Recently while going through my Facebook timeline, I came across a picture highlighting the differences between games made in the West versus games made in the East (Japan). It showed how Western gaming developers had totally gone offtrack with their games, resulting in a storm of criticism and a large number of unhappy players. Here is the pic in question:
Now, I do not necessarily agree with this but let’s face it: This is not Western gaming’s golden age. Sure, we’re getting plenty of great games from Western developers, but it’s pretty clear that games are receiving a lot of backlash due to a few problems that seem to be taking root in the Western gaming industry. Let’s explore them:
First of all, let’s talk about why Western games are facing so much criticism these days. A lot of fans don’t seem to be happy with the path that developers have taken, with the result being games, even ones that got relatively good scores from critics, facing heavy backlash from players. From my viewpoint, and the viewpoint of many other gamers, it seems like Asian (Eastern) developers aren’t restrained by the liberal politics which have wormed their way into the western tech industry. Political correctness has become way too important for Western developers, leading to little artistic integrity among them. Shoehorning ethnic minorities, people of different color and sexual orientation is often done at the sacrifice of a games story and it’s realism. Games are games, an outlet for people to forget their real life problems and enjoy their day. They are NOT PSA’s meant to push political agendas. And that is where Western developers seem to have gone offtrack.
Let’s look at some examples. Battlefield 1 faced a storm of criticism when it released for the number of people of color it showed fighting on the European front. It seemed every match, or rather, almost every squad in a match had a black soldier in it, leading to a large number of black soldiers on the battlefield during a match. Now, diversity is a great thing that should be encouraged. But Battlefield 1 is a game that had a goal of portraying World War 1 in a very realistic way, and having such a large ratio of black soldiers on the European front is not believable. Yes, there were black soldiers that fought for the Allies, and even some for the Germans (colonial troops). But the ratio of black soldiers in each match is a huge inflation, especially on the German side since very very few black German soldiers fought on the European front.
The point is, developers should not change history in order to fit their own progressive beliefs. It’s not about racism, it’s about depicting history the way it was. Around the time BF1 launched, The Know posted a video on YouTube about how a former dev accused Battlefield sexism. The video went on to show it’s support by stating how DICE should have added female soldiers to the game, arguing that if the game could ignore real life problems like guns jamming and parachutes malfunctioning, then they could also add women to the game. Alongside making the thinnest argument in history, the video highlighted a major issue: Being politically correct is now more important to some people than respecting history, and this issue has spread to the world of gaming too. It may seem too far fetched now, but in the future this could pose a major problem since it is clear Western devs are now being influenced by these matters.
Everything offends someone. It’s an unavoidable truth. But should we let it affect how we approach our art, our creativity and the outlets by which we experience the unlikely, the outrageous and the utterly fictional? We’ve already let political correctness like this destroy gaming projects. If you’re looking for an example, look no further than Six Days in Fallujah. Developed by Konami back in 2008 (which shows that even some Eastern developers are affected to some extent), this game was essentially finished and ready to be released. But it never actually came out. Peace advocates and war veterans protested against the game, arguing that the game shouldn’t be played because the Iraq War was still ongoing. Nevermind the fact that there have been hundreds of games set in all major wars, from World War 2 to the Vietnam War. Konami essentially deprived it’s audience of a game because a few loud people wanted them to. And that’s the problem. Games have begun to cater to the most minuscule of issues raised only by a few very loud people, and this practice is alienating the players.
By abstract notions of being offended and hurt, we’re tying developers hands. We’re not letting them give us unique experiences through games. We’re not getting challenged, we’re not allowing them to make us uncomfortable, we’re not letting them make us think. We’re basically stripping them of their creativity.
And the other face of this problem is: Western game developers are actually letting a few people decide what their games should be like. It’s the majority of the player-base that matters, and I for a fact know that most players enjoy challenges, they enjoy being put out of their comfort zone, they like it when a game portrays actual events. This is what sets Eastern developers apart from Western devs.
In the end, this poses a question for both the developers and the players: When are we going to realize that this mentality is destructive?