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Pitchford Asks Us To Use Duke

Sometimes a cigar is just a penis metaphor.

In a somewhat curious move, Randy Pitchford of Gearbox spoke with Eurogamer on how if feminist organizations can use the upcoming (finally) Duke Nukem title to its benefit, that they should please do so. He also mentions the word satire, but having not played the game, or, surprisingly, not attending the media event that occurred in a strip club, I can't speak to that as yet.

However, in said Eurogamer article, this lengthy quotation struck me as a bit odd:

One of the things that's been brought up to me is that there's just a random cigarette machine and one of the packs says, 'Fags.' What it's doing is it's pointing out when this word used to mean something else.

But in fact, in our world, because these words have been converted into different words and meanings in different cultures, and because gay rights is a real issue, it is unfair.


But the fact is there are people in this world who get s*** on for no other reason than just their identity, the colour of their skin, where they were born, their gender, and that's f***ing bullshit.

There still exist memories of being in my sixth grade class room in New Providence Middle School and giggling with other peers over the fact that cigarettes in the U.K. could be called fags. Hi-larious, I tell you. We were at the top of our comedic power--for people aged ten and eleven. This more often than not included saying words we knew would be frowned upon if overheard by a teacher.

Which is to say, I'm not entirely sure why a franchise seeped in what I see as Americana a-la action movie heroes, is using the word at all. Which is also to say that the use of the word fags to indicate a cigarette? I get it, but I'm not going to rise up and shake my fist over it (I imagine there will be plenty of other fish to fry in the game itself). I'm probably just going to roll my eyes and sigh. It may also be because I'm dealing with German on a daily basis these days, but I'm also not entirely sure what he's stating is unfair--the use of the word, or the fact that the meaning has been changed in different cultures.

I'm glad to see Pitchford say it's bullshit to treat people as different because of anything belonging to their identity, but I'm still confused over saying he would find it fantastic to be ripped to shreds by feminist organizations to further any political goals they have--it reeks of a taunt to play it, which is what I'm increasingly loathe to do. As far as I've both written about and seen, people who identify with feminism or write about privilege are not short of examples. Definitely not in the games industry. It just seems par for the course, to be quite frank. Any anger they have towards Duke would just as easily be directed at BioWare--and has over various things.

Where I will take umbrage, however, is:

Sometimes in entertainment, things that people are already aware of are a great opportunity for them to get attention for it. So things like 'fags'... It's a stupid videogame. They're just jokes, and I think everybody gets it."

This lends itself to the idea that the word fag is intentionally used, as a joke, as I did when I was eleven. Hur, hur. What I don't get is the defense that it's just a stupid videogame. Anytime I see the words 'just' and 'videogame' in a sentence together, I will admit to a glaze starting to form over my eyes as I start skimming any of the rest of the argument. Instead, I tried to focus on the words here and the inclusion of the word stupid seems to set itself apart into a different category: "It's a game that doesn't want to take responsibility." At least, that's how it reads to me.

Not all games have to, after all--which isn't to say we can't point those instances out when they occur (and guess what? Not everyone will agree with that either). I will admit to just cackling as I read the "but men are treated unfairly in this videogame too!" argument, though. That, however, is an entirely different post that I should probably work on at some point though. There are shades of truth to it, but there are issues with it as well.

Who knows, though. Perhaps the use of the word fag in the game will be some coded message on how the Duke loves smoking phallic-shaped objects of all sorts.


12thGay said:

Duke can call me whatever he wants as long as he swings both ways now and then.

Ophelia said:

"It's a game that doesn't want to take responsibility."

So much yes.

NaviFairy said:

Reading Pitchford's comments I too glazed over at the line "it's a stupid videogame." Though I earnestly believe Pitchford was specifically talking about Duke Nukem Forever as a "stupid" game and not talking about the medium of videogames as a whole, and in that regard I agree with him.

For me, the most interesting comment in the Eurogamer interview was at the end where he talked about the men turning into pig creatures in conjunction with the misogyny. As immature as the game may be, I have to muster some level of respect for an even-handed debasement of both genders.

Ophelia said:

There's no such thing as an "even-handed debasement" of gender. Men are pigs (and all that entails), which might result in a lack of respect societally. But when women are turned into objects for the sexual pleasure of men, which results in significantly higher rates of sexual assault (1/6 women compared to 1/33 men). Not to mention the heteronormativity of it all.

Not that we need to have a round of the misery Olympics. But, really, there can be no equity in dehumanization and even if there could, it wouldn't be right.

Nexus said:

Men are not pigs, thank you very much.
I can understand being against the objectification of women (seems only natural), but being a bigot towards men makes you just as bad.

And talking about rates of sexual assault as if those commited against men are excusable because they happen less often than those against women is just plain sick.
I suppose you consider the assassination of JFK excusable when compared to that of Martin Luther King?
Really, what the hell!?

Atma said:

I've never played a Duke Nukem game but the sheer over the top ballsy-ness of what I see of it fits in well with my sense of humor. I can press left to swig a beer. That alone makes me happy on infinite levels.

It does look like it is just pure fun and satire, out to prod fun at literally everything, so I can't really find myself getting mad at any part of it, not even using the word fag, especially since it's in the British smoking slang context.

Which is what this is all about to me is context. Words can be extremely offensive and dehumanizing. I personally hate the word fag/faggot when used in context of an attack on gays and such, more than any other word, but in the context of a smoke it just rolls off my back.

I'm a pretty hardcore feminist, to the point of being labeled the angry bulldyke stereotype, but I am also a nerd and gamer before I'm anything else. I got a really crude, rough sense of humor and to me this is pretty goddamn silly. I can tell which are battles to be fought over such issues and this just seems like entirely harmless fun. Maybe I will bet on Duke soon myself.

raindog469 said:

I liked the 2D Duke games and absolutely adore Duke Nukem 3D, pixelated strippers and all. It was the last FPS I genuinely enjoyed, unless you'd count Portal as an FPS. I feel as sorry for the folks who don't get this kind of humor as I did for the people who threw an epic hissy when Mark Knopfler sang, "That little faggot in the earring and the mink coat..."

If Duke were running around going, "Why do these aliens have to be such fags?" then I wouldn't be spending my money on it. But merely having the word appear in the game is not going to stop me from shelling out for it, maybe even pre-ordering it. I find games like Half-Life, where you pretty much have to kill other human beings in order to progress in the game, to be far more reprehensible. If that's okay because it's "just a game", well, so's this.

I think getting upset at the phrase "Just a game" means you kind of need to step back and take a deep breath. It's for fun. For shits and giggles. For the hell of it. It's not meant to be super interpretive literature. It's not here to inspire you. It's just a thing.

There's a difference between being passionate about something, and being obsessed.

And when the fuck did sexual assault even become a part of this conversation? Chill the hell out, kids.

VorpalBunny said:

Ophelia's point is that turning men into pigs does not an object of them make. Simply put, women have historically been objectified and put in the role of sexual objects--objects, not people. Therefore, higher reported rape instances for them are hardly surprising in such an environment.

Marr, telling others how they should behave is rather dismissive. You can disagree all you want, but that doesn't mean you need to use the 'calm down' argument. This game? Meh, whatever. Duke Nukem has always been silly; as I pointed out, it's no different than most other games in the industry. The entire Pitchford deal sounded like a way to get a furor over it--one I'm just going to point out and go, "Fag? It'll take more than a contextually used term for a cigarette and scantily clad women to rile me up in particular over -your- game."

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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