Published on March 14th, 2013 | by Andy Astruc16
War Games: God of War’s woman-hating ways
Considering this is a hobby where we control tiny virtual people to destroy imaginary cities, roll Japanese garbage into balls, throw fireballs at turtles and make friends with little girls, there sure is a lot of complaining, weirdness and straight-up corruption going on. War Games is your semi-regular summary of the Issue of the Moment, and a chance to generate some thoughtful and honest discussion amongst the sea of hyperbole and hurt feelings.
You may have heard of a game series called God of War. It’s ostensibly about a Spartan warrior who rages against the injustice of the Greek gods, murdering hundreds of thousands of people just because he once accidentally stabbed his family to death. Ascension – the latest in the series – came out recently and brought with it the fury of feminist outrage. A trophy, spotted by many but brought into the public consciousness by Adam Sessler’s review, went by the name “Bros before Hos”. Sessler took issue with the trophy, which appears after a particularly violent confrontation with a female enemy. He used his review to call the achievement a “gut punch of misogyny” which soured the entire game for him.
This prompted the internet at large (by which I mean a small, but extremely loud, minority) to express similar outrage at this sexist turn of events. All corners of the industry were suddenly buzzing with indignant commentary about the treatment of women in video games and the casual denigration of the gender this three word joke represented. This story takes an unfortunate turn when the developers — Sony Santa Monica — feel the heat of public scrutiny and change the name of the trophy to wet the flames of feminist rage.
Did they do the right thing? In my opinion they certainly did not. Bowing to public pressure simply because people are shouting loudly sets a dangerous precedent for future events. If SSM are willing to change their game to stop people being offended (many of whom were probably never going to buy the game in the first place) then it gives angry mobs ample reason to think they can succeed again. And it means other developers will see caving in as a valid business strategy. Even worse, the entire controversy is a manufactured attention grabber of the worst kind. It seems rather convenient that Sessler brings up this “gut punch” at a time when the issue of gaming and feminism is the hottest of buttons. Achievements and trophies frequently feature bad jokes, puns and pop culture references, and this was no different. The phrase “bros before hos” is an established one, and has arguably reached a point where it is used comically more often than with serious intent. And this is before even looking at the misrepresentation of the circumstances surrounding the trophy unlock.
That’s right, it’s good to step back at this point and remember we’re talking about an imaginary prize related to a fake battle in a fictional story. But enough of my fully-baked opinions for now. What do you think? Is the trophy sexist? Does it matter? Was Sony Santa Monica right to change the wording?