Duke Nukem Forever – Wallowing in sexism


Cover for Duke Nukem Forever. Shows a burly, blond man leaning back holding a large golden gun in his hand. Near his crotch there is a woman's hand but the woman is not pictured. Behind Duke is a city with a bomb blast, some aliens, and a large neon sign in the shape of a woman.

In some games we find sexism buried within plot points or seen through the stereotyped portrayals of female characters. Duke Nukem Forever is not one of those games. There is no need to look deeply into gameplay or storyline to find issues.  Duke Nukem Forever is simply a game that wallows in sexism.  It revels in creating a main character that has a complete disregard for women. Duke Nukem sees women as sexual objects existing solely for his amusement. It is clearly not a game geared for a diverse demographic. I know that this franchise is not meant for me. When looking at everything surrounding the game (the advertisement, the hype, the cover art, the interviews) it becomes apparent that Duke Nukem Forever is capitalizing on sexism and gleefully enjoys that role.


Game preview event

Back in February of 2011 Gearbox hosted a preview event for Duke Nukem Forever in Las Vegas. They rented out a strip club, renamed it Titty City for the day, and invited gaming reporters for the event. Inside the club they had women dressed in short plaid skirts, white shirts that were tied above their waists, white thigh high stockings, and high heels. It was the “naughty school girl” look we may all know from Halloween costumes. Of course, these outfits would not be allowed under any school dress codes I have ever seen. The urinals had signs on them that said “Duke Nukem’s Wizzle Tits” which is a joke that I fail to understand. Pictures from the event can be found here and here for those interested. Amid all this pageantry they had demo stations for the game. So why host the event in such a way? They could have invited people to the Gearbox studios for the demo. If Gearbox is a poor choice, then why not rent out another facility to host these demo units? This strip club theme was gleefully celebrated by Gearbox. This is not to say that strip clubs are inherently bad. They can be entertainment venues for men or women and much of the atmosphere is dependent on how the employees are treated. But, in this specific scenario the strip club was not meant as entertainment for both male and female games journalists. It played right into the stereotype of gamers  as heterosexual males that would want to visit strip clubs and treated it as though the only people that write or care about games must also fit into that category. Any number of venues would have been better suited for the variety of journalists in the gaming industry. This preview location just adds to the hyper masculine image of this media as a whole.  It screams “games are made by men and for men only” when preview events are held at strip clubs.


The cover art

The cover art on a box indicates the theme of the game. Looking at Duke Nukem Forever‘s box art we get a clear picture of what is meant to be appealing about the game. Duke Nukem’s crotch is front and center. He is leaning back and looking content with a cigar dangling in his mouth. Near his crotch is a disembodied, manicured, female hand. I suppose an artist assumed it unnecessary to show a full female character when all they need for the sexual connotation is a hand. This image shows women as nothing more than body parts existing solely for a man’s pleasure in an eerily literal manner. The large smoking gun at Duke’s crotch just adds to the  sexual *wink wink nudge nudge*. This game is not subtle.


PAX East booth babes

Part of Duke Nukem Forever's booth at this year's PAX East. There is a throne on stage next to which are 2 female models dressed in short plaid skirts, white thigh high leggings, black high heels, and white shirts that are low cut and tied at bra level. This photo was posted by Gearbox on their official Twitter http://yfrog.com/h0jd5baj

PAX, the Penny Arcade gaming fan convention, has a policy against booth babes on their show floor. This is a policy instituted in part to make the convention more welcoming and friendly for all gamers. At this year’s PAX East in March Duke Nukem Forever decided to test this policy. They had models dressed similarly to the the outfits used in the strip club during their preview event. When the twitter account for PAX @Official_PAX was questioned about these models they said that

“Our bb [booth babe] policy is cosplay of ingame chars is ok. We checked it out and asked DNF to cover up a bit but otherwise it’s within our guidelines.”

But I argue that calling this cosplay is wrong. Cosplay is something done by fans. It is something done to show appreciation and admiration of a gaming charcater or franchise. These models are not dressed up to show personal appreciation of a character in Duke Nukem Forever. In an attempt by Gearbox to promote their game, they paid female models to dress a specific way for their job at PAX East. That is a very different situation than fans recreating costumes and cosplaying characters from their favorites games.


“Capture the babe” mode

[Trigger warning: ableism, physical abuse]

More information has recently come out about the multiplayer modes for this game. The one that has raised the most questions is titled “Capture the Babe”. This mode is similar to a game of capture the flag but instead of flags, teams fight to capture women. When captured, these women may get upset and to calm them down the player will be required to slap their butts. I am surprised that articles have not called the captured women hysterical but I am unsure how the game refers to these captured “babes”. This mode contains many problematic themes:

  • The use of women as objects to be captured by men
  • Women as unreasonably emotional creatures
  • Hitting a person as a method of calming them or controlling their behavior

This is what we get for video game? Misogyny and physical abuse being used as jokes is another way to create an immature culture that is specifically pushing away many gamers. This is not welcoming; this is exclusionary and this is harmful.


Randy Pitchford interviews

The CEO of Gearbox has conducted many interviews about the reboot of his beloved Duke Nukem. In one interview he explains his impression of Duke:

“I don’t know if he’s sexist but he’s certainly narcissistic… to him, it’s not just girls but everyone else on the planet that exists for his entertainment and pleasure, whether it’s a man or a woman.

I find that statement remarkable. To me it reads as if Duke’s sexism is irrelevant because he is also a horrific character toward other people. That fact that a character is hurtful towards more than just women does not erase their sexism. In another interview he describes Duke as an awesome character:

Duke is something that’s gone on for so long that even though it’s something where the subject is an absurd and ridiculous (if awesome) hero, the game has a real human story beneath it. This is all very real for all of us. I think that’s become part of the story.

Duke as an awesome hero? I suppose that wielding humongous guns and blowing up aliens is could be considered awesome. But what about the misogyny though? Is that also equally awesome? As Randy Pitchford explains of Duke:

Many imagine that Duke began as a cliche or amalgamation of the prima-facie heroes during a great era for action heroes. Since then, we’ve sort of witnessed a pussification of our heroes in action movies. They have become complex, emotional characters. Duke, being incredibly one-sided and super badass, now stands out, not as a cliche, but as a unique and fresh character rising through a tide of emo. Haha.

Complexity and emotion are seen as worthy of sexist slurs. Well, does Randy Pitchford think we will be pleasantly surprised by this game?

Surprise is a good word. There is a lot of that. Other good words: Shock, Astonish, Engage, Amuse, Entertain, Entertain, Entertain.

Remember, this is all fun and games. Wallowing in sexism is apparently enjoyable; it is entertainment!

Isn’t it ironic?

Is this all satire, irony, or a simple joke? Each of these are different issues. Starting with satire: for something to be satire it must mock it’s subject matter in an attempt at social criticism. Nothing about the game information so far shows this criticism. This game does not ridicule sexism. Instead Duke Nukem Forever revels in misogyny. It finds it funny and nostalgic. The premise of the relaunch is that this gameplay was fun and edgy in the early 90s and we should enthusiastically bring that bit of video game history to the present. Duke is a hyper masculine, chauvinist, caricature that we are meant to enjoy. It is that enjoyment of the character that makes me believe this isn’t satire. We are not meant to pity Duke. We are told to laugh at Duke Nukem’s antics and meant to enjoy his outlandish behavior. Deirdra Kiai also addresses this idea of satire in regards to this game.

If it isn’t satire then perhaps, this game is ironic or simply a joke. If that is the case I point to the fabulous Feminist Frequency post and video regarding over the top uber ironic commercials. There is a transcript of the video on the Feminist Frequency website. The idea is that these campaigns use extremely over the top and ridiculous sexist imagery and we are all supposed to laugh at these images. This discussion can also apply to Duke Nukem.  As Anita Sarkeesianso eloquently states in the video:

Some people might try to defend these ads by saying they’re ‘making fun of sexism’ ironically… somehow. Advertisers must believe that the use of irony distances themselves from male chauvinism but that isn’t the case. While we think we are in on the joke, the reality is they aren’t making fun of or pointing out sexism, they’re doing it.

Remember advertisers have one goal and one goal only and that’s to sell you a product. Everything else, all the jokes, humour and imagery and everything else is to get you to buy it. The easiest way to do this is to use sexist representations that replicates the status quo and doesn’t challenge anything. Marketers love the uber ironic sexist style of advertising because they can use all the racist, sexist misogynist imagery they want and simultaneously distance themselves from it with a little wink and a node.

I recognize that this game will sell. In fact, it will likely sell many copies and make Gearbox a lot of money. But we must realize that it will do so by capitalizing on sexist humor. It banks on people wanting a game that is juvenile and sexist. It expects gamers to enjoy the world of Duke Nukem.


Teaching tool

The CEO of Gearbox, Randy Pitchford, is enjoying this attention. He says he welcomes feminist anger. Pitchford WANTS us to talk about Duke Nukem Forever and use it as a teaching tool. If the game itself was actually satire then it would be a great tool. Why should we do the work here? We should not have to show all the failures of this game (the misogyny, the homophobia, the hyper masculine ideal) and then be required to explain these issues. If Gearbox was serious about squashing sexism they could do so within the game. Asking others to do this work while making money by glorifying sexism and hyper masculinity in gaming is not a progressive idea. Making money off sexist tropes has been the norm for decades and I would like for us to move forward, mature, and tell some new stories. Let these overused narratives stay in the past and move forward. Please show us some new, interesting stories and not just more Duke Nukem.

About Gunthera1

Twitter name: Gunthera1
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45 Responses to Duke Nukem Forever – Wallowing in sexism

  1. thank you so much for writing this. i really wish this game had not been made because you’re absolutely right: it is for the nostalgia of sexism. the ads for this game made me want to throw things at the tv.

  2. TheLaquidara says:

    I’ve never really understood Duke Nukem outside of being a technical showcase. And it’s weird to me that Duke’s character is not only fondly remembered, but also celebrated after all these years. At the very least, I would think people would be mature enough to say, “Duke 3D: Neat game, horrible character.” But I’ve yet to see that kind of response from anyone.

    I do appreciate this writeup, I had no idea that Randy/Gearbox was such a tool. I never read much about DNF outside of the strip club, booth babe, and capture the flag hoopla (the latter being one of the most messed up things I’ve heard from a game since capturing little girls as flags in Bioshock 2). I’ll be sure to be more informed before purchasing another Gearbox game.

    • Nezumi says:

      Hey, at least the Bioshock series was making a point with its Little Sisters — just how far are we truly willing to go in the pursuit of quick profit and easy power? In the milieu of the setting, treating little girls like objects to be captured and used was supposed to be horrifying and wrong — your reaction to their use as “flags” in Bioshock 2 Multiplayer is what they were going for.

      This, though? This… I don’t even know what to say. There’s no irony, no humor, no deeper message. It’s just… sexism and the glorification thereof.

  3. nanasuyl says:

    Your description of “Capture the babe” made me so shocked! How can a game like this be made in this day and age? Slapping women’s butts to calm them down? This is just incredibly offensive. Violence against women is no joke. And capturing a girl as if she was an object? Are they trying to be funny? I have to say: epic fail.

    Isn’t there any organisation to control game content? Games can have any content, even if they feature something like misogyny, homophobia and racism? I’m sure Duke Nukem fans wouldn’t be upset if “capture the babe” was a regular “capture the flag” (or capture whatever object they like. Capture the beer cans! But not capture a human being!) .

    I don’t know, I think they shouldn’t get away with this. Violence against women cannot be seen as normal anymore.

    • untrue says:

      I was looking forward to deriving a guilty pleasure from a second-hand copy of this game (so as not to send a positive signal to 2K Games with my cash), but after reading the Eurogame article, I’m not sure there’s much fun to be had.

      I still don’t think censorship’s the way forward, though. Deserving or not, the game falls well within the confines of free speech.

      By the way, I’m certain Gearbox don’t call the shots marketing-wise, and that the preview event was planned by the publisher.

      • gunthera1 says:

        I did not call for censorship. I said I wish they made more mature games but no where did I say that they should not be allowed to make the game. Companies are free to make games how they want, but we are also free to criticize their choices.

        • Nonny says:

          You didn’t, but a commenter above did:

          nanasuyl says: “Isn’t there any organisation to control game content?”

  4. Ren says:

    Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. The fact that I’m supposed to try and get people to preorder/buy this game at work just angers me, as I can’t stand anything about it :\

  5. Nebu Pookins says:

    Hi, thank you for writing this article. This is my first time commenting on BorderHouseBlog, and I’m worried that I may not be as well received as some of the other commenters because I disagree with some of the things being said here. I’m often told that my dissent is often (mis-)interpreted as antagonism, so I apologize in advance for any anger I may cause; that’s not my intent. I hope to become a part of this community, and to bring “thoughtful analysis to gaming with a feminist viewpoint”, as per the goal of blog.

    > So why host the event in such a way?

    It seems to me that hosting the event in a strip club is an attempt to follow the theme of the game, give a sense of immersion, and to generate some sensationalism. Don’t many of the levels of the various games in the Duke Nukem series take place in strip bars?

    > Any number of venues would have been better suited for the variety of journalists in the gaming industry. This preview location just adds to the hyper masculine image of this media as a whole. It screams “games are made by men and for men only” when preview events are held at strip clubs.

    In this particular case, doesn’t it more likely scream “This *particular* game is (probably) made mostly by men, and is probably mostly intended for men”? I think neither they nor we wish to imply that Duke Nukem speak for all games.

    > But I argue that calling this cosplay is wrong. Cosplay is something done by fans.

    In the context of PAX’s “booth babe policy”, it seems clear that they’re not referring to anything done by fans, since it seems we’re considering “booth babe” and “fans” to be two distinct sets of people. Perhaps you disagree with PAX’s definition of “cosplay”, but surely you can understand that the “booth babe policy” is a policy that applies to booth babes, rather than one applies to fan. So whatever term you wish to use to call it, PAX is essentially saying that booth babes are allowed to dress up as characters which occur in the game in which they are being hired to promote.

    > These models are not dressed up to show personal appreciation of a character in Duke Nukem Forever.

    How do you know this? Are we assuming that absolutely no models appreciate the games they’re being hired to promote? Are we assuming that absolutely no women appreciate the game Duke Nukem?

    What exactly are the implications of your arguments here? That no model should be allowed to dress up at all, because it’s overwhelmingly likely that the models are just being paid by publishers to promote games, rather than are actual fans showing their personal appreciation?

    > That fact that a character is hurtful towards more than just women does not erase their sexism.

    Perhaps we have different definitions of sexism, because I think if a character does not discriminate based on sex nor gender, then that person is not sexist. I don’t know much about Duke (I’ve played some of his games, but never to completion, and haven’t been following any backstory, if any exists), so I’m not saying that Duke is not sexist. I’m merely arguing that if someone is hurtful towards everyone, regardless of their gender, then I do indeed think “sexist” is not the appropriate label to apply to them.

    On a more general (and agreeable?) note, I believe it is unfortunate that there exists people who enjoy games specifically because of the misogynistic content, but I am uncomfortable with the idea that no such games should be made. This latter viewpoint seems to me to border on censorship.

    I’m not sure directing anger at Gearbox et al is the most productive way of ridding the (gaming) world of misogyny. Rather, I see DNF as symptomatic of the aggregate desires and social status-quo in the gaming community. Amongst my friends and I, DNF only has a small part of my mindshare, and I’d like to imagine that it is only a small part of the mindshare of the gaming community at large as well.

    • gunthera1 says:

      Thank you for your reply, I’ll try to address two of the points you mention.

      >How do you know this? Are we assuming that absolutely no models appreciate the games they’re being hired to promote? Are we assuming that absolutely no women appreciate the game Duke Nukem?
      What exactly are the implications of your arguments here? That no model should be allowed to dress up at all, because it’s overwhelmingly likely that the models are just being paid by publishers to promote games, rather than are actual fans showing their personal appreciation?

      I definitely think that models can and do appreciate video games. But I do not think that liking the game they promote is a requirement for their job. They did not come to PAX dressed that way because they love a character from the game and want to represent that character. Whether or not they like the game personally does not erase that it was a requirement to dress up rather than a choice made outside of the job. They were there specifically as a job, not only (or even necessarily) as a fan at the convention.

      The apparent purpose to those models was to look attractive around that throne as a photo op for fans attending PAX. If there was a male model dressed as Duke Nukem with those two female models it would seem more like cosplay to me. But, if I am correct, they are likely representing strippers from the series and not named characters. Without a Duke Nukem, I see less context for them as cosplay because they are representing unnamed NPCs and not icons of the game. I know that the definition of cosplay and booth babe is what is being debated here and PAX’s official decision was to allow them to remain at the booth. Personally I disagree with that decision.

      >….but I am uncomfortable with the idea that no such games should be made. This latter viewpoint seems to me to border on censorship.
      As I said in the post, I wish we would move on to more mature topics in games. But I never said this game could NOT be made. Gearbox, and any other developer, can make these games. As long as they make money, developers will make games that rely on sexist imagery or stereotyped characters/stories. My main point for the post is to show the issues I see with the game and address why I am unhappy with it. If people look at the content of the game and want to buy it they are free to do so. But as I said in the post, “Please show us some new, interesting stories and not just more Duke Nukem.” I hope that developers will make games other than this, but I never say they are not free to create whatever they desire. I am also free to not support them with my money.

      Also, it is not only Gearbox (or any developer) that is responsible for the existence games like this. They would not make the game if it did not sell. There are 2 sides to the equation, the consumer and the producer. Gearbox has a choice in what games they make and they chose to go with Duke Nukem. They have responsibility for what they produce. Just as consumers are responsible for what they choose to purchase. As long as people will buy certain games, then those games will be made.

      All I am trying to do is explain the problems I see surrounding the game and why I will not support it. My wish that more mature games be made is not censorship. I never say this game should be banned. I never say that it cannot be sold. My criticism of the game is not the same as censorship.

      • Nebu Pookins says:

        Thanks for your response,

        I did not mean to imply that you specifically are stating that games like Duke Nukem “should not be made”, but there are some comments here in this thread which are expressing this exact sentiment.

    • Matt says:

      but I am uncomfortable with the idea that no such games should be made. This latter viewpoint seems to me to border on censorship.

      Mind if I chime in a bit?

      Maybe it’s just being in a line of work where I’m regularly dealing with the question of who is giving someone authority to do something, but I see a world of difference between “people should not do X” and “there ought to be a law keeping people from doing X”*

      It seems to me to be entirely appropriate to say that, morally or ethically, certain persons in certain context should not be saying certain things, even if those things are veiled in the criticism-deflecting banner of “art”. There should be room for people’s discussion in establishing norms and mores about what should or should not be said, without either invoking some coercive state restriction (or taxpayer-funded state incentive) or shrinking away from ever actually saying that someone is expressing something fundamentally wrong, misleading or evil or face social ostracism. Because if that’s censorhip, then censorhip = a bunch of people not liking something.

      I don’t think that word means that.

      *and another, slightly smaller but more complicated world of difference between “there ought to be a law keeping people from doing X” and “there ought to be a law authorizing the punishment of people caught doing X”, but I digress

      • Matt says:

        “…and should stop or face social ostracism” is how that should’ve read.

        Is there any way to edit comments on this thing? Or at least make the comment field easier to read?

      • Nebu Pookins says:

        I agree with all of your statements. Additionally, I *do* see comments here essentially saying the equivalent of “there ought to be a law keeping people from doing X”.

        • XIV says:

          You mean one. You keep using ‘comments’, as if it is plural. I see exactly one that makes that implication.

  6. I went to PAX West 2010 and the booth babes were just just as egregious there. I remember being stunned because the booth was right up front and immediately slapped the optimistic smile off my face that this might be a woman-friendly space. It was my first PAX experience and it will be my last.

    Let’s not forget the cardboard cutout where you–yes, you, humble gamer–can shove your face in a hole and become one of the trollops fondling Duke’s puffy misshapen wang:

    Between dickwolves and booth babes, the man-children at PA have spoken their distaste for women and their silly opinions. West coast gamers, consider supporting/attending Geek Girl Con (http://www.geekgirlcon.com/) instead of PAX West to get your geek on in Seattle this year.

  7. Korva says:

    I’ve read all this already, but it’s still sickening.

    And way back, I cancelled a gaming mag subscription (partly) over the review of this game’s predecessor. Unless I’m completely mistaken, it had the feature of being able to blow up tied-up women and the mag’s reviewers saw nothing at all wrong with that, nor with their increasingly sexist language and imagery. Of course, the letter I got in reply to my letter to the editor was all in the vein of “our one token female on the review team doesn’t agree with you, so you’re wrong and hysterical”.

    I guess the best thing we can do, though, is to ignore this piece of hateful shit and not give it any more attention.

  8. Salem says:

    The game has been delayed until June and speculation is that its because they are removing the butt slapping part.

  9. Matt says:

    I gotta say, as someone who was a fan of the old platformers where Duke was a slightly loose-cannon CIA agent who drank way too much fizzy sugar water for his own health, had a cheezy sci-fi “Atomic Pistol” as his main weapon and was an unabashed Oprah fan, this flanderization of the character’s personality over the years has been pretty disappointing.

    But then, I’ve always liked Quake better in nearly every respect anyway and Duke’s been dead to me at least since the first Unreal Tournament, so my disappointment (assuming it wasn’t the cause of my disinterest which come to think of it it might well be) may be of limited weight.

  10. Nezumi says:

    Well, this is just icing on the cake at this point, but consider that the Collector’s Edition for this is called the “Balls of Steel” edition. This is about as unsubtle as you can get about coding the game “This ain’t for you girls or sissies (Read: Homosexuals, multiple flavors of transgender/transsexual, men with healthy masculinity, etc)! This is for real, manly men! Who eat meat! And slap their women around when they give them lip! And kill things!”

    • Matt says:

      It’s a desperate ploy… they know they can’t live up to expectations (even if the game were actually good) so they’re just trolling for attention and “rallying the base” (as both noun and adjective) GOP-style.

      That and suddenly announcing a month-odd delay to vent a little bit of disappointment before it builds up to critical mass, but that’s a whole new issue of its own.

  11. franzferdinand2 says:

    My other big problem is that so many gamers love the over-the-topness of Duke Nukem, without recognizing two important things.

    1. All of Duke’s original catchphrases were openly taken from other characters.
    2. If you want an over-the-top game/FPS, Serious Sam also existed since then.

  12. FarisScherwiz says:

    Yeah, this game has rubbed me the wrong for a long while now. I had no idea about the capture the babe mode though, that’s awful :|

    I think this game has gone so far over the top because Gearbox knows it’ll be a disappointment. It’s been a sort of legendary vapourware game for so long, there’s just no way to live up to the hype. So they’ve dumped in a lot of stupid, over the top crap to grab as many suckers as possible before the it falls into obscurity.

    Also it bothers the hell out of me that people think that a male character that isn’t a hyper-masculine charicature isn’t worth anything and is being “pussified.” Do people seriously want one-dimensional, BORING characters like this? That makes me sad.

  13. Brinstar says:

    Kind of confused why the censorship issue has been brought up multiple times here. I read the post a couple of times, and I didn’t see the bit where gunthera1 advocated for the game not to be made, for the government to step in and suppress the creation of the game, or for any authority to prevent Gearbox from making this game.

    Criticising a company for objectionable content in a game, for sexist marketing, for sexist PR practices, and advocating for games and gaming culture to be more mature and progressive does not equal censorship.

    • Nezumi says:

      A lot of people these days seem to think that “Freedom of Speech” also means “Freedom from Consequences.” This is far from the case — as long as what they do in response is legal, other people have just as much right to react to what you say in any way they choose as you have to say what caused them to react.

      For instance, a store owner that was selling openly racist merchandise, and under the terms of the release, the owner of the property could and did end the lease and evict him. Many people cried that this was suppressing his freedom of speech, but this was not the case. He had every legal right to sell his offensive wares… but the property holder also had every right to shut him down for doing so — those were the consequences of his exercising his right to free speech, and the guarantee of free speech does not protect him from such consequences.

      It’s the same when someone says or does something offensive and is criticized for it.

      • Trodamus says:

        Let me state that, in no uncertain terms, am I defending a racist store owner.

        However, whence goeth freedom of speech when there are innumerable “backdoor” methods to silencing you. From copyright law in the states to libel law in the UK, people with more money have a much easier time shutting up those that don’t.

        So yes, it should have social consequences. No one will sit with you during your lunch hour. But there are too many legal ways to revoke someone’s freedom of expression.

        As a gamer, shouldn’t you care more about that? Our medium of choice being more or less boxed with porn and other consumables with “no inherent message.”

        • XIV says:

          “As a gamer, shouldn’t you care more about that?”


          • XIV says:

            Okay, that reply was a bit terse, so I’ll explain myself a bit better. It bothers me to a very deep extent because it sounded like that question was asking ‘shouldn’t you care more about that owner’s freedom of expression more than say.. his reinforcing of harmful and marginalizing mindsets?’. If that’s not what you meant to say, okay, but it seemed like it and that really upsets me.

            (And, to be fair, if gaming is boxed with porn you’d think more developers would be trying to go against that but they’re sort of just reinforcing it aren’t they? What with stuff like Soul Calibur, DoA, 3rd Birthday, Bayonetta.. which seems to at least be pushing as far as softcore porn can get in some cases.)

        • Nezumi says:

          Two problems:

          a) “Freedom of Speech” very explicitly only defends you from being silenced by the government. It is not a violation of freedom of speech — not even a backdoor violation — for a message board to ban you for what you say, or for the holder of your property to cancel the lease, so long as they do it in a legal manner.

          b) “Legal” was used in the original post in the sense of “in a manner that is neither a criminal or civil violation”, not in the sense of “pertaining to the legal system.”

          • Nezumi says:

            Oh, also, the US has libel law, as well… but it’s less commonly exercised than in the UK, as it has to be both damaging to the reputation and provably false to count as slander or libel.

            And Copyright Law is indeed misapplied as a way to silence people. Mostly, this is done by making specious lawsuits against targets that don’t have enough money to wage even a successful legal battle. Even though these suits have no real legal merit, the lack of an ability to pay for the battle makes any option other than conceding a virtual impossibility.

            Still, that’s not a violation of freedom of speech — it’s a morally unconscionable silencing attack by those with power against those without, but once again, Freedom of Speech is strictly a protection from being silenced by the government.

    • Nebu Pookins says:

      > I read the post a couple of times, and I didn’t see the bit where gunthera1 advocated for the game not to be made, for the government to step in and suppress the creation of the game, or for any authority to prevent Gearbox from making this game.

      I don’t think anyone accused Guntheral of advocating censorship (at least at time of my writing this comment).

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  15. Thefremen says:

    One thing we have learned from Pet Cemetery and multiple Zombie films: When something dies, it is best to mourn that loss and leave it be. That’s what should have been done with DNF, a game intended for the first half of the Bush era if ever there was one! Just think how fitting this would be with a culture of military solutions to all problems, and a congress dead set on setting clocks back 40 years by taking away reproductive rights from uterus-havers.

    OK well both those things are still happening but still I think it would have been best to leave Duke’s disgusting rotting corpse in the ground rather than strapping electrodes to him and creating some kind of disgusting sexist zombie.

    • Matt says:

      strapping electrodes to him and creating some kind of disgusting sexist zombie

      …that actually sounds like a pretty fun FPS miniboss.

  16. Laurentius says:

    The only thing I would disagree is a little bit too firm connection between juvenile humor, immaturity and sexism. These not necessarily need to come together. Why I strongly agree that we need more mature games ( or to be more precisely more successful mature games b/c I see a lot games that pretense to have mature themes but failing miserably), games that gives nice escapism fun in its immaturity aren’t that bad (though not everyone cup of tea of course). I’m especially disappointed b/c though I not fps player I really enjoyed latest Gearbox game :Borderlands, (not without issues no doubt) which was certainly full of these juvenile kind of humor but gave me a lot of fun…DNF of course won’t be this kind of game. I really like your point about developers making money out of sexism, especially since there is a lot of talk how Gearbox is doing all this for Duke’s fans, right but certainly they aren’t going to give this game for free, are they? No, they are going to make big chunk of cash of it, shameful…

    • gunthera1 says:

      Yes, I agree completely with your point. In this game the immature jokes go hand in hand with the sexism and homophobia (such as naming cigarettes fags in a US based game set in Las Vegas). But that does NOT mean that immature/juvenile humor is always sexist. I apologize if my article made it seem like those 2 things are interchangeable because they are not.

  17. Matthew says:

    Oh, and here comes the predictable, utterly incoherent defense of the game from Jim Sterling:


    Seriously, how can anyone read this guy? Are people really that easily entertained by a slobbering cretin who hasn’t come within 1000 miles of even a basic sensitivity training class?

    He’s seriously the Rush Limbaugh of gaming media.

  18. What’s surprised me the most with this game is how many commenters on various sites seem to revel in being allowed to act out their woman hating and violent fantasies. I’ve never doubted for a moment that sexism is still a huge problem in the Western world, but the unbridled glee so many young men seem to take in this game encouraging violence against women (and that is exactly what it’s doing) has been downright shocking.

    I think it just shows we need to work so much harder to educate people, and explain the difference between the more run of the mill videogame violence (which I have nothing against) and targeted violence against women.

    Excellent article! Count me a new fan of this site!

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  21. Brian says:

    Even though this game is a total parody of the “macho man, babes everywhere” genre, it certainly doesn’t disregard the total blatant sexism that’s become a hallmark of the Duke Nukem series. I was never a fan of the series to begin with (or first-person shooters in general), but I can certainly see the cause for offense not just in this game, but other games where women exist solely as eye candy.

    Well written article, and the discussion in the comments are quite interesting as well.

    Here’s one question, though: with all the sexism that’s present in not just this game, but in the gaming industry as a whole, why isn’t there more of an effort to address the issue? I mean, I see comments and healthy discussion on articles like these, and other places on the Internet, but why aren’t we venting our disgust to game developers? Why aren’t we sending correspondence en masse to game studios, to the people who make these games?

    It could be that we are, and it’s just not mentioned in gaming media.

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