Nothing is apolitical or completely free of politics
An objectively terrible job ad is doing the rounds on Twitter after being stumbled on by games journalist Adam Johnson.
Posted on Game Journalism Jobs by Gaming Instincts, the typo-laden ad (which was removed shortly after we sent an enquiry for this article, but is preserved on the Wayback Machine) makes its position pretty clear out of the gate. The very second sentence asks, "Are you also sick of constant crying and bitching about identity and gender politics invading your favorite hobby?" and gets worse from there.
Claiming to be "completely free of politics", Gaming Instincts is apparently "a website that never mentions or talks about any kind of politics that lately have been invading the video game industry".
Just stumbled across this gem of a listing for a writing job on a video games website.— Adam J (@AJCantFail) July 12, 2019
A job listing that spends more time whining about 'gender and identity politics invading muh vidyagamez' than it does telling you what the fucking pay rate is for this job.
Hard pass. pic.twitter.com/YON8COd81H
Later in the fairly lengthy ad, which is an absolute smörgåsbord of inadvisable hiring practices, this position is reinforced even further:
"Gender or identity politics are STRICTLY FORBIDDEN to be discussed in articles or any other form of work. If you're caught injecting your personal beliefs or any kind of agenda pushing. You will be instantly banned, blacklisted and removed. This is purely a video game website that talks about video games ONLY no politics allowed period."
Leaving aside the numerous places we'd like to correct the spelling, grammar and punctuation of the ad, titled 'Seeking Nintedo [sic] and Xbox Writers and video Content Creators', let's take a look at what's really going on here.
Reading between the bylines
Firstly, nothing is "completely free of politics". That's not actually possible. Claiming to take no position is itself a position, but Gaming Instincts goes even further than that, making it pretty clear that they do in fact have a political viewpoint.
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If you're "sick of constant crying and bitching about identity and gender politics", you don't believe those things are important. And if you don't think they're important, you're either blissfully unaware of the state of play for women, LGBT and people of colour in games, or you're aware but don't give a crap. Both political positions.
In fact, even the term "identity politics" is political, especially when it's used pejoratively like this. It reduces the human rights of large swathes of people to an unwelcome trend "invading" (a very loaded term) games journalism. It makes the fight to be paid, treated and regarded equally to straight white men sound like an inconvenience clouding serious critical discussion of a game in which Mario fights the trainer from Wii Fit.
No politics, or no women?
By saying "no politics", companies like Gaming Instincts - and it's not the only one taking this position - is really saying, "we won't hire anyone who cares about the political issues in gaming". Which either means you won't hire women, people of colour, LGBT and other marginalised groups, or you'll only hire those who don't care about their own rights. Yes, there are some female misogynists out there, but I'm not sure we need them in games journalism any more than we need the male type.
The language used in the allegedly apolitical ad further belies its true opinions of women. Instead of using neutrally negative words about politics in games journalism, Gaming Instincts chose "crying" and "bitching". These are both heavily loaded terms that are stereotypically associated with women. That's not a coincidence.
We did contact Gaming Instincts for comment on this piece but at the time of writing, they haven't responded. Our queries included whether they could point to any specific examples of unwanted politics 'invading' games journalism, whether the position is paid (as the ad doesn't mention compensation) and how a journalism site with no politics works in practice. We'll update if we hear back.
A wider trend
We could file this incident away as a "brand new video game journalism media outlet" (though the founder's LinkedIn confusingly claims he's run it for three years) making an ill-advised but isolated newbie error. But it isn't. It's part of a wider backlash to marginalised groups in gaming standing up for themselves and making changes, and it needs to stop.
In the meantime, though, perhaps all such 'anti-political' sites could do us a favour and make their job ads as transparent as this one, so we all know which ones to avoid.
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