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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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gelar
gelar
6 years ago

I was talking about this exact thing to my brother not two days ago. He seemed skeptical that this is even a position some people take, no matter how obscure they are in literature / gaming / television / etc., and that Star Trek was enough to make up for it. I’d link this conversation to him, but for the guilt of inflicting this corner of the internet on loved ones.

hippodameia8527
hippodameia8527
6 years ago

Ninja’d by Hyena Girl – sorry about that!

Falconer
6 years ago

KICK VOX DAY OUT OF THE SCIENCE FICTION WRITERS OF AMERICA, WILL YOU

HE WILL SHOW YOU

HE WILL SHOW YOU ALL

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

I’m a guy, and my favorite D&D character was a female half-orc bureaucrat wizard/tank. Let me tell you, nothing makes your character memorable like playing a Lawful Neutral bureaucrat in a campaign made up of anarchists. (She turned out to be everyone’s favorite, probably because she was very low in the Random Number God’s favor and yet still didn’t quite manage to die.)

RE: Z

Using “species” apparently would sound too scientific for the “fantasy” flavor.

I always figured it was because elves, humans, and orcs could inter-breed, ergo they were unlikely to be separate species.

…wow, I just realized the really creepy racial connotations of that. I mean, I always knew there were creepy questionable racial things, but. Um. Yeeeaaahhhh…

RE: tedthefed

Those people include women in the stories, and then also include lots and lots and lots and lots of rape.

Uuuuugh, I HATE this. medievalpoc on tumblr had an excellent post on that kind of thing, but it’s tumblr, so good luck finding it again. I mean, I can enjoy books with rape — Sasha Miller’s Ladylord did a good job, I think, of depicting rape culture and misogyny without making my soul cry — but it’s a very delicate line, and it’s like, shit, I get enough of that in real life, why would I want it in my fiction?

Hyena Girl
Hyena Girl
6 years ago

Speaking of fantasy I’ve always taken great joy in messing with the minds of players by subverting expectations about evil humanoid races in D&D/Pathfinder by making Gnolls very matriarchal. They’re all ready for the magic/stealth oriented Femdomme elves (Drow) but the 7′ tall warrior hyena amazons come as a rude shock to a lot of them… especially players who think tough=male.

Shaenon
6 years ago

Wow, a fighting game with D&D races. How many brain cells did Vox burn coming up with that breathtakingly original idea?

insanitybytes22
6 years ago

I tend to picture Vox as a little boy bouncing on his bunk bed in his Star Wars boxer shorts making signs that say, “no gurls allowed.” I bet he’s got a GI Joe and some army men, too. No doubt he hates his mommy, she’s probably the one who sent him to his room.

seraph4377
6 years ago

Hyena Girl – At least as of 3.5, that’s canon. They’re humanoid hyenas, after all.

Yutolia
Yutolia
6 years ago

I love it how they act like making games with no female characters is a new thing…

seraph4377
6 years ago

I always figured it was because elves, humans, and orcs could inter-breed, ergo they were unlikely to be separate species.

Nah. Think Doylist, not Watsonian. As in, the writers either didn’t think of, or didn’t care about, the fact that interbreeding should be impossible. Take Spock: Vulcans have copper-based blood. There is no remotely believable way that humans and Vulcans are closely-related enough to produce even a sterile hybrid, but there he be. Elves in most fantasy settings live hundreds of years, and in Tolkien they’re truly immortal. Individual rulers can probably trace their lineage back before our species evolved (not that evolution exists in Tolkien’s books). And yet, there sit Tanis Half-Elven and Elrond – and, more importantly, Elrond’s children.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

RE: seraph4377

Enh, that makes sense. Still creepy racist overtones to me, though.

Z
Z
6 years ago

Not to mention Elrond’s grand-grand-grand-mother, who was a Maia, i.e. a kind of angelic being. But I guess she was powerful enough to make that work…

P.S. The canonical name distortion is Pox Day. The “French pox”, probably…

Lady Ballsnip
Lady Ballsnip
6 years ago

”Putting women in the game would be an act of brutal sadism, an act of barbarism even by pagan Roman standards. ”
Such a quote implies that it’s a delicate, history-based artwork. As if one’d take Berlioz’s music and ruined it with some horrible rap in it or something. Dude, you’re introducing fucking ORCS! Since the dawn of mankind women have existed. It’s a greater historical mess-up to introduce women as opposed to orcs…? Omg.

Sarah
Sarah
6 years ago

Vox Day is a big fan of Tolkien. Tolkien did put a, uh, token woman into his seminal work. And that woman was, in fact, good with a sword. I call bullshit.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

Vox Day is a big fan of Tolkien.

Gee, I sure couldn’t tell.

Seriously, am I the only fantasy fan who wishes that the genre as a whole would come up with some new ideas to base a world on? I’m not even that into Tolkien, so the constant deluge of knock-offs is just really dull.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

No woman gladiators?!?

seraph4377
6 years ago

Z – Yeah, we’re getting into straight-up “A Wizard Did It” territory there.

LBT – Oh, no doubt. So much of Fantasy is built on the foundation of Tolkien and perpetuated by privileged white nerds that it would be surprising if there weren’t any. The Drow fiasco alone…

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

RE: seraph4377

I’ve heard a lot of complaints about YA fiction, but I tend to actually prefer it, because in my experience, it at least has some OTHER fantasy ideas that freakin’ Tolkien. Like, I want something BESIDES bland blond vaguely-medieval vaguely-Northwest European! I want worlds based off of Feudal Japan, or ancient Egypt, or 1920s India! I want paranoid Cold War fantasies, and surreal Lewis Carrol fantasies, and modern day boring-ass fantasies about customer service.

Fibinachi
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.

Short aside about Paizo official campaigns and adventure paths: It is, in a way, almost ridicolous how many not generally hetereonormative characters and situations you can find in those bits of writing. Not in a bad way, but in a quantity where I was kind of surprised at the sheer volume and pleasantly puzzled after years and years of modules for 3.5 where such a thing as, oh, say a former sex worker or a bisexual mage or anything of the kind was utterly unthinkable.

As for that bit specifically, I like the set up, and it does introduce a fair amount of interesting quandries and questions about perception and guilt, it’s a good way to have a bit of an aside that might not neccesarily be instantly fixable with rigid “Right, the madame is evil / good and the mercenaries are evil / good” (Surprise! Third party!).

However, reading it out like that, the sex work seems almost incidental to the entire thing. “Her past as a gangmember” covers just as much, or even “former run ins with the mercenaries who have hand in organized crime”: What I mean is that given that the link seems to be “claw marks from intimiate contact + former sex worker = red herring victim”, it could just as easily be “claw marks + seduced and killed for vengeance”.

Essentially, the sex work isn’t neccesary since you already have the barebones idea perfectly fitting. I’d keep it in, because hey, it’s a good detail and adds character, but it’d make it so the part where they incidentally discover is subtle, so that it’s not an out and out easy connection. That way, the DM (who, if you submit it somewhere, might not be you!) can play it as much up or down as they like, which preservers freedom, while still having that casual link. Small bits about former jobs, a few asides about having made sure the beds in the tavern are in tip top shape because the madame is very much aware of the boon of a good bed, wink wink, and stuff like that.

But perhaps that’s just me. I think if you need to add a tetiary layer of description to what is already a very good murder mystery, you add a complication that is only there to be a complication.

What you could consider is having significant hints about it, or unstated sort of “Yea, that was her former job, along with stealing”, and then, once someone is found dead, have the mercenaries go “Damn right that former prostiture killed our friend! She’s a sly and conniving cat of a creature! A feline fatale! And you can’t trust her, because whores!” – which twists the narrative a little bit in relation to having her be the obvious possible murderer, while also having decidedly unpleasant idiots clamoring for her tail (which should, at the very least, make any group of players feel just a bit defensive and liable to consider different viewpoints).

kittehserf
6 years ago

LBT – my gf’s first series (Griffin’s Daughter) has the elvish society based on Japan’s! Her human societies are a mixture of medieval and Roman/Byzantine.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

What about lady orcs? Were we supposed to assume they weren’t included either, or that they reproduce in some way that isn’t tainted by woman cooties?

kittehserf
6 years ago

If Pox is such a Tolkien fan, he should know that Morgoth created Orcs from Elves, so surely their breeding is a similar process. Morgoth didn’t have actual creative power, he could only distort. I’d bet on there being female Orcs, but they’re hardly going to be flashing their girly bits at their enemies, are they?

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

RE: Kittehs

GOOD. While my primary fantasy series, Reverend Alpert, is post-apocalyptic and a kludge of US religions, secular mythos, and pop culture memes. (Eventually, I plan to write a story about a superhero created by his town to protect them.)

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

He’s so pissy about the SFFWA not bowing to his earlier tantrum that we’re going to have to sit through many more before he tires himself out enough to take a nap.

kittehserf
6 years ago

Griffin’s Daughter also features lots of women soldiers, and, iirc, women involved in training gladiators (I’ll have to check that bit).

Bina
Bina
6 years ago

My Norse and Saxon sword-swinging ancestresses are all palming their faces and shaking their heads at this goon.

I bet his writing is just as sucky and uninteresting as his game concept.

LBT
LBT
6 years ago

Like, I can deal with women not being in fighting roles. You can have a gender stratified society in your stories. But be aware that you’re CREATING it. That’s YOU. It’s not just intrinsic to humanity, it’s your active creation.

And also have it go both ways. If your female characters aren’t allowed to swing swords, then your male characters shouldn’t be allowed in some other important field — medicine, or whatever. Don’t just pretend “that’s the way things are,” because no, that’s the way YOU’RE CREATING THEM.

Sorry, this is something that bugs the hell out of me. Artists, take responsibility for your creations! I know the mythos is that ideas just pop out of you full-grown, but come on.

steampunked (@steampunked)

Someone make him play GuildWars2 where one of the current ‘great friendships’ is a non-sexual warrior-bond between a cat-girl and a big beefy dude, and one of the current ‘great romances’ is between a female necromancer and mesmer, and where there’s a storyline event where a male character comes and begs you to save his true love, who turns out to be another male character and no one comments on the gender aspect because no one cares – THERE’S AN EVIL GUY COMING IN AND KILLING INNOCENTS.

Run-on sentence. GW2 may have its issues, but God do I love the Sylvari:

“I worry that Wardenhurst could fall!”
“Would you like me to hold you?”
“…Does that move work on other guys?”

StarStorm
6 years ago

Someone make him play GuildWars2 where one of the current ‘great friendships’ is a non-sexual warrior-bond between a cat-girl and a big beefy dude, and one of the current ‘great romances’ is between a female necromancer and mesmer, and where there’s a storyline event where a male character comes and begs you to save his true love, who turns out to be another male character and no one comments on the gender aspect because no one cares – THERE’S AN EVIL GUY COMING IN AND KILLING INNOCENTS.

Oh, I do have to catch up on GW2 lore, as my first thought was “When did Rytlock end up a cat-girl.”

Also sweet jesus no Charr women are not “cat-girls”. (As an aside, I had to figure out if I should call them female or women, because female seems disrespectful but women is humano-centric).

That said, beating Bercilak to death really is one of the most satisfying early game quests. Sylvari are awesome and the Nightmare Court can go collectively fuck themselves.

insanitybytes22
6 years ago

I thought this was funny, “Putting women in the game would be an act of brutal sadism, an act of barbarism…..” You mean, unlike the peaceful and gentle slaughter of men, Vox?

I’m telling you, these men’s rights men are doing men’s rights all wrong. Last week they were advocating prison rape, this week it’s slaughter by gladiator.

Xanthë
6 years ago

On the question of Pox D’s racism I could point to some ditties about him being a ‘racist sexist homophobic narcissistic dipshit’, but that would be merely corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative.

How to do fake html? You need to master the > tag, so that you can write the markup your fake tag as: >/fake>, which will produce: >/fake>. Once you’ve put in the > you don’t need to worry about the slash or the right-angled bracket.

Xanthë
6 years ago

Or rather, that should be < — obviously the blockquote monster is diversifying into having me fail at remembering html. *epic fail*

Brandi
Brandi
6 years ago

I remember the last time a fantasy RPG boasted of being “historically accurate”.

A little number some of you may have heard of called F.A.T.A.L.

StarStorm
6 years ago

I remember the last time a fantasy RPG boasted of being “historically accurate”.

A little number some of you may have heard of called F.A.T.A.L.

You know, I can’t believe I forgot about that. On reflection, though, I wish that I kept forgetting. Such a perfect blend of social/cultural assholery and asinine statistic systems.

Xanthë
6 years ago

Brandi, major content warnings on that link of course! The review is extremely funny yet likewise extremely problematic for all sorts of reasons related to the subject matter, but also how the reviewers pulverise it into the ground.

katz
6 years ago

OMGFATAL! I indeed remember!

Melissia (@MelissiaKuromoi)

Roll for Anal Circumference!

Shaenon
6 years ago

Long before Vox Day was kicked out of SFWA for bigotry and harassment, he should have gotten kicked out just for being plumb stupid.

Fighting game with orcs…sheesh.

HeatherN
6 years ago

Well, Vox Day is so very original and rebellious by taking that position. Quite the revolutionary.

http://www.vg247.com/2014/02/17/deep-down-the-rabbit-hole-of-ingrained-games-industry-sexism/

Oh, wait

thebobgoblin
6 years ago

Two things floated through my mind while reading this post and comment thread.

1) A sick and mean part of me would love to see Vox Day or any other “girls can’t fight” doofus last even a single round with someone like Gina Carano (or heck, with one of the lady coaches at my CrossFit gym).

2) Have any of the table-top gamers here ever read or played The Blue Rose RPG? It was billed as “romantic fantasy” in the style of Mercedes Lackey, Tamara Pierce, and similar authors; and notably, its “good-guy” nation featured an enlightened (though not utopic) society of gender equality and acceptance of homosexuality, from the ground up (one of the chief deities of its pantheon is also the patron of same-sex passion/romance, for instance).

The game was favorably received for its rules-system (a streamlined version of 3rd edition D&D), but nearly every review I read of it complained about its gender and sexuality elements being “preachy” (and that’s a polite version of the objection). I recently came across it and find it a refreshing departure from the industry-standard Tolkein knock-off. I’d probably really enjoy playing or running a campaign in it.

Here’s a sample review. http://dndorks.com/article/52/page1.aspx

vaiyt
6 years ago

I’d see not being on Vox Day’s game as a positive.

StarStorm
6 years ago

Wow. Good SHOW capcom. Have a slow clap.

steampunked (@steampunked)

I put ‘cat-girl’ I suppose because it’s a bit hard to explain the charr in one word aside from ‘cat-person’ 😀 That said, Rox is unusually cat-looking compared to most of the cheetah/lion/wolfish female charr. She’s still a huge slab of muscle, but she has a very alien face/eyes that I find a little bit weird:

She also has an awesome backstory and is made of perfection, so I don’t care. And killing Bercilak is something I always take great joy in. I have killed him about seven times so far.

ANYWAY: Rox/Braham. A serious friendship story with a possible tragic parting that is incredibly close, nearly romantic, but not sexual. Between a male and a female in a game, both of whom are in-depth characters. Eeeee.

thebobgoblin
6 years ago

And here is a link to the rulebook for The Blue Rose RPG, for anyone who’s interested.
http://www.freegamemanuals.com/pdfrpg/BlueRoseCoreRulebook.pdf

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

It’s probably for the best. If he made women characters they’d probably have boobs that are somehow not subject to gravity and really impractical clothing such as a chain mail bikini.

StarStorm
6 years ago

@steampunked

I put ‘cat-girl’ I suppose because it’s a bit hard to explain the charr in one word aside from ‘cat-person’ 😀 That said, Rox is unusually cat-looking compared to most of the cheetah/lion/wolfish female charr. She’s still a huge slab of muscle, but she has a very alien face/eyes that I find a little bit weird:

She also has an awesome backstory and is made of perfection, so I don’t care. And killing Bercilak is something I always take great joy in. I have killed him about seven times so far.

ANYWAY: Rox/Braham. A serious friendship story with a possible tragic parting that is incredibly close, nearly romantic, but not sexual. Between a male and a female in a game, both of whom are in-depth characters. Eeeee.

Oooo I had heard about Rox and Graham, but I didn’t really play too much into it. I haven’t played GW2 lately, a little bored with it to be honest and my computer likes to derp when it’s loading up zones. Seriously, sitting around waiting for Lion’s Arch not to look asstasstic with the camera derping up for ten minutes? Yeaaaaah. Dunno what happened, my comp used to handle it fine. Oh well.

Sorry I just had the mental image of a charr in cat ears and a tail. I am not sure if this is terrifying or awesome. Given charr, it is probably both.

Why yes, charr is my favorite race why do you ask? (I also wish they’d make skritt a pc race).

Skanky Tits
6 years ago

The first time my best friend tried to play D&D, it was with a bunch of geeky guys she was friends with. She was the only girl in the room so they thought it would be reeeally funny to rape her character. The whole experience was so gross and off putting that it put her off D&D for like 3-4 years :/

deniseeliza
deniseeliza
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.

Just jumping off what you said here: they wouldn’t have laws against it if it wasn’t something that happened. We don’t have laws against enrolling your pet fish in public school, because no one would do that as fish don’t benefit from school and don’t want to go. They wouldn’t make laws barring women from arenas if women were never in arenas in the first place!

Xanthë
6 years ago

The first time my best friend tried to play D&D, it was with a bunch of geeky guys she was friends with. She was the only girl in the room so they thought it would be reeeally funny to rape her character.

🙁 I really hope she found different geeky guys to be friends with. It sounds like they would be the sort of basement dwelling trolls found playing F.A.T.A.L.

StarStorm
6 years ago

Oh *jesus fuck*. As they say, with friends like those…