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Jeff Steitzer, announcer in all of the Halo games, asks that studios stop being "p*ssies" and express their support for their players as a whole instead of worrying about alienating a specific slice of the community.
This all arose from a Cameo of the actor's that went viral on Twitter earlier this month. Now, I know that sentence will be gobbledy-gook to some of you so let's step it back for a second. Cameo is a video-sharing website which allows people to contact celebrities and ask for personalised shoutouts. The service has Academy Award winning actress Olivia Colman, singer and guitarist Ted Nugent, comedian Jo Brand... honestly, a lot of famous faces are there. Take my word for it or lose hours scrolling through the site wondering if you could ask for a pep talk from Lorde.
One customer asked Steitzer to say "trans rights" in the booming voice that he uses for the announcer in the multiplayer modes of the classic sci-fi shooter. Instead, the actor took the opportunity to express support for marginalised identities across the world and the wholesome message was shared widely.
Check out a video version of our chat with Steitzer below!
Dean got a chance to chat to the actor about what it was like for that video to go viral and to ask for his two cents on the industry, after years of being a part of one of its biggest series.
"It was nothing I had thought about or scripted," explained Steitzer on his heartfelt words. "It was just my genuine response." He continued to say that a "switch" had been flipped in his head to express the "frustration" he had felt while Donald Trump was the president of the United States, and the lack of empathy that disadvantaged people were being shown in that time. He added that he was present in anti-war protests when he was in college in the 1970s, and that he has an "increasing sadness" as society seems to be resistant to encouraging genuine connection with others irrespective of background.
On the question of whether games could be a conduit to foster safe spaces with which players could express themselves, Steitzer had an optimistic response. "I think that representation is inevitable," he said and related it to the transformations that theatre has undergone, both on and off stage. "I mean, we are seeing older white male artistic directors either leaving their jobs are being pushed out all over the country at regional theatres and they're being replaced by women, finally, and people of colour, thank God."
And, if he had any advice to studios who had concerns over alienating their audiences if they did issue a statement of support for trans and other marginalised people, he would say, "don't be such p*ssies, frankly." That is very frank, to be fair to him. "Let's sort of take that into account and recognise that, you know, you have a much larger audience than you think you do," said Steitzer of the customer who asked for the "trans rights" Cameo and those who resonated with the message.
"And they [trans people] might like to see themselves reflected in not only the game proper, but as you say, in the management of the various companies that make these games," elaborated the actor. "It's still predominantly white, it's predominantly male, all too often it's predominantly old. But that will change. It will change. It has to and it will, it is. It's just a question of how quickly."
Featured Image Credit: 343 Industries, Jeff Steitzer via Cameo
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