Posts Tagged ‘video games’

A Tiny Step in a Good Direction for EA

December 23, 2010 3 comments

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.