A momentary glimpse into the gender studies hivemind
It has long been observed that the left can’t meme, but did you know they also can’t game?
Christopher Paul, who teaches gender studies and is Chair of the Department of Communication at Seattle University has authored a book called ‘The Toxic Meritocracy of Video Games: Why Gaming Culture is the Worst’. Move over, “Toxic Masculinity”, the gender studies department has a new target; hierarchical structures organised on the basis of merit. Professor Paul was interviewed by Campus Reform;
“Games are based on leveling up and getting stronger … We expect the most skilled, hardest working player to win.”
Not all is bad, Paul notes, pointing out that games like Mario Kart and Mario Party are more cooperative and based on “luck, contingency, and serendipity,” elements that he hopes game developers will prioritize more in the future.
“Moving away from merit allows communities to be developed on different terms, giving an opportunity to build something else, something new, something that has features other than the endemic toxicity that comes with meritocratic systems,”
Professor Paul also takes issue with the fact that most video games promote individual achievement, reward skill, and encourage players to do their best in order to win.
Sounds like he doesn’t win much.
Instead of being based on individual merit, the Professor claims, video games should feature more “random chance.” You know, like those totally healthy and good for the brain poker machines!
He very clearly has never even played Mario Kart or Mario Party. Mario Kart is entirely reliant on skill and familiarity with the courses, that’s why your one friend who plays it the most always destroys you. Mario Party is largely skewed toward whoever is most familiar with the mini-games and co-ordinated with the controller.
The elements of video games that are based on Professor Paul’s preferred ‘random chance’ are actually the more toxic things like loot box systems. Recent media attention has led many to speculate these are driving young people to addictive consumption behaviours by introducing problem gambling into the home on smart devices. Many are worried the business practice is ruining the industry entirely.
Another way of putting what the professor is saying is that video games are a means of expressing our deep human desires for individual determination. It doesn’t surprise me that a gender studies professor prefers “collective values” to individual ones, given I’d be able to guess which economic system he thinks is awesome and has never really been tried properly. It’s no surprise leftists think meritocracy is toxic; they draw this conclusion for all the same reasons they denounce capitalism and love communism.
The idea that competitive video games only focus on the individual to the detriment of the collective is in ignorance of a large body of research suggesting playing video games can improve teamwork skills. This is why the US military utilise video games and virtual reality games in their training.
Also, free-for-all style competitive games have largely fallen out of favor since the days of 90’s classics Doom and Quake in favour of models that rely on team co-ordination like MOBAs DOTA 2 and League of Legends or team-based FPS’ Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch.
Even games centered around individual progression like MMORPG World of Warcraft force players to form guilds, which are groups of players. These groups socialise together and work toward collective goals that improve the guild, by co-ordinating to complete raids together.
Professor Paul’s complaints mirror the views of the huge intersectional feminist bloc of video game journalism largely spearheaded by outlets like Kotaku and Polygon who bitch and moan every time a game that challenges them more than The Sims is released and they have to review it. For example, see the tantrum thrown by them when Cuphead, a throwback to the Megaman series was released last September:
Game journalists are incredibly bad at video games. It’s painful to watch this. How do they think they're qualified to write about games? pic.twitter.com/KbsGIBvQtD
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) September 2, 2017
It has often been speculated that these journalists actually barely play any video games at all. Popular Youtuber Keemstar has expressed the belief that a number of game journalists just watch YouTube videos of the games and “write bullshit without ever playing the game”. Supernerdland summed it up aptly, writing “Games journalists don’t want better games, they want games that make their jobs easier.”
That which is cultural is becoming increasingly political. The left’s increasing tilt towards its intersectional feminist branch has led it to take aim at video games over both toxic masculinity and meritocracy as well as depictions of domestic violence. With President Trump and the NRA pointing to video games as driving young people to gun violence, there is clearly an appetite on both sides to regulate. As with Facebook, the video game industry may well become a cultural and political battleground in the years to come.