Sony’s biggest event in the last seven years was scheduled on June 4. Titled “The Future of Gaming”, the event was supposed to showcase the PlayStation 5 and chart Sony’s vision for gaming in the next generation; an event with a lot riding on it for Sony. However, the event never happened.
As the United States protests, deliberates and ignores the untimely end of another promising life in George Floyd, the gaming community’s unanimous message is loud and clear, for them black lives matter. Period.
Rockstar, the makers of Grand Theft Auto, suspended their online services for a stipulated time of two hours in an unprecedented halt for gaming activities worldwide, to honour the legacy of George Floyd. Sony cancelled its event as it felt it was not the right time for a celebration.
Similarly, Activision, the makers of Call of Duty, decided to delay new content, seasons and updates across platforms till further notice because it felt the timing just wasn’t right, drawing attention to its community hurting and calling the systemic injustice and inequality faced by the black community heartbreaking.
As key players in the gaming industry decide to support the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, developers like EA, Square Enix and Devolver Digital have pledged funds as well as promised to match the donations of their employees’ for the cause.
It is important to examine this sudden halt at a time when the world is requesting people to stay safe indoors and gaming as an activity has helped alleviate the boredom for billions worldwide. When Presidents feel it is suitable to tweet out to protesters about Presidential residences being guarded by “most vicious dogs, special agents eager for action and most ominous weapons”, democracy both as a concept and a form of government loses its essence and meaning.
In the “age of anything can happen” as presented by Salman Rushdie in his book Quichotte, it seems possible for a head of State to use the Army against his citizens who are braving a pandemic to protest shortcomings in the State’s machinery.
It is, thus, heartening to see the often-divided gaming industry take a coherent stand. Almost surprising in fact, when a section of the society stereotyped as both asocial and detached from reality is one of the first on the right side of the moral and ethical divide. Days like these make me proud to be a gamer!
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