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?