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Developer asks GLAAD Awards to recognise games

Vagabond Dog's Justin Amirkhani wants games to be honoured for LGBT content

Justin Amirkhan, founder of Vagabond Dog, has asked LGBT media advocacy organization GLAAD to recognise games in its Media Awards. Amirkhan makes the request in the wake of the recent Tomodachi Life controversy.

"I'm saddened that when I went to your web site and looked at your extensive list of GLAAD Awards, I did not see a category for video games," he said in an open letter to GLAAD.

"Wouldn't it be great to honour and recognise outstanding examples in video games who strive for inclusion, rather than weigh in on this issue in a public manner for negative reasons instead of positive ones?"

While Amirkhan is pleased that GLAAD spoke out against Nintendo's decision not to include same-sex relationships in Tomodachi Life, he wants it to go further and recognise those games that do offer these choices.

"If organizations outside of the video game industry like GLAAD were to recognize the achievements of progressive games the same way our own industry frequently does, the choice for inclusion would be easier for many developers," he said, citing his own title Always Sometimes Monsters, which is released this month.

"We are not the first to include these choices, there are countless other games that have gone unrecognised for their inclusion over the years. Games that have sold millions upon millions of copies."

GamesIndustry International has contacted GLAAD for its response.

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Latest comments (24)

You got to love a bit of irony.
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Thomas Smith Studying PhD Computing Science, Newcastle University2 years ago
Where's the irony?
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Seriously?
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Show all comments (24)
Seriously. I'm not seeing any irony in asking GLAAD to recognise the few but increasing number of positive and nuanced portrayals of LGBT characters and themes in games.
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And the prize goes to Andreas.
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Still... not sure that actually counts as irony either. GLAAD are an LGBT media advocacy group, not just an awards ceremony. Commenting on, whether criticising or praising, the portrayal of LGBT people/themes in media properties is literally what they do, and they have given positive coverage to companies like Bioware more than once in the past. Frankly I'd have been more surprised if they hadn't commented on the Tomodachi Life mess.
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2nd definition of irony from google

Ľa state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.

If you preach that other people should include your group in what they do then you should practice what you preach and include their group in what you do.

If you preach that every group should be included because it's "normal for them" then you should include every group.

Do you see how the irony in this situation helps to illustrate the point that Nintendo weren't doing anything malicious (unless you also think GLADD are anti-games too) but simply making a simple game and not expecting such a tidal wave of BS abuse. But the mob won and they got their apology.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 13th May 2014 1:31pm

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Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend2 years ago
John, these are not the droids you should be talking to. ;D
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
@ John
But the mob won and they got their apology.
The implication from this is that apologising is a sign of weakness (though I'm not sure you intended that). It does show awareness, though, and this is why making it a "mob vs Nintendo" argument is wrong. Whilst TL won't be patched, it's a win for everyone if games companies in general become more aware of their customer base, and what that base expects.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 13th May 2014 3:44pm

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@Morville

What I'm saying is apologising is a statement of guilt. My problem is the adversarial way advocacy groups go about trying to enact change not the change they wish to bring about.

Using the power of the mob is dangerous and by mob I mean simply the whipped up anger of the moral majority.

There has been some very measured articles on this issue. One by Christian Nutt comes to mind but there's also been a lot that's simply gone way over the top.

@Darren

I know. :-(

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 13th May 2014 4:06pm

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Tom Keresztes Programmer 2 years ago
Whilst TL won't be patched, it's a win for everyone if games companies in general become more aware of their customer base, and what that base expects.
I did not even know that this game existed until I've read this article.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
What I'm saying is apologising is a statement of guilt.
It's not always, though, and not in the Nintendo/TL case. Apologising for making a mistake (malicious or not), and saying you'll learn from it (like Nintendo did), is not a statement of guilt. It's an acknowledgement that they aren't perfect.

In a very similar vein, it's informative to read this:

http://mikebithell.tumblr.com/post/85235457002/on-backing-down

And then look at Nintendo's statement again (though he wasn't talking about Nintendo, I think the same rules can be applied). :)
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But it wasn't a mistake at least not to begin with. They don't owe it to anyone to make their games a certain way unless you're talking from a financial point of view in lost sales. It's exactly the attitude that some people have that they're entitled to other people having to do things to accommodate them that I find wrong.

You disagree because you think we're all part of that big invisible thing called a society and right now it suits you so you don't see the danger. But you don't have to look too far to see when giving society the power to impose moral values on people isn't a good thing.
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Yes John, heaven forbid anybody seek to 'impose' values of empathy, inclusivity, diversity and equality on you by... saying things, expressing hurt/disappointment, etc. What a terrifying vision of the future.

I don't think I can roll my eyes hard enough at your thought police schtick. Seriously, I'm worried they're just going to fall out of my head.
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That wasn't what I was getting at. I have no problem with people expressing hurt or disappointment, in fact I mentioned an article which specifically did that as a good measured response but you're trying to deflect by trying to claim that was all that was expressed.

It went far beyond that. A website referring to the "bigoted heart of Nintendo" etc

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 13th May 2014 8:16pm

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John, you don't get to dictate to people how much hurt they're allowed to express. Calling the reaction 'sensationalism' and a 'mob' is ridiculous - lots of people were very upset, and had every right to be, by Nintendo's initial dismissal of their concerns. It was frankly insulting and if anything that was what made people so angry. If Nintendo wanted to downplay the outcry, they should have proofread their press release. They got the response it deserved.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
It's exactly the attitude that some people have that they're entitled to other people having to do things to accommodate them that I find wrong.
And that's your opinion. But I think your opinion is wrong. :p Why? Because inherent in your argument is that you don't think other people should ask for respect and equality either in games, or in the ability to play games. That sentence, actually, is so far-reaching, that it could cover any request from someone not part of the norm - LGBT, deaf, colour-blind, etc.

As an example to illustrate: Is it "entitled" to ask that match 3 games have different shapes as well as different colours? Or is it just asking for recognition and acceptance of colour-blindness? Another example: What about demanding subtitles for all characters, in all scenes, not just in-game? Entitled? Or just wanting to be part of this crazy-fun-lovin' industry we call gaming?
You disagree because you think we're all part of that big invisible thing called a society and right now it suits you so you don't see the danger.
I find it sad (in a genuine, not-sarcastic fashion) that you don't think this. :(
But you don't have to look too far to see when giving society the power to impose moral values on people isn't a good thing.
And the fact is that when society starts removing rights, it will have gone too far ("Hey Patriot Act, how you doin'?"). But in this context, I think legalising - or at the very least, forcing via bad PR - for acceptance of other cultures, sexualities, genders etc is a force for good. Especially in an industry that is still quite privileged.
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Morville there's things that minority groups have every right to demand of employers and government. I would go so far that even certain public gathering places that may be privately owned should fall under those requirements. I have a family member who is paralyzed so I know the trouble when these facilities aren't available.

However I wouldn't expect it of everyone or everything and it's the word expect that is important. Games are commercial entertainment products and there's a big difference from wishing games supported everyone and expecting them to.

Wherever possible I hope game companies support everyone but I don't think people should expect them to.

So yea I do think it was an over-reaction to start then calling the company that made the game bigoted, even if it was simply after they where a little bit flippant with their response.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
Wherever possible I hope game companies support everyone but I don't think people should expect them to.
That's fair enough. Again, I don't think your opinion is right, but *shrugs*. I will say that myself and other people will continue to irritate you, because we do expect games companies (and comics companies, and culture and society generally) to support minorities and the less able, and provide more equality. And - without offence - I think your opinion is one of the barriers that this industry has to overcome, both to become more accepted in the wider society, and to have more interesting experiences created.
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Hardly as I would try my best to make games as inclusive as possibe as most people if not all who take my view would do. I also noticed neither you or Jessica at no point distanced themselves from the people who called Nintendo bigots after intially not getting their way and if you think that's a positive way to campaign for minority rights then fair enough. Personally I think that behavior does more harm to advocacy groups than good. But hey that's fair enough.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 14th May 2014 8:22am

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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
Hardly as I would try my best to make games as inclusive as possibe as most people if not all who take my view would do
Damn. I genuinely meant to edit my post a teensy bit after I re-read it, but I ended up being called away, and then I fell asleep in front of Criminal Intent. :p

By "your opinion", I mean "opinions like your's". Which sounds a mealy-mouthed change, but isn't meant to be - I appreciate that you would make games as inclusive as possible, but there's no doubt some people with your same opinion, who wouldn't try.
neither you or Jessica at no point distanced themselves from the people who called Nintendo bigots after intially not getting their way and if you think that's a positive way to campaign for minority rights then fair enough
There is something to be said for naming-and-shaming in the most shocking way possible(which is why I didn't distance myself from it) but I suppose it's down to how it's phrased. Calling Nintendo bigots is as bad as saying "cultural differences", I think - both terms miss the root causes of what happened and why, which isn't useful in the long-run.

:)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 14th May 2014 8:51am

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I really want to leave this but you go on at me about me being sad about the fact I don't believe in "society". Can you not also see how I find it sad that you think people need to be forced into change? By we've gone over these things enough times so let's leave it. I accept you weren't meaning to personally insult me.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2 years ago
I accept you weren't meaning to personally insult me.
Cheers... That was honestly not my intent, and whilst we disagree/argue about all this, I'd hate for you to think I mean anything I say personally. :)
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I actually didn't. I understood what you meant to say but I also disagreed with that as well which is why I said that people who shared my views would also try to make their games as inclusive as possible. Ultimately you can force people to be inclusive but if that's the only reason they're doing it then all you'll get is tokenism and I don't think that's what anyone wants.
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