What’s worse: Beating up Anita Sarkeesian or Donald Trump in a game?

In 2012, Anita Sarkeesian became an internet icon and firebrand following the success of her Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter campaign. Soon after, Sarkeesian became the the target of repeated online harassment, becoming one of the centers of hate in the #GamerGate community.

Sarkeesian has been very open about sharing examples of the toxic hate she’s received, even to the present day. One of the early attacks took the form of an online game called “Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian” (this article contains screenshots of said game). The game allowed people to beat up a photo of Sarkeesian: the more beatings, the more her face got bloodied and bruised.

Many supporters of Sarkeesian rightfully pointed out how vile such a game was. While I may disagree with some of Sarkeesian’s analyses (see past posts), I don’t condone any of the harassment she’s experienced online. I’m sure she’s very nice in person and I’d probably have a great time playing Mario Kart 8 with her on the couch.

While many people condemned Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian, I wondered recently: would those same people condemn “Beat Up Donald Trump” games?

Beat Up Donald Trump

Several of these games exist online. For example, Silvergames.com has “Beat Up Trump” and Unblocked Games Beast has “Punch The Trump“. Now, I’m not sure where these games originated or who made them. Both of these games appear on many different websites: Beat Up Trump even appears on a site specifically targeting girls: Girls Go Games!

Beat Up Donald Trump screenshot

Opening of Beat Up Trump

Hitting Trump with a flaming bottle in Beat Up Donald Trump

The player clicks on various weapons on the left, which assault Trump. There’s not much of a “game” here.

Donald Trump hate is rampant right now, for obvious reasons. I’m not here to discuss the politics of Trump or any other presidential candidate. I’m just making some observations. Games like Beat Up Trump fit into the same category as Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian, and yet I’ve heard no condemnation from anybody.

In fact, on the site Girls Go Games, most of the commenters gleefully supported the game. Examples include:

  • HE DESERVES IT!
  • i love this game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I’m crying… OF JOY
  • This is so beautiful
  • I HATE TRUMP!!!!!!!!!! 😄
  • DIE, TRUMP! DIEEEE!

In this mess of comments, a couple people thankfully thought the game went too far. One person wrote “i dont like him but this is pretty harsh he is just a person.”

He is just a person

For all of Trump’s bluster, for all of his money, for all of his privilege, he’s human just like everybody else. Despite being a 70-year-old man with a ton of experience in the public eye, it’s been clear this campaign season that Trump gets emotionally hurt by attacks and criticisms. I’m not sure why that is: I’m not in a position to psychoanalyze him.

Policy and rhetoric critiques aside, think of how many people bully Trump over his age, his “small” hands, his orange skin color, his hair. I’m almost certain that whenever Jimmy Fallon impersonates Trump he puts on orange face: but that’s okay, because Trump is white and deserves the ridicule, right?

I conducted numerous searches to see if anybody had written any op-eds critical of people who bully Trump based on his physical appearance. Such articles exist, but they are few and far in between. In fact, most of the articles that come up are about Trump insulting other people, and how he wrongly engages in personal attacks in excess.

He deserves all the criticism

The crux of these observations, then, hinge on Trump’s general unlikeability to many people. Because Trump is a billionaire, white, male, straight, and because he attacks others on a daily basis, people feel justified and confident in levying personal attacks against him. A game like Beat Up Trump is seen as par for the course. I imagine most people wouldn’t have a problem with the game. The reasoning might go: “Trump attacks everybody else. People are right to attack him back!”

And maybe so. Again, I’m not here to defend or critique Trump, and I’m not writing an apology of his personal attacks against others.

Punch Donald Trump screenshot

Punch The Trump is a fairly simple boxing game.

Punch The Trump screenshot

As the game progresses, Trump gets visibly injured.

All I’m pointing out is this: when the Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian game made its rounds, many people saw it as sexist harassment. Journalists in the gaming press condemned it. The visuals of Sarkeesian’s bruised and bloodied face are so striking they still appear in articles about online bullying.

Such a game was obviously wrong to create, and if I was in Sarkeesian’s shoes, and somebody made such a game about me, I would be upset as well.

Where’s the outrage, then, when the exact same type of games are made for Trump? Honestly, I’m only focusing on Trump in this article to be provocative: some people do feel justified in hating him. Pick any celebrity you want: thousands of these games exist online, all free to play and easily accessible. Why were feminists enraged at the Sarkeesian game but are mum on the Trump games?

Some might argue that these games are harmless fun: the creator of Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian saw nothing wrong with his game. I’m not suggesting that anybody who plays these games will have any lasting detrimental effects: after all, I played these Trump games in research for this post!

I’m just not sure it’s good for our souls to spend even a few minutes playing games that demonize and torture real people. Whether you are a gamer who hates Sarkeesian, or a liberal who hates Trump, or an American who hates Osama bin Laden (dozens of “the best” anti-Osama games can be found on Newgrounds), can we agree not to play these games?

People are people, created and loved by God, despite any and all sins we’ve committed. Disagreeing with people’s ideas, even intensely, is sometimes necessary. Punishment is sometimes necessary for actual criminals. But why poison your mind by engaging in virtual torture of real people with real souls?

Game on,
~Dennis