There’s recently been some drama in the video game community and specifically within my circles and in regards to things I am interested in. So I decided that I should weigh in on it. Basically people are angry because video game developer Playtonic removed some audio samples from YouTuber JonTron from their upcoming game Yooka-Laylee because he has recently made some political comments which they have deemed offensive (and they are.)
First, let me be clear that I have no bias. I love JonTron’s video content and think that he is very talented. I love Playtonic because they are made up of many talented people and I think Yooka-Laylee looks amazing. I am not more likely to take either side in a dispute. But the fact is, what JonTron said was very racist. It wasn’t just an “offensive opinion” it was actual, harmful prejudice. And what did he say? Well, a lot of misinformed things, actually, but most disappointing of all was that he said that certain races were more disposed towards committing crimes due to their genetics. This is white supremacism. He is saying that white people are naturally more ‘moral’ than other races. This is the kind of logic people use for taking human rights away from others.
I appreciate that JonTron is likely speaking from a point of complete ignorance, that he may well be a nice person in real life and that these perspectives might be completely detached from the way in which he interacts with people in his life, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is saying that millions of people are inferior due to their race. (And I am, of course, giving him the benefit of the doubt a lot here too.)
JonTron’s words could very easily cause people of other races to feel very upset because he is dehumanising them. What he has said could also encourage others with extreme perspectives to be more open about their thoughts and could potentially cause them to do things which are more directly harmful to others. It adds to a much bigger problem and legitimises hatred. It makes complete sense that Playtonic would not want to be professionally associated with him as a result of this.
To be honest, I was quite proud of Playtonic for taking a stand. People who are against them are saying that they are taking a political stance, when really they are distancing themselves from JonTron who chose to be political, so they’re doing the opposite of taking a political stance. People say that it’s disrespectful to their backers who would have supported the game they’re working on because JonTron was due to be in it, but I struggle to imagine that anybody wanted to buy the game because of a few grunting noises made by JonTron. His contribution would have only ever been a minor (but pleasant) addition.
Personally, I don’t even think it’s a complicated issue. JonTron has expressed extreme white supremacist views and of course there are going to be consequences. He is not being punished for having an opinion, he is being ‘punished’ (not that he’s really lost anything, as it was not a paid role) due to the fact that he shared harmful and regressive misinformation. Which is why I stand with Playtonic.