Home > Video Games > A Tiny Step in a Good Direction for EA

A Tiny Step in a Good Direction for EA

So employees of Electronic Arts, one of the biggest gaming companies in the world, has made their own “It Gets Better” video. If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the project, it’s an online video channel created by gay blogger Dan Savage. Originally it was made to address the issue of queer teenage suicide. Gay and lesbian adults with successful careers were encouraged to make videos with messages to young teens about how it isn’t always going to be like high school. Responses to the project in the progressive blogosphere have been mixed, with many praising the project’s intentions while pointing out many of its flaws.

I for one think it’s great that EA has joined the project, and here’s why. The gaming community (EA most certainly included—more on that in a moment) is really one of the most intolerant geek spaces there are. The article I linked to has some shining examples, taken only from reactions to the news:

“‘This is disgusting, I’m never buying another EA product ever again, [deleted] homosexual agenda. I urge all parents to keep any EA games from their children to prevent them to be AIDS-spreading, Satan-loving scum,’ wrote one viewer.”

(Of course, why MSNBC felt the need to delete the word “fuck” but kept in the rest of the bile—including the word “faggot” in all caps—is pretty much beyond me). There’s also this video, which I can’t even watch the whole way through, that’s just two minutes of edited footage and audio from Halo players reacting to someone with the handle xxxGayboyxxx.

The point is, the scene is severely fucked, and I think it’s great that EA has endorsed this video, made by gay and lesbian employees, to help reach out to gay teens. Especially those who are also into geek culture, who undoubtedly could benefit from this kind of support, no matter how superficial, from people who have succeeded in a geeky career. Kids need to know that not all gamers are homophobic fuckwads, and that there is a place for queer people in the industry. The project still has its problems, which others have articulated much better than I could, but for a community as messed up as gaming I think every little bit helps.

Having said all that, this video does in no way absolve EA from their past shitty behavior. I still remember their charming “Sin to Win” contest at SDCC 2009, in which they encouraged men to sexually harass EA employees, “booth babes,” for fabulous prizes. And it’s not like their games are exactly bastions of progressiveness. While we are patting EA on the back for this show of good will towards queer teens, we should remind ourselves to hold them accountable for their words. In a recent discussion on inclusivegeeks, Livejournal user enteledont puts it much better, and just as swearingly, as I could when they write:

Rather than rounding up all their gays, I’d like to see [EA] tell us how they will MAKE it better, like, say, promising gay/trans main characters who have relationships and stuff, with consultation from actually gay/trans people so it’s not offensive as all fuck, or donating lots and lots of money to projects designed to assist LGBT youth, or anything that would actually put their ass at risk. Most people will forget about this. Making it a constant corporate priority, [on the other hand], would be far more effective and meaningful.

  1. Hannah
    December 23, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    People can be pretty evil. I wonder if lesbian gamers get the same abuse as well or is it more confined to gay men?

    I read an article recently on the NYtimes where they say that Civil Unions, originally intended as a homosexual option are now more common than marriage in France. Popular with all couples straight and gay.

  2. December 24, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Well, women in general get a lot of abuse. I’ve gotten some before, which is why I hardly ever use voice when I’m playing online games. First I’m asked if I’m 12, then if I’m a girl, then if I will show them my tits. It’s kind of disgusting. I’m sure if I had lesbianxx as a title or something, people would 1) assume I’m a guy first anyway, who just “loves lesbians,” then when they figure out I’m a girl 2) ask if I would show them a picture of me making out with another girl while showing our tits.

    I saw that! Also, my friend recently told me that Illinois is going to adopt civil unions for male/female partnerships as well in the coming years. Which is AWESOME, because if Tiago and I are sticking together we could use something like that. All the benefits, none of the baggage.

  3. Hannah
    December 26, 2010 at 11:31 PM

    Yea people really like the no hassle break ups. Which really should be no hassle for any kind of union. But with benefits like you need to be able to visit your sick partner in the hospital regardless of what you call your relationship.

    You know you’re right about being a girl is all it takes. Especially on call of duty or any online shooting thing. It’s like chat roulette syndrome or something. I guess I haven’t run into that so much because the online games I play are less aggressive. Like Puzzle Pirates is pretty tame and they are great at banning assholes. That and um… web sudoku and commenting on my friends web blogs. I never get harassed. lol.

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