“All signs point to the fact we’re going to sexytown, at a speed of Warp 69,” writes Polygon’s Senior Opinion Editor Ben Kuchera. He’s talking about Mass Effect: Andromeda, and the romances that have become such a big part of BioWare’s game design. Specifically, he’s talking about a developer billing the game as “softcore space porn” on Twitter, and how this is apparently great news. “It’s refreshing to see Mass Effect so willing to lean into its own more tawdry side,” he concludes.
Polygon is the same publication that called Dragon’s Crown “problematic” because it had sexualized characters.
This is the same Polygon that complained that Bayonetta 2’s camera “leers at her.”
Recently, Polygon published a video on its YouTube channel of two men giddily laughing for thirty minutes over the exposed male genitalia in Conan Exiles.
Kotaku also published a video on YouTube focused on the exposed genitalia in Conan Exiles’ character creation. “Note that it is wiggling ridiculously already. It’s blowing in the wind like a flag,” says the narrator.
When working for Rock Paper Shotgun, Kotaku’s Nathan Grayson once famously admonished a Blizzard developer, saying that MOBA’s are “notorious – often not in a good way – for sexing up female characters and putting them in some fairly gross situations.”
Patricia Hernandez of Kotaku also wrote an article about Mass Effect’s relationship drama, titled, “Some fans already want to bang Mass Effect: Andromeda’s new alien.” She said that Fire Emblem Heroes (Correction: Article previously mentioned Fire Emblem Fates rather than Fire Emblem Heroes.) is “a horny casino” and she’s “struck by how subtly sexual it is,” calling the description for one of the characters “fucky”. (I assure you, dear reader, it hurt me as much to write that as it does for you to read it.)
In reference to Dragon’s Crown (again), Kotaku says that “Game developers really need to stop letting teenage boys design their characters.”
At this point let’s take an inventory. Exposed penises in Conan Exiles is hilarious and the worthy subject of entire YouTube videos. The cartoonishly large breasts in Dragon’s Crown are sexist. A game camera “leering” at a sexy Bayonetta is bad, while alien sex in Mass Effect: Andromeda is good and apparently not problematic.
Gaming media is hypocritical based on some ultra-progressive notion of “woke”-ness, that much is obvious. What is worse is the unabashed immaturity with which they examine these issues. If gaming is to grow as a medium, it needs to be free to explore sexuality. It’s not some sexist crime to design a game specifically to appeal to young men’s sexual desires. It shouldn’t be a big deal when a video game includes full frontal nudity. Joke about it, sure, but when you spend thirty minutes laughing at naked flopping wieners you can’t expect anyone to take you seriously when you call large breasts sexist.
The senior opinion editor of a major gaming site writing, “sexytime, Warp 69!” – you know, because 69 is the sex number! (that’s a joke I stole from Notch) – is annoyingly cringe-worthy. You generally don’t see major film critics making half-hour YouTube videos laughing at Harvey Keitel’s nudity in The Piano.
I’m all for humorous looks at video games, and no part of gaming should be off limits. But be consistent. Your treatment of breasts as “problematic” and flopping wieners as hilarious YouTube-fodder is immature, hypocritical, and disrespectful of the hobby we all love. Let’s see developers dive into that more tawdry side – I’d just prefer it if gaming’s critics don’t laugh like giddy schoolchildren when they do.