Opinion: Fandom Needs a Reboot

Opinion: Fandom Needs a Reboot

on | OpenCritic

Games discussed:

I didn't expect my first editorial as a part of OpenCritic to be one that's very likely going to stoke flames or get people hounding me with vile on social media, but here we are. Fandom is toxic. Clinging to the past is pointless and self-defeating. Standing bullheaded and unwavering in the face of change will only make the world pass you by that much faster. It's high time we take off the rose-colored glasses, put down the pitchforks, and try to accept change as it comes. This hobby, this industry, is better when it evolves and tries to push the boundaries.

Of course, I'm talking about the recent uproar over just about everything announced leading up to and during E3. First it was Battlefield V's female protagonist. Then it was Gears of War 5's female protagonist. Then it was a gay kiss in The Last of Us - Part 2. Why is there a segment of gaming culture that finds these things so contentious? Is it as wide-spread as it seems, or is it just that the upset are more liable to take offense and make their voices heard (or read, in the case of social media).

I don't think I need to point out that there were indeed awesome badass women in World War II. I don't think I also need to point out that Battlefield V is a videogame, a fantasy, and ergo does not need to be 100% factually accurate either. See the GIF below, from Battlefield 1. These fans weren't worried about their realism then, were they?


Gears of War was always a game about huge muscled dudes killing aliens. But 4 introduced Kait Diaz, and the Coalition dev team smartly realized she was just about set to have one of the best stories. Now number 5 is apparently featuring her in a leading role, which is sure to upset the Marcus Fenix fanatics of the world. To which I say... get over it. Man or woman, this is a game about people fighting fictional monsters and surviving against impossible odds. It's not a character's sex that makes them interesting, but their stories, and sometimes their actors. Need I point out that one of the best parts of Star Wars Battlefront 2 was its leading lady?

And then there's The Last of Us - Part 2, which somehow shocked people when they saw Ellie was a lesbian. Apparently, they did not play the standalone Last of Us: Left Behind, in which Ellis gets all lesbian up in that piece.

People - there are worse things to get upset over than whether a character has testicles or ovaries in a video game. No one cared that Samus Aran was the original badass woman in games, so why do we care now? Instead of raising the pitchforks over whether or not something is "HiStOriCaLLy AcCuraTe", I'd say a better waste of our collective gaming nerd energy would be to rally against awful business practices like loot boxes, five year long Early Access periods, All or Nothing DLC season passes, and shoddy console or PC ports. Let's focus on what really effects us as consumers, and stop getting your knickers in a twist when a gaming company decides to show a little diversity in its game cast.

Believe me - the world has had enough of straight, muscled, grizzled, white dude heroes. We can use some new blood. Bring on the Ms. Marvels and Riri Williams to gaming.

About the Authors

Bill Murphy has been blogging and pontificating about video games since 2002. Always ready with more to say than anyone could possibly want to read, he began his professional writing tenure at IGN's Vault Network as an Assistant Community Manager in 2006. Later he moved on to Ten Ton Hammer, and then finally landed a gig as Lead Writer at MMORPG.com and, which has evolved into his current role as Managing Editor. In 2017, he co-founded the all-games site GameSpace.com He lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his beautiful wife, two young sons, and small army of dogs and cats.