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On political discussions in gaming forums.

FAST6191

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A reply I have seen a few times of late is that gaming forums shouldn't have political discussions, that this place never had them before or that certain viewpoints should be deleted on sight.

There are certainly forums that don't do such discussions, typically they are either ones with a mission or ones that sought to get away from such things and have a bit of either escapism or more light hearted conversation. There are merits to such an approach but it is not exclusively so.

GBAtemp has never been such a forum. While it has never been a focus of the forum in general if people have wanted to discuss either an issue of the day or a more abstract concept then there has been scope for it. I will skip my list of topics by year thing I like to do in these scenarios ( https://gbatemp.net/threads/nintend...for-new-controller.424200/page-2#post-6289611 https://gbatemp.net/threads/nintend...for-new-controller.424200/page-3#post-6289857 ) and you can either take my word for it or go back to the end pages of an older forum section (sadly general off topic these days is only back to about 2006).
I would also say it is usually a thing that works pretty well and we can get to many dozens of replies before things get knocked off the rails.

It is however a thing I wish to explore, and have a discussion on for those that want such a thing. While not a world news, current event or politics thread it seems this section is what causes most of the traumas so it is here.

Gaming's earlier years
For many years gaming itself was "under attack" and being blamed for all manner of things, though violence was a big one. At some points there was then a very real chance things would be restricted, controlled, heavily regulated or even certain things banned.
Some have wondered if this led to a reactionary and shoot to kill approach regardless of the foe that was faced (they came in all forms -- foaming at the mouth religious leader, foaming at the mouth American southern politico, legal types, people worried at games taking a slice of their pie*, junk science, young politicians, old politicians, concerned parent groups...). https://kevinimpellizeri.wordpress....cember-9-1993-video-game-hearing-a-look-back/ being an interesting older version, though for many around here then Jack Thompson vs Rockstar is probably the more prominent. While I am linking things then a favourite old article on the matter https://web.archive.org/web/2014111...volution.com/features/violence_and_videogames

*just today we saw netflix (itself something of an upstart) note it fears games. Age ranges, game sales, platform sales... also all increasing as time goes on, and even then "everybody plays games" and computers offer an increasingly good choice for that.

Today this occasionally crops up but various rulings, lobbying arms, voter demographics and more open platforms means this is unlikely to get anywhere. If anything like this happens it will probably be lootboxes (to my mind some bastard resurrected the worst parts of arcades) that does it as gambling is a fairly easy win. That said I will have to observe things get looked down upon for being too close to reality (see how in 2009 the game "Six Days in Fallujah" was cancelled for being too controversial despite one year earlier HBO made a critically acclaimed series, Generation Kill, covering the same war and not being shy about it) and the rather varying approaches of ratings boards. On the flip side following another event in the continuing failure of some US citizens to distinguish between shooting range and high school the president organised a little sit down with some game developers and most people just rolled their eyes or laughed.

A quick aside on hackers and hacking. There are many eras of hacking, fields it arose from, and things they focus on, and you are very much encouraged to go have a look. They do however share something of a broad philosophy. A very short version would be that "Information is cool, make it free and discussion is good, have some. You are also advised to learn to debate properly as you very much stand upon the strength of your arguments.".
The mentor's last words also form something of a mindset for many here https://joshhighland.com/2007/08/28/mentors-last-words-the-hacker-manifesto/
I never spoke that much to the founders but reading their posts... yeah, to say nothing of them being computer science students in the early 2000s, which in turn means they had probably spent the 90s immersed in it, such was the typical "career path" of the hacker.
Those that took it over share much the same philosophy and site staff tend to be selected on a similar basis. I certainly consider myself to have been formed in that mould, and try to live up to the ideals espoused by it. Some of those I am now told are wrong but more on that later.

What even is political?
On the face of it an obvious question but think about it for any length of time and it gets tricky to try to carve it all out. I quite like the following video on the matter

Or more generally there was a popular little indy title a couple of years back called papers please. It set you in a fictional cold war era eastern bloc country as a border guard, and got you to check the titular papers. Many of the things you would have to do to "win" would be at odds with values you likely hold, but were not held in most such places.
As such almost every narrative work will explore something here, and even the more abstract ones -- from the video above it mechanically enforces the idea of bigger and bigger cities and civilisations is the best outcome, and from another game such a thing is not exactly desired by all


Yet some would spiritedly demand you leave politics out of it. Might this mean current day politics? Probably not for the reasons mentioned above. Might it mean leave ham fisted attempts at exploring things out of it? Again one wonders (ever actually stopped to consider the premise of Deus Ex?), maybe the mechanics of the game distract from story analysis. That said when discussing related topics there can be writing bad enough to distract, or things and characters feeling forced ( https://gbatemp.net/threads/why-do-...troducing-lgbt-characters-into-movies.497207/ ).

Enter "the culture wars", or "modern politics are rather polarising and comprised of somewhat shifting sands".
Political correctness is nothing new (something similar to its current form has been going on for as long as this site has been around), and has long been associated with US colleges/universities. Most times it was noted people got a bit rowdy/active when they were there but then went back to their original states and more or less forgot about it. Times changed though and people that took up such views have moved into politics, journalism, teaching and various other positions where they seek to enact the changes they want to see. Most times groups do better when they have an enemy to fight, and if they are imaginary or amorphous then so much the better for a lot of things.

If we are doing data then http://www.people-press.org/2014/06/12/political-polarization-in-the-american-public/ is not a bad start.
I think a favourite summation of an idea would be one Mr Bill Bailey (one of my favourite comedians) had as a sketch once, words to the effect of
"I have been a lifelong supporter of the labour party, however today trying to sell people on it is like trying to sell people on your favourite band when their latest album is a kind of weird concept album".

One really ought to discuss the ideas commonly espoused. It is hard to pin a lot of this down as there are massive differences between a lot of the various factions. Much has been made of this, its origins, its future projections and its methods, and there are many labels we could look at. Most concerning for me would probably be the so called regressive left or authoritarian left. Common there is a notion that there are traits which people might have that make their lives harder, and we, especially those without such things (privilege if you care to use their term) should strive to lessen said hardship. This can often extend to wanting to shut down conversations, bar them from happening in the future if possible and trying to seek some kind of demographic representation down seemingly to microscopic levels (if we are continuing with terms this would be the desire to ensure diversity).

For me this quite often comes into conflict with my approach, which as covered above is largely the old school hacker one, for I am all about the merit of someone's argument and don't give a flying fuck about your skin colour, gender, age... however I am sometimes told that not caring about skin colour (so called colour blindness) is bad as I am then failing to "see the struggle", and the usual retort of "everybody struggles" is dismissed as apparently some struggles are just that much greater, occasionally also going so far as to say if I have two otherwise equally qualified candidates but one has one of these theoretical disadvantages that I should hire them, or indeed actively seek those from an "oppressed" group). Similarly the idea of meritocracy is occasionally railed against for being unfair or something. It also goes further as often some fairly dubious logic gets trotted out, a popular one being the society wide male-female earnings gap which there seems to be scant evidence of any "you are a girl so we are paying you less" or "you can't work here because you are a girl" happening anywhere, never mind something that might cause the differences in). Similarly calls to stop talk of things is both bad in the technical sense (I would maintain the world is big enough and ugly enough to maintain a discussion) and pragmatic sense (usually phrased as "sunlight is a wonderful disinfectant"), curiously it has also seen something of an inversion happen in US political discussion spheres -- the US right wing has traditionally been something of an "upholding Christian values" set and would be the main calls in the bothering games thing mentioned at the start (far from exclusive but definitely the more prominent) where today they seem to be the ones pushing for free speech, where the left wing (or at least their regressive arm) seems to be all for the power of private entities to do what they like.

Back to the enemy thing a popular brand for this enemy among those people is "alt-right", a rather ill defined concept in the eyes of some (from where I sit originally it was used to describe one thing, possibly a newer version of the "south park republican", but then became associated with a modern incarnation of a white supremacist movement, all 5 of them that still exist, before not shedding that but often used to brand some people, usually people in opposition to notions espoused by the people pushing things covered.

All this can get quite intense and all encompassing, and doubtless tiring as well. Back to the idea of political discussions on forums might this be part of the reason for the "keep the politics out of here" calls? Possibly. On the flip side some of the ones I saw today, and in weeks prior, have been specifically aimed at what might be dubbed "right wing" concepts (whether someone of 1990 would recognise them as such is a different matter).

One might ponder the nature of modern technology and allowing seemingly agenda driven or oddly infatuated companies to control communications mediums but meh. We are on a self run forum with no real ties to anything, relationships to maintain or need for external funding, nor is anything on here likely to rock the boat for what little perks from such things we might enjoy.

Games and this bit.
Some might wonder if games were an early ground upon which such things could be fought, or a test case depending upon your position. The starting points are hard to define (2012's tropes vs women thing possibly, though many wondered why the reaction was so negative beforehand -- I had not yet been introduced to modern incarnations of the things covered above. Others might look at the "fake gamer girls" which again was in the 2012 timeframe) but for most it properly came to a head in 2014 with what has come to be known as gamergate (because everything potentially scandalous nowadays attracts the gate suffix). The opinions of gamergate and what is/what happened/what it represented vary massively.
Those involved in it would claim it concerned ethics in games journalism. The game journalists, several game developers, and a lot of other people categorised it as a harassment campaign against women. GBAtemp's umbrella thread on the matter https://gbatemp.net/threads/corruption-in-games-journalism-or-five-guys-burgers-and-fries.370289/
My opinion was even if it was a harassment affair (the claims of which were somewhat dubious from where I sat, and whatever passed for leadership of the thing disavowed harassment) then I still wanted to take some game journalist types to task so could we still have something which did that. The enthusiast press (these days, despite it not being exclusive to it, then "youtuber" would be probably what you want to think of) was something I had my issues with but the "professional gaming press" (nowadays about 15 sites owned by far fewer companies, oh and we might also want to consider the "gamers are dead" and "GameJournoPros" mailing list as part of that one -- the latter seemingly causing a simultaneous blast of articles with the title of the former) was something I was fine to have a bit of an antagonistic relationship with most of the time, and even when not the old security/hacker mantra of "trust but verify" came into play.
The end result of all this was rather mixed. Some sites got rocked a bit (see operation disrespectful nod), some people wonder if a connection to it can echo through to today (at the time those engaging with it were often added to lists with calls to deny them opportunities as a result), Gawker, Kotaku's parent company, eventually went under but that was more the fault of Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel, and it is all something of a sore spot for a lot of people and kind of shorthand as well among said same. To this day much of the big gaming press, which, as mentioned, is owned by a handful of companies, has a rather great fondness for concepts espoused by things mentioned above and will prattle on endlessly about female characters, lack of gay characters, "toxic masculinity", harassment, pretend to be outraged when stuff like the new Doom pokes fun at notions they theoretically hold dear and so forth. In some cases this leads to rather different review scores for things between the community at large and the press which is not a great thing -- time was we used to wonder at differences across the Atlantic (see Alpha Protocol and when people realised the different review scores mostly lined up with the regions). Though my personal favourites are when a given press type is shown to be bad (not that they are not "could be professional but for my writing career" but out and out "your granddad giving it a go for the first time in their life" bad) at playing games, and then get defensive.

Anyway might this be something of a defensive move, possibly misguided by the experiences detailed at the start, or justified response to such things?

There are also ponderings for hackers and their interactions with such groups


Final words (of this post anyway)
While I secretly hope this is flamebait and that I finally get my own legit "FAST6191 is a bad person, why is he staff?" thread I have tried not to. I do want a discussion here on things as I am looking on as an old man and generally fascinated as to why some people are seemingly so upset. Normally I would do some kind of summary thing, especially as I appear to have neared 3000 words with this (and my penchant for long sentences and brackets is in full force), but I am not going to as it is more fun that way.
Discuss as you will. If my reasoning is faulty somewhere then please correct me, if you want to expand on a thing I touched upon then that is what this is all supposed to be doing a discussion with. Is there cause to retire the political discussions if the world is the way it is nowadays? If not retire then maybe constrain? Do you find the political discussions amusing or otherwise insightful in some manner? Do you have a good definition of what people mean when they say it such that we don't have to end up all just talking about Tetris?
 

tabzer

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Can you make a tl;dr version? Like holy shit. I hate the politics section, but I love hating the politics section. GBATemp (haha OCD people), thrives on addictive content as much as the next gotcha. As long as methodology of the likes that CNN adopts is profitable, everyone loses.
 

subcon959

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FAST6191 is a bad person, why is he staff?

Look, the way I see it, why not have an outlet for people to vent frustration or express certain views? The only constraint should be the forum rules.
 

bazamuffin

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I personally don't think politics belong in here. By nature, they divide us and they create a lot of hatred. I personally have suffered attacks in here for voicing my opinion which doesn't align with others. As a community we should be united, allowing political posts works in the reverse.
 

BitMasterPlus

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It's funny how the people who created the politics section get all pissed off on people expressing different views and or blocking or banning them. Like, you've decided to open Pandora's Box, either take responsibility or don't even open it in the first place. If you wanted this place to be a pure gaming/modding forum, then don't include topics that literally tear people apart in vicious ways.
 
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subcon959

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It's funny how the people who created the politics section get all pissed off on people expressing different views and or blocking or banning them. Like, you've decided to open Pandora's Box, either take responsibility or don't even open it in the first place. If you wanted this place to be a pure gaming/modding forum, then don't include topics that literally tear people apart in vicious ways.
This place is still a community first and foremost. There is no less bickering in any of the gaming sections so it seems daft to single out politics. As long as the staff is willing to put the work in to moderate, let things get spicy. No one is being forced to browse, if it's not for you just ignore it.

In my opinion, the more opposing views people get subjected to the better. There are enough echo chambers on the net as it is.
 
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BETA215

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I think political sections could be kept open... but maybe some kind of big prompt should appear before visiting it for the first time. And it should have some way to block this part of the forum if some user no longer wants to see anything related - maybe there's already one and forgot :P

In my case, life is tiring... I think quite differently from you, but every time any discussion has started (in my experience): one, everyone thinks similarly and there's not much conflict, or two, things end up quite bad.

So I might just read this part of GBATemp sometimes, but dunno if I have the will to try to enter into more discussions. At this point I just want to analyze things by myself, check what's being discussed and make my own conclusions. It's less demanding at least.
 

deinonychus71

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In my opinion, the more opposing views people get subjected to the better. There are enough echo chambers on the net as it is.

This. A million times this. Echo chambers are a cradle for radicalism. Hearing different views is how you can form your own, genuine opinions, and not just be someone else's parrot.
 

Alexander1970

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For the actual "Main Topic" in the Politic Section there are only 2 Views available...it seems.....and it sounds like an "Echo Chamber" from one Side....but that is ok.:)
 

FAST6191

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Keep your politics out of my videogames. All it does is breed negativity.
It is a way you can roll.

At the same time art has long explored various historical events, political philosophies (many of which are mutually exclusive -- luddites and techno primitives* are unlikely to see eye to eye with the transhuman set), potential future events/alternate histories with games being uniquely capable in many ways in that.

*while I can ultimately write it off as banal for the sake of being able to play more than abstract puzzle games** the idea that in your civilisation game that the end goal of civilisation is some kind of hive city spread across the stars is itself a political idea.

**on the matter of the abstract then various flavours of Islam tending to frown upon representations of real life items in art, leaving us with things like abstraction and highly mathematical approaches which can look fantastic.

In the interest then of playing more than puzzle games or seeing relationship dynamics be deeper than something I might expect from a seaside puppet show aimed at kids then I can't say leave the politics, saving that your politics lead to "you can't say that"/"you have to say that" as a general concept rather than something to explore within a game. In many cases then that is also what I find people mean when they say keep your politics out -- "OMG you can't have person with [trait, possibly one that might have had troubles in history] have a character flaw" and "OMG your characters don't reperesent/overrepresent [population] you are a bad person" being the latest flavour of that, though "OMG, sorry for blaspheming there, your violence/use of religious iconography/notion that sex happens is not on, ban it" is still well within living memory and still flares up from time to time (we did fairly recently see an attempt to ban GTA because carjackings).
 

VinsCool

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Honestly, I do miss the older times where the topics were unwelcome, or at the very least, heavily watched, keeping the usual troublemakers quiet.
I am not even tempted to open a thread a vast majority of time just for the subforum it is from, or the last person who replied to it, and I say that as one of the staff members here.
Unfortunately, I am part of the minority with this opinion, so long live the section, even if it was an idea dead on arrival.
 

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