What We Can Learn From the Ashes of Polaris’s GAME_JAM

In any type of entertainment, advertising is one of the necessary evils of the trade. In the more indie scenes like YouTube—although I hesitate to call it indie these days—making the decision to monetize one’s channel is almost treated like an offense against the purity of the art. No matter what viewers may think, people do like getting paid for their efforts. And for the most part, advertising affiliates and subsidiaries don’t actually impact the quality or content of the videos they pay for. However, sometimes things can go wrong. In the case of Polaris’s newest venture, dreadfully and horridly wrong.

Polaris BannerFor fans of Let’s Players such as Game Grumps, Markiplier, and TotalBiscuit, the monetized conglomerate of gamers and gaming news on YouTube known as Polaris isn’t anything new or particularly amazing. It’s almost frightening how quickly the group gained power and popularity, to be completely honest, but not entirely surprising. (With the sudden Let’s Play boom, companies would have to be stupid not to try and capitalize on the audience.) I’m not a fan of the channel itself per sé, but its content is usually good, if not entertaining. In fact, it’s really one of the main places where viewers can see an equal distribution of male and female gamers. And get this, they even interact with each other. It’s fucking amazing.

If nothing else, Polaris is clearly comprised of people that do their damndest to make sure all types of gamers are presented, and given their subscriber count of 500,000, this can have a dramatic impact on the perception of gamers as a whole (it’s not just a sausage fest, isn’t that obvious by now?). The channel doesn’t go out of its way to promote equality; it just happens. So when higher ups at Polaris decided to create a show about indie game development—dubbed GAME_JAM—that happened to include two very talented women in the industry, the point was clearly to showcase these ladies’ talents as developers, not to have token females.

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