Whatever.com’s John Scalzi posted a brilliantly insightful piece yesterday where he used a computer game analogy in an attempt to describe why straight white males have it much easier in life than other many other people in society.
He felt compelled to write the piece in an attempt to explain certain things about the way life works for ‘straight white males’ without using the word ‘privilege’ – which he claims had them worrying more about the actual word and its various definitions, rather than focusing on its significance.
He said: “the challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?”
This is where the computer game analogy comes in…He asks his readers to imagine life (in the western world) as something akin to taking part in a massive role playing game similar to World of Warcraft. In this role play the majority of the ‘quests’ you undertake “involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time.”
He calls this game ‘The Real World’, and explains that once it is installed on your computer you then have to go about customizing the settings to suit your playing style and choosing your difficulty setting. This is where he makes the point that ‘straight white male’ is the lowest possible difficulty setting you can select and elaborates that this is because: “the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.”
He continues to point out several other examples within the computer game analogy that further illustrate his point and then gets to the fundamental message. In the real world (i.e real life – not the fictional role playing game of the article) you don’t actually get to choose your difficulty setting. It is handed down to you from that omnipotent computer in the sky. Simply put, his conclusion is that if you happen to be a ‘straight white male’ then basically “you’ve caught a break” in life.
His article quickly had people rushing in to leave their comments, with many completely identifying with the message that Scalzi was trying to get across. At 800 comments he turned off the stream, because as he rightfully assumed, the comment stream on a subject matter such as this would have to be carefully regulated.
Scalzi’s post is insightful, thoughtful and is an incredibly interesting read. His analogy is a brilliant one and he certainly gets the point across that ‘straight white males’ definitely have it easier than the rest of us!
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is (Via Whatever)