Oh there's nothing as good as getting to lay into Polygon. I've seen some people defending Polygon's piece about gaming's race problem as well as claiming it's a way of starting the discussion. Which I would say had some weight, if Polygon were practicing what they preached. I mean Polygon is an outlet with 18 full time staff. 15 of them are white. Such great diversity on show there. Oh well at least they recently covered a newly released (on steam at least) indie game based on Indian mythology and based on the ideas and traditions of India.
Wait a moment, they actually didn't cover it. You know what though, that's unfair to lay all the blame at the feet of Polygon , you see they weren't the only one who decided to take a few shots at Witcher 3.
Now surely Anita who cares so much about feminism would have talked about a game released fairly recently on Steam (and available before that) which deals with ideas such as forced marriage and systematic oppression right? Nope, not at all, and nor is it on her Steam Curator list. You'd think a game featuring the story of a girl trying to escape an arranged marriage would be quite a high priority right? But it seems not.
How progressives they are, provided as they were with a perfect chance to introduce the world to an indie game not based on "White Culture" and they entirely ignored it. Many other sites reviewed it long before it's April Steam release. The best I could find on it was on Rock Paper Shotgun. I have got a review of Unrest coming but being E3 and everything I thought it best to leave it a little bit till the hype dies down and it can have a fair shot at being noticed (Maybe next week for the review on my other blog). You know how I found out about unrest? a twitter hashtag called #Gamesmatter (not to be confused with other hashtags). The idea of it is to help promote lesser known titles via word of mouth and social media. The games that are given out on #Gamesmatter aren't always the best, there's no guarantee of quality but they're there to help developers get honest feedback and create at least some extra social media attention. #Gamesmatter in the past also gave out copies of Unearthed Trail of Ibn Battuta which the developer gave codes for and #Gamesmatter distributed. Now Unrest is a very political game, I mean it's a very cutting political commentary on aspects still present in some parts of Indian culture.
So I have to say this to Polygon and others, what you're doing is cultural imperialism plain and simple. You're asking a Polish developer to conform to the cultural norms you expect as though your culture is universal and that because the game is global that there's some kind of white global monoculture it belongs to.
Just incase anyone doesn't know that last one is a UK thing mostly called bonfire night where we remember Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the houses of parliament. A deed which while it failed made the upper class and monarchy of the UK realise that they needed to do more for the people.
But but they have a Djin in Witcher 3 that's not part of polish Mythology.
To which I answer yes, but there are untold numbers of various cultures monsters in the series Supernatural. Yet TV critics aren't yelling from the rooftops about the lack of black lead characters (if you've watched Supernatural you'll know what I mean) and that's a distinctly American show.
Rather than showcase games from other cultures and developers Polygon and others have chosen to find a proven developer and start demanding they make the game that they want. You want to call Meteroid fans entitled babies for petitioning Nintendo to make an actual Meteroid game not a spin off? Then Polygon are severely entitled babies trying to use their influence to bully and intimidate developers by trying to place the entire onus of change onto them. If you want to talk about industry problems and lack of diversity then doing so on a micro scale of the Witcher 3 is disingenuous. It's even worse considering the position Polygon and others are in to help promote just the kind of diverse games they wants. Yet they refused to do so. Unearthed Trail of Ibn Battuta was widely considered a bad game yet Polygon's entire coverage amounts to announcing it was released, no review nothing else. With Unrest they didn't even cover it.
Oh but Unrest clearly isn't something that political or "progressive" hence they never covered it
Which if anyone was thinking, that then it's clear you've not played it. In my playthrough, during one of the stories I ended up getting a 15 year old girl executed for trying to escape from her arranged marriage. But as I've seen before with certain self proclaimed "progressives" that would count as cultural imperialism because it's not for us to dictate what other cultures should do, and I've also seen the same people say such a thing in relation to stopping FGM. You know actual harm being done to actual people not Micro-aggressional oppression (as they yell in peoples faces). CD-project Red are from a non traditional games developing country, they're not part of central Europe, Japan, America or South Korea.
The seeming problem is that Polygon don't seem to understand the idea of growing an industry and supporting developers with attention to help the games they want get made. Rather than say promote an Indian development studio based in Jaipur (part of India) Polygon chose to pressure CD-Project red to be the change. The idea that only pre-existing studios should be responsible for this is quite frankly part of the problem. By not giving a platform and showing the work of other developers' you don't get the diverse range of cultures and experiences on offer, with people native to those cultures able to share them. Polygon are asking CD-project Red to write about something they likely have little inherent knowledge of (and would more than likely be attacked for not doing the job absolutely perfectly or even claims of cultural imperalism thrown at them or taking the jobs of possible native members of those cultures). I'm not saying Unrest is some perfect game (It crashed on me 3 times when starting the game first time) I'm saying it should have at least had some attention from a self styled "progressive" site. It says something against Polygon and others when youtbe Lets Player Jesse Cox has done more to cover it than them. Then again what was I expected, it's Polygon they only count something as worth-while and progressive if it was made by a white pink haired trust funded hipster because for whatever reason those are the only people seemingly allowed to have anything deep in games. Or at least so far that's what many Social Justice warriors are proving by attacking the new Deus Ex and the idea of a "mechanical aparthied"
Oh and that last tweet attacking a developer. That's the now ex community manager for Mighty No.9 doing it. Gee I can't possibly imagine people would have done that to CD-project Red if they'd dared to do something not part of the white mono culture they think the world shares ./sarcasm
What Polygon did, seemingly, was a huge click bait piece and in doing so me and others have no doubt looked deeper into their progressive claims and seen just how hollow they are. They're not trying to promote developers making the kind of thing they want. They're not trying to promote more diversity and ideas they're going after big developers for easy money and if, and this is a big if, they actually do care for being "progressive". Then their methodology is to try and pressure existing developers to fall in line with what they want. Polygon are seemingly trying to force their views and cultural ideals onto developers. Trying to act as a moral authority that developers must obey and what games must be because according to Polygon "All video games are stupid, of course".
If you want to claim it's not diversity to see the Witcher 3 as such a success, you could say the same for the Ukranian developers of Metro Last Light. Is it wrong for them to tell their tale just because it's more white people? Yet if you look into 4A games you'll find people who fought rolling power cuts, they fought against having to deal with armed gangs telling them to leave their offices and not return or they'd be killed. They had to deal with a corrupt government trying to take over their work and had to have people smugglers smuggle them out of their own country to be able to release the games. Are we to say their story should be changed because of diversity after they fought so long to have it told? The inherent argument is that because things are unequal therefore the cultural prescedent behind things doesn't matter they must pay kind of price, have some kind of justice extracted on them. So by the same argument Martial arts films need more white guys right? What it's the same argument martial ats films have and are a cultural product of China and Japan the majority feature a fully asian cast. That's where the argument breaks down and shows itself as cultural imperalism as it's clearly a cultural product and not some mass appeal product desiged to be as bland as possibe to avoid alienating anyone. It's telling that Polygon and others are wailing about Witcher 3 yet whiter than white film series Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit aren't seeing major film websites yelling about how they should have been changed to include a black characters.
If Polygon truly wanted more diversity and actual change they'd be promoting the work of other developers, not just the "Indie Elitists" or "Hipster Clique", but actual indie developers just starting out who could in the future be the next succes story like CD-project Red. To us Unearthed may seem like a pile of rubbish but for some places that's the closest to AAA development they have. The technology, the experience and the funding and investment isn't there yet for games, hence they do what they can and struggle to compete with what we'd consider AAA games in many cases. Without coverage there are no sales without sales then these studios from non traditional video game making countries can't develop and advance their craft or get the money and investment to do so. What's more I'm not a paid video game journalist (thought it worth reminding people) I'm not claiming to be some great progressive and advancing the industry. I tend to look into and show off interesting indie titles every now and again and ramble about nonsense "hot" topics in gaming. I'm sure out there are far more developers from far more countries and cultures all of which Polygon and others are happy to ignore while claiming to be all for diversity.
The self proclaimed champions of diversity out there had a chance to prove themselves. An amazing chance to practice what they preach and show the world. They chose not to.