TW: mentions of violence, racism, sexualization
[image description: A poster for Max Payne 3. At the foreground on the right is Max Payne, a white cis man with a beard, holding a whiskey a glass and wiping his mouth. In the background to the left is a dark-skinned cis man with most his face covered, holding an automatic weapon in one hand. To his right is a white cis woman with her hands behind her back, writhing in pain]
This is the newest cover art for the game Max Payne 3.
Let’s ignore Max Payne himself. Let’s ignore the game’s content, message, previous incarnations, et cetera. This post is just about the advertisement poster, and I do realize I am largely taking it out of the context of whatever kind of game Max Payne is. This cover art displays some very racialized, sexualized images that I’m actually surprised a game company would actually use.
Let’s start with the woman. Looking at her in the background is very discomforting. Although she appears to be held captive against her will, her post is almost model-esque, just teetering on the edge of looking like she’s in pain or in pleasure. It evokes both violence and sexualization at the time, a rarity, but not unheard of, in advertisements and posters and covers featuring women.
Now, let’s look at the dark-skinned man to the left of her. Max Payne 3 appears to be set in Brazil, so of course there are going to be brown people around. However, even without the context of the game, just take a look at that image. A dark-skinned, evil looking man taking hostage of a beautiful white, or at least light-skinned, woman. This is something I think we see all too often.
We can look at the presentation of the woman and the presentation of the dark-skinned man, but when you put them both together onto one cover art with Max, who many unfamiliar with the game will probably assume is the protagonist, at the foreground of the picture, how can anyone look at it and not see a sexualized, racialized image?
Naughty Dog Provides New Female Villain for Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
It seems that in the tradition of the Uncharted Series, the villain for the third installment will have a European accent and a load of henchmen. The latest female character in the series will be this installment’s main villain (though, also in the tradition of the Uncharted series, the “real” villain is never who the game leads you to believe).
The Uncharted game series has provided two of the most dynamic cis-female characters in recent video game history: the vivacious, is-she-or-isn’t-she-an-ally bombshell Chloe, and the loyal, strong-willed, and compassionate Elena. Although these two women are vastly different, they surprisingly do well with not succumbing to the usual paths that games all-too-often make and set them up as opponents fighting over Drake, but rather, they are well-rounded characters that the gamers learn to care about throughout the series, particularly Elena, who essentially provides much of the heart in the series.
But without even delving into the significance of this new female character, if you follow the link of this video to youtube, there are several very sexist comments that seemed to be “liked” by the obviously heavy cis-hetero-male audience of the franchise, including the classic, “She needs to get back into the kitchen” joke right at the top. If anything, it is an example of the male entitlement a lot of cis-hetero-male gamers feel as they consider the gaming universe to be a place for “them,” therefore leading them to disregard many dynamic, powerful female characters for the sake of asserting that female characters, often emasculators, such as the one presented here do not “invade their space.” Games and the gaming community should not be dominated by this terribly oppressive mindset; there needs to be an assertion of the diversity within the gaming community and speak out against all of the cis-hetero-male privilege that hampers the evolution of games as social media.
Either way, Uncharted 3 is a game I am excited for, so hopefully, this villain will prove to be worthy of the franchise.