Take Two Interactive’s boss bragged about working his devs to the bone in order for Red Dead Redemption 2 to make it to market. Ubisoft has been demonstrably shown to keep miserably sexist and racist people in its upper management. J.K. Rowling has pulled off her mask to unveil a transphobic goblin beneath.
In spite of all this, I absolutely bought RDR2 day one, am interested in Riders Republic, and am at least curious about Hogwarts Legacy. All of which come with the extraordinarily complex baggage that feeling this way means I stand alongside vile humans and their even more vile opinions and behaviors.
That’s not to say that I actually do support these people, just in case that wasn’t immediately obvious. Crunch is wrong, trans women are women and trans men are men, the gender binary is bullshit, and you should never approach someone like they’re a sexual plaything, especially while holding a position of structural power in an office. But as deep down as I hold these convictions, there’s still a sense of guilt when I get excited for certain games that are backed by monstrous humans — a standoff between my social beliefs and my desire to support the rank-and-file devs caught in the eye of the storm.
This is further conflated with the fact that, by many degrees, I have the societal advantage and comfort of being able to selectively choose which of these horrible things to ignore. I’m a straight-passing white dude who can hide his sexual orientation and gender-based expression as simply as flipping a switch. Not many have that freedom, which makes me feel worse on top of it.
At the same time, I also realize that I’m not being told to not like things, either, and if one divorces these titles from their miserable associations, you can find the fun in these games. Riders Republic looks like Forza Horizon for extreme sports, and I freaking love Forza Horizon. And while I don’t have a horse in the Hogwarts fandom race, I have to admit that creating my own witch or wizard in Hogwarts Legacy is an extremely interesting hook.
Hate the artist, not the art. Right? Maybe. Maybe not.
If a friend of mine told me that buying one of these games would genuinely harm them, then it wouldn’t even be a second thought to not offer monetary support. But I also appreciate that even considering buying in to these games is helping to harm people that I do care for and can at least nearly empathize with. So I’m left with the feeling of being surrounded by eggshells. And it’s miserable.
Ultimately, I will have to hope that people outed for their villainy in the games industry and creative world are excised like the cancerous tumors they are. I have to hope that things will improve for the marginalized. I have to provide what meaningful support to causes I can. At the same time, I also am going to try to sever these games from their awful connections and focus on the title’s merits themselves. But, to be absolutely clear, that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with it. Or even remotely like it.