Did you know every major gaming generation has lasted longer than the Confederacy that sparked the American Civil War? That nascent nation only managed to hold out for a little over four years. And yet, instead of erecting statues to the Xbox, the United States continues to honour Confederate figures with memorials across the country.
Since George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police on May 25, the world has been rocked by protests centered around the Black Lives Matter movement. This has sparked many conversations, from the ever-present effects of systemic racism to the role of law enforcement in our communities. Protestors have begun vandalizing and removing monuments to Confederate generals, many of which were erected long after the Civil War as a way of intimidating slave descendants. And as part of this national reckoning, NASCAR decided to ban the flying of Confederate flags at its events, as has the US Navy.
Over the last week, the denizens of the internet have taken to dunking on the Confederacy with examples of things in gaming that lasted longer than its failed rebellion. A joke account devoted to the topic on Twitter pointed out that Too Human was in development longer than the Confederacy existed, and we all know how that turned out. Same with Duke Nukem Forever. Grand Theft Auto V, which will eventually appear on the upcoming PlayStation 5 because why not, has been part of the gaming zeitgeist for twice as long. Halo fans have been waiting for Infinite a year longer than the Confederacy existed. Even Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s notoriously terrible online servers held out longer.
If anything funny can be said about the Confederacy, it’s that this supposedly monumental part of Southern history barely registers as a blip. As I mentioned above, every major generation of video game consoles has lasted longer, even as recent generations have gotten shorter. The PlayStation Vita survived for seven years despite sales taking a nosedive shortly after release. Nintendo’s Wii U, considered by many to be a failure in relation to the success of the original Wii, outlasted the Confederacy by a month.
But why stop there? The fighting game community continues to hold tournaments for the poorly received Street Fighter x Tekken eight years after its release, doubling the amount of time the Confederacy played war for the sole purpose of continuing to brutalise enslaved people. Yandere Simulator development has been trucking for six years. A total of seven Call of Duty games have been released in the same amount of time as the Confederacy desperately avoided having to farm their own plantations. That Game Boy that was blasted to shit in the first Gulf War and now sits on display in the official Nintendo store still works 30 years after the handheld first hit the scene.
America doesn’t take kindly to interrogating its past. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the way it looks back on the Confederacy, whose horrific legacy of slavery has been warped into one of regional pride, both through an extensive rewriting of history and poor education of subsequent generations. When someone bases their entire identity around the short-lived Confederate States of America, what they’re really saying is that they aren’t ready to let go of their love of plantation-owning fancylads and the racist beliefs they embodied.
It’s not my intention to make light of the Confederacy or the unique brand of American brutality that gave birth to it. It’s a history that American citizens need to recognise and accept. We shouldn’t forget, but we cross a line when these important reminders of previous injustices become venerations of the men that perpetrated them. There is no rehabilitating the Confederacy. We might as well put up monuments to Mario and Solid Snake; at least they’ve been around longer and actually made a positive impact on the world.
Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.