A Brief Note on Ukraine
Is it OK to write about games in a time of widespread suffering?
A Letter from the Publisher (~6-minute read)
Game & Word wholeheartedly stands with the people of Ukraine in their struggle for sovereignty and survival against an unprovoked, unecessary, and unconscionable invasion. We hope for a quick end to the bloodshed, and a safe return to home and family for everyone.
Like so many of you, I’ve watched the images coming out of Ukraine with horror, bewilderment, and dread. The images and headlines in the news have given me nightmares of trenches in 1914 and tanks in 1939. In 2022, over 75 years after World War II ended, I never imagined I’d see yet another ground war in Europe, one with the added threat of nuclear annihilation, in my lifetime.
In the midst of an unrelenting barrage of news reports and footage from the ground, it’s easy—and I’d even say natural—to feel wracked and overwhelmed with guilt. It is fundamentally unfair that we get to eat fresh and warm meals, take hot showers, and sleep in a cozy bed under a sturdy roof—while others have lost these comforts, their homes, their limbs, their loved ones, and even their lives. Faced with this harsh reality, we’re naturally aghast and ashamed that we took any of these things for granted.
It’s even more complicated when you’re a writer who’s chosen to write about “soft” topics, like video games. After all…
What right do I have to indulge in and write about video games while so many human beings—people, like you and me—suffer unimaginably?
But the more I thought about it, two things dawned on me:
Wallowing in my guilt is not going to change or help the situation, and
There is nothing wrong with self-care, and in fact, we have to practice it so that we can actually help if we’re ever in a position to do so.
To the first point, we need only to look at the Ukrainians themselves, who thus far have refused to succumb to despair. The Ukrainian people’s monumental courage, grit, and determination in the face of unfathomable odds and certain violence, hardship, and death have inspired and rallied the entire world behind them. Their example has led to global unity on a breadth and scale I’d never thought possible.
The Ukrainian people, fighting for their lives and freedom, are the ones who will end this atrocity. Not us. That said, as helpless as we may feel out here, thousands of miles away, we can support them in other ways. (See links below my signature for ways you can help!)
But before we can do that, we need to support ourselves. “Help yourself, so you can help others,” as they say. And partaking in our creature comforts can provide an essential—even lifesaving—respite from a world that feels increasingly out of control. Family, jogging, painting, and even entertainment—such as books, movies, and video games—can give us the breather we need to carry on and be useful to those around us.
Breaking My Own Rule to Give You Peace
I created Game & Word to elevate the discourse around gaming. I wanted to provide a substantive, intelligent, and accessible alternative to the surface-level, clickbaity, rumor mills and toxic forums that dominate the gaming world. In the service of this mission, I’d have to be deliberate about the content I would write, and the content I wouldn’t.
I felt there were already plenty of spaces for quickly finding out and talking about whatever’s going on at the moment. Instead, I decided to make Game & Word a place of respite; a space for curiosity, introspection, and connection to flourish, free of the constraints and vertigo of today’s dizzying media cycles.
Therefore, as a matter of editorial policy, Game & Word has thus far refrained from covering current events, politics, and other overly recent or contentious subjects. I don’t mean heavy or difficult topics, mind you. Just recent topics—or, if you prefer, topics currently in the news cycle.
However, due to the scale of human suffering already caused (and not just directly from war) by this war, the existential risk of nuclear warfare that threatens everyone on the planet, and the historic significance of the community of nations’ response rallying behind the people of Ukraine—as well as the chance of any reader(s) finding my commentary helpful—I’ve made a very rare exception to my policy so I could write you this note.
An Oasis for You
Don’t expect too many more exceptions, however. Because I created and adhere to this policy to preserve Game & Word as an oasis of sorts. A place where you can take a break, sit down with a cup of coffee (or tea, or wine), kick back, and learn something new for the next ~20 minutes, away from the crushing stress of existence.
And even though the publication is only two months old (starting today!), the responses I’ve already gotten from you have confirmed that my instincts were right and that I made the right decision.
I’ve heard from fellow gamers who’ve learned new things about history, literature, and philosophy. And from non-gamers who’ve gained a new awareness and appreciation for games’ artistic and storytelling potential. And from readers who feel a breath of fresh air whenever they stop doomscrolling and escape into Game & Word’s educational, longform content about their beloved hobby.
People coming together. People connecting, and discovering new experiences and dimensions of the human experience. People experiencing even a brief reprieve from life’s harsh realities and the toxicity that has subsumed the media landscape. These form the very essence of Game & Word’s mission and values.
Going Forward, Standing Together
As such, I will continue publishing Game & Word as usual. Not out of insensitivity or indifference to the people of Ukraine and their ongoing suffering. And certainly not because I’m naive enough to think a niche gaming newsletter will change or end the war.
But rather, because I want to be there for any of my readers who might be counting on me to carry on.
If even just one issue can help comfort and lighten the burden of just one reader, then I feel that I’m doing my part (however small it may be). And if I can teach that reader something new or inspire them to be more curious about the world, then that’s the icing on the cake.
You can continue to look forward to a brand-new issue of Game & Word every Sunday, as usual. In the meantime, please stay safe, take care of yourself (and each other), and remember: you are not alone. We’re all in this together—not just as gamers, or as writers, but as human beings. If you need a sounding board or a lending ear, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org (or simply reply to this email).
Oh, and in case this wasn’t clear: Game & Word wholeheartedly stands with the people of Ukraine as they fight for peace, sovereignty, and survival against an unprovoked, unecessary, and uncalled-for invasion. We support Ukrainians, whether in their motherland or abroad, in their struggles. And we hope for a quick end to the bloodshed, and a safe return to home and family for everyone.
Thank you for reading, thank you for your support, and I’ll see you on Sunday.
Publisher, Game & Word