By Matthew Maravilla
Gamers are more than just people who play games.
About two weeks ago, the Indiana Governor passed a bill called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill states that any person cannot be sued for denying someone in accordance with their religious beliefs.
A good example of this bill acting in effect would be hiring a Jewish sign-maker to create a sign for a Neo-Nazi group. The sign maker, under the bill, is perfectly allowed to deny his or her services to the group. While the bill is appropriate in this situation, the bill has been applied in many inappropriate instances, many of which could result in Indiana losing roughly $50 million in tourism.
The problem with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is that it legally allows businesses to openly discriminate against other people. Many popular religions have statutes against homosexuality, and this could lead to huge amounts of discrimination against homosexuals. In a 2007 study by Engadget, it was found that in a test group of 10,000 participants, roughly more than a third of gamers in the group identified as gay or homosexual.
The bill and its discriminatory capabilities have not only sparked all sorts of backlash from huge companies like Angie’s List and Apple, but also backlash from the world’s largest gaming convention, Gen Con.
Gen Con brings in over $50 million for Indiana, as well as over 56,000 attendees from all walks of life, whether they are cosplayers or homosexuals. Gen Con has also released, in a prior statement, that if the governor of Indiana passes the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Gen Con may move out of its usual spot at the Indianapolis Convention Center after its current contract ends in 2020.
Similar to the conclusions and fate of Gen Con in Indiana, instituting such a bill as a means of discrimination is inappropriate. As a gamer and a game developer, games support inclusion. While competitive League of Legends players can be harsh, the majority of the fanbase does not care what race, gender, or what sexuality you are, but more so if you can be a team player. Successful League of Legends competitors can be of any race, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
The passing of such a bill in Arkansas, Indiana, and 19 other states in the United States demonstrates that we live in a society which still fails to provide equal treatment to all. Indiana’s law is so vague that anyone can create their own religion and discriminate against bigots who created the bill. Gaming isn’t like this. Having seen a start to discussions between GamerGate and AntiGamerGate bodies, even on that end, there is hope that gaming can maintain its level of inclusivity.
While it isn’t certain how this year’s Gen Con or Gen Cons running until before 2020 will work, with the help of gamers who don’t judge one’s looks, but their personality and gaming skills, a growing lack of support for these unlawful bills will fade into dust.