RR-sama Talks: has political correctness gone too far?

It seems that every day another complaint is made towards developers and their game designs. But how much of it is legitimate?

Over the past month we have had several articles published on things such as disproportionate characters in video games, characters with questionable clothing, photoshopped characters who have been given so-called realistic body shapes, and complaints about sexualization in video games... But is it really such a problem?

In theory, there is. Most of these articles all centralize around what has become commonly known as “political correctness:” the practice of avoiding behavior and words that could potentially cause insult or discrimination towards a particular social group. While this movement originally orbited the realms of race, sexuality, and gender, it has slowly consumed everything from being overweight to accepting just about everything short of murder – as there’s a good enough reason for it.

So what does this have to do with gaming? A lot, actually. As the internet continues to grow, and social practices in the real world (you know, that place on the other side of your front door?) there has been an increasing presence of political correctness directed toward video game designers… and it can get pretty ridiculous sometimes...

The Problem

I’m going to be upfront about this: I hate political correctness with a passion. I for one dislike it since people have often gone out of the way to make sure they don’t say anything possibly insulting toward me – as I am of mixed race – and it can get pretty tiring. While I wouldn’t exactly say I’m a fan of people insulting me on a regular basis, I can say without regret that it gets exhausting trying to walk on eggshells around people who tend to spontaneously combust if I say the word “black” around African-American people while I’m talking about a coat of paint. Seriously, it’s annoying.

This is not to say that political correctness doesn't have its upsides. It helps people feel included and helps them feel as though they are part of the community instead of an outsider. The PC movement has also done a lot to push toward equality in the social sphere as many of these movements target the unequal treatment of persons of interest in the workplace and elsewhere. When used correctly, it can be a source for positive social change. However, in the world of video game development it can become a serious problem for writers, developers, and art directors for a number of reasons.

Narration and Immersion may be sacrificed for the sake of political correctness...

For writers the issue usually stems around historically accurate slang, as words such as "nigger" or "chink" were traditionally used in common speak during the 1800s but are completely absent from games set in that era.

Games that particularly come to mind are the Assassin's Creed franchise or Red Dead Redemption where the games limit interactions with people of African-American or Asian lineages. In fact, in the latter game there are almost no people of color at all, and none of them are part of either the main storyline or side-quests.

While one would expect to see African-Americans in Red Dead Redemption's setting, the entirety of the game's cast members are limited to Caucasian or Mexican descent with the only black people being random NPCs

While it is difficult to prove that writers intentionally avoid using these practices for the sake of being politically correct, it stands to reason that it is at least on their minds. However, this desire to avoid conflict with groups of interest can harm the variety in storytelling we can have in video games. I'm not saying that the writers should go out of the way to bring up every single historical politically insensitive insult in the book, but it is harmful to historical accuracy and immersion if we can't use politically insensitive words and actions in the proper context.

I suppose that there is always the argument that a video game taking place in historical settings does not need to use certain of-era language to be immersive. In fact, the Assassin's Creed series would be an unintelligable mess without a mass import of subtitles if the directors decided to use of-era pronunciation and language in their games. On top of that, anyone with a basic knowledge of the eras represented by either Red Dead Redemption or Assassin's Creed should know what the political landscape was like regardless. As a result, their inclusion would seem to be nothing more than an excuse to blurt out racist slang.

I would argue, instead, that while these arguments are true, they don't warrant their non-inclusion either. If people are - in fact - knowledgeable of the slang and language of the era, then wouldn't that be more reason to add it? Would it not mean that removing such language for the sake of political correctness is actually insulting to the intelligence of the player? After all, if the player is so enlightened on the subject matter would it not be absurd to become enraged about that which they allegedly know is nothing more than an of-era situation?

All this counter-argument provides is more reason to believe that the PC phenomenon has lost sight of what the true enemy is. In the end, it takes away from the experience, painting a "nicer," more politically-sensitive world than it actually was, and there is no advantage to this for anybody. After all, if we simply pretend the past didn't exist, how can we possibly argue for change in the future?

Aside: Oddly enough, Red Dead Redemption did not seem to have any problem using Mexican derogatory language towards Americans or other people of Caucasiand backgrounds. Might be something worth thinking about...

Developers take a hit too...

One of the widest publicized issues of racial insensitivity in video games revolved around the game Resident Evil 5. When the game was released, some cried out that the game was racist for various reasons. Some of these allegations came from a scene where a blonde woman is dragged away, supposedly raped by a black man, or that the Africans presented in the game who are not visibly infected are portrayed as stereotypically violent. However, both of these accusations are weak at best.

Firstly, as clearly evident by the video above (around the 6:20 mark) the woman who is dragged away was not taken away by a black man. In fact, it was a white one. Secondly, even if it was a black man it does not take much time researching to find out that South Africa has some of the consistently highest rates of rape and violence against women in the world. Thirdly, Western Africa - where the game takes place - holds the highest murder rates in the world (beat only by Central and South America) and holds 3 of the top 6 murder counts.

Despite this, many well-known publishers of gaming news were quick to jump on the poor representation of the African peoples in Resident Evil 5. Eurogamer.net's Dan Whitehead said of the game:

Since the Majini are not undead corpses, and are capable of driving vehicles, handling weapons and even using guns, it makes the line between the infected monsters and African civilians uncomfortably vague. Where Africans are concerned, the game seems to be suggesting, bloodthirsty savagery just comes with the territory.

Source: Eurogamer.net

Yeah, so the West African "Majini" are represented as extremely violent and in a state of poverty. But guess what? West Africa is an extremely violent and impoverished part of the continent where war is almost a daily occurance! Anyone who does a quick Google search of West Africa can discover this in seconds, so go figure if a game developer uses that setting for a violent video game.

Of course, it could be argued that this is still a misrepresentation of West Africa since it cannot possibly be in this state of turmoil at all times.

In fact, I for one would like to believe that there are periods of peace in West Africa, despite my own cynicism getting in the way. Despite this, should I be confiscated of my evidences I can still come up with one argument: the game is - likewise - a representation of a single period of time in West Africa. This means that it could simply be representative of West Africa during the worst of times. After all, I'm certain that getting infected by any virus from the Resident Evil franchise would be a low point for any country.

To argue against this would border on ignorant naivety. Should political correctness seek to be been seen as an "enlightened" and "better, more civil way of thinking," it is cases such as this that make me laugh. Why? Because the people are not only lampooning themselves, but also showing how ignorant they are of foreign affairs in general.

It's an ironic ignorance many seem to completely miss, and one that brings more harm to the cause; as a result, those who fight against racism can quickly gain an image of being extremely ignorant of the real world. That - once again - helps nobody.

And then there's the art directors...

By far this is one of the worst hit sectors, and it's usually by social interest groups that target the sexualization and overall presentation of beauty standards of women. This is one of the most extreme sectors as it borders ridiculousness at times. While I certainly cannot speak on behalf of women, I can present some input as to why - in my own opinion - these allegations can get out of hand sometimes, and how they actually can harm the message that they are attempting to present.

The article mentioned at the start of this piece about realistic body shapes talked about a campaign hosted by Bulimia.com: a website that aims to critique society's concepts of beauty in an attempt to stop the spread of psychological and emotional eating disorders. While their cause is noble, their execution has been somewhat ill-executed due to their diction. Why? Because while they claimed that they were using the body image of the average American woman, their conclusion clearly stated:

The difference between the original video game heroines and their more realistic interpretations is hardly subtle. In these images, unfeasible waistlines expand and arms and legs grow wider. Perhaps the changes are especially noticeable since most of these characters are so scarcely dressed.

Source: bulimia.com

This presents the idea that the author had two goals: to present the characters as their interpretation of a "realistic" female body image, and that they believe another issue is the scarcity of clothing. It is in the group's interests to prevent female gamers - particularly younger ones - from playing such games since it could "develop a skewed image of how the female body should look."

Firstly, anyone who gets their impressions of how anyone should look based off of animated characters should be institutionalized. I have never been able to accept this argument since one would think that similar argument could be made as to why a male character shouldn't have skin painted with the ashes of my deceased loved ones, and muscles the size of my head.

I'm looking at you Kratos...

Then there's the fact that the images they presented as "realistic" undermine people who are actually healthy and have the body image presented in the pictures. If their goal is to stop eating disorders, then presenting women with much larger bodies will cause disorders such as binge eating in order to gain weight. Take the following images as examples:

This is bulimia.com's Photoshop comparison (left) and a cosplayer (right)

Once again, while bulimia.com's mission is honorable, their execution is poor. The cosplayer on the right is portraying a picture-perfect image of the character without the use of photoshop, and so to imply that the original image is unrealistic is to claim that the cosplayer's dimensions are equally unrealistic.

While they are doing something good by trying to stop eating disorders, they might not realize that just because something is the average weight in the United States doesn't necessarily mean it's by any means "realistic." After all, averages are based on the sum of the total BMI of the population divided by the population sample. Considering that 68.6% of the United States's population is overweight, that is not something we should be supporting.

However, this is one of the least dramatic examples. What causes a serious problem is when people start taking something simple and making it into a big deal. The case and example? Zero Suit Samus in Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS.

The above image received a great amount of attention from the gaming community. Kotaku poster Luke Plunkett was quick to weigh in, compiling a bunch of characters wearing the same rocket heels, claiming that the boots would "put her at a competitive disadvantage." CCC's Angelo M. D'Argenio even went so far as to claim the rocket boots were "sexist" due to the fact that she could have had a rocket pack or anything other than what he calls "stiletto heels."

While these seem like a valid claims at first, it actually more damaging to the feminist movement than it is helpful. When people who support equality see such posts, many of them become divided, some of them coming off as misogynistic simply because they do not see the problem with it. Why don't they see a problem? Because it's ridiculous. People are arguing about the practicality of space rocket heels in a world where a dinosaur pops out egg bombs, and a baseball bat can launch a talking, spaceship flying fox several kilometers into the air.


 I'm pretty sure the last thing in this terrified Charizard's mind is how those rocket heels in his face sexualize Samus... In fact, I'm pretty sure he looks pretty damn intimidated by Samus's death glare!

While these examples hardly display developers actively avoiding sexualization for the sake of political correctness, Divinity: Original Sin is a prime candidate for getting attacked for its art design.

In a world where most fantasy games portray female warriors as iron-bikini wearing powerhouses, Divinity: Original Sin was picked out as the lone bullying target in the bunch. The advertisement art for the game (pictured above) was changed from the original midriff-bearing Scarlett on the left, to the fully armored one on the right after numerous complaints were made about the game's art direction.

According to an interview with Thierry Van Gyseghem, the art direction's complaints were limited to a small vocal minority until the media caught wind of the game after it launched a Kickstarter campaign. According to Thierry, certain publications who had a more "vigilant political agenda" caused the game to come under heavy scrutiny from their supporters. This scrutiny caused the developers of Divinity: Original Sin to change their game art in an effort to remain in a positive public relations stance.

By definition, censorship is the practice of officially examining books, movies, etc., and suppressing unacceptable parts. Since the term is typically applied to governments, media outlets, or other such positions of power it is rarely considered that social media and other consumer groups could possibly result in the censorship of a game. However, Thierry went on record as stating that those who oppose his position that he believes that his game was censored should consider the following analogy:

When you own a pizza place and one day the mob enters your little shack, threatens you by saying if I don’t stop selling pepperoni pizza’s they’ll do anything in their power to make sure you go out of business, then what should we call this? Blackmail? Censorship? Harassment? Extortion? or simply a trade embargo?

In the end the story remains the same, you are forced to rethink your actions and it leaves a shadow hanging over your creations. Every artist deals with criticism differently, I feel that inevitably your next piece will already be affected by it, consciously or unconsciously.

Source: blogjob.com

To summarize the full interview, Thierry believes that there are not many legitimate critiques to character design that one can make since they are based upon pure personal preference. The fact that media outlets and social interest groups that stand between the developer and the target consumer can have such a powerful say in game design is - in its own way - a form of censorship.

In my own opinion: video games have character designs based on the world they are set in. Video games revolving around fighting, killing, and other sorts of violence tend to dramatize sexual features since our own imaginations tend to portray strong individuals as attractive. For men this is typically represented by gratuitous amounts of muscle mass and a large crotch bulge, while for women this is usually presented through an overzealous bust, firm rear-end, and a broken back. Similarly, games focused on more realistic or plot-oriented settings tend to have more realistic characters, albeit most of them having Hollywood-styled good looks.

What I'm trying to say here is that this is a symptom of the particular genres, not of the gaming culture as a whole. To limit these over-the-top dramatizations of body images is to limit artistic impressions of the human physique. It doesn't help women - or men - suffering from weight or eating disorders, and it doesn't help the hard laborers in art development for video games either.

So what would you suggest, RR-sama?

At the risk of sounding callous... maybe try just getting over yourself?

I know that sounds harsh, and many people will hate me for it. The problem - as previously stated - seems to be mostly in the United States, a country that suffers from a serious case of Social Media Madness (or as I like to call SMM).

In North American culture we have reached a level of self-obsession, self-importance, and -oddly enough- self-loathing that it borders the level of a psychosis. We constantly seek approval from absolutely everybody, and when we do not receive said approval we lash out. This also happens when we don't get something we want, and the resulting feedback can take many forms, many people quick to claim some sort of unfair prejudice was placed against them before considering any other possibilities.

It's a sort of entitlement that belittles the true enemies of equality, and oppresses people who simply believe that things might not be nearly as bad as people make them out to be.

Seriously guys... your inner Joffery is showing...

We shouldn't be allowing this to affect the realm of storytelling and game design. It limits the scope of experiences we can have, and video games - like other art forms - should be the last bastion of the human imagination where developers can tell the stories they want to tell, and in the way they want to.

By imposing ridiculous levels of scrutiny for the sake of making sure we don't hurt anyone's feelings we are just fostering a culture of irresponsible people who don't want to simply accept that maybe things aren't just sunshine and rainbows. In any case, we should all be able to understand - as thinking individuals - that it is called a "virtual world" for a reason.

But hey, maybe I'm just blowing hot air...

What do you guys think about the landscape of political correctness in video games? Do you think it has gone too far, or maybe not far enough? Do you think people should have a say in how developers decide to make their games? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Published Sep. 23rd 2015
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  • Nutronic
    Great article.

    I hope you don't mind if I play a little "Devil's advocate" here but..

    This whole "PC/SJW" crap is just in reaction to the underwhelming nature of racial integration and political change WITHIN the USA. It needs to exist for the exact same reasons the KKK needs to maintain it's political influence. So that society can judge the extremes and hopefully find a middle ground.

    A good example would be MLK vs Malcom X. Personally, I don't 100% agree with either of them or their methods (willfully putting one's self in danger to send a message borderlines on madness, especially when you consider that most of the peaceful protesters had the backing of their entire family's wealth at stake).

    The problem here is that nothing exist in a vaccum, and while it may not bother most people with "privilege" (if you feel so inclined to call it that), it does seem kind of shocking to people who are just entering into our culture at large.

    An example being the basic neutral american (USA) office culture: which is mostly a watered down version of middle (maybe slightly upper) middle class white culture. Yet a person (whites included) either from a slightly lower class or more ethnic culture wouldn't be encouraged to continue their cultural norms. Why? Because it's a trickle down effect of those people who founded the companies and what they deem as appropriate behavior. There are obviously other bits that contribute to basic corporate culture, but it's mostly design to be a benign space where people can feel safe to work.

    Back to Gaming...
    The point the I'm trying to make is that in gaming you have newcomers who's racial or cultural identities weren't being reflected in an industry or hobby they are very passionate about. That being said, the current knee-jerk reaction many of us are having actually says volumes about what's really wrong. Most gamers aren't aware of these issues because gaming has honestly been a safe-haven from most real world issues for decades, now that it's becoming more inclusive it has to go through growing pains, again. Sometime's it's important to go through uncanny valley to reach the beauty on just the other side.

    In all honesty though, I have no feelings whatever about the equality movement in gaming. I'm fairly mixed, but my ancestor doesn't/didn't define the culture I grew up with. So even though I might look one way, I can't fully know how most people of my "race" or "ethnicity" feel about things in gaming. What is most apparent though is that gaming is big enough that everyone can have their slice of the pie. Even if old franchises make concessions in new games, that doesn't change the older games.

    Any way, just thought I'd offer some counter argument as a point of discussion.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    Oh don't worry, I love devil's advocate arguments. I'm usually responsible for half of them myself!

    I agree that there needs to be a polarization of political views in order to work towards a middle ground, however, I would argue that if such a thing needs to exist, should they not both be equally represented? If one is over-represented, and the other is under, then does that not mean we get a skewed result? Just speculation, but on paper it would make sense.

    As for office culture... been there, done that. It's a very sterile atmosphere that is ultimately very depressing. In my opinion: we strive for chaos. Why? Because ultimate peace is ultimately boring. We want commotion, for without it we feel like we have nothing. Once again, just a thought.

    I like the growing pains analogy. Video games are certainly having a hard time deciding where they should stand on the political scale because it's hard to determine whether they should be treated as a form of art, a source of entertainment, or something else entirely. If gaming is an art, then it should be allowed to do anything on the political scale just like novels and visual arts. However, if it is an entertainment medium on the level of television or popular films then it should be regulated. It's a very odd place to be.

    I certainly understand the mixed position since we are sort of underrepresented in the media. Even when mixed actors are on screen, they're typically playing races that they look "more like". You would think that we could simply throw away the race card and come together as Canadian or American, but no. No one wants to erase their "cultural heritage", even if it hasn't been relevant to their families for generations. It's strange, and I think it might be a source of many tensions as well since even the most "right-wing" types I've met seem perfectly okay with many social movements - so long as no one sticks it in their face.
  • Mathenaut
    "Just get over yourself"

    I think that this should be the official response to alot of this PC/SJW cancer that thinks to save gaming by destroying it.

    I am glad that this article exists and that there are others taking a stand against this nonsense.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    Thanks for enjoying this article! I'm really loving all the comments that have been stirred by this. I welcome all arguments from both sides - as no opinion can be accepted as pure truth - but it's good to know that I'm not exactly alone in the middle ground.

    I think that quote in particular was one that I had to add no matter what. As someone who was severely physically and emotionally bullied/abused by peers and "forward thinkers" throughout the first 20 years of my life, I seriously can't suggest anything better than "just getting over yourself". People don't like people, and if they did these issues wouldn't exist.

    I'm not exactly a 100% Hobbesian, but I certainly think he was on to something.
  • Mathenaut
    Middle ground on what, though? That's what I don't get. Nobody is claiming that [the things that generally amount to bad character design] are good trends or that everything is 100% okay on all fronts with nothing wrong. Nobody paying attention to the criticisms leveled at characters in just about every mediocre game could believe that.

    Nobody is arguing for more cheap, shallow, pointless characters except (ironically) the people who think that identity politic can substitute for depth or effort.

    Hell, it's not even a conversation that we can have so long as the bar is so low that people with insecurity or confidence issues are determining what does or doesn't pass as acceptable.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    I'd say the middle ground between full-fledged "there's nothing wrong with it" vs "absolutely everything is wrong with it". I find it strange that the world as almost become a false dichotomy based upon which side of the political spectrum you are. There's even entire assumptions on what your beliefs on global warming/climate change based on whether you're a liberal or a conservative.

    Nobody wants cheap, shallow, and pointless characters. That's true. And I find it ironic that the people who look only at the superficial are those arguing that the superficial shouldn't be glorified. In fact, Samus Aran is perhaps one of the greatest victims of this since she's basically not allowed to have a personality of her own, else Nintendo be butchered by angry fans. On the other hand, Samus can't have no personality either. It's the fact that we put a personality upon Samus based on our own experiences with the Metroid games that we come up with a character we have come to love, not simply because she's a blonde space bimbo with a gun. That's not the point, and it never was. She's an independent woman with strengths and general bad-assery, and the PCs can't seem to understand that sexualized or not, Samus will always be that for her fans.

    Insecurities with people is definitely a problem. If people never learn to fend for themselves, how do they expect to advance in the workforce? While we could blame this on a number of social factors, I can't help but feel that the anti-bully movements and other social interest groups (despite their generally good concepts and ideas) are actually trying to make people weaker both mentally and emotionally in an attempt to make cheap labor easier to find... But that's just me...
  • Durinn McFurren
    I love this article. I too hate political correctness. And for the record my political views are extremely liberal. To the point of 'Well, Sanders is okay, but he's kind of moderate for me...' liberal. Yet due to political correctness, I can't stand a large proportion of other liberals (who, for example, rabidly attacked me when I suggested that just because BLM has a valid point doesn't mean their members should have been disruptive jerks at NetRoots).

    The biggest problems with political correctness, I think, are: 1. Focusing on words over attitudes. I mean really, getting people to not say 'f*gg*t' has done precisely NOTHING to help actual attitudes towards the LGBT+ population. 2. Focusing on stupid minutiae with irrational arguments. Like getting hung up on Samus' boots, or suggesting that super-athletic characters in video games should look like the average American. Guess what? Someone with the body and health of an average American would collapse in heartfailure about 2 minutes into most action games! There's a REASON why video game characters in action games are fit. And as you pointed out, the unrealistic bodies occur on all genders.
    Or, for example, obsessing over things like 'this game portrays a black guy raping a white woman.' Did you know, such things actually happen? Believe it or not, some black people sometimes do bad things, and sometimes they do bad things to white people! Portraying such a thing in fiction is not an insinuation that all black people would do such a thing, any more than portraying Hitler as a racist is an insinuation that all white people want to exterminate Jews, blacks, and homosexuals!
    To take one last example of uproar over irrelevancies: recently there was a massive outcry demanding that Marvel's new Black Panther series be written by a black person. I guess these people don't realize that most writers write about people who are not exactly like the author? I mean, demanding that BP be written by a person who has the same ethnicity as the protagonist (well, it's technically impossible, since Wakanda is not a real place!) is like demanding that Spider-man be written by a guy who can actually cling to walls! Or like demanding that Thor be written by a Scandanavian! It's pointless and frankly insulting to all authors, insinuating that authors are somehow incapable of writing characters who are different than they are.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    I think the biggest disappointment for me was that the word "faggot" was bleeped in Green Day: Rock Band for the song "American Idiot". Not only does it ruin the song (which doesn't even use the word as a synonym for homosexuality), the thing is... people don't realize that the word has only recently been attributed to homosexuality YEARS after the song was released. Anyone who has studied linguistics would know that the whole "it's because they burned gays" argument is false due to the fact that any English speaking country didn't have laws to burn gays. In fact, the punishment was hanging. (Not saying it's any better, but seriously... get your facts straight).

    People attribute things to this or that without realizing what's actually going on. I think another word that is commonly misused is the word "Cracker" that people use a slang for white people. They think it means "whip cracker", but in reality it's a result of constant butchering of the accent African-Americans in the south-eastern states had when saying "Quaker", and the Quakers were the ones who actually owned slaves. (The more you know...)

    There's a lot of wrongs in the world. I would never deny this. But people should at least do some research on both sides of an argument before speaking... The world is "enlightened" as of late by being more ignorant and easy to stir up than ever. It's disappointing really... so much good intentions burned on ignorance on both sides of the political scale...
  • Durinn McFurren
    I think you meant to say the Quakers were one of the few groups of whites to be universally opposed to slavery? They definitely did not own slaves and often went out of their way at great personal risk to help slaves escape. I did not know that was the etymology of the word, though (I thought it came from an association with Cracker Jack, or perhaps that Caucasians are 'white as crackers'). Perhaps I shall go around referring to myself that way in future...

    I always assumed that 'fag' for 'gay' came from the use of 'fag' for cigarette, and the fact that you suck on a cigarette. But that was just my wild guess. I've learned, in any case, that you should never be surprised when people invent an etymology for a word and pass it off as philological fact.

    Anyway, the real problem I have is that when people make such a big deal over little silly stuff it saps energy and credibility from people trying to make real social change.
  • topher339
    "I’m going to be upfront about this: I hate political correctness with a passion."

    I'm right there with you. Political correctness has its place, but in the last few years it's spiraled out of control. As of this moment I am only 20 years old but I have definitely noticed the shift in the way people avoid being offensive at all costs, in the schools and the workplace, even the media. It's accelerated in the last several years and it's become ridiculous. It's gotten to a point where it's killing creativity in media.

    I, also, am of mixed race. I'm half Filipino, the rest of me is mostly white originating in Europe but I've also got some Cherokee as well. I'm really kind of all over the map, white, Asian, and Native rolled into one. I try to make it clear to those around me that they don't have to walk on eggshells. In truth, I doubt half of the people I know really even know what races I'm made up of. Regardless, I don't go around life getting offended at every little slang term thrown at me or my race. I shrug it off and move on, something people don't seem to be capable of anymore. Like you said, I don't like to be cursed at all moments but I don't let it affect me.

    In my mind, that is where the problem lies. People have become far too thin-skinned. It used to be that the person would get over it, shrug it off. Instead that person would raise all kinds of hell to appear the helpless victim and the offender as being racist or sexist.

    As far as gaming giving off unrealistic standards, I've found that most of these unrealistic standards are quite realistic with patience and hard work. In truth, male characters are more likely to be unrealistic. At this point most protagonists are male. Statistically speaking, there should be more unrealistic male protagonists than female. Hardly anyone is up-in-arms about that. Again, most of these are achievable by the average person, except maybe Kraytos or anyone in the Gears franchise. I feel that people will complain about these because they themselves do not look that way, not out of it truly being sexist.

    At this point I am not really in shape. I'm 175lbs at 5' 10". I'm overweight but still in a healthy range, not anywhere near where I'd like to be, though. Thing is, it doesn't bother me to the point where I really work to change that. Nor does it bother me to the point where I'd rather have being overweight become the norm to make me feel better.

    My brother, on the other hand, is in great physical shape. He's 5' 8" at 160lbs, most all of that weight is muscle. He has less than 10% body fat. He wasn't always that way though. He used weigh more than me while still being shorter. He got fed up with it and lost 50 pounds in one summer. I'm not saying everyone should be doing the same though. I'm simply making a point that, instead of moan and complain, he changed himself, which is something that no one seems to do. Instead of changing themselves, they wish to change everyone else. That's how I see it, at least. The mind would rather believe that it is the norm and not the outlier and will attempt to do so every time.

    I apologize for the rant. I'm in economics class and have little else to do...
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    For me the first time I encountered absurd levels of political correctness was in the classroom. I remember that we were reading "To Kill a Mockingbird", one of the most influential novels when it came to racial equality, and yet the teacher spent more time trying to make clear that we were using the word "negro" in the context of the novel. My girlfriend - who is from Argentina - was mystified when they kept repeating it since the word literally means "black" in Spanish.

    Me, I'm quite literally all over the map racially. I have at least one ancestor from just about every racial background that immediately comes to mind. What I find the most ridiculous about it all is that people - I find - are ironically more racist when they are trying to be politically correct. How? Because they literally ask me what my background is... all the time. If you really wanted to be politically correct, should my racial profile really matter at all? Just something for them to think about...

    I do agree about people being thin-skinned. I've lived in many countries over the years since my folks had to travel to find work. In Singapore, the UK, Australia, China, and just about everywhere else I've been: you go into a bar, you call someone some racist slang (in a boisterous nature of course) then next thing you know they're throwing one back at you and you're all cheering with a pint in your hand. It's only in the United States and Canada where it's become parody-level PC. I don't know why, but I suspect it's the whole "white man guilt game" that comes with the territory of the black slaves they used (which were only really used in the south east of the United States to begin with...). But then again, I have no idea why it's affecting Canada though...

    As for body standards: it can get pretty ridiculous. Sometimes comparisons are drawn between real people and aliens a la "Mass Effect" origin. They're damn aliens people! They can look any way the art director wants! For all you know their average body weight is a toothpick and the ones in the game are severely overweight after eating too much corn-byproduct human food!

    No need to apologize for the rant, bud. That's the whole point of my RR-sama Talks segments. I love getting people discussing things as opposed to blindly sheeping around their lives. Even if I don't change someone's mind, I like to think I at least got them to question something.
  • topher339
    Here's the thing that really bugs me, it's a video game, not reality. You can't hold it to the same standards, specially where aliens are concerned.

    Beyond that, video games are hardly the worst "offenders" here if you're to take this seriously. What about Barbie? You want impossible standards, look no further. You'd pretty much have to be anorexic to reach that. Barbies have been around quite some time and aren't exactly realistic. Of course, people don't care so much about those.

    As far as school goes, I would imagine there have been cases of people getting fired for not being PC. Teachers will go out of their way to be PC. Surprisingly (maybe I shouldn't be surprised) it's far worse in high school. I haven't noticed it so much in college. Here, it tends to be students now more than professors.

    Really, there's nothing less PC than being PC. The fact that you believe that you have to tip-toe around someone because of their race, or anything else, shows that you think them too fragile to do otherwise. In my mind it shows a lack of respect for the person you're speaking to or about. People do this to avoid bringing things like race into the picture but being so PC brings race into the situation by default.

    As for the whole racism thing in the US. The "White Guilt" idea doesn't help any. I never understood the idea that people had to pay for the mistakes of generations' past and give those reparations to those who didn't suffer. And, in truth, it's not like the US invented slavery or was the last place to abolish it. It still goes on, it's just mostly contained to Africa these days.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    It's not like people find the "Barbie Standard" attractive anyway. I mean, look at the "real life Barbie woman". She went out of the way to turn herself into the physical mirror image of a Barbie, and last I checked there aren't any people going gaga over her.

    Standards are where you hold yourself, not where society holds you. Anyone with some self-respect would know this. It sort of makes me think of those "Social Experiment" videos where they have that guy meet up with teenage girls he met on the internet (with the parent's permission). If the parents are willing to let it happen, I think it's a display of poor judgement on the parent's part first of all, and so it should come to no surprise if the child does the same. At the end of the day the parents are responsible for bringing up a child the right way. That's how I was raised, and frankly it's most of the reason I don't give a crap about what the media says I should think or be like.

    Being PC is definitely not PC at all. Like I said: I hate when people ask my race so they can avoid anything "racist". It's annoying and disrespectful. You're still defining me by my race, you're just doing it to avoid defining me. It's a paradox that people can't seem to understand.

    The "White Guilt" idea never made sense to me, particularly in Canada. Since we were part of the British Crown during the times of slavery, having a slave in Canada was actually illegal, and yet we still have the apologetic nature here too. I just don't get it... The only people who had slaves - as I've stated in other comments - were mostly the south-eastern part of the United States. In fact, last I checked it was illegal to have slaves in the south-west of the U.S.A. during that time.
  • topher339
    "Standards are where you hold yourself, not where society holds you"

    I very much agree. Be where you're comfortable, not necessarily where society wants you. Have the self-respect and confidence to make your own decisions.

    "At the end of the day the parents are responsible for bringing up a child the right way."

    Your parents are arguably the greatest influence in your life. They're the first people you ever get to know and you're usually with them for next two decades. It falls upon them to give you the foundation of a healthy life-style and a sense of self-worth. It's also upon them to press upon you that you make decisions for yourself, the correct decisions, and not to have others make them for you.

    If you don't like something about yourself, change it. Don't try to change everyone else.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    Notice me RRsama.

    But in all seriousness, I'm right there with you David. If you have such a big problem with the way artists decide to create their characters, don't buy that game or better yet make your own.
  • David Fisher
    Featured Columnist
    I think a lot of the issue is that people don't really understand how difficult it is to make a game to begin with. Art, writing, programming... all of this is done at an expert level to make triple-A titles. In fact, I think people would be hard pressed to find anyone who has a background in any visual art form that draws nothing but "realistic, average looking people" without direct intention of doing so on a consistent basis.

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