T’Hersday: A Piece of Meat
Pieces of meat. Apparently that’s what Dead Island: Riptide publishers Deep Silver think of their customers. A couple of months back it was revealed that in parts of the world if you pre-ordered the new Dead Island game your pre-order bonus was a pretty disgusting statue of a torso with it’s limbs and head cut off, covered in blood. Oh, and it was a female torso. Oh, and she was wearing a bikini. Oh, and her breasts were clearly designed not off, like, physics or reality, but being sexy. With that pre-order bonus they literally reduced a woman to a piece of meat, emphasizing her sexuality and completely divorcing her of being anything resembling a unique or interesting human being. Did I mention it was called the ‘zombie bait’ edition?
Needless to say, the internet wasn’t happy.
So the publisher, Deep Silver, came out and apologized for the statue. They said it was offensive, in poor taste, and not up to their ‘standards.’ It seemed like a sense of united outrage and offense at something so appallingly sexist and in such poor taste had been rightly vilified and removed. It was so bad that people who didn’t even find it sexist found it to just be a creepy, weird, unneeded statue. So, yay for the internet and yay for progress and yay for Deep Silver recognizing that their statue was an awful bit of sexism that got destroyed! The internet moved on to different things, as it always does, and everyone walked away from the experience a better and happier person.
Or, you know, not.
Turns out that Deep Silver didn’t actually say that they were going to stop production of the torsos, or not ship them. They just said that they would make sure this didn’t happen in the future. And the future must have meant a different game altogether, because it turns out that in Europe and Australia the “zombie bait” edition is still on sale, creepy bikini torso totally intact.
Maybe they sent them out to recoup the financial costs of producing the statues in the first place. And maybe we shouldn’t care. It isn’t that I’m surprised that Deep Silver, or Koch media as the case may be, decided to send out the statues in the first place. Much like politicians corporations are surprisingly good at appeasing people with words and then doing the completely opposite thing. And judging by the general response on the internet so far, they’re getting away with it, more or less. The internet has been mad about this once already, they don’t have the time or energy to do it again.
But what’s most disappointing about all of this is that whoever went ahead with this decision had to have done so with full knowledge that, yes, large swaths of people were not going to be happy with this choice. Yes, it is creepy and weird. Yes, we’re totally okay with saying that we as a company like to alienate women and are okay with portraying them as literally sexy meat. Because we’d rather make money now than worry about building a sustainable relationship with the consumer masses in the future. (Masses, which, included millions of women!)
When people ask me how I can think the video game industry is so sexist, it’s too easy to point to moments like this.