Opinion// Sexism, Killer is Dead & Me

Posted 28 Aug 2013 11:13 by
Iíd be lying to you if I said reviewing Killer Is Dead was easy. I sat and wrote the same few paragraphs over and over again. The more I played the more I questioned my own moral values and whether they should influence my view on the game as an overall product.

Itís actually not a bad game. It looks stunning at times, has some laugh out loud moments, some pretty good combat and some memorable gaming moments. But it has some underlying issues that some are able to ignore, others will be disgusted by and some will be left questioning.

Sexism is a problem that gaming has suffered from for a long time, and one that has only recently been brought to the attention of the core gaming fanbase. Itís a nasty side of humanity that rears its head in an otherwise all inclusive medium.

Arguments over the subject often spill from the extreme ends of both sides. Some of the most sexist and the vilest of comments have been slung at people who harmlessly raise the subject for discussion; some developers have even been accused of prejudice before their games have hit the market.

Sexism is a subject that needs open discussion, but when this discussion is overrun with mud slinging, abuse and finger pointing, the original point is lost and the two sides of the discussion are split even further.

I consider myself to be sensitive to issues such as Racism and Sexism, especially while they are prevalent in the medium that I love. However Iím also aware that I very rarely get offended. Depending on who youíre talking to, that can be seen as a huge character flaw.

While playing Killer Is Dead I was aware of the overt sexism throughout. Every female character was overly sexualised and it featured some very pro male writing. It was so overly sexist that I was forced to ask myself, ďWhy?Ē.

The more I played, the more I questioned its intentions. The strong female characters that just so happened to wear nothing more than a bra and a jacket had me rolling my eyes at first but it became more apparent that the story of Killer Is Dead was no more than a story about the character called Mondo.

As mentioned in my review, heís a completely unlikable character. From his selfish view of his past to his disgusting attitude towards women, heís an absolute shit. I feel thatís more than reflected in the game.

The art style is dark. Itís full of shadows with neon flashes and stylish effects. It represents Mondo as a character well. Itís cool at a glance but dark and sometimes jarring at times.

Women are sometimes prizes, sometimes annoying, and they all want to be close to him. It was too forced. I felt that it represented what he saw in women. It wasnít there to influence or arouse me. Although I can understand why people thought it was.

This is why I kept re-writing my review. To me I thought Killer Is Dead had sexist elements, but to reflect a sexist character. Throughout it was clear that the game wanted you to hate Mondo and it worked.

But I felt conflicted over a few things.

Firstly whether I should impose my take on the controversy onto the reader. I didnít want to make light of it or ignore it all together. But I didnít want to make the readersí mind up for them. Everyone has their own moral standpoint and will make their own mind up. However, I had a point to make and itís one that I wanted to express.

Thatís not to say that those who have voiced their disgust are wrong to do so. If someone sees a problem, and they feel that it needs to be brought to the readerís attention, then they should also feel that they can do so.

I was also conflicted about my view on the subject. Personally I believe that there is room for games that are aimed at men. Not all games have to be aimed at everyone. I think thatís important and something that gets lost in some debates.

But thereís a line that can be crossed where a game can go from being harmless fun, or thought provoking, to genuinely damaging and upsetting to a group of people.

My own conflict came when I considered where my line was drawn. Iím confident on how the game affected me, but was I right in feeling the way I did? Itís something that I think Iíll be thinking about for the rest of my life.

Finally I had to consider how much merit as an artist I was prepared to give to the development team. It would be easy to write them off as people who would happily use sex to create media attention and sales, but equally easy to make excuses for them.

Branding someone or a team as ĎSexistí is a heavier accusation than some people consider. Itís easily said but the implications can snowball and hang someone out to dry who might not deserve it.

One thing is for sure, if art is meant to raise questions and get people talking then Killer is Dead has done exactly that. I just hope the discussions being had are effective in raising issues surrounding sexism and abuse are progressive and donít regress into name calling and wild accusations.

Read Daveís review of Killer is Dead here.

The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and does not reflect those of SPOnG.com except when it does.

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