We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The Witcher 3, racism, misogyny

The Witcher 3, a much anticipated computer game from a Polish studio based on a series of Polish fantasy novels, is released next Tuesday. Reviews of it are already being published and I have been reading a lot about it, including one review on Polygon by Arthur Gies that spent a lot of words complaining about the lack of black people and the treatment of female characters in the game.

Another Polish developer, Adrian Chmielarz, whose studio made the acclaimed adventure game The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, has responded. On the complaint that there are only white people in the game:

the fact that a post-modernist remix of fantasy and the Polish folklore made by Slavs does not feature non-white characters, is a non-issue.

Note that I am not sure that adding “strangers from the strange lands” to the game would solve anything for the chronically offended. Based on everything I learned about them in the last year, and I learned a lot, if you put a person or a few from any non-white race, they would be called “token characters”.

The Polygon review goes on to complain about the women in the game:

the world CD Projekt has created is oppressively misogynist. In some ways, the game deals directly with this — characters acknowledge again and again that it’s hard to be a woman there, that it’s a place of violence and terror and that women must work harder to be recognized and respected.

Then it kills them, over and over.

[…]

I get that the setting of The Witcher 3 is meant to be a dark, dirty fantasy. But in a world that so explicitly goes out of its way to build a believable, distinctive take on the genre, the inclusion of so much violence explicitly directed against women feels like a clear, disconcerting choice. It’s not just present, it’s frequently a focus.

When they’re not being murdered, women in The Witcher 3 are comically sexualized. Nudity is everywhere…

Chmielarz responds:

As we can see, The Witcher 3 apparently simply mirrors the real world (as according to Feminist Frequency).

This is a group whom the reviewer admires, and who argue that “violence against women is a serious, global epidemic”.

I have to assume that Gies understands that when compared to the actual real world, the violence is exaggerated in The Witcher 3. That it’s basically an often grim, often cruel fantasy world.

But …why is such a world a problem? Is the reviewer confusing portrayal with endorsement? Should art be propaganda for a peaceful life? Should art avoid disturbing universes?

There is a lot more; this is just a flavour of the debate. It is good to see people like Chmielarz standing up to this kind of criticism, because for a while it looked as if everything was going the way of those who would be offended by everything.

Also encouraging is that, if you read the comments on a news story about this debate at Gamezone, it appears that nobody really cares. They just want to enjoy games.

Samizdata quote of the day

John Price ended his life as a free man because he was willing to defy laws that said he was nothing but the property of other people, to be disposed of as they wished. He got a nice helping hand in maintaining his freedom from other people who were willing to not only defy laws that would compel them to collaborate in Price’s bondage, but to beat the hell out of government agents charged with enforcing those laws.

J.D. Tuccille

Samizdata quote of the day

Must admit, it’s really rather satisfying to see the Left and their rich luvvie acolytes squabbling and squealing over the outcome of the election like a bunch of failed vampires arguing over a used tampon. I think the word “Schadenfreude” is the one I’m looking for.

– Samizdata commenter Tanuki

Because things are far too serious at the moment…

Here I am, sitting in Arkham, eating pungent octopus salad left overs and looking at the wife as she gets uglier and more fish-like by the day, pining for her home town of Innsmouth. Meanwhile, across the ocean, all my limey chums seem to be sharing a collective freak-out over dodging an Ed Miliband shaped bullet. It is all depressingly… serious.

So I was going to write something really interesting about Japan, just to change the subject…

… and when I remember what I was going to write, I will let you know.

Keep this in mind Tories…

I think it is worth bearing in mind that this is no great vindication of Cameron. Against rubbish opposition he has a majority in single figures. In 1983, also against rubbish opposition Maggie got a majority of 144 (IIRC).

– Patrick Crozier

Samizdata quote of the day

“The last thing we need is to wake up in 50 years and find that a bunch of #gamergate nobheads are running Mars.”

That is exactly what is going to happen, because us gamergate nobheads (actually the technical term is neckbeards) are smarter and more creative than you, whereas you intolerant SJW thugs create nothing but faux outrage, grievance and a sense of undeserved entitlement to things created by better people than you.

– Guardian commenter ‘evilhippo’, who often gets his pithy remarks deleted on the Guardian. Dunno know he is but clearly a wise and witty seeker of truth, no doubt a devilishly handsome fellow to boot ;-)

Samizdata quote of the day

Crony capitalism is alive and well. Big business and big government go hand in hand.

Carly Fiorina

Server grumbles

Sorry about the intermittent server issues we are experiencing. Replacement hamsters are being installed.

Assessing Russell Brand’s place in the revolutionary pantheon…

I found this quite scholarly work assessing how history is likely judge that later day Che Guevara, Russell Brand. Fascinating stuff.

Samizdata quote of the day

We have discarded Occam’s Razor (the explanation which uses the fewest assumptions is best) for Occam’s Nail File (if there is a gender difference that reflects unfavourably upon women, discrimination is the only allowable explanation).

Ferox Ludum, commenting on Samizdata.

Samizdata quote of the day

Just today I learned (via Hans Bader) that Oberlin, supposedly one of the great liberal arts colleges in the world, has been in a tizzy because of a speech by the rather mainstream conservative feminist Christina Hoff Summers, which supposedly made students feel “unsafe” well in advance. And so on. In no examples that I have seen has there been any actual threat or prospect of violence against the students complaining that they feel “unsafe.”

This is a huge threat to the future of free speech nevertheless. Today’s college students are going to be tomorrow’s judges, and if they truly believe that “safety” means “never having to deal with opinions that disagree with one’s cherished beliefs,” then censorship has a good chance of gaining the upper hand over freedom of speech. After all, public safety can be a justification for suppressing speech, as with the “fighting words” doctrine.

David Bernstein

Samizdata quote of the day

On the NHS, that has gone far beyond a joke. It is not enough to value the idea of universal healthcare free at the point of use as a concept – one must “love the NHS”. Doctors and nurses are not doing their job in difficult circumstances – they’re fighting on the front line. Nobody wants to reform the NHS – Labour leader Ed Miliband wants to “rescue” it. The debate is uncritical, nostalgic, what The Economist called “ideological, ahistorical bunkum” – and nothing short of cowardly.

Andy Burnham, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, has warned that there are “24 hours to save the NHS” so often over the past five years that people are beginning to doubt his grasp of Babylonian concepts of time.

Andy Silvester