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Remember this? The sad dumbing down of Nilin

Wednesday, 10 July 2013 14:02 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Brenna was really excited about Remember Me’s snappily-dressed, no-nonsense female protagonist – until she played the creeptastic final game.

I was impressed by what I saw and heard of Remember Me pre-release. I fell hard for the future dystopia theme, the gorgeous aesthetic, the simple beat-’em-up system, the integrated music design – but mostly for Nilin, an arse-kicking, sexy but not sexualised female protagonist whom developer Dontnod actively fought for.

I wrote an article all about Nilin’s design which didn’t go down very well; I didn’t do enough to explain how her design differed from that of many other female leads. Yes, she’s skinny and pretty and wears stylish clothes, and that’s something they almost all do – but there are lots of things about her design which I believe are much better than usual (even putting aside the fact that she’s a woman of colour, which is wonderful, but a whole other conversation).

The main one is how she was presented. Promotional art for women in video games tends to come in a couple of flavours: passive, openly sexual, and plain ridiculous. In the passive variety, the woman is standing around doing absolutely nothing, maybe holding a weapon idly in one hand as she does a pose, but mainly suggesting no action whatsoever. That would be fine if it were not for the fact that male characters don’t get this as much as female ones. It’s a well documented thing. Nilin, on the other hand, was mostly shown in action – punching, kicking, doing stuff. Awesome.

What are you looking at. Why don’t you just turn around to look at it. Why is your butt right there. Why is it always there.

She was not shown in openly sexual artwork. You know the kind I mean – Evony ads, Catherine promos. Her designer and marketer’s greatest sin, at the time I wrote my piece, was to flirt with the plain ridiculous. I’m sure you’ve all seen this terrific gender reversal of the Avengers poster, showing off the frankly stupid “must get tits and arse in the same shot” pose so spine-twistingly beloved of pin-up artists everywhere. Nothing Capcom produced to promote Remember Me came close to that level of embarrassment.

Then, as we got closer to release, things got a bit less desirable. The game’s cover art and associated promotional pieces mainly show Nilin looking pretty. The cover includes a butt shot. I wasn’t happy about this, but I felt it was not too much to bear given what else the game was offering – a strong female protagonist who exists for reasons other than to titillate an assumed demographic of straight males with nothing better to do than fancy non-existant booty. Traditional marketing, I thought, for a game that is breaking those shitty traditions.

Then the game came out and five minutes in I was already deeply uncomfortable. The game begins with Nilin locked up in a cell, wearing some sort of bizarre, too-sexy-for-the-hospital outfit, having just suffered and being threatened with a very invasive medical procedure. This is not a very auspicious start for a game about an empowered woman. It’s too much like every other game with women in it – she’s a victim, unable to save herself from something really gross a man wants to do to her.

Things don’t improve. Nilin is literally wiped clean at the start of the game; she’s an empty shell, without her memories, waiting for someone else to control her. I don’t just mean the player; a male voice comes over some sort of magical sci-fi radio only Nilin can hear, and starts telling her what to do. She obeys. This is the pattern for the majority of the game: Nilin doing what she is told. By a man.

Already the good parts about having an arse-kicking female hero have been deeply undermined by the story set-up, and we’re not even ten minutes in. At this point, my reaction was something along the lines of “oh well, at least she’s not, you know, Bayonetta” (a character I’m in two minds about because dang is that lady empowered).

Just stand there. Why not. Maybe you could open your mouth a bit to remove all doubt that you’re a blow up doll. Wevs.

But after playing for another few hours I lost my shit completely. It’s not just the camera’s constant idle return to butt shots, which – let’s face it – is something you’re stuck with in most third-person video games that don’t leave you staring stupidly downwards from some sort of helicopter angle. It’s the cinematography of the cutscenes. If you ever needed a textbook example of “male gaze” (a problematic phrase, let’s not get stuck on it and save the discussion of it for another day) it’s the way Remember Me’s camera slides unwaveringly over Nilin’s curves, angling over her butt, crotch, and boobs, constantly slavering her with dribbling, horndog attention.

There is a place for this sort of thing, sure; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look at sexy women. But the way it’s done in Remember Me had me red-faced with discomfort. It’s when Nilin is at her most vulnerable and unhappy, as when she’s literally locked inside a coffin, that the camera becomes most pervy in its ministrations, and that – urgh! It feels gross, to see a woman depicted in such a helpless situation and note the way the animations and the framing are designed in such a way as to suggest you should be getting off on this.

Friends. I’m not a prude. I don’t want to talk about it with you but I think we can all agree that getting off is a thing that’s hardwired in as pretty acceptable to human beings. But I’m also not a weird creep. I’m not some sad git who most wants to stare at women with sex on my mind when they’re unaware of it, and would be deeply distressed by it.

I feel like whoever is responsible for the way Remember Me turned out – the countless numbers of people who must have been involved in designing and signing off on the many aspects of the development and marketing process that brought about this result – were probably not weird creeps. But somehow, the casually sexist tropes we accept in gaming occasionally – maybe increasingly? – result in games like Remember Me, which look a heck of a lot like they were put together by weird creeps, for weird creeps.

I hate this side of the industry; it’s embarrassing, and it makes me want to get out of gaming. It makes me feel unwelcome as a gamer; it makes me wonder if other gamers around me are weird creeps I’d be afraid to wear a low cut top around for fear of them being unable to resist stares, comments, and god forbid inappropriate behaviour. I’m very disappointed in Remember Me, in Dontnod and in Capcom, and to be honest, in all of us.

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78 Comments

  1. OrbitMonkey

    Mwahahaha!

    Knew it! Smelt the marketing bullshit a mile off.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. OrbitMonkey

    Ironically, Brenna’s article will no doubt encourage sales.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. redwood

    but does that magical voice ever ask her to make a samwitch?

    #3 2 years ago
  4. ivycrew707

    I’ll admit I’m not really liking the game either and I was actually gonna buy it, but I really haven’t even looked at her butt lol….way to much walking around for a fighting/adventure/action game, and the inability to really jump is a throw off

    #4 2 years ago
  5. redwood

    @brenna you also didn’t like TLoU, things are hard for brenna these days. Just hang in there and wait for Ds2.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Belmont

    I think that someone is over thinking every thing. In every other game we got males (who are heroes) with these things : Throaty voice,some stubble, six packs,biceps that are trained past belief, a gaze that can change any one’s mind , a strong,unstoppable violence,…

    And I don’t understand why Brenna always describes male gamer community the way she does.

    Yet in the mean time I don’t think things change for the way women are portrayed in games. You have Bayonetta (all that latex helps in ass kicking, crotch shots will be the new trend in reveal trailers,even by the game industry norm, this is stupid )and you have all those ladies in Resident Evil and even MGS (Big mama,Quiet) and the list can go on for eternity.

    @5

    Is this another DmC article ?

    #6 2 years ago
  7. For Blood

    At least the woman knows her place. They were created for a reason.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Logion

    It sadly seems that still today, even if there are a lot of game developers that are including women in video games they are still designing them from a male perspective. It seems game developers have a hard time implementing a woman in their game design without resorting to designing them how women are often depicted in modern media.

    I do think that we are slowly getting better though. Even if Lara Croft may not be the best example I do like how her latest design is not all that sexualized.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. ps3fanboy

    i agree with Brenna Hillier here the game is totally naff. it is very exploitative, there is no need for sex. all we need is a snappily-dressed, non-nonsense female that just kick some serious butt. is that to much to ask for in a game now days?…

    #9 2 years ago
  10. YoungZer0

    I’ll write more to the article when I have the time first:

    @7: Take your fucking misogynistic bullshit somewhere else, will ya?

    #10 2 years ago
  11. FeaturePreacher

    All the more reason to go with male characters. You can do whatever you want with them and no one cares. Make it a female and any excuse will be found for victimization.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. For Blood

    @11

    So much for equal huh?

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Cobra951

    I try to give you the benefit of the doubt every article, yet every time I end up cringing as I read on. Good lord. Obsession comes in many forms. Yours may not be as objectionable as the creepy sort you describe, but it is no less intense. I realize you’re making a point here, but hopefully you saw more in this extensive work than the sexualizing of the protagonist.

    And please consider carefully the use of that darling word of the militant iconoclast “tropes”. It takes the prose instantly to an uncomfortable place, where the author rather than the writing comes under scrutiny.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. tCruzin

    Taking this too serious. Sounds like you are reading too much into things and always looking for the negative. I’m a guy and I’ve seen the cover quite a few times but haven’t dwelled on the fact it has a “butt shot”. To me it just looks like a badass chick, that’s it. You may think to yourself, yeah she’s hot but you just go on from there.

    Haven’t played the game but you also sound like your reaching for negatives again. She was stripped of her memories & everything and the first voice you hear is a male telling her what to do… And??? Was he telling her to take her clothes off, strip, cook, clean, etc? Would it have made it better if it was a female voice saying the exact same thing he was saying? Most games you play has someone telling you what to do so what’s the problem here? Again, sounds like your use to looking for negative things like that and you let it get to you way more than it should.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. For Blood

    @Brenna

    Please don’t turn this place into Kotaku 2.0. You are treading dangerously close to being the next Patricia Hernandez.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. salarta

    Okay, my response to this article!

    I agree about the promotional material; I didn’t like that they started to emphasize her butt. I chalk this up to the company realizing due to all the other female characters being praised as ‘advancements’ lately that they needed to sex her up more to sell more copies. From the behavior of people at conventions to comments on this very site, we see clearly that a big chunk of the consumers out there still will only buy a game with women in it if they’re sex objects.

    “Then the game came out and five minutes in I was already deeply uncomfortable. The game begins with Nilin locked up in a cell, wearing some sort of bizarre, too-sexy-for-the-hospital outfit, having just suffered and being threatened with a very invasive medical procedure. This is not a very auspicious start for a game about an empowered woman. It’s too much like every other game with women in it – she’s a victim, unable to save herself from something really gross a man wants to do to her.”

    This part, I agree with as well. I didn’t like the way it starts, with Nilin being ordered around by men and essentially rescued by what seems to be a man, and chased down by a big robot. I also did not like that she expresses a bit of fear over some of the early monsters.

    BUT, I was able to get past this for a few reasons, all story-based. The game repeatedly points out and shows that people with no memory don’t try to escape because they don’t know what they’re missing of the world beyond. For Nilin to still try to escape even though she has no idea what the outside world is like, shows that she has courage and strength uncommon to most people, men and women alike. The help she receives in escaping, doors opened for her and the like, is stuff she couldn’t have done herself. That big robot? You can’t fight it at all without a weapon you get from a later boss, so running from it wasn’t a matter of being afraid, but of knowing what can and can’t be done. And the fear she expresses over a certain type of enemy later on, she continues in spite of that fear entirely of her own volition.

    So yes, there are twinges of victimhood here, but not as much as other recent popular games have pulled toward old strong female protagonists. At least in this case, she’s a brand new character, and there are damn good reasons for what little victim-like behavior she does present. It’s still not treating her as an equal to male protagonists, as male protagonists would have been in less showy clothes (though even here, Nilin’s clothes aren’t as showy as other recent female protagonists) and likely would have gone through everything with only anger or stoicism, but it’s better than all the recent alternatives.

    “Things don’t improve. Nilin is literally wiped clean at the start of the game; she’s an empty shell, without her memories, waiting for someone else to control her. I don’t just mean the player; a male voice comes over some sort of magical sci-fi radio only Nilin can hear, and starts telling her what to do. She obeys. This is the pattern for the majority of the game: Nilin doing what she is told. By a man.”

    It’s less ‘she’s doing what a man tells her to do’ and more ‘Nilin has no memory, she doesn’t know the world or people to target anymore or even where to start, but this guy does, so follow his guidance.’ I’d expect her to do the EXACT SAME THING if Nilin was a man, and if the person talking to her was a woman. Not a single thing different. The only part of this that I have to criticize is that like everyone else in the game, Nilin even does think once to question if she’s being manipulated by the man and others like him. Literally everyone in the game just accepts what other people tell them, and don’t stop to think that their memories could have been altered. This was especially egregious with the blonde bounty hunter that attacked Nilin; her husband/boyfriend is still in a hospital despite her memory being altered to suggest otherwise, you’d think she would get a message or something that reveals the manipulation to her.

    “But after playing for another few hours I lost my shit completely. It’s not just the camera’s constant idle return to butt shots, which – let’s face it – is something you’re stuck with in most third-person video games that don’t leave you staring stupidly downwards from some sort of helicopter angle. It’s the cinematography of the cutscenes. If you ever needed a textbook example of “male gaze” (a problematic phrase, let’s not get stuck on it and save the discussion of it for another day) it’s the way Remember Me’s camera slides unwaveringly over Nilin’s curves, angling over her butt, crotch, and boobs, constantly slavering her with dribbling, horndog attention.”

    Agree about this as well, but then, look at the other games starring female protagonists that are coming out, with the exceptions of The Last Of Us and Beyond: Two Souls.

    “I hate this side of the industry; it’s embarrassing, and it makes me want to get out of gaming. It makes me feel unwelcome as a gamer; it makes me wonder if other gamers around me are weird creeps I’d be afraid to wear a low cut top around for fear of them being unable to resist stares, comments, and god forbid inappropriate behaviour. I’m very disappointed in Remember Me, in Dontnod and in Capcom, and to be honest, in all of us.”

    Agree with this as well, but not because of Remember Me. Remember Me has a lot of glaring problems, some of which you pointed out, but many are not as bad as you present them. Especially when other games that do things just as bad or worse get a free pass, ESPECIALLY to old strong female protagonists that used to be excellent icons of women being just as capable as men.

    I’ll be honest, if this game was made ten years ago, I think I would have scoffed at it. Because ten years ago, we still had strong female protagonists. Aya Brea was still a no-nonsense cop that faced down mitochondrial horrors without a moment’s flinch, handling things even men weren’t able to take and without trying to sexually please men in the process. Samus Aran was still a highly experienced bounty hunter that played by her own rules. Jill Valentine was still Chris Redfield’s equal partner (though her RE3 attire is questionable), rather than his damsel in distress whose PTSD-worthy suffering holds less value than Chris’ “suffering” at seeing Jill in that state. Claire Redfield was still a civilian willing to search the ends of the world and face hordes of zombies to find her brother, instead of a pencil-pushing damsel in distress for Leon to rescue not once but twice. And yes, though Lara Croft was increasingly sexualized over the years (the only fault I ever saw in her character), she was still a tough badass bitch (positive connotation intended) as an adult, with the toughness, brains and skill to make her more than an equal to any man.

    But, they don’t exist anymore. We lost every single one of them this generation, and the new ones that best fit it personality-wise, Bayonetta and Juliet Sterling, are also hypersexual parodies of female sexuality.

    In the face of that, the lesser of two evils is preferable. I’m happy to have bought and played Remember Me if it can push the industry back to having the kind of female characters around that I can actually admire and respect.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. YoungZer0

    I fucking knew it! I knew the developer was full of shit! All talk and nothing to show for!

    Let’s get to the article.

    Please don’t mention Avengers, that movie was full of female fanservice. Hell there was an entire scene dedicated to CapAm’s fantastic buttocks. The camera would get closer and closer and I remember people in the theater going “Whooooohoooo!”.

    There’s a reason why fanfiction websites exploded after the release of the film and it’s not the story.

    “the fact that she’s a woman of colour”

    Yeah, she’s as much as a woman of colour as my brother is. She’s whiter than most white people I know, I’d say they are playing it pretty save with her skincolor. She’s nothing like Emmett Graves, or Lee Everett.

    “You know the kind I mean – Evony ads, Catherine promos.”

    Evony is problematic, yes. But Catherine? Have you played the game?! It’s all about cheating, sex and lies. So the poster is actually a great representation of that.

    “a male voice comes over some sort of magical sci-fi radio only Nilin can hear, and starts telling her what to do. She obeys. This is the pattern for the majority of the game: Nilin doing what she is told. By a man.”

    Oh, no! Not by a man! … wait, why is that problematic?

    Okay, name me one game where you play as a male character who DOESN’T receive orders from a woman. If taking “orders” from a man is bad then so is this.

    The fact that you seem to think that this is problem really concerns to me to be honest.

    “a problematic phrase, let’s not get stuck on it and save the discussion of it for another day”

    Let’s not. Unless this is some kind of feminist website, those kind of discussions don’t belong here. You’re a games journalist. Kotaku might be a great place for it though, they run male bashing and accepted double-standard articles all the time.

    “It feels gross, to see a woman depicted in such a helpless situation and note the way the animations and the framing are designed in such a way as to suggest you should be getting off on this.”

    That does indeed sounds very gross, I completely agree this shouldn’t be in any game.

    “It makes me feel unwelcome as a gamer; it makes me wonder if other gamers around me are weird creeps I’d be afraid to wear a low cut top around for fear of them being unable to resist stares, comments, and god forbid inappropriate behaviour.”

    Because the products define the people that play them, right?

    You really sound paranoid here to be honest, on the same level as people who bash violent videogames saying it turns people into killers. If violent videogames don’t turn people into killers then sexual videogames don’t turn people into perverts.

    I’d say you’re save. No reason to pepperspray anyone.

    “I’m very disappointed in Remember Me, in Dontnod and in Capcom, and to be honest, in all of us.”

    Wait, how is that my fault? I haven’t bought the game. I could see the bullshit miles away.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. jon_

    If we change certain thing in this post I could write about how unconfortable i was playing Metal Gear 2 with the Solid Snake’s wet ass on the tanker level and the naked Raiden wich the camera emphatises to focus on.

    The whole videogame industry is plagued with creeps OMG.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. foofly

    I’m glad I’ve held of buying this then. As you I was hoping for a more mature direction with the game, but it seems, as usual it’s just another teenage power fantasy. Sigh.

    #19 2 years ago
  20. YoungZer0

    @18: Oh my god, you’re right. That explains the huge female fanbase of the MGS series. Can’t trust those people anymore, they are probably all female gazing at my beautiful ass.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. MFBB

    #12 it is true :) like #6 said.

    They do the same with us.

    But it would have been funny to have Joel from the Last of Us as fat ugly guy with his belly hanging out of the shirt, some french fries falling out of his pockets and white socks/sandals while kicking some ass :D

    No one cares how men are portrayed in games but the woman always care to much and take it to serious.

    I am going to buy Remember Me when I see it cheaper for like 10-20Euro.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. Lahanas

    You are overanalysing a non-issue

    #22 2 years ago
  23. salarta

    @21: Women have good reason to care about how their gender is portrayed in video games. Popular culture shapes perceptions, and even disregarding that, a person generally doesn’t want to play video games that feel like an attack on their identity. One might even be able to make a case that games that treat women like nothing more than damsels and sex objects actively contribute to poor behavior by male consumers; plenty of reports out there about men sexually harassing women at conventions, and a lot of it comes from what men see and experience of women.

    Unless you’re a woman, you can’t fully understand, you can only try to imagine with the limited understanding available to a person observing from the outside.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. mitcgotohell

    You have got to be kidding me! Oh dear god I’m so sick of the poor me bull. I smell a full on feminist writer of this article. You go on and on about ass and tit shots but you completely ignore the fact tgat 99% of games with a male protagonist feature a ripped guy with abs and big muscles but all of a sudden its a big deal to have a woman with a sexy body in the game? sort of a double standard don’t you think? I can’t believe how far you take it by saying THIS game had you red faced? wow and saying it feels like it was put together by weird creeps. How in the hell is this worse than the new tomb raider where you’ve got this helpless young girl in a skimpy outfit getting beat down everytime you look by men. You are so out of touch its not even funny. Its a video game. They’re sexual. Get over it.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. Moonwalker1982

    I decided to receive the reviewcopy for our site and thus play through it and review it. While the concept, the story is quite cool and even a bit original, the horribly repetitive gameplay simply cant rescue it. I honestly didn’t even finish it, cause the constant fights annoyed me so goddamn much. They truly kill you with the melee fights, talking about an overload of something.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Francis O

    This game sucks Brenna….stop trying to convince people otherwise.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. salarta

    @25: I actually enjoyed the melee fights, but I also wish they would have done more with the memory manipulation game mechanic. I believe it’s only used about 4 times in the whole game, and I think that was the most promising part of what they had to offer. It was neat to purposely make the wrong selections just to see how the memories would turn out differently.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. deathm00n

    I got agree with the other people here saying, you are focusing on something that isn’t there except if you spent time analysing it. If you look for bad things you will certainly find them. You sound like my feminist friend that I had to cut relations because of being this obsessed.

    Like people already said, is the problem here very different from the all muscles bearded guy from games? Don’t you think I feel offended by the industry standard of the perfect man? Well, I do, but I don’t brag about it and don’t play a game looking for things like “Oh, he would never do that if was a real person!”. It’s there, we all know it, it’s just not only in games, it’s everywhere, and there’s nothing you can do. It’s already rooted in.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. RPRezo

    I kinda hoped this article would be an adequate and interesting one, but then “Nilin doing what she is told. By a man” happened. Oh. My. God.

    I’m starting to think that the only proper way to make a game with female protagonist is to make it about the world where guys do not exist. Otherwise they will help, use or hurt precious female characters – and we can’t have any of that now can we?

    Mario in Mario Galaxy does everything because he is told. BY WOMAN (how dares she?!). So does Mr. Chief in Halo series. Damn this world where people from other gender have the nerve to interact with opposite sex in any way!!111

    #29 2 years ago
  30. Ireland Michael

    I have a question for you Brenna (and any female members / staff, really), if you’ll indulge me.

    The reason the way men are visualised in the media isn’t as heavily criticised is often considered to be because it plays up to a male power fantasy – the way many men *want* to be imagined. What would you say the female equivelant of that would be?

    Is there even such thing as a “female power fantasy”?

    Largely agreed on the article itself. I have always find it voyuerisfically uncomfortable when women in victimised situations are oversexualised and leered it. It happens way too bloody often. Victimisation should never be used as a chance to present something as a possession to be leered at, but it seems many designers can’t help themselves when a female body becomes part or the equation.

    Remember Me, is sadly, a game that probably won’t be remembered by many. It’s the literal embodiment of lost opportunities and wasted potential.

    Re: For Blood, I’m pretty sure those are account-deletion worthy posts.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Hybridpsycho

    @23 How is it “an attack on their identity”.

    My identity is NOT attacked when I see a ripped guy with awesome one-liners being awesome in a game even though I’m chubby, I only sometimes manage to pull of a funny one-liner and I don’t kick any ass!

    Pop-culture is the way it is for a reason, it SELLS. Both for the females and males, if you want a game with a strong, non-sexualized female then make that game.

    I’m tired of this bullshit where women pretend they live in a patriarchic (spelling? stupid, outdated word shouldn’t even be used) society.
    Whining on game-devs ain’t really gonna get you anywhere except making yourself come of as a whiny bitch, unless it’s bioware ’cause they fucking bend over for anyone as long as it’s not a white male complaining (you know, cause we’re privileged).

    #31 2 years ago
  32. salarta

    @31: That’s because the image of manhood and masculinity you’re referring to there is a MALE fantasy, not a female one. Guys want to imagine themselves as ripped guys that can spout awesome one-liners. Women don’t necessarily want to be seen as only valuable for their tits and ass, and unable to do anything without a man’s help.

    Women aren’t depicted very well in games. We WERE getting better, but we had a massive backslide with this generation, and all that progress has been lost in spades. I only hope we can get it back to where it was ten years ago within 10-20 years from now if we’re lucky.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. RPRezo

    BTW. I also think that Nilin is a horrible female protagonist, but not because she is sexy or because she interacts with male human beings.

    She rarely thinks for herself. And when she does – well it is to do things like brain-raping an agent that was sent to get her.

    Now that is horrible. Not using someone’s advices and help to escape.

    #33 2 years ago
  34. YoungZer0

    @23:

    “Popular culture shapes perceptions”

    But it doesn’t impact reality. Or at least it shouldn’t. I know enough losers who still expect to be shipped away by their Prince Edward, but they will die lonely.

    “a person generally doesn’t want to play video games that feel like an attack on their identity.”

    Then do what others do: Don’t play it. I’m not reading romance novels because their cover feature men bodies without a face on it. Yet you don’t see any men hijacking that genre to shape it into something it isn’t, do you?

    “plenty of reports out there about men sexually harassing women at conventions, and a lot of it comes from what men see and experience of women.”

    Fantastic timing. I recently read a post by someone who was at the anime expo and visited the panel called “Cosplay is not Consent”. They had women on stage talking about their negative experience during cosplay events. It didn’t sound like a man vs woman issue.

    One of my female friends is a former Anime Fan and would from time to time cosplay and she said her most negative experience was with Fangirls. They were fucking nuts. They really acted like the characters they cosplayed their real and would treat them like that.

    Anyway, near the middle of the panel they called up a group of male cosplayers and they reported to have experienced the same fucking thing.

    So no, it’s not just women who suffer from inappropriate behaviour, rude comments, etc.

    Men at cons can get away with being more nude, but they are EXPECTED to enjoy sexualization and people have less tolerance for less buff men.

    Women wearing more will still be seen as scandalous but they are more protected and accepted in more body types as well as gender swapping.

    “Unless you’re a woman, you can’t fully understand, you can only try to imagine with the limited understanding available to a person observing from the outside.”

    Considering you aren’t one, I’d say you’re making yourself look ridiculous.

    @24: Oh no, you don’t understand. Male videogame characters are male fantasy too. So it’s not sexist. You can’t be sexist towards men. That’s impossible, because male gaze, patriarchy, yada, yada, yada.

    Who doesn’t want to look like the muscled dwarf in Dragon’s Crown? No, men have all the benefits here.

    You see, when women have the choice to create their character in anyway they can, they will go for the poorly dressed, the one with the belly, the one with the cellulite, etc. /s

    So far I haven’t seen even one article about the fact that Lara only kills men in the entire game. That’s the definition of misandry, yet no one cares. And that’s fine! It fits the context of the story! It makes sense!

    Yet if you’d swap the gender the game wouldn’t even hit shelves. You better believe that. Either women care too much or men care too little.

    What drives me mad is the fact that games like Last of Us don’t have the same context, yet you only encounter human male enemies. Naughty Dog has gone out of their way to make sure all the human enemies you face in the game have a penis, while all the women in the games have strong roles, but even that bothered Brenna. You see Last of Us is just “a white dudes story, about white dudes, doing white dude stuff.”

    @32:

    “That’s because the image of manhood and masculinity you’re referring to there is a MALE fantasy, not a female one.”

    Called it! Yeah sure it is, that’s why romance novels all have this cover:

    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m1scqr0WmV1qadku2o1_1280.jpg
    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m5vvx2Imbi1qd8i5so2_500.jpg
    http://www.thegloc.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/EFMRN-Chapter-Four-724×1024.jpg
    http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m74l8pAp7N1qadku2o1_1280.jpg
    http://jessicaminiermabe.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/fabio-covers.jpg
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-GhVPAUUiyV0/T4lm_XcoliI/AAAAAAAAF54/KZeh_IdB6Lk/s1600/katie_macalister.jpg

    And those are the ones where they bothered to put a face on. The new romance novels don’t seem to care too much about that.

    So look, look at all the male fantasy. If this really is only male fantasy, then I guess you could say that it’s rather counterproductive, considering over 97% of the buyers are female.

    Imagine that werewolf from Twilight looking all skinny. Think there even would be a Team Whatshisface? I doubt it.

    Can we stop pretending that women are anything but humans too and that means that they prefer more than one type of men?

    #34 2 years ago
  35. TheLastDodo

    Probably best you don’t play Road To Hell Retribution Brenna.

    From what I’ve read about it you could probably have a field day with that and it would be deserved.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. redwood

    @6 we will just have to see about that :D
    @34 lol at those covers :D

    #36 2 years ago
  37. PEYJ

    Jesus, YoungZero. Your contributions are as long as Salarta’s. However, you are spot on. This one way street of socalled feminism (I believe feminism is about equality) needs to be countered, otherwise the legislation will decide that a man getting the job is discrimination but if a woman gets it is fair.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. bradk825

    I remember reading interviews with the guy who was making this game. He came off pretty arrogant and thought of himself as a hero for putting a mixed-race woman in a game. He railed on everyone else in the industry calling them racists and homophobes and sounded like he was the self-proclaimed saviour of the gaming industry.

    He raised a couple of good points about trends that were too plain and repetitive and studios playing it safe too much and going with characters people were used to, but he went way too far with it and I just ended up feeling he was a dick and I didn’t want to buy his game.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. Joe Musashi

    I’ve recently beaten this game. I think its execution and flourishes are truly outstanding. One of the best executed games I’ve played of this generation.

    But, hey, whilst we’re looking at things from one side of the fence why isn’t this article asking:

    - Why does this game feature a central character who spends nearly all of her combat-time attacking men?

    - And when not attacking them, she manipulates their thoughts and exploits them? You’re eager to stress about ‘invasive medical procedures’ applied to Nilin at the start of the game but seem to overlook Nilin’s repeated employment of the same invasive methods (and more exploitative ones too) throughout the next 8 hours or so and that the game rewards you bonuses for having Nilin use this ability in combat. (I’m not offended by the use in either context, but it’s not right to imply this is a one-sided aspect of the game).

    - Where is the discussion on how this manipulation forces a man to kill a woman – indirectly by Nilin’s interference?

    - Where is the discussion of the early encounter with a female nemesis that is resolved by means other than violence? Why is this encounter made an exception for a female character?

    - Where is the discussion of the major other female characters in the game – a peerless bounty hunter of notable repute, a powerful CEO of a mega-corporation (who is not presented as a 1-dimensional villain but shows consideration, open-mindedness and remorse in the game – far moreso than any male character) or the female character that is truly a villian and presented as a successful yet manipulative head of a brutal penitentiary? All roles that could easily have been earmarked as male roles but did not fall into that ‘trope’.

    - As for the character of Edge, the game does question Nilin’s following of his instructions and even engenders a degree of mistrust later on. To say more would be spoiling the plot.

    If you’re going to ignore the above in your dogged pursuit of picking apart some camera angles, textures and marketing materials then I don’t think you’re taking a very balanced view of a game that does a very good job of avoiding many cliches.

    JM

    #39 2 years ago
  40. Agt_Pendergast

    So, is it official yet? Bayonetta is the best female game character of this generation.

    #40 2 years ago
  41. oreogod

    Hey while you’re at it, write the video game industry and tell them how us guys hate how male video game figures are portrayed in the same exact way (deep sexy voices, well muscled, kinda dumb in they have someone telling them what to do constantly).

    I know what you’re going for in your article but if you’re going to go the whole OMG I HATE HOW THEY CONSTANTLY PORTRAY WOMEN, put in a foot note for how cliche the video game industry is in how they chose to portray men.

    By the way, the one thing I did like about your article is the hospital gown part, it’d be badass if someone when ultra realistic and didn’t try to slip characters in super form fitting sexiness and instead add a gritty realism to things.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. salarta

    @39: You’re raising good points, but one I have to answer.

    “- Where is the discussion of the early encounter with a female nemesis that is resolved by means other than violence? Why is this encounter made an exception for a female character?”

    Nilin fights another, older woman through violence as well later on, though in her case it’s in the mind, not physical. And I think that older woman nemesis was actually more threatening than any of the men, as she was blatantly a true master at the mental landscape which in this universe is far more powerful than the physical.

    “- As for the character of Edge, the game does question Nilin’s following of his instructions and even engenders a degree of mistrust later on. To say more would be spoiling the plot.”

    My one big criticism about the game is that all the characters, not just Nilin, seem to just accept everything said and done to them with absolutely no suspicion. This powerful Errorist is right in front of you and you suddenly feel compelled to help her? Why, there’s no way she just manipulated your memories to aid her goals! And Nilin doesn’t seem nearly as suspicious of Edge as she should be, even though she gets that way later on. For all she could have known, Edge was just a scheme by the people that caught her and mind-wiped her in the first place to get her to compromise allies or dig up information she hid in a way that only she could access.

    But, again, the game is much better than a lot of the crap that’s being accepted as gold this generation.

    EDIT: A better point in this game for Brenna to spotlight in her rant might have been the implication later in the game that Nilin might have been sexually abused or raped by a male guard while imprisoned. I was actually surprised she didn’t mention that, I thought for sure she would. It wasn’t forced in the player’s face, but the guard in question at one point talks about how he loves cavity searches on prisoner women, and Nilin in beating him talks about making him pay for things he did to her.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. OrbitMonkey

    Couple of sharp comments from the ladies & the thread is inundated with guys cupping their bollocks & crying victimhood.

    Fuck me, isn’t that the sort of thing your accusing the ladies of?

    Your testes are safe, no scissor wielding feminazi’s under your crib.

    :)

    #43 2 years ago
  44. TraceableX

    @11 FeaturePreacher – fantastic post.

    #44 2 years ago
  45. YoungZer0

    @43: So you don’t you like to have a discussion, is that it?

    #45 2 years ago
  46. oreogod

    @11 “All the more reason to go with male characters. You can do whatever you want with them and no one cares. Make it a female and any excuse will be found for victimization.”

    BOOM. Champion of Truth.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. Joe Musashi

    @42 You also raise good points. Especially in your edit. Though, perhaps, these references are less subtle than sticking a camera behind the protagonist’s ass (in a TPS, no less!). I’m actually wondering if the author of this critique played the game through to its conclusion.

    I think the writing in the game is pretty good. Above average sci fi (especially for a videogame) and some interesting relationships and influences. It isn’t perfect but it’s considerably better and smarter than some of the notable “OMG TEH WIRTING!!1″ accolade bearer’s we’ve seen this gen. It does a lot more right than wrong.

    Which is not to say it’s perfect, but there are far more deserving game of this type of pointed critique than this one.

    JM

    #47 2 years ago
  48. OrbitMonkey

    Discussion? Is that what this is?

    Just seems like guys getting all reactionary. Maybe you should start a petition?

    #48 2 years ago
  49. YoungZer0

    So you have nothing to add to the discussion. Got it.

    #49 2 years ago
  50. Rafa_L

    @salarta

    I like your insights on how it’s different for men and woman, and I agree I miss strong females.

    And though men are physically strong and many times attractive, they are not sexualized the same way, that’s for sure.

    #50 2 years ago
  51. Lengendaryboss

    You guys should really see how members on N4G refer to Brenna, makes me laugh and feel pity at the same time :) :(

    #51 2 years ago
  52. salarta

    @47: Even if Brenna didn’t play Remember Me from beginning to end, or even if she had never personally played it at all, I don’t think that’s a prerequisite to being able to judge how a game treats female characters. I think such judgments could be made just as easily by watching videos, reading summaries, etc, and the only thing that absolutely requires playing the game to judge it is gameplay mechanics.

    Still, I think Brenna not mentioning the implied sexual abuse/rape is a sign implies she may not have gone all the way through, and in turn that playing a game might allow for catching some of the less pronounced stuff in a game.

    I completely agree with you concerning the quality of writing in recent games. Remember Me isn’t a masterpiece of video game writing by any stretch, but it’s certainly a hell of a lot better than a lot of stuff people are claiming deserves to be treated so highly.

    It’s really sad to me as a huge fan of video games to see that ten years out, the medium that looked like it was on the cusp of being a break-out place for content of high artistic and intellectual quality, not only has rapidly gone downhill in that quality, but also has the majority of consumers pretending it’s actually an improvement. It’s like I’m in a bizarro alternate universe where gold is shit and shit is gold.

    @50: Yeah, I think a lot of the guys defending poor treatment of female characters with “well men are stereotyped too” just don’t get how very different it is. Both sexes liking a sex depicted a certain way is not the same thing as only one sex liking how the opposite sex is depicted.

    @51: I’d dread it if it wasn’t becoming increasingly obvious that comments sections are full of idiots that come up with any terrible excuse they can find to write off and bash anyone that says things they don’t like.

    #52 2 years ago
  53. terafumos

    You must see “sexism” in a warm summer breeze. I mean, honestly, this entire article is bat-shit crazy. Sorry to not be one of the sycophantic panderers like most of the rest, but you seriously project so much into this game and probably so much elsewhere that simply is not there, or otherwise profoundly over-emphasize what you supposedly see from your warped viewpoint.

    #53 2 years ago
  54. knuck

    VG247 going full Kotaku, I called it first!

    Check the subject of Brenna’s articles over time: it’s a logarithmic curve with lots of interesting game reviews and suddenly it’s all feminist propaganda. Ew.

    #54 2 years ago
  55. absolutezero

    Despite how depressing this entire article is most of the comments posted thus far have made me proud to be a visitor of this site.

    Well done chaps. I would chip in but I don’t think I can generate enough indignant anger at this time of night. I’m just apathetic at this point in time, I’m pretty sure thats not really the preferred result of this kind of article. Ambivalence.

    #55 2 years ago
  56. salarta

    @55: Nah, ambivalence is an understandable reaction as well. We get inundated with a lot of major issues, sometimes things like this seem petty in comparison to some of the bigger stuff, and frankly over here in the States, this one pales in comparison to motorcyclevagina (aka North Carolina Republicans sneaking abortion laws into a bill about motorcycle safety at the last minute and not giving proper advance notice for the public to be able to speak out and raise questions and concerns).

    #56 2 years ago
  57. Jarvgrimr

    The amount of idiocy in the comments section is staggering. Brenna has every right to be disappointed in a title that hasn’t lived up to it’s hype. The female gender is under-represented and overtly sexual in the majority of videogames, and in a majority of cases if they aren’t sexualised then they are victimised.

    No this isn’t the end of the world, no it’s not the worst thing ever. But seeing as I am not a woman I cannot pretend to understand what it feels like to see my gender get represented in a way I do not like. Every game I play generally has male characters that are empowered or so hollow they are merely a pair of biceps with a gun.

    I imagine if I had to play Skyrim in a ridiculous Manowar-esque mankini armour suit, or constantly see my clearly defined bell-end in some tight leather pants during every cut scene, I may not enjoy it.

    #57 2 years ago
  58. Liberty Cabbage

    In this thread: men get together to congratulate each other on how much better they understand sexism than a women does

    #58 2 years ago
  59. For Blood

    You will see more and more articles like this as roles are reversed. Men in this day in age are considerably less masculine than 50 years ago. Women are taking the more masculine role and are now bashing men to make them feel less superior.

    #59 2 years ago
  60. stereomonkey

    I was more invested in the environment and story than her ass or breast.

    #60 2 years ago
  61. OrbitMonkey

    @59, I heard their putting oestrogen into the water supply.

    You should stop bathing.

    #61 2 years ago
  62. Joe_Gamer

    well, suddenly I want to play this game….

    C’mon, lay off the hyperbole.

    I don’t buy the whole “entertainment shapes behavior” argument, more like behavior shapes entertainment. I don’t strip down to my skivvies and run around the woods poking people full of arrows because I played the new Lara Croft game >.> just like I don’t denigrate women because I once played Duke Nukem.

    If you can’t get a job because you’re a women that’s a problem.
    If you can’t vote that’s a problem.
    If you have to wear a bag over your entire body that’s a problem.
    If you can’t own property that’s a problem.
    If you ARE property that’s a problem.
    If you can’t choose your life partner that’s a problem.
    Having your genitals surgically altered without your consent that’s a problem.

    Too much tits and ass in a video game? Guess what, that’s NOT A REAL FUCKING PROBLEM…

    If you want more female protagonists in games, ask for them. Don’t try to beat the industry into submission with specious claims of “sexism”.

    Women are not the target demographic, tailoring your product to a male audience is not sexism, it’s marketing. See cheesy romance novels, built from the spine up to appeal to women.

    #FIRSTWORLDSEXISM

    #62 2 years ago
  63. Joe Musashi

    @60 Agreed. The environments were exceptional and full of detail and flourishes. Far more diverse than the array of characters, including Nilin, in the game.

    JM

    #63 2 years ago
  64. Vice

    #60 Yeah me too, BECAUSE SHE HAS NO FRAKIN ASS OR BOOBS, SHE’S A STICK.
    Hate when they do women like this in videogames… Anyway… Good game.. Not so good lead… Maybe they’ll… “enhance” her with sequel, if there will even be one.

    #64 2 years ago
  65. OrbitMonkey

    @62, Why so sensible ? :o

    #65 2 years ago
  66. For Blood

    @62

    Great points. I would love to know where this agenda is coming from. It’s taking game websites by storm. It is the main reason I quit going to Kotaku. It gets so out of hand. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I remember a time when game sites were just news and rumors. I do really like this site, but I really believe sensationalist topics should remsin on ones Facebook or Twitter.

    #66 2 years ago
  67. salarta

    @57: I’d say that Remember Me still lived up to its hype, because unlike some recent games, the company and people involved weren’t going out of their way to dupe people into buying into a false interpretation of what they’re putting out. Sure, it had more flaws than would be expected given how the team talked about it, but nowhere near as bad as with other recent games.

    Besides, those other recent games show plenty well that consumers are stupid enough to buy into what companies want them to think if it’s spun the right way.

    @62: You’re using analogies that are exaggerated and crazy compared to the actual issue. No, nobody without certain mental and emotional issues is going to play a violent game then go feral. But a person that regularly plays games that depict women in disrespectful ways may gradually lose the respect they have for women. I don’t mean that someone that plays a game where women get raped is going to go out and rape them, that’s just stupid. But a game where women are just objects to fawn over can lead to guys thinking of women mainly for their sex appeal and not their actual personality or abilities.

    This is why this generation has been terrible, especially to all the old female protagonists. All the past strong female icons have been destroyed for the sake of appealing to men and fitting modern trends and gimmicks, long-term values sacrificed for short-term profits and interests.

    #67 2 years ago
  68. For Blood

    You know I just had a great thought. Fat people are under represented in games and I am offended at this. I think we, the fat people should complain to game companies about this. Aat least women get leading roles. Tell me one game where a fat person was the main character.

    #68 2 years ago
  69. salarta

    @68: Feel free!

    Also, Mario.

    #69 2 years ago
  70. For Blood

    @69

    I was thinking more true to life representations. The funny thing is I don’t care if we, the fat people are under represented. That’s life you know. I’m not going to cry over it. I think what the issue here is people are too easily offended if something is not going their way. People need to toughen up, heck I was making jokes about my mom days after she died. Life happens and you move on.

    #70 2 years ago
  71. salarta

    @70: There are things I COULD say about the second to last sentence, but everyone thinks and acts differently, so it wouldn’t be quite appropriate. What I can say is this: you’re not everyone.

    I could argue further and further about how this issue is much, much different from the example you give, but I can see all that will do is lead to you looking for ways to justify the things you’re saying until we’re sick of arguing.

    So you don’t care that fat people are under represented. Good for you. Maybe someone else does care. Likewise, so you cracked jokes about your mom days after she died. Good for you. Maybe someone else reacted to their mom’s death by sinking into a deep depression that requires counseling. Maybe yet someone else responded to their mom’s death by celebrating her life with festivities. To say “I find it okay therefore everyone else must find it okay” is short-sighted and selfish.

    #71 2 years ago
  72. Ireland Michael

    @70 Define “true to life”. Because video games, by their very nature, and prone to more outlandish situations and concepts due to their inherent nature. The Sims is about “as true to life” as you get.

    Considering you think that that men are being de-masculated by women and that they’re trying to steal men’s jobs when they *still* don’t even have the same basic equal treatment as men makes it hard for you to take you seriously, but that’s been near impossible since you started posting your sexist bullshit at the start of this thread anyway.

    All I see in you is a scared manchild whose own fragile sense of masculinity feels threatened by equality.

    I thought those sorts of comments were supposed to be an instantly bannable offence?

    #72 2 years ago
  73. For Blood

    @71

    Thanks for helping my point. Now a days there is a cure for every little thing. Sometimes it isn’t even necessary. Do you know why people are viewed as being not as mentally tough anymore? Helicopter parenting and the whole anti-bully thing. Both do not help people later in life. Studies show that people cannot function later in life. I hope one day the world toughens up.

    #73 2 years ago
  74. For Blood

    @72

    Never once did I say anything sexist. I have noticed before when someone posts something you do not agree with you attempt to get them banned. This article started the discusdion so if someone posts an opposite view that is not a reason to ban them. We have a saying in America, “don’t start none, there won’t be none.” So basically means if people can’t agree with opposite views don’t post the article and bring on discussion.

    #74 2 years ago
  75. ps3fanboy

    yeah its sad all games with womans must be sexists… in these times you hoped this was a thing of the pasts.

    #75 2 years ago
  76. gilgamesh

    Wow, unbelievable. I thought Anita Saarkesian was bad but this is just beyond retarded. There’s so much bullshit here I don’t even know where to start. Complaining about the intro sections has to be the most retarded. Most characters in fiction whether male or female should be given some weaknesses so that we can root for them. That’s why the game starts her off like that. I can tell Brenna hasn’t played many games at all. The voice in your ear telling you what to do has been in countless games before. There have been many occasions where it’s a female voice telling the male characters what to do. It doesn’t mean that the characters aren’t badasses. Nilin kicks tonnes of ass throughout. She’s mildly sexualized but still very well presentable compared to most female game characters. This is all such crazy shit to complain about. I don’t know how people like Brenna even have a career in journalism.

    #76 1 year ago
  77. salarta

    @76: It’s an opinion piece, Brenna is allowed to have an opinion and a career in journalism.

    That said, Nilin is one of only a few female protagonists during this generation that actually ARE strong and admirable, up there with Chell from Portal and Milla from Tales of Xillia, contrary to the BS some people say about games like 3rd Birthday and the new “Tomb Raider.” From what I can tell, many of the things that Remember Me is supposedly so horrible for get a free pass when a game is hyped out the ass and people mistakenly think its star was always nothing but a pair of tits with guns. Because apparently major video game franchises that last for 17 years are created by their stars being nothing but tits with guns.

    #77 1 year ago
  78. gilgamesh

    @76:I’m just sick and tired of all this feminist bullshit about games that’s been going on this generation. Do people honestly have nothing better to do?

    There are others too. There’s Bayonetta, Faith, Jodie, Ellie, Female Shepard, Lightning, Elizabeth, I could go on. What BS are you referring to that was said about the new Tomb Raider anyway?

    #78 1 year ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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