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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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Samsara
Samsara
6 years ago

I don’t game but have lots of friends who do. They talk a lot about the misogyny in the online gaming world. I really don’t get why game developers are not targeting women. It seems like an untapped market. That you could make money by expanding your target audience but don’t because of wonky justifications just makes your prejudice so much more obvious.

Marie
Marie
6 years ago

@skanky tits

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 :/

Oh wow those guys sound like major league assholes.

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

I really don’t get why game developers are not targeting women. It seems like an untapped market. That you could make money by expanding your target audience but don’t because of wonky justifications just makes your prejudice so much more obvious.

Never underestimate the power and allure of ideology.

And cooties.

thebobgoblin
6 years ago

@swanky tits

What a bunch of little creeps. I’m proud to say that my gaming friends never did anything like that to female gamers. We stumbled in other ways, of course, but nothing so horrible as that.

I hope she found some better people to play with.

thebobgoblin
6 years ago

Oops, I meant skanky, not swanky. Sorry for the typo.

Skanky Tits
6 years ago

It really pisses me off when people respond to the idea of women or POC in Tolkien inspired high fantasy settings with “IT’S NOT HISTORICALLY ACCURATE!!!! THIS IS MEANT TO BE BASED ON EUROPEAN HISTORY!!!!1”.

It’s a genre built on unlikely heroes and epic, extraordinary events. Just because something wasn’t a common occurrence in actual Northern European history doesn’t mean it’s not in keeping with high fantasy conventions. Most fantasy universes are much more concerned with the Boudiccas and Napoleons and Rasputins than with business as usual.

Skanky Tits
6 years ago

It really pisses me off when people respond to the idea of women or POC in Tolkien inspired high fantasy settings with “IT’S NOT HISTORICALLY ACCURATE!!!! THIS IS MEANT TO BE BASED ON EUROPEAN HISTORY!!!!1”.

It’s a genre built on unlikely heroes and epic, extraordinary events. Just because something wasn’t a common occurrence in actual Northern European history doesn’t mean it’s not in keeping with high fantasy conventions. Most fantasy universes are much more concerned with the Boudiccas and Napoleons and Rasputins than with business as usual.

wordsp1nner
wordsp1nner
6 years ago

If anyone needs a refresher on who Vox Day is, here are some of what has landed him on Manboobz previously:

http://manboobz.com/2013/02/24/vox-day-women-working-is-worse-than-rape/

http://manboobz.com/2013/12/12/vox-day-dont-call-your-wife-the-boss-because-women-are-dogs-or-something/

http://manboobz.com/2013/07/08/vox-day-on-charles-saatchi-divorcing-your-wife-after-shes-already-left-you-is-a-totally-alpha-move/

http://manboobz.com/2012/06/06/does-manosphere-blogger-vox-day-really-support-the-murder-and-mutilation-of-women/

He’s a terrible person, incredibly racist and sexist, and really has a bug up his butt about women who can fight.

In my last NanoNovel, one of the cultures (not the one the MC lives in, but one she has family in and has a bit of a… distorted view of*) is kind of a matriarchal Sparta–separate spheres, but the men’s sphere is the military (and some related professions)* and the women’s is… everything else. Family matters tend to be left to the oldest woman in the family, but adults are usually autonomous, especially with sex. In their defense, they are basically neighbors to a very expansionist (well, until the civil war broke out) empire, so being fairly militarized is understandable.

*She’s never been there, so all she has are stereotypes and her mother’s stories, and she’s built up a mythology around being a strong matriarch (for herself and her younger sister). She doesn’t understand how rigid the separation of roles is, and how nastily enforced. This hasn’t come out.

**Not ever man is a soldier, but those who aren’t tend to be questioned. This includes the MC’s grandfather. The MC has grown up in the empire, which is a patriarchy on the level of the US currently. Both sides of the civil war have female soldiers, though not as many on the establishment side. The MC’s love interest is a female soldier from the rebel side of the civil war.

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

Yargh! What is the aural equivalent of brain bleach? I’m pretty sure it includes Pomplamoose…

BritterSweet
BritterSweet
6 years ago

It’s ridiculous to say the existence of orcs and trolls is more historically accurate than the existence of women. But in my opinion, it’s most likely for the better that a game Vox Day makes has no women in it. I mean, if he did, can you imagine how he would portray them? Maybe you can, but you probably shouldn’t.

hellkell
hellkell
6 years ago

Brittersweet, good point about how a woman in VD’s game would be portrayed. Thanks for the scary thought of the day..

Skanky Tits: your nym makes me laugh (in a good way).

2-D Man
2-D Man
6 years ago

YOU’RE MAKING A GAME ABOUT ORCS AND TROLLS.

ORCS AND TROLLS DO NOT EXIST.

Then how do you explain Vox Day? Checkmate, Futrelle!

Checkmate.

bbeaty
bbeaty
6 years ago

@gillyrosebee

Thanks to you, I just lost an hour to Pomplamoose videos.

Seriously, thanks!

gillyrosebee
gillyrosebee
6 years ago

bbeaty, an hour spent listening to/looking at Nataly Dawn can NOT be described as “lost”!

…and you’re welcome!

AIT
AIT
6 years ago

David:

Love that song! Though, if that’s what people really don’t want to hear in music, they really must not want to hear tuba. Heard tuba through a good part of that song. Which makes me sad. I admit it’s not really a starring instrument, but still, I like a good bass line, even in orchestral. But I do agree with the copious amounts of advertisement tied to religious observances.

Back on topic, I still have yet to introduce my players (DnD 3.5) to the elven society and the dwarven society in my campaign, and that’s just the main playable races they haven’t met yet. They have met characters from those races, but not huge representations of the races themselves. I’m hoping I can subtly introduce some themes like general acceptance of people’s sexuality. I am hoping they are all mature adults who can handle that stuff. That was what my first DM tried to do with us, to get us to think, and to give us some kind of knowledge/insight we could apply to the real world.

And perhaps I could have the elves be a more matriarchal society. Actually… it’d really throw them for a loop if the dwarves were a matriarchal group. Especially given that And I could totally see how it would work, too. I’m definitely making the dwarves in my campaign living in a matriarchal society. Thank you, Man Boobz, you’ve given me a little creative burst. Now you all must be my idea bounce for a line I want one of my future dwarf NPCs to use.

“Ever knocked on a dwarf’s head? You’d swear you’re knockin’ on rocks! Any creature that could pass a rock as big as a fist between their legs is tough in ways no man could never be!” ~Sorin, the escort to the Dwarven cities, whenever my players get there.

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
6 years ago

Just going to add this, because NZ actress and was filmed in NZ. Sadly I could not find a single good YouTube video that didn’t have a bloody music track dubbed over the top.

cloudiah
6 years ago

I don’t even know what to say about this post, but it made me laugh very hard. Which was very welcome. I’m so behind, but I simply must read all the comments now!

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
6 years ago

I was wondering what the hell “combat management” was. It turns out to be code for “slave-owning asshole”. From the game’s website:

First Sword is the first combat management game for mobile and online play. Featuring a sophisticated commentary engine of more than 5,000 messages that allows for unprecedented precision, First Sword allows you to buy, sell, train, and fight your gladiators in an epic fantasy world.

Gladiators are purchased from a pool of slaves, convicts, and prisoners-of-war or bought from other gladiator stables. They range from feeble goblins to powerful trolls, depending upon whom the legions of mighty Amorr have most recently waged war. Pay regular attention to the latest news to know the right time to buy low and sell high. Hiring experienced ex-gladiators as trainers permits you to improve the skills of your gladiators without risking them in the arena, but the only way to increase your status and move from the small arenas of the provinces to the great Imperial coliseums is to fight your gladiators and see them win more than they lose.

Aren’t most games structured to have the main character be an underdog? Someone you can root for? I could see playing as a gladiator, and earning glory through your own sweat and ingenuity, but purchasing and managing a “stable” of slaves and watching them fight for your entertainment is morally skeevy and a little cowardly. It’s not all that different from dogfighting. It’s not even like you’d be playing a fun campy villain; you’d be playing a creepy flesh-trafficking turdblossom, one layer removed from the action. What skills are involved, other than buying and selling? Just a horrible premise, badly executed.

“The legions of mighty Amorr” made me LOL, though. It sounds like a thousand Pepe Le Pews armed with chocolates.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

From the FATAL link.

judging from the FATAL theme song, which sounds like the Cookie Monster chasing a drum kit being pushed down a flight of stairs

Ah, so the creators like black metal. Of course they do.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
6 years ago

I think my most unwanted song would include jaw harp, vuvuzelas, and liberal sampling of “My Humps”.

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
6 years ago

Neil Diamond. Unwanted.

Xanthë
6 years ago

Cassandra, no surprises there at all. :/

Given that David posted the world’s worst song so that one might think it’s vaguely on-topic, I was tempted to post the YouTube of Cookie Monster and the Glisseo! Percussion Orchestra… but embedding it here would be too much like actual trolling. It’s really, really awful.

Link b0rked: youtube . com / watch?v=8TLlbVW-VA0

Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
Sir Bodsworth Rugglesby III
6 years ago

Did somebody mention Cookie Monster singing?

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

It occurs to me that not everyone here will have had the, um, pleasure of experiencing the soundtrack to which FATAL was composed for themselves. Here you go.

AIT
AIT
6 years ago

Buttercup Q. Skullpants:

So THAT’s what that noise is. I always thought the jaw harp was some ultra twangy guitar.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

My favorite part is how you get near the top of the list and suddenly it’s all Immortal. They are the most black metal band that ever black metalled.

Kiwi girl
Kiwi girl
6 years ago

I got to number 3. Are all bad black metal bands German? Is bad, when applied to black metal, a redundancy?

I raise you: Warriors of Genghis Khan:

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Well, sounding like your album was produced by a drunk squirrel that’s never seen a mixing desk before is considered something of a point of honor in the black metal scene. Immortal wins a special prize for having a drummer who appears to have no sense of rhythm of all. If you gave a monkey some drumsticks and sat it behind a drumkit, its random banging would be more rhythmical.

cloudiah
6 years ago

Well, sounding like your album was produced by a drunk squirrel that’s never seen a mixing desk before is considered something of a point of honor in the black metal scene. Immortal wins a special prize for having a drummer who appears to have no sense of rhythm of all. If you gave a monkey some drumsticks and sat it behind a drumkit, its random banging would be more rhythmical.

This may be one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
6 years ago

AIT – yeah, it’s a weird sound. Roger Daltrey played it at the beginning of “Join Together”. I think it’s safe to say that’s the greatest jaw harp solo in all of rock ‘n’ roll.

zoon echon logon
zoon echon logon
6 years ago

Fuck yeah Overgrowth!

They’ve been releasing alpha versions since 2008, making it the most alpha game of all time.

kittehserf
6 years ago

Would that be this squirrel, perchance?

That bit about the drummer reminds me of the joke that you know when the stage is level ‘cos the drummer’s drooling from both sides of his mouth.

cassandrakitty
cassandrakitty
6 years ago

Nah, that squirrel has encountered a musical instrument before. If you get someone like that to produce your album you’re obviously a sell-out.

wewereemergencies
wewereemergencies
6 years ago

Well, I guess this is proof MRAs live in another world. I just wish their world didn’t get the cool fantasy stuff 🙁

Random
Random
6 years ago

This guy has obviously never played or even learned of a single Japanese all-female fighting game.

vaiyt
6 years ago

I really don’t get why game developers are not targeting women.

For the same reason movie studios are not targeting black people, who buy almost half the movie tickets in the US despite being 17% of the population.

tedthefed
tedthefed
6 years ago

I *LOVE* the Most Unwanted Song. I mean it. I could listen to it every day.

historophilia
historophilia
6 years ago

Oh yeah jayemgriffin, it was “codified”.

*distant howls of pain and rage from Medieval Historians everywhere echo plaintively across the tundra*

Also to return to overusing Tolkein, I LOVE Tolkein and my god am I sick of his ideas being trotted out time after time.

It’s a big part of the reason why I barely read any Fantasy any more and infinity prefer most Science Fiction.

And as LBT says, when I do read Fantasy it tends to be YA, as there are many more interesting worlds being created there.

Tales of the Otori for example, Fantasy set in Pre-Modern Japan with Magic Ninjas? Yes please.Brilliant female characters? Political machinations? Even more yes please.

zoon echon logon
zoon echon logon
6 years ago

I think what Vox meant to say is “Women having any kind of agency or being anything other than passive objects for men is very threatening to me and makes my boner sad. Therefore, I will expend large amounts of mental energy denying that women can do anything, especially physical stuff and extra-especially fighting, and pretend that this somehow reflects historical or biological reality rather than my own hangups.”

Bonelady
Bonelady
6 years ago

Buttercup, Amorr is the name of Mr. Beale’s Rome clone in his fantasy world of Selenoth. He has written several novels and stories set there – the series is called “Arts of Dark and Light” or something like that. So his claim of historical verisimilitude is even shakier than it looks – the game isn’t really set in Rome at all – but in a fictionalized version of Rome.
I tried to read a couple of his short stories in the series – he offers them for free on Amazon periodically – and found it grim and depressing. Will not be reading him again.

Gethsemani
Gethsemani
6 years ago

Fun fact: Women were quite frequent in Roman gladiatorial fights. As proper fighters. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Romans considered “barbarian” women (Celtic and Scythian women both had quite a track record of participating in warfare) fighting to be quite exotic and that these female warriors fetched both a good price and drew huge crowds.

Then again, historical accuracy and misogynists rarely go together.

weirwoodtreehugger
6 years ago

^ Something that George R R Martin, a much better writer Pox Bray I assume, obviously knew about. There are women gladiators in A Dance With Dragons. Fantasy based on history is so much better when the author bothers to actually the study the history. What a concept!

Robert
Robert
6 years ago

This reminds me – I ran an all-gay D&D campaign that lasted about eight years. The cultures of the game world varied from bog-standard in a number of ways. Dwarves and elves got along, for one thing, and the party encountered an orcish society in which commerce had replaced warfare as the means to social distinction. Now that I think about it, commerce and economics played a highly visible role across the entire game. Don’t know just why, it’s not part of my life (never even worked a private sector job). I also introduced an island nation settled by escaped slaves that had developed into a functional libertarian utopia, locked in a cold war with the slaver society from which their ancestors had escaped.

Oh, and one in which women were four fifths of the population and all of the warriors, who practiced polyandry. Wouldn’t Pox Day have gotten a kick out of that!

leftwingfox
6 years ago

Late back to the party, but thank you freemage and fibinachi for your input.

Now, economic injustice DOES still exist in the setting.

Economic injustice is a major theme/plot driver of this campaign, which is why I went there in the first place. The major city in this kingdom was getting flooded by refugees over the past 90+ years due to political and supernatural disasters in the surrounding areas; more than could be absorbed by the kingdom’s economy. This resulted in a large permanent slum outside the city walls, and the rise of increasingly powerful gangs.

It’s also made the mine in this boom-town incredibly important, both as a magnet for those in the slums, and for the machinations of the trade guild/mafia.

Sexism in the game is virtually non-existant. I try and keep a gender balance here in the NPCs, although I admit It’s not fully 50/50. I tried to keep racism as a very minor element in this campaign, partly because my friends and I love to play really non-human characters (our last campaign featured a centaur, kitsune, tengu, kobold, and cursed human) and I wanted this setting to allow for a wide range of possible characters. The only real exception is against orcs and goblin-kind, since the nation experiences constant raids from them. It’s still human-dominated, so you’re absolutely right about this character’s relative desirability in the campaign.

In the case of this character, the arc is that she and her sister both ran with a small-time gang as teens before the gang was squeezed out by the more powerful organizations. Her sister the thief decided to “go straight” and become a scullery maid at a ramshackle tavern, while she went into prostitution as the “least bad choice”, with her species putting her at a competitive disadvantage to the humans and half-elves in the field. She snuck into the city to get access to wealthier clients, but was confronted and assaulted by one of the mob’s mercenary enforcers. She clawed the shit out of his face and escaped. The boss then sent a couple of thugs into the slum to get rid of her, which the two sisters killed before escaping to join the caravan to the boom town with the players at the start of the adventure. When the town was found to be completely abandoned, the catfolk sisters laid claim to the inn, allowing her to step into the Madam role.

That way when the captain of the mercenaries enters town with a wicked set of scars across his face, and is later found murdered…

Essentially, the sex work isn’t necessary 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.

Yes, this is exactly my thinking right now. I’m planning to write a content note in the GM guide about this, and noting how to modify the campaign to eliminate prostitution references if any of the players feel uncomfortable with this addressed in their game.

Side note: In this campaign, the healer of the party became smitten by her at the introduction, and the two have had an adorably awkward romance happening throughout the campaign.

leftwingfox
6 years ago

LBT: The bureaucratic orc sounds awesome!

Skanky Tits: Ugh, my deepest sympathies that your friend went through that.

Robert: Sounds like an awesome campaign. 🙂 I understand where you’re coming from with economics though. I have this crazy affinity for holy characters (especially paladins), despite my dislike of organized religions in the real world.

Falconer
6 years ago

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.

Beloved wrote a fantasy Egypt short story once, which I thought was pretty good. The hero was a young girl who was kind of a Cinderella because she had red hair, which was taken as An Omen. A traveling priest/troubleshooter takes her under his wing and they confront and defeat a powerful mummy sorcerer together. Beloved was worried that the relationship between the preteen girl and the grown man would be taken as perverse.

Thing is, Egyptian fantasy is bound to have undead sorcerers in it because, like, Egypt is the Ur of life after death.

I am currently working up a 1930s pulp Savage Worlds game involving an ancient Egyptian priest-mummy who is seeking the lost secrets of Atlantis in order to restore the glory of Egypt because he woke up in the 1920s and the popular image of Egypt all around him was that crippled pup of an apostate Pharaoh, Tutankhamen. Yeah, he has rage issues.

@Fibinachi: Re Pathfinder — I haven’t bought into Pathfinder because my 3.5 is perfectly serviceable, and anyway I have plenty of other RPGs that need love, like True20 and the aforementioned Savage Worlds. I have shelves of GURPS books; the system’s just not for us but the sourcebooks are invaluable.

Anyway, I remember one adventure published in Dungeon waaaay back before 3.5 was even published, where this unfortunate NPC was seduced into a private garden by a courtesan, where they were both killed by a plant monster so someone else could get his hands on a valuable contract for vanilla beans.

And there should be sex workers all over Waterdeep, but I don’t recall seeing any in any game resource. There’s probably some in one or more of the novels, which were more daring (I remember being somewhat shocked when one of the Drizzt books broke the Passionately Sexless wall with an explicit mention of a woman’s nipples; but I was like 15).

@Skanky Tits: Unfortunately, there are POC in Lord of the Rings. They work for Sauron.

@thread: Oh sweet Christ rolling on a random table, FATAL. “To suggest burning this book would be an insult to fire.” (para.)

Falconer
6 years ago

@thebobgoblin, I have heard of The Blue Rose but I haven’t played it at all. I do have a good opinion of True20, except that keeping track of injuries gets confusing for me as a GM so I tend to use a lot of glass-jawed mooks and one or two full NPCs in my fights.

@Robert,

Your all-gay campaign sounds awesome. Unfortunately, every. single. one. of my gaming group is an evangelical Christian so I find that it’s better to avoid the topic of sex in general.

Dwarves and elves got along,

Lord, I don’t know where this meme comes from, but I wish it would go away, along with the whole Violent Glaswegian characterization of dwarves.

I do like Pratchett’s little gags like his dwarves carrying tiny axes where a human might carry a pocket knife. There’s a dwarf businessman in a boarding house in The Truth who cuts open his boiled egg in a pointed manner with a tiny axe after his fellow boarders start airing embarrassing opinions at the breakfast table.

… Oh god now I have Pratchett feels.

Falconer
6 years ago

I mean the whole elves and dwarves fighting like cats and dogs meme.

leftwingfox
6 years ago

Falconer: One of the great things about Pathfinder is that it can be free:
http://paizo.com/prd/

Having all the rulebooks in a searchable, freely available website is SO helpful, especially in the era of iPads and net gaming. (We’re currently playing the game with D20 Pro and Google hangouts, since I moved away from the gang in the middle of a campaign.)