Oli Walsh has written an interesting feature, this weekend, over at Eurogamer, which references those twin blights on video games, sexism and racism. With particular reference to Techland’s zombie RPG “Dead Island” and the ‘feminist whore’ line of code found in the initial Steam build of the game and SquareEnix/Eidos Montreal’s “Deus Ex: Human Revolution”, this is a thought-provoking piece. Particularly if you can put aside your knee-jerk response of ‘It’s political correctness run amok!‘ and focus on what Welsh has to say about the medium that many of us love.
You might be a wag and argue that if games are reduced to using crude stereotypes and generalisations to present story then they’ve actually joined the same club which allows Michael Bay to preside over summer blockbusters/contemporary minstrel shows and lets “Sex and the City 2” trot out horrendous cultural stereotypes of the Arab world because the rest of the franchise gives the appearance of being post-feminist.
One could make that argument, but I’d like to think that games have the potential – in terms of the mechanics of character creation, not least – to pitch stories to a wider audience than Hollywood ever has. The building blocks are there – say what you want about the “Gears of Wars” series view of ‘might is right’ conflict resolution but that’s a game series where a common enemy allows women to fight alongside men, and where ethnicity isn’t a factor. Unless you’re a Locust.