PCG Incongruent Moralism

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Mar 3, 2021
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Over the last several months, PCG has run 2 steady moralizing editorial lines - one is that certain big releases are never trans-positive enough, even when they try. The other is that from Lara Croft to Civilization to The Curious Expedition, even ambivalent portrayals of empire make PCG physically ill.

I don’t intend to dispute these stances or begrudge them on their own for anything other than their monotonality.

However it seems incongruent then that the same publication, indeed the very same authors, gleefully celebrates mass murder in games, such as the recent glib feature on how you can murder everyone in a Hitman level and press their blood into wine. In fact PCG reflexively defends the industry’s addiction to hyper-violence from various non-gamer scolds.

I would be interested to hear PCG staff defend the disconnect in their moral preening here. Do they argue in earnest that transphobia and imperialism are morally more objectionable than sociopathic mass murder? Or do they merely accept violence in games because it is so common?

I will be the first to admit I don’t have the answers; I like plenty of games that are, in the end, centered around violence. But it seems fairly unserious for someone to criticize 4x games for promoting “progress” through empire in one breath while glorying in the fun of branding defeated Shadow of War orcs as slaves in another.
 

JSimenhoff

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While you are certainly exaggerating the extent of the impact these games have on us, you are right to point out a discrepancy in the context of how we criticize and look at games. We may have a nuanced opinion on the topics we write about. For example, Civilisation was covered multiple times already this year, and included in our top 100 last year.

This is despite our opinion that empire and colonialism are bad. Having this political position isn't exactly controversial these days. No one should be for the violent subjugation and exploitation of another nation or peoples, so I'm not exactly sure what your gripe is here. We also don't like the arranged marriages of children, but we also cover, play, and enjoy Crusader Kings 3. This leads me to my next point.

I think it’s important for people to recognize a false equivalence here. Comical, over-the-top depictions of imaginary violence are not the same as literal hate that gets human beings killed for being who they are. We discuss video games in our articles, which includes all manner of topics including gameplay, technical requirements/performance, and yes, we’ll also look at features designed to make a game feel more inclusive.

We want games and the people who make them be as diverse as possible. We believe a more diverse gaming community and industry will lead to better games, stories, and characters. We are against the hatred of any type of person based on their ethnicity or gender and want the games we play to reflect that.
 
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Mar 3, 2021
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I agree wholeheartedly with your last paragraph and appreciate the thoughtful response, but you have eluded the point.
Your argument if I understand it correctly is that you celebrate routine and gratuitous depictions of violence because violence is imaginary and comical. But you do not tolerate similarly comic or gratuitous depictions of imaginary video game prejudice because prejudice is real.

I assure you that sadistic violence is real, as I’m sure you’ll concede even if you’ve not experienced it. But you state that on occasion such violence stems from prejudice so you must concede that it’s as real.

So to the point, you would seem to be arguing that some forms of violence are tolerable but no form of prejudice is, even in jest. The only way you can make this argument is if you sincerely believe that prejudice is more morally objectionable than sadistic murder. I would love to hear that argument because it is not one made by any moral hierarchy that I have yet encountered. For good reason - it’s ludicrous, and asserting it debases any moral authority you seek to establish on combatting prejudice.

It seems that if you can’t defend that position, it’s possible that there’s some point about the medium of video games that changes the calculus that could be made. But I don’t know what that might be and you have yet to make it.

In the absence of such an argument, it seems the only defensible positions to fall back on would be either to admit that the games we love have a sadism problem that deserves more attention than its problems with prejudice...or to abandon moralizing about gaming power fantasies in the first place.
 

JSimenhoff

Community Manager
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Nov 25, 2019
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Sir, this is a video game site. Of course we think violence in video games is acceptable. We also believe that inclusivity should be championed. The two do not have to be exclusive to each other.

Thanks for the feedback.
 
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