Okay. I've never made a secret of how much I love White Wolf and their product line. It is my favourite RPG company, and I've always felt that they handled most things with class and taste, with a few little slips here and there (Read: Gypsies
). However, they've pushed something now to a point where I have to question my respect of them.
I read over Mikel's shoulder, as I often do, as he read over his LJ tonight. Some of you have bombyamon
on your friends lists, and therefore have read about White Wolf's latest step in the game market. This time it's not an RPG, but a CCG. This CCG is called Pimp: the Backhanding. You can find the link to it on bombyamom
's LJ, so I won't bother going off and getting it. If you read the promo for that game, you get to see references to macking ("a pimp's ability to bring home some pootang") and backhanding ("his ability to beat some ass"). It makes fun of these people by utilizing things such as "ho cards" and generally giving or taking away points for beating up prostitutes. You get to try and collect a harem of "hos" and pretty much see who makes the most money.
Damn, is this offensive, or what? Justin Achille justifies the damn game, and some of their advertising for it states pretty much out and out that you won't like it if you have no sense of humour. Apparently, if this low and offensive attempt and being funny doesn't strike you that way, then you have no goddamn sense of humour. I guess I'm in that category then, because I can find nothing funny about it.
I read the forum about it (yes, it has its very own forum now!), and people go on and on justifying it by stating how the pimps aren't real and that it's just a game and who cares and that whoever gets touchy about the thing just doesn't have any idea what funny is and they're too uptight. They compare it to games about pirates and vikings and ninjas and ask why no one is jumping on those games. You know, my big point is that if those games were making fun
of the misery and pain caused by these people, I would be far more indignant about it. This CCG makes fun of the concept of beating up on women and forcing them to make money for you. Yes, folks, this is a really funny concept, don't you agree?
I cringe horribly at this. Damnit, I know so many people who eke out their lives on the street in ways that they wouldn't if they had a choice. These people are victimized by not only pimps and johns, but by society in general. But hey, it's okay to make fun of it because it's just a game? Tell that to the prostitute that's being taken to the hospital because some john beat the shit out of her for fun, or because her pimp decided she hasn't made enough money for him. This happens
, damnit! This is not something to be made light of and to laugh at. It's wrong to do that. My God, I care about people in these situations. Justin is all adamant about how a big deal shouldn't be made of it because the pimps aren't real pimps, but pretty much caricatures of the pimps in feather hats and platform shoes. No, the pimps aren't real. No, the prostitutes aren't real. But for God's sake, real
prostitutes live on real
streets or in real
hovels, getting beaten by real
people and die real
deaths in real
hospitals/streets/cars/houses/whatever. Why is this so damn funny?! Why is it okay to poke fun at their situations and make a whole card game out of it? Someone on there said that making light of it will help make it go away. Bullshit. Goddamn bullshit. People have been telling racist jokes forever, making light of that
, but does that help the situation? No. It harms it and perpetuates a stereotype and a thought process. This is wrong
, just as this damn game is wrong
. Hell, when I told John about it, even he used that word to describe it, and he tends to be a little less likely to act that way about these things. But he was a cab driver for years and he had prostitutes as fares and he knows the miserable lives that most of them lead. He was offended, just as I'm offended. It's rare that we see eye to eye on things like this, so mark it down on your calendars.
Over the course of a few years here in Spokane, we had a serial killer running around. He was killing prostitutes by shooting them in the head and putting plastic bags over their heads before dumping them or burying them somewhere. He buried one in his own yard, without his family ever realizing it. He was caught and put to trial and is suspected of doing this in other places as well. I'm sure the people of Spokane and the people who cared about these prostitutes would find a game focusing on beating up people just like their loved ones to be really funny. They'd get a big laugh out of it, I'm sure. But hey, their feelings don't matter, because they'd just be being oversensitive anyway. Damn.
I love my extended family. I love every single one of them with a love that one only has for those they consider family. Because of that, and because of who they are and what they've gone through, maybe some people will consider that I have a right to some righteous indignation about it. Truth is, everyone
has that right. I could lose any one of these people that I love at any time due to bad circumstances on the streets. Sure, most of them aren't in danger of being killed by pimps or johns, but it's not too far a stretch to include other street people or gang members into the idea of this "game." They could just as easily make a game making fun these people because of their situations, which many had forced upon them. But hey, it's okay to make fun of them because who are they? No one important, right?
I remember Ethan making comments not all that long ago about how they would never make another book like Gypsies
because it singled out a group of people and thrust a stereotype upon them like it was the truth. He admitted that the book was a mistake from the get-go and that the mistake would not be made again. I applaud this idea. However, what makes it okay to do the same to this group of people? It's a culture in and of itself, but I guess the fact that it isn't one based on race makes it all right. I don't know if the game has male prostitutes, as a note. However, that I still find offensive. Men or women, it doesn't matter. I'm pissed either way. Of course, I don't know what most of the developers and writers think about this CCG, just what Justin and Conrad think. I don't know who all is involved and who supports it or hates it. I just know that the company found enough merit in it to sell it. I thought it was a joke when I first saw it, which was bad enough because there was really nothing funny about it, but you can order the damn game. There go those hopes, dashed to the ground.
I don't think that I need to point out that, from a feminist perspective, this game is absolutely horrible. People on the forum pointed out how women they knew laughed about it and found it funny, but so what? Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. For all anyone knows, they laughed because it was expected of them, just like some black people laugh at racist jokes so as not to seem oversensitive. There's nothing to laugh about in either case, really. I know that nobody here finds it at all funny, and well, there are a lot of people here. Hell, I know an entire gang
whose goal in part is to deal with people who they see or hear about messing with women. They, especially the leader (male, I might add, just as most of the gang is male), take disrespect toward women very badly, and they show it. Funny, isn't it? A group of what most people see as lowlifes shows more respect for women than a respected gaming company. That's pretty telling right there.
So there's my rant. I may add more later, but right now I think I've said enough. I'm of a serious mind to find the e-mail address of someone in charge there (not Justin, of course. He'd brush off my concerns as if they were of no matter whatsoever) and send a nice long e-mail to this person. They must be made to hear from people who have strong opinions on this. Imagine the image that White Wolf will get after releasing this game. Gaming companies get enough of a bad rap just because of roleplaying games. This isn't going to help their cause at all. I'll have to see about doing that, because I really do feel the need to air my opinion. It's not like I trust the forum to be an adequate place in which to do this as my point could be lost in the mire and confusion that is already reigning there. So I'll see what I can find and do what I can do, not that I expect my opinion to mean much to them. I hope I'm wrong with that, but I don't expect much right now.
Why, oh why, did you have to do this, White Wolf? Sigh.