'Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: Volume 4' uncovers the ugly face of sexism in the gaming industry
Hasan Minhaj attempted to expose the darker side of the gaming industry in the first episode of the topical and social commentary show 'Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: Volume 4'
Boom. Whip. Bam. A bunch of action-shooter games is what millennials are hooked to nowadays. Like a Venus Flytrap, it cajoles one into its charm putting them under lock and key. While the world of online gaming looks alluring from afar, how closely have we pried on the people who make them? Hasan Minhaj attempted to pull the blinds off from the darker side of the gaming industry in the first episode of topical and social commentary show 'Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj: Volume 4'.
"You can't be a kid and not play Minecraft, which is why in just a few years, gaming has exploded in a way it has never before," Minhaj aptly sums it up. Yes, Fortnite is bigger than HBO and Red Dead Redemption 2 made $725million in its opening week! But, such fragments of news hardly surprise people anymore. Another recent example would be PUBG—the most-played video games with over fifty million copies sold worldwide by June 2018—barely six months after its full release. Of course, video games are bigger than ever, but the people who make them are often exploited. It is shocking how little we know about the inside story of the popular culture that is slowly becoming the "social currency".
Putting the spotlight on labor issues in the gaming industry, he targeted grave matters like sudden layoffs at Telltale Games and Blizzard Activision, sexual discrimination allegations at Riot Games and the industry turnover due to crunch. To put his point straight, Minhaj interviewed Kotaku senior reporter Cecilia D’Anastasio about her investigation surrounding sexism at Riot Games. From women not being able to hire other women at senior positions to women being on higher-ups' list of people they wanted to sleep with, she narrated dark stories that rarely ever come out into open. "The culture at Riot was nuts, okay? People said they saw not just d**k pics, but their boss's d**k pics," Minhaj scorned and added, "Even men complain about the bro culture at Riot."
What's bewildering is that even after gruesome allegations, the COO of the company is still there. "He was just suspended for two months without pay. That's it. Riot punished him the way corporate America punishes women who give birth. They're like think about what you've done and come back in two months," Minhaj joked.
Crunch, burnout, sexism, no safety net, no job security—putting all pointers in one line, Minhaj said, "A lot of people outside the industry either don't care or have no idea what is going on inside the company." In a conversation with former Telltale Games employee Emily Grace Buck, who sketched out the company’s sudden layoffs in 2018, he said, "To me, Telltale sounds like a really bad boyfriend who’s like ‘I’m telling you, this is great, we’re going to go the distance. “Then two weeks later it’s like ‘this is the end of our journey?’” Buck was quick to retort, “One of the things that are scary about games though is they’re all kind of bad boyfriends and you just need to pick which kind of bad you can live with."
Turns out that some of the video games you play to relax are built on ruthless worker burnout. pic.twitter.com/oUcBXXzjnj— Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj (@patriotact) August 4, 2019
Until then, we can only hope this is an eye-opener for Generation Z, who blindly put in more money into the gaming industry, without a clue about the exploitation and endemic sexism of workers. As Minhaj concludes: "The only way the industry can change is if players know how their games are made..."