I have already written quite a bit on The Witcer 3 (TW3) by now, and that is partly to due with the fact that I absolutely love the game, but also because there is such a depth to it that it is impossible to cover in a single blog post. The last post I wrote on TW3 was on narrative, and how narrative can be an important tool in game creation: Have a look here. Today I write more in reaction to what other people have said about TW3. More specifically Feminist Frequency. Oh yes, today feminism is under the loop!
Now, let me first say that I am by no means an expert in feminism, but I do pride myself in being able to tell the difference between good research and statements that make sense, and those that are just pure nonsense. I believe there need to be a balance in argument, and don’t always find that in what we know as the 3rd wave of feminism. And yes, I believe most of the criticism of TW3 is misplaced, especially that of Feminist Frequency. Lots of judgements and statements here, but bare with me, I am not being as controversial as I may sound. TW3 is by no means perfect, and there are certain issues concerning its depictions, but it is not all black and white. I’ve mentioned Feminist Frequency a couple of times, and by now you must be wondering what has been said to make me come across this strongly again them, well, take a look at the following:
Let me first put this into context. TW3 is placed in a middle-age world, and depicts most of general life accordingly, in other words not the kind of world we know today, and therefore the inequality is also worse. It is also a very brutal world, with nasty characters and mean personalities. It is often said that there are always two sides to a story, and in the case of TW3 this is precisely what there is. Throughout the game the player gets to play as both Geralt and as Ciri. Yes, it is true derogatory terms are yelled at Ciri at times during game when dealing with thugs, but what is the issue? Would it be better if none of this was the case, and everyone, including the bad guys, just treated Ciri with courtesy and respect? No. The game world of TW3 is a brutal one, not just towards women, but towards everyone, and it would break with the games integrity if Ciri was not bad-mouthed at. The game doesn’t discriminate, as the same happens throughout to Geralt. He is often referred to as a freak, and several times he receives threats to remove his genitals.
Reality is that women have been treated badly and with inequality throughout much of history, and even though TW3 is set in a fantasy universe, it mirrors our reality. No, its not very nice to play Ciri and being called a “whore” and so on, but that is exactly the point, we aren’t meant to to feel nice about it. We play a female character and are placed in a position where we feel the hurt of these insults upon ourselves, and maybe this personal experience with derogatory terms is healthy to experience, especially for the male players. I would not define the game as educational per se, but there might be some such quality to the game and its depictions. Issues such as these should not be ignored, and it is therefore still necessary to display in games placed in a society where it would take place.
Like I said TW3 is not without issues. Ciri is still sexualized in the game, and example is her shirt, which, annoyingly so, is always unbuttoned just around the chest area. But, at least a lot of the sexualization has been taken out of the game, as it was much worse in its prequels. You are just not quite there yet CD Project Red. I am not here to make excuses on the game designers behalf, simply defending it from unsubstantial accusations as the ones from Feminist Frequency.
Another of these accusations is made by the producer of FF:
These accusations are straight out laughable to anyone who has actually taken the time to play the game. Something I am assuming McIntosh indeed hasn’t. Yes, Geralt does at times seem very stoic, but that would be due to the fact that he has undergone mutations, which removed his emotions and effectively castrated him. Geralt rarely shows any sign of anger or rage in the game, but usually a cool acceptance of a situation of opposition, and at times disgust at the poor displays of humanity. He even at times does show signs of emotion, and of the positive kind. Ciri hits a soft spot in Geralt’s heart, and even makes him smile and laugh at times, and a blind person could see Geralt’s love for Yennefer. There is a lot of depth in Geralt’s character as soon at you start noticing it, but sadly it is easier simply to snub this and condemn him as an emotionless and flat character.
I have far from covered all the gender aspects and discrimination aspects of this game, so please if you have any comments or disagree with anything, then leave a comment below. And if there is enough interest in the subject of TW3 and it’s depiction of gender, class and race, then I’ll consider doing another post on it at a later stage.