Coming out of E3 there’s been a spike in search queries leading people to this site for a specific kind of topic that has nothing whatsoever to do with gameplay mechanics, nothing to do with new features, nor what kind of game engine is under the hood. No, there’s been a more politically motivated topic that has led people to this site, and it’s none other than: “Is this game for SJWs?”
Technically that search query isn’t limited to games, but variations of that question now lead thousands upon thousands of people to certain articles about certain media properties. What’s more is that that query keeps growing, and everyday more people keep asking that question, even with Google’s news filters in place.
They’re asking about games supporting or having SJW influences before they commit to a pre-purchase, a pre-order or a day-one buy. Why? Because they don’t want their money supporting agitprop.
That being said, gamers are now focusing their attention on another highly anticipated game… Dying Light 2 from Techland. The story is being penned by industry legend Chris Avellone, and it features a far more expansive scope for its worldbuilding and story outcomes, along with improved melee combat and parkour.
However, after a recent feature was published on VentureBeat based on an E3 roundtable disccusion, some gamers have become worried about the potential influences from Social Justice Warriors that might negatively impact the game.
YouTuber American Krogan addressed these concerns in a recent video that was published on June 23rd, 2018.
The issue that the video takes up with Dying Light 2 is mostly with how Techland attempted to navigate a minefield of loaded questions by game journalists at the roundtable event at this past year’s E3.
Tymon Smektała, the lead developer on Dying Light 2 from the Polish studio, Techland, addressed the topic of diversity during the E3 discussion, saying…
“The thing is, the city is fictional, but it’s a European city. That’s one of the things that makes it different [from Dying Light]. This is perhaps the last human settlement fighting to survive. You can imagine that after 15 years, there’s a huge change that people from other places in the world have [moved] to this city. That’s the idea we’re playing with. So yeah, there will be diversity.”
Typically activists in media journalism refer to “diversity” to mean any non-white representation. VentureBeat even goes through the paces of explaining how Poland is mostly white and only ever encounters ethnic diversity through tourism. We don’t know what the exact framing of the question was that led to Smektała having to affirm to VentureBeat that the game contains diversity, but most people can assume what the outlet asked.
In fact, several paragraphs down VentureBeat’s Jeff Grub acknowledged that he peppered Smektała with more questions about diversity, stating…
“At the same time, when I asked Smektała about diversity in the game, he gave me the impression that he was primarily imagining white Europeans and Americans playing Dying Light 2. I can understand that to a point — he and I are white Europeans and Americans, respectively. The player character is also a white American. And it feels like that is the perspective that Techland is thinking about first and foremost.”
YouTuber American Krogan and other commenters were also worried when Grub attempted to shame Techland for having a white protagonist, as the journalist predicates the white protagonist in a European setting as “less appealing” than if the protagonist had been a different race, writing…
“If you’re not white or white-passing, though, a European city may seem threatening and you may not feel comfortable. You might associate it with radical right-wing white supremacy, but that doesn’t seem like something the narrative of Dying Light 2 is going to explore.
“And it’s OK if Techland wants to tell the story of an American seeking refuge in a setting he considers familiar and comfortable. But that is a departure from the first game, and it’s one that I find less appealing.”
Why were they worried about that particular attempt from Grub to essentially poke Techland in the chest with suasion for more diversity and sociopolitical commentary? Because they were afraid that it might influence Techland to kowtow to the outlet’s demands for more diversity.
Well, those worries were not unfounded.
Techland’s Tymon Smektała sent in an expanded answer following the publication of the original article, essentially groveling to Grub about how diverse the studio is and how much customization will be present to diversify the main character in Dying Light 2, writing…
“As you pointed out in your article, Poland is a very homogeneous society in general. However, this in no way affects our perception of the rest of the world. The Techland team consists of people from all around the world – we have devs from the US, Mexico, Italy, France, Brazil and Russia, amongst others. They all bring something to the table when it comes to diversity and experience.
“We can assure you that Dying Light 2’s main protagonist will not simply be a “white guy in Europe” – we will have more to reveal regarding character customization as well as the overall story in the months ahead, so stay tuned! On top of that, the world of Dying Light 2, has been created with Chris Avellone, one of the top narrative game designers of our time, who is known for creating very diverse worlds and complex, unique characters.”
Not only did Smektała attempt to throw VentureBeat a bone in the diversity department regarding their staff makeup and the character customization, but Smektała went a step further to virtue signal that they will have a diverse cast of NPCs who will be sure to make it known that they are minorities from different religions and that some of them identify as part of the LGBTQ community, stating…
“In the final version of the game, players will definitely see people of different ethnic backgrounds, religions, members of LGBTQ community represented. At Techland we find it very important to be inclusive, and we find diversity important and necessary.”
This kind of pandering to become a postulant at the table of the Intersectional Inquisition didn’t sit well with gamers at all, because we all know where this leads.
We’ve seen games like Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus go down that route and now the game’s forums are filled with endless sociopolitical bickering, debates, and censorship between Communist and Nazi apologists. We’ve also seen how this kind of pandering ruined Dishonored: Death of the Outisder. And we also saw how this kind of sociopolitical pandering destroyed Mass Effect: Andromeda, and Agents of Mayhem, and Battleborn, and Lawbreakers.
There’s no shortage of examples of games putting “diversity” and “inclusion” foremost ahead of good storytelling and character development, rendering the final product an oftentimes entertainment-free, fanfaronade of political preaching and agitprop soapboxing.
It wasn’t just on YouTube that gamers saw through VentureBeat’s attempt to browbeat Techland into either walking back support for a white lead in a European post-apocalyptic setting or embracing diversity and inclusion as main selling points for the game, but the Dying Light sub-Reddit railed on VentureBeat as well.
Reddit user Oldgamerguy42 wrote…
“Injecting political correctness into games is idiocy at it’s worst. Devs fail to understand even now that most gamers just want to have some fun gaming. If I want that PC garbage rammed down my throat I can turn on the TV or read the local newspaper.”
The other few comments that appear in the thread also rip VentureBeat a new one, making it known that even on a site that leans heavily to the Left they weren’t buying what VentureBeat were selling.
This kind of politicking from game journalists to shame developers into making their games more political than need be has done nothing good for gaming, and has only created more division among communities, more angst from consumers, and has – in more cases than not – resulted in the core demographic being turned off from the game.
Hopefully Techland doesn’t go down the same route as developers like EA and DICE with the upcoming Battlefield V where they’ve abandoned their core audience for a phantom audience that doesn’t exist, or The Coalition’s attempt to re-brand Gears of War as a feminist-oriented adventure game.
(Thanks for the news tip Thomas)