It’s 2016, and outrage is in vogue. No video game is free from the scrutiny of social justice crybullies who look for any and every opportunity to be offended. Does a game force players to make moral choices? That’s problematic. Does it let you dress up in outfits? That’s racist. Is it led by a cast of male characters? You guessed it—sexist!
Some of the classic video games we hold near and dear to our hearts could have never been made in 2016 because of how deeply sexist, racist, and otherwise problematic they are when seen through the lens of the perpetually outraged. The fact that they’re tolerated now is only because they’re seen as legacy games — something for holier-than-thou game journalists to reflect upon and think, “video games have come a long way.” Let’s look at some of them.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Modern Warfare is undeniably one of the best first-person shooters ever made, catapulting the series into the juggernaut it is today. However, it was produced during the height of the War on Terror. Muslims were cast as the villains of the piece, committing terrorist atrocities — and special forces operators across the globe were tasked to take them down.
In today’s progressive landscape, it’s wrong to even suggest that religion could play a role in terrorism. In the wake of the massacre by Islamic jihadist Omar Mateen in Orlando, the gaming press was quick to link his actions to video games, placing the blame squarely on “games where white men shoot, kill, and exploit for pleasure.”
Call of Duty? Into the trash it goes.
Duke Nukem 3D
This one’s kind of a no-brainer. Duke Nukem 3D has no place in 2016. The protagonist’s macho attitude towards killing alien, his constant references to his manhood, and the game’s questionable treatment of women as little more than eye candy (who can also be blown up) by portraying them as strippers in schoolgirl outfits would have gotten the game savaged by the press no matter how much fun it was to play.
League of Legends
League of Legends is enjoying its position as one of the most popular online games right now, raking in big bucks from sponsors and consumers alike. But it’s also deeply, deeply problematic — particularly in how it portrays women.
Many of the playable female champions in the popular game are sexy. They wear skimpy outfits and they flirt with their opponents even as they inflict violence upon them. Sex and violence? God forbid! League of Legends as we know it would have never gotten made in 2016 — its content far too problematic for today’s fragile game critics (especially the men) who would no doubt be crying about “misogyny,” if it was not already accepted, and even popular among female gamers.
If there’s one thing male feminist allies like to do, it’s to be offended on behalf of women.
Super Mario Bros.
This signature Nintendo title, which launched the career of the very talented Shigeru Miyamoto, is one of the most impactful games in history. It couldn’t have been made today.
A game where a white, presumably straight, cis-male plumber with a bushy mustache (which sounds a lot like a visual representation of toxic masculinity, if such a thing were real) must rescue the Princess from the clutches of an evil bad guy who kidnaps her repeatedly is problematic to its very core.
Its basic premise is cited every time some self-proclaimed “culture critic” decides to regurgitate a tired argument against male entitlement.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
A game where you drive around, shoot at prostitutes, and run them over? Shocking! And by the way, you play a minority character. Way to play to stereotypes, Rockstar Games!
In the wake of Black Lives Matter and the issue of police brutality, a game like GTA: San Andreas would never have been made. It’s too hot a topic. The Guardian cried about it in 2004, sensationalizing their coverage of the game. But it was to no avail — game journalists and many less hyperbolic liberals opposed them then and defended the game as a work of art. But today, they’d be echoing the cries of Jack Thompson and his ilk.