TSS#65 – My Shaky Moral High Ground

In the past, I’ve talked about my core beliefs and ideals already. It has lead to the decision to not review Heartbeat, for instance, because I wouldn’t want to review and promote a game that is made by people actively harming others…

But as time went on, I noticed that my thinking may be flawed. It’s causing me a headache again because that’s a moral standard or an opinion rather that I can’t really hold that easily. If I don’t support this Indie Studio because there is one dev that is a terf, that’s one thing… but why do I stop there? 

I still regularly play League of Legends because I love the game and the champions in there… but I know that Riot Games (and Tencent) are full of a lot of issues like sexual harassment, discrimination, toxic masculinity, and a lot of other things. There are a lot of things going wrong at Riot Games and there are more and more stories coming out about the behind the scenes stuff right there. One of the higher-ups saying that “no doesn’t always mean no” (linking one of the many articles I found but if you want to dig into the topic, sure, go ahead and you’ll find plenty more dirt without digging too deep) is not at all in line with what I believe in… and yet, I’m not boycotting Riot Games. I’m not spending any money on League of Legends, TFT, Legends of Runeterra, Valorant, or anything else… but I’m still playing these games and even writing about it here and there… and that’s a contradiction, isn’t it? 

The gaming industry is full of cases like that. There are plenty of shitbags in the Industry and plenty of companies and dev studios and publishers that are full of shit – but I love video games and alas, am still playing games and writing about it… and my moral high ground of not wanting to support the TERF and her girlfriend who worked on Heartbeat or not wanting to support the homophobic Brazilian Muslim that reached out for a video game review but ended up trying to convince me that I’m sinning for being bi and coming out like that… well, that moral high ground is shaky. I can’t stand on it. I can’t just go ahead and ignore review requests from studios that I know are bad… and go ahead and play games by people that are equally full of shit. 

I love the games published by Chucklefish Ltd. – But even they have mud on their shirt with them not paying some devs or whatever (haven’t really dug too much into that). 

And well, there’s also Blizzard, Activision, Ubisoft, Valve, and a lot of other bigger companies that are equally full of shit than the ones I mentioned before. But I still play their games, which is shitty and hypocritical in a way. In the long run, I won’t be able to hold up that moral high ground of mine where I don’t talk about some games but still support other games that I personally like but who are made by equally bad people. 

Uh, lots of (not exactly) Ivory Towers and uh, a High Ground… I guess?

And as previously mentioned, stuff like that gives me headaches. I’m in a conflict with my own beliefs of what’s right and wrong. I get migraines at the worst possible time and I end up questioning whether or not I should maybe write a review of Heartbeat. 

I mean, even TERFs quite often have a reason for being the way they are. If you’ve been traumatized by men in the past, you probably don’t feel that safe around anyone who’s been a male before or who still is a male – especially in “safe spaces”. At the same time, I still disagree with them and I do feel like there are better ways of handling things. Insulting and discriminating against trans-women isn’t at all what I want to defend here… but at the same time, I can’t say that I know their stories. I don’t know whether or not, I can just shit on terfs without ever really knowing what they’ve been through – and I doubt that I can get in that mindset either since I’m just a male myself. 

It’s a tricky subject and while I will not support that dev who tried to “make me hetero” because he personally harmed me, I may consider actually writing a post about Heartbeat… as a game… made by people that cared about the game. People that actually are inclusive. People that spread love and make games for the sake of bringing joy to people of all kinds. People that created something that taught me a lot about self-love and loving others despite our differences. In the core, Heartbeat is a great game that I really recommend. My stance on that one dev doesn’t change necessarily. That one dev isn’t part of the studio anymore. Everyone in the studio distanced themselves from that one dev or left the studio. 

A lot of the things that that one dev did to harm others are unforgivable. The way they handled things shouldn’t be able to get excused purely by trauma. I don’t think violence solves violence – physical or verbal doesn’t matter in that regard. I don’t think it’s fair for me to judge someone from this ivory tower that I’m sitting in. I mean, if someone actively harmed me or my friends or anyone in my community, I wouldn’t want to support them. 

The Gaming Industry might as well be as rotten as the Curse-rotted Greatwood! idk, it’s just a picture, move on.

My ideals don’t change. My ideals are the same as before. Transwomen are women. Transmen are men. Trans rights are human rights. For every bad person, there are ten good people in the world. Love and let love, live and let live. I’m still trying to be my best possible self and I want to grow as a person and I feel like taking a look at these stances that I took in the past and that I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of months already is only natural and actually quite important. You can’t always stick to one opinion unless you’re really stubborn. 

So what I’m trying to say is that I still don’t know if I can hold that moral high ground up. I doubt it. I’m still against people that cause other people harm and I still want to improve and become a better human being. My ideals and principles haven’t changed at all… but I can’t act as if that one small Indie Studio is the worst part of the Gaming Industry when it’s really just one dev there… and I can’t just ignore all the other parts of the Gaming Industry. Instead, I feel like it’s a lot easier to put up a disclaimer of sorts in a review. “The members of the studio distanced themselves from the lead dev (aka the terf) and I personally don’t like what the terf did but a lot of other people put their heart, sweat and blood into this game, so I’m still writing a review on this game. I hope you can understand” or something like that. 

I’m still torn about this. I still don’t know what to do about this. I’d love to hear a lot more opinions on the matter. If you’ve got one about it, please let me know. I’d be more than pleased to know. 

#TwitchBlackout and how I handled it

Just recently I wrote about #TwitchBlackout and my issues with it. On Wednesday, the 24th, I actually went live and talked with my community about different issues and, here’s how that went. 

So, at first, I thought I’d talk about the issues that are currently in the focus and why I think talking about it is better than not streaming for one day to my three to four regulars. My stream would start with the usual Just Chatting and would then slowly move into a discussion with information and the links I provided and all of that.

I was fearing that a few things could happen:

  • 1. People might not like these “heavier topics” and would just leave, resulting in us not really spreading awareness. 
  • > This wasn’t the case. In fact, a lot of people new ones and regulars talked about their experiences and shared a bit of stories. One viewer, in particular, mentioned that he’s from Romania and how there’s still a fair bit of racism against “gipsies” (don’t like the term) and how being LGBQTIA+ isn’t acceptable at all. 
  • 2. I feared that the discussion would drag on and people wouldn’t like it too much or wouldn’t appreciate my input or other people’s inputs.
  • > This wasn’t the case… luckily, everyone took part in it and most people agreed with my views that staying silent is stupid and that Twitch won’t take that much of a punch when a bunch of small streamers stop streaming all of a sudden for ONE DAY. 
  • 3. Someone would be offended that someone as privileged as me is talking about those issues, being male and white.
  • > I talked about racism in Germany and that my parents were refugees, too. I talked about the fact that you’re always “the different one” and that people don’t necessarily accept you for who you are but always see you as “that other guy”, and a lot of other people talked about that as well. So that was nice, actually. 
  • 4. This would become a One-Time-Thing and would never happen again on Stream…
  • > I’m going to continue the discussions in the future. But more about that later.
  • 5. People would make it about me, suddenly. 
  • > This did happen at one point. Someone said that it’s good that I’m doing that, so I instantly refused to accept that. It’s not about me. It’s about discrimination, harassment, assault and abuse victims and survivors in the Streaming and Gaming industry. More about that later as well.

So, the discussion was rather fun and quite enlightening. We shared experiences and opinions. We talked for about an hour in total before heading into Children of Morta, a game I’m revisiting shortly for a post. During the gameplay, we still talked about it, so that worked out fine. And in the end, it has been a lot of fun and the links I shared were copied by other people to use on their streams as well. 

Spread awareness. Don’t go silent. 

Now, regarding my 4th point from earlier:

I don’t want this to be something that I do only once. I’d like to discuss these things more often in the next few streams and then see what days are the best to talk about issues like that and about discrimination, sexism or socio-critical stuff like toxic masculinity, TERFs, and other stuff. I feel like that would be the better way to handle this. We could talk about heavier topics on Wednesdays for instance while having mediocre gameplay in the background. And if the demand is there, I’d maybe have it twice per week where we talk about that stuff, discuss different point of views and try to spread awareness on other things. 

And, regarding the 5th point: 

I don’t want this to be about myself. I’m not constantly getting harassed by people. I’ve seen people creeping in female streamers’ chats so often, asking for silicone moulds of the shape of their feet and videos of them pumping the pedals or donating bits or money to get other advances. Usually, they get made fun of but I’ve also seen people not react too well about that. At the same time, there’s also a ton of people of colour on Twitch that get harassed for being PoC. I can’t say that I get sexually harassed on Twitch or that I get harassed for being German with a migration background. I can’t say that I’m getting bullied or attacked by people. I didn’t get assaulted or catcalled or even attacked in public yet for being male or “looking pretty”. 

I’m not a fan of the “other people suffer more” or “kids in Africa are starving, so you shouldn’t complain” mentality. I don’t think that people should necessarily do that. I don’t think that that’s the right thing to do at all. But in this case, it really isn’t about me. I don’t want to spread awareness because “I’m such a nice guy” or “because I’m white and need to help others”. I just want to take part in spreading awareness and talk about it, hear other people’s views. 

So, that’s essentially why I hate that “thanks for doing this” that I got there. No. Just don’t. It should be normal for people to talk about that stuff. And sexism and harassment isn’t exactly something new either. The important things jut tend to get put into focus over time. 

People forgot about the locust plague in Africa after COVID broke out. People forgot about COVID when the riots in the United States happened. People forgot about BLM and the riots when people came out with their stories now. And I know that right now people are shitting on me and others for going live. I get it. But in three weeks nobody is going to give a fuck about it since Trump will have done something stupid again. In Stuttgart there’s riots as well right now and people will forget about it once the AfD has done something racist again. 

So, that’s what I’d like to do differently in my streams. I’ll try to talk about more serious things every Wednesday and we’ll have discussions while playing Hollow Knight or some Roguelike or something. Idk. 

And I feel like the stream went well overall and I’m happy that the people in my community actually cared enough about the topics and didn’t flame me for being a white male (being bi or migration background doesn’t matter in that case, I’ve heard), so that was nice. 

And I’m thankful for that. It worked out well and all the anxiety I felt right before the stream… just vanished in a go when I saw the usual faces participate in the stream and actually engage in the topic… and well, just yesterday we had a bit of a discussion on racism and discrimination based on being a muslim or, in the case of a viewer, being arabic.

It was really insightful and I could share my fair bits on how Europe is also shitty in that regard with all kinds of “right-wing parties” spreading in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and other countries… parties that are not good at all and that always paint a bad picture on certain groups of people… and it was a lovely discussion. It didn’t turn into something one-sided or anything like that. We were able to talk about negativity and later even got into relationship stuff and, honestly, I don’t even know how but we got really deep into all kinds of topics and that’s something I’d like to turn into a more common thing.

Thanks a ton to my regulars there for actually caring about the topics and helping me with actually spreading awareness. This is not going to be a one-time-thing. I want to spread awareness on a lot of things and I wanna talk about these things without anyone having to fear their opinions, as long as they don’t harm others.

Thanks a lot.

Cheers