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In a few days the video game Bayonetta 3 will be released exclusively for Nintendo Switch. The third installment of this acclaimed series of hack and slash games has been shrouded in controversy after the boycott call made by the voice actress of its protagonist in previous installments, Hellena Taylor.
Expectations for the release of Bayonetta 3 were very high, but after the Hellena Taylor controversy, the release has transcended the gamer community, becoming a talking point in the mainstream press.
Hellena Taylor, who voiced the witch Bayonetta in the first two installments, recently posted a video on her social media calling for a boycott of Bayonetta 3, complaining that the $4,000 she had been offered for the job seemed like too little money.
The job in Bayonetta 3 went to the voice actress Jennifer Hale, who has given voice to characters of major series such as Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid or BioShock, and who has shielded herself in the confidentiality contracts signed to not publicly take a position in the controversy.
Hellena Taylor says that Jennifer Hale “has no right to say she is the voice of Bayonetta. I created that voice, she has no right to sign merchandise as Bayonetta.”
In the video she complains that the franchise has grossed “$450 million. That’s not including merchandise,” and that, after 7 years of preparation and experience as a voice actress, the $4,000 she was offered for her work was “an insult to me [and] the amount of time that I took to work on my talent and everything I’ve given to this game and to the fans.”
During her Bayonetta 3 complaint speech, Hellena Taylor stated that she “was just asking for a decent, dignified, living wage. What they did was legal, but it was immoral” and called on fans to “boycott this game, and instead, spend the money you would have spent on this game donating to charity.”
Bayonetta 3 and Marxist Venom
As insignificant and niche as this controversy surrounding Bayonetta 3 may seem to us, the truth is that it deserves reflection on how Marxist ideas poison the minds of some workers and corrupt labor relations, especially when the debate has made the leap to mainstream media and is being exploited by the usual suspects for political gain.
Although Hellena Taylor is well entitled to complain, of course, I find her reasoning with Bayonetta 3 to be completely wrong, and also counterproductive to her own interests.
Her video is steeped in Marxist approaches, and like Marx’s own ideas, demonstrates a functional illiteracy when it comes to economic and business issues.
First of all, by stressing that she has been striving for 7 years to perfect her profession, she falls into the fallacy of the Marxist labor theory of value. According to this theory, the value of a product would be determined by the amount of “social labor” necessary to produce it.
In real life – far from Marxist mental digressions – nobody asks about the historical background of the origin and manufacturing process of a good to estimate its value, but rather, in the case of a video game, you will assess whether its price compensates for the fun and hours of gameplay you think it will provide you with.
The value of things is given subjectively by each individual. At the risk of oversimplifying, it can be said that when faced with two games of equal price and equal level of satisfaction, it makes no difference to the consumer whether one was made by a team of thousands of highly qualified people with high salaries and state-of-the-art means, or whether it was programmed by a kid on his old computer in his spare time.
This ties in with another of Hellena Taylor’s erroneous claims, which is to demand ” decent, dignified, living wage.” She is undoubtedly influenced by the outdated Marxist adage “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs”.
A society with a free and prosperous economy cannot function under this premise, as has been historically demonstrated on too many occasions. This doctrine does not work for several reasons. First, because it is impossible to determine in an ethical and objective way what the capabilities and needs of each individual are. Moreover, in the long run, it ends up undermining the incentives that inform individuals about the best way for them to create wealth, what capabilities to enhance and what needs to meet.
According to Hellena Taylor in her video, her salary does not even allow her to buy a car. It is not Nintendo’s role, nor that of its customers, to analyze whether the voice actress of one of its characters needs a car, let alone which one she needs, as she may feel that instead of a second-hand utility vehicle she deserves a new Tesla.
In the real world, the developer must decide how to allocate the resources available among the various employees it needs to make a game attractive enough to sell at the price its customers are willing to pay. The personal circumstances of each of them, in principle, are indifferent to the company, which will bid for those it considers most appropriate to its goals and can afford; as, incidentally, it has done in replacing Hellena Taylor with Jennifer Hale.
Those who set the prices in this free market are the video game production companies with their budgets on the one hand, the different profiles of workers needed for their development and who negotiate their salaries on the other, and ultimately consumers who decide how much to pay for the games.
This dynamic negotiation results in everyone, depending on their aspirations, having the information they need to know whether or not to pursue the job. If the video game industry did not make enough profit, Nintendo would continue to make floral-themed cards or it would have disappeared and video game programmers would move on to something else where their computer skills would be more valued.
Those who play video games do not do so thinking that Hellena Taylor or Jennifer Hale will be able to pursue their dream of professionally voicing female characters in video games. They do it because the industry offers them entertainment at a price they are willing to pay.
In addition to these basic and pure common sense concepts that Marxism is responsible for obfuscating, the rhetoric of worker exploitation and surplus value that employers keep makes Hellena Taylor also misunderstand the $415 million that the franchise supposedly turned over prior to Bayonetta 3.
Beyond being not about net profits, but past revenues – to know what expenses they have incurred for Bayonetta 3 and how much it will raise – and that claiming more money in the name of social justice, out of necessity, would be to the detriment of their teammates who would earn less, or of gamers who would have to pay more, Hellena Taylor completely misses the mark in her approach to their chances.
Bayonetta 3’s boycott will bring her only 15 minutes of fame and will probably give her a bad name among the industry and her peers, although perhaps she can get some political mileage out of it if she can be convinced to become a sort of feminist heroine of the gaming world’s proletariat.
However, if she had realized that she was facing at least a $450 million pie, she could have looked beyond the $4,000 offered and sought dozens of alternatives to monetize her participation in Bayonetta 3. But of course, this is one of the harmful consequences of the poison of Marxist ideas, which by claiming rights and denouncing exploitation problems, end up atrophying your ability to find opportunities and exploit them.
If Bayonetta 3 repeats or surpasses the success of its predecessors – both in terms of critics and sales – Nintendo should consider honorarily naming Hellena Taylor as employee of the month, as the artificial controversy she has created with her uninformed victimhood has made many people aware that Bayonetta 3 will be released on October 28 exclusively for Nintendo Switch.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm