Thursday, May 24, 2018

Dishonored - Improvisation Run - Part 2 - Twitch VOD

Those of you who have been following my streams know that I've been busy recording A Way Out with Sam.

With that out of the way, I returned, at least briefly, to my run of Dishonored.

One of the big topics that came up in the middle of the recording was the really strange, casual sexism that does exist within the game. Some of it is less overt, like the fact that all the female characters are in some subservient role. Most of background ladies are either brothel workers or maids in some capacity. Stuff like this is hard to notice unless you're aware of the issue and are actively looking for it.

The first obvious example is the one where Piero spies on Callista taking a bath. This is my fifth run through Dishonored 1. As much as I love this game, I still have no idea what the underlying purpose of this scene is. It never comes up again and the player doesn't really get a chance to call him on how disgusting that behavior is. To top it off, if they want to be nice to Sokolov, then he demands money from them immediately after being caught peeping through a lock.

Then there's Lady Boyle's low-chaos, non-lethal takedown. Rather than kill her, you can knock her out and hand her to her creepy stalker, who promises that she will be neither seen nor heard from ever again. While it's not outright stated, the game heavily implies that she'll become his sex slave.

None of the non-lethal takedowns, aside from Daud later on, are particularly forgiving. Most of them involve some sense of karmic justice. The High Overseer, who abused his authority over Dunwall's central religion, gets forever ostracized from said institution. The Pendleton brothers, who abuse the lower class and treat their workers as expendable fodder, are punished by being forced to work their own silver mines with their heads shaved and their tongues cut out. It's brutal, but you see the logic behind these punishments.

With Lady Boyle, her crime was funding the Lord Regent's forces. Some of the ambient conversation in the middle of the mission implies she may not necessarily agree with him. but is funding him out of a genuine sense of affection. Obviously, her funding is allowing him to destroy the underclass, but the punishment from the non-lethal option doesn't fit the karmic justice angle that the other targets face. It's sadistic in a different way, one that even in my less aware, younger days, I saw as problematic.

What's really strange about all of this is that it seems quite likely that all of this casual sexism is just the result of a massive oversight. Once critics called Arcane on it, every other Dishonored game took steps to address these problems, putting female characters in positions of authority in the world on Dunwall. Harvey Smith even apologized for these mistakes.

Hopefully I'm able to get to those other games, because I do want to talk more about how successful Arcane was in fixing this.

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