Recently the development team behind instant classic and mechanical marvel Everyone Goes To The Rapture, The Chinese Room, directed a firm criticism at CD Projekt Red, regarding their depiction of women in games. The Tweet offered a highly nuanced and respectful critique, clearly rooted in maturity and respect.
But just as sexist if that image is anything to go by… https://t.co/jlLW0lWP6z
— The Chinese Room (@ChineseRoom) April 29, 2016
The tweet, made as a response to a behind-the-scenes photo of the development of Cyberpunk 2077, clearly references CDPR’s Witcher 3:Wild Hunt, a lesser known title from last year. Witcher 3 received perfectly valid criticisms from Polygon for its sexist depiction of powerful, capable, and critically important female characters with cleavage. The unrealistic portrayals include a female mage leading a resistance against religious zealouts and a corrupt king, the daughter of an island leader using her wits to cure a noble’s curse, and a uniquely powerful young woman who rescues the game world from utter destruction. The Chinese Room clearly recognized these shallow characters as misogynistic, resulting in an employee from CDPR blatantly harassing The Chinese Room on NeoGAF by defending their company.
This is not the first time The Chinese Room has tackled such nail-biting issues. Creative director Dan Pinchbeck has also rightfully compared depictions of female sexuality in Metal Gear Solid V, notably the protagonist Quiet who is purely a set of boobs and not an experienced sniper with a complex backstory. Pinchbeck compares the depiction of Quiet as comparable to early 20th century racism. This stunning comparison draws to light the utter depravity women must put up with, clearly similar to the age of segregation.
With those criticisms in mind, here is a model on how to make inoffensive characters based on the model presented by The Chinese Room. Clearly these paragons of virtue and feminism have demonstrated the greatest way to portray women, which all studios should emulate.
1: Remove any sense of agency from your female characters.
The Chinese Room specializes in “walking simulators,” a derogatory term applied by those who senselessly believe video games should be fun. One of the facets of their walking simulators is you never see your player character. While the silent first-person protagonist is nothing new, The Chinese Room revolutionized it by giving the player few people or creatures to interact with their character, and giving them an almost completely linear path with little choice to be made. This is good, because as we know, women don’t like making decisions or doing anything challenging. It is far better to simply ensure everything is laid out for them. Since the industry demands at least some interactability in their games, you might offer superficial choices that don’t actually impact the story by letting the player decide what order to go in.
Obviously, if your character can actually experience physical harm (Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs), make sure you never include women at all. Implying women may receive injury might cause undue trauma, and considering women are extraordinarily sensitive, we would never want such a fate to befall them.
2: Avoid sexualization by rarely showing physical women at all.
The absolute worst crime anyone can ever commit is portraying a female character with breasts. As we all know, breasts are an unholy abomination installed on women in the 19th century by misogynists in order to further objectify women. No woman anywhere likes her breasts or the breasts of other women, and certainly doesn’t like showing them off, therefore putting breasts on your female character caters exclusively to heterosexual men. To ensure you don’t commit this crime, it’s best to just never have women appear physically in your game. If you have to have women appear, make sure you lock them in a room alone for the majority of the game (Everyone Goes to Rapture).
3: If you have women in your game, they must be married to someone.
As we all know, the pinnacle of female achievement is getting married, which is why The Chinese Room has intelligently ensured that the only women in their games are always clearly associated with their husband (Everyone Goes to Rapture, Dear Esther). This is obviously inspired by Pincheck’s own tendencies to steal credit from his wife and assign it to other people. Remember: a woman independent might accidentally make decisions that result in her being sexualized, as women are all brainwashed by the patriarchy.
4: Remember: women should be judged solely by their appearance.
The Chinese Room brings up an excellent point that we must always remember. When judging a female character (and thus women in general) you must ignore her abilities, backstory, accomplishments, and personality, and focus solely on how sexy she appears. After all, women are all about appearance and no matter how her actual character is portrayed, in the end she should be interpreted solely based on how many times she takes her shirt off. After all, Yennefer may be one of the most powerful mages in the Witcher universe, Triss may be a brave fighter leading her allies out of sure death, Cerys may openly defy conservative traditions and become the first queen of her people, and Ciri may openly comment on and work to stop injustice and unfairness … but see they all wear semi-revealing outfits (except Cerys—forget I mentioned her). And as we all know, the final step towards achieving equality is purely considering how sexy a woman is and how she absolutely shouldn’t be.
Hopefully future developers will use this guide to ensure all female characters, even if shallow and lacking in identity, don’t go acting in a sexual manner that could only possibly appeal to men (because they’re married and it would be unfair to their husbands). However, while The Chinese Room has clearly mastered the portrayal of women, they have a long way to go to properly account for cultural sensitivity, as clearly their company name “The Chinese Room” is a heinous appropriation of culture. Certainly they will hear this critique and promptly agree to their crime, and perhaps donate some money to our Patreon as penance. Clearly CD Projekt Red will pay the same amount of respect to a development team that is clearly their equal, and not attempting to pick a fight for attention.