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Ultra-violent  God of War  draws the line on hurting women
Ultra-violent God of War draws the line on hurting women
July 20, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi

July 20, 2012 | By Frank Cifaldi
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    22 comments
More: Console/PC, Art, Design



"There are some things we’ve pulled back from. I think where this has been an issue is with violence against women -- the team’s pulled back from some of that and assessed that a little more carefully."
-Sony Santa Monica's David Hewitt responds to post-E3 concerns that the upcoming God of War: Ascension for PlayStation 3 is promoting ultra-violence in video games. Apparently, violence against women is one of the places that the team tries to draw the line.

Hewitt also has an interesting justification for lead character Kratos' violent behavior: apparently, the team's combat designers and animators have intentionally animated Kratos so that "there’s not a lot of flourishes, there’s not any kind of enjoying the moment.

"There’s nothing about this that he’s enjoying."


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Comments


Brian Tsukerman
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Which women are they talking about? Do they mean the gorgons and harpies?

Ali Afshari
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Good question. I think he'll also be fighting human enemies because it's a prequel...not entirely sure, though.

Ali Afshari
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"There’s nothing about this that he’s enjoying."

Those will be some awkward sex QTEs...oh wait, they already were :P

Luis Guimaraes
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God Of War: QTEs before it was cool.
Oh, wait...

Ara Shirinian
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How is Kratos' absolute unenjoyment reconciled with the player's overall experience with the game? Should we be sharing in his level of unenjoyment?

Bob Stevens
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I'm way ahead of them on that.

Philip Michael Norris
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Does anyone think that drawing that line is in itself sexist?

Philip Kerr
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You'd have to be a bit clearer. Are you suggesting that its sexist to refrain from showing a physically dominant male character dismembering and disfiguring a weaker female character?

Luis Guimaraes
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"weaker female character"

Kratos have been dismembering weaker pawns since the first game. Should they get different treatment based on gender?

Ole Berg Leren
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Differential treatment based on gender. Is that not sexism? Is it benevolent sexism? Is that like touting positive racial stereotypes, like the Asian super-student meme, and saying it's ok?

Cognitive dissonance, gotta scrub my cortex.

Jeremy Fountaine
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I can't agree with it being sexist, in that feminism, or the concept of gender equity shouldn't be considered sexist. The fact that there is a line to be drawn is in itself an issue. To be honest, men and women are not equal and thus cannot be treated equally. That being said they should be treated fairly, which is a distinction I feel people fail to make. The "line" thats being drawn here is a bit ambiguous, but if I'm Kratos and I'm face to face with a woman wearing combat armor and waving a spear in my face, well, I'm going to neutralize the threat. If we want to start making gratuitous violence against innocent women an issue, why not back that up to gratuitous violence against innocent anyone? The fact that it is okay to enjoy slaughtering innocent men on their way to milk a goat is just as much of an issue as wanting slaughter that mans wife who might be out for a walk. Such is my opinion, it is a tricky issue, and perhaps even bringing light to it wasn't great on their part.

Philip Kerr
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"Kratos have been dismembering weaker pawns since the first game."

Yes, and these weaker pawns have included female opponents such as Sirens and Gorgons. Put women in armour, give them weapons, give them powers, give them the vaguest sense of competence, just like every enemy in the game, and no one will have a problem with Kratos butchering them like everything else.

But when SSM talk about not crossing a line, I think it's clear that they mean violence against VULNERABLE women. Yes, Kratos has victimized plenty of vulnerable men throughout the games, but that is not laden with NEARLY the kind of problematic connotations that violence against vulnerable women brings.

You honestly can't see the differences between Kratos obliterating anoymous mooks, and Kratos assaulting and harming vulnerable, non-combatant women?

And, also, seriously guys.

Ask yourselves why you're so indignant about the fact that you can't beat the shit out of women.

What, is kicking the crap out of men not satisfying enough for you, or something? Does Kratos specifically need to beat up on women in order for you to experience an adequate visceral thrill? Mangling and maiming ordinary mooks doesn't cut it for you, is that it? It needs to be women for you to derive that satisfaction?

If you're indulging in a martyr fantasy and thinking of yourself as oppressed because the battery of vulnerable women is frowned upon, is it not time to wonder whether your perspective is a little skewed?

Philip Kerr
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"Differential treatment based on gender. Is that not sexism? Is it benevolent sexism?"

Maybe. God of War sure ain't guilty of it, though. The series includes female adversaries that at least pose a rudimentary threat to Kratos.

"Cognitive dissonance, gotta scrub my cortex."

I think the more likely explanation is that most people recognize that sexism can't be defended, and so they misrepresent and minimize sexism, and attempt to sabotage the discussion instead.

Luis Guimaraes
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"Ask yourselves why you're so indignant about the fact that you can't beat the shit out of women."

What is indignant is the fact that when these subjects are touched there's a lot of condescension and approval-seeking on it's tail. Coupled with a bunch of preset assumptions and hidden false-premises trying to skip discussion in directions they could even head if properly conducted, for the sake of making unfunded arguments and emotional appeal sound cool.

"What, is kicking the crap out of men not satisfying enough for you, or something?"

No, Power Fantasy is not my genre of choice. It's just boring pointless escapism with no benefits for you mental fitness.

"Does Kratos specifically need to beat up on women in order for you to experience an adequate visceral thrill?"

Visceral thrill? No wonder why gaming still carry all these negative stigmas.

"Mangling and maiming ordinary mooks doesn't cut it for you, is that it?"

I've played God Of War a few times in friends houses, but I don't remember that part of the game. I think you mean watching Kratos mangling and maiming ordinary mooks, because I myself was just playing Simon.

"It needs to be women for you to derive that satisfaction?"

Which satisfaction? Pressing B and Y when you're told to?

"If you're indulging in a martyr fantasy and thinking of yourself as oppressed because the battery of vulnerable women is frowned upon, is it not time to wonder whether your perspective is a little skewed?"

Achievement Unlocked: Use "IF" in a sentence.

Luciano Lombardi
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Making a distinction between killing innocent men and innocent woman for the sake of 'not hitting girls' is sexist in my opinion. I think that Kratos is just a machine on a rampage that just kills everything on his path regardless of the gender or helplessness of his victims.
It would be a very different situation if Kratos would specifically abuse women and torture/rape them just for fun, then we would be talking about a whole different problem.

I believe that they can tackle the sexism issue with a different approach: Instead of making vulnerable women characters (hence reinforcing stereotypes), why don't have strong women characters facing Kratos just like any other male (or beast) character does?
There are many characters in greek mythology to draw from such as Amazons, Artemis, Demeter, Nymphs, Muses, Circe, Gorgons, etc... that would help to stand women and men on the same level as they actually should be. (I haven't played through the entire series so most likely many of these may have already appeared in the game)

edit: typo

Christian Kulenkampff
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exploiting discussion about exploitation... well, at least in a "benevolent" (?) way.

Michael Kelley
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When creating the mod DreamCasters' Duel I made sure that there was no replicable violence perpetrated by men against women. At the time I was teaching impressionable kids and witnessed firsthand how media depictions of violence against women influenced their behavior ("It's OK teacher! Men jump off tables and knee drop downed women on WWE all the time!"). When gratuitous violence went mainstream in the VG industry I thought that DCD's moral convictions might also make an interesting selling-point.

I was wrong. I approached battered women's organizations w/ carefully researched articles on cause and effect relationships between media portrayals of violence against women and real world incidences (all of which they were already aware of naturally) and VG media reels of women getting holes beat into their face by men (Blade and Soul, anyone?). I told them how DCD would be different. They wouldn't touch it. The reaction from girl gaming guilds and communities was much, much more emphatic. How dare I suggest that women were physically inferior? Was I not aware that keeping women from competing in men's sports was a vast conspiracy and that women will one day come to rule the UFC (I am NOT making this up)?

It doesn't matter who gets hurt (or killed; Zoe Garcia) or what the immutable facts are, suggesting that women are somehow physically inferior by not allowing them to be the victims of violence is sexist. Also, allowing them to be the victims of violence is sexist since that also implies physical inferiority.

Anyways, can we all please just move on and talk about a far more important issue, female body image issues in VGs? I mean, just look how Elena dresses!

http://fast1.onesite.com/capcom-unity.com/user/roq/2510c5afd79d38
5df92688481ed7d881.jpg?v=256800

Kevin Fishburne
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I can only think David's revelation is caused by fear of backlash from advocacy groups, or some twisted sense of morality. With the amount of violence in the God of War games, it seems silly to take the position that it's okay to butcher males (as long as your avatar's animations don't reflect bloodlust), but that killing women is off limits. Last time I checked the lives of women and men were considered equal in value (middle east excluded). This argument is rooted in sexism. It's trying to compensate for thousands of years of it and I think it's just silly. Dismembering a man is just as offensive as dismembering a woman. The only way this would work is if there was a story-related cultural bias against the killing of women which was upheld by your character. As a general rule it's bullshit.

Josh Rough
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Ridiculous.

Shawn Frison
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I realize he's talking about the new game, but uh... I can't be the only one who remembers the part in GoW 3 where you have to make that random innocent woman you're protecting get ground up in that gear mechanism in order to hold the next door open so you can progress, right? While you may not be personally sticking the knife in, you're very deliberating putting her through a gruesome death in order to achieve your goals.

Ole Berg Leren
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It's such a vague statement that it could mean anything with regards to the female gender. Seems more like they're trying to spin the discussion going on and put themselves in a favorable light without really saying or commiting to anything.

Your example is a gruesome death, but not sexist. Not from what I can read out of the context you provided, at least.

Jeff F
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/sarcasm

Lets all ban Tomb Raider...we can't have a woman beating the crap out of guys all day, that is sexist!


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