What’s up gamers. Let’s destroy fascism.
The connection between gaming, white supremacy, and gun violence.
Obviously, knowing a thing or two about video games – unlike the generation reporting on their supposed connection with violence – we tend to roll our eyes at this whole “Call of Duty makes shootings happen” debate. Invoking video games as the cause of white supremacist violence is a bold claim, and with so many more blatantly horrible acts committed by more powerful people, it seems like a farce to even give it mention.
Of course, it’s an oversimplified and derailing response coming from the kinds of people who have brought it up; Trump centering this rise in hate crimes on anything but his own campaign rhetoric and actions in government is a bitter irony.
I want to carefully suggest, though, before we totally dismiss the conversation, that there is actually a thread of this topic worth expanding from a different angle. There is, quite related to this debate, an undeniable connection between games and white supremacy. It’s something that anyone who is into games has experienced first-hand, but I think we tend to take it for granted because of the sad truth that a lot of white supremacy goes totally unchecked among even the youngest demographics.
It is precisely because these huge structures of racism, Islamophobia, and antisemitism (to name just a few motivations of these crimes) are so wide-reaching that video game culture is not exempt from them. And as gaming is in so many cases lead by figures who are white, cis men, as the image of the gamer and the associated culture is so often associated, gaming inevitably becomes a domain where whiteness, cissexism, and patriarchy have broad influence.
For instance, it’s worth mentioning that one of the recent shooters explicitly included the phrase “subscribe to Pewdiepie” in his manifesto, and that Pewdiepie has explicitly promoted white supremacists on his YouTube channel. It’s worth mentioning that just this week at the “Straight Pride Parade in Boston – which was dominated by white supremacists and police brutality against counter-protesters – people were dressing up like Pepe the frog, a meme that originated on 4chan which has a huge cultural overlap.
It bears thinking back on some experiences you’ve had with gaming: how many slurs, threats of violence against women, and performances of bigoted violence have you heard over live chats? How many young children do you think have learned how to behave that way, speak that way, and think that way because of the circles they fall into as a result? How many young men do you know who spend most of their time in these circles, and undoubtedly move towards radicalization every time they forget to be critical of these views?
These arguments could be made about any community centered around any hobby, of course – if the people who dominate the community are racist and promote racist violence, that community will produce violent racists. This isn’t a unique attack on video games, but it is a wake-up call that I think we all owe it to ourselves to heed. It’s not the guns, the graphics, or the mechanics of games that are making bigots bolder, it’s the ideas that we allow ourselves to feed on in our leisure time.
Everyone who plays games, any games, and especially those of us who reap the unjust benefits of white supremacy, has power and responsibility in what has become a radicalizing climate. We can protect this community and its integrity by strongly aligning ourselves against fascism in these circles and making it clear what we think of this dark connection; to deny it outright is to let it grow in silence another day.