• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • Hey Guest. Check out the NeoGAF 2.2 Update Thread for details on our new Giphy integration and other new features.

How do you deal with the problematic aspects of the games culture & industry?

Lime

Member
Apr 27, 2008
26,894
0
0
Whether we like it or not, gaming as a hobby carries with it a host of negative societal impacts and associations that we unfortunately cannot dismiss or ignore. Being a consumer underneath the different societal mechanisms and global power positions, I am curious what you think and what you do in terms of the problematic aspects of playing and consuming video games. It is rare that the gaming press picks up on these issues or that they get included in their reviews of the newest console, graphics card, CPU, or even video game, so I thought it would be interesting to hear people's (hopefully well-argued) opinion on this topic. If there are too many topics mentioned at once, you can just limit your post to address one particular thing if you want. :)

Some of these issues are stuff like:


  1. Conflict minerals in the consoles, mobile and PC hardware:Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, Apple, Samsung, Intel (less so), PC hardware manufacturers, and many other companies are contributing to the conflict mineral industry.
  2. Exhaustion of resources & lack of sustainability: Gaming consoles and PC hardware all rely on different natural resources in their production that unfortunately are limited.
  3. Environmental pollution from high energy consumption: Gaming hardware utilize a lot of electricity. Given how most of our energy production stems from fossil fuels, playing games contribute to greenhouse gases and global warming.
  4. Lack of recycling: Like technology culture, so does gaming culture propagate a consumer-driven environment where marketing and companies constantly tell you to buy the newest product. Unfortunately this means that the old needs to be replaced and thrown out, so a lot of old and dated hardware and consoles get shipped to countries like Nigeria or China as "e-waste", where low-income or poor citizens try to harvest the minerals out of these dated materials.
  5. Exploitation of cheap labor in the production of consoles: E.g. your PS4 is produced by FOXCONN, who exploit their workers to an outrageous extent. Yet this is ignored by most outlets when reviewing the console or when enthusiasts talk about the merits of the product. This goes for all consoles.
  6. Exploitation of the people who develop your video games: Most of your AAA games are produced as a result of exploitation of the developers who produce them. There is numerous evidence for how people don’t get paid overtime, working under the dreadful “crunch”, evidence of poor and even abhorrent management practices. Even worse, in the end, the faceless publisher or developer get all the recognition and name brand, whereas the individuals, from QA to Junior Designer to HR Manager to Lead Programmer don’t get any lick of attention or recognition. We often talk about “Blizzard”, “Valve”, or “DICE”, but rarely are the people actually responsible for your favorite games mentioned, despite the crazy amount of blood, sweat, and tears they have invested in those games.
  7. Association with weapon industry and US military: Video game companies that want to develop military-themed games or games involving guns have the support and consultation of both the military and the gun industry.
  8. Constructed as an upper class luxury hobby for people with sufficient disposable income: Gaming as a culture is a luxury hobby that only people with disposable income can afford. If you want the newest games (or the ones available at your nearest retailer), you have to have a new console or hardware – if you want to talk, report, or review games, you also have to have the latest stuff if you want to be part of the conversation in gaming culture.
  9. Video games are mostly produced by Western companies (i.e. European and North American ) that often only center themselves/their perceived target audience within the games: This entails that often other countries and cultures are either made invisible or stereotyped to an eye-rolling degree. E.g. simplistic binary world-views are often levelled at countries in the Middle East, where a multi-million dollar project like Battlefield 3 can't even do the effort of spelling "hotel" in Arabic properly. More often than not, it is usually implicitly racist, sexist, heteronormative power structures that are propagated throughout mainstream video games with little to no characterizations of non-white, non-male, or non-straight groups of people. Combine this with a very hostile and toxic segment of the enthusiast gaming audience and you have a harmful cocktail that is not easily fixed any time soon. This is not exclusive to video games, but it is still part of gaming culture.
So, you may or may not agree with the more arguable topics above, but some of these aspects are facts associated with the activity of participating in video game culture that we simply cannot dismiss. How do you deal with it? Do you simply ignore it? Do they inform your purchasing decisions and vote during a political election? And do you voice your concern about these issues when relevant?

And before anyone jumps in to dismiss every single thing listed, remember that these issues do not make you a bad person and that I am not trying to chastize or blame anyone. It is entirely fine to enjoy your video games while being aware of the problematic aspects in the culture and industry - these are very complex issues that only are a part of a larger system which are then reproduced in video games. So these are symptoms of wider structural problems that needs to be addressed and for that reason, we need to be able to have a conversation about them without shutting down the conversation or looking away.
 

Tathanen

Get Inside Her!
Aug 17, 2005
9,600
1
0
38
www.n-sider.com
Denial. It's how I handle most stressful things in my life, not that I'd consider anything related to the video game industry as having a particularly deleterious effect on my life anyway. But yep, just pretend it doesn't exist. I'm really good at it.
 

Wulfram

Member
Oct 9, 2014
1,897
2
250
I ignore it.

Aside from trying to vote for people who might deal with these issues in a wider context, anyway.
 
Oct 17, 2005
35,485
2
0
43
I just play video games.

Pretty much this right here.

You can draw a line from any single aspect of your life and find misery, poverty, and destruction.

I just focus on reducing my individual responsibility for some of that, while not allowing myself to feel terrible for the inherent unfairness of life.
 

Vital Tundra

Member
Apr 13, 2015
8,032
4
0
Wilmington, NC
I don't care to find out if problems even exist. Rather not go day to day knowing everything thats wrong with the world. I just play video games, don't care about the problems it causes. Then I wouldn't be able to enjoy my hobby.
 

Coffee Dog

Banned
Aug 23, 2012
14,437
1
0
We can, and will, continue to simply dismiss it.

I mean, for some of that shit, like conflict minerals and foxconn, you basically have to reject all technology and get out of the tech/gaming industry entirely in order to not participate.
 

JohngPR

Member
Dec 5, 2008
3,408
0
0
Orlando, FL
www.johngpr.wordpress.com
You can talk yourself out of any form of entertainment by breaking things down this way...from movies, music, to sports.

At some point you need to stop focusing on the minutiae and enjoy the entertainment you are consuming or stop playing games altogether.

Of course there are extreme examples that probably shouldn't be ignored, but worrying about the minerals in your console? Come the fuck on. The world would be a wonderful place if you can solve its problems by not buying a PS4. :p
 

jay

Member
Oct 25, 2006
9,198
0
1,000
Denial. It's how I handle most stressful things in my life, not that I'd consider anything related to the video game industry as having a particularly deleterious effect on my life anyway. But yep, just pretend it doesn't exist. I'm really good at it.

This is the most effective method for retaining sanity. Life sure is depressing and terrible.
 

BiggNife

Member
Aug 15, 2007
9,512
3
1,180
Just about every hobby has some sort of problematic aspect to it. Am I concerned about global warming? Sure. But I also have to live my life, and that includes sitting in front of a computer for work for 8 hours and then going home and playing games to get my mind off of things. If I spent every hour of every day trying to prevent myself from doing something that contributes to global warming I'd literally do nothing all day. If there's something that I can help change, like trying to silence the extremely sexist attitudes in the game industry (which I thought this thread was going to be about before I clicked on it), then I'll try to help change it. But almost all of the things you listed are out of my hands.
 

10k

Banned
Mar 20, 2012
15,859
1
0
32
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Ignorance mostly. This industry is no different than any other product that uses cheap labour, conflict minerals and natural resources. Most devices fall into this category. Same with electronics.

Pick your poison.
 

Greddleok

Member
Mar 13, 2015
6,300
1
0
I buy the product, not the ethics of company. Companies don't sell ethics.

Also, how is it problematic that games are created as a luxury? I buy delux 3-ply toilet paper too. Not every person has the right to every thing.
 

SomTervo

Member
Jan 19, 2015
15,314
2
0
Scotland
What a thread.

It's all hugely important stuff. The world needs to unionise to sort out most of the problems, in my opinion.

But O wait, free-market capitalism hates unionisation and will keep the proles working for Foxconn.

Cool.

I buy the product, not the ethics of company. Companies don't sell ethics.

The classic retort is that the ethics created the product. You're basically saying 'the ends justify the means'. We got a cool product which we bought from them, so it doesn't matter that they cause hundreds of people a year to commit suicide and suck up precious rare resources.
 
May 28, 2015
1,870
0
0
Till now I had no idea of all of that and I don't think me not buying/playing games will make a difference.

And thus life continues on as it did yesterday.
 

SoundPulse

Banned
May 14, 2015
2,733
0
0
I don't. There's not a whole hell of a lot I, the consumer, can do about most of that list. It's not worth agonizing over. Acknowledging, sure.
 

Jb

Member
Oct 2, 2009
8,350
1
0
With a few exceptions, the issues that concern me politically and ethically are so much bigger and more tragic than whatever problems get linked to video games that I just don't find it that significant in the grand scheme of things.
Also problematic has become a weird catchall word lately.
 

Kimawolf

Member
Sep 15, 2012
6,164
6
765
Missouri
Most don't care and ignore it. Look at the Gamergate shit. that is a prime example.

How many years have we've known XBL was a cesspool of racist, homophobic slurs and assholes, how many decades have black/brown/Asian people been extremely stereotyped or ignored by gaming?

And no one really cared. We never got our 10 articles written all at once on those subject, because they either didn't want to truly anger Microsoft for the former, or just didn't care about the latter.

But once something heinous happens which directly affects them or someone they know, then its all of a sudden a super horrible problem that must be addressed.

Gamers are hypocrites and phonies who really don't care about the horrible work conditions at EA or how they treat their employees, or the fact they helped foster the XBL community of horrible, racist shitheads by making light of it instead of coming down hard.

So no, just like with DLC and other anti consumer practices, gamers will not care as long as they get their next GTA or Battlefield game.
 

BennyBlanco

aka IMurRIVAL69
Dec 9, 2012
12,002
19
775
We can, and will, continue to simply dismiss it.

I mean, for some of that shit, like conflict minerals and foxconn, you basically have to reject all technology and get out of the tech/gaming industry entirely in order to not participate.

Yeah, this.
 

Greddleok

Member
Mar 13, 2015
6,300
1
0
The classic retort is that the ethics created the product. You're basically saying 'the ends justify the means'. We got a cool product which we bought from them, so it doesn't matter that they cause hundreds of people a year to commit suicide and suck up precious rare resources.

Oh, ok, let me change my answer. I don't care about the ethics of a company that makes a product I like. If I cared about ethics I'd be in Africa running food aid.
 
Aug 22, 2014
21,208
2
0
I try to support individuals or organizations dedicated to curbing some of the unfairness mentioned. However I guess usually it sits tucked away in some corner of my mind to make room for more immediate and personal dilemmas. In the end I still occasionally feel guilty for enjoying products born in part from the exploitation that I and most of the developed world have caused or permeate.

Other issues such as racism and sexism in the gaming community I afford more dedication and consideration towards. I work in education and am part of some teams that try to create more diverse interest for students in technology, programming, and other fields. We also have anti-bullying initiatives that include the topic of cyber-bullying, another issue in the gaming community. I've also worked and volunteered at non-profits that attempt to combat the 'digital divide', providing education and access to computers and the Web.
 

Tenebrous

Member
Nov 24, 2014
9,285
0
0
I just play video games.

I ignore it.

Aside from trying to vote for people who might deal with these issues in a wider context, anyway.

I don't, I guess.

Yeah. I'm not going to sit here and pretend to care... I just buy the games I like, and ignore the games I don't.

On the flipside, almost every game I buy nowadays is from smaller, passionate developers who put everything into their titles without resorting to big publisher slave-driving practices. Witcher 3 is the only AAA game I've bought (and probably will buy) in 2015, so yeah.

Hardware wise, I play on PC more often than not, and Intel & nVidia both have their own factories, right? I'm not giving as much (if any) service to FOXCONN, but even if I were, as horrible as it sounds, I probably wouldn't lose sleep over it. I'm not ignorant to the issues involved - I just don't care. Is that worse than being ignorant? Maybe.
 

Brofield

Member
May 21, 2012
3,422
0
0
Denial. It's how I handle most stressful things in my life, not that I'd consider anything related to the video game industry as having a particularly deleterious effect on my life anyway. But yep, just pretend it doesn't exist. I'm really good at it.

If this wasn't first post, I wouldn't have even commented my own thoughts.

But yes, denial is the best way to deal with it to an extent. At an individual level, obviously we can't do much about Foxconn and conflict minerals on the other side of the world, but obviously we should speak up and against those who would promote toxic hate speech, sexism, and racism in our culture. Growing pains or not, we shouldn't have something as cancerous as g*mergate spawn out the hips just because a dead movie critic said games as a medium don't count as an art form.

Education and acceptance is what we must do, but given certain dumbasses ruined our cred, we should be more easy going in describing our hobby and what it means to us.
 

Karkador

Banned
Mar 3, 2010
8,599
0
0
With a few exceptions, the issues that concern me politically and ethically are so much bigger and more tragic than whatever problems get linked to video games that I just don't find it that significant in the grand scheme of things.
Also problematic has become a weird catchall word lately.

The fact that you post on NeoGAF implies that you can relate to at least some of those problems - but more importantly, you're also in a position as an active consumer to demand change.
 

Ninja Scooter

Member
Jun 7, 2004
123,711
7
0
In the grand scheme a lot of those things apply to most aspects of every day life. The clothes and shoes I'm wearing were probably made by some kid on China or Indonesia making 10 cents an hour.
 

God Dayumm

Banned
Jul 29, 2013
8,511
0
0
Harrisburg
1. Conflict minerals is an issue but it's much bigger in the fabrication of "green energy" tech, which people seem to support with open arms instead of nuclear. So I can turn a blind eye on this and sleep well at night.
2. Same as above. Gaming is a niche that has no significant impact on the environment, unlike green technology.
3. Turn off you electronics, people
4. Yes this is bad. I can say I help by keeping all my old consoles.
5. Is the one thing we should all be working to change. And not only when it comes to gaming consoles.
6. I buy less and less from those companies. I like games that were done with passion and it shows in the final product. Overworked devs tend to produce more defects. I've done crunch time, I would know.
7. Non issue.
8. Non issue. And gaming has to be expensive if you want to fix points 5 and 6.
9. The first part is a non-issue. The misspelling is a non-issue. Heteronormative is a non-issue. The rest is not specific to the west and I don't buy those pedo-misogynistic games anyways nor associate with their sympathizers. So I deal just fine
 

DrArchon

Member
Jan 28, 2015
6,177
3
0
Like so many other people, I just pretend that it's all sunshine and rainbows. I'm not strong-willed enough to actively work towards making the industry better in some way, nor am I willing to give up gaming as a hobby (it's pretty much the only one I have at this point).
 

petran79

Banned
Sep 17, 2012
10,425
1,818
910
Regarding 8, I remember arcades used to be a way for poor and marginal people to play video games.
Now you have to invest in a console.
 

fedexpeon

Banned
Nov 23, 2013
5,141
0
0
It has been like this since the boom in global economic and trading specialization.

There is no point in thinking about these problems since the mass view these problem as an inconvenient truth to their lifestyle.
I am part of the mass, I am part of the demand for cheaper electronic, but I have no collective power to change or ask anyone to change their behaviors.
I just accept how the global economy works.
 

SomTervo

Member
Jan 19, 2015
15,314
2
0
Scotland
Oh, ok, let me change my answer. I don't care about the ethics of a company that makes a product I like. If I cared about ethics I'd be in Africa running food aid.

If you cared about ethics (enough), you wouldn't buy the products, because buying the product is the same as saying to the company "You're good guys! Keep doing what you're doing!"

(What they're doing being, obviously, unethical things.)

The idea is that we shouldn't buy things by unethical companies. If nobody bought PS4s and it was because they were made by Foxconn, Sony would change their practices.

That needs serious integrity though and things are so diffuse/distant these days, it's not easy to have any realistic perspective on it.
 

EdibleKnife

Member
Oct 22, 2013
9,430
0
0
Texas
Turn off my systems, buy digital, donate old consoles, recycle game cases and keep discs in binders. That's all I really can do.
 

Steel

Banned
Jun 20, 2013
19,664
0
0
1. This isn't at all isolated to gaming, so....
2. Very much not isolated to gaming.
3. An air conditioning unit will waste far more energy than my computer/console by a long shot.
4-9. Yeah, I see a pattern here, none of this is isolated to gaming.
 

nynt9

Member
Jun 7, 2013
10,858
2
620
A lot of these things you mention aren't exclusive to video games. They generally go with owning computing devices like PCs and smartphones and whatnot.

Being a privileged decently off person living in the western world, there are too many endless and constant tragedies that happen in worse off parts of the world, literally all the time, and if I were to let that affect me, I would not be able to function. So some degree of desensitization/willful ignorance is necessary.

The idea is that we shouldn't buy things by unethical companies. If nobody bought PS4s and it was because they were made by Foxconn, Sony would change their practices.

I'm not sure that's true. There will always be the company that's willing to race to the bottom and offer cheap products through exploitation, and they will flourish when no one else is willing to do so and thus stuck with high costs compared to the immoral company. Such is capitalism.
 

Molemitts

Member
Jul 11, 2014
2,764
0
0
UK
molemitts.wordpress.com
Most of the issues you mention are issues of capitalism in general. Video games existing in a capitalist world, are going to have this problem. We wont be able to fix that any time soon. You know what they say about ethical consumption.

Of all the points you brought up 8 is the one that could most realistically be addressed. Video games, like Coldplay and bottled water, are middle class as fuck. Indie games are kind of a solution to this, they're normally far cheaper and don't require powerful hardware. Consoles already sell at a loss to reach a wider audience, but are still obviously expensive. I think studios associated with AAA games could even do well to make some shorter, but cheaper games. Used games, are still, thankfully, an option.
 

Greddleok

Member
Mar 13, 2015
6,300
1
0
If you cared about ethics (enough), you wouldn't buy the products, because buying the product is the same as saying to the company "You're good guys! Keep doing what you're doing!"

(What they're doing being, obviously, unethical things.)

The idea is that we shouldn't buy things by unethical companies. If nobody bought PS4s and it was because they were made by Foxconn, Sony would change their practices.

That needs serious integrity though and things are so diffuse/distant these days, it's not easy to have any realistic perspective on it.

That's kind of my point. If I cared about the problematic things companies do, I'd have to become Amish. It goes the same for everyone. No one cares about the ethics of businesses if they make something or do something people want.
 

Strangelove77

Member
Mar 12, 2015
11,039
1
400
Texas
A lot of the stuff you mentioned isnt really exclusive to gaming. These problems exist in many other industries. Tons. Most really.

I thought you were going to mention all the racism, homophobia and overall ignorance of gamers. That there is a real problem.
 

MadSexual

Member
Apr 10, 2013
1,667
0
420
It definitely doesn't make me a better person, but the world is full of problems and I think people have to choose, in a way, how to prioritize things that bother them. Truthfully, everything in the list is pretty low among the issues that I feel any duty toward.
 

patapuf

Member
Nov 18, 2011
9,974
0
0
The manufacturing aspects are more or less true for all technological goods.

Is it bad that my PC was produced under shitty conditions for the environment? Sure, but i also wouldn't have a job without it.

Things have been improving on that front and i hope they continue to.

As for the "cultural" aspects i enjoy discussing/reading about them and that's about it. These things are changing at a rapid pace anyway, as is the industry in general. It seems to me that many people focus the discussion around AAA console retail titles. And that's a group of games i'm not overly interested in.
 

Danny Dudekisser

I paid good money for this Dynex!
Oct 13, 2008
20,998
8,473
1,480
I do nothing. Worrying about that sounds like a lot more stress than video games are worth.
 

Red Blaster

Member
Jun 6, 2005
22,555
1
1,170
do what you can

buying digital and powering down machines is good. stuff like conflict minerals are more difficult to avoid but you try your best with the information given to you

A lot of the stuff you mentioned isnt really exclusive to gaming. These problems exist in many other industries. Tons. Most really.

I thought you were going to mention all the racism, homophobia and overall ignorance of gamers. That there is a real problem.

jesus dude

"why waste time on this problem when you can focus on THIS problem"
 

omonimo

Banned
Jun 6, 2012
7,572
1
0
I don't care. Why? Because it's not my problem. Yes, I'm priviledged, and I like it.
It is. It's called modern society based solely of money and you are part of the problem like me.
Back to thread, God the ignorance it's really a bless, sometimes.
 

fredrancour

Member
Jun 11, 2009
10,902
0
0
I just don't think about most of it. I am thoroughly crushed by some sort of anxiety problem regularly anyway. introducing a heap of guilt into a hobby would be a great way to drive myself towards being utterly nonfunctional. I lose enough hours of my time to fighting off existentialism or panic as it is.
 

IvanJ

Banned
Aug 21, 2014
2,147
0
0
Wow, those are some issues. Never really thought about any of them, and now that I read them I decided I don't care about any of them at all.
I know, I have no empathy, but as long as I get my games and my console works, I couldn't care less for slave labor or dead diamond miners.
Sure, it sucks for them, but it's not my problem and nothing I would lose a minute of sleep about.