Nothing Phallic About This...

Wherein the trolls troll me, and things get even more creepy than they were yesterday.

Prior to about 11am this morning, I was quite content to move on to new things for today’s post. Then I got trolled. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t care as I tend to get trolled at least once or twice per week. But this particular troll decided to accuse me of plagiarism. For the record, my day job for eight months of the year is busting plagiarists. Needless to say, I didn’t take kindly to the accusation. So no, dear troll, I won’t stop talking about this issue. Should you take umbrage at my words, might I recommend clicking the little “X” in the top right corner of the window.

To the point at hand.

Shortly after I posted yesterday’s Hitman piece, I found another trailer for the game. I think this one predates the “Saints” trailer, but it is no less problematic. Once again, the themes in play are sexposition and monumental fails in marketing. Let’s bring in the accused.

 

Really? 47 busts up all that security and there’s not a single alarm triggered? Where are the security cameras? Perhaps a motion detector for the stairwell? And how sound proofed is the bathroom that Diana (47’s former handler) doesn’t hear electrical wires being ripped from drywall? Forget about gender portrayals, I’m having trouble suspending my disbelief long enough to get through the meat and potatoes of this trailer.

Seriously though, does anybody else remember when the Hitman games were at least somewhat plausible? This trailer is about one sword and nine cyborgs short of being a companion piece for Metal Gear Rising. Forgive me for belabouring the point, but rapid fire action like this isn’t how I remember playing the Hitman games. Yes, the option was always there for aggressive tactical action. And each time I said fuck it to stealth and went in guns a blazing, I ended up getting killed for my efforts. The spirit of the game is anchored to finesse and cleverness. 47 is the sort of killer who replaces a prop gun with a real gun to get at an actor who is his target. This vision of 47 lacks the elegance in wet work that the Hitman series has always rewarded.

Some might argue that Diana, despite her nakedness, falls into the category of “Strong Female Character”. Perhaps this is a valid point given this character’s history with 47 and “The Agency”. Yet this trailer presents her as a helpless victim from start to finish. A developer who had any sense of their actual audience would depict Diana sitting behind a desk, pistol in hand, akin to 007’s M. This trailer eschews any of that context, opting for something that looks more like the opening act of a snuff film. Need proof? Okay. Point 1: She’s a victim of home invasion by a formerly trusted companion. Point 2: She’s caught naked. Point 3: She’s caught naked in the shower.

For a moment, forget about how the die-hard Hitman fans are going to respond to something like this. Instead think about the reaction of a newbie. Between this and the Saints trailer, IO Interactive is presenting the franchise as something that has a very odd relationship with women. Women are either getting killed while skanked up, or caught naked in the shower – perhaps to be killed? Why? What’s the point? What possible take away message could this be offering other than: buy this game and maybe you’ll see some cleavage. To reference a friend of mine, if I wanted boobies I would go buy Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball. At least that is decent enough to be up front and honest about what it is, and it’s not a volleyball game.

I want to wrap up with an assertion. If the trolling of Anita Sarkeesian has demonstrated anything, it is that a rather vocal percentage of gamers view the industry as their own personal Augusta National Golf Course. Said members don’t like hearing that women in video games should be more than objects of fetish and fancy. They think that a more respectful, and less exploitative/rapey, treatment of women in games will somehow translate to censorship and a limiting of “artistic expression”. This is a rather misguided belief. Making more games like Portal and fewer like Bayonetta, doesn’t mean the Bayonetta games are going to go away forever. There will always be a market for T&A. Equal rights legislation for women didn’t magically kill porn, did it? This progressive paradigm shift will mean more games with characters like Chell, Cortana, Shodan, and Sarah Kerrigan (at least before she became a talking point for colonization – and go figure that two out of the four non-reprehensible female characters I could think of off the top of my head aren’t even human).

This is not a conversation that should end. Gods help the gaming industry if it ever does.