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Vox Day: My orc and troll fighting game won’t have any women in it, because that wouldn’t be historically accurate

If you want historically accurate male-on-male combat action, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association Board of Directors Simulator 3000: 2011 Edition is the way to go
If you want historically accurate male-on-male combat action, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association Board of Directors Simulator 3000: 2011 Edition is the way to go

So our old friend Vox Day is working on a video game. And he’s decided to make a bold and unprecedented choice in his design of the game: he’s not going to have any ladies in it.

But it turns out this choice has nothing to do with anything so pedestrian as misogyny. In fact, it was the only rational choice he could make. Let’s let him explain. He has such a way with words. (He’s apparently some sort of writer.)

I am a game designer. I am designing and producing a game that does not, and will not, have a single female character in it. This is not because I am misogynistic. This is not because I do not women to play the game. This is because putting women in the game makes no sense, violates the principle of the suspension of disbelief, and will not make the game any better as a game.

Well, that makes sense. I mean, the game is probably some game that has to have only male characters to be believable. You know, like Dance Party with the American Presidents or the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association Board of Directors Simulator 3000 or something like that.

I am the lead designer of First Sword, a combat management game. The game has orcs and men, elves and dwarves. It has goblins and trolls. But it has no women.

Uh, wait. It’s a combat game filled with orcs, goblins and trolls, but putting women in it would “violate …  the principle of the suspension of disbelief.”

Because the game is a gladiator game. Women cannot credibly fight as gladiators. We don’t put women in the game for the same reason we don’t put bunny rabbits or children in the game.

Well, why not? You put fucking orcs in it. Why not make a combat game with bunny rabbits?

Actually, someone already did that. It’s called Overgrowth. And it’s supposed to be pretty good.

Putting women in the game would be an act of brutal sadism, an act of barbarism even by pagan Roman standards. While the Romans did occasionally put female gladiators in the arena, they were there as a comedic act.

Really? This is a VIDEO GAME. You can do whatever you want with it. It is really harder to imagine a woman being able to fight a man than it is to imagine entire races of imaginary humanoid creatures?

We could, of course, throw out historical verisimilitude. But we’re not going to. Because we value that verisimilitude far more than we value the opinion of a few whiny women who don’t play the sort of games we make anyhow.

Historical verisimilitude? Historical verisimilitude?!

YOU’RE MAKING A GAME ABOUT ORCS AND TROLLS.

ORCS AND TROLLS DO NOT EXIST.

THEY HAVE NEVER EXISTED.

THERE IS NO HISTORY THAT INCLUDES ORCS AND TROLLS.

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Aaron Boyden
6 years ago

Maybe it’s trolls like internet trolls. What they’d be doing in a gladiatorial arena I don’t know; heckling? Making them fight seems like it would be an act of brutal sadism (though perhaps satisfying nonetheless). And as far as making the orcs credible, I’ve got nothing.

tinyorc
6 years ago

The game has orcs and men, elves and dwarves. It has goblins and trolls. But it has no women.

Ah yes. Because we wouldn’t want to repeat the mistakes of miserable flop that was Skyrim, the least fantasy game ever made.

Also, as a woman who has been playing female orc brawler characters in various RPG settings since I was fourteen years old… LOL.

tinyorc
6 years ago

Ugh, worst, not least!

dlouwe
dlouwe
6 years ago

I assume though, there will be female orcs, since orcs are historically good fighters regardless of gender.

tedthefed
tedthefed
6 years ago

You know what’s weird? In games where you can customize your character, there’s usually not any gender differences (great). But there’s apparently no social pressure against having RACE-based differences. They even call them that (“elf” is a race, apparently). Even without the egregious examples, like Elder Scrolls’ “black people’s special power is that they can run really fast and jump really high,” that’s still weird that no one blinks an eye about it.

Ally S
6 years ago

I am a game designer.

*spits out imaginary drink*

Also, “historical verisimilitude?” If that doesn’t smell like unbridled pretentiousness, I don’t know what does.

leftwingfox
6 years ago

He’s already living in a fantasy world where women never engaged in combat. Makes sense it’s full of orcs and trolls.

(Btw: Anyone else eager for the Elder Scrolls MMO?)

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

He should have written “I’m scared of women” and been done with it.

bodycrimes
6 years ago

At least his orcs and trolls aren’t sacking towns and raping the women folk in a nod towards fantasy versimilitude.

tinyorc
6 years ago

@leftwingfox Eager, but terrified it is going to consume my life.

leftwingfox
6 years ago

tedthefed: Good point. I tend to be a bit blind to it because those examples are so often completely different species, where distinct physical differences makes a more sense.

Hyena Girl
6 years ago

I’d really like to see his citations for “gladiatrix as comedy act” as the historical record disagrees with him (yeah, that’s a surprise). While female gladiators were rare the were definitely part of the Roman games. Oddly though I can’t seem to find any historical citations for dwarves, elves, orcs, or trolls in historical games… or even mention of orcs at all pre-Tolkien.

Steven Murray, S. (2003) Female Gladiators of the Ancient Roman World. Journal of Combative Sport. Retrieved 02/14 from http://www.ejmas.com/jcs/jcsart_murray_0703.htm

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
6 years ago

Also, as a woman who has been playing female orc brawler characters in various RPG settings since I was fourteen years old… LOL.

I love playing as orc women in the Elder Scrolls series. And for other RPGs, dwarf women. My go-to female dwarf name is Rioda. Orc woman name is Lukko. Yup, I have standard names picked out depending on what race I choose!

barrakuduh
barrakuduh
6 years ago

Oh my god, Huckleberry’s comment:

I don’t know what all the complaining is about. The Grand Theft Auto series has plenty of women, and its one of the most successful franchises in video game history. You’ve won, darlin’. Now go home and play Candy Crush like you were going to anyway.

tinyorc
6 years ago

Chie Satonaka:

Orc woman name is Lukko. Yup, I have standard names picked out depending on what race I choose!

BOOM. I also have this. My standard orc lady name is Merka. For other races, I’m a fan of Ornagh, and Naoise is a handy gender neutral one.

I mean, wait, I’m a woman so I hate all games except Candy Crush.

talacaris
talacaris
6 years ago

What are the speculations of the position of female orcs in orc society. I remember I read a web comic about a female orc warrior, but I can’t find it anymore..

Mandie
Mandie
6 years ago

Haha I’m sure I’ll be seeing loads of positive reviews for “First Sword,” which sounds completely unique and has so much to offer the world of PC gaming. I mean, orcs and fighting with swords? No women? It’s never been done! /sarcasm, so much sarcasm

Also how does he know orcs, dwarves, or elves even have gender, or that there are precisely two genders for those fantasy species? I mean, we don’t have to take Tolkien’s writing as gospel on those subjects and you really could make up whatever you want, so how does he know that the orcs and elves in his game are male at all?

(also hi I’m new to commenting, but I’ve been lurking on and off for years)

barrakuduh
barrakuduh
6 years ago

GRAND
THEFT
AUTO.

…Welp, looks like we can all go home now. Grand Theft frickin’ Auto has women in it. The world of video games is no longer sexist.

leftwingfox
6 years ago

Actually, if you all don’t mind, I’d like to bounce a potentially contentious game issue in one of my designs off the feminist hivemind here. I’ve been putting on a long-running campaign path in Pathfinder for my friends (levels 1-15) with a mind towards submitting it to Paizo.

The adventure is focussed around a remote mining boom-town, which starts abandoned, but the players take a strong hand in developing. Since there’s something of a klondike sensibility to it, the issue of prostitution is one of those “historical facts” that I was trying to figure out how to integrate.

I ended up creating a plot issue where one of the prominent NPCs is a catfolk Madam of the local inn, who becomes very concerned and angry at the presence of some mercenaries. Later in the game, the players travel to the nearby city, where they incidentally discover her past as a gang member and sex worker in the slums outside the city, as well as the mercenary group’s ties to organized crime within the city. Territorial conflict caused her to attack one of the mercs, and flee for her life. By the time they return to the boom-town, the captain of the mercs, the same one who threatened her life, has been found apparently clawed to death during an intimate moment. The players are then tasked with solving the crime.

I was hoping to use this as a means of setting up a moral choice, based on players’ preconceptions of sex work, racism, sexism, and notions of self-defence, with the outcome of the investigation affecting the balance of power in town. (The correct answer after a thorough investigation being being that a supernatural third party has taken advantage of this conflict, and is the real killer.)

I can probably rewrite this to eliminate prostitution references, and make this simply about a former gang member vs. a mob capo, but I think that our perceptions of sex work do add a level of moral ambiguity to the plot.

So I’m curious as to what others think.

Z
Z
6 years ago

Just a note: “Race” used to be somewhat synonymous with “species” (as in “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”), hence the use in fantasy works. Using “species” apparently would sound too scientific for the “fantasy” flavor. As far as I can recall, Tolkien used only “people” (as in “Free Peoples” ), “folk” and “kin” (though I may be wrong), so like many other stupid conventions of the genre I’m going to blame it on D&D. 🙂

grumpycatisagirl
6 years ago

This is not because I do not women to play the game.

So Vox Day womens to play the game? How?

Chie Satonaka
Chie Satonaka
6 years ago

It’s also already been established that women and men play casual games (such as Candy Crush) in equal numbers.

serrana
serrana
6 years ago

Grumpycat, Box* Day is a writer. He’s to busy and important to worry about making sense.

*Typo, but I’m keeping it.

serrana
serrana
6 years ago

^too, not to. Ugh. I need more caffeine.

Angela Gibbons
6 years ago

I play World of Warcraft, and have many characters of the feminine gender, including orcs, trolls, elves, goblins, and dwarves.

[embed] http://www.acuityorg.com/wallstock/wallpaper-horde-females-by-gaarachan.jpg [/embed]

But we all know World of Warcraft was a huge flop, so pay it hardly counts as a true video game.

naltia
naltia
6 years ago

Bleh, embed fail!

MisMis
MisMis
6 years ago

Interestingly the only overt feminist computer game is a rather brilliant stealth-based FPS called “No One Lives Forever”.
It is old by today’s standards but imagine a 70ies themed spy thriller with Cate Archer as heroine, henchmen discussing the sociology of crime while on their guard shift, women NPCs explaining to villains why cat-calling is inappropriate and tons of funny dialogue.

I play it once a year – it’s my all-time favourite computer game.

NB: Don’t try the Playstation version. It’s rather lacking.

theladyzombie
6 years ago

So is he going to slap a “No Gurls Allowed” banner on the game’s package? Eh, he probably scorns consoles so it’ll be a PC game. That still leaves him the problem of how to keep his game away from the feeeemales.

I’d really love to see a group of female gamers record themselves playing his game and laughing at his ridiculousness. Well, maybe not. We all know that MRAs get highly offended when women don’t do what they’re told, so they’d probably dox them or something.

I love Skyrim. My female Dark Elf married another female Dark Elf and they adopted two daughters and built a pretty awesome Manor. They have a house steward but he seems to only wander aimlessly around, eating and swimming in the fish hatchery. He didn’t even do anything about the giant that bounded onto the property and killed the cow. Men. Always sitting on their asses, eating sweet rolls. Pfft.

Alex M
Alex M
6 years ago

If he’s just ripping off Lord of the Rings like every other fantasy hack, he actually could claim that there would be no female orcs in combat due to “historical accuracy”. Tolkien’s quote about them was:

“There must have been orc-women. But in stories that seldom if ever see the Orcs except as soldiers of armies in the service of the evil lords we naturally would not learn much about their lives. Not much was known.”

Besides that, I don’t think it’s simply not including female characters that’s Vox Day’s mistake here. I think any artist should have the right to choose what kind of characters they want to include in their work without having to shoehorn in every possible social group and topic. Tokenism can be just as (if not more) harmful as exclusion. I do think most creators could really benefit from thinking outside the white male heterosexual cisgender first world middle class mold, but the solution to that is way more complex than to throw boobs on some random character, give a brown pixel shader to another, and call it a day.

The mistake here is first calling attention to deliberately leaving female characters out and writing a really flimsy justification for it that amounts to “women, get out!” If he just made the game and released it, nobody would give a crap and the game would just be more quickly forgotten white noise in an overcrowded industry. Every uproar I’ve seen about excluding female characters has always been because of a creator calling attention to it. You’d think they’d just stop that by now, but nope.

ladysunami
ladysunami
6 years ago

My female woodelf’s Skyrim husband is apparently a badass. I got the “Oh noes! Your spouse has been kidnapped by bandits!” quest. I was about to go find him when suddenly… Quest completed. I was really confused until he wandered back home the next day. Apparently he killed all the bandits and rescued himself!

theladyzombie
6 years ago

Grr, that kidnapping quest. There’s a glitch or something that can mess up the NPC’s movement once you rescue them. When my Dark Elf’s wife got captured and I got her back, she started walking into walls and getting stuck. I imagined my character going “My god, darling, what did they do to you?!” and then swore an oath that she would kill any bandit she came across. Which works out well since bandits always attack you anyway.

historophilia
historophilia
6 years ago

Every time an MRA talks about history like they know what the hell they are on about I want to bang my head against a wall and somewhere a kindly and harmless history professor has a heart attack in the study filled wall to wall with books.

Please stop massacring my subject, go and pick up a book.

This was like the time I argued with an MRA on tumblr who seemed to be under the impression that there had never been any universal military conscription before WWI and thus the suffragettes were to blame for all the men dying in the trenches.

When I pointed out that mass conscription had existed long before and you could probably blame Napoleon with more credibility than you could blame the suffragettes he conveniently ignored that.

Oh and he claimed that Chivalry had been codified. As a medieval historian I laugh heartily at this and throw the millions of medieval texts at him on chivalry all of which pose a different definition of chivalry. I also gift to him the vats of historians tears shed as they try and come up with a workable universal definition of history.

I will also drop Christine de Pizan on him, just because.

Historical facts are misandry.

Cthulhu's Intern
6 years ago

This is completely accurate? Are they also going to fight a giant enemy crab? Attack its weak point for massive damage? Is it going to be on sale for five hundred ninety-nine US dollars?

Cthulhu's Intern
6 years ago

Whoops, I tried to put a fake HTML tag at the end of that. It was supposed to say /datedreference.

kittehserf
6 years ago

Oh right, the Romans never had women as the victims of horrific cruelty in their entertainments. Nosirree, never happened. They were only there to be funny pretend gladiators.

Fuckwit.

grumpycatisagirl
6 years ago

I think both Vox Day and Heartiste are pretty racist, as horrible people often have such things in common.

sparky
sparky
6 years ago

“I’m going to create a game with trolls and elves, but no women, because that wouldn’t be historically accurate.”

Um, no. You’re making a fantasy game. If there are elves and trolls in he game, historical accuracy has gone out the window. You’re not including women in the game because you don’t want to, not because of “historical accuracy.”

And what the hell, why won’t this idea that women don’t like video games just die already?

Lids
6 years ago

I’m so glad we have MRAs to make historically accurate games, the ones where dwarves and orcs are characters but there are no women because women never fought. I wish I was half the historian Vox Day is /sarcasm.

BreakfastMan
BreakfastMan
6 years ago

Women can’t fight, right… I must have gotten my ass kicked in martial arts by short, extremely effeminate men then. What a load of hogwash. Just because women, on the whole, are shorter and have more difficultly than men building loads of muscle mass doesn’t mean they can’t fight. Most women can fight just fine when they put their mind to it, just like most men.

katz
6 years ago

Vox is a joke and his game will never get made. Unfortunately there’s also a real game coming out where you can’t play a woman for the exact same reasons.

Evan (@evvywevvy)
6 years ago

There is a long history in the high-fantasy-RPG community of using “historical verisimilitude” to refer to “my weird hang-ups that make the game less fun.” For example, saying, “You can’t use that kind of sword because we are playing a classical high-fantasy setting based on medieval England and that fantasy sword is based on one from the pre-Islamic Middle East.” It is transparently bullshit because Orcs.

I have also heard a lot of anecdotes about women who tried to play female characters in D&D (&c) only to have their characters captured and raped by bandits/Orcs/whatever because verisimilitude. It made them not want to play the game anymore, thus preserving the boys’ club.

The flipside of this is fun, where you say, “OK, if you want to do that, go for it, and if you are serious about the game, then come up with a reason why it makes sense for your character to do that.” This style makes it a lot more fun & creative to play, which is why my current game is 3 women and 2 men (and awesome).

jayemgriffin
6 years ago

@historiophilia Chivalry… was… codified…? Somehow I (and all of my professors) missed that.

Evan (@evvywevvy)
6 years ago

And actually, the other guy plays a female character, so the party is 4 females and 1 male, and my male character probably goes down (dying) more often than any of the others.

freemage
freemage
6 years ago

leftwingfox:

One key thing to keep in mind with Pathfinder (and other flavors of D&D): Magic is technology. That is, it fills much the same role as technology does in the real world–it’s reliable, stable and produces repeatable results. And it doesn’t care about gender identity one whit.

Technology in the real world has had a huge effect on the rights of women and PoCs (less the latter, due to the economic factors that come into play). Magic would likewise have a similar effect on most D&D settings–with the added factor that high-powered magic has been around since nearly the dawn of time. Thus, gender-role thinking should be massively reduced (that it often isn’t in many published and home games says more about this world than the fantasy ones). (Side-note: This is an also why Voxie is so full of shit.)

Now, economic injustice DOES still exist in the setting. Thus, yes, there will likely be sex-work (high-end courtesan roles may have a reasonable number of people who ‘prefer’ that particular line of work, but streetwalkers and even brothel workers will likely still be drawn from those forced into the role as a matter of economic survival, if not literally just forced into the job by traffickers). But it shouldn’t be anywhere near as gender-imbalanced as it is in ours; instead, at all tiers of society, sex workers should be as likely to be as male as female. Non-human sex workers outside their own communities are likely viewed as “exotic”–and thus, probably disproportionate at both ends of the economic spectrum. (A cat-folk prostitute might appeal to jaded wealthy types, but will have a hard time finding customers in a human-dominant community’s ‘middle class’–so will often end up working more in the slums and shantytowns.)

So, your catfolk madam’s inn is likely staffed by a mostly human crew, with the number who identify as men or women in equal numbers (note that a low-level sorcerer could adjust their gender presentation, which should not be confused with their identity, something which would net them more customers).

So it’s not an intrinsically bad idea to include sex-work; you should just make certain you’re remembering that this world is not one that abides so readily by our own fucked up kyriarchal imbalances. It may have all new biases, but it should at least have ours be impacted by the presence of magic. (Racism, of the “I dislike people of my species with slightly different skin-tones” is another thing that should be virtually nil in a fantasy setting, IMNSHO. The idea that someone cares about skin color when there’s people running around with tusks and pointed ears and mechanically different body-types is going to seem strange in most environments.)

yama
6 years ago

My understanding is that First Sword isn’t so much a game as it is a glorified spreadsheet. Oh, it’s going to crash and burn, of course, but it’s not that hard to make something like that.

tedthefed
tedthefed
6 years ago

I do have to admit that it’s a better strategy than the ones lots of other fantasy writers take to make their works more believable representations of times long past. Those people include women in the stories, and then also include lots and lots and lots and lots of rape.

hippodameia8527
hippodameia8527
6 years ago

In 19 Common Era the Roman Senate prohibiting men and women of the highest classes from appearing on the stage or in the arena. The decree specifically mentions an earlier decree from 11 Common Era prohibiting freeborn women under the age of twenty from appearing in the arena. in 200 Common Era Septimus Severus expanded the ban to include women of every station.

Archaeological evidence of female gladiators has been found from Turkey to London.

Pox Day might know this if he ever took his head out of his ass.

hippodameia8527
hippodameia8527
6 years ago

*The Roman Senate issued a decree prohibiting*

sparky
sparky
6 years ago

I would totally like to see Dance Party with the American Presidents come out. I bet Martin van Buren could get down.

BreakfastMan
BreakfastMan
6 years ago

I have the feeling William Howard Taft would just tear up the dance floor. Just put on “Maniac” by Michael Sembello and watch him go to work.

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