I’ll admit something here; I adore the Metal Gear Solid series. The first game, for the PlayStation One, is a masterpiece, and the rest that have followed are brilliant as well. However, after hearing about the latest one, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, from YouTuber NerdCubed (@DanNerdCubed) I feel a need to write about it and to never play one of my all-time favourite games ever.
Let me tell you something about myself first of all. I’m a gamer; I have been for years and years, since I was about seven or eight. As I’ve grown up I’ve come to the realisation that, in gaming, there is a lot of sexism. This sexism is aimed at women, be it female gamers or female characters in games. Even supposedly ‘strong’ female characters, like Lara Croft (Tomb Raider games), suffers from it. In the Tomb Raider gamers she is usually depicted with large breasts, which have steadily grown through the years before being downsized in the recent reboot of the series. There is also a lot of violence towards women in games. The point is that I am aware of the sexism in gaming and have been in numerous discussions about the subject. Some of the games I agree with and some I do not.
For a bit of background on what I’m talking about the Metal Gear Solid series is, usually, very camp and tongue in cheek. Even when dealing with serious things it has a laugh. For example, a running gag in the series is a guard called Jonny who is constantly suffering from toilet trouble. Another example are the Metal Gears themselves, giant robots with the ability to launch nuclear missiles, usually not something to laugh at but the series manages to make it funny because….it’s a giant robot.
However, the latest one, MGS V: Ground Zeroes, takes it in a whole other direction. This is not a direction for the better in my opinion. The direction is a lot darker and much worse. Now I’m not going to give you a whole host of reasons why this game is a complete and utter pisstake, I’m just going to tell you about the main reason NerdCubed, and myself, think it’s terrible and why we are now disgusted with the series and the games. It concerns a reward you can achieve. This is an extra, it contributes nothing to the story and it isn’t intended to make us dislike the main villain even more, simply because it’s an extra, players don’t have to unlock if they don’t want to.
This ‘reward’ is simply an audio tape. Normally nothing to be concerned about I hear you say, however the audio tape has one of the characters, Paz who is 25’s, having her clothes ripped off, you actually hear them being ripped off. This is then followed by both her and a 13 year old boy, Chico, being beaten and then having Chico forced upon her under threat of being ‘strung up next’ by the villain simply known as Skullface….she is forced to have sex with a 13 year old boy. A whole lot of other stuff then occurs during the audio tape, which is around ten minutes long, involve rape and gang rape, but it is the ending which is the most fucked up. At the end of the audio tape Paz and Chico voluntarily have sex….for fun!
Now there are two possible reasons for this, either Hideo Kojima, the writer, is an even worse writer then we ever dared dream, or it is genuinely meant as a reward. In a previous game featuring Paz, Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, during a cut-scene you can actually zoom in on a picture of Paz and as you zoom in items of her clothing disappear. This leads me to the conclusion that Hideo Kojima actually does think this that the audio tape is a reward worth putting in the game.
Hearing about this last night disgusted me, as it disgusted NerdCubed, and the knowledge that this is in the game, in a series that I adore, has ruined everything for me. Let me just state this again; a reward in the game is an audio tape of a 25 year old woman being beaten and having a 13 year old boy forced to have sex with her, ending with those two having sex for fun. Yeah, I….the series is ruined for me.
When I first heard Nerdcubed talking about this my first reaction was shock. I found it unbelievable that this sort of thing would find its way into a series that is renowned for its humour and campness. As I listened to more of NerdCubed’s video this shock transformed into disgust, this sort of thing should not become common place in games. It is something that should be addressed and combatted; people need to be brought up on it.
How long can we, gamers, go on defending game companies for the sexism in games if more and more start to include things such as the audio tape? I’m not saying that we have to stop playing games; there are many games that have no such sexism, for example Mario, or the Metroid series. However, the Metal Gear Solid series seems to have gone over the edge and how long will it be till more follow?
The Grand Theft Auto series, for example, generally has no meaningful female characters and what female characters there are usually live up to the stereotypes that are portrayed in the media. How long until that series goes further over the edge? I hope that it doesn’t happen as I do enjoy the games but I can’t be certain, no one can. I get the sense that the gaming community has become too complacent in its acceptance of sexism and are purposefully creating more extreme scenes and scenarios where sexual violence and, in this case, child abuse are the accepted norm as entertainment. There seems to be no negative reviews picking up on this, instead the negative reviews are picking up on the shortness of the game and only one review, by Ria Jenkins of the Guardian, writes about the audio tape and sexual violence. I can’t help but wonder whether if there is a weary acceptance and resignation which leads to a lack of interest.
Have we become desensitised to the portrayal of women that we don’t challenge extreme misogyny and sexism when we see it on the screen?