Isn’t this priceless. Dev code leaked via Steam for the game Dead Island contained a game skill entitled “Feminist Whore”, describing a perk you could unlock for one of the female characters that allowed you to do double damage to male enemies. As Ophelia blockquoted from the gaming site:
They’ve hurried to say that the person responsible for this misogynistic snippet of code was a “Lone Gunman” tech monkey, who introduced the phrase into the debug code as a “private joke”. Thus the notion that all feminists were angry whores would “represent the views of only a single person” on that development team—or in this industry in general—and only one guy (at most) should suffer any professional consequences, naturally.
I can see how easy it is to blame a rogue coder and a private joke. Here’s why I don’t think that’s the case.
First, this skill is not unique. Fallout 3 had an unlockable perk for women called Black Widow, which not only let you do extra damage to male characters, but also allowed you to flirt with them in some cases and unlocked whole extra dialog trees and chunks of the game. The equivalent male perk is Lady Killer, so the trait is not reserved exclusively for women. So the idea behind that particular perk wasn’t new — only the “rogue programmer’s” naming convention.
Second, this kind of sexism is rampant in the gaming industry. Notwithstanding the gratuitous sexuality and oversexualization of female characters, or the quotes in Ophelia’s post. I know of one specific incident even as far back in gaming history as the King’s Quest series — Roberta Williams’ high-fantasy adventure game franchise that took her company Sierra from an adventure game building garage company to one of the biggest movers and shakers in the software world (only to be bought out later and turned into another shitty 3D action game company — all good things, huh?).
The King’s Quest series was a combination of graphical and text-based adventure — like Zork with animated color graphics. You had to walk around with the arrow keys, but you’d enter commands with a parser. Nouns had synonyms so you weren’t forced to play “guess the word” with this parser — so you could refer to Little Red Riding Hood as “girl”, “hood”, “red”, “lady”, “woman”, or “cum guzzling gutter slut”.
King’s Quest 2 actually had that last in its dictionary and would not complain if you offered the picnic basket to the twelve year old “cum guzzling gutter slut” on screen. I’m certain that, with King’s Quest being in Sierra’s extremely early days with an extremely small dev team, nobody vetted every line of code before it was compiled and went gold. The fact that one of these programmers would have been able to slip this term into the codebase without being vetted, well, that’s plausible to me. And the fact that it was a very tiny company doesn’t help that situation. Additionally, that the company was headed by one of the most prominent women in the software industry probably didn’t help along any particular misogynist’s decision in throwing that line in there, especially knowing that the addition could probably never be traced back to him. With the fact that that term is never “forward-facing” — it would never show up on screen unless you were the one typing it, or you reverse-engineered the dictionary database as some enterprising nerds did a dozen years later — it’s obvious how that slipped past QA.
The case of Dead Island’s different, though. Think for a moment about how unlikely it is that every developer, after the submission of every shred of code, after passing it through beta testers who would have to see the option to select that skill onscreen, would see “Feminist Whore” as its title and not so much as blink. Devs and beta testers who are paid to identify issues in code and text, point them out, and have them corrected. At what stage was this leak made, exactly? How could this have slipped through the Dead Island team’s fingers without being corrected before being compiled and delivered to Steam? Under what circumstances would this code have even made it to a distribution point, much less through the code check-in and vetting process (which Sierra didn’t have available to them back in the day)? I realize that it was cleaned up for full release, but still. How did it stay in the codebase more than one check-in? And was the coder punished for holding such backward views and expressing them via his “art”?
And how exactly do you come by the opinion that women who want to stop getting treated as second-class citizens are “feminist whores”?