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When Did Killing Female NPCs Suddenly Become A Crime?

Stephen Welsh

Stephen Welsh

Stephen (or Steve(or Tojeka Steve)) is a kind young man who cares more about games, fiction, sleep and chicken than is probably healthy.
Stephen Welsh
Female NPCs
This led to Target Australia pulling GTA V from sale. I assume they were fine with the rest of the murder and torture in the game before then.

I’ve been thinking a bit about something since watching ABC Nightline’s segment on #GamerGate last night. At least, it claimed to be about #GamerGate, but was making offhand comments and pull-quotes from the usual media narrative. You know, the one that says it’s a movement of male gamers (inaccurate) threatening women in the industry (disingenuous as there’s no evidence the assholes sending death threats are part of GG), instead of a backlash against corrupt gaming journalists (how anybody refuses to believe this is beyond me) and the severely flawed dogma being disseminated by them and their political allies.

The thing is, that wasn’t the focus of the segment at all. It was just framing a current event as an excuse to talk about the activism of Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian. I could make a whole series of articles or videos to break down her arguments, but I don’t think Anita and Johnathan McIntosh are worth the effort honestly. What I will talk about is how bizarre her main argument has devolved into. After the Damsel in Distress trope, Sarkeesian’s next main target in her videos was sold as being the trope of “Women As Background Decoration”. While the analysis started off as a critique of female NPCs being objects in game environments for the sake of eye-candy, it quickly devolved into a tirade against the ability to kill female NPCs in games like Hitman and Grand Theft Auto. Feminist Frequency’s expressed belief was that the women are paraded around on screen and that players are encouraged to kill them and look at their corpses as some perverted gratification for murdering sex workers.

Stealth games totally encourage players to do this

I’m still struggling to understand this line of thought (though the infamous mind of McIntosh at least provides an explanation for how somebody could come up with such a strange argument). There are glaring issues that stick out here. The first is that players are not encouraged to do this kind of thing at all. The most damning evidence against this is in how dishonest the “Women As Background Decoration” video edits and contextualizes strippers being killed in Hitman: Absolution. Players are not encouraged to kill civilians in this game, and are in fact penalized for doing so. If she’s trying to argue that most players will do it “because they’re objects to be acted upon”, it’s also inaccurate, as this is very uncommon behavior for players; especially those who are that far into Hitman and would have been accustomed to the rules by then.

The second is that somehow the act of killing non-player characters is evident of misogyny in videogames. Grand Theft Auto has plenty of NPCs. Can they be killed? Yes. Are you encouraged to? Not really, no, as doing so often gets the police on your ass trying to kill you. You can murder civilians all you like, but that applies to all of them. Why is it suddenly an issue when the NPCs are female? Well in the case of Feminist Frequency, and a distressing amount of activists targeting gaming, they believe that acts committed in a videogame will encourage players to do the same thing in the real world. Yes, the same ideology the notorious Jack Thompson expressed a decade ago. Nevermind that it’s been disproven time and again that games don’t lead to players committing real world acts of violence.

jack thompson
He probably believes this is a hypnosis device

So, I feel that a few questions need to be asked:

Why is killing a female NPC suddenly an issue?

Why is anything in a game more cause for concern than extreme content in TV, film, or that thing called real life?

Where are all the boys uppercutting the girls at school after playing Street Fighter?

How come people aren’t being murdered constantly everywhere at every time when Grand Theft Auto constantly sells millions?

Why do none of my gamer friends drop their pants and jerk off after running over civilians in a game?

There’s a lot to answer for in this argument, and what a folly it is when the people claiming to have full knowledge of the situation don’t respond to anybody that doesn’t listen and believe. I bring this up because as evidenced by the ABC Nightline piece, this is apparently one of the key issues with gaming today. Yet it keeps being reported as fact with no answer given to explain the glaring holes in the evidence. Female enemies in general are a rarity, so is the issue that players can kill innocent people? It wasn’t a problem when I was killing male NPCs. Excuse the gamers if they can’t understand why it’s apparently a social issue when those polygons have breasts.

About Stephen Welsh

Stephen (or Steve(or Tojeka Steve)) is a kind young man who cares more about games, fiction, sleep and chicken than is probably healthy.

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  • 33

    I can answer one of the questions at the end.

    “Why do none of my gamer friends drop their pants and jerk off after running over civilians in a game?”
    Your friends are boring.

  • Dav

    When people insisted that you treat women like children.

  • NorBdelta

    What I truly do not understand, is that Anita, etc make understandable questions with regards to the brutality of certain games. Putting aside the consequence to the player of these actions i.e. psychologically, etc or not. I understand why certain individuals find them distasteful, they can simply not consume the media, simple as that.

    Now where I take serious issue with current criticism from her is it is a total “woman only” matter approach. Take GTA V for instance, yes you can beat the crap out of female prostitutes, murder them, sleep with them, etc. But these are things that happen on such a small scale in the game, brutality wise. The dominant remainder consists of more brutal scale violence, murder, torture, dehumanization towards male NPCs. When was the last time someone gunned down a helpless male NPC and then said, “Why is there such brutal violence towards men in GTA V? Why is this being promoted?” It does not happen is the answer. Violence towards men in games is considered a non-issue. But when a woman is abused it is suddenly a scandal. That this would be to hight violence in general in gaming. >inb4 Of course gaming is escapism and does not translate to violence promotion in society.

    Similarly Modern Feminism is a woman only concern, mens psychological issues? Imprisonment discrepancies by gender? Workplace deaths of male employees? Disparity of high risk, intensive labour, undesirable labour market being exclusive to men? Not a concern for feminists, they desire only the cream of the equality. True feminism would be pushing for more women in the mining sector, and not just the sector itself, but being miners, labourers, sewage workers, etc. When I see women fight to be in these positions I will then take it seriously.

  • yummines

    It’s the supreme irony. We are supposed to treat women as equal to men. But when they are shown to be equally mistreated, suddenly it’s a women’s issue?

    The problem with modern feminism is that they want all the privileges of equality with none of the responsibility.

    • Jake_Was_Here

      Don’t be absurd: it’s not EQUALITY they want, it’s SUPREMACY. They want to oppress, because in their delusional world they’ve BEEN oppressed since the beginnings of civilization, and they figure it’s only fair that they eventually get their turn on top.

      • Adam

        It’s not SUPREMACY they want, it’s ARISTOCRACY.
        It makes a lot more sense when you think about it this way. They want to sit in their private spaces and discuss things their way without having to work to get a bit of recognition…

  • webkilla

    Good questions – and merely asking them shows how stupid Sarkeesian and Full McIntosh’s arguments are

  • utera

    The perversity revealed by her complaints is that the real sexism in society is benevolent sexism. We’ve not moved beyond the idea that women require special protection, to the point where even fictional virtual females in video games rarely come to harm. In fact we have such an aversion to harming even virtual females, this is exactly what allows Anita to peddle her spiel. Her success proves that her ilks claims of pervasive “misogyny” in society is based on nothing at all, because she has benefited from societies default of being massively over protective of women, in fact she exploits this tendency.
    I’m not saying that women need to be 50% of the dead in games, I think the aversion is natural, but the problem is that intellectually dishonest feminists like her don’t even try to answer why, never mind ask the question in the first place.
    But really it just comes down to her ilk as being incredibly sexist, if she has to walk past hundreds of dead male bodies to get upset at a few dead virtual women, it says it all about her complete disregard for men. She claims to fight sexism, but the truth is, she is sexist, and her every move does nothing more than reinforce sexism and gender roles. You can almost tack (because women are weak) onto the end of half of her sentences….

  • Tyrannikos

    I’ve enjoyed your articles, Stephen. So it is with great sadness that I now say goodbye. The Media G-Men don’t like when you ask questions. They are coming to label you…A MISOGYNERD. THE HORROR.

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