Editorial 24: Aug Lives Matter

If prospective readers are offended by what I write I cannot stop them. These days everyone gets offended over stupid things that do not mean anything. Not long ago we had GamerGate, a pissing contest of idiots arguing over the political/cultural nature of videogames. While I am a game critic, I know they are just toys, and making a big deal out of them does nothing for the world. However, I still like playing and writing about them, regardless of my nihilism. It is ironic considering I am about to articulate why I will not be buying the upcoming Mass Effect: Andromeda for political/cultural reasons.

At the time of this posting Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is out and I am playing it for review. Earlier in month concept art of the game was revealed with the phrase “Aug Lives Matter” in reference to Black Lives Matter. I find this appropriation quite clever considering the game’s story of cyborgs being treated like second-class citizens. As cultural satire the slogan is also brilliant and relevant to today, but not everyone thinks the way I do, unfortunately.

Enter Manveer Heir, gameplay designer for Andromeda at BioWare. Unable to mind his own business, he expressed his opinion on the slogan via Twitter, saying the team behind Mankind Divided does not understand the real issue enough to use a similar name. Andre Vu, brand director for the game, responded to Heir that they were not pretending to know anything, and the similarity was coincidental. The two went on with both sides maintaining their position, Vu explaining himself the best he can, and Heir remaining critical. The entire conversation can be found following this link.

In today’s videogame culture, this kind of dialog happens everyday. You have Anti-Israel activists, ultra-nihilists, and post-modern feminists arguing amongst themselves about toys made to entertain. After GamerGate this behavior became a common occurrence that I have accepted as part of social media. The drama with Heir and Aug Lives Matter would have ended a day later if more sinister details did not come to light shortly thereafter.

Apparently, Heir harbors his own racist opinions he has published to Twitter over the years. They include jokes, insults, and doublethink where he believes his racism is a form of standing up to racism. To avoid making this paragraph cluttered with descriptions, here are a few choice quotes from Heir’s Twitter. As a wise man once said, brace your ass:

“I follow too many white dudes, so if you get culled, tough shit. Blame the dominance of your species/race/gender.” (20/4/’14)

“Some people think America’s past-time is baseball, but it’s actually protecting white fragility.” (30/10/’15)

“No class required when murdering white people (we all know only white people say “snowquester”)” (6/3/’13)

“Sorry, I only accept cut off ears of white men as payment.” (14/6/’15)

“The real terrorists are already on American soil and they are white.” (10/9/’15)

You are probably thinking I am blowing this situation out of proportion. You might say, “But you’re privileged,” “You have it coming,” or my personal favorite “You can’t be offended because you’re white.” Well, disembodied voice representative of liberal, left-leaning readers, allow me to count the ways you are wrong.

Like Adam Jensen from Deus Ex, I never asked for this. I was born a white male of Scotch/Sicilian descent because that is how I was supposed to be. Regardless if I was the result of fate, a god, or chemical reaction, I was irrevocably made. I cannot change who I am, what I have become, and where I have been. For years I struggled to define my character and figure out who I truly am. After going to school, making friends, losing friends, and leaving home, I have finally discovered me:

I am a man who respects what he is because nothing can change what has been done. In the end, I will be judged not by what I am, but how my choices have defined my character.

Of course, skin color is the only determinate people see. To them, I am not a writer with his own opinions and life experiences; I am a white heterosexual male that is inherently evil because dead people did some bad things in the past like slavery and imperialism. To Manveer Heir, I am not a loyal fan of Mass Effect and a gamer; I am an unperson that does not deserve to be recognized as a human. I am defined not by character, but by color, genitals, and the acts of people I have never met. My existence is an affront to women and minorities, who are so hurt by my presence I must be shamed and segregated, lest I make them cry.

A part of me would like to retreat, to remain in my own world, and ignorant to the turmoil culture and politics have wrought upon what I used to enjoy. I could still love videogames, comics, and movies if I shut out all the noise. I wish I could be like Super Best Friends Play and just enjoy games like they are games. But that part has long since died, snuffed out by the experience that has defined my character. I cannot and will not stand for this blatant hatred of what I cannot change. No one should be put down for their color, chromosomes, sexuality, or the sins of corpses. These whiners and agitators are ignorant troglodytes without the intellectual fortitude to see beyond their sophistry and doublethink.

Solving the problem of people like Manveer Heir is impossible. Unless Twitter bans him, he will continue to flaunt his poison. Hatred is inevitable, but small actions always lead to bigger results. In the case of Heir, to defeat him, the only ethical and moral solution is to not buy Mass Effect: Andromeda. Money talks and if we come together in protest, the game will fail and Heir would be disgraced because the failure would be on him.

I did not want to talk about some twerp at a major game studio that could not keep his opinions to himself. I try to avoid political topics in my writing because I make the subject personal. When you bring up race, regardless of who you are targeting, someone is going to say something. Because I respect myself and not whiners and agitators, I will be missing out on Mass Effect: Andromeda. It was probably going to suck anyway. If you are reading this, Mr. Heir, I want you to remember that Aug Lives Matters.

Yours does not.


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