Content warning: racism, including anti-Asian and anti-Muslim racism.

Hello and welcome to Get Your Game On! My name is Zainabb, and this week has shone a stark light on the ongoing issue of racism, and particularly anti-Asian racism, across gaming. Remember to take care of yourself, support Black and Asian creators, and fight against racism in all areas of your life.

Anti-Asian Racism Continues to Be a Problem in Gaming

The past few years have seen an increase in anti-Asian racism across the western world, and gaming has a long way to go to address this issue. This week, Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok, who plays for the Overwatch League’s Dallas Fuel team, shared some of his experiences of racism while training in Dallas. Lee, who is South Korean, stated that “Being Asian [in the US] is terrifying” and that “Koreans living overseas should be careful. The racism here is no joke.”

He described the racism that he and his fellow Asian teammates have experienced “basically every day,” including acts of harassment and threats to their physical safety. He noted that wearing his team uniform in public was generally safer than wearing regular clothes, highlighting the issue that Asians are consistently considered “foreign” or “non-American.”

The general manager of the Overwatch League’s Paris Eternal team, Kim Kyoung Ey, shared that she’s had similar experiences in Dallas, to the extent that she stopped shopping in local supermarkets and bought groceries online to minimise the risk to her safety and wellbeing.

Activision Blizzard responded by stating that they “condemn racism in the strongest possible terms” and “stand with the Asian community, our employees, and our players.” They continued that they are “working… to do our part to combat hate and ignorance” although specific measures have not been detailed.

In addition, Dallas Fuel owner and Envy Gaming CEO Mike Rufail has said that he is “deeply saddened by the situations some of our Dallas Fuel players have been put in” in Dallas, and that everyone living in Dallas should “pitch in to change it.” Dallas Fuel has stated a commitment to protect their players but have not yet outlined the practical measures they’ll take.

Anti-Asian racism is a widespread and ongoing issue, and this week also saw Spell Check, an actual-play D&D podcast remove one of their players after it was revealed that they participated in bullying several BIPOC authors via a private Slack channel. YA author Rin Chupeco called out the group of white authors, including Emily Duncan, Christine Lynn Herman, Rory Power, and Claire Wenze for their racist bullying, including anti-Asian sentiments.

Emily Duncan has subsequently been removed from Spell Check, which has now gone on hiatus as they decide how best to proceed while protecting the wellbeing of their listeners. Duncan has previously been criticised for anti-Semitism in their work.

Duncan has since apologised and taken “an extended leave” from social media to become a better, non-racist person. However, many are calling on them to remain engaged and proactive in combating racism, especially given the targeted and long-term nature of their harmful behaviour.

Please continue to support Asian people, in gaming, publishing, and everywhere. If you can, please consider donating to organisations such as:

CAIR Calls on Gaming Companies to Deplatform Six Days in Fallujah

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the US’s largest Muslim-American advocacy organisation, has called on Microsoft, Sony, and Valve to deplatform upcoming first-person shooter Six Days in Fallujah. CAIR described the game, which recreates the tragic and violent events in Fallujah in 2004, as an “Arab murder simulator.”

CAIR argued that the game “glorifies violence that took the lives of over 800 Iraqi civilians, justifies the illegal invasion of Iraq and reinforces Islamophobic narratives” and that the game fails to respect or honour the ongoing impact of the US military tactics used in Fallujah on Iraqi citizens. This included the use of white phosphorous, which continues to impact children in the area today.

The game has received heavy criticism since it was announced this February, for launch later in 2021. The game has come under fire for centering (white) American perspectives, and perpetuating anti-Muslim narratives, which normalises violence against Muslims.

Twitch Announces That It Will Investigate Off-Platform Misconduct

Twitch has announced that it is expanding its policy on harassment and harmful behaviour to include harassment and misconduct that happens off-platform. This will involve working with a “third party investigative partner” alongside its own internal investigative team. Twitch will be hiring more people to their investigative team and will provide an email address that people can use to report issues off-platform.

Twitch has already been working to enforce their policy when someone is harassed off-platform if that person is also being harassed on Twitch. These additions to Twitch’s policy will enable them to take action against “serious offenses that pose a substantial safety risk to the Twitch community” even if there has been no violation of their policy on Twitch itself.

Twitch has included examples of the sort of misconduct that “pose a substantial safety risk”, including violent extremism, threats of mass violence, leadership or membership of a known hate group, and sexual misconduct (including exploitation of children but, notably, not of adults).

One of the examples stated in their policy update is “terrorist activities or recruiting” but there has been no move to ban the U.S. military from Twitch, despite their active recruiting and denial of U.S. war crimes. In relation, Twitch explicitly mentions that they will take action against members of “known” hate groups, which won’t necessarily mean accountability for general white supremacists or people who spew anti-trans hate, for example. These issues suggest a bias in who is considered dangerous or hostile, and who is centered in this harassment policy.

This is a step in the right direction for combatting the ongoing hostility, toxicity, and harm towards marginalised people on Twitch, which is often continued on social media platforms. Nonetheless, the measures outlined currently fall short of protecting the most vulnerable members of Twitch’s community.

In other news…

A Last of Us remake is coming to the PS5, but has been criticised by Sony’s Visual Arts Service Group, a group of developers who began work on the remake before the project was handed over, without acknowledgment, to Naughty Dog. The move highlights Sony’s prioritisation of commercial hits and the impact of this on its dev teams.

Microsoft have confirmed they’re going to release Xbox Series X mini-fridges after winning a Twitter competition. No further details have yet been announced but this is the sort of ridiculous PR content that I live for.

Nintendo have released Pac-Man 99 for Nintendo Switch Online members, which includes a 99-player online battle royale mode.

CG-animated film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is getting a 4K remaster, planned for release on June 8th, 2021. The new Blu-Ray edition will feature an extended director’s cut, so now’s a great time to play Final Fantasy 7 Remake to get familiar with the film’s lore.

Another Resident Evil Village showcase is coming on April 15th, streaming on Capcom’s social media channels. The showcase will present a new trailer and other news for the upcoming game.

 

The Build-A-Bear Animal Crossing line launched this week and promptly sold out, despite the line only featuring stuffed toys of Isabelle and Tom Nook. Fans can sign up to be notified when the toys will be restocked.

This year’s E3 will be fully virtual, with major games companies participating, including Nintendo, Xbox, Ubisoft, and Konami. The event will take place June 12–15th and all content will be free to access.

Jodie Turner-Smith has left The Witcher: Blood Origin, the upcoming Witcher prequel show from Netflix. Turner-Smith was set to continue her role as Éile but has had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts.

PC Gamer has reported that Epic is losing over $300m as it goes head-to-head with Steam. This loss comes from offering free and exclusive games, with Epic paying large advances to publishers for exclusivity rights.

Limited Run Games has announced a new FMV game called Ghosts, set for release in February 2022. The game can only properly be played at 10 p.m. in the player’s local time zone as it follows a cast of ghost hunters exploring haunted locations for a failing cable show.

Yahoo Answers is shutting down next month but they’re being archived… in a mod for The Typing of the Dead: Overkill. The mod will allow players to add 500 Yahoo Answers questions to their game, so questions like ‘How is babby formed?’ can live on in the form of virtual zombies.

Virtual witchy gaming conference ArCONa will be taking place April 24–25th. Organised by Lysa Penrose, the conference will feature diverse panelists discussing witchcraft and gaming. Excitingly, there’s a focus on non-western magic and intersectional witchcraft. You can find the full event schedule here.