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Last week, I wrote about the active exclusion of women in video games. Since then, I’ve found myself in a rather troubling position. You see, I love video games. I’ve played games in every genre, from obscure indie games to Triple-A blockbusters. At the same time, I’m well aware of the poor reputation when it comes to inclusivity. So now I find myself in a bind: can still enjoy one of my favourite pastimes, or should I give them up for good?

Despite what many internet forums would have you believe, it is entirely possible to be a fan of something and still criticise it. This can be applied to all mediums, and is not limited strictly to video games. This post was inspired by an article published by Social Justice League, which I highly recommend.

First, you must be willing to accept the fact that your favourite thing has problems. This might seem self-evident, but it’s startling how rare this kind of thinking is. Debates in the video game industry, especially online, are a perfect place to observe this. Whenever an “outsider” offers criticism of video games, one of the most common responses is to completely ignore it. Case in point, this comment from Know Your Meme on Anita Sarkeesian’s new video.

video game arguments

Of course, not everyone is as polite as this person was, but you get the idea. Being a fan of something is all well and good, but not if that means completely denying any criticism someone has. If you truly love something, then you’ll want to see it grow and improve as much as possible and this cannot happen if you keep it in a little bubble.

Second, you must never derail a genuine conversation by introducing an unrelated topic or by making it about yourself. The most recent example of this that I could think of was the #NotAllMen trend that sprung up in response to #YesAllWomen.

In the wake of the Santa Barbara Shooting, the Twitterverse exploded with women sharing their personal experiences with misogyny and discrimination. It was powerful movement that showed just how deeply entrenched patriarchy was in our society. Of course, it was only a matter of time before it was hijacked.

The #NotAllMen hashtag sought to disprove these claims by pointing out it was only a minority of men actually engaged in those sort of acts. Now, whether these claims were valid or not is irrelevant. The fact remains that men sought to hijack a deeply personal cause and make it all about themselves.

Finally – and this can be the hardest of all – you must be able to acknowledge that some things are beyond saving. Let me share a personal example. I used to be a big fan of Eminem. I owned all his albums in some form or another, listened to his songs daily and even saved up for his latest CD. Of course, anyone with even a passing idea of who Eminem is can see why this is a problem.

Eminem’s songs are full of over-the-top violent, misogynistic and homophobic rhetoric. He seemingly glorifies rape, describes in great detail many violent fantasies he has towards women and casually throws out homophobic slurs on a regular basis.

Credit where it’s due, I do think Eminem is a genuinely talented artist. His ability to play on words is unmatched and I honestly don’t think his music reflects his true attitudes towards women and the LGBT community (I hope I’m right). Despite this, I found that I couldn’t listen to his music with a clear conscious and ultimately gave it up. It hurt at the time but I still believe it was the right choice.

Liking something and criticising it are not mutually exclusive. Honest criticism is the best way to help your favourite medium grow and mature and should be supported as much as possible.

Note to my readers

I’ll be away on vacation for the next two weeks, so there’ll be no new posts until the 12th of July 19th of July (sorry about that). See you then.