Tag Archives: Rockstar Games

Rockstar Keeps Pushing The Male Chauvinist Approach

did not loadSo I just watched the end of the Pacers-Knicks playoff game (U.S. Basketball), and I had to roll my eyes at the commercials: robot models on high heels selling a car (Kia), and young perfect girls in underwear fondling a new phallic player by Radio Shack.

The robot girls can kick ass though. Is that any better, or just more titillation for a male audience? Whatever. But then I read the gaming news and noticed Rockstar Games has gone too far. I have to blog this.

These are video games. Serious bizness.

Brett Slabaugh posted an article for Escapist yesterday discussing a Skyrim-like character development for the three protagonists in Grand Theft Auto 5. A sort of real RPG driver game. Great.

But wait.

None of new GTA main characters are women. All of Rockstar’s three new GTA protagonists are male. Again they stick to their formula, without deviation. How is that even possible? I’m trying to imagine a fictitious planning meeting:

Producer: How can we be more successful with GTA5?

Dev#1:In the past, we’ve always had to pick one protagonist, which means only a slice of possible demographic appeal. I say we do three characters in GTA5 instead of just one. Maybe a white collar guy. A southern crazy drug dealer guy. Of course, a black gang-banger guy. That way, there is something for almost everyone.

Producer: What about a woman?

Dev#1: Haha! Good one, boss. What about the sex scenes? Too complicated. Who wants to bother with actual romance, and boyfriends? Or worse yet, are we going to let a woman character screw and use prostitutes like our dudes?

Producer: You’re right. I was joking. So a latino?

Dev#1: It might work in the U.S., but we’ve crunched the numbers and believe that two white guys from opposite ends of the spectrum would be statistically better, worldwide. The white guy is the standard. Everyone is generally comfortable with it.

Producer: What about you, dev #2? Thoughts?

Dev#2: More strippers and prostitutes. More helicopters. Maybe some crazy alien helicopters. The Saint’s Row devs are getting too cocky.

Producer: Sounds balling, mate. Let’s do it.

If you’re reaching for the close tab right now, trying watching this video and notice the representations of women, including a brilliant line (sic) “Nice new tits, by the way.” (3:16) This approach to women is purposefully how they are trying to sell games at this point, and at this point it may have gone out of bounds, in my opinion.

I’m not a prude. I actually love Jaime Murray’s line in Dexter season 2: “Pardon my tits.” The line is supposed to make her seem sleazy, a skank that sleeps around. Later she is called in a derogatory way “Miss Pardon-My-Tits”.

I didn’t see it that way. I didn’t fall for that double-standard. I liked the nipple confidence. I also think I can say tits on my blog. If I can’t, someone let me know. I will be pissed off, but willing to replace them with kittens.

I’ve been reading the Guild Wars 2 forums for three weeks and finally realized something super-important: when people say “kitten”, that’s the GW2 forum profanity filter kicking in. For the past days I’ve been like, what? Kitten must be a new MMO term. What is it? What’s a “kitten build”? How is changing that skill going to “kitten” your build?

I was so confused, but it turned out to be a word puzzle. Groovy. Guild Wars 2 players seem to use a lot of bad words.

Back on topic, Brett Slabaugh concludes his Escapist article by saying: “Between these new details and what we already know, Grand Theft Auto V is shaping up to be Rockstar’s most ambitious project yet. It also makes me that much more disappointed that the main story can’t be played through in three-player co-op, though Rockstar has its reasons.”

He’s disappointed that he can’t play three-player co-operative mode? Really? Boo hoo, do you want me to kiss that for you? Of course you do, so I’ll see you in GTA5. I’ll be playing NPC stripper #5, standing next to some pole in a closed room 1200 pixels square, gyrating for forty hours straight instead of out on the streets playing like I’m all gangster.

Saint’s Row 4 is scheduled to release in August, but I doubt that I will ever play it. I’m still working on 3, and 2 is still my favorite, like a lot of players. That game series is also going in an unfortunate direction, leaving Mafia as the classiest driver/gangster franchise, with Mafia 3 in development, thankfully.

Moving forward to 2013, the world of video games is bereft of realistic criminal capers. It’s widely rumoured that Mafia 3 is already in development for next-gen consoles, although details remain unknown. Regardless, this doesn’t stop it from being one of my most anticipated games, whether it’s in development or not.” – Mafia3Game

Wanted: Red Dead Redhead

We played Red Dead Redemption last night after renting it on Gamefly. My premise was as follows. I enjoyed Mafia 2 a lot, despite being forced to play a male protagonist. I enjoyed GTA IV for a while, also despite the male protagonist. RDD is a highly acclaimed, very highly rated game by Rockstar. I expected to enjoy RDD. RDD is a beautiful, classy, and very playable RPG, but I was wrong about my preconceptions that I would enjoy it.

What was wrong with RDD, causing Yolari and I to give up and send it back after only a few hours? It was the very slow pace at which the story evolved, mainly. We just couldn’t get to a classic hook that made us want to keep playing, like Mafia 2 offered us. We needed something substantial and soon to offset the fact that from the get-go, we had no connection to John Marston. We really didn’t even like him.

While Mafia 2 allowed the protagonist some narrative cut scenes to explain things, we got nothing like that in RDD, only mysteries unexplained. Yolari was particularly frustrated with controlling the horse. I was a little dismayed that I couldn’t stop and chat with people, which seems like a standard in an open-world RPG. I loved chatting with Easy Pete on the porch of the saloon in Fallout: New Vegas. He didn’t have a quest for me, but he made me feel like a welcome stranger. I didn’t feel welcome in RDD.

Why does Rockstar insist on making these male protagonist only games, when just about every other big name modern RPG maker is on board with the equality program? (CD Projekt of The Witcher is another exception.) Apparently Rockstar thinks that because the player is controlling a bad-ass dude with a gun and a big knife on his hip, that’s all they need to interest a player immediately. In this case they were wrong. If RDD had sported a bad-ass girl with a gun and a knife though, I admit my attention span would have been much higher. Who knows. I might have even purchased the game. As it was, no connection at all with the character, no hook for the story, no background, no clue, no emotional connection or dramatic moments that made me really feel what John Marston was feeling.

Contrast the opening experience in RDD to Mafia 2. No contest whatsoever. The story and character got me, despite my differences with him. There is probably no contest either in terms of profit between RDD and Mafia 2, and that’s a shame. I bought GTA IV for $20 last year and I enjoyed it for a while, but that’s the last dollar I give to Rockstar until they end their male chauvinist ways. And it’s not like they can’t do it. THQ did it for Saint’s Row 2. Y’all get with the program, Rockstar, ya hear?