What Rights Do We Have as Gamers?

What Rights Do We Have as Gamers?

I want to ask a question that I don’t think we spend a lot of time thinking about. That question is, what rights do we have as gamers? I don’t mean what rights we have under the law. That question is simple, and has an answer. We have the same rights that any other human being. No, rather I’m really asking the question “what rights SHOULD we have as gamers?” Let me explain.

Let’s take the example of a baker. He has the same rights as any other human being. He can’t murder or steal and is reasonably protected from other people murdering and stealing from him. However, since he also bakes, there is another set of rights and responsibilities imposed on him. He has the right to bake certain types of cakes and pastries with certain ingredients, but not others that the FDA would consider unsafe for human consumption, or using ingredients that are banned from import to the USA.

This extends to anyone, no matter what job or pastime they have. If you are a hiker, there are certain places you can hike and certain things you can do to the environment while you hike. Certain trails allow you to pick flowers, while others don’t for fear that it will disturb the local ecosystem. If you are a skydiver, there are certain certifications you need to go to before you jump alone, places you can jump, and planes you can jump from. Many of these seem like restrictions, but in a way restrictions are just rights in the inverse. Anything you are not restricted from doing, you essentially have a right to do.

That is why I am asking, what rights do we have as gamers? Where do the boundaries lie between safety, happiness, and well-being, and freedom of action?

Well, let’s think about some places where this question could apply. People have been up in arms about Evolve and it’s DLC recently, so let’s talk about that. Do (or should) gamers have a right to a reasonably priced game? Once again we aren’t talking about what is going on in the industry right now. Evolve has stated its price and is sticking to it and no power, whether it be the gamer government or the holy hand of the gamer gods will change that. I’m asking, should gamers have a right to reasonable and controlled prices, so that DLC and other hidden costs don’t inflate a game’s pricetag too much?

Some people would say yes. Costs are controlled in lots of other markets. Anyone who has ever had a rent controlled apartment can tell you that. Moreso, anyone trying to find an apartment in the New York area can tell you what happens when rent isn’t controlled, and the market simply decides everything. But many would also say that a right to reasonable price hinders the rights of game creators. While it might be reasonable to say “ Evolve should be 60 dollars”, is it equally as reasonable to say “ Rock Band should be 60 dollars” with all the peripherals and tinker toys needed to play it?

I don’t know, to be honest. The purpose of this article isn’t actually to state these answers, just to get you thinking about them.

What Rights Do We Have as Gamers?

Does a gamer have the right to a toxicity-free game environment? Many game companies are starting to enforce no tolerance policies toward toxicity in their online communities. Online harassment is a very real problem for gamers of all types, and the recent events of #GamerGate, no matter what side you were on, proved that harassment can escalate to very scary levels. At the same time, we have heard no end to arguments such as “this is the internet, that’s just how it is” which, perhaps more eloquently put means “the anonymity of the online space gives you a certain amount of affordance to make mistakes and learn from said mistakes.” People rage on the internet sometimes and there are many that wouldn’t want that to be held to those circumstances as a testament to their character.

Do we have a right of equal representation in gaming? I’ve written several articles about how white, straight, men kind of dominate the video game character pool. I personally think it would be a good idea to increase diversity, but that’s my opinion. Is it a right though? Do gay people have the right to see more gay character, or perhaps even the right to WANT to see more gay characters? Or should characters and representation be a matter between creator and creation alone?

What rights do gamers have in the way of game reviews? Should game reviewers be beholden to completing every game they review so that their review is the most accurate? Or should they sacrifice accuracy for speed? Do gamers have the right to accurate or Day 1 reviews, I suppose I am asking?

Should gamers be able to make money off the games that they play? Whether it’s by hosting a Let’s Play channel or competing in gaming tournaments, do game companies, like Nintendo, have a right to step in and take that revenue away? Nintendo is currently asserting that right with its Youtube policies. Should gaming itself be a viable career, and if so, should it have all the rights and protections associated with other careers?

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to questions of gamer rights, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I do want to know what your opinions are. What rights do you think we should have and what questions about gamer’s rights would you ask? Let us know in the comments.

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