BY CHAZ PLAGER
Many see gaming as one of two things: a solitary activity, or one to be enjoyed with friends. There has been a constant debate since the invention of games, asking if they could be more than simple entertainment. Could they be art? Could they change the world? Or could they spread a message?
To online user Jay Brandstetter, they can be all three. Following the recent wave of anti-LGBT laws passed in Florida and other states, Brandstetter has started a project for like-minded gamers to fight back against hate.
Originally, the project was meant to be a protest against Brigador game artist Jack “Gauss” Monahan, who remained employed by game company Stellar Jockeys despite a leaked private rant about his hatred for LGBT members, as well as denying the Holocaust.*
This isn’t the first time a game employee has been outed for hate speech. Recent allegations against Blizzard and Riot Games reveal that the game industry desperately needs to be re-evaluated.
To Brandstetter, the incident with Monahan combined with recent LGBT laws sparked the project to become something more. In Brandstetter’s own words, “I am seeking out artists who would be interested in contributing sci-fi artwork to this fundraising auction for charity.”
The theme of the art must be sci-fi, however, it can take any form. Creative writing, papier mâché, origami, painting, drawing, photography, and more are all welcome for this project. All funds raised through the auction will be donated to pro-LGBT charities. The details for which charity are still under discussion but will likely be figured out within a few weeks.
“What matters to me is just knowing that I succeed in sharing ideas and experiences with others,” says Brandstetter. “Rather than a protest, I like to think of it more as a way of turning the hurt I and others felt at having been betrayed by someone we idolized into a force for good.”
To me, this was somewhat surprising. I only came across it by chance when a friend mentioned that they were planning to join the project, but until then, I had thought that gaming was mostly, well, a game.
I had thought that games couldn’t really serve a purpose beyond being fun. In fact, many gamers outright resent when a game attempts to push a message or bring up a real-life topic, such as LGBT rights or race issues.
However, thanks to Jay’s project, now I can see that gaming can be a tool to spread change and hope rather than be simple entertainment. And with several other online friends of mine who live in those states being affected by those anti-trans legislations, I wouldn’t feel right not doing my part by spreading the word.
“We can’t stop him from putting out his game and we can’t stop people like him from buying it, but we can do our best to make sure that nobody has to be unaware of what they’re supporting when they buy it like we were,” says Brandstetter. “And if in doing so we can raise some money for a good cause and flex our creative muscles? Even better!”
If you wish to contribute to this project, email Jay at email@example.com.
*His rant can be found at https://postimg.cc/K1MdNRF7, archived. Content warning for hate speech.