Content warning: This article contains screenshots and topics that aren’t at all nice to read. Particularly, reactionary opinions on the subject of reproductive rights. Proceed with discretion, or go back to the main article.
Annex I: Negative Responses to Onda Verde
As we say on the opening seconds of the video announcement for Onda verde, in Matajuegos we’re very used to stirring the waters of “debate”. I had already made up my mind that, as long as it maximized participation in the game, I was willing to face waves of the most ridiculous brand of criticism, but the degree and variety of it never ceases to amaze. Nearly every picture down below contains two or three examples from the Facebook group called Old Gamers, and all the rest come from DUVAL. The truth is, Old Gamers’ admins are much more strict, so comments on the announcement were closed within 24 hours and then the total amount of comments ended up being a lot smaller than DUVAL’s.
In the 30th second of the announcement in Spanish, I use the word “misme” to avoid the masculine form “mismo” or the feminine “misma” (the word roughly translates to “self”). This is a common (and to some, very recent) practice in feminist spaces in Argentina. A surprising amount of people got really upset about this decision. (One very tired response is replacing random, non-gendered vowels in any text for Es in an awkward attempt to prove how “taking inclusive language to its the extreme” can make texts unreadable.)
It’s a strange place to focus your attention, considering it’s literally one letter among hundreds and it doesn’t have a lot to do with the announcement or the game. Whatever makes them happy.
I was surprised by the low amount of people who openly commented against the law, but some of them did show up. I guess a lot of the other criticisms we got were from people with more or less the same prejudices as these ones, but who chose to express them dodgedly. Some people also showed up to tell us to kill ourselves, or to celebrate the death of folks who choose to have abortions.
What our Anglophone audience might not know is that “Matajuegos” can roughly translate to “games killer” or maybe “games extinguisher”. Before the announcement, Pablo predicted that at least five different people were going to make a gamekiller-fetuskiller pun (matajuegos-matafetos). I’m not sure if it happened five times, but last time I check we were pretty close.
We also received the timeless complaint, that we are so used to by now, that games shouldn’t discuss politics. Everyone at Matajuegos has already defended the political aspects of our work so many times we don’t really know what use is there in repeating ourselves.
Here it goes again, just in case: all games are political, and even if some aren’t, there are thousands of games chock full of politics in the commercial sphere, old and new, celebrated by gamer culture, which are magically free of these complaints.
If you’re asked for an example of a politics-free game and you have to go for Pinball, the point of the question was probably for you to reflect on all the other examples you had to discard immediately given the immense political content they have. As homework, readers may produce an essay in 100 or more words about Pinball’s political connotations. Send here.
Other people expressed their support for reproductive rights, and even for games with social commentary, but complained about my project’s “extremism”. My game, Onda verde, with the little smiling drawings walking down the street, is apparently a “warcry” that demands “blood for blood”. These complaints were some of the more long-winded.
The only extremism I see in Onda verde is that of being extremely tame. There’s a bunch of characters smiling and walking down the street, they don’t paint graffiti, they don’t break the sidewalk, they don’t stop any traffic, there is some minor cartoon violence that no enemy character seems to be really hurt by.
These accusations of extremism show that as long as you have an opinion and make it heard, it really doesn’t matter how moderate you are. There will always be someone to tell you that you went overboard. The only action moderate enough to save you that criticism is failing to express your opinion or defend any cause.
In that sense, I like that I made such a restrained game and reached that conclusion. The greatest virtue of being moderate is proving how useless it is.
Another very fun complaint was that we were taking advantage of the controversy to make money.
One day I just started to go through these comments, answering that the game was going to be free, and that neither the game nor the blog making the announcement runs ads. Some people didn’t answer me, others told me I was gaining economic possibilities either way by getting exposure. I trust any independent artist or freelancer knows exactly how easy it is to become rich through “exposure”.
(One such comment holds a special place in my heart. A guy accused us of being financed by Kirchnerism, my ex partner answered that this was false and that we’re not even kirchnerist, and the accuser told her to find out more about us because he “doesn’t like to influence anybody that’s why I always invite people to research and come up with their own conclusions.” The conversation continued for a long while and it involved several people, but the accuser never came even close to tell us what research led him to his original hypothesis.)
Another big problem was that the announcement video didn’t show any explicit mechanic or how enemies worked. Personally, I made the decision not to show them because I didn’t want to spoil too much, but a lot of people assumed that the entire game was just a bunch of characters marching and decided to tell me how the advertised product was not really a game.
As with the money issue, I also commented under many of these complaints that the game was going to have conventional enemies and mechanics. I have to admit at least one person answered that it was all good then. And a lot of other good folks took it to their hands to answer that, as the video clearly states, the game wasn’t available yet because I was asking for help to finish it.
After years of making text games, I’m way used to have people tell me that the things I make aren’t games, so these complaints were generally the least bothersome.
A special mention for sudden outrage is due. People who didn’t stop to explain why but they had a very negative reaction to the idea.
Don’t worry, kids, I love you too.
Counterproductive Support and Hieroglyphic Comments
A second honorary mention goes to the people whose comments we didn’t understand, and those who were in favor of the project but their comments weren’t particularly helpful.
Even if the video made it pretty clear the kind of contribution I was asking for, there were still people who loved the idea so much they started to pitch new ideas and special mechanics. (Plenty references here to Argentine celebrities and memes.)
The cool guy there on the top left corner deserves an Honorary Mention Gold. He told me my game was too extreme or shocking, and sent me an image that, in his opinion, could inspire a more conciliatory game. Since none of the “two sides” wants clandestine abortions, his idea for a conciliatory image was that of a crying fetus with a coat hanger stuck through their head. I explained to him that his image was a lot more extreme than my game, and that anyway it seemed to clearly support the anti-legalization side. He told me that that’s just my opinion.
Negative Response Outside DUVAL and Old Gamers
An also surprising amount of angry people shared the video on their own feeds and other places, helping spread the project in their own way.
And I think, since we got to people asking for the military dictatorship to come back, that means it’s about time to put an end to this thing. Thus concludes this Annex.
Annex II: Memes
A good way to cope with difficult situations is through the creation of art. I made Onda verde, at least in part, to handle the anguish of the state of reproductive rights in Argentina. But what happens when the avantgarde work of art you made to process an ugly situation causes new ugly situations in turn, like hundreds of gamers telling you that you’re trash? It’s simple really. You retort to the true dominant artform of the 21st century: memes.
These are the ones I made during the process of answering and then compiling criticism, for the pleasure of my Facebook friends. If you’re wondering why most of them are original scenes and dialogues from Infinity War, it’s because that day I had watched Infinity War.