I’m not surprised but I am disappointed that in the year of our Molyneux 2023 it still needs pointing out that you don’t have to spread the words of the right/the fash/bigots for them. It’s perfectly okay, desirable even, not to.
And yet, on a couple of occasions in the past few weeks, that’s precisely what a segment of the press have managed on multiple occasions – yes, Kotaku, I’m especially looking at you here – to pull off.
The more obvious “you don’t need to do this” goes to publishing a chunk of someone’s rather nasty screed in a videogame that was pitched to get as much attention as possible (in this case, by exploiting a perfectly normal store feature whilst also offering free copies of the game to ensnare the curious).
I can understand the urge to write about the game exploiting the vector it did but did anyone really need to post chunks of the screed verbatim and do an impromptu interview with the dude that set the whole charade in motion? No, they absolutely did not need to do any of that. None of that needed to happen.
The less obvious (and to my mind, more insidious) comes with the urge to write an explainer on whatever thing the right are using to fuel their incessant and perpetually shifting culture war. Less obvious because, after all, you’re only explaining things. What harm could it do?
It is one thing to keep an eye on what the abusive fringe of folks in videogames are up to but both of these examples (hello again Kotaku, though you are not on your own) miss the point that even if you lay the right’s argument out in a sober AP style, even if you go to lengths to explain it with the occasional fact check breaking things up…
…even if you do all that, you’re still ultimately just spreading their nonsense and propaganda further for free. You’re still publishing their ideas, their angle as nonsensical and ill founded as it may be, you’re still providing them another venue to bring their bullshit to. And you’re gaining nothing. The people making these disingenuous arguments know they’re lying, their intent is solely to clog up the system with the bullshit. There’s nothing to explain. They’ll move on to something else in the blink of an eye.
If I may be so bold, I’d like to suggest that when it comes to our rightwing fringe, nobody needs to be doing their work for them, no matter the temptation, no matter whether you think you’re helping, no matter if it captures some SEO traffic. There’s thousands of ways people can address bullshit without falling into the trap of doing the work the bullshit is intended for.
Videogames, it’s long overdue catching up with that.