Update: If you came here by clicking a link telling you this was a pro-SJW game or anti-SJW game, maybe you should read this post.

Last week (May 12, 2014) I released a satirical game called Social Justice Warriors.

Why I Made Social Justice Warriors

I first heard the phrase “social justice warrior” when the image of “SJW videogame journalists to avoid” circulated around the game dev community. I didn’t know anything about the journalists on the list, but it seemed ridiculous that someone was advocating ignoring more than twenty writers from prominent sites. After learning more about the phrase, it struck me as a strange label intended to unilaterally invalidate someone’s opinions and silence them. The words “justice” and “warrior” are too empowering to be wasted in a pejorative label so I decided to respond the best way I know: with a videogame.

I chose not to depict social justice warriors as the negative stereotype but as a symbol for any human standing up against ignorant people. By pairing social justice warriors with the opposing label used to dismiss someone online – troll – in a modernization of a medieval fantasy RPG, I hoped to get people talking about how we interact online.  I have a bad habit of scrolling through the comments sections of every article I read.  Even mundane articles about the third quarter earning reports of aluminum smelting companies are prone to random outbursts of racism and sexism.

There were plenty of tweets flying around turning the SJW journalist image into videogame jokes.

I was happy to make some of them a reality.

The Message in the Gameplay Mechanics

Obviously videogames are a subjective experience and they’ll mean something different to every person. Nonetheless, I tried to construct gameplay mechanics that could inspire certain perspectives.  I did my best to make the game accessible to all people, not just ones with a specific stance on social issues.

1) The game is a thought experiment that removes the ambiguity of real life interaction. The trolls are blatantly bigoted and the warriors are justified in standing up against them. However, instead of only offering attack options that uphold that paragon virtue, I gave the player the choice to make an inflammatory character attack that is more effective against the troll at a small cost.  Without this choice, the game would have just been a one-dimensional exercise.

The game’s high score table encourages the player to defeat more trolls, feeding the temptation to compromise virtual morality for an emotionally-driven triumph over each troll. After all, it’s only a troll. I hope people realize this danger of labels turning an argument into an us-vs-them scenario which shifts the focus onto their opponents instead of the social issue.

2) Players face an endless series of one-on-one arguments with trolls. There is no victory condition so only 3 eventual outcomes are possible for the player: their mental faculties are worn down by conflict, their reputation is obliterated by the troll’s defamation or their own, or they ragequit. I hope players become more cognizant of the personal cost of engaging caustic individuals relative to what society will gain from the argument.

I’m not advocating letting racism, sexism, and other injustices go unchecked.  However, how often will arguing with a racist in the comments of a youtube music video change their worldview or their behavior?  Surely there is a better way for a socially conscious individual to spend that same time on activism that can educate many open minds instead of one stubborn one.

3) I hope that bystanders might be more understanding when they see someone respond to a discussion about social issues with a hostile comment. Instead of branding that person a “social justice warrior” and dismissing them outright, maybe they’ll consider that this person might have just been attacked by 12 trolls straight and is dealing with a low sanity meter.

Likewise, a “troll” may just be a person speaking from their limited perspective of the world and the people in it, simply unable to empathize with your life experiences rather than being an inhuman monster.

I was in a chat room where someone was complaining about a heated online argument with a stranger in which they had become entangled. Another person advised them to play Social Justice Warriors and realize they were wasting their own time in conflict. That single reaction to the game made me feel justified that my game can have a positive impact.

Plus there’s always the chance that the game’s name and pixelated heroes will make the phrase “social justice warrior” seem so silly that people stop using it as a negative label altogether.

In light of these intentions, it was disappointing to watch people begin immediately assigning Social Justice Warriors dismissive labels of “pro-SJW game” and “anti-SJW game” after release.  I’ll be back next week with another post analyzing these reactions and how they turned Social Justice Warriors into a meta game beyond my wildest imaginings.

You can try Social Justice Warriors yourself and see how it alters your perspective for just $1 $8.  If you think the game has value, please vote for it on Steam Greenlight.  It was greenlit and releases on Steam February 27th. Thank you!

 

Making a Social Justice Warriors Game

24 thoughts on “Making a Social Justice Warriors Game

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  • May 29, 2014 at 2:26 pm
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    I don’t think you did enough research on SJW, they are the most ignorant people on the planet, obsessed with their circular “it is because it is” or “feels before reals” mindset. I didn’t agree with the list (except Polygon, possibly Kotaku? but there’s lots of good reasons why you shouldn’t be reading either of those sites beyond their SJW/PC biases) but championing SJW is quite backwards, they would like to silence anything they perceive to be racist, because only SJW are fit to decide, in their twisted minds.

    Reply
    • May 31, 2014 at 2:26 pm
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      You can’t really say ALL of them are bad without becoming much like the bad ones (which do exist), its tarring an entire group with the same brush which simply does not work with reality.

      Reply
    • June 20, 2014 at 11:23 pm
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      SJW Says: “You should be more open minded.”

      SJW Means: “You should think the way I do.”

      Reply
    • September 18, 2014 at 10:51 am
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      I’ve been on Tumblr for 3 years now. I’ve seen the rise of SJWs. I know what their mindset is like.

      YOU are no different from THEM.

      Not only that, but it’s people like you that lead to people like them! People like you aren’t sensitive, you don’t think anything’s a big deal. Other people eventually get sick of that, except they just go to the other extreme. It’s this cycle of insensitivity versus oversensitivity, which is a part of a larger cycle of one extreme versus another extreme. People like you and them, you all think ONE train of thought should be applied to EVERYTHING. You refuse to adapt to reality in favor of some oversimplistic fantasy.

      I know I’m wasting my breath here because people like this are utterly incapable of comprehending the possiblity that you might not be entirely right, but whatever.

      Reply
    • September 18, 2014 at 12:09 pm
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      This.

      It’s pretty obvious the dev doesn’t understand satire. Instead of satire we have an earnest attempt by the dev at propping up SJWs without critically working through their assumptions.

      Also, the dev shares a widespread pessimism that there is an overwhelming army of ignorant piss-heads, and becomes just as haughty and elitist as his/her beloved SWJs.

      Reply
  • June 4, 2014 at 11:37 pm
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    Wait this game ISN’T making fun of SJWs intentionally? hahaha

    Reply
    • June 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm
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      it’s making fun of sjw. it’s making fun of you. close the browser and go outside for a bit. 🙂

      Reply
      • October 4, 2014 at 5:51 am
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        Agreed, this Anti-SJW BIGOT needs to check his privilege and learn to become the supreme gentleman.
        Seriously, these white sexually active males make me sick. Think that that women are ENTITLED to have sex with them. Did you know 1 in 10, I mean 1 in 5, no 1 in 1 women get raped per day?!?! This is unrefutable PROOF that we live in a RAPE CULTURE.
        Yet, this bigoted, misogynic, transphobic SHITLORD named Mike wants his hateful propaganda game. He should go back to his Doritos and Mountain Dew and Call of Duty amirite?

        Reply
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  • September 14, 2014 at 4:49 am
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    The proof that you didn’t do enough research is that your Hall of Heroes consists of white men. Have the SJWs denounced you for racism and sexism yet?

    Reply
  • September 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm
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    It’s especially arrogant and nonsensical to take a boycott of corrupt journalists and call it an attempt to “silence” them. If an idiot is yelling in my face, and I walk away, are my actions “silencing” them?

    I don’t believe the author of this game isn’t an SJW.

    Reply
  • November 3, 2014 at 8:18 am
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    Wait, wait. Are we playing the game already?

    Reply
  • January 29, 2015 at 12:07 pm
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    This is pretty meta.

    Reply
  • February 6, 2015 at 7:35 am
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    Interesting how literally none of the comments have been from the SJW side.

    Reply
  • February 28, 2015 at 4:26 am
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    I really do love how dissenters/those with the opposing viewpoint of the dev are “trolls”. Is everyone who disagrees with you a troll? Why couldn’t both sides be playable?

    Reply
  • February 28, 2015 at 7:02 am
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    Wow, guy. Unsurprisingly, the internet entirely missed the point of the game. People are too concerned about keeping the term “SJW” a popular insult to actually stop and think rather than hilariously kneejerk.

    This game perfectly captures what is wrong with how we as humans choose to relate to one another. The fact that the hero is an “SJW” is window dressing. You could remake this game and use Anti-Politically Correct Crusaders as the premise and it would be THE SAME GAME.

    The best thing about this game isn’t even the game itself or anything in it. It is that it immediately spawned the exact sort of problems the game tries to point out. Top. Kek. GG, Internet Warriors. Battle on.

    Reply
  • March 1, 2015 at 7:31 am
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    I think you’ve mistranslated SJW. Social justice has an entirely different meaning than justice that is social. is a specific political belief that encapsulates a belief in total parity, as opposed to equity, within a society. “SJW” was originally intended as a sarcastic label for the followers of this political belief, as created by its opponents, but has come to be merely a descriptive term for those followers of social justice who opine publicly on the internet, as many such persons have come to self-identify as SJWs. Unlike “troll,” the term SJW is specifically descriptive of an ideology and doesn’t connote or dismiss an opponent based on said ideology.

    Reply
    • March 1, 2015 at 7:34 am
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      Crap, the HTML f-ed up.

      Reply
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  • June 24, 2015 at 7:01 pm
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    The comments here are a perfect example of why this game has a great point. There are clearly a lot of people who read the same dumb shit on the internet, watch the same stupid youtube videos, and yet have never actually had a conversation with the “SJWs” they love to mock.

    It’s incredible how these people pile on “SJWs”, with all of these wildly exaggerated stereotypes, or complete strawman arguments.

    Listen, *nobody* thinks there’s anything wrong with being a straight white male. It’s fine. I’m a straight white male, there’s no reason to be ashamed of that. But acting like being a straight white male nowadays is *so hard* is just stupid and asinine. It’s not just the claims of crazy liberals that racism and sexism are still serious problems, and that racist and sexist attitudes continue to live in people who don’t think have them. Everybody’s perception of the world is tainted by harmful stereotypes. There are people who actually make an effort to address and correct them, and then there are overly sensitive idiots who think their freedom of speech is under attack when anyone criticizes their perspective.

    The incredible thing is that this is something that has been well documented in *countless* scientific studies… and these anti-SJW idiots continue to lose their shit everytime someone discusses aspects of sexism and racism that are well established in the academic world.

    Reply

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