On the release of promotional materials for EA DICE’s “Battlefield V” or Battlefield 5 in May 2018, emotions about regarding the subject material: the second World War. In a time of upheaval in the American political landscape where Nazis march unmasked in the streets and enjoy the comfort of glitz-pieces in our corporate media, the political nature of Nazism and Fascism, inherent to WWII, seem anything but settled. This political charge is aided not at all by the presence of hate movements surrounding various artistic mediums often viewed as “low art” or the media refuge of geeks. But the view of video games and comics as art has been well-argued to the point of being disputed very little in media that covers them. The only questions is the follow-through: can gamers treat games like art?
As much as the vapid scam artists formerly of GamerGate — not my personal choice of title, as Watergate was not about water but rather about an office complex of that name — would love to push their sequels, ComicsGate and whatever the heck you want to call the anti-progressive outrage towards media like Netflix’s new She-Ra or Rebecca Sugar’s “Steven Universe,” it has become clear to us all that what they really care about is monetized reactionary politics. The proof is in the bigoted pudding.
Whenever these fundamentally conservative and even oftentimes fascistic “content creators” engage in their creation of said “content,” what they really do is find a controversy that will galvanize a base of bigoted reactionaries and milk them dry. If there is no controversy as in the case of DOOM: Eternal or Cuphead, they simply make them up. This was also often the case with figures like Zoe Quinn or Anita Sarkeesian in GamerGate, the latter of whom has made a very nice series of video that turned into a much larger venture into the art and politics of video; GamerGaters lied or repeated lies about them and others until it became apparent that the main commonality between these hated women was simply that they were women. This is also applicable to many ComicsGate characters like the “new” Iron Man and Thor characters, who — temporarily — replaced Tony Stark and the previous Thor as their respective characters. Where many saw a writer’s attempt to understand how a female character would map onto a much-beloved and familiar role, these particular twerps saw a nefarious attempt to erase a character that looked like them from the comic.
That primer on the GamerGate mindset has been brought to you in part by the many assholes I have watched argue online about whether women should be in Battlefield, or in a classic comic role, or how sexualized they should look in a new cartoon series, or whatever particular straw happened to break this camel’s back. It was probably the tweets salivating over the sensation of watching women die, though.
In a lot of ways, Battlefield 5 is going to be a step forwards in its industry. Lootboxes for non-cosmetics have been guaranteed to be a non-issue, paid downloadable content will not be making a return, and the game will recieve free updates. That’s a nice twist. One of multiple promotional banners also pictures a disabled woman serving as a soldier. Now, this is a small feature, of course, but it makes sense that a soldier fighting on the front lines, especially as part of the French resistance in WWII, could become disabled and fight on. There’s no stretch of the imagination there, no matter what some chud on Battlefield’s official forums might tell you.
But there’s misogyny, and then there’s misogyny. I happened across one particular Twitter thread days ago of what I can only describe as an incel pick-up artist abuser fever dream. What follows are some sparse examples of a larger pool of replies to the tweet pictured at the top of this article, which is itself not the only version of the sentiment voiced on this particular website.
This type of high-quality nine-dimensional satirical memery can only be expected from the most intellectual of communities formed around the appreciation of art. Clearly. The problem with that expectation is exactly the problem with these movements: they refute the quality of the material for which they would otherwise claim to have any kind of respect. If you like video games, do you obsess over where women appear and what obscene violence you get to inflict upon them? Not unless you’ve watched one too many videos deep in YouTube’s algorithm, I’m afraid.
Whenever we turn over a rock and watch a bunch of Definitely-Not-Fascists scatter, the inevitable counter comes that these people do not represent gamers or games, they don’t represent movies or comics, they merely represent their interests. That’s technically true in its own way, but as I have said elsewhere, this attitude is symptomatic of a cultivated identity around reactionary politics. It is not an accident that violent bigots crop up every time a woman or other minority person attempts to enjoy — or, gasp, appear in — a work of art.
The underbelly of all of this work scam artists and cult leaders are doing in our cultural underbelly fundamentally undermines the culture itself. It all makes these spaces, this material, less safe for women, people of color, disabled people, gay people, and whoever else these right-wing hacks feel like targeting on a given day. Happening across losers on Twitter fantasizing about violently murdering women are just one daily reminder of how this industry has a problem with women; we’re not welcome, not wanted and not desirable unless we appear as requested by an entitled male populace. Don’t ask why you hear so few women in voice comms and chat online. You know why.