I was recently discussing violence and sexism in video games with a friend of mine (it’s been in the news… again!). I mentioned how some people like to make things up with regards to the topic when I remembered an article written back in the 90’s that made some really false claims about Duke Nukem 3D. I decided to look it up to make sure I didn’t just dream it up one day. Turns out it was “Media Watch” and they wrote the following, titled “Teaching Boys To Kill” http://archive.is/ldE05:
“It’s no secret that many video games in both arcade and personal computer formats are violent and sexist. The Duke Nukem series (Duke Nukem, Duke Nukem 3D, and Duke Nukem Forever), like Marathon, Descent, Doom, Unreal and Quake are wildly popular games called “shooters.” Players move through the world behind a weapon learning to kill and destroy people, monsters, tanks, or aircraft without themselves getting killed. Duke Nukem 3D moves the “shooter” through pornography stores, where Duke can use XXX sex posters for target practice. Duke throws cash at a prostituted woman telling her to “Shake it, Baby” his gun ever ready. In Duke Nukem bonus points are awarded for the murder of these mostly prostituted and partially nude women. Duke blows up stained glass windows in an empty church or goes to strip clubs where Japanese women lower their kimonos exposing their breasts. Duke is encouraged to kill defenseless, often bound women. After Duke kills off some aliens he’s ready for sex or maybe he’ll defecate on his pile of freshly killed aliens. With real warfare style Duke says, “No man steals our chicks and wins.” On one level naked women are tied to columns pleading, “Kill me,” “Kill me.” George Broussard, the president of 3D Realms, claims fans want the nudity and adult themes. Duke Nukem 3D is available at all Toys R Us, Target and others. This game can be downloaded from the internet, and is available on a variety of platforms. It is rated Mature, which to some parents means 12-years-old or younger. Duke action figures can by ordered online. Action figures are geared for boys under 8-years-old. It is relatively easy and common for independent game designers to build and distribute even worse scenarios for these games. Media Watch is asking you to boycott the largest distributor of Duke Nukem games, Toys R Us. Please contact your local Toys R Us and tell them why you are boycotting them.”
Now to be fair, the game was a shooter after all and the goal was to kill all the aliens in the game …and save all the hot chicks! So if they had said something like, “This game is pretty violent, has some adult humor and mild nudity… So all you parents out there should just be advised that it’s rated “M” for Mature and probably not appropriate for younger audiences” then I’d have had no complaints.
But that’s not what they did.
First things first, they couldn’t even get the quote right—It’s not “No man steals our chicks and wins”, it’s “Nobody steals our chicks …and lives!” and I’m not sure how either of those statements are of a “military style” as they claim. It’s more of an homage style (is that a style?) and the game paid homage to a LOT of pop culture movies through references and quotes. For example:
“Damn, you’re ugly” – Reference to Predator
“Get away from her, you bitch!” – Reference to Aliens
“Go ahead, make my day” – Reference to Dirty Harry
“Hail to the king, baby!”, “Come get some”, “Groovy”, “Who want’s some?” – References to Ash from Army of Darkness & Evil Dead 2
“We meet again, Doctor Jones!” – Raiders of the Lost Ark
“What are you waitin’ for? Christmas? – Die Hard
“Die, you son of a bitch!” – Jaws
As well as a whole host of other references too long to go through, there were some originals as well. The women tied to columns are not there from some weird BDSM fantasy, they are trapped like those in the Alien movies, covered in alien protoplasm. Oh, and the Japanese women exposing themselves? Yeah, about that… They’re actually mannequins. So when Duke says, “Shake it, baby!”, it should be noted in context. It’s not meant to be sexist, it’s meant to be funny. I do, however, enjoy the jab that Duke’s gun is ever-ready—Was that a dick joke the writer just made? At least they’ve shown some semblance of a sense of humor.
But the outright lies are the worst. Contrary to the claim that Duke is awarded bonus points for murdering the women in the game… That’s not true at all, Duke is actually penalized for doing so by being attacked by extra enemies teleporting in when a woman is killed. Duke even says, “Dammit!” in a failed and frustrated voice when this happens indicating that he didn’t want them to die. Also, not only are no bonus points awarded but there is absolutely no point system in the game at all! Also, the XXX posters, if you can really call them that, are just posters of women in swimsuits and are not there for target practice.
It’s clear at this point that the writer here didn’t play the game and had no knowledge of what it was about. They simply cherry picked some out-of-context moments in the game, exaggerated them and then even claimed things that were just not true. So imagine that you’re a parent reading this. You’d think the game was all about showing 12 year old boys the joys of abusing women.
The argument should have begun and ended with the fact that the game was rated M for Mature by the ESRB. Kids can’t buy it and considering the controversy just a few years earlier due to Night Trap and Mortal Kombat, retailers were getting pretty cautious about games geared towards an older audience. I’m not sure where the claim that rated “M” for Mature means “12-year-olds and under for some parents” comes from because this is the same as an “R” for Restricted rating is for movies. So that’s like saying an R rating in movies means “12-years-old and under” for some parents. Though I’m sure there are some very stupid parents out there or even those who simply don’t care, none can claim that there was no warning on the box. If they chose to ignore it then that’s not the publishers fault. Click on the picture of the box on the right… It says Mature 17+! In Europe, they use the PEGI rating system and they’re even more clear as they even indicate the recommended minimum age for playing the game as part of the rating notation, PEGI-18. The Sony Playstation version had a big red 18 stamped on the box.
The Gameboy Advance’s Duke Nukem Advance was rated “T” for Teen by the ESRB because it was a sequel version that was released with far less adult content.
And look at the cover! Duke is standing on top of an ugly alien with a gun in each hand… one blasting off the alien’s head and the other shooting something out of frame–It’s basically the cover of “Army of Darkness”!! If you are buying this for your kid and not getting the message that violence is depicted in the game then you’re an idiot! Even the loading screen in the game states Warning: Adult Content. It should also be noted that the game came with a Parental Lock feature that removed all the XXX posters, removed all the women regardless of whether they were nude or not, removed questionable language and toned down the violence by removing all the blood. What more do you want? At this point I tend to think that the creators did everything reasonable to assure that parents were warned about the content and given ample ability to either avoid purchasing the game or allowing their child to play it without all the adult content.
And that’s really the crux of the matter, isn’t it? Parenting. I’m of this silly and antiquated notion that parents are supposed to be parents. But increasingly, I see “parenting groups” trying to ban or boycott things they don’t like. Trying to be the parents for us. Shame on them for using ignorance and scare tactics to bully retailers and game developers into submission. Yay, for pixelated boobies!