Part of me is dreading the launch of Duke Nukem Forever. As a horribly misogynistic, outdated franchise that is more remembered for containing pixellated boobs and ripping off Bruce Campbell than great gameplay (and for a game development cycle from hell) it is something that should have died off long ago. Sadly, no – Gearbox saw a great opportunity to resurrect the IP from the ashes of 3D Realms and so DNF is on its way, gathering hype as it goes.
(Part of me is hopeful that the release of games like DNF and Bulletstorm are the last gasps of immaturity from the Demon of Childishness plaguing video games and we could all move into a brighter future of truly mature titles and less tortured metaphors, but probably not.)
In not the first and certainly not the last bit of controversy DNF is going to raise, it was announced that one of DNF’s multiplayer modes is ‘Capture the Babe’, where instead of flags, you have to try to grab (no doubt attractive-in-skimpy-clothing) women and carry them around. Oh, and occasionally they’ll freak out, so you’ll need to give them a slap to settle down.
Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford was quick to clear up any misunderstandings:
“Get it right, folks! In the DNF MP game “Capture the Babe”, Duke can give the girl a love smack on the booty – not face!”
That this issue needs to be cleared up at all speaks volumes.
Slightly missed in the ensuing comment wars is the point that the Capture the Babe style ends up treating women like meat to a huge extent anyway – something to grab and hold for points – and that the “love smack” is really just icing on the creepy sexism cake.
Gearbox may end up laughing all the way to the bank when it comes to DNF, but the title isn’t exactly helping the image of gamer rise from “emotionally stunted man-children”. There will be those who say, “It’s just a game!”, but that’s an excuse that only travels so far when it comes to a mini-game that involves the concept of slapping a woman around.
I’d like to hope that Gearbox is going to keep pushing this one to its logical extreme, that the entirety of DNF is going for the good old Refuge in Audacity trope. I mean, yeah, it’s desperately hard to pull off, but if done correctly it removes any kind of context beyond the sheer comedy and absurdity of the situation.
The bitter realist in me assumes that it’s just going to be yet another game joining the chain gang of ones not grasping that women are more than a breast-delivery system.
I was going to write a long detailed comment on this subject, but I think this comic sums up how I feel nicely.
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