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Can't We Discuss This Like Adults?

Can't We Discuss This Like Adults?

Thu 31 May 2012 2:40pm GMT / 10:40am EDT / 7:40am PDT
PoliticsPublishing

Sexualised violence against women is a serious topic. It deserves a serious debate, not conniving and dishonesty

When I was about 12, I absolutely loved id Software's Doom II. It was scary and violent and tense, and I was a 12 year old boy - of course I loved it. My dad had seen me playing it, though, and he was less convinced. He didn't doubt that it was fun and engaging, but he was perturbed by the content. Doom II had a lot of human-like enemies (especially in the early stages), who sprayed red blood when you shot them and exploded in pixellated gore when you blew them up. My dad is not, by instinct, a censorious man, but that felt a bit too real, and my deep engagement with it felt a bit worrying. He said so. We argued. I doubt I argued terribly well or convincingly, but Doom II remained a part of my gaming diet.

Almost every gamer, I suspect, has some story like that in their background. It's not restricted to games, either. Kids born a decade before me faced interrogation over the 80s' "video nasties". My grandmother apparently didn't think much of my mum's fascination with Elvis Presley. Teenagers today undoubtedly face parental concern over their Internet usage, musical preferences and so on.

"The protracted struggle for recognition and respect for our industry has largely robbed us of the capacity to engage in intelligent or reasonable critique"

For our generation, though - and I'm using the word "our" in quite a broad sense here - the experience of videogames being Public Enemy Number One is probably one of the defining ones. No sooner had we grown up beyond the point where parents could question our choice of weeknight bloodbath entertainment, than we were confronted with newspaper headlines accusing games of inspiring everything from mass-murderers to a rise in cases of rickets (no, really). There are intelligent, reasoned arguments to be made against such attacks, and they've been made intelligently and reasonably by countless people down the years. But often, under constant assault from what has largely been a flood of ignorance and bile, the temptation isn't to say "actually, here are the facts that you aren't considering in your argument" - it's to cover your ears and say "shut up, shut up, you're stupid, shut up".

In spite of that, for the most part, we've won. The occasional "games give your eyes cancer!" headline in the tabloid press has become an outlier rather than a part of a broad narrative, more likely to be mocked than to spur public outrage. Talk of censorship and regulation has largely evaporated. Governments now talk about supporting the games industry, encouraging the growth of development studios in their countries, nurturing the creative and technical talents required for success. We've won - but there's a cost.

The cost, sadly, is that this protracted struggle for recognition and respect for our hobby and our industry has largely robbed us of the capacity to engage in intelligent or reasonable critique of what's happening in games. Since our childhood, most of us have been leaping to the defence of videogames - defending the medium from our parents, from our media, from our politicians. It's become an automatic response. Many of us don't seem to be able to turn it off, even now that there's really very little need for it. As a result, attempts at reasonable discussion over questions like race, gender, sexuality, violence or addiction with regard to games from within the industry get treated with the same hostility that Keith Vaz or Jack Thompson's grandstanding used to (quite rightly) receive a few years ago.

This week's example, of course, is the trailer for Hitman: Absolution which has been released by Square Enix. It's a rubbish trailer, showing absolutely nothing of relevance to the game and actually turning fans of the series off the latest incarnation by suggesting that it's a sub-par action romp rather than a stealthy, fairly cerebral affair - in that alone, the marketing team responsible (who are undoubtedly patting themselves on the back for generating such a media storm around the brand) are desperately underselling the work of the development team, who are working on what is by all accounts a great-looking new game. That's not the key issue, though. What has disturbed many people is that the trailer appears to strongly sexualise and fetishise not just its disposable female characters, but also the actual act of killing them.

Let's be absolutely clear that it's that factor which is the issue. It's not the fact that there are nuns in the game who then turn out to be sexy nun assassins in suspender belts. You want sexy nun assassins in your game trailer? Be my guest. It looks ridiculous, and I don't see them getting much assassinating done while wearing those heels, but if you think your target audience is the demographic slice of people who get turned on by poorly CG rendered assassins in habits and stiletto heels, go for it. Nor is the issue the fact that Agent 47 commits violent acts against women. He's a hitman, assassins are attacking him, he kills them. That's not the problem.

"What has disturbed many people is that the Hitman trailer appears to strongly sexualise and fetishise not just its disposable female characters, but also the actual act of killing them"

The problem is the interaction between those two things. The thought process of the creators of this trailer is naked for the world to see. Gamers like sexy women. Let's have sexy women, and let's make them sexy nuns because that's edgy. You know what else is edgy? Having the dark anti-hero kill women, rather than the usual faceless male soldiers and thugs. That'll get headlines. Let's do that.

One of two things happens at that point. Either the marketing team managed to completely not realise that the interaction between "sexy" and "violent death" might not be an entirely comfortable one; or they did realise, and went ahead anyway, which labels them as an utterly unpleasant and irresponsible bunch of sociopaths. I'm going with option A. I prefer to see the good in people, even if that means thinking they're a little bit dim.

The issue here, then, is the sexualisation of violence against women. It's an issue rooted in a whole morass of problems that our society struggles with. The video makes it seem as if it's "okay" for Agent 47 to kill these women not because they're assassins, but because they turn out to be dressed like prostitutes under their nuns' robes. It creates shots which emphasise the sexiness of the women even as they're being killed, and even highlights the sexiness of their corpses (there's one for "words I wished I'd never have to write on a gaming website, or indeed anywhere"). It intercuts the whole thing with slow-motion, stylised shots of Agent 47's gleaming pistols being raised into the air. The imagery is deliberately powerfully sexual. It's also deliberately powerfully violent. Square Enix intended both of those things to be present in the imagery. I don't think (wishful, perhaps) that they quite intended their interaction to be so horrific. In a society where 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence, Square Enix just released a video of violence against women presented as sexy and fetishised. That's the issue.

The response? A backlash against those who have raised voices in criticism of the video. You expect the cries of "feminazis!" or eye-rolling at the "PC brigade" from the 14 year old boys (and men who have failed to develop intellectually beyond that stage) who frequent forums and think they're being brave and edgy by pronouncing all women to be sluts, and so on, and so forth, ad nauseum. What's disappointing and even borderline upsetting is the equally strong reaction from many within the games media and the wider games industry - people who would set themselves forward as being culturally aware observers of the medium, but whose reactions have suggested that they're being so quick to defend videogames that they're not even prepared to understand the problem.

The bulk of the rapid responses which have defended the Hitman trailer are complete straw man arguments. They defend things which are not being attacked, arguing for the right to include sexy women in trailers (which is a bit tiresome but not the issue here), the right to include violence against women in games (which again, isn't the issue here) or simple arguments from the standpoint of freedom of expression (again, absolutely not the issue - nobody says Square Enix shouldn't be allowed to make a trailer like this, just that they should have more sense). Absolutely none of the responses that I have seen have actually addressed the issues being raised. Either those responding simply don't understand the issue as it's being presented, or they understand that the real nub of this matter is something quite indefensible, and that the best way to defend it is by distraction and whataboutery.

"We have to learn that we've won, and that the sky won't fall if we try to have an adult debate over big questions of how our medium deals with tough subjects"

This is hardly the first example of this kind of utterly depressing failure to engage intelligently with criticism and discussion on the part of the games industry. Resident Evil 5 is a celebrated example, with perfectly valid concerns over racial stereotyping and the use of extremely sensitive and specific racial imagery never actually being addressed by any of the commentators who leapt to the game's defence. Duke Nukem Forever also did itself no favours in terms of sexualised violence, and again, defenders of the game chose to completely avoid the specific issues at hand in favour of a more general straw-man debate about "whether it's okay for women to look sexy in games", which nobody had ever raised or even suggested.

Watching forums and social networks inflame this week over Hitman's awful trailer is like watching a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferer live out his wartime fantasies inappropriately again and again. In Imamura Shohei's award winning movie Black Rain, one of the characters suffers so badly from shell-shock that every time a bus passes through his village, the noise of its engine convinces him that it's a tank, and he rushes out to try and destroy it with a "bomb" (actually a pillow) on the end of a stick - the suicide mission for which he was trained during the war. It's a little comedic, but also terribly tragic. The complete dismissal of legitimate concerns and often vitriolic responses to criticism (especially vitriolic when the critic is a woman, sadly, which illustrates a problem in itself) which the games market engages in so often now is a similar response, a programmed reaction to a war that's been over for some time - but lacking even the hint of comedy. It's not funny. It's just sad.

We have to get over this, as an industry. We have to learn that we've won, and that the sky won't fall if we try to have an adult debate over big questions of how our medium deals with tough subjects. We don't need to present a united face to the world; there's no "them" out there waiting for division in the ranks so they can take videogames away from "us". Your mum isn't about to sweep in and unplug your Xbox 360 because there's an ongoing debate about legitimate questions of the fetishisation of violence against women in a promo video. We grew up. We won the war. Can we stop fighting it now, please?

140 Comments

Daniel Hughes
Studying PhD Literary Modernism

436 496 1.1
"This is hardly the first example of this kind of utterly depressing failure to engage intelligently with criticism and discussion on the part of the games industry."

Brilliant article, could not agree more Rob. Gaming enthusiasts are all too eager to turn on commentators and critics outside and within the medium even when their criticisms are valid--just look how the Mass Effect 3 ending situation devolved into people either insisting that all gamers unhappy with the ending where over-entitled whiners, or people on the other side insisting Bioware had robbed them and falsely advertised the game. My simple response on that issue was that one of the greatest authors of world literature (Charles Dickens) serialised his novels not only out of the printing realities of his time, but because he enjoyed the feed-back he got from readers and would then incorporate that into the next step of his story. Gaming--through the advances in digital download and patching--has a chance to replicate that kind of creator/audience interaction, and yet rather than have an informed debate about it, insults and generalisations were flung around the internet and media, demonising either Bioware or the gamers that complained. Of course, there was some informed debate within that sphere, but the type of over-aggressive defence of our hobby is deeply damaging. Our medium is more diverse and fascinating than ever, and we have more means to debate than ever, yet some gamers try and defend the indefensible for the sake of defending videogames in general. As you've said Rob, gaming has grown up, and we should move on from that entrenched battle mentality and debate these criticisms more openly and fairly. Fantastic article, thank you Rob.

Posted:2 years ago

#1
Very well written. I would love to see a counter to this from the 'other camp' even half as well thought out (but I don't expect I will, somehow).

Posted:2 years ago

#2

Taylan Kay
Game Desginer

59 93 1.6
Thank you for this article. I wholeheartedly agree. The dumbness and insensitivity of the trailer is WTF-worthy, no matter how many times I watch it.

Posted:2 years ago

#3

Simon Jensen
Lead Developer

5 0 0.0
y'know... that was well said.

Posted:2 years ago

#4

Rachel Dixon
Choreography Designer

1 0 0.0
Thank you for this: an all-too-rare logically-formed argument about this issue.

Posted:2 years ago

#5

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Interesting article. Reading threads about this trailer elsewhere, it has turned off a vast number of people who were either fans of what they'd seen so far, or were somewhat negative about the new game. Lose-Lose from a marketing point-of-view. The only people who are excited are the "console crowd" (using quotation marks to denote that that is the subsection of console gamers who are 12 years old and swear like troopers on CoD).
The video makes it seem as if it's "okay" for Agent 47 to kill these women not because they're assassins, but because they turn out to be dressed like prostitutes under their nuns' robes
I would argue that that's very much in the eye of the beholder. I watched it and thought it a stupid, over-the-top trailer, but I didn't see any negativity towards women in it. Yes, that negativity is there if you look for it, but I suppose it comes down to if you view the women as women first, assassins second, or vice versa.

I wholeheartedly agree that this -and fan-reaction to this - sets our industry back, and that it's a massive cop-out by the marketers, though. It's like if Michael Bay and Larry Flynt were asked to direct it. Tits and explosions, in that order, and whether the violence-towards-women is overt or covert, it's not something to be proud of.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 31st May 2012 5:13pm

Posted:2 years ago

#6
Hi Rob,
I have to say I watched the trailer and saw a lot of what you saw, but not all. What I saw was a bad trailer with - yawn - sexy fetish nuns and lots of violence. This trailer was trying so hard to be Frank Millers' Sin City that it immediately went in the 'oh dear' bin as soon as I saw it.
Miller himself was directly aping hard boiled detective novels, which were often more violent and mysoginistic this his content. But if Miller is allowed to do this - and more - in his comics, why must we raise hell when it's done in games?
One has to make allowences for twaddle. I happen to like a lot of trash. Trashy stuff makes the world go around, unless we haven't been watching the nations TV appetite since Big Brother / Pop Idol arrived.
Violence in the home is terrible and terrifying, but so is getting your legs blown off by a soldier, or your daughters head. We now know about 1m people were killed or injured in Iraq, with millions more reduced to refugees. Where our outrage at Battlefiled or COD? What finely balanced mechanism are we using to measure disgust that says 10 virtual nuns getting killed is worty of an Op-Ed?
No, if tripe exists in music, painting, sculpture, TV, Cinema, Advertising, comics - then it must be allowed in games. You can call it was it is - it's okay! - just say it's fucking rubbish and we shouldn't buy it. You can even argue - and I do - that the attempt to add gravitas and pretentions to games like COD and Battlefield, 'violence simulators' according to Vaz, is pathetic and transparent. I don't mind that they exist (I play the shit out of shooters) but it annoys me no end that publishers and developers act like they're releasing the sequel to The Bible when it's clearly an uberhyped bottom feeding fantastically violent trash-game. But don't say they don't have the right to produce shite. They do, and the buying public agrees with their wallets, as they do with their eyeballs on TV, their ears on music and their imaginations with 'novels'.
I guess the problem for me with what you wrote is that you state it as an abosolute, a state-of-the-nation, when in fact it's your opinion. It's also, more or less, my opinion. But I would never call it anything else and I that's why I can't jump on board this one.

Posted:2 years ago

#7

Ahmed Sharif
Software Development Engineer in Test (R&D)

14 6 0.4
"What has disturbed many people is that the trailer appears to strongly sexualise and fetishise not just its disposable female characters, but also the actual act of killing them."
Has the author played any of the Hitman games at all? I can understand the issue here, but this entire subject has been blown out of proportion. Hitman is a VERY dark series, strip clubs, brothels, gimp parties, the list goes on. This is nothing new to Hitman, the series has always been sexually charged and the trailers for previous Hitman iterations is proof of this.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Ahmed Sharif on 31st May 2012 5:20pm

Posted:2 years ago

#8

Christopher Chambers
Games Research Analyst

5 5 1.0
Well reasoned and written.

Posted:2 years ago

#9

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
Popular Comment
Allow a slightly diverging opinion: what a load of pish.

"Either the marketing team managed to completely not realise that the interaction between "sexy" and "violent death" might not be an entirely comfortable one; or they did realise, and went ahead anyway"

Or, option (3), there's no "interaction" between the two things at all. Am I the only person on Earth who hasn't spent their life in a cave until this morning?

The entirety of Western culture for pretty much the entirety of recorded history has fetishised killing. The ultimate fetishised depiction of killing was probably Mel Gibson's "Passion Of The Christ", a genuinely uncomfortable 90 minutes of torture porn based on events two THOUSAND years ago and described in lurid detail in every form of media ever since. I don't think it's because people felt dirty after thinking sexy thoughts about Jesus.

That the victims of the killing on this particular occasion happen to be sexy female assassins is only remarkable if, deep down, you still think there's something fundamentally strange and wrong with women being treated as the equals of men.

Do I really need to scour YouTube for a couple of hundred game or movie trailers depicting the beautifully-lit, highly-stylised slow-mo murders of men and women, sexy and unsexy alike, or can I safely assume that we've all seen Se7en and the entire recorded output of Quentin Tarantino already?

When Uma Thurman (an acknowledged woman) slaughtered half the population of a small city in Kill Bill Vols 1 and 2 in some of the most aesthetically beautiful sequences of frames ever committed to celluloid, was every movie critic in the land soiling their pants at the despicable underlying racist message that it was okay to kill Japanese people? Not that I noticed - do correct me if I'm wrong. When strong sexy women offed bad guys by the truckful in the artistically-gorgeous Sin City, was it because the writer hated men and secretly wanted them all killed?

If you watched the Hitman trailer and saw women being massacred for embracing their sexuality (rather than because they were assassins attacking the protagonist with rocket-propelled grenades), I have some bad news: it's not the trailer, it's you. Get some help, before you hurt someone.

The trailer is dull, tiresome, cliched sexist bollocks, but not because it's sending a sinister hidden message that sexy women should be murdered, for the very good reason that that message isn't there. I'm SO bored of men pretending to be feminists so they can get into feminists' pants. Just grow a pair and ask them out, eh?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Spungo McGee on 31st May 2012 5:18pm

Posted:2 years ago

#10

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,228 388 0.3
Very good article. Of course it's subjective and having not seen the video in question, I can not cast an opinion on this issue either way yet, but it always irritates me when a valid critical point of view on one bit of content is twisted by some of the pro game camp into an attack on all games. I also found it slightly ridiculous and ironic when a few people who jump to the defence of any core game violence issue without at least understanding the opposing point of view, were the very people calling for Ubisoft's blood over Wii Dare.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Goodchild on 31st May 2012 5:22pm

Posted:2 years ago

#11

Mihai Cozma
Indie Games Developer

123 34 0.3
Well, the trailer is stupid and the article is good (btw there is another trailer for the game, a bit better although stealth is missing here too).

On the other hand, I don't think this problem plagues only our industry. People use images with boobs after all in specific frames of youtube videos so they appear in the video shot you see when you search videos, however it has nothing to do with the content in those videos.

Trying to explain myself what was in their heads when they made the trailer, I think they wanted to put too many cliches in the same place. As the author of this article stated, each element has logic by itself. Assassins dressed as holy people that none would address any questions might work. Female assassins that look sexy are just about everywhere in fantasy settings. Female assassins at all? They might work. But together they form a bad mix.

Now I have some questions for you:

1. If Codename 47 would have been a woman killing all these other women, would the trailer have the same problem?
2. If Codename 47 would have been a woman, and the attackers would have been muscular and sexy male assassins dressed as monks, would still be the same problem?
3. If the trailer would have been like this, but with the women assassins dressed as usual, or as men, would have changed anything?
4. Last, why having those assassins as men would be OK with all that explicit violence?

I think the answer to those questions should determine if the article is indeed objective and doesn't fall too much for the traditional style of thinking.

I will also place my answers to my own questions (my opinion):
1. The violence is too explicit, so the problem is there. That is not OK, sexual or not, and looks like the article is OK with violence alone.
2. I think most won't consider that sexual violence, but it is.
3. See answer to 1.
4. Again, see answer to 1.

My whole point is: we, as a generation, still think violence as a whole is OK, but sex is not, and this is even worst than the particular case of sexual violence.

Posted:2 years ago

#12

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Hahah.

Well written, Spungo. Though I must say, anyone who references Sin City is dealing with a double edged sword given Miller's (alleged) misogynism and anti-gay feelings.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 31st May 2012 5:20pm

Posted:2 years ago

#13
I find people's unwillingness to engage with subtext interesting. Does refusing to acknowledge its existence mean someone is protected from it? Does "Spungo", with his WYSIWYG perspective of all reality, make himself immune from being affected by such content?

Or will he definitely turn into an insane woman-murdering lunatic within hours? I'm betting the latter.

Fantastic piece, Rob.

Posted:2 years ago

#14

Paul Gheran
Scrum Master

123 27 0.2
+1 Spungo.

Posted:2 years ago

#15

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
Popular Comment
Spungo McGee: Where do I even start?

"That the victims of the killing on this particular occasion happen to be sexy female assassins is only remarkable if, deep down, you still think there's something fundamentally strange and wrong with women being treated as the equals of men.

Do I really need to scour YouTube for a couple of hundred game or movie trailers depicting the beautifully-lit, highly-stylised slow-mo murders of men and women, sexy and unsexy alike, or can I safely assume that we've all seen Se7en and the entire recorded output of Quentin Tarantino already?
"

Find me some slow-mo murders of sexy men in revealing clothing and I'll be extremely impressed(and revolted; snuff porn isn't my thing). If women were being treated the same as men by this trailer, they wouldn't all be scantily-clad nuns being murdered by the protagonist. Some of them would have been scantily-clad priests. But sexy men don't really appeal to the same crowd.

"When strong sexy women offed bad guys by the truckful in the artistically-gorgeous Sin City, was it because the writer hated men and secretly wanted them all killed?"

Sin City is Problematic with a capital P. On the surface it seems like 'sexy women killing bad guys' is empowering, but it's actually demonising sexiness and feminine power. The women in Sin City are just as bad as the men they torture and murder, and they're all dressed up and sexy. Frank Miller doesn't hate men, he hates women(and gays, and liberal protestors).

"If you watched the Hitman trailer and saw women being massacred for embracing their sexuality"-

Going to stop you right there. Sexy clothing does not equal 'embracing their sexuality'. It equals 'dressing up the gun-fodder for the teenage boys to ogle'. If these supposed nuns were being portrayed as strong, interesting women with more depth of character than 'sexy nun assassins'(really...) I might be prepared to believe that tearing off their habits to reveal lingerie and typically model-like bodies might be some kind of statement. But they're not. So it's not.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 31st May 2012 5:36pm

Posted:2 years ago

#16

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Or will he definitely turn into an insane woman-murdering lunatic within hours?"

"Turn into"?

Posted:2 years ago

#17

Chris Thornett
Editor at Future Publishing

6 7 1.2
I wonder if the makers of the trailer were using old exploitation movies and the recent Tarantino homage films to that genre as inspiration. That doesn't justify it for me as I agree with the position taken in this article , but it does explain it better than a marketing team just not seeing the problem.

Posted:2 years ago

#18

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Though I must say, anyone who references Sin City is dealing with a double edged sword given Miller's (alleged) misogynism and anti-gay feelings."

It's not really the point of what I was saying, but in any event wouldn't that make it even more remarkable that his female characters are depicted as such strong ones? Everyone who deserves killing (and usually gets it) in Sin City is male.

Posted:2 years ago

#19

Emily Rose
Freelance Artist

80 34 0.4
It'd be nice if everybody that accessed the internet had to do a course on logical fallacies beforehand, it'd make it a much nicer place...

Nice article, haven't seen the trailer yet, so I guess i'll go do that now..

Posted:2 years ago

#20

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Find me some slow-mo murders of sexy men in revealing clothing"

300. Next challenge please.

Posted:2 years ago

#21

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"The women in Sin City are just as bad as the men they torture and murder,"

Sorry, what? Have you actually read Sin City? The women in it are a moral and mutually-supportive community, the men either grotesque monsters or cowards. Seriously, what on Earth would possess you to say something so utterly ridiculous?

"Sexy clothing does not equal 'embracing their sexuality'."

That was a reaction specifically to Mr Walker's comment on RPS: "the sexual fantasy of chaste women revealing their sexuality, immediately before being murdered". As for the fact that "revealing their sexuality" was depicted in such a juvenile way - leather and suspenders - I've already noted that the trailer was cliched sexist shite. That does NOT, however, mean it was subtextually endorsing violence against women, sexy or otherwise.

Posted:2 years ago

#22

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
The dudes in 300 were heroes and died tragic, heroic, glorious deaths at the hands of an army that hugely outnumbered them. the ladies in this video were 'bad girls' wearing latex and carrying heavy weaponry who were easily dispatched by one injured man in a natty suit. Try again.

Posted:2 years ago

#23

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
@Jessica decent comment, but one thing stuck out.

Sexy clothing does not equal 'embracing their sexuality'.It equals 'dressing up the gun-fodder for the teenage boys to ogle'.

I hope you are not suggesting that all women that dress up in leather, latex, high heels, boots and similar clothing only do so for teenage boys to oogle over. That's a pretty broad statement, and i would think that many women who prefer an alternative lifestyle might disagree with it.

As for the trailer:

Having just come from the Nordic Game award where i heard some radically sexist and chauvinistic remarks uttered by presenters on stage of the gala event, and watching how a bunch of young developers seemed to be amused and even awed by this, it's clear that there is still a lot to do in the industry before we can be considered mature. As long as we measure success by booze fueled parties and booth babes at E3, we will never loose this stigma.

Having said that, i viewed the trailer from a different light. To me it was all Hitman, there were so many references in there which linked to previous games and a common thread, so many insights into who 47 is and also a few hints of what the game could be about.

Posted:2 years ago

#24

David Radd
Senior Editor

358 78 0.2
This is not the first time that the Hitman franchise has toed the line with sexualizing death. I did an article a few years ago for GameDaily on some Hitman Blood Money ads, particularly one that was called "Beautifully Executed" where a woman wearing little more than undergarments had a bullet hole in her head. This sort of fetishistic imagery has also appeared in Hitman games in the past. In other words, I think this was totally conscious on the part of IO Interactive.

Honestly, I think they probably got what they wanted out of the trailer if I had to take a guess. Really though, they're risking Dragon Age II level miscommunication with their fans. I think the final game will be closer to the "silent assassin" than some people are envisioning, but if everyone is turned off by then and isn't paying attention it won't matter.

Posted:2 years ago

#25

Robin Clarke
Producer

297 681 2.3
This is the best summing up of this particular sorry episode I think I've read today.

And yes, Frank Miller is a fruitcake.

Posted:2 years ago

#26

Luke Kemp
Editor

7 12 1.7
Perhaps I missed something (I've only watched that abysmal trailer once and don't intend to go for round two), but isn't Rob wrong in saying the killer nuns initiated the attack? Didn't 47 start the killing FROM BEHIND the group, initially undetected? He could therefore have simply snuck away, which strengthens Rob's very well written argument. 47 could have made a bloodless getaway, and the group would have been nun the wiser.

I'll get my coat.

Posted:2 years ago

#27

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"I did an article a few years ago for GameDaily on some Hitman Blood Money ads, particularly one that was called "Beautifully Executed" where a woman wearing little more than undergarments had a bullet hole in her head."

If it helps, that WAS totally indefensible.

Posted:2 years ago

#28

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
@Andreas, I am certainly not suggesting such a thing or I would be offending myself! There is nothing wrong with fetish clothing and lingerie so long as it's being worn for a reason beyond 'let's give the boys something nice to look at'(so if these ladies were in a bedroom or fetish club I might be prepared to believe they were dressed up for a good reason). Was there a reason for the female assassins to be wearing highly impractical platform boots and latex besides 'looks sexy'? The shock of a chaste-looking woman suddenly turning into a sexy-looking one? I'm not buying it.

The outfits are fantastic, but they serve no purpose I can see beyond cheap titillation and the ongoing uncomfortable subtext that sexy women are dangerous and bad.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 31st May 2012 5:56pm

Posted:2 years ago

#29

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"The outfits are fantastic, but they serve no purpose I can see beyond cheap titillation"

You could have stopped that sentence there and been correct.

Posted:2 years ago

#30

Staeton Grey
Junior Software Engineer

5 0 0.0
It seems that people are going overboard on criticising this video, especially the article exaggerating what was actually shown in the video, Spungo is completely correct.
All that was really shown is a bunch of gangers /assassins being killed by another assassin that was for the quirks, looking sexy.
Key quote here:
“The video makes it seem as if it's "okay" for Agent 47 to kill these women not because they're assassins, but because they turn out to be dressed like prostitutes under their nuns' robes. It creates shots which emphasise the sexiness of the women even as they're being killed, and even highlights the sexiness of their corpses”
Really? I know this is based on opinion but you are trying to see things that just aren’t there. Also this is an 18 age rated game, if you found this video bad then I’m sure you’d freak out if you saw the dozens of other popular games which actually have the content you claim you see, take Saints Row 3 or the GTA series as an example.

Posted:2 years ago

#31

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Odd how easy it's been for this discussion to go from "The trailer glorifies violence against women" to "the trailer is sexist". One does not equate to the other, even if there are connections between the two.

Edit to add:

I think it would serve the discussion well if we tried to work out why a franchise that has been the apex of stealth and disguise is now being sold as a Michael Bay film. If we suppose that the target-audience is no longer Hitman fans, then this trailer - and all its associated scantily clad women and big explosions - makes far more sense. Market to the demographic you're wanting to buy the game, no?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 31st May 2012 6:39pm

Posted:2 years ago

#32

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Key quote here:"

It's a mindboggling paragraph, isn't it? Agent 47 isn't shown allowing the women to live as long as they stay dressed like nuns. He kills them when, and because, they're trying to kill him. Not one frame of the video suggests it's because he objects to their slutty fashion sense.

And if the author of this article finds their corpses "sexy", that's entirely his own problem.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Spungo McGee on 31st May 2012 6:39pm

Posted:2 years ago

#33

Ahmed Sharif
Software Development Engineer in Test (R&D)

14 6 0.4
I re-iterate, the majority of negative reactions seem to originate people who aren't familiar with the Hitman franchise, they are negligent and frankly ignorant to assume the trailer is made to simply satisfy 14 year old boys.

As Andreas mentioned, the entire trailer IS Hitman. The Hitman games live and breathe within dark, sinister, sexually driven undertones. Equating "stealth" with "Hitman" is a clear sign of a complete lack of understanding towards the Hitman franchise. The so called "logical" arguments seem to completely miss this.

The trailer references many past events of Agent 47's history and hints to people who've actually played Hitman clues as to the upcoming storyline.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Ahmed Sharif on 31st May 2012 6:49pm

Posted:2 years ago

#34
The only thing I cant agree is: "poorly animated CG"
Man, thats not a poorly cg...

Very well writen article. As always the finest quality we can find.

Posted:2 years ago

#35
Popular Comment
Three lines of argument I'd like to address.

1) "You're just complaining about there being sexy women in the trailer."
&
2) "You're just complaining about there being violence against women in the trailer."

Please read the article. Properly. All the words. The whole point is that neither of those things is the issue, but that intellectually dishonest people (like you) have been trying to defend the indefensible by refocusing the debate. Stop it.

3) "You're just seeing what you want to see, so it's YOU that's the twisted one!"

Really mature. Grow up. If you want to construct a rational argument which says that the violence against women in the trailer is not being fetishised, please do so - I'd love to respond to that. It's exactly the kind of discussion that this article is actively calling for. If you're not willing to do that, you're the problem here.

This is just a slightly more ad-hom version of the hand-waving "you're reading too much into it! There's nothing to see here really! It's all just fun! IT'S JUST GAMES LOL" nonsense with which countless valid criticisms of videogame insensitivity have been met in recent years. Calm the hell down. Nobody's going to take your violent games or your sexy ladies with machineguns away from you. But we'd like to have a proper discussion about how our medium relates to our society and its problems, and what responsibility it ought to take for that.

Oh, and for bonus points, 4) "You wrote this article to get into feminist womens' pants!" ... Oh my. I'm rumbled. Your logic and insight truly defeats me.

Posted:2 years ago

#36

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"The dudes in 300 were heroes and died tragic, heroic, glorious deaths at the hands of an army that hugely outnumbered them. the ladies in this video were 'bad girls' wearing latex and carrying heavy weaponry who were easily dispatched by one injured man in a natty suit. Try again."

No, you're just shifting the goalposts now. My comment was about the universal cultural fetishisation of death, not the victims' backstory. You demanded an example of fetishised artistic male death, specifically featuring "sexy" men in "revealing clothing", and I gave you one (huh-hurr), to add to the others I'd already provided.

You haven't addressed my core point in any way. No connection has yet been demonstrated between the Hitman assassins' appearance and their fate. Slow-mo aesthetically-pleasing death is in no way whatsoever exclusive to sexy women. It therefore proves nothing in itself. It happens to sexy women, it happens to sexy men (300) at the hands of other sexy men, it's done BY sexy women (Sin City, Kill Bill). Yet to you, every one of those somehow proves that women are being demonised.

And of course, it happens to non-sexy characters all the time. I brought up Se7en before. I feel fairly safe in predicting that if the assassins had been dumpy, ugly, frumpily-dressed women you'd be furiously insisting that Agent 47 had killed them for NOT being sexy, and that women were only valued and allowed to live in games if they were pretty, and that therefore Hitman was misogynist and awful and blah blah. It couldn't win.

So far, all you or anyone else has shown is that YOU'VE made a connection in your OWN head between how they look and their being killed, which says more about you than it does about the developers of the game or the producers of the video. I think women are the equal of men. But equality works both ways. It means the right to be the hero(ine) or the right to be an assassin, it means the right to be sexy or not, and it means the right to get killed like anyone else if you attack the main protagonist with assault weaponry. Make your mind up.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Spungo McGee on 31st May 2012 7:22pm

Posted:2 years ago

#37

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"But we'd like to have a proper discussion about how our medium relates to our society and its problems, and what responsibility it ought to take for that."

Start any time you like.

Posted:2 years ago

#38

Kevin Patterson
musician

182 96 0.5
I thought the trailer was "interesting" but way over the top, though amusing if your into that sort of thing. I wasn't offended though.

Was that trailer any worse than what we have seen in the game Shadow Warrior?
Was that trailer any worse than the stuff in the game Shadows of the Damned?
Was that trailer any worse than the stuff we see in the Duke Nukem games?
Was that trailer any worse than what we see in Comic books?
Was that trailer any worse than what we see in many movies? (Feast comes to mind)

Whether it's your cup of tea or not, there is an audience for it evidently, and so they were catering to that audience. I am not a Hitman fan so I cannot say if this is the way the series has been in the past.

It's not worth getting upset about, if you don't like it, don't play or buy it, vote with your wallet. I thought the trailer was juvenile and certainly didn't make me want to play the game. I would much rather see a steamy romance than being overtly sexual and violent in games, but you hardly ever see that. The Mass effect series comes closest to that build up but it never happens, the end romantic scenes are censured, eye rolling, and not realistic. The Darkness series has probably the best romantic moments I have played in a game, and it's way over the top violence gameplay wise.

I mentioned Shadow warrior before and I loved that game, though the overly sexual stuff at the time was a bit much for me, I absolutely loved it's gameplay. I remember an article in Computer Games Magazine saying the game was racist and being up in arms about it, yet that same magazine just a few months before had censured advertisements for porn in its back pages. Blazing Saddles was more offensive than Shadow warrior, everyone is so PC today, no one has a sense of humor.

In the darkness 2, you can pull out a man's spine from his backside, if the game allowed you to do that to a woman whether she was sparsely dressed or not, everyone would throw a fit (not that I want that). I think our sense of violence and sexuality is really strange and mixed up.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kevin Patterson on 31st May 2012 7:00pm

Posted:2 years ago

#39

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Rob
But we'd like to have a proper discussion about how our medium relates to our society and its problems, and what responsibility it ought to take for that.
In a society where 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence, Square Enix just released a video of violence against women presented as sexy and fetishised. That's the issue.
I honestly don't see any correlation between this video and an increase in violence against women. I'm not saying it might not happen - or that it doesn't - but your argument is... academically weak. There's a presumption in your article that your point is correct - that is, that obviously this video fetishes violence against women - but I honestly don't see it. So, it's latex-clad nuns killed by an assassin. So what? He doesn't yell slut, bitch, whore. He doesn't demean the women. He doesn't ask them to suck his cock. He kills them. Because he's a hitman, and they're trying to kill him. Thematically, the scene makes sense - he's not killing them because they're women, or because they represent the Catholic Church, or any other reason.

There's also the presumption that "Monkey see, monkey do." That is, people will imitate art. Were it a more realistic situation, you might have a point. If you had a 20 year-old Vicadin-selling pimp killing a mother of two, then the scene (in my opinion) would hit home more. It would be easier to relate to, and thus easier to mimic. but it isn't. It's like watching Santa Claus turn out to be a child-eating monster. It's so unrealistic as to be laughable.

As a suggestion (and to further the discussion), perhaps you should look at how prevalent the word "rape" is in connection to gaming. Base-raping in BF3, for example, or "I'm going to rape that team so hard" in CS. That, right there, is your espousal of violence against women in gaming.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 31st May 2012 7:59pm

Posted:2 years ago

#40

Josh Jonsson
Studying Bcomm/CompSc

7 1 0.1
Excellent analysis, clear and simple presentation, I hope that this kind of thinking reaches more than just the "choir".

Posted:2 years ago

#41

Wayne Gibson
UK Marketing Manager for GameKrib.com

69 8 0.1
The trailer has done it's job in creating buzz around the game. They've got practically every gaming related site talking about it. When I'd shown the trailer to friends whom have played Hitman games in the past they'd no idea that the game was even being made. Now 3 out of the 4 of them have it pre-ordered. The content is highly questionable in taste but lets face it if you had your heart set on getting the game then this isn't likely to put you off. This will probably effect more of the 'on the fence' group of consumers.

Posted:2 years ago

#42

Nicholas Lovell
Founder

183 166 0.9
"I'm SO bored of men pretending to be feminists so they can get into feminists' pants. Just grow a pair and ask them out, eh?"

I can't quite believe that anyone would trot this line out again. It's a cliche all of its own.

Posted:2 years ago

#43

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"I can't quite believe that anyone would trot this line out again. It's a cliche all of its own."

Cliches, of course, tend to become cliches because they're true.

Posted:2 years ago

#44

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Wayne

I wonder how much they'll enjoy it when they find out that that scene was taken out of context, and it's mostly sneaking.

@ Ahmed
Equating "stealth" with "Hitman" is a clear sign of a complete lack of understanding towards the Hitman franchise
Errr... What, the series that let you disguise yourself, sneak around, then snipe someone and sneak out again. That isn't stealth based? It was technically possible to play every mission without ever killing someone (other than the target). How does this trailer correlate to that?

Posted:2 years ago

#45
Agreed. My only comment is that sexualized violence in videogames is a symptom, not a cause. Sexualized violence exists throughout american media. From slashing up nubile teens in their underwear to outright rape depictions, media makers have learned what psychologists have known for quite awhile; that physiologically our reaction both is the same. Furthermore, they have discovered a "more then the sum of their parts" effect on their audiances by combining them.

The good news is that, while it is disturbing, the preponderance of evidecne is that exposure to such does not sigificantly effect attitudes or behavior. They key having people act respectfully to each other is in the trainign they receive or do not receive in such from their parents.

Posted:2 years ago

#46

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
My only comment is that sexualized violence in videogames is a symptom, not a cause.
I'd be interested in reading how much of this is caused by poor sex education and absinence-only teachings (in relation to both the US and UK), as well as the general "Women should know their place" feelings of society, but this is probably not the place for that.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 31st May 2012 9:08pm

Posted:2 years ago

#47

Emily Knox
Associate Designer

46 95 2.1
This is a great article Rob.

"I feel fairly safe in predicting that if the assassins had been dumpy, ugly, frumpily-dressed women you'd be furiously insisting that Agent 47 had killed them for NOT being sexy."

Why? I'd probably be celebrating the first appearance of a dumpy, ugly, frumpy woman to take centre stage in a trailer for an AAA game.

You are missing Jessica's point that the costumes lack any purpose other than to titillate the viewer during the brutality. It's because the trailers simple sequence of events show that these women are undressed, ready to be killed. They are not dressed to win a fight, they are dressed for BDSM. You seem to think this is some fancied connection people are creating in their heads - it isn't - it's a trailer a group of people made where women removed their clothes for no purpose other than to excite us all while they got shot and stabbed.

We make this connection because, as has been repeatedly explained to you, the costumes have no point beyond fulfilling a fetish.

In case you hadn't noticed, the Spartans in 300 are not dressed for BDSM.


Personally, my problem with the trailer was that it bored me.

Posted:2 years ago

#48

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"You are missing Jessica's point that the costumes lack any purpose other than to titillate the viewer during the brutality."

I'm not missing that point at all. I've explicitly agreed with it.

"It's because the trailers simple sequence of events show that these women are undressed, ready to be killed. They are not dressed to win a fight, they are dressed for BDSM."

That's silly. They're dressed the way about 90% of all women in videogames are dressed. If anything their costumes are a lot MORE practical than average (leather is strong, hardwearing and easy to clean). Which is, of course, a tragic reflection on the state of videogames generally, and why I called the trailer "dull, tiresome, cliched sexist bollocks".

"it's a trailer a group of people made where women removed their clothes for no purpose other than to excite us all while they got shot and stabbed."

The last six words of that sentence are unnecessary and irrelevant.

"We make this connection because, as has been repeatedly explained to you, the costumes have no point beyond fulfilling a fetish."

I don't know why people are bothering to "repeatedly" explain that to me, because I've never disagreed with it. If it'll help to do it for a sixth or seventh time: I agree - the way the assassins are dressed is purely for titillation. It's juvenile and embarrassing, but as yet we await a single shred of evidence for the assertion that it - rather than the fact that they're assassins - is the justification for them being killed.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Spungo McGee on 31st May 2012 9:17pm

Posted:2 years ago

#49
@ Morville

In terms of fetishisation, it's not a question of what 47 does - it's a question of how it's presented. The violence comes directly after the women strip off their habits to reveal what is essentially fetish-wear underneath. Then the framing and camerawork in the acts of violence themselves are directed in a way which serves to emphasise the sexuality of the females being killed - even, notably, those already dead. This isn't accidental. The director has chosen to frame the work in a way that emphasises "hey, sexy females", despite the fact that those sexy females are being brutally killed. That's either accidental - I hope so - or a continuation of the mindset which gave us the "Beautifully Executed" advertisement.

This is why the debate is both complex and interesting, though - because it's about framing, and context. You're right to list all the things 47 doesn't do - this wouldn't even be a discussion if he did those things (actually, that's not true - Duke Nukem Forever veered close to that territory and still had ardent defenders). But something can be expressing a truly awful idea or position without doing it overtly, and that's what I argue is happening here. By framing the violence in a manner that's overtly sexual, it turns it into sexual violence. I accept that not everyone will agree with that, but I want to hear counter-arguments like yours, not "SHUT UP IT'S JUST A GAME", which is about all I'd heard all day at the point when I wrote this piece.

The same thing applies to stuff like RE5. Is RE5 intentionally being racist? Do Capcom hate black people? Of course not. Does it appropriate racist imagery and stereotyping in order to tickle at people's base senses of racial otherness in a way that's really, really wrong to do without at least giving it some social context? Yeah, I think it does. (Again, I don't know how deliberate that was, and I think the answer is "not very" - Japan is terribly ill-informed about questions of race and the friction that creates in other societies.) But again, the discussion over that never happened, because people making those points were simply shot down by the braying masses.

I'm not arguing monkey see monkey do, by the way. I don't think it works like that. I do think, however, that a strong and unopposed presence of something like sexist behaviour or sexual violence in media reinforces the sense among people who are already inclined in that direction that their behaviour is normal or acceptable. It's a creeping, slow kind of thing, not a "play this game, go out and slap a woman" thing, but I don't think that makes it any less real.

And yeah, the rape thing disturbs me. I understand it being used in the combative context just like I understand "gay" being used in that context, shorn of its general meaning, but I think that much like this Hitman video, it's something that reinforces pre-existing belief systems that trivialise and normalise sexual violence. It's something we should be opposing, or at least talking about, not just blandly accepting as "how things are".

Posted:2 years ago

#50

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Emily
We make this connection because, as has been repeatedly explained to you, the costumes have no point beyond fulfilling a fetish.
Yes, but I'll politely disagree with you a bit there. :)

The costumes are fetishistic, no doubt. The way the women have been drawn and animated, again sexually arousing (or at least, meant to be). But it doesn't necessarily hold true that the killing is fetishistic, since a fetish is something that sexually arouses, or creates feelings of a sexual or erotic nature. And I see no part of that trailer which fetishes violence against women.

I also think this is one of those times where the people who create something and the people who watch something each bring a differing opinion to the product. I watch the trailer and think that those are some stupid assassins, who let off an RPG, and then don't look behind them as they get killed from behind. I see the women as assassins who dressed stupidly. Not women designed to be killed.

Posted:2 years ago

#51

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Then the framing and camerawork in the acts of violence themselves are directed in a way which serves to emphasise the sexuality of the females being killed - even, notably, those already dead. This isn't accidental. The director has chosen to frame the work in a way that emphasises "hey, sexy females", despite the fact that those sexy females are being brutally killed. That's either accidental - I hope so - or a continuation of the mindset which gave us the "Beautifully Executed" advertisement."

So IS it accidental, or don't you know? You're talking about the same thing in both sentences - framing to emphasise sexiness - but you seem to have changed your mind from one to the next.

Posted:2 years ago

#52

Wayne Gibson
UK Marketing Manager for GameKrib.com

69 8 0.1
@Morville

They checked out actual game footage from other vids after they saw the trailer. The trailer was the catalyst in them discovering that the game was even in development in the first place. I will admit they were kinda confused as to why latex wearing, gun totting assassin nuns have to do with the game unless Square Enix have a big reveal lined up for E3.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Wayne Gibson on 31st May 2012 9:31pm

Posted:2 years ago

#53

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Rob
The director has chosen to frame the work in a way that emphasises "hey, sexy females", despite the fact that those sexy females are being brutally killed.
By framing the violence in a manner that's overtly sexual, it turns it into sexual violence.
Ahhh, but sexual violence and violence in a sexual situation are two different things. For one thing, one is almost universally negative, whilst the other can be both positive and negative, depending upon context (BDSM and Sub/Dom partnerships, for example).

The whole trailer is designed to present glorified violence - I mean, God, assassin's with an RPG? WTF mate? - but I took the disrobing scene as merely them shedding their disguises, which were no longer needed. Yes, overtly sexual, since OMGBOOBS, but not sexually violent, since they were not killed simply due to their gender.

Your point about direction sparked a thought. Violence against women - even fetish-costumed women - can engender empathy in the viewer, but I felt no empathy for the nuns. Why? Because they were dressed in latex, or because they were a strong team of assassins who tried to kill the protagonist? As I noted in response to Emily, my only thought about the clothing was "That's stupid", so I would assume I view the women as tough females. In which case, the argument that this could be anti-women/pro-violence to women is even stranger. How many people watching the video have thought the same?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 31st May 2012 9:47pm

Posted:2 years ago

#54

Emily Knox
Associate Designer

46 95 2.1
"So far, all you or anyone else has shown is that YOU'VE made a connection in your OWN head between how they look and their being killed"

"You are missing Jessica's point that the costumes lack any purpose other than to titillate the viewer during the brutality."

"I'm not missing that point at all. I've explicitly agreed with it."

Oh okay, so first you're blaming us for making up what you thought was a non-existent connection in our heads, and now you agree with it. I'm glad you do.

Posted:2 years ago

#55

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Oh okay, so first you're blaming us for making up what you thought was a non-existent connection in our heads, and now you agree with it."

I certainly don't. You've stated a single fact, not a connection between two facts. They clearly ARE dressed for titillation. They clearly get killed. The subject under debate, though, is whether how they're dressed has any relevance to their being killed or, whether they just get killed because they're assassins trying to murder Agent 47.

If you don't even understand what people are talking about, maybe don't join in, eh?

Posted:2 years ago

#56

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Oh Spungo, that last sentence is a piss-poor form of condescension. :/

(excuse the language and all that)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 31st May 2012 9:57pm

Posted:2 years ago

#57

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
Well, no, it just IS condescension. That's what condescension is - it isn't any particular form of it. Butting in when you clearly don't understand what's going on is extremely arrogant and rude and it irritates me immensely.

Posted:2 years ago

#58

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Yes, but, it took you time and effort to type that. So I'll rephrase

"That was a piss-poor comment, a waste of everyone's time, your effort, and helped the discussion not one jot".

Now, if that irritates, take a deep breath and have a drink of tea. You don't need to type every comment that comes into your head. :)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 31st May 2012 10:13pm

Posted:2 years ago

#59

Richard Bisso
Lead Software Engineer/Lead Designer

5 2 0.4
Seriously. This article is complete nonsense, and patronizingly sexist in and of itself. Would it have been ok if it he would have killed a bunch of frumpy women? Sexy gay men? Sexy straight men? Relatively attractive, but slightly off-putting transgendered individuals? Sheesh, you know what? I wish someone would just tell me who it *is* ok to kill, these days.

Oh, wait.

Posted:2 years ago

#60

Robert Oelenschlager
Independent Game Developer

21 18 0.9
So, I'm confused. What is this argument about? Are we trying to say that this piece of fiction is morally wrong for being sexist? I'm honestly having trouble here. I'm seeing the nuns who strip down into their skimpy latex and other impractical gear (so there's the sexist cliche), then I'm seeing them fight and get killed while giving Agent 47 a good bit of trouble. Their deaths seemed as sterile and quick as any other kill 47 has made. After their introduction, I don't notice any emphasis on their femanine assets. Is it because they're getting killed while dressed sexy? I'm asking honestly, cause it feels like I'm missing something.

Posted:2 years ago

#61

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
I'll ignore the incredibly condescending remark in the name of keeping this discussion civil.

They are dressed like sexy ladies. They are wrongdoers, and they are killed by the protagonist. Whether you want to see it or not, there is a normative connection being made between sexy ladies and violence. If they were men, or dressed as clowns, or in standard army camo, it wouldn't be the same because there is an undercurrent of 'women in their place' in our society and this reinforces that. I don't like looking for things to offend and upset me. I don't look for things that aren't there. But 'sexy ladies for no good reason' plus 'murder for poorly defined reason' is not a good combination to my mind.

Posted:2 years ago

#62

Sarkhan Lyutfaliev
Senior Russian Localization Tester II

4 3 0.8
I think that this article is the precise reason of why the trailer like this has been released. If they just released a trailer with normal camo-wearing commandos getting killed by Agent 47 it would be forgotten in a matter of hours.

Now, each of us can have an opinion on the content of this creation, but one thing is undeniable - they got what they were clearly looking for, attention to their game and created a huge amount of buzz around the trailer.

Common practice these days, especially for the games that are out of the radar of the main stream.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sarkhan Lyutfaliev on 1st June 2012 12:03am

Posted:2 years ago

#63

Robert Oelenschlager
Independent Game Developer

21 18 0.9
@Jessica

I'm not actually being condescending, and I apologize if it sounded that way. It's simply that there was so much mudslinging that I was having a hard time understanding what everyone was arguing about. So essentially the issue is that they are women who are sexy for the sake of being sexy (which I agree with), and that they are being killed.

So it's an argument about sexism then? It kinda sounded like some people were arguing about trying to make murder look erotic. If it's sexism, I agree then. They could have done it a dozen ways better with a simple change in wardrobe. I think a bus full of assassin clowns would have been hilarious.

Posted:2 years ago

#64

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Jessica
If they were men, or dressed as clowns, or in standard army camo, it wouldn't be the same because there is an undercurrent of 'women in their place' in our society and this reinforces that
Sorry, but, that doesn't seem a very coherent argument to me. They're female assassins. By its very nature that contradicts the "women in their place" undercurrent. Strong. Female. Non-Player-Characters (Or Mooks, given how stupid they are). If they were in standard camo, they still wouldn't be playing into the "women in their place" normative, because they'd actually be seen as strong female army personnel. The only difference is the clothing. And if that's the only difference, then you're surely saying that women cannot be both sexy and strong? (Phrased as a question, since I'm not sure that's what you mean.)

Edit to add:
But 'sexy ladies for no good reason' plus 'murder for poorly defined reason' is not a good combination to my mind.
So the assassins trying to kill the main character isn't a clearly defined reason for him murdering them?

@ Robert
It kinda sounded like some people were arguing about trying to make murder look erotic.
That is one of the premises of the original article, and the one I'm arguing against. From the original article:
What has disturbed many people is that the trailer appears to strongly sexualise and fetishise not just its disposable female characters, but also the actual act of killing them.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 1st June 2012 12:13am

Posted:2 years ago

#65

Peter Stirling
Software Engineer

25 7 0.3
This article is self-righteous, speaking on behalf of the industry speaking on behalf of 'us'. We're in the industry, you don't need to tell us what the state of affairs is regarding the censorship debate. It does so only to preemptively strawman counter possible criticism.

At the end of the day it's just a trailer, it's meant to raise awareness as the author noted. All this article has actually done is raised the profile further. I had not seen the trailer until reading this. So you're doing the marketing teams job for them.

Posted:2 years ago

#66

Robert Oelenschlager
Independent Game Developer

21 18 0.9
Alright, so both points are being argued then? Cause I agree about the sexist imagery still, cause the assailants could have been anyone, and it personally felt like a choice of "sex sells", though of course I am not in the creators' heads. I don't actually see the death erotica though unless it's because they're sexy and also dying. I don't find it very erotic though, so maybe that's why I don't see it? I'm no philosopher king.

Posted:2 years ago

#67

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
I think anyone who thinks this trailer's death-scenes are erotic is already inclined to think of such things as erotic. Nuns in latex? That's kinda... interesting, but Californication's been down the sexy nun route in the first 2 minutes of its opening episode, so it's also kinda old.

Brass tacks, then. This is an (almost certainly) 18 rated game. With a trailer that seems aimed at 12 year olds.

Nice going, guys.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 1st June 2012 12:24am

Posted:2 years ago

#68
Popular Comment
I'm trying to find where the miscommunication between Mr Spungo et al and those addressing the subtext lies.

I think it works like this:

Those not interested in/rejecting the existence of subtext are seeing a sexist piece of advertising that uses scantily clad women, and shooty-bang violence, to appeal to a demographic of gamers, to sell the game. They either support, condemn or are indifferent to this, but are frustrated by the suggestion that more is going on with further consequences.

Those who are arguing the trailer is more insidious because of the subtext are frustrated by this reaction, because they see it as missing the deeper point that when women are used as sexual titillation, at the same time as being gruesomely murdered, there is an unpleasant whole that is greater than the parts.

But what actually seems to be creating a divide here is how the trailer is "read". Those in the first group are taking the trailer on its literary face value. It's the story of a group of assassins who are sent to kill another assassin, and in response the lone assassin kills the group. We are to expect all this because they're all hired killers, all trying to kill each other. That the group are dressed as sexy nuns is either recognised as sexist, or the sexiest, but the narrative practicalities of the situation are justified. From this perspective, the suggestion that there is something more inherently wrong with this trailer than the overt sexism is rejected, because it can be seen as patronising, inverted sexism, or an over-defensive reaction to the fact that they happen to be women.

The second group, by not acknowledging the logic of that argument, enormously frustrate the first group, seeming to be unwilling to listen to that point, perhaps even ignoring it just so they can beat a drum.

This is how you get to, "But you wouldn't be complaining if the assassins were all scantily clad men!"

To which the second group says, "No, of course not, because then it wouldn't be honing in on a wider, more insidious subtext that sexualises brutality of women." A point which drives the first group mad, because again, they're seeing it purely as a narrative, which remains consistent no matter who the attackers are.

So I want to say, yes, of course the narrative makes sense. But the complaint is really not about that. It's about how the narrative has been chosen to be presented. It's not about *what happens*, but rather about what lies beneath the way its been chosen to be displayed. The presentation of women as sexual objects, dressed in a fashion that is only there to titillate men (something both sides mostly agree on), as a *part of* their brutal murder, is the issue. *Not* in the plot, not because Mr 47 hates women or is scared of boobs. No one is saying that. But in the creation of the piece of work, and in how it is consumed. Close-ups of tits and crotches, prominently displayed exposed female bodies being splattered with their own blood, in one part intended to arouse at the same time as being shown horribly harmed, is where the problem lies. We're being asked to enjoy fetishised violence AND fetishised women's bodies, *at the same time*. And the argument is, I think, that this has an insidious consequence in a world where a quarter of all women are physically or sexually abused within their relationships with men.

But no, of course no one is arguing that watching this trailer will make you beat up a woman. It's something much more subtle than that, about perpetuating a low, constant rumble of nastiness.

I'm sure most of the first group still reject this, and unfortunately arguing it tends to push all the buttons that result in thrown up arms and declarations of searching for something to be angry about. Arguing about semiotics, about psychological aspects, about film theory and the analysis of texts - all phrases that make group one furious. But too bad - since Eisenstein first montaged two images together, smarter people than all of us have been studying these things and their effects. And group two isn't willing to ignore this.

I'm like the UN peace keepers, if the UN peace keepers were heavily biased to one side, and made things worse. At great length.

Posted:2 years ago

#69

Taylan Kay
Game Desginer

59 93 1.6
"If you watched the Hitman trailer and saw women being massacred for embracing their sexuality (rather than because they were assassins attacking the protagonist with rocket-propelled grenades), I have some bad news: it's not the trailer, it's you. Get some help, before you hurt someone."

Really. That's women embracing their sexuality, is it. I suppose the trailer was produced by a team of women who wanted to make a statement about their sexuality then? Their freedom to don latex nun costumes. It's got nothing to do with you wanting to embrace their sexuality in a fantasy of your choice, it's them embracing it themselves. Right.

Posted:2 years ago

#70

Andrew Ihegbu
Studying Bsc Commercial Music

438 146 0.3
I just watched the trailer for the first time after reading this article and have to wholeheartedly disagree with the premise presented here. Firstly, the assassins weren't even wearing nun outfits, without the white head brace thing its more akin to a hooded Jedi style robe with a black and white color scheme to be frank. And I'm from a roman Catholic family so I should know.

Secondly the 'sexual imagery' is really just the same as the close ups on the curves of a car. You look at those 'bondage outfits' and they are quite literally just Bond Girl catsuits with holes cut in them to make them look more badass.

More importantly, all of these shots are discrete and completely seperated from each other. It starts with 'nuns', progresses to showing off the assassins' close fitting outfits, then has them fight. At no point are there sexy shots mid battle as you had me believe, and quite frankly more skin was shown in Unreal Tournament 2004 than here.

I suspect that the cause for all this uproar was not the violence, but the fact that the Christian belt disliked the fact that nuns were involved in this violence. The fact that our Rob saw fit to sensationalize this and support this view shows his lack or awareness that current fashion and media very much has an obsession right now with fetish (See Rihanna and her performance outfits and songs), Hitman always had a obsession with religion, and games at large have always had a large interest in death. Hinting at two then showing our antihero killing some scantily clad assassins is hardly cause for concern.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Andrew Ihegbu on 1st June 2012 1:51am

Posted:2 years ago

#71

Taylan Kay
Game Desginer

59 93 1.6
@John: Thanks for the peacekeeping. It is a very emotionally charged issue for me as I am in group two, and the frustration is making it hard to make productive arguments.

To group one: As has been said before by others, I acknowledge your right to enjoy the fantasy of your choice. I agree that videogames as a medium should be held to similar standards as film, novels, comics and others. I disagree however when people show examples from other media to normalize and/or rationalize negative aspects of Hitman's narrative. One can find examples of racism, sexism, bigotry and whatnot in all those media. That does not make it okay to repeat the same pattern with video games. Ideally our cultural history would be a progression towards positive human values, not a calcification of our deepest flaws with each successive wave of culture.

A more direct harm of such insensitivity affects video games too. Remember when Six Days in Fallujah was cancelled? Because it was dealing with issues too sensitive for the public conscience? Many people asked then, why can film and literature get away with it but not games? The answer is because we, as the video games medium, almost never fail to take a chance to prove our indifference and ignorance of sensitive subject matter, just as some people display in this very case. Because people do not trust video games for having a calm, considerate head to do justice to important subject matter.

The problem is not that there are nuns in fetish clothing, the problem is not that there are women being killed. The problem is, as John put it, the refusal to see the subtext. You cannot be a legitimate artistic medium without owning up to the subtext. We have to accept responsibility for the implications of our work and our industry.

Posted:2 years ago

#72

Taylan Kay
Game Desginer

59 93 1.6
As for the arguments that say ridiculous things like "oh but I don't see anything sexy in that trailer" or "a nun does not dress like that":

I am a marketer and I will bet my grandmother on it that the creative director did not just toss a coin to decide between regular nun habits and skintight latex. Nothing in advertising is random. Every image, every color, every letter, every sound serves a purpose. The people who made this trailer did not think it was just like close-ups of the curves of a car (objectification, hello?!?), because they are not selling cars. They are selling a game to a predominantly male audience, who typically have the mental loophole to pay keen attention to sex and violence (myself included). I can also bet my great-grandma to top it up that the ad-folks did not pitch this in the boardroom by saying "Here we have a team of assassins dressed in jedi style hooded robes."

So please stop insulting your own intelligence with such arguments.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Taylan Kay on 1st June 2012 2:23am

Posted:2 years ago

#73

Greg Wilcox
Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,134 1,039 0.5
Eh, yet another game maker trying too damn hard to be "controversial" when they NEED to let the final product (which might actually be good) do the talking. THis annoys me more than the trailer. Anyway, go look at the TLA.com website or adult catalog if you really want to get pissed off about this stuff. If you're thinking the trailer is horrific or whatever, go check out some of the movies they sell there and oh yeah, read the descriptions. I even think there's a flick called Naked Nuns With Big Guns or something stupid like that.


Guaranteed, you'll be ready for an aneurysm after all the "creative" descriptions of violence against women in film after film. Yeah, yeah, some people have their fetishes (I could care less about, thank you) and it's all free speech and freedom of choice on the part of the people appearing in these films at the end of the day. But even after watching the trailer again (which I found a bit silly, but well made) I'd say any of those films with ACTUAL people are going to be a hell of a lot more infuriating to some here than Hitman ever will be.

Eh, whatever...

We. Shall. See.

Posted:2 years ago

#74

Julian Cram
Project Manager

49 27 0.6
Find me some slow-mo murders of sexy men in revealing clothing and I'll be extremely impressed
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGZlJi4VpEs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRLydjPbEV8

Impressed yet?

Because there are 29 episodes spread over 3 Seasons of this, which were shown on network television around the world...

Posted:2 years ago

#75
I'm a strong believer in no censorship of any kind providing of course said material is not forced upon you, a game even a game trailer is entirely optional, so regardless of your personal taste if you don't like it, you don't have to watch it nor buy it, I think perhaps your reading to much into it personally, its not a guide to being a pyscho killer to aspiring wonnabe's its just a game that happens to have potentially attractive females who happen to be killed, given in the vast majority of games you spend a fair amount of you time killing things, it would plain sexist not to have both men and female's to kill, and given games like hollywood films tend not to include ugly people as lets face it outside horror no one likes seeing ugly people if they can help it in their media, so they end up being pretty people you kill in many games and sexy is a logical side of not having ugly people.

Ultimately you could then pose the case no one should be spending all their time killing people in games, but frankly most of the games where you don't are hardly an improvement, take sims for instance yes everyone had fun dressing up their sim and housing it and so on, but then it gets boring and you quit, nevertheless at least half if not more of people spent their time torturing their poor sims instead, which is hardly an improvement over the traditional bloodletting, whilst yes there are exceptions like simcity, even there ufo's and forest fire's provided opportunity for mass-casualties.

Theres a simple an logical reason for our pre-occupation for violence in games, we're human, human's are hunter-gatherer's its in our genetic makeup to kill things where possible, of course now we mostly either don't need to or have more sense then to risk our life doing so we naturally take enjoyment in killing things in a safe environment instead, like computer games or just seeing things die in movies.

Whilst i'm sure there will be a neverending list of nambe pambe's who take offense at the notion ordinary human beings like seeing bloodshed, even if its been reduced to virtual safe bloodshed where no one actually dies, but the evidence of our own eyes is pretty comprehensive, channeling our natural instincts away from reality an into a virtual environment where no one gets hurt seems the best you can hope for for human's in that regard, if you were to begin fiddling with the genetics to make a human that wouldn't enjoy such things, you'd end up with something that isn't human, take away our natural aggression and you take away our enthusiasm, our drive to succeed, and so on and so forth, i'm sure you can guess others, and for all those people who swear blind they hate bloodshed, and get nothing from it, also should be so noted these very same people tend to delight in speaking badly of people behind their back and uttering never-ending torrents of complaints about others, in essence spreading pain using words instead of knives, which given you can turn off a game but you cant turn off what many of them get up to is hardly a healthy improvement, yes of course like in all things there are exceptions but they are few and far between.

Ultimately everyone has to draw their own line over what they consider acceptable fun and over the top, I much prefer to be able to make the decision myself rather then let some censor / government / namby pamby liberal busy bodies who likes nothing more than to curse others in private and public and enforce their will on others make the decision for me, there will always be those unable to fully separate reality from fiction and those who will kill people for no reason anyone else would agree with, ie there will always be nutters, banning things will not remove them from society it will just curse the rest of us with even less personal choices and poke even more holes in the increasingly laughable concept of freedom which we enjoy less and less of especially in recent years.

So if you don't like something just don't watch it/play it don't buy it, and don't go find a control freak and inform them, and unfortunately adult's do not as a general rule discuss things they disagree on (notice the following sections operative word is they disagree on)calmly and rationally often have you ever watched politician's in the house of commons, the words may be different and the pronunciation more defined, but ultimately if you dropped them in the average classroom and taught the kids in it what they mean they'd be speaking on exactly the same level saying the same things, and lets face it whens the last time you had a calm rational discussion with your wife/girlfriend/boyfriends/husband over an issue you disagreed on?, the idea adult's discuss things they disagree on rationally and calmly is alas a falsehood concocted to make kid's think adult's are more mature then they actually are, such sensible discussions that dont degenerate into shouting matches or swap the insult only tend to take place with your friends in private when dealing from opposing positions.

Having an adult discussion on issues like this simply doesn't work as ultimately its a matter of personal choice and boundaries so you will ultimately disagree with others on the issue and rational speech will have no effect on your basic opinion, you have three main choices, agree to disagree with others(either way) and leave it at that, claim your right irregardless and troll everyone who disagrees or seek to censor it by finding others who feel the same way then pushing to force your collective wills on everyone else.

And just for a small side-note on the whole sexism angle some people are pushing... err grow up, men like seeing hot women and women like seeking hot men, unless either side is gay, killing males or females in a computer game is not altering the balance of power between men and women, nor is it related to it and balance wise which lets face it has been sufficiently balanced by this point in most regards except for perhaps board rooms but given most working women would prefer to spend time with their families beyond what the average board room members are allowed, the pool of talent available for boardrooms from the female side is reduced vs the male as for lingering pay inequality men wont take a few years off randomly to have a kid nor will companies be forced to pay men for such a period to take time off so they get paid more, its obviously a way to make up for this without downright not paying people for taking time off for children and so not have to beat off angry feminists with sticks in public, simply put the only "feminists" left tend to be people who want females to have unfair advantages as among my generation plus prudes and beyond sexism doesn't really enter into the equation anymore for most ordinary people, killing hot chicks in a computer game is men "putting females in their place" and if men were in the same position in a game (like in 99% of games) its not doing the same thing to men? seriously? with a straight face? anyone who weren't your reflection in the mirror agree with you?, your placing your own feelings into an unrelated other subject and then pointing to it as proof of your own beliefs to others, such irrational comments do a great deal of harm to the concept of equality, making people constantly think over "is this equal" is exactly what keeps whatever lingering inequalities may linger alive to remove said last vestiges the question itself needs to disappear to history (same thing happens in racism, as long as racist words and special racist laws exist it will always exist), people should not have to justify themselves for including sexy females in computer games any more then sexy men, as to weather one or other or both is being killed in the process is also irrelevant to sexism, it has nothing to do with it, it affects both sides equally, and the issue is not eroticising one sex along with violence is weather or not you agree with eroticising violence, except in cases where you choose otherwise, which again is your own world view which your shaping the situation to fit, both men and women are portrayed in media (film,tv,games) as sex objects they're draped over adverts of consumers goods and dribbled over billboards or show adverts, and whilst we may all scoff at the blatant sexual overtone of such things most of us enjoy one or two of those on offer and humans to do tend to be more likely to remember said product as a result, regardless it affects both sides again EQUALLY. Nor is a view of a sexy female type in a game (being killed or not)degrading and dehumanizing whilst viewing of sexy men type is fine and dandy, saying so is simply sexist, enough said.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 1st June 2012 8:02am

Posted:2 years ago

#76

Emily Knox
Associate Designer

46 95 2.1
Spungo, if you want to discuss (or rather, troll) about Agent 47 killing women *because* of the way they are dressed, then you should be throwing your two cents in with Keza's article on IGN, because that is not something I have have ever said.

What I've said that there's an attempt here to make the women's deaths in this advert erotic. There's no purpose to their portrayal other than that, and you implicitly agreed with me. Read my words: I've never once said that Agent 47 is killing them *because* of the way they're dressed. Like I said, that debate is on IGN, so why don't you go there, be patronising, condescending, rude, and accuse someone else of having an opinion to get in some "feminist knickers".

"Can't We Discuss This Like Adults?" With Spungo, apparently not.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Emily Knox on 1st June 2012 8:02am

Posted:2 years ago

#77

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
@Emily: how are the deaths erotic?

It is interesting to read this many comments on here. Each one of you giving their personal view on what you *think* happens in the trailer and what the IO team want to portrait.

The simple fact of the matter is: none of us know.

There's no purpose to their portrayal other than that

To quote the dude: That's just, like, your opinion man.

We all interpret things differently. Most of you on here seem to focus on the visual representation of the assassins sent after Agent 47. Very few seem to see the links to previous hitman games, the reveal of some character traits of agent 47 and potential hints about the game that lies ahead. Nobody so far has mentioned anything about some very strong art contrasts through the clip, some exceptional lighting and clever use of symbolism.

Could it have been done differently? yes probably, and maybe it should have been(looking at the reaction to the trailer). But to come here and make bold statements about the reasons for this scene without knowing any of the background, or how it fits into the overall game, is not better IMO.

If the game turns out to be full of scenarios where 47 kills women that dress along an alternative fashion (for whatever reason), fair enough, judge it by that. But we won't know until the game comes out. For all we know there is a very good reason why these girls choose to dress like that and why they come after 47.

Who knows? Maybe they are the good guys in this game and 47 is the bad guy? Would not be the first time the player gets to play a "bad" main character.

Posted:2 years ago

#78

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"Whether you want to see it or not, there is a normative connection being made between sexy ladies and violence."

No, there isn't. That's the point. YOU'RE making one, but it's not actually discernible from the trailer. They are sexy women and they get killed. Those two facts are indisputably true. What you HAVEN'T done is show us that they're connected in anything other than your wholly unjustifed (so far) opinion.

We've provided a stream of evidence for sexy people NOT being killed, unsexy people being killed, sexy people DOING the killing and sexy people of both genders being killed in beautifully-shot slow-mo and grisly detail. Yet you ignore it to fixate on one sub-example, without a scrap of evidence as to why it's somehow different to all the others.

Condescension is sometimes merited.

Posted:2 years ago

#79

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"It's not about *what happens*, but rather about what lies beneath"

...which is, by definition, something that exists entirely in your own mind not in the trailer. It would never have occurred to me, not if I'd watched the clip a million times, to even imagine that the assassins were being somehow "punished" for being sexy women rather than being killed in self-defence, because that's a thought that simply doesn't ever enter my head. It makes no sense. PLAINLY it's wrong to kill women for being sexy. It's more than wrong, it's ridiculous, which is why sane people don't think that way.

It's good that you at least acknowledge the surface narrative is logical. But you really need to try to deal with the concept that just maybe that's all there is, and that nobody ever intended to portray anything else whether openly or as subtext, and that therefore the only people who would interpret it as punishment of women are people who are already fucked-up in the head.

(Quick question: has anyone actually bothered to ask the developers/trailer producers about any of this stuff? It seems, y'know, quite a basic courtesy and journalistic principle.)

As the arguments I hear get woollier and woollier, I'm increasingly forming the opinion that "subtext" is to culture what homeopathy is to medicince: a mostly-harmless fiction occasionally exploited to horrible effect by those with agendas to peddle.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Spungo McGee on 1st June 2012 9:18am

Posted:2 years ago

#80
Popular Comment
The problem with your argument, I think, Mr Spungo, is that you do seem to approach the trailer as if it were a documentary. Your argument tends to be, "But that's just what happened," as if it's a record of an event, rather than a deliberate construct created for a purpose.

Someone made a choice for the women to be dressed the way they are. Someone made a choice for 47 to be getting dressed, while the women were getting undressed. Someone decided that was how the fight would start. Someone decided that we would watch sexually charged scenes of brutality. Someone decided that the women would be helplessly slaughtered by the lone man, while wearing clothing usually associated with sex. Someone decided to show the woman as utterly helpless, as 47 so creepily closes her eyes. It was created from nothing to be a thing - not filmed on the day they turned up with their rocket launchers in the clothes they happened to be wearing.

So rather than subtext being this ethereal concept in the minds of the easily offended, it's the *reason behind all those decisions*. It's the why, not the what.

And you can't simply say, "They wanted to show some sexy nuns getting shot up, so made it." Because the question is, *why* did they make the choices they did? And that question goes far deeper, asking questions of the culture in which it was made.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Walker on 1st June 2012 9:40am

Posted:2 years ago

#81

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
You cannot be a legitimate artistic medium without owning up to the subtext.
And sometimes a cow in formaldehyde is just a cow in formaldehyde.

During my undergrad degree, I critiqued literary works, I critiqued financial situations, and I critiqued news articles, all for seminars, presentations, essays. In all cases, you know what is a requirement? To adequately argue your point.

Arguing that there must be a subtext because you see one is not good academically.

@ John
Someone decided that we would watch sexually charged scenes of brutality.
Are they sexually charged? I didn't feel any "sexy" feelings towards anyone. Just like reading the trailer is dependent upon how deep you're willing to go to critique, I'd say the question of how sexually charged the trailer is is also a personal one.
Because the question is, *why* did they make the choices they did? And that question goes far deeper, asking questions of the culture in which it was made.
Really? So the fact that 15 year old boys who like boobs and explosions isn't enough? No-one yet knows the PEGI rating of this game, right? If it's a 15, then this trailer hits its target demographic perfectly.

I would argue that creating a trailer that focuses on boobs and explosions for a previously very mature series is a perfect encapsulation of our industry. Sexist and stupid.

Edit to add:

Does all art have a subtext?
Does all entertainment have a subtext?
Does every creator have a hidden agenda?

And finally,

The trailer is 18 rated. Creating this trailer is stupid, sexist, and willfully aims for a juvenile audience who wouldn't be allowed to buy it.

I find it interesting that no-one else has focussed on that last point.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 1st June 2012 10:19am

Posted:2 years ago

#82

West Clendinning
Senior/Lead Artist

21 4 0.2
I liked the trailer.
The sexy nun/prostitute/assassins were cool.
and after watching it, my opinion of women remained unchanged.

I think if any guy complains about this he is being hypocritical,
because I'm sure we all watch porn, and that's real life not a game,
and very degrading to women.

Posted:2 years ago

#83

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
Those are all easy.

"Someone made a choice for the women to be dressed the way they are."

Because both developers and their audience like to draw and look at women in leather basques and suspenders. Because it would make people look at the trailer, and make stupid people complain about it, hence causing more people to look at it, and so on.

"Someone made a choice for 47 to be getting dressed, while the women were getting undressed."

Simple artistic juxtaposition. I'm reminded of a recent episode of Sherlock, where "The Woman" met Holmes and Watson naked, describing it as her "battledress", while a significant part of the episode was concerned with people forcing Sherlock to put his clothes on. I expect Steven Moffat was trying to imply that she deserved to be murdered, then, the slut.

Also, of course, there are perfectly logical narrative explanations. Why start off dressed as nuns? I can't think of a better or more obvious way for a group of women to easily conceal large assault rifles and RPGs while walking down the street - except maybe burquas, and MAN there's a whole other can of worms waiting to wriggle free there. Clearly, though, they're not very practical garments for a firefight, so they'd have to take them off when the action was about to start.

(As for what they're wearing underneath, we're back to the entirely agreed juvenile-sexism element. Though again, you'd have to concede that it's at least practical - no trailing sleeves to get caught in the trigger or anything.)

Please, Mr Director, tell us how YOU would have got these heavily-armed women to a public place unnoticed, ideally in a way attractive to adolescent boys.

"Someone decided that was how the fight would start."

Eh? The fight started when the assassins fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the motel. Agent 47 wasn't watching them calmly until their thighs were on display, then charging in with his guns blazing in Puritan rage.

"Someone decided that we would watch sexually charged scenes of brutality."


Yet again - you claim to be debating and analysing, but state as a given the very things that are under debate. IS it "sexually charged" brutality? Or just brutality against women who happen to be dressed sexily, for both artistic and narrative reasons that we've already explored?

Would it be "sexually charged" if they were dressed the same but ugly? Or still pretty but wearing head-to-toe ninja costumes? "Sexual charge" is in the eye of the beholder, and personally speaking I don't get a boner from watching women be shot dead. YMMV. (I'd have to watch it again, but I recall no obvious sexual imagery in any of the killings, no thrusting of swords or long knifes into soft yielding flesh or such.)

"Someone decided that the women would be helplessly slaughtered by the lone man"

Oh DO piss off now. "Helplessly"? You talk as if they were unarmed, rather than carrying an arsenal fit to level a small town and outnumbering Agent 47 eight to one. If that counts as "helpless", you must think women are REALLY weak.

(As for the outcome, what other possible outcome could there be? "Buy Hitman Absolution, kids - he's already dead!" Once again, see Uma Thurman slaughtering Japanese kids 50 at a time single-handedly in Kill Bill.)

"while wearing clothing usually associated with sex"

So any woman wearing a leather basque is sending out a sexual message, rather than just doing it because it makes her feel good? She's basically gagging for it, you say? Whoops. How easy it is to misrepresent people's words and actions for one's own agenda, eh?

"Someone decided to show the woman as utterly helpless, as 47 so creepily closes her eyes."

She's DEAD, you idiot. Who describes dead people as "helpless"?

"Because the question is, *why* did they make the choices they did?"

Your answers are above. Any more?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Spungo McGee on 1st June 2012 10:18am

Posted:2 years ago

#84

Spungo McGee
Reviewer

40 44 1.1
"No-one has still said what the target demographic is for either the game, or the trailer. If the game is Mature/18, then creating this trailer is stupid, sexist, and willfully aims for a juvenile audience who wouldn't be allowed to buy it.

I find it interesting that no-one else has focussed on that last point."


Possibly because nobody seriously imagines for a second that 15-year-olds have the slightest difficulty in accessing 18-rated games. Or, come to that, that 18-year-old boys have significantly elevated tastes by comparison.

Posted:2 years ago

#85

Andreas Gschwari
Senior Games Designer

555 607 1.1
@John:

Someone decided that the women would be helplessly slaughtered by the lone man, while wearing clothing usually associated with sex.

I would argue that these women were far from being helpless. Not only did they initiate the assault, they also inflicted quite a lot of pain on Agent 47. He was knocked down, punched and his back was slashed.

Also, the statement that this sort of clothing is usually associated with sex is only really true if you think that way. To me, clothing is not necessarily associated with sex, at least not on the surface of it. Clothing is a statement of attitude, thought and fashion.

Posted:2 years ago

#86

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Spungo

But then, that's gross hypocrisy. "Oh noes! Women being killed in a sexual situation. Think of society!"

"But 15 year olds will be able to buy it! Oh well, never mind. I'm sure society will be fine"

@ Andreas

Indeed. I touched upon the fact that the nuns are stong female characters some comments above, but everyone appears to ignore the fact that gun-toting women are actually held up as strong females within other media. Like, I don't know, Ripley, from the Aliens franshise.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 1st June 2012 10:29am

Posted:2 years ago

#87

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
Every time someone in this discussion(which is getting pretty heated, Spungo, do calm down would you?) calls the gun-toting sex-nuns 'strong women' it really strongly reminds me of an excellent work of satire by some of my favourite comic artists: http://harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=311

Carrying a gun and showing off your boobies doesn't make you a strong character. Especially when all eight of you then get messily slaughtered by one dude.

Posted:2 years ago

#88

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
No, carrying guns doesn't automatically make a strong female character. But it does contradict the point that they were helpless. Weak, smart, helpless. The nuns were none of these things.

The fact that Agent 47 killed them all isn't meant to represent their lack of power, but more his strength. In the same way Batman subdues dozens of generic henchmen, but has a harder time with Harley Quinn and the Joker. Or, to reverse the genders, Natasha subduing multiple male enemies in Iron Man 2.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 1st June 2012 11:00am

Posted:2 years ago

#89
Spungo's response to me still only works in a universe where this was a recording of an event that occurred, not something constructed from nothing. They are not wearing the clothes because they happen to find them comfortable *because they are pretend people*. They are visual images designed for a purpose. Of course I'm not saying that women who wear X deserve Y - I'm not a moron. I'm saying that women crafted to appear sexually exciting to men, by men, are then brutally killed by a pretend man. And those choices were made for a reason.

However, Spungo can no longer reply, because for some bloody ridiculous reason he's been banned from commenting. Way to allow discussion, GI.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Walker on 1st June 2012 11:12am

Posted:2 years ago

#90
But of course they were helpless. They are CGI paintings, with ineffectual guns and knives painted on, that don't do anything to impede the progress of the 47 painting. They were dead before it started, because they existed only to be shown being killed.

Gosh, people *really* need to break out of the thinking that this is a sodding fly on the wall documentary!

Posted:2 years ago

#91

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNEqmLVtQy0

With developer commentary (kind of).
But of course they were helpless. They are CGI paintings, with ineffectual guns and knives painted on, that don't do anything to impede the progress of the 47 painting. They were dead before it started, because they existed only to be shown being killed.
Yes, they're mooks (that is, generic enemies thrown up against the hero/anti-hero/protagonist). So.... What? They are shown as a threat to Agent 47 - that is the central storytelling conceit - but of course they are destined to die, because this isn't the story of killer nuns. This is the story of Agent 47.

Again, they are not helpess, since they have guns, and know hand-to-hand combat. "Helpless" and "doomed to die" is not the same thing, just like being "all powerful" and "immortal" are not the same.

Other things to note.

The imagery of Agent 47 closing the dead woman's eyes can be interpreted as remorse. It's a stupid show, but Criminal Minds repeatedly says that the pathology of someone who closes the victim's eyes is of someone who wished he hadn't killed. Whether it's true or not, that cod-psychology could easily be placed within the framework of the trailer here. As a subtext, even.

Of course you're right - it isn't a fly-on-the-wall documentary. It's a piece of entertainment. And as such, it has all the pieces of entertainment - direction, art, camerawork, and story. More than that, it's generic Western cinema. It's not like we're picking apart a Mizoguchi film here. Tits. Explosions. All powerful hero. Mooks. I can go for subtext, but honestly, it's like reading sexual politics into an Indiana Jones movie. It's there if you look for it, but everything is there if you look for it hard enough.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 1st June 2012 11:29am

Posted:2 years ago

#92

Dan Pearson
European Editor

94 181 1.9
To clarify, Spungo has not been banned, we've just asked him to comply with our policy on using real names. If he chooses to do so, he'll be free to comment again.

We're not interested in the censorship of debate, but accountability is a core value of the site - we believe that if you have the courage of your convictions, you shouldn't be hiding behind anonymity.

Posted:2 years ago

#93

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Dan

Good to hear. One of the reasons I like this site is the "real-names" policy. Plus, I'm curious who he is, because he sounds like he's been in the industry awhile. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#94

Luke Kemp
Editor

7 12 1.7
Surely the fact 47 could have made a bloodless getaway (he started the killing from BEHIND the group, remember) but chose not to either confirms or crumbles the subtext argument?

At the beginning of the trailer 47 is tending to wounds of his own. Are we to presume that this was as a result of a previous attack by the oddly dressed ladies, and he killed for revenge? Or did they have nothing to do with it, and there's a suggestion of taking his anger out on new attackers - supporting the violence against women angle?

I'm not decided but to be honest, a sinister subtext never popped into my simple mind until I discovered all this fuss over what is now surely the most-watched trailer of 2012. Is it entirely impossible that what we have here is a kind of Fisher Price My First Game Trailer? Blood - check. Killing - check. Boobs - check. Slow-mo - check. A brainless trailer for hormonal boys, with the idea of aggression toward strong/sexy/other women an unintended side effect, seen only by the easily offended and desperate to legitimise videogames.

Don't attack me - convince me! Like I said I'm still undecided on the matter, and I'm stunned to find a list of comments actually worth reading.

Posted:2 years ago

#95

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Surely the fact 47 could have made a bloodless getaway (he started the killing from BEHIND the group, remember) but chose not to either confirms or crumbles the subtext argument?
Not really. That would've been the most boring video ever. Oh look, assassins trying to kill Agent 47. Look at him run away.

Admittedly, they coud've created a video like that, but that would've required a different story, and thus an entirely different trailer.
Are we to presume that this was as a result of a previous attack by the oddly dressed ladies, and he killed for revenge? Or did they have nothing to do with it, and there's a suggestion of taking his anger out on new attackers - supporting the violence against women angle?
There's nothing about anger in the video. Some assassins dressed (at least initially) as nuns try and kill Agent 47. He could let them live and sneak away - as above - but instead he kills the group. No malice, anger, or anti-female feeling in that, that I could see.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 1st June 2012 11:40am

Posted:2 years ago

#96

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
The idea of aggression is there for anyone with eyes to see - no offense to the commenters who don't see it but it's potentially easy to miss if you've never been the subject of it. For me, this trailer looks like yet another example of the games industry - my industry - objectifying my gender for the sake of some cheap thrills('everyone does it' doesn't mean anyone should), and reinforcing the subtext that sexy, ostensibly 'powerful'(because that's what weaponry represents right, it's power) women are somehow dangerous.

Posted:2 years ago

#97

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Jessica

So it does come down to whether you see the women as women first, assassins second, or vice versa?

It definitely is objectification of women. Totally agree with you there. And I'm not condoning it - I'm epically against it - but the aggression against women aspect? No, I still don't see. I cannot agree with you that it reinforces the (societal) subtext of powerful women are dangerous. Because I don't get that from watching it. They're assassins who happen to be women. And they get killed. As you imply, perhaps it's just something which only women can pick up on:
no offense to the commenters who don't see it but it's potentially easy to miss if you've never been the subject of it
And it's not even like you can encapsulate all people with that statement, since I've been the subject of generic aggression, but am not female.

Edit to add:

Is there any situation with this trailer where the "generic enemy" could be women, but not be argued that there's a subtext of aggression against women? At what point are the women strong enough/unsexy enough that it would be okay for them to be killed by Agent 47? Or is it the fact that, in a perfect world(!), there's no place for women within any of the trailer?

I know this is not what people are arguing as such, but it's (I think) an interesting route to discuss.

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 1st June 2012 1:06pm

Posted:2 years ago

#98

Sam Brown
Programmer

235 164 0.7
I am so not touching this argument with a ten-foot barge pole, but I do have one question: Has anyone here read JG Ballard's Crash or seen David Cronenberg's film of it?

I'm aware that it's not an exact correlation with the issues in the Hitman trailer, but it is about the sexualisation of violence and injury.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Sam Brown on 1st June 2012 12:07pm

Posted:2 years ago

#99

Rick Lopez
Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
I just think the trailer was a very sorry attempt to shock people and gain headlines. I took it in bad taste, not because of the killing of the woman in sexy slutty nun outfits, but because it was stupid. I thoroughly enjoyed, the new Tomb raider reboot trailer, because it showed you the games theme, story, characters and general direction they were going about the game. However the hitman trailer was just, Tits and Violence that shamefully attempted to shock people. And if this is just to gain headlines, then they probably achieved that, but not in a good way that will make me wanna play the game. Another good trailer was the HALO4 trailer. I never played a HALO game, but from what I have seen, I think now is the time to go out, get an XBOX and play HALO. To me the Hitman trailer showed nothing that the game offers,besides Tits and explosions, and frankly in a game what i seek is good gameplay. Tits are all over the internet. If i want big explosions I watch a movie, but I need to see what hitman can offer as a game, a trailer for a game should hint on what the game will offer. Story is also important. This trailer did not show any of that. Whats next? Agent 47 killing children? Is this the best the studio can do to sell a game?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 1st June 2012 3:17pm

Posted:2 years ago

#100

Michael Thaddeus
Associate Games Designer

2 3 1.5
Good article.

I think I would have preferred to see Agent 47 taking out a group of mixed gender and mixed ethnicity assassins all wearing classy pin-stripe suits and expensive jewellery.

This way you can show that Agent 47 doesn't care about gender, ethnicity or power; if you're trying to kill him, you're going to die.

Posted:2 years ago

#101

Isaiah Taylor
Writer/Photographer

25 0 0.0
I have to say I watched the trailer and saw a lot of what you saw, but not all. What I saw was a bad trailer with - yawn - sexy fetish nuns and lots of violence. This trailer was trying so hard to be Frank Millers' Sin City that it immediately went in the 'oh dear' bin as soon as I saw it.
Miller himself was directly aping hard boiled detective novels, which were often more violent and mysoginistic this his content. But if Miller is allowed to do this - and more - in his comics, why must we raise hell when it's done in games?

But Miller is an open misogynist and homophobe, is this the bar we want to measure by?

Posted:2 years ago

#102

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Heaven's no. To be honest, if we want a bar to measure by that's a comics writer then I'd rather we went for Terry Moore, Neil Gaiman, or Alan Moore.

Frank Miller, though, is a good example of how juvenile influential people in certain industries can be, and how that juvenile nature plays to the lowest common denominator. So, whilst he's not a good bar to measure by, he's a good example of what the games industry should avoid.

Posted:2 years ago

#103
@Jessica

The games industry objectifies both male and female flesh as a matter of course, like any other form of media, and like humans themselves, why is I wonder that you eyes only call attention to the female side, where I wonder is your similar sense of moral outrage to similar portrayal of men..., in this case the protagonist himself is not exactly a muscle-less freak, he's designed to be as attractive to females as the ninja assassin's are to men, why are you singly out a cross-gender issue and trying to turn it into a gender only issue, referring to your posts above it shows a clear pattern of attempting to turn this discussion into treating the portrayal as anti-feminine.

Personally I think this shows more about your own psyche then the issue at hand, your gender has no exclusive rights over not being objectified or as the muscle-bound hunk's found in many a title any less objectified, not does it have any claim to moral superiority on the issue, yet you seem to be suggesting it has a right to because you yourself believe society is morally biased against women.

Both sexy men and women can be seen as more dangerous its natural, referring to member of either gender as sexy confer's power upon that member as a matter of course changing their perceptions in our eyes, the perception however is entirely your own doing in reality they're just hot chicks fighting weather you see them as more dangerous then ugly chicks fighting is entirely a product of your own mind, much like most games are filled with hot guys fighting but apparently this is perfectly acceptable in your world, but woe betold should equality breach the genders and female character's get used in the same way.

You seem to be pushing some ancient issue that may have affected the industry long ago, but now has nothing to do with sexism specifically and if you have a complaint about the objectification of flesh in general then dont single out your moral outrate for a single gender! the only sexism remaining in the industry remains that of the chat habits of the players in online games which alas sadly remains at a grade school level and the advertising of some products, however its not sexism if 90% of the demographic of a title are males and hot female is draped over the package cover and or magazine page etc, its merely good business, were 90% of the customers female there'd be a hot guy draped over it, and everyone knows it, were that not true it would be sexism else you should quit trying to turn it into a sexist issue and refer to it as the cross-gender issue it is, and again your dislike for such portrayal's should be a personal choice, but one that is not gender biased, personally watching southpark was included in my formative years, and I have no issues with flesh objectification, human's do it in reality, just watch a group of male friends watch a hot female walk by in the street OR a bunch of female friends watch a hot male walk by in the street, we all do it, hell we do it to our own boyfriends and girlfriends sometimes, claiming otherwise is merely an excuse to give air's and claim a unwarranted moral superiority.

As it happens as a matter of course in reality I have no issues with its portrayal in media, its not gender biased as its done to both sides, so why not, ultimately if you don't like it your under no obligation to buy into said product or products, and whilst you'd be hard pressed to completely ignore all sexually charged imagery in life, society is not a collection of prudes so its hardly a surprise, which I personally believe this whole things comes down to, like it buy it, don't like it don't buy it, put your money as they say where your mouth is, as that's really all the matters, certainly all that matter's to those who's overall say the game was made by, if you want things like this changes dont buy it, and if your person/gender/group/goat not purchasing it do have a negative impact on the income of the product, such products at least from this publisher will be changed in future, but if infact it doesn't affect or appear to affect the bottom line, it merely proves that in this case your opinion doesnt matter to the publisher as it's not making any money of it in either case, and if you want the cold hard truth, money talks everything else is hot air.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 1st June 2012 4:21pm

Posted:2 years ago

#104
The key thing for me in Rob's defence of his position is this: "a strong and unopposed presence of something like sexist behaviour or sexual violence in media reinforces the sense among people who are already inclined in that direction that their behaviour is normal or acceptable."

It's an elegant reference to the fact that we live in a society lacquered with layers of prejudice that every artistic act must deal with. Ignoring that, and talking only about the literal substance of the act, is just wilful social blindness.

And if I can paraphrase John for a moment, talking about what what the intentions of the women or Agent 47 are is sheer lunacy. These are not real people. They possess no agency. Every frame of the trailer has been designed from the ground up to evoke a series of responses in the mind of the viewer, some of which can be accounted for by the producers, and some which cannot.

However, given that we have just emerged from a century at the beginning of which women were unable to take part in almost any important facet of human existence, anyone making something that includes flagrantly sex-baiting tropes like this must at least be aware of what they are doing.

I am perhaps less charitable than Rob with my opinion, which is that the reams of marketing executives involved in the gestation and approval process were courting just this kind of reaction. Which isn't really acceptable in an industry that still suffers from major problems in this particular arena.

Posted:2 years ago

#105
@Alexander

Let's not pretend that objectification of men is the same thing as that of women. If there were recent historical examples of societies in which men were oppressed in a brutal and fundamental manner on the basis of their gender, that might be a different matter.

Posted:2 years ago

#106

Taylan Kay
Game Desginer

59 93 1.6
"Personally I think this shows more about your own psyche then the issue at hand, your gender has no exclusive rights over not being objectified or as the muscle-bound hunk's found in many a title any less objectified, not does it have any claim to moral superiority on the issue, yet you seem to be suggesting it has a right to because you yourself believe society is morally biased against women."

@Alexander: That's an intellectually dishonest and deliberately ignorant argument. You are trying to portray the issue as something that only exists in Jessica's mind. Stats about violence against woman are not hard to find, nor is it difficult to observe the bias in the huge gender gap in politics and business (although it is getting better). We are just starting to shake off hundreds of years of church indoctrination that says women are inferior to men, a huge impact on culture by all means, and we are far from ensuring gender equality. You might have as well said "so you yourself believe the world is round."

Posted:2 years ago

#107
all issues only exist in our own mind, we and everything around us are to us a result of our own mind, I'm not religious I was not brought up in an era were women were considered inferior to men, and I object to being expected to answer for the mistakes of yes generally religious generally older sexists of yesteryear living in said yesteryear in their own minds, and I object to having to read or hear about it as a matter of course if you really want to remove sexism then STOP speaking about it or singling it out, my generation find it offensive to hear about it as a general rule, yes there are exceptions, but painting the whole world with a single paint like articles like Jessica's to I find as offensive as what she seems to find offensive about the title in question, and as long as there are people cheer-leading gender discrimination in every issue you will never remove the issue, for 90% of people I've met there is no gender issue, if anything females as a general rule call all the shots in relationships nowdays so the situation has been reversed, yet every time I see a scantily clad female in the media someone will be pushing to portray it as evil gender discrimination at work, there has to be line between ending discrimination by such attention and perpetuating it, and I think we crossed it some time ago.

And talking about "past" inquality is NOT today, we just went through centuries of anti-racism as well, that doesn't mean I'll feel the need to egg the nearest colored person that gets on a bus nor should they wish to egg me, and scientifically it turned out we're all related so its all a big pile "insert expletive here" the point is to bury it in the past where it belongs not perpetuate it by equating everything in terms of is or is it not racist or in this case is or is it not sexist.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 1st June 2012 4:33pm

Posted:2 years ago

#108
@Alexander

Are you honestly suggesting that the way to remove lingering oppression and subjugation is to ignore it?

Posted:2 years ago

#109
The final step to turning an previously every day concept into history is to lend it no further credence, so in a sense yes but whilst you make a good soundbite, ignoring "it" is not what I had in mind simply quit drumming up cross-gender issues where none exists or portraying this as a gender only issue its not its cross-gender as a million of examples can display, so not ignore but quit making it the first and last port of call, if every issue has to be viewed in terms of is this sexist then the answer is either way you are, and will always be so, call attention where attention is due in genuine gender singled inequalities but quit calling out cross-gender issues that just happen to have the spotlight focused on the female side as sexism in action.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 1st June 2012 4:41pm

Posted:2 years ago

#110

Taylan Kay
Game Desginer

59 93 1.6
@Alexander
"if you really want to remove sexism then STOP speaking about it"

Do you really believe that? Not just sexism but can you make any issue disappear by not talking about it? Whenever we're not happy with something we should just shut up about it and it will go away? A victim speaking up against something bad perpetuates it? Seriously?

"for 90% of people I've met there is no gender issue"
Again, intellectually dishonest. It's the 'But everyone I know agrees with me' line that will get you ridiculed in a serious debate. Do yourself a favor and don't use it in your professional life.

Posted:2 years ago

#111

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
@Alexander

Sexism is a real, serious issue. Pretending it doesn't exist doesn't make it go away, and avoiding calling it out when it does happen won't solve the problem! I refuse to not make a fuss about something that hurts me and so many people around me - both men and women. If nobody calls out sexism, nobody learns that it's wrong. If nobody says anything about it, it remains the norm. And you seem to be the only person who's seen this trailer and, regardless of any other points of contention, fails to see the supremely sexist portrayal of the female characters as problematic.

Posted:2 years ago

#112
I couldnt care less if no one agree's with me, it doesnt make my statement any less likely to be true, as general rule the number of people that agree with you has little relevance on histories view, again your putting your own words into my mouth, that's not what I said, that's what you said I said, I said stop drumming up issues that dont exist because addressing such situations as issues in the past were a matter of course out of necessity. is now perpetuating what in the past it helped stop, yes you have to STOP speaking about every issue as sexist if you wish to remove it or you yourself are the sexist element left.

Truth be told if I were to approach it more scientifically and bearing in mind I have more female friends then male irl, the answer is closer to 99%, infact offline I've yet to meet a single person who has an issue with the way sexism exists in society, I doubt this holds true across all of society, but it is all I have to base my opinions of, you cant be scientific on such issues as they are not the result of science, nor frankly is the scientific process involved over judging societies views by sampling a demographic the be all and end all of fair science either as running the test 1000 different times with different demographics may garner widely different results.

Going on about sexism where no genuine issue exists is not going to remove it, nor is taking objectification of flesh an industry indeed world wide issue and making it female only doing any help to sexism, and as for me not seeing it as sexist whilst others do, I should imagine with the exception of students in this discussion I'm probably one of the youngest here (26), your view of the world is shaped by your generation, the idea women were anything but equal didnt exist as I grew up, it clearly did in yours, I was never brought up to see gender issues, and most i find today tend to be things that affect both genders but that one gender has merely been more vocal about, that's not exactly a healthy sexism issue remaining from my point of view, merely the last vestiges that will die out, as society ages in time.

In essence, I don't know what world you both seem to live in but seems much darker and grimier and sinister then the one I tend to live in, and we're not living in two different planets, and I dont see this as a gender issue merely a general generic objectification of flesh issue, both of you do, I dont see much sexism left and both of you do, ultimately I think I prefer living in my world to yours I'm a glass half full kinda guy, so I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 1st June 2012 4:57pm

Posted:2 years ago

#113

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
I've yet to meet a single person who has an issue with the way sexism exists in society

You don't get out much then. Or you live in some kind of utopia where sexism isn't a thing.

Posted:2 years ago

#114
No I just have happy friends(obviously as I avoid unhappy ones, theres enough unhappy things in life without finding more or those who focus on it), were discussions of sexism have come up they've had no major complaints, they can work as they want, marry who they want, do what they want, and they can still get their boyfriends to pay for dinner and get the door, they seemed happy enough, sexism remains a thing as long as you see it as one, if you see the world full of dark shadows and sinister motives then it is, you cant remove everyone else who seeks to perpetuate such issues it'll be a long while before they all die off(nutters will always attempt to bring such issues back but you cant fix everyone), but you can sap what tiny power they have left in the modern world by simply ignoring their attempts to stir up trouble where none in truth exists.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 1st June 2012 5:02pm

Posted:2 years ago

#115

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
they can still get their boyfriends to pay for dinner and get the door
Actually, that's a sexist assumption in and of itself. I don't expect my boyfriend to pay for dinner, we take it in turns. Because we're equals.

Sadly for everyone outside of your social sphere, sexism is a problem that affects us. I've had sexist comments made on photos of me on Facebook(on my own employer's page, no less), I've had strange men shout rude and threatening things at me on the street, I've been harassed in online games just for talking on voice chat and being female. I shouldn't have to put up with that kind of abuse, nobody should. But it happens, and it is sexism, and unless someone stands up and says 'this has to stop, it's unacceptable' then it won't stop.

So, no. I'm not going to shut up and ignore it. I'm going to make sure everyone knows how unacceptable this attitude is. I don't fight this fight everywhere I encounter it, unfortunately, but on a professional site like this I am not going to take such sweeping and frankly ridiculous statements lying down.

Posted:2 years ago

#116

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
@ Jessica

Not trying to be condescending, so please don't take it like it is, but...

Fair play. :)

Posted:2 years ago

#117

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
@Morville

Thanks! :3

Posted:2 years ago

#118

Laura Hutton
Studying Game Art Design

1 0 0.0
It's upsetting that this trailer will hit the headlines before any decent game project does. I feel ashamed to work in the industry at times like this - games are capable of so much more, but our entire medium will be judged by cliche rubbish like this.

I can't understand why marketing continually aim for such a narrow target demographic and alienate the rest. Who are they even aiming this at? Who wants to see a female 'assassin' in impractical bondage gear getting her nose broken in slow motion? They have returned as usual to a tired stereotype and violence, because designing an original idea for an interesting trailer takes time and effort. 'Sexy' nuns are an easy fix to brew up a media storm.

I hope more people express themsleves like Jessica has without fear of online flaming. This is a big issue which really needs to change.

Posted:2 years ago

#119
when I was a teenager, I must confess I was a "goth" (being an avid gamer and programmer amongst other things from an early age I was the oddball goth geek), I've had weird thing said to me on the street, and I've been insulted in online games, all cos I was to lazy to cut my hair and a penchant for black clothing, somehow they didn't seem that keen up close but that's neither here nor there, you can blame it on discrimination or simply attribute it to human nature, some people have nothing better to do with their time then to heckle and or harass others, it doesn't matter what its ostensibly for the basic reason is your not them, but painting the whole world with the same brush takes a small minority and makes them the majority, your seeing it as blatant sexism at work, I see it as a sad minority that pokes at anyone, short, fat, thin, bold, men,female, anything that isn't them get insulted.

I dont disagree that things like that are unacceptable, I however dont think there ever like to disappear any time soon, they enjoy heckling and insulting everyone for every reason, and the easiest way to deal with them is to do what me and mine did, laugh and ignore them, and well if your posting photos of yourself online someones going to see it in a way you probably dont like one way or other, either keep the photo's private and remove the offending types from your friends list or dont post, the internet has a troll epidemic on its hands, I do take offense at some of the purile speech in net chat/voice chat etc in games, but alas until there's a clear separation between younger players and older players I dont see how to effectively treat it as long as 10-12 year olds are playing alongside older people keeping a conversation away from such types of err discussion is going to pose an issue, and frankly the older ones are no better, generally as its probably the only female contact such types see, the only way to challenge it would be to separate child gamers and have more adult female gamers online heckling anyone stupid enough to make such comments until said affected offendee's e-peen shrinks and they quit acting like kids as they only get embarrassed rather than egged on for their efforts, alas a single lone female gamer dumped in a room full of immature males unless they have a very forceful personality tends to get ostracized however with more than one things change very quickly, this is all simply childishness at least as far as me and mine have observed, you dont see it in real life just in computer games and forums, and it would take a more concerted effort from all corners private server admins industry media, world media, social conventions naming and shaming perhaps not to mentioned an increased female online pretense to lay to rest, it seems to mostly plague the types that reach 12 but then never get a girlfriend so remain stuck like that from then on, I see it as immaturity, i think such immaturity reaches out beyond merely sexism, but is an embarrassment to the industry and frankly to gamers which rather then "fighting" most simply ignore and close themselves off in their own little world, but making it more than it is gives them more power then they warrent, being heckled online is childish and immature but its not exactly the life changing type of problem that faced equality in the past.

You can see such heckling insulting types a victimizing you or your gender and or social group or minority etc where appropriate or you can see it as I do, I feel sorry for people who have nothing better to do with their time then insult others to feel better about themselves, they either have no prospects no drive to succeed or nothing worthwhile in their lives to follow or embrace, I never felt victimized by their efforts, just sad such types still exist.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 1st June 2012 6:29pm

Posted:2 years ago

#120
Alexander - while I feel like I could write a hundred million different replies to your extraordinary posts, I have picked this one:

"And talking about "past" inquality is NOT today, we just went through centuries of anti-racism as well, that doesn't mean I'll feel the need to egg the nearest colored person that gets on a bus nor should they wish to egg me, and scientifically it turned out we're all related so its all a big pile "insert expletive here" the point is to bury it in the past where it belongs not perpetuate it by equating everything in terms of is or is it not racist or in this case is or is it not sexist."

I can only assume you don't mean the "anti" in "anti-racism", as I'm pretty sure the 1800s, for example, weren't a great time for the matter.

But you must know that Rosa Parks sat on the front of a bus in 1955? 57 years ago. That interracial marriage was illegal in some parts of N. American until 1967? That today if you're black in America, you have a vastly higher chance of going to prison, and the median income of African Americans is almost half of that of a white person? And on and on and on.

You can't just say that your remarkable ability not to throw things at "colored" people is evidence that a problem has gone away! The problem exists, and is rife, and is ruining countless lives, stunting educations, and your pretending it got better is bloody ridiculous.

And the same is true of sexism. I'm delighted that your female friends aren't aware of experiencing it. But good grief, you can't be so myopic as to believe your tiny, meaningless sample is representative of anything? Surely?

Posted:2 years ago

#121

Darren Adams
Managing Director

222 383 1.7
Hitman Marketing team +1

Rational discussion -1

Posted:2 years ago

#122

Patrick Heyer
Story Contributor

6 13 2.2
Well Jessica, I think with that comment you more or less highlighted the - in my POV - truly valid point about that trailer: The women are objectified. And not in a "they're just mooks" kind of way.

IF you need to be analytic about it (and not shrug it off as yet another piece of western pulp/exploitative entertainment) then this is the root cause of the problem so many of you have with this trailer.

There is just no real sense in being dressed in (albeit very sexy) fetish gear when on an assassination job - it is a contrived setup from the start. The females are sexualised, the male is wearing his very suave formal gear - another obvious way in which the trailer tries to appeal to a male demographic.

And if I really want to, I can see Rob's subtext of a fetishised display of killing fetishised women. Having worked in marketing for a while however, I strongly believe that nobody thought of that when creating this trailer.

The thought-process was a really simple one probably: Take the nun fetish existing in porn, combine it with lingerie and violence - anything beyond that is in the realm of making up stuff conspiracy theory-style.

But it all comes down to the pure and simple fact that women are still being objectified to differing degress in media. Rarely do we see a heroine that doesn't need male help in some form or another to be able to progress (which leads to the unfortunate situation that a male protagonist can't genuinely "just help" a heroine without this implication cropping up).

In this regard there is just no way in which "you can win" - if the women were wearing flak jackets and fatigues, the outcry would be about 47 killing women at all. Or that the process of killing was displayed in a very fetishised way. They'd still be "helpless" in the eyes of the critics. It would still marginalize violence against women.

So we're back at square one: Men killing men is ok. Nothing else is. Unless women aren't overtly objectified in media as they're now (or men being objectified as much), killing them - whatever they're wearing - is a topic better left untouched. And a political minefield. And a topic too complicated to be discussed via comments on a gaming industry website..

Posted:2 years ago

#123

Wale Awelenje
Programmer/Designer

13 1 0.1
The problem with this trailer, and with the Resident Evil 5 trailer, is not one that can be addressed by reversing roles.

Claiming that it wouldn't be deemed offensive if a female Agent 47 killed a set of monks who turned out to be well dressed/rich businessmen or a black Chris Redfield killed a village full of poor east Europeans, fails to address the point.

The point is, that these trailers are deliberately tapping into a visual vocabulary that has been used in the past for actual nefarious purposes.

It is extremely hard to understand if one is not a part of the minority that is negatively impacted by this sort of thing. Showing the beating and slaying of women, blacks, and children on screen is a sensitive issue not because the display of violence is itself offensive, but because society has not yet evolved to a point where such images will not have additional, unrelated negative baggage along for the ride.

Afterall, if you play Chun Li or Balrog in Street fighter you get to see a black man or a woman beaten brutally almost every time you play the game, but due to the nature of context, it holds little to no danger of touching sensitive nerves.

Similarly, the game Resident Evil 5 itself, despite still featuring a white male slaughtering hundreds of Africans, was nowhere near as offensive (or even offensive at all) compared to the trailer.

Posted:2 years ago

#124

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
Here is my response

IT IS ONLY A GAME!!!!

If you don't like the game, don't buy it.

Everyone else, chose your entertainment of your own free will.

It is sad that after all these years of fighting for our medium that some of us sometimes forget that for many hundereds and thousands of years women have been killed in some of the most brutal of ways.

Joan of Arc is one example when she was burned to the steak because she was being accused of being a witch.

No ammount of censorship in our medium of videogames will ever bring those women and even children back, but at least...please keep in mind that this is only a game we are talking about here.

Reality has given us so many horrible things in this world, at least in games we can at least talk about them without anyone in reality being killed or graped.

That is what I tell myself when I play games from Japan, it is only a game and at least it is talking about strong serious social issues within a medium of gaming where we can enjoy and entertain ourselves while also thinking of the social problems we see or hear about in reality.

at least in games, you can talk about these problems...why censor it when so much has happened in reality?

Posted:2 years ago

#125

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
@ Jessica

I feel for you.

Being targeted for teasing and taunting all because of your gender or for you being different is really sad.

I have been teased and taunted at school and I am a male.

I have also been called many things online, some I won't say here, but in reality humans are really ignorant of what they don't understand.

I hope that the pain you have felt in your life you can change into a deeper understanding of human nature that we individually can't control.

You can't change the way that some people are sexist,

you can't change the way that some people are racist,

you can't change the way that some people, especially the ones I have meet, are extremely homophobic.

But you can change the way you look at things in your own life, and change the way you go about yourself in your own world.

I would say the best things you can do is to help yourself build up confidence within yourself.

Teach yourself physical and mental self defence. Not to hurt others or flame others for their comments, because you would be stepping down to their level.

Instead if anyone says something bad to you, just turn your back and walk away, you don't have to deal with ship like that.

And when someone tries to attack you physically, kick them in the balls and run away as fast as you can.

Self defence is important in physical attacks on you, but self motivation is most important when people say bad things to you both in real life and online conversations.

I wish I could say this to so many people who have been hurt and vindicated all because of what others have said, because I was treated horribly when I was in school.

Life is tough, but sometimes you need to stand up for yourself in a positive way and not in a negative way in order to really pull though these life challenges

Posted:2 years ago

#126

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
@Tony

The discussion isn't about censorship, it's about... being able to discuss issues like these without 'it's only a game' hand-waving. So I think you missed the point a bit.

Also, you can change how 'people' are sexist and racist and homophobic. Societal change is hard but with enough of a will things can change. And they should change! Without people determined to speak out and make a difference even in the face of lame-ass 'oh this is just life, ignore it' attitudes from the privileged majority then black people would still be sold as slaves, women wouldn't have the right to vote and being gay would be a crime.

Standing up for my gender in the face of continued marginalisation and indifference in my industry is a positive action, I think. Sitting back and quietly complaining and not doing anything would be a negative one, because nothing would change. We need change. If nothing else this comments thread has shown me that way too many people in and around this industry are fine with the status quo because 'that's how it is'! Laziness and ignorance on this scale have got to be tackled, and if I didn't speak up I'd be ashamed of myself.

Posted:2 years ago

#127

Robert Douglas
Studying B.A in Game Art and Design

18 4 0.2
As one of the most commented on threads on GI in some time, this topic obviously has brought to the forefront many strong-felt opinions to which EVERYONE is rightfully entitled to (that is the point of opinions/discussions after all). My basic opinion shall only be to state that IO has some great CG artists, and the trailer is ridiculous and designed to provoke some form of generic male-targeted titillation (what form it takes varies from person to person as easily seen in this thread).

Unless an IO artist that worked on this trailer joins this discussion, we won't truly know what the full motivations for choosing preposterously dressed nuns (as opposed to clowns, dumpy women, generic soldiers, scantily clad men, etc) was. From some of the well thought-out posts (ignoring the childish back and forth snipes from some), we should all be smart enough to tell what the general aim of this trailer was however. To SELL sex and violence to the general audience that will buy this game. Let's not skirt around this point.
It doesn't make it right or proper, but the marketing team is definitely finding success as seen by the comments here: http://www.gametrailers.com/video/e3-2012-hitman-absolution/730638 and here http://n4g.com/news/1007655/new-hitman-trailer-blasted-by-haters
No matter if you're pro or against this trailer (for a multitude of reasons), this game will still sell and those who purchase it will ignore such long and involved discussions as the one taking place ad infinitum here on GI, or on countless other places on the net (like here: http://www.cnet.com.au/how-hitman-is-insulting-us-all-339338883.htm#2 ).

There were some really good points brought up about the serious and negative nature of how females are depicted in video games; points that definitely must be heard and not ignored. This being an industry and business website however, we all know that in the end money talks and sex sells. This is not an approval nor condemnation of the material within the trailer, just the unfortunate obviousness (for some businesses) of making a profit in the visual media business. A practice that will continue undeterred way after this thread is buried and forgotten under more direct industry news (probably E3 related).

Posted:2 years ago

#128

Tony Johns

520 12 0.0
@Jessica

I was not saying just ignore it.

What I was trying to say is that we do need to talk about issues of racism, sexism and homophobia, but no matter how much you talk about it to others there will always be those who will never listen and never learn.

talking about these issues in gaming and putting in a few themes in the games to bring up provoctive thought and even discussion is a good thing.

But it has to be done in a more positive way instead of people just attacking each other.

Posted:2 years ago

#129

Jeff Wilson

46 0 0.0
Will you people stop this argument !!!!! Let's face it, we'll all buy the bloody game anyway. Next article please.

Posted:2 years ago

#130

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Let's face it, we'll all buy the bloody game anyway
Not if it's rubbish. :p

Posted:2 years ago

#131

Colin McBride
Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds

35 6 0.2
@Jessica

Excellent post. I too was despairing of Spungo's attitude but you've provided a far better reply than I could have managed...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Colin McBride on 4th June 2012 6:09pm

Posted:2 years ago

#132

Colin McBride
Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds

35 6 0.2
Condescension is sometimes merited.
It never is. Never.

Posted:2 years ago

#133

Colin McBride
Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds

35 6 0.2
@Alexander

Interesting post but I do think it's an absolute nonsense to say that men and women are objectified by gaming (and the media in general) in exactly the same way and with exactly the same repercussions for us as a culture.

Also how do you approach complaints of sexual discrimination at your company? By ignoring them?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Colin McBride on 4th June 2012 10:43pm

Posted:2 years ago

#134

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,492 1,259 0.8
Not entirely relevant to the article (since it doesn't focus on sexualised violence), but still, I think, interesting to read in parallel

http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/breast-advertising-140889?page=1

To give a taster of the piece...

"But some brands may unconsciously push away women with such a naked ploy. “How many times have we seen the pair of tits sell the sneaker, the car, bottle of water. I perk up much more with campaigns that use humor,” says Jennifer Pozner, founder and executive director of advocacy group Women In Media & News."

(Edit: Found via Violet Blue's Tiny Nibbles website, which is very NSFW, but I feel bad about not referencing where I come across things. :) )

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th June 2012 12:54am

Posted:2 years ago

#135

Erik Hittenhausen
Head of QA

1 0 0.0
Such an excellent article, thank you.

Posted:2 years ago

#136

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