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Sexual violence, slavery, and genocide. Just another day in the Empire?

STAR WARS: The Old Republic > English > Story and Lore
Sexual violence, slavery, and genocide. Just another day in the Empire?

Shampoo's Avatar


Shampoo
02.01.2012 , 10:13 AM | #1
I'm going to speak freely for a moment on the writing and content surrounding my experience creating an Imperial character (Sith Warrior) and what I find to be outright disturbing about the narrative--and I'm not just speaking towards the random killings and ability to be an evil SOB, I expected and enjoyed that. I suggest at least visiting this issue if you have even a remote interest in sexual/gender/lgbt politics and media portrayals.



This is my second major set of thoughts on the game--far from a review, just a small article and reassessment of some of the more troubling aspects of The Old Republic and the community it has betrothed.

Let me start with the fact that the writing in ToR is often fairly droll. I knew this from beta and onwards. What I did not understand that it would become offensive and leave me with a sense of overwhelming dread. After all, I have an enormous amount of passion for Video Games as a media pillar. Allow me to elaborate.

Recurring motifs involve acting out sexual violence against your female slave Vette--who seems to take it all in jovial stride, killing, enslaving and torturing people and aiding in targeted genocide against specific canonical races. These may be themes expected and accurate according to the extended universe, but the poor presentation is ugly and unwelcome.

These reprehensible story and design decisions were something I was astonished to see from what we once knew as Bioware. It's disheartening.

The Old Republic's Empire is just... overboard evil--offensively so, and I consider myself extremely leaniant in terms of controversial material. I despise censorship. In fact, the content currently in the game would sit fine with me if it felt justified or properly contextualized. But alas, Bioware's Empire writing inmost cases isn't smart enough to justify it's horrifyingly over the top treatises, which consistently center on dehumanizing your proposed NPC and player PC peers.

...and naturally comes the marketing this material to young adults who lack so much as one strand of facial hair.

Worse yet, players operate in group dialogue sessions that encourage the aforementioned empty and degrading mentalities--thusly these portions are largely celebrated and incentivized by the community.

I enjoyed that World of Warcraft's presumably 'evil' horde was presented intelligently--yet I realize the canon is entirely different and that they don't operate under a fascist dictatorship. Even given those differences I think it's important to note that it's a step backwards in many ways to have the game reward you for things like ****.

ToR's undeniable older sister, old as she may be, possessed writing bounds more mature than that seen in The Old Republic. The grand irony being, of course, that ToR's major bragging point is it's alleged focus on in-depth decision making and narrative complexity.

I digress, I only created my Sith to let out anger and now, in many ways, I wish I hadn't.

If the writing was smart, if it was well done and conveyed the sense of dread with an element of satire or commentary, or even presented itself as remotely problematic I might be able to stomach playing an Imperial. As of now, I'm just stunned this isn't being talked about more by the media.

The negligence enacted by journalists and our culture to this sort of degenerate content also points as to why video games have such a gosh darn long way to go before they garner even a morsel of the integrity possessed by cinema or music (which hardly set the bar high themselves). Yeah, I'll stick to Republic. Also: I found Sith Juggernaut was piss boring and mirrors WoW 1:1 and doesn't actually possess high threat until the mid-30s.

Not so surprisingly ESRB slaps T for Teen on ToR and M for Mature on Heavy Rain. Ugh.

Maybe it's my attitude towards games right now, but something about the Empire makes me wonder why games like this are rated Teen while if another game so much as gives gamers a peep at a breast or contains crude language ESRB slaps on an M rating (Bad Fur Day, etc). I know these talking points are not new, I also don't think that makes them any less worthy of continued discussion. It's time for interactive media to stop being unabashedly chauvinistic and stupid.

This is where the game deviates from kotoR in a very detrimental way--you're actually punished for neutrality, and yet the majority of the community plays the nearly slapstick evil Empire (minus the humor). If not addressed in a timely manner, I can see the following problems significantly reducing subscription figures; a) a cascade of negative press, b) being World of Sabercraft c) terrible, childish, offensive writing.

I couldn't wait to leave Hoth. It's the same outright silly bosses that show up in groups of 3 for every major planet quest. After investing far too many hours I'm about ready to hang up my MMO hat for the forseable future.

I don't mind the grind, touching blue boxes for EXP, or even a relatively rude community--but the fact that the game seems to degrade in story driven elements, class customizations options (and bloat), and begins to feel even MORE closed off an impersonal has me not wanting to play even my main any longer.

I guess it's just really disappointing, I genuinely wanted an MMO with the charm, atmosphere and game mechanics to rival WoW's prime years. This is not that game. Oh well--first world problems and such. And then there's the flip-flop on the gay marriage and companionship which seems to have existed to some degree but evaporated and ignored by developers in the release version--the 'feature' has gone unmentioned by developers for some time. Oh well--there's always shocking (sexually harassing) your sex slave Vette and romancing her with gifts until she marries you.

****. Ebert was and is right. We have a long, long way to go.

tl;dr version for folks with less time on their hands:

The problematically 5th grade level writing in ToR touches on topics from sexual violence to torture, slavery and bigotry without even a bit of intelligent context or commentary. It reinforces why games still aren't taken seriously as art.

Also: read my whole post if you decide to start flaming me or calling me two-faced. It takes countless hours to properly assess an MMO of this caliber.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain...-old-republic/ <--- Forbes chimes in. The press is already coming in.
Support the Free Vette Movement! Enough is enough. It's time for equality for ALL species and genders in the Empire.

Xreasonz's Avatar


Xreasonz
02.01.2012 , 10:16 AM | #2
and this is why jedi's are *****'s
they cant handle the dark(better) side of the force

real story
Quote: Originally Posted by Caonimah View Post
"Dont blame us, blame the computers that cant run this game with our glorious textures at maximum!"- Bioware 2012

Pesh's Avatar


Pesh
02.01.2012 , 10:19 AM | #3
The whole theme of this game is extremes.

Extreme goo and extreme bad... your complaint is that the 'Bad Guys" are actually bad?

I get it, its over the top... but that is what a villain is, over the top.

Shampoo's Avatar


Shampoo
02.01.2012 , 10:21 AM | #4
Did you read the entirety of the post? How often do you press spacebar? Do you feel there's anything problematic with the way some of the Empire quest lines are handled given it's T for Teen rating?

perpetuating age old chauvinistic view of female characters, aiding in slave trades, verifying race purity, sexually abusing a companion who genuinely just wants to help you.

Why does it seem like developers go out of there way to make games unfriendly to women? My girlfriend was literally sickened by it

--and yes she agreed that under the circumstance of a more intelligent, well developed scene the actions could be made justifiably, but as they stand it's just gross. Certainly worthy of an M rating and not fitting the Pixar vibe you get for the other odd half of the content.
Support the Free Vette Movement! Enough is enough. It's time for equality for ALL species and genders in the Empire.

Elyons's Avatar


Elyons
02.01.2012 , 10:22 AM | #5
You wanted to join an Imperial society - you got one. Evil or good. You cannot play a "nice" Sith Marauder - he would have to end up converting to a Jedi and or become like Jolee.

Honestly, you didn't expect this? You only consider it sloppy because you did not enjoy it
Kaserai:Jedi Sentinel Mahddi:Smuggler Scoundrel
Begeran Colony

ihateyouall's Avatar


ihateyouall
02.01.2012 , 10:23 AM | #6
Quote: Originally Posted by Shampoo View Post
Did you read the entirety of the post? How often do you press spacebar? Do you feel there's anything problematic with the way some of the Empire quest lines are handled given it's T for Teen rating?

Slaughtering innocents, aiding in slave trades, verifying race purity, sexually abusing a companion who genuinely just wants to help you.

Why does it seem like developers go out of there way to make games unfriendly to women? My girlfriend was literally sickened by it

--and yes she agreed that under the circumstance of a more intelligent, well developed scene the actions could be made justifiably, but as they stand it's just gross. Certainly worthy of an M rating and not fitting the Pixar vibe you get for the other odd half of the content.
Never hit spacebar once as I leveled my Imperial Agent to 50. Bad things happen in the real world, bad things happen in Star Wars. Nothing went over the top, so the teen rating is absolutely appropriate.
I HATE YOU

archifikoss's Avatar


archifikoss
02.01.2012 , 10:26 AM | #7
Whoa, I didn't know that the Sith Warrior only came with dark side choices.

That's the way the SW's evil side is. Accept it, or reroll light side. Or female.

Shampoo's Avatar


Shampoo
02.01.2012 , 10:27 AM | #8
My claims relate to the lack of intelligence or premise to warrant that sort of thing. Also an ESRB rating that fails to acknowledge the deeply rooted gender and torture related issues that present themselves.

Yes, the Empire is evil--you volunteer for it. But folks who buy the game expect an experience like the original trilogy, not a product where you're literally guided to make the decision to shock an enslaved, sexualized companion in order to get dark side points for specific gear.

Not only that but down the line, you can buy her affection through gifts and have the option of espousing the very same character you've tortured until the sudden materialistic turnaround.

It's all a bit disheartening and certainly not something I'd ever want to see a child or pre-teen playing this content on a Saturday night--particularly if said child hadn't received proper guidance to separate fantasy and reality. Given the right sort of coverage, the media would have a field day with this.

...and no the OPTION to make slightly less evil options does not justify the fact that in a game targeted towards folks as young as 13 you have the option of abusing who is essentially your giddy playmate by electrocuting her repeatedly in between flirting sessions.
Support the Free Vette Movement! Enough is enough. It's time for equality for ALL species and genders in the Empire.

grania's Avatar


grania
02.01.2012 , 10:28 AM | #9
I'm not going to flame you for your opinion, I agree with a lot of things you're saying but more importantly I'm glad that these sorts of issues still matter to people. I think I must be becoming desensitized :S

But I have to ask you why you resort to name-calling and insulting the very people for whom you'd like to have a discussion with, at the end of your post? If you are offended by the tldr crowd than why not just skip that whole part altogether? It makes you seem like you're looking for a fight before anyone even has the chance to respond.

-'--,--##

##--,--'-

Spartanik's Avatar


Spartanik
02.01.2012 , 10:29 AM | #10
Quote:
The negligence enacted by journalists and our culture to this sort of degenerate content also points as to why video games have such a gosh darn long way to go before they garner even a morsel of the integrity possessed by cinema or music (which hardly set the bar high themselves). Yeah, I'll stick to Republic. Also: I found Sith Juggernaut was piss boring and mirrors WoW 1:1 and doesn't actually possess high threat until the mid-30s.
Cinema realy? you wann go there? please dont go there, or i must show you some of the most typical american movies? so dont go there. Episode IV A new hope. They just blow up a planet just to prove a point to the fair princess. And to test their new toy. So just dont go there realy.
Yes the choices are simple, nothing is realy grey, its moslty black and white. But it isnt always so imo. try playing a light side sith, and see how it goes.
And dont you dare bring up wow on this matter, you are only complaining because in swtor you are much more easly connected with the story. And star wars is also fantasy fiction so its the same as saying that sauron is the hitler on Lord of the rings. Juts dont go there its simply not true.
Peace is a lie, there is only passion.
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HK47: Statement: You are like a delightful random cruelty generator, master, poisoning all you touch with your presence. You are a testament to all organic meatbags everywhere.