There have been times when I’ve wanted to discuss social issues with people, not to convince them of the point, but to try to help evolve my own understanding by getting their opinions and beliefs. And instead of having the discussion, the person decided they didn’t want to discuss it. This has happened to me multiple times with different people, from close friends to friendly strangers.
But there are some social issues that need to be discussed. Over on my Tumblr I posted a video that explains the fight for women’s suffrage to the music of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Do you think at the time discussing whether women had the right to own property or vote in political elections was a polite topic at the dinner table? A good majority of men and women felt different than a smaller group of women regarding the issue. It required people like Alice Paul to bring the issue to people’s attention and get them talking about it, realizing the idea and implications. As more people thought about it, rather than simply forming their beliefs based upon the status-quo, the movement garnered support until women were considered equal citizens to men, at least in word if not always in practice.
One social issue that also needs to be discussed is sexuality. I could explain why but a recent post by Seanan McGuire, author of over a dozen stories, I think sums it up a little better. Show, don’t tell: why they need to be there by Seanan McGuire.
I was recently talking to a friend* of mine who is also a writer about inclusion and inclusiveness in fiction. He was frustrated. Why did people keep asking him to include a non-heterosexual character in a starring role in his work? After all, he’d said that non-hetero characters existed, and were actually the norm. It was right there, in black and white. So why wasn’t that enough?
I explained how, when I was a kid, the only smart blondes I could find were Marilyn Munster and Susan Storm. How I wound up identifying with the Midwich Cuckoos, rather than the humans who they were threatening, because the Cuckoos looked like me and were isolated like me and no one understood them. How, as I got older and realized that what I wanted wasn’t necessarily the kind of marriage my mother had, every gay character became a magical revelation—even the ones I would look at now and think of as stereotyped and cardboard. It was enough for me that they were there.
This argument, of course, hinges on your personal beliefs regarding if certain types of sexuality are morally wrong or right. It appeals to that time when you finally found someone, be it a fictional character or real life hero, who you felt was going through similar problems and conflicts as you, and how you drew strength from the fact that they survived. Maybe not everybody had this experience but I believe that to be unlikely.
Discussing social issues is hard but challenging what we know to be right and understanding that it may be wrong or at the very least, partially incorrect, is a part of what makes us human and what helps us to continue to improve ourselves.
To summarize the matter, he made an off-handed joke on twitter about getting laid using hypnosis and a lot of people claimed it was a joke about rape. I can easily see that interpretation. Actually when I first read it, I thought he was referring to being having sex while he was being hypnotized, not that he could hypnotize someone into having sex with him but that is beside the point.
He brought up two valid points. The first is keeping in mind and having compassion for those who suffer traumatic events and not making light of horrible things in situations where it could hurt someone. The second being the freedom of expression and stopping comedic censorship.
In the end he stated that the argument over censorship vs offense will continue to rage on throughout time but he also apologized for offending people, which seems like the right thing to do.
But I would not be against some discussion regarding this. The extremes are pretty obvious. We don’t want to shut down every comedic expression until parody and social commentary are illegal. On the other hand nor should force victims of rape live in fear of having their traumatic event forced in front of them every day.
So where is the middle ground? Is it in the forum? Is it okay to make such jokes if you know nobody who hears it will be offended? That doesn’t seem right. Can the lack of intent to harm justify a harmful joke? Hard to enforce or defend.
I’m honestly not sure. Does anybody have thoughts as to how to pin this down, if it can even be pinned down? It seems wrong that it needs to be on a case by case basis.
I’m not sure how I feel about the contents of the following article. So it’s discussion time!
So basically the Writers Guild of America has a writing award for video games. As far as I know, this is basically the only award for writing video games out there. I can’t think of very many video game awards out there. The only one that really comes to mind is the VGA which is put on by the television station Spike, rather than an independent entity and it definitely does not include a writing award.
So I did some digging and found the nominee announcements which has a small bio explaining the award:
Established by the Writers Guilds’ Videogame Writers Caucus to promote storytelling excellence in videogames, improve the status of gaming writers, and encourage uniform standards within the gaming industry, the WGA Videogame Writing Award recognizes the essential creative contributions made by writers to video games and the gaming industry. Both the WGAW and WGAE continue their collective efforts to bring an increasing number of videogame projects under WGA jurisdiction to ensure that writers receive the benefits of a Writers Guild contract.
So based upon the article, the WGA wants video game designers to submit their scripts to them in order to win the award. Additionally, at least one of the writers involved in the game’s production either needs to be a member of the WGA or it’s child organizations the Videogame Writers Caucus.
Obviously this second requirement is for the WGA to promote their guild to writers for video game industry. Major video game companies are not well-known for making use of writers or when they do, hiring them more as contract workers than actually using them as apart of the development team. So why do I feel apprehension at the idea of the WGA getting into the video game industry?
I understand, intellectually, the need for unions, especially in an era where corporations are now treated as a citizen for the purposes of affecting the United State political campaign system but I also don’t understand the extent or power of guilds like the WGA which makes them almost as scary as rich corporations. Additionally the WGA, as far as I am aware, works primarily with Movie and Television writers. It would seem that video game writing, like playwriting, or sketch comedy writing, would be enough of a different beast to warrant its own organization rather than being absorbed into the WGA.
Of course there is talk about the movie and video game industries colliding, and perhaps this is one of those cases.
Additionally while the WGA spokesman in the article took some jabs at the big name games that didn’t submit their scripts, I can imagine a few legal difficulties with sharing scripts of video games with an entity like the WGA. A lot of companies get together to make the triple A titles so who owns the rights to the script is likely nebulous and there is no history cooperation between video game companies and the WGA guild for the purposes of awards, so I could imagine some heads of company being weary of submitting game content like that. Assuming they even have the ability to export their game’s script into some vaguely readable.
Really though this seems like a complicated topic. What does anyone else think?
Also I find it interesting that the WGA writes video games as videogames.