A few years ago, these things wouldn't have really had much of an impact on me. But now that I'm apparently a grown up, I've found myself being nagged at by a really annoying little voice in my head that I'm pretty sure is my moral compass. This is generally a good thing, as it stops me from going from all Anakin Skywalker when things don't go my way (breathe easy, younglings). At the same time, it can sometimes prove to be a slight inconvenience- i.e., the cause of aforementioned discomfort.
Here is a list of a few things that make me super uncomfortable:
- Public displays of affection.
- My own social awkwardness.
- Accidentally using the term 'YOLO' in a non-ironic context.
- The fairly sexist portrayal of female characters in games that I really, really enjoy.
However, what I really do take issue with is that last little dot point (and I sure love me some dot points). So here's the scenario: I'll be totally immersed in a new game- and trust me, when I get immersed, I get full-blown addicted. Meals are missed. Sick days are had. Sleepless nights all blur in to one. My hair is beyond the point of dry shampoo. It's not a pretty picture.
When sudddenly: BAM! SEXISM!
I'm not going to say it surprises me. I mean, hello, it's 2013, and we're playing video games. Try to keep up.
But it still doesn't fail to throw me slightly off-kilter. Why? Because it just doesn't sit right with me.
I'm going to go with an obvious example here and reference The Witcher (the first instillation in the series, of course). Mostly because I really love that game, but also because it's notorious for these things:
|One of the infamous sex- er, I mean, 'romance' cards.|
Geralt: Hi, I'm sorry to bother you, but would you happen to know where I could find the-
Random townswoman #46: SHUT UP AND GET IN MY PANTALOONS*
*may or may not be entirely accurate/typical of actual game dialogue
Other times, Geralt need only string together a nice sentiment about nature to bed the nearest woman/half-elf/casually naked dryad.
|Excellent vine placement, A+|
|Insert redhead joke here.|
Ultimately, Geralt is forced to pick only one gal to settle down with. However, this doesn't stop him with bedding any and all ladies he may come across in his travels. Hell no! After all, our hero Geralt is a bad ass warrior. And we all know that bad ass warriors can't be in committed relationships.
In fact, after Geralt does "put a ring on it" (no, really, there actually is a ring involved), his chosen maiden is then granted the exciting new job of staying home to look after Alvin, the weird orphan kid with disturbingly dark psychic powers who Geralt picked up along his travels. Geralt, overjoyed to be relieved of this pesky little brat, then dashes off in to the wilderness to fight bad guys and bed more lusty maidens; meanwhile, poor housewifey has to stay home and do homely medieval things, like cook stew, operate a loom, and pray to the gods that this creepy kid doesn't go all Carrie on her while she sleeps.
|Possible lovechild of Julian Assange...?|
Essentially, The Witcher is like having a crush on someone with really hard-to-ignore personality traits. Like a person who has a swoon-worthy smile and the abs of a young Mark Wahlberg, but who also openly hates Bill Murray and sometimes makes mildly racist comments.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that yes, The Witcher is, in my opinion, a great game. A game I enjoy immensely. But also a game that makes me feel weird and wrong and a little bit hypocritical- "actions speak louder than words" and all that. But I'm not about to go avoiding games because of their politically incorrect and offensive content. Because let's face it, that would discount a lot of otherwise fantastic games.
What I will do is play games like The Witcher with an informed and critical mind, all the while praying for the day when I won't have to see weird sexist erotica in my beloved fantasy RPGs. And then I will write lengthy feminist rants on the subject. What a time to be alive!
All images courtesy of The Witcher Wiki