New series, woop woop
Welcome, ladies, gents and those outside the rigid gender binary, to Steam Sifter! There’s a lot of games on Steam, and a lot of them are given mixed or negative reviews, but are they all bad? After all, with gaming culture being a cesspool of jew hatin’ and vagina fearin’ as of the past few years, maybe some good stuff got buried by assholes, or maybe a good game just wasn’t given enough of a good shake. Maybe there’s something we missed in this flurry of releases worth salvaging. That’s where this series comes in, as I pick out games at random given majorly negative or mixed reception, give them a quick glance, and see if they’re worth giving a shot.
And for those of you thinking this is an awful idea that will lead me to playing horrific garbage and suffering unnecessarily for it, you’re right. Please stop me from doing this. Oh god.
To start us off, I decided to go with something I’ve been meaning to talk about for awhile now. It’s one of the more polarizing indie games on the Steam store, and for good reason. Also it pisses me right the fuck off and it gives me an excuse to rant about milquetoast liberal “both sides” bullshit. It’s time to shit on a game Total Biscuit calls a brilliant satire, Social Justice Warriors. I tried digging for that quote but searching “Total Biscuit Social Justice Warriors” made me feel like I was evaporating into the endless void of suffering.
I decided to start here because a) I already own this game, and 3) I hate this so fukkin much I swear god fuk. It’s also a type of bad that let’s me get up my own giant bum, because the problems aren’t the usual bad game problems, but more in theme, intent, and politics. It’s also a chance to explain what makes good satire and why satire is a slowly dying medium because reality has decided it’s time to go full dada and there’s nothing we can fucking do about it.
I almost feel like drinking.
First off, I need to establish what this game is and the reason it exists. The developers, Nonadecimal Creative, did have a perfectly understandable goal with this game, as they explain in a 2015 update. Basically, in April 2014, the elusive Nonadecimal saw an image going around saying to ignore people called “social justice warriors” and reflected on the mess of argumentative fighting called the internet, and decided to make a game that would help people realize the effects this sort of constant bickering could have on themselves and others. That’s Social Justice Warriors, a game where you pick a class and go argue with “trolls” about feminism and social politics. As you play, your sanity meter lowers with every attack, and you gain reputation as you go along. Sanity is necessary for accuracy, rep increases your power. Each class also reflects different common tactics you see in these sorts of arguments, with Paladins acting very idealistic and spreading hashtags to raise awareness, Mages using logical argument, Clerics rousing people to downvote opinions in mass for going against their beliefs, and Rouges weaponizing sock-puppets and scandal.
The whole point is to highlight what a death march arguing with assholes on the internet is, urging the player to use their time more wisely.
By the by, this came out May 2014. Just a few months before “ethics in gaming journalism.”
This game was already hit by unfortunate timing, but the developer’s response to this lunacy was basically to double down on their viewpoints in the face of overwhelming evidence that their views are not particularly insightful.
Social Justice Warriors is a satire game that aims to teach people self-control and to reflect on one’s self. It also fails miserably at this, partly because it is a satire. Here’s the dirty secret about satire today: It’s not for the people it targets. Satire has become preaching to the choir because time and time again, we see people not getting the joke or seeing how satire targets them because they’re so set in their views. A witty barb showing how idiotic MRAs are isn’t going to get MRAs to stop being misogynist wipes, it’s just going to make people who already hate them laugh. The Onion isn’t a popular satirical website because it teaches people, it’s popular because it’s really good at pointing out the absurdities of reality by presenting them in an absurd way. It keeps fooling people because so much of it is becoming believable in a world where Donald Trump has an actual shot at leading the free world by whipping up racists.
The days of A Modest Proposal are long past. You’re not going to teach people to calm the fuck down and grow as a person by getting them to play a game where the only winning move is not to play. This game fails to understand basic human behavior on such a level that it actually makes me a bit mad at times. The developer says its meant to be optimistic in teaching meditation and such, but it comes off more as defeatist. The fucked up thing about this game is that the “trolls” win. And they’re not trolls. They’re people who fucking believe this insane shit they’re spewing. You don’t even have to look at social media for examples, just go read up on that recent Libertarian party national convention. A guy with a fucking Iron Cross did a strip tease on stage and saying driving licenses should be required got boos from potential voters. People really can be that cut off from reality and ridiculously hateful, and be completely sincere.
There is a good game that can be made from exploring the dynamics of internet discourse, like emphasizing the dangers to one’s health interacting with toxic people can be, or showing an arc of a character realizing how dangerous his old beliefs used to be, and it would be worlds more effective than this dreck. The biggest problem here is that Social Justice Warriors is a game drenched in “both sides” bullshit, showing that SJWs and trolls presented are the causes of all of their problems. WHICH. IS. FUCKING. WANK.
To really highlight how out of touch with the horrifying reality of the world the developer is, we need only look at the Druid. This character appears randomly at points, a seemingly retired SJW, and gives you a riddle (usually with no right answer) that changes the current situation depending on what you respond with. However, the Druid is a condescending shitheap that mostly gives you riddles with four options almost no human being on the planet would ever consider a proper answer. Just look a this shit:
I don’t think there’s a more telling moment in this game of how full of shit the dev was. This is insulting to human beings in general. Who the hell thinks like this!? Hell, not even some of the worst assholes I’ve met even use logic close to this, and I’ve known people who’ve taken part in doxxing spreads and Twitter raids. When you try to gamify online discourse, you really need to study up, because there are a ton of nuances at play. Making broad parody and preaching to the player like this is only going to make people angry. Players of this game either only care about the mechanics, or realize what its actually saying and get pissed right the fuck off. And I can’t blame them. This game is more up its own ass than the entire Criterion Collection decision making committee.
The game, despite intent, seems to argue that “SJWs” and “trolls” are their own worst enemies are are mostly the same in how they make themselves miserable. We currently live in a world where women systematically have their lives destroyed because they have videogame opinions, queer people are egged on into suicide for the same reasons, and rando internet assholes are actually starting to join actual, legitimate hate groups, as in THE FUCKING NAZI PARTY, because of fucking videogame opinions. Don’t give me this both sides bullshit. This is not how you dissect and criticize cultural and political problems. This is how you become just another arrogant voice thinking they have everything figured out while people are fucking dying.
Nothing against the dev, I see what they were trying to do and I respect that, but royally fuck the game they made. This is offensive. This is trash. This is garbage. I have sat through a lot of awful, awful things, but few things got under my skin like this pile of vomit. When a man who still believes IQ is an actual indicator of intellect and thinks classism isn’t real thinks you’ve made a brilliant satire, you’ve gone terribly wrong somewhere.
This fucker is goes on my shit list. It has the worth of a cum stain. Don’t bother.
Hey you! Yes, you! Do you want me to cover something on the Steam store you think is terrible or wonder if its terrible with mixed or negative ratings? My Steam ID is JKDarkseid, feel free to gift me something and write in the message that it’s for Steam Sifter. Please, don’t spend a lot of money, and try not to get something too intensive (my graphics card only has 128 MB). I’ll get around to anything gifted to me eventually, and I’ll be sure to give you a shout out in the article as well.
If you want to support my writing, consider backing my Patreon, and check out the stuff I write for Hardcore Gaming 101 while you’re at it! I talk about games I actually like there more often than not!