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.