For the second year in a row, angry gamers have voted Electronic Arts as the worst company in America on the consumer advocate blog, The Consumerist. At Slide To Play, we are dedicated to protecting the interests of gamers from companies that would sell them shoddy products, excessive in-app purchases, and cumbersome digital rights management. But once again, we must urge The Consumerist and its voters to step back and take a look at the bigger picture.
Sometimes, gamers can get lost in their own worlds. It’s what often defines our hobby. While we have our communities online and in real life, sometimes the latest developments in Azeroth can feel more real than the news on Planet Earth. And while we love charging into battle from the front lines in Call of Duty, there are real wars on the planet where life and death is not just a game.
EA didn’t rock the global economy with mortgage-backed securities, or secretly mess with interest rates for personal profit. They don’t manufacture weapons of war, death, and destruction, unless you count the virtual military hardware in Battlefield 4. They don’t genetically modify our foods, pump pollution into our air and waterways, or overcharge sick and dying patients in the hospital.
Last December, a madman walked into an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and murdered 20 children and six adults. In an attempt to curb this type of gun violence, Congress has tried to pass some form of gun control, but they’ve been met with fierce resistance from the NRA, an advocate for the gun lobby. Why didn’t a manufacturer of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines end up in The Consumerist’s yearly poll?
Perhaps it’s because gun control (along with health care, pollution, and most major issues) have become highly politicized, and it’s easy for people to fall on one side of the debate or another along ideological lines. Perhaps that’s why EA is such a tempting target. No matter how divided people get about big issues facing the nation and world, everyone can agree that Sim City’s latest launch could have gone a lot better.
The Sims of Sim City will be fine. The ones who are hurting are the real worldwide victims of violence, poverty, and exploitation. Gamers shouldn’t just be out-of-touch hobbyists– they should be engaged with the real world. If games can expose us to new ideas and stir us to action, let it be directed at the world’s true villains and final bosses.