The Entertainment Software Association couldn’t have picked a less opportune week to tell us how diverse the community of game players has become. It’s a shame that the same moment that rescued GaymerX as a safe space for traditionally excluded voices also gave us an emotionally exhausting string of attacks, direct and implied, on game developers, critics, services, and fans. These stories don’t exist in a bubble. They each represent a piece of our shifting demographic landscape, and one can interpret the constant harassment of those who challenge the status quo as an expected symptom of its downfall.
But that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. It’s hard to tell those chased away from their homes and jobs with threats of violence that increased intimidation means they’re actually winning. To tell those struggling to bring us greater diversity of thought, personhood, and life experience that achieving that goal won’t somehow attract even more hostility. To tell victims that their lack of power is the mechanism of their eventual empowerment. And it’s hard to object when some of those people do the understandable thing and simply walk away from it all.
So for those of us who care about making as many great things as possible for as many people as possible to enjoy, let’s celebrate gaming’s changing face. But as we do, let’s remind ourselves with grateful humility that those fighting for the right to be included in our circle – in our guilds, our leadership roles, our creative and critical avenues of expression – see us week after week at our worst and still want in.