exist within a fantasy framework of a Video Game.
One of the aspects of the story line is Arthur getting mixed up with a group of women advocating for Suffrage which was a topic of debate during the turn of the 20th century. Some players have taken to acting violently towards the Non-Player Characters of the Suffrage group, including dropping them down mine-shafts and feeding them to Alligators. This was deemed unacceptable content by Youtube, and has been removed from several videos.
Youtube is hardly consistent with their blocking of channels and removal of content. Beating virtual feminists is apparently frowned upon, but individuals like Logan Paul are able to post videos of real human bodies hung within the Japanese Suicide Forest, and simply not be able to monetize them. In addition, Logan Paul’s channel is filled with videos of unbelievable, REAL behavior, and Youtube continues to tolerate it.
This wasn’t an opportunity that White Knight writers at the Guardian were going to miss when they offered their own solution in search of a problem.
There have been calls for these games to prohibit the capacity of players to inflict violence against women, as the game already prohibits acts of harm against children.
This appeals on an instinctive level, but to do so I think is a missed opportunity for games to powerfully instruct adult moral behaviour (sic). Literary critic Georg Lukács advocated this transformational capacity in his 1938 essay Realism in the Balance, arguing that if “objective reality is reflected, then it becomes of crucial importance for it to grasp that reality as it truly is, and not merely to confine itself to reproducing whatever manifests itself immediately and on the surface.”
Like life, the game doesn’t oblige you to perform acts of immoral violence, even when it provides you the opportunity to do so. We can’t stop people from committing violent immoral acts in real life merely by announcing the institution of the law; we do so through that law’s intersection with punishment and reward systems, and social values – how heartening to learn that one of the YouTube video’s creators has been punished with a ban for feeding the suffragette to the alligators.
Yes, how amazing is it that we have people being punished for posting videos of virtual suffragettes being harmed in some way. Perhaps this is a compliment to the current Video Game technology, that it has become so realistic that people must be punished in real life for their actions in a virtual world. Perhaps we should look to adopt some of the policies out of China, where video game cheaters are not only punished but also arrested for their behavior.
Imagine a world where video game systems are tied directly to your credit score, and the actions you undertake within the game will have real world impacts on whether you can do things like open bank accounts, apply for credit cards, or even buy a home. Is this the kind of behavior modification that Feminists are interested in bringing to bear? They seem so akin to applying the morality of the real world to games, it seems only natural they will eventually call for real world consequences for violence inflicted on lines of code.
The irony should not escape the reader, that the double standard of Feminism is being injected into a situation regarding Women’s Suffrage. During the height of the movement, the Vote came with many responsibilities that the vast majority of Women in America were not interested in having. Like various aspects spun off from the Feminist movement, women have continuously been the recipient of a double standard not afforded to men.Simply put, women have continued to receive all the protections of men, while also being able to reap the same rewards as men.
We have seen plenty of examples of this just within the #metoo movement, which has tipped the scales of Justice squarely towards women who accuse men of sexual assault or rape. When women are accused of a crime, they are subjected to the Presumption of Innocence and allowed to proceed through our judicial process. When men are accused of a crime against women, they are presumed guilty within the Court of Public Opinion, and sentenced to the destruction of their livelihood even without evidence.
So too would the situation exist within the video game realm of Red Dead Redemption 2 where Rockstar was adamant to include strong women who were perfectly capable of killing another human being. Sadie Adler is one character in the story who begins as a commonly dressed member of the gang, only to reveal herself as equally capable of shooting a gun and killing men as the rest of the gang. She plays a major role in leading the gang when Arthur is absent for a period of time. This strong female character is not unusual within modern games as developers look for opportunities to inject characters they hope female players will relate to.
So how should we govern the play actions of gamers within this current environment? Should we produce a game which follows the suggested behavior of men in the real world? By that, I mean should we allow women to shoot, stab, and otherwise kill the main protagonist of RDR2 but not allow the player to respond in kind? Are ALL women off limits, or just the ones deemed innocent? Video games do not incorporate Children attacking players, hence why violence against children can easily be barred.
This, of course, totally ignores the fact that the player spends the vast amount of their time killing other men. This action, in the eyes of Feminist players, is totally acceptable. In their eyes, men are disposable creatures and thus permitted to be tortured or killed in any way deemed possible by game creators. Women, however, are off limits.
There is an obvious solution to this. Women are simply removed from video games completely. If they are in the game, they are a background character that is completely inaccessible to the story line. We write women out of games completely, and there will no longer be ANY female characters even if they are strong and capable.
This reveals the double standard of women within modern society. We are told the genders are interchangeable with women being exactly the same as men in every possible way. They are just as smart, just as strong, and just as capable. Yet, women continue to demand special considerations and protections from “powerful” men who they are supposedly equals to. As such, we see demands that violence against women be barred in games, while violence against men is totally acceptable.
How about we exercise choice in this regard. Allow players the ability to be guided by their own morality and play the game how THEY wish to play. For too long, developers (even Rockstar) dictate how the game must be played and it is rejected by players every time. If women want to be equal to men, then they must be equally willing to allow the same behaviors as men would within games. If women want to be equal to men, they need to cease demanding special protections.