Trying to Exempt Groups of People from Harm in Video Games is Silly

mother russia bleeds 07-03-15-1

This is an editorial piece. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of, and should not be attributed to, Niche Gamer as an organization.

So Polygon recently wrote an article titled “Mother Russia Bleeds confuses gross and exploitative for bizarre and gritty”. At first I thought I was going to be reading a piece denouncing the game’s ultra violence, but alas I was surprised (or rather depressed) of the direction the article went.

In a sudden 180 turn, the article became about transgender people and their plight in real life and in media. The author contacted the director of GLAAD to get his opinion on the matter, and he had this to say:

We would probably ask the question, ‘Why does the trans character have to be one of the characters that you beat up? Why can’t the trans character be one of the ones who you’re actually playing as? Or it could have been a character who plays some other role in the story[…]Even just sort of sitting in the background sometimes is preferable. I think especially in the context of trans characters, there’s a long and sometimes really nasty history with their depiction in video games. We haven’t actually played [Mother Russia Bleeds] so we can’t say for sure, but that type of treatment of a trans character is unfortunately part of a really gross legacy.

I don’t know why he would make this opinion without having actually played the game, but let’s just roll with it.

Should we make any sort of exception for who gets depicted in a negative light? Because it sounds like we should according to him. No one should be exempted from any sort of portrayal in any form of media, doesn’t matter how marginalized that group may be.

If we keep making exceptions, where do we draw the line for what’s acceptable and what isn’t?

If the creators wanted to create trans characters as enemy NPCs (in a club called Trans Club no less), then they should be able to without having the contemplate the morality of it.

Do you think the Grand Theft Auto developers designed their game where you can kill any NPC, but then would look at their code stained hands and say “What have we done?”. No, because that’s the kind of game they wanted to make.

We aren’t dealing with complex characters in Mother Russia Bleeds, we are dealing with pixelated vessels to move the gameplay forward.

The article concludes with a quote from Nick Adams, the director of programs for transgender media at GLAAD, and he says this gem:

When you have an incredibly marginalized community that is already subjected to staggering amounts of violence, along with high rates of poverty and discrimination, to feed into the bigotry and bias that that community already faces by making them easy targets for violence within the context of a game is unacceptable. There’s a big difference between making an infinite number of white non-transgender men characters that you can beat up and making transgender characters that you can beat up. It’s not equivalent.

As we all know, for the sake of context, the USSR was a wonderful time for the primarily non-transgender white populace, with no poverty or oppression what so ever. In fact, all of Eastern Europe at the time was all sunshine and rainbows.

Joking aside, I fail to see his point. Black people were oppressed for many, many years, yet we still see them often as enemy NPCs. Same can be said for Chinese people. Heck, Russia has gone through more shit than you can imagine, and we still have no qualms gunning them down in Call of Duty by the thousands.

Everyone should be depicted equally in games, both positively and negatively. If we start making exceptions to who gets depicted how because “X group is/has been marginalized”, then when do we stop?



Writer at Niche Gamer. Passionate for video game journalism, and more than glad to be a part of it. I also write DOTA 2 stuff.

  1. Audie Bakerson
    Audie Bakerson
    July 3, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    You don’t beat up crazy men in the game, merely deceptions of them.

  2. blackice85
    July 3, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Polygon lol

  3. King of Bros
    King of Bros
    July 3, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Equality for all.
    But x group of people cannot be villains or enemies, stick to the approved targets please.

  4. Dewey Defeats Truman
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    July 3, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Polygon isn’t a news source. It’s a tabloid.

    I’m not faulting the author of this article for that, I’m faulting all the people who still treat it as if it’s something to respect and listen to. The same is true of Kotaku. The sooner we as a reading public learn to just ignore them and stop giving them clicks, the better.

    I could post a comment on the article’s content itself but at this point I don’t really have anything to say other than the old “art isn’t art if you try to censor it” thing. It’s such a simple fact that these assholes that claim to fight for equality don’t seem to understand.

  5. Ms_Fortune
    July 3, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    Reminds me of when Gears 3 was coming out and people where wondering if you could perform executions on the female characters.

  6. Muten
    July 3, 2015 at 11:31 pm


  7. ChazDragoon
    July 3, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    Meanwhile, somewhere, a real life (insert ‘marginalized’ group here) person is actually getting beaten/killed/something else.

    But that’s nothing, them fictional pixel people are more important to focus on.

  8. Sarracenia
    July 3, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Nothing to really contribute to this.
    Pixels =/= trans people
    Beating up/killing pixels =/= beating up/killing trans.

  9. freightboy
    July 3, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

  10. Hawk Hopper
    Hawk Hopper
    July 3, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Of all the pixels and polygons that I’ve “killed” in games, the vast, vast majority have been representations of men. I have no idea what sexual orientation any of them had. I mean some of the terrorists being shot in recent Call of Duty could be gay, I really don’t know or care.

    What Polygon basically did in their article about Mother Russia Bleeds is accuse the developers of being hateful bigots. It would seem from Polygon’s reality warping glasses that this game was largely made as propaganda for killing LGBT people. The author, Megan Farokhmanesh, even goes so far as to write, “Mother Russia Bleeds revels in it with seemingly little regard for the victims of that virtual violence.” This is laughable. Fictional characters in a video game (or any other media) are fictional. The game “revels” in “virtual violence” because it is a hyper violent beat ’em up. The devs didn’t make this game to reveal in real world violence against LGBT people. Simple as that.

  11. MaidKillua
    July 4, 2015 at 12:15 am

    They still struggle with the idea that creating protected classes will only lead to role reversal and not equality? Unsurprising I suppose

  12. chizwoz
    July 4, 2015 at 12:36 am

    The only time this should ever be considered a problem is if the exact same trope is being found in every game. If we all woke up one day and every game announced had a black woman as the enemy character, that might be PROBLEMATIC. Until then, it aint.

  13. Tubsiwub
    July 4, 2015 at 12:38 am

    I didn’t read the article yet, but as a pre-statement… people should just makes games, come up with characters, and if the black guy wearing the red shirt happens to die first, we all shouldn’t shout racism, etc. Just my thought.

  14. SalsaMoose13
    July 4, 2015 at 12:46 am

    When it comes to a subject like this, I like to quote South Park: “Either everything’s okay, or nothing’s okay.”

  15. Thanatos2k
    July 4, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Just hearing about these polygon articles is making me dumber. I cannot fathom anyone who actually takes them seriously.

  16. Ippiki Okami
    Ippiki Okami
    July 4, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Just another Polygon attempt to get a poor developer to publicly apologize and censor the game.

  17. Cred
    July 4, 2015 at 12:54 am

    “We want equal representation, but you are only allowed to represent X in the pre approved ways”

  18. Cred
    July 4, 2015 at 12:55 am

    But even then, a consistent type of negative representation would be but a symptom of a bigger and more important problem.
    Like during the cold war, RED IS COMMIE DIE TO RED type hysteria.

  19. chizwoz
    July 4, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Sure. All I meant was that if that happened but we weren’t aware of an underlying issue, it’d be a good sign something was wrong.

  20. Cred
    July 4, 2015 at 12:57 am

    fun stuff
    any article making fun of polygon is always fun until I remember polygon isn’t meant to be joke news like the onion and those people are serious

  21. DeusEx
    July 4, 2015 at 1:50 am

    Any dislike I have for anyone who is transgender does not come from their choice of lifestyle, as I find others that are more dangerous and most certainly vile, but due to their insistence (or insistence of those claiming to be allied to them) in giving them special status and making them above reproach.

    I’d rather be a known transphobe than live in a politically correct nightmare.

  22. hurin
    July 4, 2015 at 2:04 am

    Isn’t most of the violence they experience trans on trans? Why do normal people have any responsibility for them beating each other up.

  23. JackDandy
    July 4, 2015 at 2:11 am

    The Polygon article was kind of hilarious.
    First, they try to get the devs to apologize. They fail.
    Then, they try to get the publisher to apologize. Again, they fail. (Kudos to Devolver! And shame on Polygon for acting like snitches.)
    Then, they try to make the devs apologize AGAIN, and the dev makes the WRITER sound like the biggest transphobe around.

    At that point they just drop the interview and start crying about trans rights for the rest of the article. Loved it.

  24. Cred
    July 4, 2015 at 2:32 am

    that’s awesome
    not apologizing when nothing wrong has been done is the way to save the medium we love

    there’s a fact that’s lost on many, a very very important fact

    people like polygon are insane, and they are a minority, most people are normal more or less

    they band together to use shame language and peer pressure others into fetal position because people are afraid of them, no one wants to be the one that stands up and gets shamed by them

    thus no one tries to confront them
    but everyone wants to do it
    and if everyone did, their shame would have no power
    their pressure works under the assumption that whatever they say matters to anyone

    but it barely matters to no one
    if artists, publishers, developers, everyone just stopped letting those people get away with shaming them into shutting up and apologizing for not doing anything wrong they would lose all their power

  25. djluke_1993
    July 4, 2015 at 2:37 am

    In their eyes…

  26. Kiryu
    July 4, 2015 at 3:27 am

    My goodness,saying that Polygon reached the bottom of the barrel is an insult to the bacteria that lives at the bottom of the barrel.It’s good that the devs didnt apologize to them because the moment they do they got them.Very nasty hatefull people.

  27. Kiryu
    July 4, 2015 at 3:32 am


  28. Kirijo
    July 4, 2015 at 3:43 am

    You’re operating under the assumption that they were ever for “equality’, they aren’t. They’re for a hierarchical victim spoils system where they elect their own privileged classes.

  29. Chino Gambino
    Chino Gambino
    July 4, 2015 at 3:49 am

    “‘Why does the trans character have to be one of the characters that you beat up? Why can’t the trans character be one of the ones who you’re actually playing as?”

    Because the player character is usually the most attacked party you idiot, you are contradicting your silly desire inside of two statements and demonstrating zero knowledge of the medium. Perfect writer for Polygon I guess.

    “When you have an incredibly marginalized community that is already subjected to staggering amounts of violence”

    I’ve seen this claim over and over, the truth is is its not all that staggering, horrible cis males are the recipients of most violence and victims of assault almost anywhere in the world. The societies that let you come out as gay or trans tend to be safe and civil. being murdered is not a realistic expectation.

    “along with high rates of poverty and discrimination, to feed into the bigotry and bias that that community already faces by making them easy targets for violence within the context of a game is unacceptable.”

    This is a non sequitur, he doesn’t even give a reason, he just asserts its unacceptable. Also note the weasel use of ‘violence’ for what is essentially 3D models and sprite clashing with each other, I doubt anyone who has actually been attacked would call such a thing violence. Also by this non-reasoning female protagonists would be the objects of constant violence throughout a game and thus ‘unacceptable'(hell even McIntosh complained about Cat Woman being called a “bitch” by killers and thugs….) , damned if you do damned if you don’t.

    While we are at it we have to remove black people, Muslims, Jews and women NPCs from sandbox games since they are minority groups we can beat them up, which would be unacceptable. But then GamesoWhite yo!

  30. Wand
    July 4, 2015 at 4:20 am

    Polygon’s basically sjw’s daily press release

  31. Mr0303
    July 4, 2015 at 5:13 am

    What did Bob Chipman say again? “There are no bad tactics, only bad targets”.

    Polygonorrhea here is trying to define who can be a target of violence or abuse, when they have no true authority to do so.

  32. Suraimu
    July 4, 2015 at 5:24 am

    SJW are mentally sick individuals and always either women or emasculated men that seek attention and write clickbait articles to get that attention, the only thing you can do is ignore them online and call on their BS in real life, its pretty easy to shut them off with facts and common sense.

    They are a danger to artistic expression not to mention to themselves and society.
    Oh and Im going to say it right now even if its not PC; Men and women are not and should not be equal. Of course we should show total respect to each other no matter the gender but also celebrate our differences as they are what brought us this far as a species.

  33. deadeye
    July 4, 2015 at 8:49 am

    There won’t be equality until people start treating people equally. None of this “we’re marginalized so we need special treatment” crap.

    You’re just going to end up marginalizing someone else in the process, and the cycle will repeat. Equality should be setting the scales to neutral, not tipping the scales in the others favor.

    Also, maybe people should realize that just because a particular type of person is cast in a negative light doesn’t mean that that reflects the developers views on those types of people. That’s just ridiculous.

  34. Louis
    July 4, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Can I get the sources on those first three apology attempts? Because those sound like a hell of a better read than the article Polygon finally went with here.

  35. Softclocks
    July 4, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Polygon is pathetic, plain and simple.

  36. Maiq TheLiar
    Maiq TheLiar
    July 4, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    On one hand I’m sad to see these couple “social justice” articles on NicheGamer, but on the other hand I’m glad to see they’re presented in a more objective manner, so bravo. :) But I think may speak for most fans on the site when I say, we migrated from “those other sites” to avoid being exposed to this kind of stuff.

  37. KidSquid
    July 4, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    That’s it, I’m going to coin it: “Polygon’s Law”
    If Polygon hates your game, then it’s going to be a success.
    If Poly loves your game, then it’s going to crash hard.
    Ex: Former: Hatred. Latter: Sunset

  38. NeoTechni
    July 4, 2015 at 6:50 pm

    “There’s a big difference between making an infinite number of white non-transgender men characters that you can beat up and making transgender characters that you can beat up. It’s not equivalent.”

    You’re right. It’s not equivalent. It’s worse. You’re saying its OK to kill white non-transgendered men while simultaneously claiming they’re privileged. It’s outright hypocrisy, and makes them victims of dehumanizing bigotry. The thing you claim to be against while simultaneously promoting

  39. NeoTechni
    July 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    Most transgendered people aren’t asking to be treated like perpetual victims like that asshole is trying. Please don’t group them with him.

  40. NeoTechni
    July 4, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    So what you’re saying is, non-SJWs do SJW articles better than actual SJWs.


  41. Kiryu
    July 4, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    These same guys would applaud Stalin for putting millions of privileged white people in gulags.They are disgusting,full of hatred.

  42. NeoTechni
    July 4, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Would? Try have. These are the #killallmen assholes.

  43. Melchiah
    July 4, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Where on Earth did you get a fucking stupid idea like that? The vast majority of violence experienced by trans-people is inflicted by cisgender people like yourself. Honestly, your average trans-person can go a significant amount of time without interacting with another trans-person face to face.

  44. webkilla
    July 5, 2015 at 6:18 am

    So… the reviewer saw a BDSM-practioner in an animal mask that the reviewer thought was trans, get punched… in a beat-em-up game? Where the whole damn point in beating stuff and people up? And it was just a background animation for one of the fights.

    Outrage culture for outrage’s sake. Mountain, molehill, you know the drill

  45. Kiryu
    July 5, 2015 at 6:22 am

    Oh sorry,silly me.

  46. Brandon Orselli
    Brandon Orselli
    July 5, 2015 at 10:09 am

    The problem is they have power and real influence. If they keep being allowed to run around, unchecked, spouting their inane and regressive rhetoric, they’ll only gain more followers, more power, and more clout over developers.

  47. ImperialFists
    July 5, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Exactly, true equality means the same treatment for everyone
    both good and bad

  48. Melchiah
    July 5, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Is that link supposed to be relevant to trans people in some way? You do realize that trans-people and homosexuals aren’t the same thing, right? And it’s funny you link to Judgybitch of all peeps, since she is supportive of trans-people from an anti-feminist intellectual framework.

    And why exactly are trans-people “lunatics?” All they’re doing is attempting to maximize their personal happiness by living as their real selves. Cis-people like you do the same thing every day when you assert your own masculinity or femininity.

  49. hurin
    July 5, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    If I cut off my right hand and claimed to be a giraffe, you would call me a lunatic,

    So why is it that a man who cuts off his genitalia and claims to be a woman is not a lunatic? Isn’t a Eunuch the correct medical term for such ‘people’.

  50. Melchiah
    July 5, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    You have a lot of misconceptions about trans-women. Do you extend such hatred to trans-men as well?

    Transgender people are not men who claim to be women or women who claim to be men. They are men and women who naturally possess an immutable sense of gender that conflicts with their phenotype. They are not lunatics because they possess the same immutable sense of gender that you have. Are you insane because you think you’re a man or woman?

    If there is any lunacy here it is your irrational hatred of trans-people. You have absolutely no rational reason to possess such an unjustified and hateful animus, and yet you do. I must question whether you are a sane member of society.

  51. John Doe
    John Doe
    July 6, 2015 at 6:03 am


  52. John Doe
    John Doe
    July 6, 2015 at 6:05 am

    If pixels can now be not only treated as alive, but their virtual, repeated victimization as legitimate impetus for social, moral, or legal action or outrage, I hereby propose the United Fund for Reparations to Families of Slain Kobold Soldiers.

  53. John Doe
    John Doe
    July 6, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Oh, that is just TOO perfect.

  54. Nonscpo
    July 6, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    Ah I saw the Tweet from Brandon, I was wondering were that came from, good job. Now only one question remains are you a Kid now or a Squid now ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

  55. Nonscpo
    July 6, 2015 at 5:08 pm


  56. Erthwjim
    July 7, 2015 at 3:03 am

    Vox media needs to go away. They’re just a giant propaganda machine flouting themselves as journalists while adhering to a specific agenda.

  57. San Marino
    San Marino
    July 16, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Quality article and quality discussion.

  58. San Marino
    San Marino
    July 16, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Not quality.

  59. wonk
    July 16, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    just wonked at you fyi