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Headless Body Found In Dead Island
January 15, 2013 3:40 PM   Subscribe


 
I am not easily offended, but this is ridiculous. They need a hard slap.
posted by bongo_x at 3:44 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Absolutely could not believe this when I saw it on RPS this morning. Of course, some one pointed out how they would like to see a bloody male crotch as a preorder bonus for female gamers and I have to ask: do we really need ANY of this crap?
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 3:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


This really, really feels like they saw the creepy-ass gravestone THQ sent to reviewers and said "we can do better than that, and direct-to-consumer too!" and then this happened because no one at the Deep Silver marketing department has ever spoken with a woman.

Meanwhile, I really can't imagine what it must feel like to have to re-examine your entire worldview after Kotaku calls you "disgusting."
posted by griphus at 3:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


This really, really feels like they saw the creepy-ass gravestone THQ sent to reviewers and said "we can do better than that, and direct-to-consumer at that!" and then this happened because no one at the Dead Island marketing department has ever spoken with a woman.

That gravestone actually looks really cool, though, and fits in with Darksiders over the top Warhammer aesthetic. The Dead Island torso is just tasteless.

I love videogames, but I don't understand gamer culture. I don't understand the hatred of women, the extreme anger whenever a design is changed (Dante's hair in the new Devil May Cry is leading to frothing rage), the overemphasis on review scores and the junky swag. I know one person who owns it, but with the exception of the odd map I can't think of any piece of videogame memorabilia I'd be proud to have in my home.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:50 PM on January 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


It's hard to shock me, but I think this is over the line and they really should not do this.
I say this as a long-time developer. We really need to grow the fuck up.
posted by Lord_Pall at 3:54 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Why would anyone want any of this plastic crap in their home? The Halo 3 limited edition cat helmets I kind of got at least.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:55 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's the sort of marketing misstep that can make it feel really embarrassing to like video games.

That's exactly right. The reality of the video-gaming world is that plenty of smart, responsible adults enjoy playing video games but are ashamed to admit it openly, in part because the people who conceive ideas like this somehow define the culture. It's an industry where customers like the product but feel embarrassed by the people who designed it.
posted by cribcage at 3:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Why would anyone want any of this plastic crap in their home?

Have you ever been in the house of a single young man who really likes horror movies and has bad priorities for his disposable income?
posted by griphus at 3:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [25 favorites]


Wasn't the original Dead Island the game that made it to release with an ability name that was degrading to women? I'm not sure how to Google that.
posted by trunk muffins at 3:59 PM on January 15, 2013


YUP
posted by griphus at 4:01 PM on January 15, 2013


I thought "well, come on, how bad could this be?" and then I clicked the link.

WOW. It's that bad.
posted by GuyZero at 4:02 PM on January 15, 2013


(Well, it was "hidden" in the release.)
posted by griphus at 4:05 PM on January 15, 2013


Have you ever been in the house of a single young man who really likes horror movies and has bad priorities for his disposable income?

Reader, I married him.


Domestic partnered to be more accurate. And even among the crap he had that might have been of questionable taste but somehow might have seemed more excusable from a camp/arch standpoint.... well, this is WAY not that. Just fucking gross.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


"single young man who [...] has bad priorities for his disposable income"

Without such poor decision makers to make bad choices countless industries would vanish. It is they who are the true job creators.
posted by TwelveTwo at 4:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Have you ever been in the house of a single young man who really likes horror movies and has bad priorities for his disposable income?

Yes, but said priorities tend to be (a) VHS copies of terrible horror movies; and (b) cookies.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:09 PM on January 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


I know one person who might own this. He's a comedian who dresses up in corpsepaint, and when I went to his new house I mad multiple geekgasms from all the statues and memorabilia, including several Jokers and Batmen. I'm afraid to ask his opinion on this, since I suspect he'd tacitly approve.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:20 PM on January 15, 2013


What's amazing to me is to think of how many people must've been aware of this thing from conception to creation to putting it in the marketing, and that not a single person said, "Uh, maybe this is a terrible idea?"
posted by straight at 4:22 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wasn't the original Dead Island the game that made it to release with an ability name that was degrading to women? I'm not sure how to Google that.

Here's the story on that, yeah.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:22 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


That must've been one weird day at the manufacturing facility.

'How was your shift, honey?'
'Oh, we made these tiny small statutes of detailed, decapitated, ravaged female torsos covered in gore with E-cup breasts and bikini tops. How was your day?'
posted by zennish at 4:25 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


What's amazing to me is to think of how many people must've been aware of this thing from conception to creation to putting it in the marketing, and that not a single person said, "Uh, maybe this is a terrible idea?"

Read the comments on the links. Even at Rock Paper Shotgun, a site with some of the best writing in gaming, most people see no issue and think John Walker is overreacting (mostly citing the 'but what about the MENZ' arguments). Something Awful's forums, usually full of great discussion (really) banned all discussion of feminist and minority issues in games a few months ago. Gamers not only don't see this is a problem - they see anyone who brings it up as being like Joe Liberman, Jack Thompson, or the Australian Classification Board.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:27 PM on January 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


All I can think is the people who designed this never lost anyone they loved. I hope they never do, but when that happens you can never think of dead bodies as strange or "other" ever again. It's all too easy to imagine the people who used to be alive, instead of thinking of the bodies as objects.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Gender Wars", an unlockable skill for the playable character Purna which increases her combat damage against male opponents, was referred to during development as "Feminist Whore". Although changed throughout the game before release, the original name could still be found in debug code on the PC version. Publisher Deep Silver described the line in question as a "private joke" made by one of the developers, and regretted its appearance in the final product.

...wow. If that was a private joke in my studio I'd probably formally warn the person involved that sexual harassment includes an unsafe workplace and that they were exposing the company to considerable potential legal risk. I would also note that they were being a hugely misogynistic dick.
posted by jaduncan at 4:34 PM on January 15, 2013 [19 favorites]



That must've been one weird day at the manufacturing facility.

'How was your shift, honey?'
'Oh, we made these tiny small statutes of detailed, decapitated, ravaged female torsos covered in gore with E-cup breasts and bikini tops. How was your day?'
posted by zennish at 7:25 PM on January 15 [+] [!]


The thing is, people will be more outraged about the figurine here than the horrible conditions the factory workers who produce these have to endure. In an odd way, your statement points out the fact that most people who even make it to think about the factory workers who produce these still fail to realize the deplorable conditions the workers endure - especially the women...

In all, our feathers are ruffled over the figurine hurting our delicate sensibilities. Meanwhile we continue to wear our Nikes, talk on our iPhones, and buy cheap goods from overseas where the laws do not protect the people who make the goods we're not bitching about.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:36 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Luckily it is possible to be angry about multiple injustices at once.
posted by elizardbits at 4:39 PM on January 15, 2013 [97 favorites]


It also has to depressingly be said that this game that wouldn't have been talked about on Metafilter now is (and on Kotaku, etc etc). The main result appears to be that now they don't even have to pay for the statues to get the press.
posted by jaduncan at 4:39 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The other main result is that I've added Dead Island to my list of games I never need to play even if it gets great reviews.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:41 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


But Dead Island has been talked about on Mefi before. Even the trailer got a fair bit of attention before the game was released, due to its shocking nature. That's not a bad thing in itself, but it shows that the game has always been a bit notable and edgy.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:47 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


But Dead Island has been talked about on Mefi before. Even the trailer got a fair bit of attention before the game was released, due to its shocking nature. That's not a bad thing in itself, but it shows that the game has always been a bit notable and edgy.

But never in regards to quality. I think this sort of thing can only hurt a game. I bought Bayonetta and might buy Catherine IN SPITE OF their over the top sexist marketing, not because of it.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2013


They achieved their REAL goal of free endless publicity and controversy [golf clap]
posted by Renoroc at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love videogames, but I don't understand gamer culture. I don't understand the hatred of women, the extreme anger whenever a design is changed (Dante's hair in the new Devil May Cry is leading to frothing rage), the overemphasis on review scores and the junky swag.

Gamers seem to occupy a spectrum to me -- on one end you have fairly reasonable neophiles who enjoy games because they represent new experiences and challenges. On the other end you have fairly vicious, insensitive types who hate everything that isn't a violent male power fantasy, and scream bloody murder whenever they're not catered to. Guess which kind you hear from the most, and that game publishers tend to market to. (Because hey -- us neophiles like to pay for the occasional well-crafted violent power fantasy too. Just not the misogynistic kind.)

The other main result is that I've added Dead Island to my list of games I never need to play even if it gets great reviews.

Oh, don't worry -- it wasn't that good. It mainly involved kicking bikini zombies to death near tropical swimming pools.
posted by neckro23 at 4:57 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


And once again I'm reminded that video games are largely of by and for misogynists. And based on the reactions of gamers to crap like this, I don't see any change any time soon. Something Awful isn't the first forum I know oid that's banned discussion of gender issues in games, which says a lot about the ass-backward way gamers are dealing with the problem.
posted by happyroach at 5:00 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, it's not comics for once.
posted by Artw at 5:04 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


To be fair, it really hasn't been comics, at all, for quite a while now.
posted by Decimask at 5:05 PM on January 15, 2013


Oh, trust me, in 2012 it's been comics far too often.
posted by Artw at 5:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why would anyone want any of this plastic crap in their home?

Well if you throw it in the trash your garbage man is going to look at you funny at the very least. You could bury it in the dead of night but we've all seen that movie. Build it into a chimney? Pour a concrete slab over it? Toss it on a Canadian beach?
posted by fshgrl at 5:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yes, but said priorities tend to be (a) VHS copies of terrible horror movies; and (b) cookies.

/me looks up from Voight-Kampff machine...

Describe in single words how cookies can represent a bad priority for disposable income.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:08 PM on January 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Is there a picture of the torso actually in the wild?

Are we talking a bookend sized kind of deal or something a couple of inches tall or what?

It seems a bit odd to get upset about a plastic representation of a zombie in a game which, as near as I can tell, is about chopping up digital representations of zombies.

But, I've not played the game or seen the torso, so I don't know, maybe it's much worse than the graphics suggest.
posted by madajb at 5:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


At the risk of being all no-true-scotmanny, geek culture has always been about acceptance and egalitarianism. ("Gooble gobble, gooble gobble.") These strains of casual sexism, racism and homophobia are the co-option and watering down of geekiness by the mainstream.

"Feminist whore," is an in-joke? How dumb do they think their audience is? I get the joke.

I almost bought Dead Island during a Steam sale. Now also count me in as someone no longer interested in the franchise.

PS -- How do I join MeFight club? The website seems broken and I'm tired of pre-adolescents talking about my mother that way...
posted by Skwirl at 5:12 PM on January 15, 2013


All I can think is the people who designed this never lost anyone they loved. I hope they never do, but when that happens you can never think of dead bodies as strange or "other" ever again. It's all too easy to imagine the people who used to be alive, instead of thinking of the bodies as objects.

One of the most interesting things about the game Amnesia: The Dark Descent was that the naked corpses with which some levels were liberally strewn were male. And, since I am a giant chicken baby coward, I didn't play the game, I watched a bunch of Let's Play videos on youtube. The difference between the way those corpses were a genuine source of horror for the players and the way that dead women are just sort of a punchline in horror games was fascinating to me.
posted by winna at 5:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


Even at Rock Paper Shotgun, a site with some of the best writing in gaming, most people see no issue and think John Walker is overreacting

I glanced through the comments when I saw the RPS article earlier out of a sort of morbid curiosity, and was delighted in a kind of Terribleness Bingo way to see someone pop in to spontaneously defend as well the other sort of weird "really?" objectification-oddness-in-gaming burble of the week, fans of Kickstarter funding phenom Kingdom Death Monster being bothered that people find the game's fixation on sculpted near-naked ladies and giant tit monsters and so on a little weird.

Gaming is a strange place sometimes.
posted by cortex at 5:16 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


At the risk of being all no-true-scotmanny, geek culture has always been about acceptance and egalitarianism.

Dunno what is in the water but it seems like that's really been put to the test this last year or so.

These strains of casual sexism, racism and homophobia are the co-option and watering down of geekiness by the mainstream.

Maybe that's some of it, maybe it's just things get noticed more, maybe it's the last gasp of folks whose niche for shitty behaviour is disappearing under them, but I'm really hoping it can be over soon.
posted by Artw at 5:39 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Never read the comments!
posted by Artw at 5:40 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


But never in regards to quality. I think this sort of thing can only hurt a game. I bought Bayonetta and might buy Catherine IN SPITE OF their over the top sexist marketing, not because of it.

But if you're buying the game despite the sexism, and other people buy it because of the sexism (which apparently they do), then this kind of thing can help a game (its sales, anyhow).
posted by jeather at 5:41 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love videogames, but I don't understand gamer culture.

You're hanging out with the wrong gamers. Gaming culture is not monolithic, and if you spend your time with adults who like games, the pastime can be pretty great. Not arguing against the idea that, like with so much of popular culture, products aimed at the young-male demographic are frequently just loathesome, though.

How do I join MeFight club? The website seems broken and I'm tired of pre-adolescents talking about my mother that way...

Nothing looks broken from here. I've had no reports of problems with signup, and people are joining up about the same rate they usually do. If you're having trouble, please feel free to MeFiMail me with browser/OS and a description of what's happening and I'll try and figure out what's going on in your case. (Note that you will see nothing but a landing page unless you actually sign up.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:43 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing is, people will be more outraged about the figurine here than the horrible conditions the factory workers who produce these have to endure. In an odd way, your statement points out the fact that most people who even make it to think about the factory workers who produce these still fail to realize the deplorable conditions the workers endure - especially the women...

Well, we don't know where the statue was made, nor do we know the conditions in which it was made, so I didn't comment on that. For all we know, it was made by some marketing rep's buddy with a sideline in manufacturing, especially if this thing is 'limited edition' and was made in small quantities.

It's the surreality of this whole thing that gets me - it's a goddamn disembodied bloody torso with boobs. Not only did a bunch of people approve this and make this, a bunch of people thought their general audience would like and pay extra money for it. What is appealing about this at all? It's not even a zombie - it's a sexed-up singular body part.
posted by zennish at 5:44 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


These strains of casual sexism, racism and homophobia are the co-option and watering down of geekiness by the mainstream.

I think that comes with a pretty big [citation needed] at the end. I sometimes find it hard to talk about "geek culture" because it means pretty different things to different people, but sexism is so rampant in enough strains of geek culture (engineering schools, cons, gaming, etc.) that I'd need some evidence that the geeks really the good ones and not just participants in the same sexist culture that as everyone else.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:45 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Feminist whore," is an in-joke? How dumb do they think their audience is? I get the joke.

"You might think we are dicks so far. Trust me, you have no idea how far the rabbit hole goes in private."
posted by jaduncan at 5:48 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pribably worth noting that all of these stories have been about geeks freaking out about this stuff as much as it is geeks being participating in it.
posted by Artw at 5:57 PM on January 15, 2013


Gamers not only don't see this is a problem - they see anyone who brings it up as being like Joe Liberman, Jack Thompson, or the Australian Classification Board.

This is not only wrong, it's really insulting to the huge number of people who enjoy games and aren't arrested-adolescent boys with attitude problems, including 2500+ of us over at MefightClub, a community that exists in part as a haven from the casual misogyny, homophobia, misplaced aggression and infantilism that exists out there in the gaming world.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Don't blame the mainstream for the -isms found in Geek Culture (tm) They've been there for decades, and have been integral to its sense of superiority. If anything, mainstreaming has simply exposed the dark underbelly of geekdom.
posted by happyroach at 6:00 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


So did they actually have a batch of these made up or was there just a prototype version before sending the order off to the factory in China?
posted by Burhanistan at 6:04 PM on January 15, 2013


I don't understand the outrage. Dead Island is a game where you you can simulate gory violence mutilation on a zombie, which is just a morally acceptable stand in for real human. I mean, after you kill(again) a zombie, the game let's keep hacking away at the body with satisfying sound and ragdoll physics, in fact I saw people do just this for a good minute or two.

A headless statue seems to be keeping with the whole theme. Would the statue be less offensive if it's male, or wearing more clothing? Also the game features bikini clad zombie prominently, why is the outrage directed toward a much harmless plastic symbol. I'm sure many gamers pick this up exactly for the purpose of simulating violence toward women.
posted by bluishred at 6:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe that's some of it, maybe it's just things get noticed more, maybe it's the last gasp of folks whose niche for shitty behaviour is disappearing under them, but I'm really hoping it can be over soon.

I don't know about the "over soon" part, but I'm pretty sure what we've been seeing in the last few years is sexism and misogyny that's always been there in gaming and comics circles finally getting called out because there's starting to be a critical mass of people in those circles who are tired of it and willing to speak up.

Every time I see one of these stories, I feel like it's a good thing. And look at how fast companies are backpedaling on stuff like this and that awful Hitman Facebook game, to name a couple recent examples. A light is being shined into the corner and the cockroaches are scurrying for cover, but they're certainly not dead yet.
posted by straight at 6:21 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


happyroach: "And once again I'm reminded that video games are largely of by and for misogynists. And based on the reactions of gamers to crap like this, I don't see any change any time soon."

Perhaps largely, but remember that it's not all. Talking about geeks as if they're all men -- as many seem to be doing on this thread -- tends to exclude us gamer geeks who are women.
posted by jiawen at 6:22 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Would the statue be less offensive if it's male, or wearing more clothing?

Yes.

I'm sure many gamers pick this up exactly for the purpose of simulating violence toward women.

Welp that's horrifying.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


As every day goes by, I feel less and less embarrassed by my collection of My Little Pony figures.
posted by SPrintF at 6:31 PM on January 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


Talking about this earlier, I couldn't muster up any feminist rage (and I usually can!). It's just too stupid and tacky to be discussed with any seriousness, and it's probably never going to be released anyway.

...Probably.
posted by HostBryan at 6:35 PM on January 15, 2013


As every day goes by, I feel less and less embarrassed by my collection of My Little Pony figures.

Nerd!
posted by Artw at 6:36 PM on January 15, 2013


Would the statue be less offensive if it's male, or wearing more clothing?

Yes.

Because women and men are treated differently in society, you can't just swap genders around in a situation like this and expect things to come out nice and symmetrical. This is especially true in video games where men tend to be heroes and women tend to be the highly sexualized prize the hero gets for winning.

why is the outrage directed toward a much harmless plastic symbol.

If you want to understand the outrage, you might find it useful to revisit the assumption that the symbolism of a dismembered, dehumanized, sexed-up female torso toy is harmless.
posted by amery at 6:42 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


For me anyway, it's just a really distasteful statue. (Monsters in a video game don't have the same solidity.) And it makes me question why the game company thought it would be a sales incentive. Is someone supposed to put this on their coffee table?
posted by Kevin Street at 6:48 PM on January 15, 2013


Apparently this was only going to be released in Europe and Australia, which annoys me for practical reasons since we just barely got our R18 rating. The game industry needs to convince the government they're not like this.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:56 PM on January 15, 2013


To be fair, it really hasn't been comics, at all, for quite a while now.

I beg to differ the "at all" part of your statement.
posted by Mezentian at 6:57 PM on January 15, 2013


One of the "arguments" that keeps popping up is that those articles are nothing but pageviews/outrage bait. LOL, stupid whiny feminazis, all your words on the internet don't change anything! Marketing dudes know sex sells to dudes.

Except marketing dudes are totally listening to the words on the Internet. You think industry pros don't read Kotaku and care about how their games get perceived? There absolutely is such a thing as bad publicity, and no community manager on earth wants to deal with another Hitman nun or Torsogate. I've participated in really thoughtful discussions about sexism and racism and violence during game marketing meetings. I've seen trailers and demos dissected and tweaked at great expense to avoid crossing the fine line between edgy and offensive. Of course, it helps to have men and women with diverse perspectives around the conference tables where those decisions are made.

Point is, even though the comment threads might seem grim right now, the ongoing conversation is having a real effect on where games are going.
posted by Freyja at 7:01 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is someone supposed to put this on their coffee table?

I think part of the horror comes from the implication that yes, this developer's customers are supposed to set this on the table with a smile.

It disappoints me to hear that SomethingAwful has banned discussion of feminism and gaming on its game subforum. I haven't used the site in years, but a lot of the people on ShitRedditSays, when I frequented it, were goons. Those people must have a lot to say about both the ban and this tasteless doll.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:01 PM on January 15, 2013


At the risk of being all no-true-scotmanny, geek culture has always been about acceptance and egalitarianism.

I hate to be that guy, but by and large geek culture has always been very accepting and tolerant of white dudes with fringe hobbies. It's egalitarian in taste, but certainly not in demographic.
posted by forgetful snow at 7:03 PM on January 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Skwirl: "At the risk of being all no-true-scotmanny, geek culture has always been about acceptance and egalitarianism. ("Gooble gobble, gooble gobble.") These strains of casual sexism, racism and homophobia are the co-option and watering down of geekiness by the mainstream.
"

I'm a 'new' nerd, got into gaming in the late 90s and son, you are wrong. Even going earlier women will tell you, over and over and over, just how 'egalitarian' the menfolk were and are. Nerd culture is a subset of mainstream, not it's own little island, and as a result suffers from the exact same mindless sexism, racism and homophobia. And just like mainstream, has its own proponents of acceptance and egalitarianism. But it's never been an oasis of acceptance.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:13 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think it’s pretty ridiculous to judge "gamers" as horrible misogynist men based on internet comments and attention seekers. Seriously, is that how you judge the world? The outcome of the recent US election must have been quite a shock.
posted by bongo_x at 7:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am Twitter friends with Jenn Frank, who had a lot of really smart things to say about this today.

And this "statue" is gross -- it's not that it's just a dismembered person's torso, it's a woman's torso, reduced to her sexual attributes (many people have mentioned the unharmed breasts and yes, that's important, but there's also the crotch). She doesn't have a head or arms or legs -- anything that would give her agency. It's violent and disturbing and it's meant to be -- and some people thought this was OK. They thought it was a totally appropriate thing to reduce a "woman" down to her sexual parts and put them on display in a graphic way like it was a fun prize (and it was offered up as one).

I understand horror. I understand video games. I understand horror video games. I know the tropes involved with both. This is something different to me. I'm not offended, exactly, as I am just sad.

I want more people -- women and men -- to speak out about these things and say "No, this is wrong and it ruins the thing I love when you do this shit." Because that's the only way it will change.

Look, I love comics so I'm used to plenty of gross and terrible things -- even what Brian Wood/etc. is getting right now for daring to have a title called X-Men that has an all-woman team. But this is kind of beyond that. Women who like comics can find cool places to go hang out. I'm not sure where the women who like video games get to go.
posted by darksong at 7:18 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


Yeah, it's egalitarian if you meet the admissions requirements. (white, male, hetero, young, socially awkward.) Any other group trying to find acceptance there isn't likely to, especially not women and homosexual men.

Now, there are older geek cultures that are forming, like over on Gamers With Jobs, where you can be accepted and included regardless of gender or sexual preference, but it's kind of an oasis in a desert. That tolerance, apparently, only goes so far; furries need not apply. The mocking and jeering the last time I saw a furry thread there made me sad. So it's certainly not idyllic and perfect, even there, but on the whole it's a pretty good place.

One comment I saw recently was from an older female (I'm not sure how old, but maybe 30ish?) who had never played games because 'girls didn't do that', and she was kept away by her parents, and then, later, conditioning. And now she's discovered that she absolutely loves it, and wanted recommendations on stuff she missed. I thought it was cool that she was getting dead serious recommendations, but it's such a bummer that anyone would ever need to post that comment in the first place.
posted by Malor at 7:21 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it’s pretty ridiculous to judge "gamers" as horrible misogynist men based on internet comments and attention seekers. Seriously, is that how you judge the world?

No. It's how I judge the people who identify themselves as gamers on gaming forums and gaming blogs, and I'm inclined to treat what they say as sincere, rather than as an attempt to get attention, because I hear and read so many stories of rank bigotry on the part of people who play games.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:23 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel just fine in judging "gamers" as misogynist men, not based solely on internet comments and attention seekers, but based also on my experiences in actually playing video games and interacting with people who call themselves gamers, and on my friends' experiences the same way, and their experiences with people who call themselves gamers at conventions and other gamer society places. I don't understand what the standard I'm supposed to be holding to should be if I'm not allowed to use extensive experience to form opinions
posted by titus n. owl at 7:24 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I feel just fine in judging "gamers" as misogynist men, not based solely on internet comments and attention seekers, but based also on my experiences in actually playing video games and interacting with people who call themselves gamers, and on my friends' experiences the same way, and their experiences with people who call themselves gamers at conventions and other gamer society places. I don't understand what the standard I'm supposed to be holding to should be if I'm not allowed to use extensive experience to form opinions

And the gaming industry is such that even gamers who may not be, themselves, misogynistic either support a misogynistic culture or miss out on good games. I like to think I'm pretty progressive, but some of the best gameplay is found in games like Bayonetta (horribly sexualized main character), Lolipop Chainsaw (again, sexualized main character), The Witcher (explicit sex scenes and nudity), Catherine (haven't played it, but marketing suggests its highly sexualized). Even super-niche genres like fighting games, tactics games (Disgea) or bullet hell shooters (Deathsmiles) require you to ignore borderline pedo anime to get at the gameplay inside.

This statue isn't an outlier: its just the worst example of what already exists. The current zombie game I'm playing, Dead Rising, gives you rewards for taking in-game photos of women's breasts, even if they're crying or zombified. This is everywhere.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


griphus: "Meanwhile, I really can't imagine what it must feel like to have to re-examine your entire worldview after Kotaku calls you "disgusting.""

Neither can Deep Silver.

neckro23: "Oh, don't worry -- it wasn't that good. It mainly involved kicking bikini zombies to death near tropical swimming pools."

Hey, you forgot about bashing in the heads of brown people with shovels in slums.

Charlemagne In Sweatpants: "Something Awful's forums, usually full of great discussion (really) banned all discussion of feminist and minority issues in games a few months ago. Gamers not only don't see this is a problem - they see anyone who brings it up as being like Joe Liberman, Jack Thompson, or the Australian Classification Board."

The previous Minorities in Gaming thread lasted a year and was pretty good. I think the current one was locked/ gassed because people started bickering about whether Katawa Shoujo was (1) empowering of people with handicaps (2) handicapped fetishist (3) a drawn representation of underage sex (4) a complete story or mindless narrative. I'm obviously not able to read people's minds, but previous incarnations had issues with Bro-y type WELL GAMING STEREOTYPES HURT MEN TOO and I think they finally irritated the admins too much ("does not do well", "needs a higher bar" or etc. in metafilter-speak).

The thing itself is a pretty horrible idea. How you could go through a process that resulted in the creation of a mutilated torso statuette is impossible for me to understand. It's a complete nadir of objectification. I enjoyed the first Dead Island up till a point (see my comment above) and would have been interested in a sequel prior to reading about this. Now there's no way I could get it. Also, I'm pleasantly surprised at how well and maturely Kotaku seems to be handling this.
posted by boo_radley at 7:31 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


titus n. owl: "I feel just fine in judging "gamers" as misogynist men, not based solely on internet comments and attention seekers, but based also on my experiences in actually playing video games and interacting with people who call themselves gamers, and on my friends' experiences the same way, and their experiences with people who call themselves gamers at conventions and other gamer society places. I don't understand what the standard I'm supposed to be holding to should be if I'm not allowed to use extensive experience to form opinions"

Well, uh, let me say that there's a certain contingent of people who are game players who are sort of trying to establish a beachhead and change the conversation a bit. I'm not going to say your experiences are invalid or wrong, because I know I'm in the minority, but lordy if I'm not trying.
posted by boo_radley at 7:34 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am Twitter friends with Jenn Frank, who had a lot of really smart things to say about this today.

I actually came here to say, I didn't know who Jenn Frank was until weird Twitter people started retweeting her torso tweets earlier. I followed her at first because I thought Tweets About Torsos was some kind of weird Twitter thing. But then the tweets became so creepy, I started to think it was some sort of commentary on how you never know whether that person spouting off weirdness on Twitter is secretly a serial killer, but making a big show of saying "serial killer" things because no one would ever believe someone would actually say those things about headless torsos and make people into headless torsos. Then she stopped with the straight-up torso tweets and I realized it was actually about something else.

And then, dear reader, I actually felt kind of disappointed. Not because I think we need more creepy zombie-female objectification, but because imagining such tweets being written by an actual serial killer (or maybe just trying to imagine serial-killer intent in those I already follow) was kind of fascinating, in a please-don't-follow-me-and-kill-me-or-threaten-to-kill-me way.
posted by limeonaire at 7:36 PM on January 15, 2013


Well, uh, let me say that there's a certain contingent of people who are game players who are sort of trying to establish a beachhead and change the conversation a bit. I'm not going to say your experiences are invalid or wrong, because I know I'm in the minority, but lordy if I'm not trying.

Yeah, but like you said, you know you're in the minority. The culture as a whole is a misogynistic mess, "gamers" taken generally support that culture, and the "no true Scotsman" bullshit gets trotted out all the time as if the majority doesn't count
posted by titus n. owl at 7:38 PM on January 15, 2013


(This is why I play video games and don't consider myself a "gamer", because I don't want to associate with that culture)
posted by titus n. owl at 7:39 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, everyone has gone over why this is gross and terrible for a billion reasons, but can you imagine actually seeing that in someone's house? Where does it go? Coffee table? Bathroom? Carefully centered under a quirky vintage frame cluster?

I don't want to know the answer to this do I
posted by sonmi at 7:40 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I mean, everyone has gone over why this is gross and terrible for a billion reasons, but can you imagine actually seeing that in someone's house? Where does it go? Coffee table? Bathroom? Carefully centered under a quirky vintage frame cluster?"

It goes in a nightmare first date anecdote, naturally.
posted by jaduncan at 7:41 PM on January 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


Dumbest special/collectors edition yet. Who the hell collects this stuff, are they under the mistaken impression one day they will be on Pawn Stars selling their Dead Island 2 severed torso for thousands of dollars? I thought special editions had reached a new pinnacle of stupidity when I saw outcry over the faux scuff marks on the Arkham City special edition batarang, but this special edition is the dumbest special edition in a long line of dumb special editions.

Just stop making this junk altogether. Publishers, if you want to throw together packages to bring in extra bucks, put something people who like games might like, like other games.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:43 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


sonmi: "I mean, everyone has gone over why this is gross and terrible for a billion reasons, but can you imagine actually seeing that in someone's house? Where does it go? Coffee table? Bathroom? Carefully centered under a quirky vintage frame cluster?

I don't want to know the answer to this do I
"

Right next to the vinyl Harley Quinn statue and Resident Evil 4 Chainsaw Controller.
posted by boo_radley at 7:45 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm starting to find these discussions weird.

I mean, this is basically a murder simulator isn't it?
posted by yonega at 7:45 PM on January 15, 2013


And once again I'm reminded that video games are largely of by and for misogynists. And based on the reactions of gamers to crap like this, I don't see any change any time soon.

Sure, sure -- because having real-life examples of your prejudices makes them totally legit and valid.
posted by toomuchpete at 7:50 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm starting to find these discussions weird.

I mean, this is basically a murder simulator isn't it?


Yes, an action/RPG hybrid where you need to defend an island from zombies will teach people to simulate the actual murder of human beings.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:52 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pointing out that a culture is misogynist isn't.... really the same as a prejudice? I mean, I personally don't go down the "you play games, therefore you must be a misogynist" route and I don't really think that's what is intended by most people when we say "gamers are misogynist," we are saying "this culture made up of people who refer to themselves as gamers is misogynist"
posted by titus n. owl at 7:55 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Sure, sure -- because having real-life examples of your prejudices makes them totally legit and valid.

Ah, the "anti-bigotry is bigotry" derail.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:57 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


American culture as a whole is pretty fucking misogynist, which is another thing I'm pointing out without it meaning "every single American person is clearly a misogynist"
posted by titus n. owl at 7:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a gamer. I'm not a misogynist. (I'm also a woman.)

Just because some people use a term wrong ("gamer == misogynist guy" or whatever), that doesn't mean we have to surrender the term to that use. Rather than letting the misogynists define what a "gamer" is, I'd rather those who aren't misogynist stand up and give a better account of what gamer culture is, and what it can be.
posted by jiawen at 7:59 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


"(This is why I play video games and don't consider myself a "gamer", because I don't want to associate with that culture)"


You know I took that tack for a long time but then I said 'forget it' because I figured that's an awful way to change the conversation. I'd rather call myself a gamer now and explain why I identify that way than to come back around in 20 years when all the hard work has been done saying, 'now the thing I love is acceptable!'
posted by Tevin at 8:00 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, an action/RPG hybrid where you need to defend an island from zombies will teach people to simulate the actual murder of human beings.

I didn't say anything about "teaching" and it seems to me like you're focusing on the goals and ignoring the means.

I mean it's a game that supports graphic violence on dehumanized humans. It's basically a murder simulator. Maybe there's some lofty goal in mind, defending an island, defending freedom, or whatever.. and the graphic violence is "just a tool" to achieve your real goals.

I don't know. I don't play a lot of these violent games anymore and it's starting to strike me as odd to see people complaining about offensive content in titles that are murder simulators. The entire thing is offensive. But if we accept that murder simulators are valid recreation.. well I don't see a further problem with people having a preference for a particular type of victim.
posted by yonega at 8:02 PM on January 15, 2013


I played the original Dead Island, and it was... okay, I guess? The gameplay was alright, but the misogyny isn't just statuettes and deleted skills. One thing that you'll notice almost immediately is that while men have a variety of models for age/build differences, there is only one female model, and it's a very fit young woman, wearing a particular design of bikini. They change the skin color, facial features, and bikini print, and that's pretty much it. There's a woman who's supposed to be older who's a quest giver, and she's got the same body as the young woman across the room.

All very offputting, and the gameplay isn't fun enough to overcome the ick.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:02 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'd rather call myself a gamer now and explain why I identify that way than to come back around in 20 years when all the hard work has been done saying, 'now the thing I love is acceptable!'

I don't pretend I don't play games, I just consciously avoid referring to myself as "a gamer" or "part of gamer culture" because I don't want to be associated with "gamer culture" because it's a festering pile of misogyny and has been for years and shows very few signs of that changing any time soon. I try to make it a point to always avoid associating myself with groups whose public ideals are at odds with my private ones.
posted by titus n. owl at 8:04 PM on January 15, 2013


Luckily it is possible to be angry about multiple injustices at once.

It fucking kills me how often this very obvious statement needs to be made on this website.

I can't even imagine how bad it is on the web at large.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:04 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


"I don't pretend I don't play games, I just consciously avoid referring to myself as "a gamer" or "part of gamer culture" because I don't want to be associated with "gamer culture" because it's a festering pile of misogyny and has been for years and shows very few signs of that changing any time soon. I try to make it a point to always avoid associating myself with groups whose public ideals are at odds with my private ones."

OK. When you say that I hear 'I'm not going to try and change things I'm just going to save face by not identifying with people I disagree with.' That may not be your intent, but that's how it comes across to me.

And, the 'public ideals' aren't all 'festering piles of misogyny.' That's one subset. It's not the whole picture.

I feel like you're dismissing self-identified gamers (here! on this thread!) who are actively talking about and trying to change the worse attitudes of gaming culture.
posted by Tevin at 8:14 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess I'll count myself as one of the few that isn't 'up in arms' at the idea of such a statuette.

I just don't get how people can get offended at things so easily...

What is it: the figure of a busty, bloodied torso in a game full of busty bloodied torsos...

So correct me if I'm wrong but it seems MOST people are not offended at the game's content which exceeds that of this special edition 'bonus', nor are they offended at the excessive violence, gun use or gore in this age where the aforementioned are surely a greater issue.

Am I missing something here?

It's funny, it's unexpected, it's a piece of the game to put on your shelf beside your scantily clad anime figurines or LOTR sword replicas.

I only wish the statue came with a pair of glasses and a diamond chain necklace that said "Deal with it!"
posted by ~Bert at 8:21 PM on January 15, 2013


~Bert: "What is it: the figure of a busty, bloodied torso in a game full of busty bloodied torsos..."

Yep! No distinguishing features, just the dismembered SEX ZONE of a lady.

"I only wish the statue came with a pair of glasses and a diamond chain necklace that said "Deal with it!""

Well, in order to wear those glasses, it'd have to have a fucking head and therefore some kind of personality or distinguishing features.
posted by boo_radley at 8:27 PM on January 15, 2013 [18 favorites]


(that is the problem, fyi)
posted by boo_radley at 8:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't bring myself to blame someone for not wanting to self-identify as part of a culture that creates creepy sexist severed torso statues for fun. Trying to eke out a corner of 'gamer culture' for people who aren't male, white and 18-34 is infuriating and exhausting. Pointing out that gaming culture is overwhelmingly sexist isn't dismissive of those fighting against that sexism. Sure, there are lots of awesome people trying to change things, but there's no denying that most of the things are not changed! See: this thread.
posted by sonmi at 8:31 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


(This is why I play video games and don't consider myself a "gamer", because I don't want to associate with that culture)

The problem is that until people who aren't middle-class white men with those deeply-ingrained prejudices claim their place in that culture, the people who make games are going to assume that their primary audience is that stereotypical gamer. We need to reclaim the word "gamer".

(The statuette would also be hard-pressed to keep a necklace on. For that matter, that bikini halter would fall off pretty easily. (Ew.) Maybe a belly-chain or nipple-ring.)
posted by gingerest at 8:32 PM on January 15, 2013


Trying to eke out a corner of 'gamer culture' for people who aren't male, white and 18-34 is infuriating and exhausting.

I am all of those things and middle class too, have no kids and disposable income. It still irritates the absolute shit out of me that game makers apparently think I have the tastes of a 12 year old and push away women/LGBTI people/the vaguely politically aware I think would otherwise enjoy playing the same games for utterly preventable reasons. I don't actually want to have a game world or culture that lacking in diversity.

Guess who won't be buying or recommending this?
posted by jaduncan at 8:38 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I mean, everyone has gone over why this is gross and terrible for a billion reasons, but can you imagine actually seeing that in someone's house? Where does it go? Coffee table? Bathroom? Carefully centered under a quirky vintage frame cluster?

On the bedside table.
Under the lamp.
Where it can be seen by only a very few visitors.
posted by Mezentian at 8:39 PM on January 15, 2013


On the bedside table.
Under the lamp.
Where it can be seen by only a very few visitors.


There's a horror story in there somewhere.
posted by jaduncan at 8:40 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's good that people are offended by this, and I would never presume to tell people when it is okay to be offended. But, I also think that since this is a game that is being marketed towards adults and based on a genre that is kind of exploitative in the first place (zombie/horror), it wouldn't be unexpected to see a bloody bikini-torso.
posted by FJT at 8:45 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd be fine with the glasses sitting on the neck stump...


Yep! No distinguishing features, just the dismembered SEX ZONE of a lady.

But why is it that this SEX ZONE is all we see? the vagina is hardly present and yes breasts are a prominent but so what? would you prefer one missing breast and entrails hanging over the groin and off the base of the statue?

If you want to be offended I think it's a bit close minded to be so just because of the sexual nature of the body parts included... I could understand the beheaded part, the amputated limbs even but why the hell is everyone so focused on SEX?

Suddenly this joke which is meant to come with a videogame is being considered in the same way we try to interpret high art? Let's give everything meaning that doesn't exist nor was intended because we need to feel offended every so often at SOMETHING.
posted by ~Bert at 8:47 PM on January 15, 2013





American culture as a whole is pretty fucking misogynist, which is another thing I'm pointing out without it meaning "every single American person is clearly a misogynist"
posted by titus n. owl at 7:58 PM on January 15 [1 favorite +] [!]



Trends in the mainstream have a really tenacious way of trickling down into subcultures. Culture is very pervasive that way. Of course your favourite sub-culture probably has gender issues, North America has gender issues. Part of what's so challenging about gender and feminism is that none of us really get a free pass.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:47 PM on January 15, 2013



If you want to be offended I think it's a bit close minded to be so just because of the sexual nature of the body parts included...


It's taken violence and the objectification of women to an unsurprising and deeply disturbing extreme. It's offensive because it's a sexualized woman's body, mutilated and stripped of everything but her sexuality. Yeah.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:49 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's good that people are offended by this, and I would never presume to tell people when it is okay to be offended. But, I also think that since this is a game that is being marketed towards adults and based on a genre that is kind of exploitative in the first place (zombie/horror), it wouldn't be unexpected to see a bloody bikini-torso.

But zombies aren't usually sexualized in the way that, say, vampires are. There are a few exceptions but they're usually presented as disposable enemies - hunks of flesh. The Dead Rising games sexualize some of them, but they're problematic for various reasons (two of the survivors are stereotypical lesbian construction workers).

Who's going to make the thread on Star Wars: The Old Republic's gay planet ?

Suddenly this joke which is meant to come with a videogame is being considered in the same way we try to interpret high art? Let's give everything meaning that doesn't exist nor was intended because we need to feel offended every so often at SOMETHING.

If it was high art, we'd give it the benefit of the doubt. Hell if it was coming from someone like Suda51 or Kojima I'd personally give it some leeway, since they're smart enough to be provocative.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:49 PM on January 15, 2013


Now wait a damned minute. Words have meanings. You can't just say
I feel just fine in judging "gamers" as misogynist men
and then later say
I mean, I personally don't go down the "you play games, therefore you must be a misogynist" route
It's really one or the other, or you've got to be a whole hell of a lot more careful in the way you use words. You're clearly trying to backtrack from your original pronouncement, but now it's just not clear what you actually mean.

This whole conversation is depressing to me, to be honest. There's so much shit being flung around, so much heat and so little light. Discussions at Metafilter seem to be going this way a lot, lately.

I really don't feel like my heart's in it to try and talk about all this stuff in any real way. Maybe I'm just undercaffeinated.

...on the other hand, why not? I haven't let off a good rant in what feels like years.

At the age of nearly 50 (having played some video games back in the 1970s and very early 1980s, and then put them down and not come back to them until about 10 years ago) the way that some folks here are trying to say 'I play games, but I'm not a "gamer'" is pretty much the way I feel about popular culture as a whole, so I can empathize.

What I mean by that is that I find the vast, overwhelming majority of what we might call these days 'entertainment products' or 'cultural products' disgraceful and stupid and soul-destroying. Whether it's pop music or movies or TV or 'art' or games or news or whatever, I think Sturgeon's Law applies, and I count myself lucky living somewhere where I can easily keep the stuff in my own language at arm's length and just as easily ignore the local stuff.

I find so much of it not only painfully stupid in content, but actively damaging to living any kind of good life because it is painstakingly engineered to grab you by the brain and not let go. Not only simultaneously stultifying and addictive, but still and almost always depressingly racist and sexist and godstruck, regressive and insulting, simpleminded and jingoistic and tribal and jesus fuck I could go on.

It's not just the most horripilating irruptions of cultureshit like this dismembered sextorso thingy or the latest indignity from Rupert Murdoch's empire or whatever new cess bucket of reality TV is being slopped into the trough and paid for by Our Sponsor, it's the whole package of consumer-indoctrinating offal that chokes my heart.

Hey look at me, I make an effort to dissociate myself from it all, aren't I a special goddamned snowflake. Or maybe I'm just an elitist. I'll cop to that. But rather than trying to engage all that much in a positive way to the culture at large, I just walked away, decades ago. That's not why I walked away, but in the end, that's what I did.

So, sure, I sympathize with game-players who don't want to be called 'gamers', who want to keep the whole thing at arms' length. I wish that there were a better word for people who like to play games, one not freighted with such a shivering weight of liquid stink. Me, I'm glad I can still call myself 'Canadian' without too much shame (though certainly more than I once felt).

But it's not the label that counts, damn it. It's what we say, what we do, and how much of an effort we make to change things. I don't want to be known as a 'gamer' -- here or anywhere else where there are people whose opinions I respect, because of the rotten culture that that word encompasses, and what it might say about me to them. Given that I spend maybe 30 or 60 minutes a week actually playing games, if I'm lucky, maybe I am not one. And there are a dozen other things that I love, that I do, that I would rather be known for in most social settings.

The fact that I enjoy games, and sometimes enjoy playing them with other people, but with people who are adults, good people, smart and kind people, people who are actively trying to do the right thing because they have kids of their own that they are trying to bring up right, has led to one of the greatest things I've had in my life in the past 5 years -- Mefight Club. It's been a source of joy to me and to many others. People have told me that it's the first place as a gay or female or [fill in the blank] gamer that they've had where they felt totally at ease, and that fills my heart. Mefighters are real, good people. We've given over $10,000 dollars to charities. Hell, we just had our first met-at-MFC wedding announced, which is marvellous. No, not everybody is a perfect beacon of enlightenment there. We are, like any online community, a mix of people from all kinds of age groups and backgrounds, with a love of gaming (and in most cases, of MeFi) in commmon. But every day it's a source of pride that I started the place way back when with my TF2-loving Mefite friends, and that it has grown and thrived since.

So, yeah. I did something, not alone by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel pride that I did something to try and claw back some territory from the idiot brohammer fratboy wargasm children that infest the gaming world.

And so, sure, what the fuck, to hell with labels and all, but call me a gamer if you want to. I don't give a shit: I'll shoulder the bad while trying to work towards the good. I'll wear the label -- which I would have denied vehemently 10 years ago -- because I feel these days like I'm actively doing something to make things better.

I invite you, if you're so inclined, and if you play games and don't like the culture that surrounds gaming, to do something too, even if it's only to speak up to defend yourself and other decent, adult folks who enjoy the hobby.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:51 PM on January 15, 2013 [24 favorites]



~Bert: "Suddenly this joke which is meant to come with a videogame"
You mentioned it was funny, too. Help me understand how. Please concentrate on your thesis and then help me understand.
posted by boo_radley at 8:51 PM on January 15, 2013


It's funny because she has no head, or legs, or arms.
But big tits.
And she can't fight (or talk) back...

No... wait. That's not funny. It's the other thing...
posted by Mezentian at 8:54 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]



I think it's good that people are offended by this, and I would never presume to tell people when it is okay to be offended. But, I also think that since this is a game that is being marketed towards adults and based on a genre that is kind of exploitative in the first place (zombie/horror), it wouldn't be unexpected to see a bloody bikini-torso.


This torso isn't being sold for its horror factor though. I love the horror genre (sometimes) and if the authors of this had been using the sexual exploitation of the woman's body for that effect, I'd understand.

I mean I'm horrified and disturbed by the statuette, but the manufacturers weren't. The problem is that they weren't going for horror and disgust, they were going for funny and sexy.
If they'd intended horror, they might understand why people are outraged.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Helluva way to discourage piracy. "Well, they can't download a JUNKY PIECE OF VILE PLASTIC SHIT."

And how come Australia of all places has to get this junky piece of vile plastic shit? If I was gonna preorder this or whatever the fuck, I would much prefer zombie hula girl!

This is all kind of a shame because I had a fair bit of fun with the original Dead Island.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 9:07 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Suddenly this joke which is meant to come with a videogame is being considered in the same way we try to interpret high art?

Rule of thumb: When they say "Don't think about it as though it were high art," they really mean "Don't think about it."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:09 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


And how come Australia of all places has to get this junky piece of vile plastic shit?

As I think someone upthread mentioned, we now have a new R18+ video game rating, and clearly this is a celebration of our maturity of a nation.

It's like the Statue of Liberty, really.
posted by Mezentian at 9:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


But zombies aren't usually sexualized in the way that, say, vampires are. There are a few exceptions but they're usually presented as disposable enemies - hunks of flesh. The Dead Rising games sexualize some of them, but they're problematic for various reasons (two of the survivors are stereotypical lesbian construction workers).

First, is it a torso of a zombie or a victim? I notice the flesh doesn't have the necrotic shade of gray associated with zombification. The blood also is still very bright red, indicating that this a recently slain person. In addition, horror movies in general always punish the people (particularly young women) that are sexually promiscuous. They also often have a scene where a young woman (in various states of undress) is being chased by the killer or the monster. Of course, horror movies are not going to win any bechdel tests anytime soon either.

I'm not offended. But this doesn't mean other people's offense are not genuine. As mentioned by others, I think the point of the torso was to generate controversy that would translate to media coverage. I mean, I didn't even know there was a Dead Island 2 under development and really don't care to play it (I'm over the zombie genre).

I think this stirs the pot a lot and the gamers that might listen and consider that game culture is sexist and misogynistic at less controversial times are too busy trying to feel victimized and defend their hobby (and perhaps lifestyle) from meddling outsiders.
posted by FJT at 9:16 PM on January 15, 2013


First, is it a torso of a zombie or a victim?

The SKU that this thing is meant to come with is called Dead Island: Riptide Zombie Bait Edition so it seems pretty clear that this is meant to be the dismembered corpse of a human woman used as 'zombie bait'. Which is pretty fucking unbelievable, really, but there it is.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:34 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]




"We are committed to making sure this will never happen again."

I kinda thought the point of collector's editions was they only happened once, anyway. I'm not sure how committed they need to be to prevent issuing another boobtastic zombie torso. Speaking of which, FJT and stavrosthewonderchicken, the apology specifies that the statuette was intended to be "a gruesome statue of a zombie torso, which was cut up like many of our fans had done to the undead enemies in the original Dead Island." So neither bait nor victim, but zombie. Apparently the way you stop bikini zombies is to dismember them completely.
posted by gingerest at 10:01 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given that this thing made it as far as it did without whoever issued the apology being aware of it (or smart enough to realize it might be a problem) to the extent that it might be vetoed as mind-bendingly awful, I'm more than inclined to think that 'a gruesome statue of a zombie torso,' given that the explanation came long after the naming of the SKU, might be a desperate attempt at damage control more than anything else.

Doesn't matter either way, of course. It's debating whether the crap you were fed was composed of stool that was 'loose' or 'watery'.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:18 PM on January 15, 2013


AV Club Spinoff weighs in

You know, some people just don’t get art. Yesterday, a number of websites reported on a special collector’s edition of the upcoming zombie-game sequel Dead Island: Riptide. Available now for preorder in the United Kingdom and Australia, the “Zombie Bait Edition” comes with a few extras commissioned by the studio, Deep Silver. The package includes special artwork and a steel case to protect your copy of Dead Island from the elements. Oh, and there’s also a scale model of a nubile, bikini-clad woman’s dismembered corpse.

That last item created something of a stir. And yeah, I guess I can see how this 12-inch-tall vision of raw depravity might bug folks, since it is, objectively, the worst object ever created. But I would hate to see Rotting Bikini Torso dismissed as merely another marketing-department “oops!” moment. Let’s appreciate this thing as a work of shock art—an inspired sculptural snapshot of a certain ugliness that pervades the mass-market games industry. This lump of hand-painted resin both encapsulates and indicts a few decades’ worth of game-studio testosterone. It belongs in a museum.


It's a good article.

The gore serves as a complement to the misogyny, because without that face and those limbs to distract the viewer, a clear point of focus—boobs—can emerge. It’s so elegant how it all fits together. You know in A Brilliant Mind when all those numbers and equations are connecting together around Russell Crowe’s head, like a beautiful crystal? This is like that, except with hating women instead of math.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:26 PM on January 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Goddamn it, the plural of "collector's edition" is "collectors' editions", isn't it? And here I wasted my edit window working.
posted by gingerest at 10:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to be offended I think it's a bit close minded to be so just because of the sexual nature of the body parts included... I could understand the beheaded part, the amputated limbs even but why the hell is everyone so focused on SEX?

The problem with sex in games isn't oh my god sex won't somebody think of the children. It's that gamer culture is really invested in depicting women as sex objects rather than people. I think it'd be great if gamer culture didn't have this sexist baggage and could depict people being sexy without it being super problematic, but here we are.

In this particular case the woman in the statue has been mutilated so severely that everything that makes her a person is gone. She's literally been reduced from an individual to an anonymous, torn up hunk of meat. We're expected to find that sexy and buy the game because of it. Saying that people who have a problem with this are sex-phobic prudes completely misses the point that this is the latest gross sexist incident in the long string of gross sexist incidents that is gamer culture.

Also, 'want to be offended'? It'd be seriously awesome if I could get through just one day without a reminder that the culture surrounding my hobby has serious problems with female people, or LGBTQ people, or people who aren't white, or people who don't speak English, or on and on and on.

So correct me if I'm wrong but it seems MOST people are not offended at the game's content which exceeds that of this special edition 'bonus', nor are they offended at the excessive violence, gun use or gore in this age where the aforementioned are surely a greater issue.

Am I missing something here?


First, it's totally possible to care about multiple things at the same time.

Second, you don't know how people feel about video game gore and violence. This thread is about misogyny in video game culture as evinced by a gross sexist statue, so that's what people are weighing in on.

It's kind of a drag that conversations about sexism always get derailed by some side point, as if people must address all other problems in the world before they can talk about any instance of sexism. This is an impossible bar to clear and the end effect is that discussion of sexism gets shut down and these problems never get fixed.

If you want to have a conversation about the relative badness of sexism and violence in games, that's cool. It'd be great, though, if you'd make a different post about that topic and let people who are having this conversation have it.
posted by amery at 10:51 PM on January 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


Oh wow that article Charlemagne In Sweatpants linked is great.
posted by amery at 11:00 PM on January 15, 2013


No. It's how I judge the people who identify themselves as gamers on gaming forums and gaming blogs, and I'm inclined to treat what they say as sincere, rather than as an attempt to get attention, because I hear and read so many stories of rank bigotry on the part of people who play games.

There’s plenty of misogynistic and tastelessly violent movies out there, they are very popular and much of the commentary on the internet approves of them. Television is a non-stop parade of women being abused for entertainment. I don’t call TV and movie fans names and assign qualities to them based on that fact. I don’t watch movies or shows that look bad to me and I don’t play those games.

It’s a big world out there. Any time you start with "those people" you’re in dangerous territory and most likely wrong.
posted by bongo_x at 11:12 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


There’s plenty of misogynistic and tastelessly violent movies out there, they are very popular and much of the commentary on the internet approves of them. Television is a non-stop parade of women being abused for entertainment. I don’t call TV and movie fans names and assign qualities to them based on that fact. I don’t watch movies or shows that look bad to me and I don’t play those games.

It’s a big world out there. Any time you start with "those people" you’re in dangerous territory and most likely wrong.


Gamers angrily defend the worst part of games, though. There was an article about a Bioware writer not wanting to read their forums anymore, and I don't blame them. The utter violent anger put out at anyone who wants to discuss games on a level beyond 'shooting good, 8.8, yay graphics!' makes mainstream gaming discourse utterly toxic. For a benign example, look at the comments on any review of the new Devil May Cry game. People who haven't played it are freaking out because the hero has a new haircut, and attacking anyone who likes it.

Apply that to issues that matter and you get a recipe for true ugliness. Look at what happened to Anita Sarkeesian and Tropes vs Women In Games. People tried to hound her off the Internet!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 11:21 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gamers: Bad people or worst people?

The problem is there are a lot of 12 year olds who think they are like George Carlin speaking truth to power by raging against noobs and fake gamer girls. They populate exclusively forums and online games. They also have a lot of free time to rant online and curse at people on XBL. The millions of other people, with jobs, don't have the time or patience. We buy games, play them and move on. It is unfortunate that 12 year olds hold so much power as taste makers.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:47 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dead Island? I remember a friend playing that. He found a club that he couldn't use to smack zombies because his level wasn't high enough to use it!

I see its problems didn't stop there.
posted by JHarris at 12:10 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm in my 30s. I have a LOT more money to spend on games than I did when I was 16, when I would have thought this was a good idea. Why is this bullshit even happening?
posted by danny the boy at 12:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh wow that article Charlemagne In Sweatpants linked is great.

Strewth:
You know in A Brilliant [sic] Mind when all those numbers and equations are connecting together around Russell Crowe’s head, like a beautiful crystal? This is like that, except with hating women instead of math.

posted by dersins at 12:34 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dead Island was terrible. It's like Borderlands without the sense of humor and with added tastelessness. Which is saying something when you're comparing it to a game in which midgets charge you carrying hand grenades.
posted by Justinian at 1:00 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


What is it: the figure of a busty, bloodied torso in a game full of busty bloodied torsos...

Go have a look at this NSFW version of this statuette, and then tell me again how it's not the total reduction of woman down to something there to be objectified and fucked.

And frankly it would be better if she were green, with one tit off and a trail of organs down over her crotch. The fact that they left them whole and in plain view for the fans gives you a fairly good idea of the inspiration for the figurine.

And no, I'm not going to wedge it next to my scantily clad anime figures, because I am a grown ass woman who spends her game time playing the damn games, not having a sly wank at a chunk of resin.

And the jailbait connotations of the zombie bait are not to be ignored either.
posted by Jilder at 2:11 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Go have a look at this NSFW version of this statuette,

I am in the strange position where I haver to defend the... Whatever-the-hell-that-is Masturbator, but it's an aid to masturbation.
Is it creepy? Oh hell yes?
Does it get the job done? I assume so. They've sold similar forever.
Is it that different from a dildo/vibrator? I'd argue no.

I feel dirty for making this point, but here were are.

And the jailbait connotations of the zombie bait are not to be ignored either.

I do not see that at all. Unless the word 'bait' flags for you, which I had not considered.
posted by Mezentian at 3:19 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


[...] there is only one female model, and it's a very fit young woman, wearing a particular design of bikini.

There are quite a few others, actually, even if you don't count the models for the two female playable characters. Did you play past the resort area? Once you get to the city, the female zombie models start being dressed more practically. (There's a screenshot here.) There are also several other non-bikini-wearing female survivor models, including a nun.

Don't get me wrong--I'm not here to defend the Dead Island series over the "Feminist Whore" thing or the torso statuette, both of which are deeply creepy. I'm just saying that if we're going to criticize, let's be sure the criticism is accurate.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:25 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The point is that a masturbator like that is sold for a purpose - to be fucked. It's literally a feminized object to be fucked.

What exactly did the game promoters expect people to do with the their torso, exactly?
posted by Jilder at 3:54 AM on January 16, 2013


What exactly did the game promoters expect people to do with the their torso, exactly?

If I could tell you that I'd be in marketing.

But I reckon the people who designed this didn't think about the big picture.
posted by Mezentian at 4:11 AM on January 16, 2013


Late, but

All I can think is the people who designed this never lost anyone they loved. I hope they never do

I too hope the zombie apocalypse never occurs. It would suck.

Without context, I don't see why the statuette is so awful. In the context of all the other stuff Deep Silver has done however, yeah it's pretty gross. But this is truly a case of, "so many people are so incredibly offended by this, it's probably best to not defend it, at all."
posted by waraw at 4:37 AM on January 16, 2013


If you want to be offended I think it's a bit close minded to be so just because of the sexual nature of the body parts included... I could understand the beheaded part, the amputated limbs even but why the hell is everyone so focused on SEX?

Here's the thing: most people, male and female, who are pissed off about this plastic torso actually like sex. Love it, even.

It's just, well, we like sex when we're active participants in it, not dismembered tits 'n' ass. And we like having sex with people who take our thoughts and feelings and wants and needs into account, not people who just barely tolerate our thoughts and feelings in order to get to the tits 'n' ass.

It happens over and over and over again in all forms of media, usually in a more subtle, more metaphorical sense - but increasingly more blatantly in video games and comics. The camera zooms in on the cleavage or the crotch, crops out the head, and presses the mute button. And it happens disproportionately to women.

We notice it all the time, and we're pissed, and we do speak up - often to be called shrill or overly sensitive, and we get accused of hating men, sex, and fun. Which we don't! And, conveniently, this painting of women as sex-haters reinforces the idea that our minds are just inconvenient obstacles to our sexy asses.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


I recently joined the console rebellion of a decade ago by finally getting an Xbox 360. And I've enjoyed it. But it wasn't an easy decision to make, given that things like this represent what the industry thinks of its customers. It's hard enough to get past so many of the fans of videogaming, but when the actual games and publishers themselves are doing this, playing Spider solitaire on Windows suddenly becomes a much more attractive alternative.
posted by Legomancer at 5:08 AM on January 16, 2013


What exactly did the game promoters expect people to do with the their torso, exactly?

Obviously, keep it in the package as a "collectable". Five years down the road, it'll show-up on the back shelf of some comic book store as a "rare" collectable, with a $200 price tag. And fat middle-aged men giggling about how tame it looks compared to the shit in games now.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:04 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the thing is way creepy, though I have to say that I don't see that the misogyny is "obvious." I don't know what to say about such a thing beyond "ew."

The reaction to it here seems way over the top to me, however. Academic feminism--and the literary academic left in general--went way wrong years ago when it decided that you could basically just make shit up about something and call it "theory" or "criticism" or "reading." Above it is asserted that this representation of a female torso has no head, roughly so that it "can't talk back." That's utter nonsense. The further implied inference is that whoever made and whoever wants this statue wants it not only because it's sort of sexual, but because they don't want any women "talking back." That's just making stuff up; in particular, trying to make the people who made this out to be more reprehensible than they actually are. It's a straw man, plain and simple. An armless torso also couldn't use a computer, but that doesn't mean that there's some intention or desire expressed here about women not using computers. Nor people in general, for that matter, since this is not merely a female torso, but also a human torso.

There's some weird confluence of sex and violence in horror. It's tough to figure out what's going on there, but not tough to figure out that lots of the stuff people say about it is wrong. I know it's hard enough to figure out that I usually don't try to do it, but I'll break that rule here a bit. Another view, that nobody has mentioned here, is that it's the very juxtaposition of violence and sex that's what drives this sort of thing. It's not "ooh, goody, boobs without arms," it's rather "ZOMFG, it's gross but still kind of sexual see how f*cked up that is?"

If someone said something like "look, I know you guys are just screwing around at the weird intersection of sex and violence, and you think that's all clever and stuff...but, y'know, this sort of thing intersects a little too strongly with some actual stuff about actually bad attitudes about women... Now, if this were real art or somesuch, with some real intellectual or moral payoff...well, that'd be one thing. As it is, it's basically all bad with no good. So...see how it would be better not to make stuff like this?" Well, if somebody said that, then I'd agree with them.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 6:30 AM on January 16, 2013


Would the statue be less offensive if it's male

First of all, as other people have explained, the answer is yes.

Secondly, the question I would ask you is:

Why isn't it male?
posted by kmz at 6:43 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


If someone said something like "look, I know you guys are just screwing around at the weird intersection of sex and violence, and you think that's all clever and stuff...but, y'know, this sort of thing intersects a little too strongly with some actual stuff about actually bad attitudes about women... Now, if this were real art or somesuch, with some real intellectual or moral payoff...well, that'd be one thing. As it is, it's basically all bad with no good. So...see how it would be better not to make stuff like this?" Well, if somebody said that, then I'd agree with them.

Leaving out the "if this were art" qualifier, which is another argument entirely, this is exactly what people are saying. If the reaction seems overly outraged, it's because people don't pay attention to arguments that are hedged with "y'know" and "and stuff" and ellipses. If some of the arguments seem overthought and academic, it's because there are people responding with "What bad stuff? What bad attitudes? I don't know what you're talking about."
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Go have a look at this NSFW version of this statuette, and then tell me again how it's not the total reduction of woman down to something there to be objectified and fucked.

So the "zombie bait" is meant to be used as sex toy for zombies? Honestly, I don't entirely get the comparison with the, uh, masturbating device. There are department store mannequins that don't have heads and lots that have no arms or feet.

And my own first thought as to why people are offended (beyond that it's a scantily clad torso) is from the bait angle: That a woman's body is a piece of in-game meat used to attract people. Then it was the thought of how it resembled a mannequin, which is another "object". And well, I didn't even think of the masturbation device angle...

But, seeing as how quickly Deep Silver has reversed their stance, I'm beginning to think that they didn't even have many (if any) torsos manufactured and they were simply trying to generate some media attention for their game.
posted by FJT at 7:32 AM on January 16, 2013


Why, specifically, the Dead Island Riptide ‘sexy’ torso statue is gross on just about every level.
Which leads me to why this particular little tchotchke disturbs me so much: More than just a little bit of localized awfulness, it speaks volumes of the attitude of publisher Deep Silver toward its audience. Is this who they think the average gamer is, namely a male who is easily and somewhat pathetically titillated and can’t see the obvious sexual violence in the statue? And after a few moments of introspection I have to ask “What if they are right? What does that say about me? Do I even want to be associated with a demographic like that?”
Yeah. I definitely sympathize with the "I play games but don't like to identify as a 'gamer'" thing up yonder even though that's problematic in its own way.
posted by Drastic at 7:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


We notice it all the time, and we're pissed, and we do speak up - often to be called shrill or overly sensitive, and we get accused of hating men, sex, and fun. Which we don't!

I think some people do hate men, just like some people hate women. And it's definitely conceivable for people to hate sex, too. And I am DEFINITELY certain that some people hate fun.

But anyways, I don't think people who speak up are shrill and sensitive. I recognize that the focus on the chest and crotch is excessive and would hope general entertainment is more aware and takes steps to correct itself. But, I don't want stuff like this entirely eliminated from media, either due to self-censorship or outright banning. I think people can be mature adults and still have a fake bloody female torso in their house.
posted by FJT at 7:53 AM on January 16, 2013


". Now, if this were real art or somesuch, with some real intellectual or moral payoff...well, that'd be one thing."

If it were critical of violence against women's bodies rather than celebrating it, I reckon people would feel differently.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:02 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is pretty silly. If graphic violence in games is okay, then graphic violence against women in games is okay too.
posted by yonega at 8:12 AM on January 16, 2013


'Gamer culture'. While I find the term useful to highlight the rampant sexism and terrible behaviour in mainstream games, roughly half the gamers in most territories are women, the average age of gamers is usually 25-33, and I dare say many young, white men cringe at what 'gamer culture' thinks they want. Are there sexist, mostly male gamers who like this kind of thing and spew bile into their headset when playing with strangers? Yes.

Is it the responsibility of the 'professionals' in gaming companies not to engage in sexist marketing and moderate such behaviour in their online spaces? You bet. 'It's what the audience wants' is too thin an excuse, sorry.
posted by ersatz at 8:13 AM on January 16, 2013


This is pretty silly. If graphic violence in games is okay, then graphic violence against women in games is okay too.

Sexualised violence towards women only in games is different from lots of bloody deaths of both women and men who are not sexualised.
posted by jeather at 8:20 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]




This is pretty silly. If graphic violence in games is okay, then graphic violence against women in games is okay too.
posted by yonega at 8:12 AM on January 16 [+] [!]



This sounds like a one-off and not a legitimate attempt at engagement, but I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt here as a legitimate question.

Generalized violence is less disturbing than targeted violence.

Celebrating violence targeted against vulnerable sectors of society is particularly troubling. Just like you could probably get away with saying, "God I hate Wednesdays, I really want to punch someone in the face today," and yet would get a markedly different reaction if you said, "God I hate Wednesdays, I really want to punch my wife in the face today." Suggesting that all depictions of violence merit an equal reaction is absurd.

That's without getting into all the weirdness of gender, exploitation and the reduction of womens' bodies. I think we've been over that part already.

Although to he totally honest, I suspect that depictions of violence in the game do probably deserve their own scrutiny. Especially given what we've already learned about the minds behind this thing.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:26 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sexualised violence towards women only in games is different from lots of bloody deaths of both women and men who are not sexualised.

That's irrelevant whether or not it's true. There are genres of game where the primary form of interaction and advancement is taking human life. Whether the violence towards women in these games is sexualized or not, the game supports it.. and really it doesn't have to be intentionally sexualized for it to be sexual.. the player brings their own motivation.

Violence against women is not inherently worse than violence against others, sexualized violence is not more wrong than other types of violence.

If Game X about chopping people up and Person A likes to chop everyone up while Person B especially prefers to chop women up, Person B is not the problem--Game X is.

The genre of games that are about taking human life.. you should not be surprised that some of them function as hate crime simulators and you should not look to place your values upon them while tolerating their existence. If you're okay with them existing, but you want the violence they support to conform to you ideas of acceptable violence.. I don't even know what to tell you..

That said, when people don't like something they should say so and hopefully there will be less of the thing. But when people point out stuff like this in hyperviolent games it always confuses me.. "Really? that's your problem?"
posted by yonega at 8:29 AM on January 16, 2013


"Really? that's your problem?"
posted by yonega at 8:29 AM on January 16 [+] [!]


Well, it is, and this is generally a socially accepted idea, and not just a criticism of one game.

Case. Most western countries have hate speech laws, protecting "identifiable groups." (Gender, colour, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc) Language that targets specific people or groups is handled differently by courts, and it's (usually) understood differently by the people that are exposed to it.

There is room for nuance here. You might not agree, but most people can distinguish between generalized and targeted or prejudiced violence in media.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:46 AM on January 16, 2013


Case. Most western countries have hate speech laws, protecting "identifiable groups."

Okay, so are we getting into video game content regulation again? Cause that's gonna be a barrel of fun.
posted by FJT at 8:51 AM on January 16, 2013




Okay, so are we getting into video game content regulation again? Cause that's gonna be a barrel of fun.
posted by FJT at 8:51 AM on January 16 [+] [!]



Hey, maybe you didn't read that entire post.

I was explaining that society can differentiate between different kinds of violence. Content regulation already exists at that level.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:57 AM on January 16, 2013


I was explaining that society can differentiate between different kinds of violence. Content regulation already exists at that level.

You guys might be talking past each other. It sounds like he's questioning whether it's useful to think about violence against women in an interactive (and customizable to an extent) medium where players can inflict violence upon whatever they choose for however long they want, whether sexualized or not. In a book or movie, it makes us spectators in this violence. But in a game, by making a choice to have certain groups in the game, you open up the possibility that the game experience represents the game.

And I'd question if society can differentiate the violence in a game. After all, some people believe that GTA is ONLY about violence towards sex workers. Fallout is about killing children. Call of Duty is about killing Muslims.
posted by FJT at 9:34 AM on January 16, 2013


I would like to be able to win a zombified/partially dismembered replica bust of myself via competition on a leaderboard

I know it's tacky plastic crap, and I don't care
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Violence against women is not inherently worse than violence against others, sexualized violence is not more wrong than other types of violence.

So are you saying that if there were a zombie game in which all the zombies were young women in bikinis, so the entire game was killing "sexy" female zombies, that would not be more creepy or disgusting than a game in which the zombies were all different ages and genders and dressed in normal clothes?

And I think Stagger Lee's illustration is so good that it bears repeating. Do you see no difference between someone saying, "Sometimes I get so angry, I feel like I want to hit someone" and "Sometimes I get so angry, I feel like I want to hit a hot young woman in a bikini."
posted by straight at 10:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


So are you saying that if there were a zombie game in which all the zombies were young women in bikinis, so the entire game was killing "sexy" female zombies, that would not be more creepy or disgusting than a game in which the zombies were all different ages and genders and dressed in normal clothes?


That's a matter of personal taste, we're already chopping people up. You only choose your own victims.
posted by yonega at 11:01 AM on January 16, 2013


I’m with yonega in that I’m surprised at how much violence porn people are willing to overlook before they become upset, and what they get upset about. I find the parade of cop shows on TV that celebrate killing and torture to be distasteful to say the least, but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else. It seems to me that most all violence porn is sexualized, whether some consumers realize it or not, that’s the whole point. Things like this statue are just more blatant.

Then again I was really surprised by the reaction to the recent school shootings. I read an account online before I heard any reaction and thought it was awful, and "here we go again". I didn’t realize this would freak people out because it was younger children, I honestly didn’t even notice. I have a hard time understanding how people brush off the killing of a 21 or 42 year old but lose it when it’s a 6 or 12 year old.

I do see the difference in this statue though, and think it’s pretty gross, but I wouldn’t be playing the game in the first place. I guess we all have our own lines in the sand. I love Halo and have no problem with it, but would never play GTA.
posted by bongo_x at 12:07 PM on January 16, 2013


It's possible to play GTA in a gross way - I've seen players go through only killing women or African-Americans - but it's not supported by the text. The games are much more critical of American culture than your average war porn.

There's already a series about a bikini clad girl who kills zombies.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:44 PM on January 16, 2013


It's possible to play GTA in a gross way - I've seen players go through only killing women or African-Americans - but it's not supported by the text.

That’s kind of my point; It’s all a "gross way". I don’t really know the game, but I don’t want to play a game where I have to kill ordinary people, not just feel better about not targeting minorities or women.

Something like Halo is detached enough that I don’t feel the same way, and there is no gore. I will kill things in Silent Hill or the like without blinking, but I don’t like to play Call of Duty.
posted by bongo_x at 1:15 PM on January 16, 2013


Cracked... agrees with you? WTF?

All right then, I guess we as gamers have only one recourse: We stop denying our role in the larger problem of gun violence altogether. Nobody's buying it anyway. You can spout studies and statistics all you want, and your debate partner will turn around and see a 10-year-old in his living room mowing down a village full of Arabs with a technically accurate machine gun, proudly rattling off the virtues of its fire rate and reload times. Gamers look ridiculous when we flail about, trying to deny that a fourth grader who understands the benefits of burst fire and knows to hold his breath while sniping is a bit disconcerting. Just like movie-goers look ridiculous if they say James Bond movies portray a pistol as anything other than an excellent solution to the problem of people who are in James Bond's fucking way. Just like music fans look ridiculous when they insist that all the gang violence glorified in giant, flashy colors in every other rap video has no effect on the children watching them.



I'm not sure I agree with this.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:05 PM on January 16, 2013


Charlemagne,

One counterargument is that violent video games provide a cathartic outlet for antisocial urges so they can be expressed in a safe/legal/ethical fashion.
posted by yonega at 3:39 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


One counterargument is that violent video games provide a cathartic outlet for antisocial urges so they can be expressed in a safe/legal/ethical fashion.

And I don’t know that that’s wrong. Repression is a monster. That’s why I don’t have a strong opinion that violence in games and other media should be stopped just because I’m uncomfortable with it. Regulation might have the opposite effect of what I want. Nobody know at this point.

Completely off the wall statement; Younger people seem much more sheltered and involved in less trouble than the people around me when I was in the 15-25 year old range. There could be a thousand reasons why this is so, or I could have a bias because I hung out with a lot of flaky people then and don’t now. Or maybe they release those anti social urges in media instead of other people?
posted by bongo_x at 4:27 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


One counterargument is that violent video games provide a cathartic outlet for antisocial urges so they can be expressed in a safe/legal/ethical fashion.

Yeah, that's why there was so much more violent crime before there were realistic violence video games and movies.

I have never seen anyone come up with substantive proof that it works that way. Not that I'm against violent video games and movies, but I don't think they serve any kind of function as a release valve. It's more likely that they serve as an emulation goal -- and I don't think they do.
posted by JHarris at 4:41 PM on January 16, 2013


JHarris: "Yeah, that's why there was so much more violent crime before there were realistic violence video games and movies."

At least with video games that's true. In 1992 when Mortal Combat and Wolfenstein 3D came out the violent crime rate was 757.7 per 100,000, games have only become more realistic and graphic since then but in 2010 the violent crime rate was 403.6 per 100,000. (FBI)
I'm sure there are many reasons for that decrease so while video games might not reduce violent crime they certainly don't seem to be making it worse.
posted by the_artificer at 5:28 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Yeah, that's why there was so much more violent crime before there were realistic violence video games and movies."

I wasn’t sure if you were being sarcastic or serious, but yes that is part of my thought. Unless you are under the impression, like many, that crime and violence are getting worse, when in fact it is much safer now than possibly ever.
posted by bongo_x at 5:32 PM on January 16, 2013


Including a disembodied torso of a woman in a "collector's edition" of a game disturbs me on more than one level.

First, I'm a woman, and I'm a casual gamer. It's estimated that 40% of gamers are women. gaming is not simply a guy pastime; my sons' girlfriends play Halo and Hitman along with them (and often beat them). I don't want women portrayed in the games we play as nothing more than victims or trophies, and I especially don't want women represented as nothing more than (enhanced to absurdity) tits and ass in trophy form. Deep Silver screwed up royally with this, publicity stunt or no, because it's soured me on the Dead Island Sequel now, and we are their potential audience, too.

Despite the claims of casual misogyny being a "gamer" thing and part of "gamer culture", most of the games we play have strong female characters. In Left 4 Dead, for example, another zombie fighting game, Zoey is an awesome character to play. She's a strong person and pivotal to the group's success. And the men I know who game agree with that assessment. Probably the most common complaint about the sequel, L4D2, is that Rochelle, Zoey's counterpart, is not as independent--hence not as fun to play--as Zoey.

I think it's worth noting in this thread is that, just as gamers can be defensive about the games they can play, those who don't game can be quite openly dismissive of a pastime they simply don't enjoy. I think one thing that rubs me the wrong way about a lot of criticisms about games is that they are made by people who do not play them, people who often are simply parroting what they've heard other people (who also don't play them) say about gaming. This often results in situations like parents deciding to limit their children's game play to 30 minutes at a time. Ostensibly it's to protect their kids from violence (or from hearing other gamers swear online!), but honestly it's just as often because they don't like videogames themselves, and don't understand the appeal.

The problem with this is that when you limit the time kids are allowed to play games, you limit the difficulty level and the complexity of the games they are left to play. This, ironically, often leads to the very problem those parents are attempting to prevent: the kids end up playing the most violent games, the shooters and the "murder simulators" (really?!) rather than the strategic games that require greater focus and concentration.

You cannot play Portal 2, for example, in fifteen minute stretches, and expect to get anywhere but incredibly frustrated.

One reason for the popularity of zombie games, by the way, comes from those same parents who disapprove of violent video games. Fighting other humans = bad, but their kids like games with fighting. Therefore, they prefer to buy games where at least their kids fight aliens or monsters instead. In a pinch, Nazis will also do, as most people disapprove of Nazis in general. And frequently today's parents are okay with terrorists, too. So it's really not surprising that we end up with Halo, Left4Dead and Call of Duty leading videogame sales.

I am familiar with Dead Island, and I appreciate that there are strategic elements of that game that make it interesting in a different way than other simple zombie "shooter" games. Restricting resources (like weapons, food and first aid) means the player has to make the best use of what's on hand, rather than just peppering enemies with unlimited ammo, while an isolated location (an island) means you can't just run away from the danger.

I watched some videos online of unedited gameplay. Here are my observations:

The violence is not all against women, or even mostly against women--for every female zombie I saw, I counted about 4-5 male ones.

The majority of women were in bikinis, which is not so great, as mentioned above, though there are different female body types. Additionally, there are more fully clothed women once you venture away from the resort area to the tourist town center (this is supposed to be an island resort, after all).

There are also many very buff men, shirtless and wearing only shorts. I would say that on balance, more of the men seemed to be wearing at least tank tops and long shorts, though.
posted by misha at 6:24 PM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Yeah, that's why there was so much more violent crime before there were realistic violence video games and movies."

bongox: I wasn’t sure if you were being sarcastic or serious, but yes that is part of my thought. Unless you are under the impression, like many, that crime and violence are getting worse, when in fact it is much safer now than possibly ever.


Well, let's see what evidence we can find on that issue.

Relation of the prevalence of gun related violence to videogame consumption.

8 Myths of Videogames Debunked.

Also, these videogame statistical analyses include some really interesting charts comparing the rate of videogame consumption to the level of violence in adolescent populations. Spoiler: juvenile violent crime rates tended to decrease as videogame sales increased.

Which is not necessarily convincing evidence in itself, as the average age of gamers is 35, not 18. But if you look at all violent crime, not just juvenile violent crime, the results are still the same.

No, Videogames do not cause violence.
posted by misha at 6:39 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huh. I still don't think video games can serve as an outlet for violent tendencies, but I retract the statement. Interesting info.
posted by JHarris at 6:46 PM on January 16, 2013


No, Videogames do not cause violence.

But then, no single thing would.
posted by regicide is good for you at 6:46 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Access to guns vs. not having access to guns makes a fuckload of difference though, as I'm sure those driving the recent increased US interest in violent videogames would like you to forget.
posted by Artw at 7:12 PM on January 16, 2013


Access to guns vs. not having access to guns makes a fuckload of difference though

Guns don't kill people, but they make it an awful lot easier to do so*.

*See every military.
posted by jaduncan at 9:24 PM on January 16, 2013


I think we need to have Allen Iverson weigh in on this matter:

We're sitting here, and I'm supposed to be the franchise player, and we're talking about plastic. I mean listen, we're sitting here talking about plastic, not a game, not a game, not a game, but we're talking about plastic. Not the game that I go out there and kill and mutilate every female in the game but we're talking about plastic man. How silly is that?

Now I know that I'm supposed to lead by example and all that but I'm not shoving that aside like it don't mean anything. I know it's important, I honestly do but we're talking about plastic. We're talking about plastic man. We're talking about plastic. We're talking about plastic. We're not talking about the game. We're talking about plastic. When you come to my room, and you see me play, you've seen me play right, you've seen me give everything I've got to that bloody female corpse, but we're talking about plastic right now.
posted by bluishred at 9:53 PM on January 16, 2013


...what?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:02 PM on January 16, 2013


"Plastic" sounds like "practice", see.
posted by gingerest at 10:33 PM on January 16, 2013


I absolutely use videotapes to bleed out my aggression. They don't NEED to be violent, since the act of playing a game is calming, but if I'm really pissed off they help. I don't know how I would have got through my teenage years without the demo of the original GTA. Dan Harmon blogged about playing Prototype when he was kicked off Community, and that game is pure cathartic violence (and parkour).
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:06 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


But that's a subtly different thing. You're working off energy, not killing people by pretend so you don't do it for real. If there were no video games, you'd pay sports for that, or something else.
posted by JHarris at 6:59 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nothing provokes a rage quit like some fucking fiddly utterly abstract puzzle game, often in convenient format for throwing across the room!
posted by Artw at 7:02 AM on January 17, 2013


UnSub: Dead Island – Riptide: De Rigeur Mortis Marketing
From this perspective, Deep Silver’s marketing stunt is an adept commentary on the video games coverage and editorial ecosystem. The games sites grab hold of the controversial, holding it up high so that the shocked can be shocked. The internet outrage flows. Then along comes the defence to the outrage, promoting more coverage, more publicity. Finally comes the sales from the extra customers now titillated by all the coverage. Everyone plays their roles without thinking about it. Deep Silver just provided the perfect fodder, no doubt reluctantly.

When it comes to issues like this, we all behave on instinct, much like the zombies that are at the heart of Deep Silver’s output. Deep Silver are reaching out to us, inspiring us to think more about what we do on the internet and in gaming, to act less as a mob and more as intelligent individuals. To not be baited so easily.

Deep Silver thought very, very long and hard on this.
posted by kithrater at 6:28 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Not be baited so easily" however means "let this pass without comment," which in practice means conceding that ground, meaning they'll come up with some even more cockamamie thing next time. That won't end well. It is well and just that the makers of Dead Island 2 be shamed for this.

I directly challenge the claim that there's no such thing as bad publicity. I don't think this will really help Dead Island 2's sales much, if at all.
posted by JHarris at 12:58 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Deep Silver is now pitching Dead Island 2 at the same people EA did when they made those Dead Space 2 commercials where they showed the archetypal Your Mom reacting badly to video footage of the game. "Moms hate it," chants the voiceover.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:09 AM on January 23, 2013


LogicalDash, do you have any links to those ads with the voiceovers? I couldn't find them online. I'm interested from the OMGWATWPTGHB* perspective.

*Oh my god what a train wreck promoting this game has been!
posted by misha at 12:35 PM on January 23, 2013


*Oh my god what a train wreck promoting this game has been!

I suspect they pulled up the rails themselves.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:02 PM on January 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2.
Individuals were remunerated.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:51 PM on January 23, 2013


Thanks, LogicalDash! I don't think I've ever left an unflattering comment on a YouTube video before (usually can't be bothered), but that was total dreck. Deep Silver is just making me sad now.
posted by misha at 4:46 PM on January 23, 2013


Heck, we had a whole thread about it.
posted by cortex at 5:11 PM on January 23, 2013


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