Sexism in video games has been a hot button issue lately and with good reason. There has been an appalling lack of believable and well developed female characters in video games
since almost their inception. For every Alyx Vance there are dozens of sex kittens and helpless princesses.
A few days ago I reviewed Deadlight and gave it a generally positive score.
However, near the end of the game something occurred which bothered me at the time but I decided that it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the game.
Now as I look back on my playthrough of Deadlight, it casts a shadow over the entire experience.
Twenty minutes before the finale of Deadlight several idiotic moments occur in rapid succession that I decided fit under the “lackluster story” caveat I included in my review and tried to move on. Now in hindsight, I realize that this actually changed my entire perception of the game.
The video and associated commentary below highlights all my qualms with the way this game handled a female character.
I should make it clear: this is probably Not Safe For Work.
Transcript & Commentary
- 00:19 – Stella says “I’m fine, I’m clean…I promise!” in frightened protest
– Simultaneously the image is of her complying by removing her sweater.
- 00:22 – The soldier’s dialog uses the word “Sure” three times in one thought.
– Not exactly Pulitzer Prize winning stuff.
- 00:35 – Physical & Sexual Assault ensues
- 00:49 – Stella doesn’t cover her breasts in modesty but instead clasps her arms around her stomach and pushes her breasts together.
– The most common and easily recognized defensive stance is standing or sitting with the arms crossed over the chest, not wrapped around the waist. That’s for retaining body heat, stifling hunger or putting breasts on display.
- 00:50 - The protagonist is completely callous about the whole ordeal.
– This is a man who is traveling across a zombie wasteland to reunite with his wife and daughter because of his abiding love for them, it’s not realistic that he would act with so little compassion for another human’s suffering.
- 01:13 – “That blood in your saliva is the only real thing we have left, Stella.”
– I get what your saying, but that line sucks.
- 02:00 – “I need help!”
— We’re expected to believe that Stella survived a zombie apocalypse yet is so physically weak that she can’t pull herself onto a ledge when the protagonist has been doing it throughout the entire game? How on earth has she survived this long?!
- 02:15 – Stella manages to leap over ten yards, but again can’t summon the upper body strength hoist herself up.
– Granted, I don’t know if I could lift myself up “Prince of Persia” style, but in this game world it’s a necessity in order to move from point to point, if Randall Wayne died would she then starve to death trapped between two vans?
- 03:23 - Oops, nevermind. She does it now. She was probably just being lazy before…
I was baffled by the fact that the creators of this game thought a good way to reintroduce a female character was to strip off her shirt, humiliate her and cast her in the role of the ‘helpless victim’. Then follow that with gameplay that makes her an utter nuisance completely unable to fend for herself.
Is this outrageous?
Am I overreacting?
Can sexual assault, if portrayed and dealt with realistically, be an effective component of storytelling?