Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Amelia C Gormley for taking the time to talk with us today.
Title: Player vs Player
Author: Amelia C Gormley
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction
Pushing for change can be dangerous when change starts pushing back.
Video game writer Niles River loves the work he does at Third Wave Studios: creating games with mass appeal that feature women, people of color, and LGBTQ characters. To make his job even better, his best friend is his boss, and his twin brother works beside him. And they mostly agree that being on the forefront of social change is worth dealing with trollish vitriol—Niles is more worried about his clingy ex and their closeted intern’s crush on his brother than he is about internet harassment.
But now the bodies on the ground are no longer virtual, and someone’s started hand-delivering threats to Niles’s door. The vendetta against Third Wave has escalated, and to make matters worse, the investigating detective is an old flame who left Niles heartbroken for a life in the closet.
No change happens without pain, but can Niles justify continuing on with Third Wave when the cost is the blood of others? If he does, the last scene he writes may be his own death.
Diversity in Gaming:
It’s Not Just Women and LGBT Players Who Have a Problem
Hello, and welcome to the Player vs. Player blog tour.
As I write this, it’s 10 PM Pacific time on Monday, November 24, 2014. I dedicate this first post on the Player vs. Player blog tour to Mike Brown, his family, and his community, and to the countless other victims of a justice system founded on white, heterosexual, male supremacy.
Roughly three and a half hours ago, I watched with my seven-year-old child beside me, while a man whose job is nominally to seek justice for the victims of crime bent over backward to handwave and excuse the murder of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer.
What does this have to do with Player vs. Player, you may ask?
The central conflict in Player vs. Player is about the struggle for diversity and representation in gaming and how that struggle can and does have real world ramifications. Yes, a large focus in the book itself is on issues of homophobia and sexism in gaming (because the genre is LGBT romance and because it was a couple specific incidences of women in gaming begin stalked and harassed that inspired the story) but racism and the representation of characters of color is also a highly problematic subject that the book also remarks upon.
Of the five most prominent characters in PvP, one is a Latina, one is black, two are of mixed Turkish descent, and only one is white. This was a deliberate choice on my part. I wanted to make it clear that Third Wave Gaming Studios, the fiction game development company featured in the book, addresses issues of racial diversity as well as LGBTQ and feminist issues. And I wanted to make it clear that gamers come in every color.
Gaming has a lot of issues with racial diversity. And because I’ve made it my goal with this post to amplify the voices of gamers of color rather than speaking over them, I’m going to first and foremost refer you to this master post on the Gamers of Color tumblr. Please take the time to read through the articles linked there.
As a white gamer, a lot of what happens with regard to racism in gaming goes over my head. Using the gaming fandom that inspired me to begin publishing original fiction, for instance, I cottoned pretty quickly to the obvious set up in the Dragon Age franchise of humans and their subjugation of the elves as a metaphor for racism, but I missed other subtleties until POC friends pointed them out. For example, the darker skin tones in Dragon Age: Origins were so awful and rubbery that the only way you could play an aesthetically pleasing POC player character was to download player-made modifications. DAO also had a problem in that if you created a POC character of certain backgrounds, your family would still default to white.
This was corrected to some degree in Dragon Age II, (and, according to what I’ve been seeing online, is even better still in the new Dragon Age: Inquisition) but there were still plenty of other issues. One friend observed that if she used certain armors that didn’t have gloves covering the hands, her character’s face might be black, but the hands would be white. Because the developers assumed the armors would be worn by white avatars and didn’t think to account for the possibility of POC avatars when designing the models. There was one rather infamous example of whitewashing in the marketing of DA2, where Isabela, a character of color, was shown as white in the marketing images. And of course, there’s the fact that the default avatar is white.
Now, that was three years ago, and it’s obvious that BioWare, at least, is trying to make steps in the right direction. Manveer Heir, of BioWare Montreal has given some notable speeches and interviews on the subject of diversity. But on a whole, gaming has a long way to go.
Study 1 revealed that, in video game magazines, minority males, underrepresented generally, were more likely to be portrayed as athletes or as aggressive, and less likely to be depicted in military combat or using technology, than White males. Study 2 also showed evidence of the ‘‘dangerous’’ minority male stereotype in video game covers. Again, underrepresented overall, minority males were overrepresented as thugs, using extreme guns, and also as athletes. Study 3, an experiment, exposed players to both violent and nonviolent games with both White and Black characters. Participants were faster at classifying violent stimuli following games with Black characters and at classifying nonviolent stimuli following games with White characters, indicating that im ages of popular video game characters evoke racial stereotypes.
One of the most frequent arguments of those who oppose criticism of gaming is that the fact that the fact that the white, male protagonist commits violence (often sexualized or glamorized) against characters who are female, queer, or POC isn’t a problem because those characters villains.
Take a moment. Let that sink in. When characters of color appear, they are frequently villains. The white male protagonist kills them. And that’s okay because they were villains.
You can see why gaming has a really BIG problem in its handling of these issues.
I have a seven-year-old son. Tonight I had to try to find a way to explain to him the tears in my eyes, and make it clear that a terrible injustice had been committed.
Each year, he gets more and more into games. Which I like. My husband isn’t a gamer, so ever since my son was born, I’ve been excited over the prospect of him being my gaming buddy. I look forward to sharing a lot of my favorite games with him.
But part of my obligation as a white parent is to try to raise my son to NOT place less value on the lives of people whose skin color is darker than his. Which means I have a problem when that is precisely the message so many games are sending. That people of color are criminals. That white “heroes” are justified in committing violence against them.
That’s what the lack of an indictment for Darren Wilson has to do with Player vs. Player. There are many, many gamers of color who don’t deserve to see representations of themselves treated this way. And many young white gamers who might learn how to look more compassionately upon people who are different from them if they saw representations of those people who are different treated with dignity and justice in the fictional worlds they inhabit.
We need to raise our children to be better than the Darren Wilsons of this world. And that starts with the messages they see in the media around them. That’s what Third Wave, my fictional gaming studio, is trying to accomplish. That’s what many real, independent game developers are trying to accomplish, also.
So please, support those developers and help grow the demand for and availability of diverse games and media that will help teach our children how to build a more compassionate and just future.
About the Author:
Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.
Her self-published novel-in-three-parts, Impulse (Inertia, Book One; Acceleration, Book Two; and Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major online book retailers, and be sure to check Riptide for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the The Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), the post-apocalyptic romance, Strain, her New Adult contemporary, Saugatuck Summer, and of course, Player vs. Player, available now. She is presently at work on two more novels set in the Strain universe, Juggernaut and Bane, coming summer/fall of 2015.
Amelia C Gormley has kindly offered
Locally held contests will end 7 days from original posting date at 8pm CDT. Must be 18 or older to enter, void where prohibited.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|