Gamers, ever since our founding, we have prided ourselves on advancing the position that video games are great. We are not neutral on this subject, nor have we allowed ourselves to ever falter in letting the world know that games and the people who play them are awesome. Yet, a recent incident in Agra, India has forced our hand. Earlier this morning, someone spray-painted “GAMERS RULE” across the entire front of the Taj Mahal, and while we generally agree with this sentiment, we have to stand up to say it’s a pretty messed up thing to deface a landmark with this much cultural value.
It’s not that we don’t sympathize with loving video games and gamers. We really do. It’s just that the whole facade of the Taj Mahal is probably not the best medium to communicate that idea.
Look, you know us. We fervently believe that gamers rule, and we understand why the graffiti’s author would get the irrepressible feeling that more people should know this. But this is a UNESCO heritage site with nearly 400 years of history we’re talking about. The message scrawled onto it could be anything and we would still condemn it. If someone had spray-painted “game are bad” over its famous Mughal architecture, we would immediately issue a statement decrying this sentiment. In fact, we would condemn it more.
Now, are there reasons to support the anonymous author of this 500-foot-wide message? Of course. The Taj Mahal attracts eight million visitors per year, and each and every one of them will now be conscious of the vital message that gamers rule. It’s a fact that needs to be disseminated as far and wide as possible in these trying times. Perhaps gamers from around the globe will even travel to Uttar Pradesh and gather in the building’s shadow to take in the “GAMERS RULE” graffiti and pay tribute to our gaming community.
Nonetheless, there had to have been a better way to express this feeling than scrawling it across Emperor Shah Jahan’s tomb to his wife Mumtaz Mahal. As a thought experiment, consider what it would be like if someone broke into your house overnight and keyed “Stephen King Is Great” into your Xbox, PS4, or Switch. Would you like that? Of course not. No one has the right to deface your most beloved object. And that’s exactly what the curators and devotees of the Taj Mahal are feeling now.
With that said, we obviously condemn the Indian government for employing a team of restorers and antiquity experts to wash away the message—a blatant erasure of gaming history in an era when more people than ever before need to see the phrase, “GAMERS RULE.” In this sense, we stand in solidarity with this graffiti’s anonymous author and aim to file a petition for the UN to make the words “GAMERS RULE” a permanent part of the Taj Mahal.