Duke Nukem Forever: Smacking As a Discipline Technique

Much like Lum is the master of free rape MMO, the search term that brings most people to my blog is apparently “pimp slap” since I used that reference when talking about Duke Nukem Forever’s Capture The Babe multiplayer mode.

Sorry folks, nothing but disappointment if you are looking for that – all we have here is latex fetishism. Return to Google and try another link.

Batman: Arkham City - Catwoman vs Batman

Gender roles in video games personified. Also: that latex thing.

However, it does remind me that I meant to go back to that particular controversy. One thing I’ve seen is that an issue can stir up a lot of headlines around a sensitive topic, but that controversy isn’t usually measured against the final product. Was the outrage justified or not for DNF’s Capture the Babe mode? Was it an over-reaction (i.e. the title didn’t live up / down to the claims being made)? Was it just a cynical grab for headlines?

For those who haven’t seen Capture the Babe mode in action, here is a video of it:

Two things occur to me on watching that:

  1. Having the player’s vision obscured by the babe is actually a neat idea; and
  2. The smacking is completely unnecessary.

Having the babe complain about being smacked is appropriate, but really just makes the smacking feel even more ick. Although she never says, “Stop smacking me”, it’s pretty hard to make a case for the character wanting the smacking to continue. It certainly doesn’t sound like she’s enjoying it, or has given consent. If the babes aren’t consenting but the player keeps smacking them… I think I’ll stay with “ick” as my descriptor.

Since it happens in multiplayer, the argument that “the Duke is sexist and that provides the context for his sexist actions” doesn’t apply because  there is no Duke character in this arena of gameplay: there are simply players and the models / skins they choose to use. So again, the smacking mechanic feels morally awkward and uncomfortable.

So was the outrage justified? On the overall topic of gender roles in video games I think it was, but Duke Nukem Forever suffers from such a stench of disappointment that things like its questionable multiplayer mode will probably be forgotten relatively rapidly. Which probably means this tale will be repeated in about 6 – 9 months or so.

UPDATE 2011 08 08: Cleaned up the last paragraph slightly.

2 thoughts on “Duke Nukem Forever: Smacking As a Discipline Technique

    • There possibly was a way (somehow) to make such a mode less controversial. For instance, if Duke had grabbed the babe and just said, “Stop that” when she waved her hand in front of his face. But the smacking (with the butt of the gun at that)…

      I guess I was trying to see if the description of the CtB mode was replicated by the reality of the mode itself, or if things were blown out of proportion. As you say, the general moral wave of “oh hell no” was pretty much on the money.

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