Yes. They should.
Not all of them, of course. Just the biggest ones. The ones with a significant American audience. I’m not naïve enough to think that, if a bunch of videogame sites had banded together to attack Trump, Hillary Clinton would be on her way to the White House right now. In fact, I’m pretty damn sure that wouldn’t be the case. Perhaps the gap would have been ever so slightly narrower; who knows? Nobody ever will, now. Just one damn site with a set of balls and a conscience would have been nice.
Why would a games site endorse a presidential candidate? That’s got nothing to do with writing about videogames, and besides, it’s never been done before (to the best of my knowledge). Both fair points, until you remember this is Donald Trump we’re talking about. More pertinently, multiple publications that have never endorsed a candidate before – and that you would never expect to – officially backed Hillary Clinton (or backed away from Donald Trump) this year. Publications as wide-ranging as Foreign Policy Magazine, USA Today, Vogue, and Variety. If Variety can back a presidential candidate, why the hell not Kotaku or Giant Bomb or Polygon or… anybody?
There’s another angle to take in an effort to shirk responsibility and guilt. “Okay,” you might say, “But videogames are about entertainment and escapism. Videogames are about getting away from the horrors of the real world, and we want the websites about them to be the same”. Oh, really? Really? If this is your view and you write about videogames, you sure as hell better not be one of those who dare call themselves a ‘journalist’. You certainly can’t be one of those who wrote about, or approved coverage of, Palmer Luckey’s connection to organised Trump supporters for Kotaku, Eurogamer, Polygon, gamesindustry.biz, Destructoid, or any of the other dozens upon dozens of gaming sites that reported it. Because that would be hypocritical, wouldn’t it?
Donald Trump has called Mexicans rapists, appeared to admit to sexually assaulting women, threatened to jail his main political rival, has been officially endorsed by the KKK, proposed halting all Muslim immigration, has claimed climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, is due in court December 16th due to an accusation that he raped a 13 year old girl, has a complicated and unclear relationship with Putin and his government, and allegedly repeatedly asked a foreign policy advisor why America couldn’t simply use nuclear weapons on countries it doesn’t like.
And now he’s U.S. President-elect.
Of course there are fears of angering the less tolerant sections of their audience, and therefore scaring off advertisers. But the stakes were – and are – far, far too high to ignore. It’s too late now, perhaps. Wouldn’t it have been nice to see some sites brave enough to step forward and endorse Hillary Clinton, though? Not to mention interesting to see which ones stayed utterly silent, or even spoke up for Trump. These sites and their editors have almost by default admitted that they say or do nothing of significance in this world; that when it comes to matters of importance that directly influence their audience – and, indeed, that their audience can directly influence themselves – they can not, or will not, step forward. Sure, report on the Trump ad that rips off Mass Effect, ha ha, silly-hair Trump! But when it comes to drawing a line in the sand, throw your hands up in the air and back away as quick as you can, saying “nothing to do with me guv”.
If only Trump had proposed a policy legislating all publishers to follow Bethesda’s lead and withhold review code until launch day. I bet we would’ve seen plenty of endorsements and thinkpieces then.
“Oh no! Trump won! How did this happen?!!? I voted; if only there’s something more I could have done to help.”
*goes back to writing Overwatch and Destiny clickbait articles for a gaming blog with a million American readers*
Video game violence & glorification must be stopped—it is creating monsters!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2012