Many ruder-than-scientific words exist for "homosexual"; the faceless internet crams my inbox with them every day.
Usually, they're in YouTube comments.
I like when I get a YouTube comment from someone who says something interesting—or nice, though interesting is more fun than nice. I like to immediately engage that person in conversation. I like using the internet for conversation: that's why I write articles and blogs. I like talking to people in the comments.
Because I sometimes get interesting comments, I leave inbox notifications on for YouTube. Every time I get a comment on YouTube, a mail pops into my inbox.
Nine times out of ten, it's from a person telling me that they disapprove of my existence. They use some objectively not-nice words, and then they use some scientific words with multiple subjective interpretations: "stupid", "gay". Usually, they also use words they've heard other people say: "hipster", "nerd".
I sigh at all of these. Like, I'll be sitting on the sofa. I'll check my phone. I'll groan a little bit. My friend will ask what's wrong. I'll say some guy made fun of my glasses again.
Here's what my friend—whoever he is—invariably says: "It's just the internet, man."
In his world, that's enough of an answer. He's not the miniature accidental internet celebrity troll-jerk with a legion of the devoted hateful. Of course he doesn't know how it feels.
I delete hateful comments from my YouTube videos. If I don't, people who like me will start to defend me. Then people who don't like me will start to accuse the people who like me of actually being me posting from an alternate account. Like I have time for that.
Here are the things people complain about in their hate comments:
- My Glasses: "I bet you don't even need those glasses" is the most common—and most bewildering—form of the comment.
- My American Apparel clothing: "Fuck off back to American Apparel" was one I deleted just two hours ago.
- My hair: it is often simply described as "horrible" and "ugly". It is just as often described as "stupid".
- My voice: it is often described as "dumb", "stupid", or "gay".
- My mustache: it was described as a "hipster mustache", a "Dirty Sanchez" (what an idiotic euphemism), a "pube stache", a "molestache", or simply "gay".
- My pink sweater.
Please allow me to defend myself for a moment:
- I do need these glasses. My dad's car slid off a bridge on February 2nd, 1984. I was four years old. I was not wearing a seatbelt. My right eye came out of my head. The muscle never healed. I have an intense astigmatism which gets worse with age. I am reaching the limits of lenticular science: soon I will be legally blind in my right eye. My right eye is lazy to a point where I must wear frames larger than my ocular orbits, or my pupil becomes drawn to the sight of the frame and I end up with a sudden stealth migraine which persists for several hours. So: big glasses.
- Until receiving literally two-dozen "American Apparel"-related comments on this video, I had actually never set foot in an American Apparel. Comments about American Apparel had been hurled my way as though "American Apparel" were another hateful slur for homosexual by so many closed-minded anonymous internetizens that I finally realized that, maybe, if they don't like it, I might. It was a mathematically sound theory. I Google-Mapped American Apparel. There was one two blocks from my office in San Francisco. I stepped out for a walk. Thirty seconds in an American Apparel and I realized that they don't make shirts that flatter morbidly obese people, and that their colors clash poorly with acne. So it was the Rubik's Cube had solved itself. I now own four American Apparel sweatshirts, and have literally thrown out the $7 Hanes I'm wearing in the above-linked video. Thanks, haters!
- I like my hair. I enjoy it.
- I don't like my voice all that much, either. Hey, though: it sure is mine.
- My mustache was not real. I wore it for the purpose of logging the types of YouTube comments I would get about it. They were universally hateful, and near-universally used the word "hipster" as part of their hate vocabulary. You know that joke, where someone says "You're a hipster" and the person says "I'm not a hipster" and the other person says "That's the biggest sign that you're a hipster"? Yeah, that's a dumb "joke". You know why people immediately say "I'm not a hipster"? It's because of people like the people who email me: they're using "hipster" as a synonym for "horrible person". Nobody wants to be called that. God.
- I wear a pink sweater in precisely one video.
Let's talk about the pink sweater.
the man in pink
I won't link the video in which I am wearing this legendary pink sweater. It's of a terrible musical performance. It's terrible sort of on purpose, and also sort of not on purpose.
It's the terrible not on purpose part that makes me not want to link you to it.
None of the hateful comments is about the music being terrible. None of them is about the preposterous He-Man haircut I'd had the day before. They're all about my pink sweater.
At least . . . I think they are.
These comments flow in constantly. I get at least one a day.
The video is somewhat popular: in it, I am using a particular musical effect which, many years later, even people not as friendly as me are interested in exploring. I think you can use it in dubstep production. I'm not sure. I haven't looked into that.
So viewers arrive at the video, day by day, I presume by looking up videos with that effect in the tag. I don't know how much of the video they watch before commenting, though their hateful comments invariably call me a horribly mean word—one which is an acceptable synonym for "homosexual" if and only if your house does not have indoor plumbing.
I have started and stopped writing a version of this article a dozen times over the past two years.
Of all my videos, this one does not have nearly the most hits. It does, however, receive the most hateful comments, and regularly. I wonder if this has anything to do with my pink sweater.
I think it does. I can't be sure, though I think it does.
The comments come primarily from American males, aged sixteen through thirty-five. Their YouTube favorites include live heavy metal performances and sixteen-second killing sprees captured from online Counter Strike. The comments relate to my perceived sexual orientation—homosexual—and use words that no one uses when they are actively attempting to be nice.
Not a single one of them elaborates on their opinion, much less their word choice. They walk into the metaphorical room, set the hate speech unceremoniously onto the floor, and then walk out.
Do they feel triumph? Do they feel a moment of "Heck yeah just owned that noob"? I feel like they don't, because if they did, they'd be ready with a snappy comeback when I hit them with a snappy comeback. This is what worries me: I feel like they approach the "mission" of gingerly-applied hate speech with the determination of a sleepy factory worker with a clipboard.
They are Hate Zombies. They are Hate-Zombie Marionettes.
I have started and stopped writing a version of this article a dozen times over the past two years. I wish I could fix the entire world with a few keystrokes. Instead, here I am—and regularly—struggling to keep the world the same, at least in my head, with as many keystrokes as possible.
One of the times I tried to write article of this nature, Blizzard had just unveiled Diablo III, and some of the hardcore devoted slipped into conniption fits involving keyboards, that the game might not give us graphics confined to the palette of Midwestern American shopping mall food court dinner. The issue, of course, was that one might see a rainbow flickering within the misty clouds as one stampeded through the mountains stamping demon beasts flat with a warhammer.
The reaction of the pre-installed fans was a virtual forest fire of hatred—all over a couple of colors. The hyperbolic consensus of the most vocal internet forum psychopaths, of course, was that a game that featured rainbows in any capacity whatsoever was obviously for homosexual people, and that Blizzard were neglecting their core audience—straight male Americans who consider ketchup "a vegetable". It freaked me out a little bit, and then it finally made me feel a little bit sad.
If you express dislike of a certain videogame, a common public reflex is to presume you are criticizing those who like the thing. This happens with scary velocity and frequency.
I don't want to make this an article "about sexuality". I don't like that gender discrimination—or discrimination of any kind—exists. I hate that it exists, in fact.
I hate hatred so much.
I wholly understand that we all have things we like and things we don't like, and that people don't always agree about what is good—that's why we have the word "subjectivity".
However, if we hate someone for disliking what we like, the world grows sick. When we hate someone for liking what we dislike, the world grows sicker still.
I'm generalizing, of course. It's a broad issue. At the core of it is this: with tweet-length opinion summary and "social experience" all over everything in this Web 2.0 Era, many people have come to pre-emptively equate any subjective declaration with an attack on people who think otherwise.
For example, when I mention the slightest thing about not eating meat, instantly a hundred disapproving emails show up: the haters' reflex is that I only mention a vegetarian meal because I am criticizing their choice to eat meat. I'm not being critical of you: I'm being factual about myself. I've never told anyone to stop eating meat. I've talked about my beliefs and practices, though I've never recommended them, or preached. I try not to be pushy.
If you, say, express dislike of a certain videogame, a common public reflex is to presume you are criticizing those who like the thing. This happens with scary velocity and frequency.
Some people don't like gay people; some people are uncomfortable around transgender persons. Maybe I am incredibly naive to say this, though I think that's weird. Why would you dislike an invisible element of someone's private life? That's like literally, consciously verbalizing a fear such as "I don't like people who wear orange underwear—I wonder if Bob wears orange underwear? Man, if he does, I don't know if I can be friends with him anymore." That's a pretty psychopathic thought process!
Labeling anyone for any reason, in any capacity, is a misdemeanor of the heart. It also indicates that you are perfectly, transparently, a finely sharpened tool of a marketing machine that someone yawned and turned on literally a half a century ago in the name of selling pink things to girls and green things on Saint Patrick's Day.
Yet here I am: to like and dislike—to have taste and distaste—is as human as eating and defecating. Rather than dislike people by their stereotype or income bracket or race, I personally dislike people who directly confront me with repulsive actions. For example, people who actually buy those big eight-dollar boxes of Jujyfruit or Hot Tamales or Mike and Ike or Good ‘n' Plenty at the movie theater and then shake them throughout the whole film and chew them with their mouth open. I'm certain that you're not actually supposed to buy those boxes of hard, apocalypse-like chewy candy — they just put them there to tempt psychopaths or serial killers into dropping their guards for an instant. When you buy one, a blip pops up on the FBI's supercomputer: "Possible suspect at AMC Bay Street 16 Emeryville, California (cashier reckons he's seeing ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy')."
Do I ever turn around during a film and groan at a person loudly shaking and eating candy? Of course I don't: I'm weak. What about the people who look at an article on the internet, immediately decide it's too long to read, and then post a comment about how they didn't read this article—do they ever run to catch up with a person they consider fat and ugly, tap the person on the shoulder, and say, "Hi; I think you're fat and ugly — I don't know your name, and I don't want to. Bye"?
Of course they don't. There'd be nothing left of this planet earth if we had humans who walked around doing that.
This is not about that. This isn't about people hating people or the sorts of things people do or say to people they hate. This is about people labeling people. This is about how utterly stupid it is that we label people—how by labeling people as anything, even casually, whether it's as a "gamer" or a "bro" or a "gamer girl" or a "homosexual" or a "heterosexual" or whatever else you can label someone as is just about as bad as running a STOP sign, or parking in front of a fire hydrant: what you do in the space of one or two words can echo a passive-aggressive eternity.
Labeling anyone for any reason, in any capacity, is a misdemeanor of the heart. It also indicates that you are perfectly, transparently, a finely sharpened tool of a marketing machine that someone yawned and turned on literally a half a century ago in the name of selling pink things to girls and green things on Saint Patrick's Day.
Trust me: I've been inside this machine. It gave me a whole bunch of paychecks.
THE MACHINE'S FACE
Four events caught my eye in recent months. And so, the elephant in the room has begun to repeatedly poke my sternum with its trunk.
In no particular order:
- We have the story of the father who told his son he couldn't have a purple Xbox 360 controller: a father and his two sons entered a GameStop. The big brother offered to purchase the little brother a video game and a controller. The little brother wanted Mirror's Edge—a game about a woman—and a purple controller, which was purple. The father was not pleased: he must have really disliked purple. The big brother stood up for the little brother. The clerk was smitten by the bravery of the big brother. The father left the store in anger.
- Then we have the story of the freelance writer who blind-dated a Magic: The Gathering champion and then laughed at the experience in an essay that earned her a million hits and probably ten million hate-mails.
- Much later, David Jaffe insinuated in an interview that if you let your girlfriend beat you at his game Twisted Metal, she'd pay you an oral sexual favor. Jaffe apologized, saying it was a joke. Some people didn't like the joke. Some said such jokes reinforce the stereotype of gamers as crude teenage boys.
- Then, finally, we have the story about Nintendo making the hero of Kid Icarus more visibly angry on the American box art than the Japanese box art. Also—and it doesn't take a private detective to unearth this fact—the sky in the Japanese version prominently features the pinkish-rosy fingers of a dusk or dawn; the American version is all serious, all blue.
THE PROBLEM HAS SUMMARIZED ITSELF
Somewhere in the above four news links is a skeletal summary of The Central Problem. We will, unfortunately, not be solving the problem today. This is especially tragic, because this is a problem that would take no time or effort to solve. It's not cancer—you could be a trillionaire wanting only to help humanity, and you could rain money on researchers in every corner of the world, and that wouldn't speed up the cure for cancer.
The problem we are talking about today, however, could be gone in thirty seconds—if so many people in the world weren't such incurably ignorant jerks.
To the father who hated that his son wanted a purple game controller: you are a tool. You are literally a tool. You are a tool of The Marketing Machine. Purple was the color of Caesar, and of the ancient Egyptian warriors. Purple is the color of samurai warlords. Or does your definition of "manly" require shirtlessness and rippling muscles? The Incredible Hulk wears skin-tight purple pants, for god's sake. Is that manly enough? The artist formerly and currently known as Prince wears purple every day. I bet you his bed is made of purple oak obtained with permission from a unicorn forest. That man is reportedly a sex machine. What is manly, to you, you jerk? The father suggested Dead Island to his son—so shooting zombies is "manly"? There's a girl in that game, too—though it's also grotesquely violent, so that makes it manly? That's fucked up. This guy's whole world is fucked up. What's wrong with wanting to play a game about a tough girl, like Mirror's Edge? She's also pretty hot. You don't even see her face during the game—it's first-person. "Well, she's there on the box", you'd say. Okay—asshole—so depriving your son of imagery of attractive girls is one way to make him not gay? You didn't even say anything to me, because this is just a hypothetical conversation, though I'm going to go ahead and phrase this next "fuck you" as a "No, fuck you": No, fuck you. Not only are you a terrible parent, you are also a stupid person, and if your son is as gay as you are straight, then that means there's hope he has some brains, too. (I can support the last part of the previous sentence with actual mathematics.)
Now that that's over with, let's talk about Kid Icarus . . .
. . . By talking about Kirby for a second, first: When I first saw the Kirby's Dream Land box art, it was the US version, and it was my brother's copy. "It's a game about a ghost who eats people," was his succinct summary. I played the game and found it a little soft.
Later, I realized—along with everyone else—that Kirby was actually supposed to be pink. They'd made him white for the US release's box because that was a thing they could do: this was an original Gameboy game, and thus it was in black and white, anyway.
By the time a full-color Kirby came around, they couldn't white-wash Kirby without putting serious work into de-colorizing the game itself. So they let the cat out of the bag, much to the bewilderment of devoted series fans who had thought they'd previously liked a game about a ghost who wasn't pink. (It turns out he wasn't even a ghost, either. He was just a . . . thing.)
Eventually, when Kirby game sales failed to make the front page of The Wall Street Journal so many times that the word "repeatedly" was used in headquarters, Nintendo got the idea to start making Kirby look angry. So they turned his yippy little red triangular mouth into a sneer of violence.
So Kirby, in America, is marketed via packaging as a pink puff-ball with an attitude problem.
So, to recap: Nintendo decided — consciously, no doubt through "focus groups" and "market research", that the "target audience" "responded more strongly" to an angry Kirby. Who was the target audience? Children living in a detention center?
(I'm not making fun of children living in a detention center: I'm sort of serious.)
To recap again: in the United States of America, Kirby is pink, and he is angry.
For a while, I thought maybe they were being progressive: I thought maybe they were trying to inject attitude into the color pink.
Then I saw this Kid Icarus: Uprising box art.
First of all: the word "uprising". What's rising up? The 3D on a 3DS seems more like it's sunken in—a diorama effect—than anything else.
Secondly: the hero exhibits that Kirby-esque sneer of violence. This hero is saving the world, one Not Happy About It One Bit at a time.
Thirdly: the glorious rosy pink of the Japanese version's box is gone.
The thing about "focus groups" is that an organization who uses them will at some point have paid for enough exclusive data to let their internal division fall back on that instead of reassessing the demographic. So they might have used some of the leftover details from Kirby to make the decision to make Kid Icarus's hero Pit more deserving of the name "Pist".
Where, then, did the decision to remove the pink from the sky come from? Why, maybe it came from the reams of research findings assembled back when considering the marketing position for Kirby's Dream Land on the original Gameboy. Maybe, back then, Nintendo of America had formulated an ironclad rule: "If at all possible, keep pink away from male characters."
Princess Peach, of course, is perfectly fine, as long as she's standing right next to Mario, in his primary blues and reds—and with that virile mustache.
It's likely Nintendo removed the pink from Kid Icarus's sky because Graphic Designers These Days have a strictly defined color palette that a Large Self-Respecting Corporation will let them use for Any Given Demographic. (For example, maybe you've noticed that orange and teal is the color combination required of a blockbuster motion picture.)
Kid Icarus is an action game, and action games are "for males". Its graphics are not photo-realistic, so it's free to include blue in its skies.
So its marketing face is blue, white, teal, gold, and brown.
To really, sternly break this down, let's put it this way: this is a game about a little boy in little sandals, his legs sparklingly hairless, donning fairy wings, a little wreath of ivy on his little head, a little cupid bow and arrow in his hands.
Let's think about Purple Xbox 360 Controller Dad—that stupid asshole—would he let his son buy this game?
"Well, as long as there ain't no pink or purple on that there'n box, I say you go'n have at it, boy."
How likely is the above hilarious scenario? (It's scarily more likely than you think.)
On the other side of the same coin, what preposterous, impossible, invisible "bro" would waltz into a GameStop, lay his eyes upon the Kid Icarus franchise for the first time, and say "Fuck yeah this game looks sweet yo I am going to make a speedy purchase of this shit"?
Not one muscly sinew dares crack frustration-disinterested hero Pit's hairless thighs.
Who, really, are they afraid of losing by splashing a little pink onto the box?
The answer is that the market research doesn't lie. The deeper answer is that the market research isn't lying because the answer to every question has been "all of the above" for so long that lying is impossible: blockbusters do this, so if we will do this, we can be a blockbuster. Again, I'll say something naive: people didn't like Mario before Donkey Kong—because there was no Mario.
Of course, as a business grows, the nature of risk changes, et cetera, et cetera.
Well, back to pink:
PEOPLE LIKE THINGS THAT ARE ATTACHED TO THINGS
Some quick research shows that a hundred and six percent (*figure not accurate) of blockbuster films released in the past five years have been sequels, remakes, reboots, rebooquels, demakes, or what-have-you. They're making movies out of board games now, for god's sake. The other day I actually heard someone on the train say, of the film "Battleship", that "It'd be so cool if Tim Burton made a movie out of ‘Candyland'." I'm lucky my Philips head screwdriver was concealed in my bag and not located in my hand, because I am sure I would have accidentally stabbed myself in the kneecap just to prove it was a nightmare.
People like stuff that is connected to stuff. For example, my band and I made a song. It wasn't a terribly great song. It wasn't horrible, either. We recorded a video of it and put it on YouTube. I didn't pass the link around too much. Then we recorded another version of it—it wasn't much better, and it was maybe even a little bit worse—and I indicated in the description that the song was probably going to inspire a track on the soundtrack of a video game we were making at the time. The latter video got 4,000 hits. The former didn't break 200.
Comments on the latter video mainly were like this: "I'd so totally play a game with music like this"; or: "So what kind of game is it? I am imagining [game details]."
This is not, of course, airtight academic research, though hopefully you see the idea.
So how did we get this way? The answer is not simple. I don't even really have the answer.
I've wondered about the answer for a long time. After I'd worked in advertising for a little while, I felt the presence of the answer before I truly understood the question. Here I'm going to sound like some tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorist, and I'm going to say that many of society's opinions are not their own.
Religious texts are full of terrifying stories of vengeful gods who eternally punish those who steal bread or horses because telling terrifying stories in theatrical tones of voice was a heck of an effective way to stop people from stealing one another's dang bread and horses.
In a way, marketing is the modern religion. And though the "Whole Grains Guaranteed In Every Box" sticker on the "Oops: All Berries" variety of Cap'n Crunch is not exactly the same thing as a terrorist suicide-bombing, it comes from a similar place: greed, and want of love.
Much of our culture is invented by marketing. For example, the story of the engagement ring:
"The idea that a man should spend a significant fraction of his annual income for an engagement ring originated from De Beers marketing materials in the early 20th century, in an effort to increase the sale of diamonds. In the 1930s, they suggested that a man should spend the equivalent of one month's income in the engagement ring; later they suggested that he should spend two months' income on it. In 2007, the average cost of an engagement ring in USA as reported by the industry was US$2,100."
The Zynga-level insidiousness of this isn't that people waste their lives far away and die so that rich people can wear diamonds—it's that the high cost of diamonds was slipstreamed in as a culturally necessary status symbol by a single corporate entity who conceived that attaching a false cultural imperative which would increase the people's willingness to pay a lot of money for a thing, no matter what the thing—no matter what the amount of money.
Peel that back, and let's look at that first layer again: today, people live, feud, and die far in poverty far away so we can keep our engagements happy and our wedding photos pretty.
I will refrain a little longer from further hippie descent.
Let's tell a loose little story:
So it was that, long ago—maybe in the fifties—someone said, "Hey, we don't have Twitter or YouTube or Facebook yet—shucks, we don't even have the internet. How are we going to make people buy things?"
A concept bubbled up: attach a thing to a thing. It can be anything, and it can be attached to anything. They wracked their brains for things with existing tenuous connections: some girls liked flowers, and some flowers were pink, so—
"Let's say pink is ‘for girls'."
"Let's say red is ‘for boys'."
"Let's say Valentine's Day is a day for lovers to celebrate and exchange love notes—and chocolates!"
Today, if you go to a Target store and walk by the toy aisle, you'll see that the girls' section is frighteningly pink—and I use the word "frighteningly" with extreme prejudice, as a man with pink bedsheets and a half-dozen pink sweaters. The boys' section is all gunmetal-gray and camouflage.
Long ago, it was like this: attach something to something, and no matter what it is you're attaching to whatever it is you're attaching it to, you've got yourself a hot product—and a built-in audience. When you say "pink is for girls", you're telling girls:
- Here's something which is expressly for you
- It's this particular color
- Other things which are not for you will not be this color
- (You like this thing)
- ((We like you, to make something for you))
- (((You should be nice to the people who like you)))
- . . . and so on, and so on, until the girls are happy and the money-men are more monied.
- It depresses me a little bit that these ancient marketing precepts persist today, like spam-bot spirals or Horse-E-Book ghosts from literally another generation. And oh, how the terrible have snowballed!
- Here we are, alive in the twenty-first century, still not nuclear-warred to smoldering ashes; I own a tiny little device that can tell me where the nearest burrito place is, and if it's any good, and what my friends think of it, at the swipe of a few magic fingers. We have this incredible wealth of shared knowledge accessible and visible from even the darkest corners of an urban night. You figure this would be the sort of age where people could just—again with the naivete!—put down the ignorance and, maybe, if, say, they're religious, get around to finally thinking about what Jesus meant when he said we should all just love each other and be cool. And I can finally learn how to perform my favorite Django Reinhardt songs on the guitar.
- In short: for focus groups to bend and flow the subtle way they do is a result of some increasingly-antiquated shard of other peoples' greed. The machine is screwing us softly in the ear while we sleep each night. We shouldn't label people. People are people. I sleep on pink bed sheets; I own more purple garments than white ones; I am wearing hot fluorescent orange underwear right now. These are objective statements which you should approach with not a single subjective flit or flicker anywhere in your brain.
- AN EPILOGUE
- A dear friend often confesses to me: "I cried again". The reason for the crying is that people on the internet are ignorant and mean.
- I remember a story on Kotaku, this year, concerning reader reaction to The Magic The Gathering Lady. The author was attempting to educate the masses on sexism. His tone was a little schoolteachery. People—especially ignorant ones—don't react well when they feel like someone is telling them what to do. I'm not exactly ignorant, and I don't even react that well. So, naturally, in a case like this, you're going to end up with a flare-up in the peanut gallery region. And so my friend cried again.
- Days earlier, reading various blogs related to the Gizmodo story of The Magic The Gathering Lady, my friend had also cried.
- Long ago, someone faced a decision, about which gender and age group they were going to market "these . . . video game things" to, and they flipped a couple of coins until they'd chosen "young boys". And video games were so awesome that those young boys never wanted to grow up. And now here we are: if you're in the triple-A entertainment business, you have to Go Stupid or Go Home.
- Another reason my friend cried: Straight men don't get mad enough about the way they're portrayed as lazy mama's boy gamer jerks. My friend claimed to not be "overreacting", as male readers so often accused, when bemoaning the merry-go-round-abouting of the same handful of female stereotypes and archetypes.
- When I look at the grotesque art direction of many modern popular manboybait interactive electronic entertainments—seriously, any big budget game that's not about war-fighting in the current times has art direction resembling what would happen if you dumped a Neo-Nazi's brain onto a big-enough SD Card (4GB?), and then opened a random file in any 3D program—whether I am wearing my pink sweater, my purple sweatshirt, or a plain white T-shirt, it feels like looking into the window of a clubhouse with a big red "X" painted over my name on the sign outside. The reason games look like this is easy enough to pick up: this is what people want; this is what boys have grown up hearing they want; this is what boys have grown up being forced at peer-pressure-point to know they want.
- Long ago, someone faced a decision, about which gender and age group they were going to market "these . . . video game things" to, and they flipped a couple of coins until they'd chosen "young boys". And video games were so awesome that those young boys never wanted to grow up. And now here we are: if you're in the triple-A entertainment business, you have to Go Stupid or Go Home. You have to Go Gray or Get Out Of The Way. Every molecular element of a visually-designed experience has been deliberately cultivated over decades to mean a just-different-enough sort of absolutely nothing to keep consumers oblivious and investors happy.
- Welcome to the world: here be landmine country.
- With YouTube and Twitter and Facebook—in this age when teenagers will willingly report their current location to the public internet (in my day teenagers cherished our privacy) — the world is bigger and smaller at the same time. The hard drive known as the human collective consciousness is defragmenting at the speed of an accelerating glacier. Maybe, someday, we'll all understand each other and stop hating or disliking or looking down on each other for being different races or genders or sexual orientations.
- The problem is the size of the human race itself; I dare say that those looking to solve this problem might be starting by biting off more than they can chew. If I had to recommend, off the top of my head, a better place to get started, I would in all seriousness suggest putting pink back into the sky of Kid Icarus: Uprising's North American box art:
- So I was at my dear friend Doug Jones' house over Christmas in Indiana. I was wearing my pink sweater. His daughter—she's eight years old and five feet tall, and the doctors say she'll be tall enough to dunk a basketball by the time she's fifteen—looks at me with narrow eyes.
- "Why are you wearing that? Boys can't wear pink."
- "I like pink. It's actually my favorite color."
- She puts her hands on her hips. She is about to repeat herself: "Boys can't wear pink."
- "Yes they can," says Julie—Doug Jones' wife. "Anybody can wear whatever color they want."
- "Nuh-uh," says Doug Jones' daughter with scientific conviction, and then she skips back into her bedroom to play with Legos.
- In closing, that's why we at Action Button Entertainment refuse to answer all questions regarding the hero's gender in our game ZiGGURAT.
- tim rogers is the founder and director of action button entertainment. you can buy his studio's first iOS game, ZiGGURAT, here. you can also follow him on twitter. To take this away with something classy, here is a YouTube playlist I've just made a list of pieces of video game music I personally would not want playing on the stereo while having sex.