It’s another one of these posts where I briefly pretend to be a more news-y establishment, and boy is there News.
A while back, I did a small interview with @TheStorySinger, an audio professional that was making an educational game meant to tell the real life problems that marginalized gender people face in the audio industry. I usually don’t take requests to cover stuff, but this was an important issue that isn’t as high-profile as the more general game industry abuse stuff which… hasn’t really improved since I did that interview.
The game, #AudioIndustryGame, is now out. I thought about doing a usual write-up on it, but I felt that there’s no need. Writing about this would mean discussing the issues in the audio industry, and the game already speaks for itself when it comes to those issues, given that it consists of real testimonies. So, I recommend checking it for yourself if you wish to be educated about this stuff!
Game Jolt is primarily a content host for games, though unlike itch.io, there’s a bigger focus on being a social platform. That aspect of Game Jolt’s become more pronounced over the years, culminating in Game Jolt raising a bunch of money to expand into a more proper social media platform. This is also a big reason why the site’s suddenly purged NSFW content.
Game Jolt is kinda pulling a tumblr situation where they’re purging the site of adult content with the stated reason of it being made to protect younger users, regardless of how the content is used. In a reply to @boogadrew, Game Jolt officially claimed that “we’re a platform with a large audience of 13-16 year olds that have requested we remove these types of games from our platform.” And like, yeah, younger people shouldn’t pursue this kind of stuff, but they’re absolutely not going to complain that it exists unless they’re weirded out by people being sexually attracted to characters their age, I guess.
Like, Game Jolt should just be honest and say that they’re doing it to appease Apple’s extremely conservative policies to get an app on their store. Discord censored NSFW servers on iOS only and tumblr recently put more iOS exclusive limitations, this isn’t a new thing. We all know that this is because of Apple, come on.
Unsurprisingly, there’s been a bunch of people unhappy about this. Especially when the Game Jolt Twitter account did cutesy and snarky replies to people complaining about this? This is condescending and cringe. Shut the goddamn hell up with this uwu-tier garbage.
A problem with a blanket adult content ban is that it targets all content regardless of how explicit it is or the context in which more adult stuff is used. The aforementioned @boogadrew made Those Darn Nipples, a game where you play around with nipples in a sincerely non-horny way and is effectively a commentary on people seeing nipples as inherently sexualized, but that got removed from Game Jolt, on top of its already pre-existing ban from Android.
With that in mind, what is considered “pornographic” by bans like this is extremely subjective and easily abusable. There’s a more specific problem for banning adult stuff, which kinda ties into the next topic!
Tabletop Simulator/LGBT Censorship
So, let’s talk about Tabletop Simulator. Tabletop Simulator is exactly what the name suggests, allowing people to play simulations of tabletop games and board games directly within in.
Things kinda went to hell when a moderator banned someone for saying that she was gay in the game’s chat, and found that she was consistently getting banned by an official moderator for expressing that she was gay and trans in the game’s global chat, despite finding that other off-topic, more egregious behavior wasn’t a bannable offense in the eyes of the same mod. The justification for getting banned was that Tabletop Simulator was “not a place to discuss sexuality, fetishes, politics,” and given that this person didn’t get banned for jokingly saying she was straight, it gives the impression that talking about her identity was inherently political or fetishistic.
People understandably got upset about that, and then things got worse when far-right gamer freaks aligned themselves to the game because their stance on politics in games is actually just hating minorities and vaguely left-leaning things.
On that note, let’s talk about the view of talking about gay or trans identity as being a fetish. There’s a lot of horny queer content, yeah, but queerness isn’t inherently sexualized. The idea of queerness being inherently sexual is regressive and harmful, especially to younger people trying to understand themselves or asexuals, or you know, people that just don’t want to be stereotyped. But there are clearly plenty of people that equate expressing sexuality to being sexual.
So, what does that mean with regards to adult content bans, especially if what constitutes as adult content is defined loosely? Well, you could expect adult LGBT games to get on the chopping block immediately, regardless of how suggestive they actually are – and even LGBT games that aren’t horny at all. If someone’s conservative enough to go on an anti-porn crusade, don’t count out them bundling even non-horny queer content with that, and Game Jolt could easily go down that route.
I can get Game Jolt having its hands tied because this is likely because of Apple, but I don’t respect how they’ve gone about it. As for Tabletop Simulator, well, the developer’s put out the obligatory notepad apology note while temporarily taking down their global chat. In response to the hell that happened on the game’s page, Tabletop Simulator‘s did the centrist move of hiding/removing reviews and forum topics that are either criticizing the game for the moderator’s actions or the right-wing freaks that think it’s epic, actually. It’s a response that walks down the middle road, the path of cowards.
Like, yeah, you’re shutting out the assholes, but by shutting out the people they hate, you signal that there’s a place for them if they just go mask on about their hatred. If you leave the wriggling room for fascists to fit in, they’ll find a way in eventually. If Tabletop Simulator’s truly serious about being a family-friendly environment, they should take a serious stand against those people instead of upset marginalized people.