by Steve Wilcox
Videogames and empathy—you could hardly be blamed for thinking that these two things have very little in common. Just last week Polygon published an opinion essay titled “No skin thick enough: The daily harassment of women in the game industry.”
In the essay the author, Brianna Wu, details the abuse directed at women involved with videogames. It’s a demoralizing read, one that had me reflecting on the notion that we are entering a ‘ludic century’ (Zimmerman), in which our culture will be defined by systems, games, and play. If that’s true, then we need to seriously consider what Heather Chaplin calls the ‘dark side of the ludic century’—an age in which we become better at analyzing systems and detecting patterns, and less capable of sympathy and empathy.
From this perspective, the trouble with games and empathy may have only just begun as the ludic century could be a period of prolonged detachment and disengagement from one another.