This week has seen another round of discussion of rape culture in video games, prompted primarily by the release of a trailer for the upcoming Hitman: Absolution, which I will not link. Instead, I will offer a round-up of some great and some not-so-great (to say the least) articles written this week, both about it and about rape culture in general. Trigger warnings apply to everything below.
A good place to start is Opinion: What the Hell is With That Hitman Trailer? by Keza MacDonald at IGN, which has a description of the trailer in question and has a great explanation of the problems with it.
Next is Can’t We Discuss This Like Adults?, by Rob Fahey at GamesIndustry International, pointing out that the backlash against critics of the Hitman trailer is childish and ridiculous, and that it probably stems from the history of video games being attacked, as a medium, by cynical politicians and other outsiders. Fahey asks gamers to stop having that knee-jerk reaction to criticism and, well, discuss things like adults.
Brendan Keogh at Critical Damage demands that gamers Quit Pretending There Isn’t a Videogame Rape Culture. This is a great post, and some of the comments are quite great as well (some of them are not, though, so tread carefully). Blake linked this one in her post earlier today.
The next two posts are not related to the trailer specifically, but they are posts about rape culture that were published this week, so they are still part of the conversation. At Kotaku, Patricia Hernandez wrote a very personal and powerful piece titled Three Words I Said to the Man I Defeated in Gears of War That I’ll Never Say Again, about the true insidiousness of rape culture. And Taylor Cocke wrote In Response to “Three Words” at his blog, about his experiences of personal growth from being part of rape culture to criticizing it.
On to the not-so-great portion of our roundup… Michael Thomsen at Kill Screen has an utterly ill-informed piece with a ridiculous headline: What is “rape culture” and do videogames have one? Scare quotes alert! The comments on this one are quite worth reading.
And finally we have an irritating blog post accompanied by a completely nonsensical comic strip from Penny Arcade. There are so many things wrong with this post: the assumption that people criticizing the trailer are video game outsiders condemning the entire medium (Fahey was right!), that the criticism is somehow “compulsory” or being leveled by pearl-clutchers who have nothing to do but get hysterical about something they don’t understand, that the problem is that the women being killed are nuns, that instead of criticizing, people should just shut up and make their own games (that last one I’ll address in its own post). Way to miss the point by a mile; my only surprise here is that it was Tycho and not Gabe who was committing it this time.
Update: I forgot to link this great piece about empathy from Alexis at the Betterblog (Failbetter Games).
If you’ve seen other articles that should be included, please link them in the comments.