On Duke Nukem and sexism

I didn’t write the story for Shack, but details of Duke Nukem’s multiplayer modes hit the internet today. It caused a little stir in the gaming circles, which means we’re now at T-minus a few days before it causes a huge stir in the non-gaming circles. This time, they’re not entirely wrong.

The main problem is the “Capture the Babe” mode, a modification on Capture the Flag in which Duke hauls around a hysterical woman and slaps her when she freaks out. I can already hear the Fox News special report on the latest misogynistic game being marketed to our children. Our children.

They’ll be right, of course. Duke Nukem is a series that thrives on misogyny. That and bubblegum pretty much makes the game’s entire identity. But stuffing bills into a stripper’s g-string doesn’t have the same bizarre impact it had in the 90s, so they had to find some way to amp it up. It’s like getting offended by something Howard Stern says. If you’re offended, that’s the whole point. That’s the goal.

Stepping back, looking at it from a game design mechanic, you can judge the worth of a game type by stripping away the window dressing. In this case you have a capture the flag mode where the flag will sometimes, at random intervals, need you to press a button. That doesn’t sound even remotely fun.

So, onto the game news that I did cover.

  • I’m only a casual football fan, but this is a pretty cool idea. Narrowing it down to only a few votes, as in years prior, was a bit slanted. Obviously last year’s Super Bowl QB is the most likely contender, but at least the others have a chance. I voted for Ray Rice, also known as my wife’s football crush.
  • I’ll never be the one to complain about free stuff for being a PlayStation Plus subscriber. It’s cool that between Stacking, the Genesis classics, and this game, they’re starting to get some pretty big downloadable titles, and even get some early or day-and-date with their wide release. PS+ started out as a bit of a joke, but I think it’s safe to say it’s not a bad value now.
  • Only 7 days left before the 3DS. Sure, the downloads suck, but I’m eager to get my hands on a new piece of hardware. Unfortunately, since I ordered through Amazon, I’m getting it a day later than any other day-one adopter. Nintendo’s “always release on Sunday” policy at work. Oh well. At least I don’t have to camp outside a Target at 4 a.m. (We totally did that for a Wii)

I submitted a new piece to GamePro today. I haven’t gotten any edit notes, but here’s hoping it goes up without a hitch.

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4 thoughts on “On Duke Nukem and sexism

  1. Stacy says:

    Hi Steve!

    Grand Theft Auto IV had a quest where you had to kidnap a woman that kept trying to drive your car off course so you had to knock her out. Many hi-jinks ensued after that, like jokes about her being in a trunk. Can’t say I was pleased with that segment of the game. I tend to like Rockstar’s games, so I played it through. But I’m tired of dealing with that scenario.

    Duke Nukem I really couldn’t care less about, for obvious reasons. Never bought it, never will. So if this company really wants to miss out on that market, they are more then welcome to. Women already outnumber men in games that are easily accessible, and eventually we’ll get used to the console playing as well, because the “boy and his playstation” stereotype is growing old and we are already growing in numbers in console games. Worse, we are not being as silent as we used to be. The stigma is fading (but remind me to tell you about my Dragon Age II game buying experience!).

    It may have sold well in the past. I doubt it will in the future. The developers that are smart are catching onto this.

    But with that said, I can’t give them the Lenny Bruce benefit of the doubt. I don’t think they are going for this to get publicity, I think they are going for this because they think they are catering to an audience that it sells well to.

    • sporkyreeve says:

      Well, I’m with you most of the way. I think Duke Nukem is a relic of a bygone age, and Gearbox is trying to keep this decade-old game alive. It used to be a parody of 90s action stars, but now it’s practically a parody of itself. I think they just thought to themselves, “the spirit of Duke Nukem is blatant misogyny, so how can we make it even more bombastic than it was years ago?” Slapping bitches, of course!

      But yeah, I don’t have a lot of faith in the longevity of this franchise. Gearbox bought it with apparent hopes to revive it, but this might just be the last Duke game. I don’t think many people will really miss it.

      Also, by all means, tell me about your Dragon Age 2 buying experience. I’m intrigued already.

  2. Scott says:

    I can’t help but wonder how this will fare, though. I mean, Duke Nukem 3D was, underneath all the machismo and heterosexism, a pretty good game for its time. If they do the same thing with this, it could do well in spite being out of step in some ways.

    Of course, even if it isn’t any good, I fear it would be lapped up by the same douchebags who quote “Family Guy” episodes ad nauseum anyway.

    • sporkyreeve says:

      I guess we’ll have to see. Duke was pretty solid, but it was also a big fish in a small pond. Its competition was a handful of other games, as compared to now when we have two or three marquee FPS games coming out per month. I think you need something really special to stand out as a shooter nowadays, and I can’t see how smacking ladies on the tookus is going to cut it.

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