PewDiePie, Racial Slurs, And Video Games


Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie) is the richest YouTuber on the planet. He has an audience of over 57 million people and a strong influence on the gaming community. Yet, he has mishandled that influence by promoting hate, bigotry, and ignorance, and some people are finally fed up. And quite frankly I am too.

The News

Kjellberg was first the center of controversy in February 2017 when he lost his Google and Disney sponsorship for anti-Semitic rhetoric. Kjellberg responded with a video where many of his fans and others in the gaming community supported his right to make “jokes” about anything he saw fit.

Recently, Kjellberg is back in the spotlight for saying “nigger” during his stream of PUBG (PLAYER UNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS). Leaving the community torn between people who saw it as no big deal for it was his right to do so and others who were uncomfortable with the remarks, with the former being more vocal in waves of support of Kjellberg. Until Sean Vanaman, co-founder of Campo Santo, took a stance on Twitter and filed claims with DMCA, which would take down any of Firewatch‘s content that appeared in Kjellberg’s videos along with disallowing Kjellberg from streaming any future Campo Santo games.

My Personal Views

Those are the details. Normally I shy away from topics of controversy as to not damage my future goals or image. But that has to stop. By doing nothing I am giving a bigger platform to the sections of our community who believe that it is their right to use racial slurs, hate speech, and other forms of defamation at their leisure with no consequence.

The common counter argument is that people believe what these personalities say or do have no reach or merit. That is false. Anyone with 57+ million followers possess the power to sway the public.

Here is a prominent streamer who goes by the name of Rags. This was what he had to say about the controversy.

Rags is not alone. A trip to his Twitter account will show overwhelming support for this sentiment. His channel reaches a quarter of a million people, who in turn echo this belief without thought or concern. Combined with the reach of Kjellberg you literally have tens of millions of people who are being lead to believe that racial slurs and hate speech should be accepted as long as you think you don’t mean anything behind it while you shout it at fellow gamers.

The other side of this problem is that when people do speak up, they are often chastised for taking a stance. Here is KEEM, a fellow game developer and popular social media figure attacking Vanaman. At first glance, it appears to be a rant about Vanaman’s money comment. But the bigger picture here is he is being attacked for taking a hard stance against hate speech. Presented in such a way where it may appear to be otherwise, but it’s not.

The mindset that you can use any racial slur to insult or express frustration comes from a point of privilege and/or ignorance. Would you honestly walk up to me and call me a “nigger?” Then why is it acceptable in our gaming areas? How could anyone feel that they have the right to use words that at their core are meant to destroy someone as a casual insult? The notion that no one should be offended by an insult designed to offend is ludicrous.

Here is a brief history lesson. Both of my grandmothers grew up in segregation. They couldn’t eat where white people ate, they couldn’t sit where white people sat, and they sure as hell couldn’t speak up if a white person harmed them verbally or physically.

They also were called “nigger,” and at no point in time did it “not mean anything.” One grandmother had friends who tried to speak up for themselves. And they were dragged off. Later that day they hung from a tree, and there was nothing she could do about it. So yes, those words mean something, and they carry more weight than people who see no problem with it could imagine. Also, my grandmother, who is still with me, is only 64. Those days were not in the distant past.

To stop another counterpoint before it starts, another black person has NEVER called me “nigger” in my life. There is a variation of that word that’s a completely different word, but that’s another article for another day. I was however called “nigger” by white students in college, and that was not a pleasant experience.

So yes, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg was in the wrong. The mindset that it’s okay to call someone a racial slur, make fun of their heritage, or jest about the literal genocide of a people is horrific. The fact that I have not taken a stance against this sooner out of fear that it would damage my career disgusts me.

The world is a horrible place, but that doesn’t mean we have to make the world of gaming one as well. Collectively we need to speak up and act. Don’t ignore our problems, but take them head on. I refuse to let this behavior continue. No one should feel persecuted or threatened for who they are, their cultural identity, or historical background. My grandparents were forced to be called “nigger,” but I won’t be. Not in my life, nor in my games.

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Don't Miss These Posts

Firewatch Hits Half Million Sales In First Month

Campo Santo’s first title, Firewatch, has sold more than 500,000 copies since its launch last February. This news came from the publisher of Firewatch, Panic Inc. and the company stated that the game was a “huge” investment for them.

Read More »