March 23, 2011

Rants of a Gamer Girl: Duke Nukem – Smack My Chick Up

Update: Randy Pitchford responded directly to this post.  Please see his response and my reply in the comments.

Following the incredibly sexist strip-club press event held for the release of the upcoming video game, Duke Nukem Forever, I thought we had finally hit rock bottom.  I was wrong.

This week, developer Gearbox Software announced the multiplayer options that will be available in the latest installment of the franchise,, including a spin on “Capture the Flag”, titled “Capture the Babe.”  Rather than trying to steal another team’s actual flag or taking an enemy captive, the objective is to “capture” a woman.

The first reports about “Capture the Babe” stated that while playing, you slapped “the babe” in the face to get her to calm down.  The CEO of Gearbox Software, Randy Pitchford took to twitter to correct everyone – it turns out she gets slapped on the ass instead of the face.  Here’s a quick note for Mr. Pitchford – slapping a woman who is scared and trying to break free, on the ass, instead of the face doesn’t make it better. It means the word “sexual” should be added to the assault.

As CEO, Randy Pitchford is the one in charge, and I have no problem blaming him for the consistent misogynistic crap his company continues to promote.  In fact, he thinks it’s “great” and “awesome” that he has angered feminists with the game’s promotion of sexual violence and objectification of women.  Randy, you know what’s not awesome?  The reality of sexual violence against women – statistics, such as, there’s a woman sexually assaulted every two minutes in the U.S. According to Pitchford, the game can be used by feminist organizations as a teaching tool.  I guess it never occurred to him that making a game that promotes respect towards women could achieve the same educational effect.

By not just allowing, but rather, encouraging sexual violence to be perpetuated against women, Randy Pitchford (and Gearbox Software) are not only affecting the gaming community, but rather society as a whole, by adding on to the millions of images and messages that further promote and perpetuate a culture of violence against women.  If Randy really thinks the work that feminist organizations are doing is “really important” then maybe he should try changing the messages in Gearbox’s games to include positive female role models, rather than to promote violent gameplay against women.




    Comment by noname — March 24, 2011 @ 4:12 am

  2. Reading this article, my first thought was that this may also be an example of how capitalism, in its ability to profit off things like sexism and the objectification of women, actually helps to further perpetuate these things, especially when presenting them in such a way as to make them more ‘socially acceptable’ (e.g., by things like separating sexual violence into two categories: ‘it’s OK when it’s simulated/presented as entertainment’ and ‘it’s not OK when it’s done for real’).

    From a capitalist point of view, Gearbox Software and CEO Randy Pitchford are doing things just right. They’re successfully engaging their target audience (which for this particular genre of game happens to be young-to-middle-aged men) with cheeky portrayals of sexual violence, getting a lot of publicity (read ‘free advertising’) and selling enough games and merchandise to make a profit. Capitalism doesn’t ask for much more than that, and arguably encourages it unless restricted in some way (e.g., outside by government regulations, inside by consumer spending, etc). If it’s profitable, how can it be wrong?

    And I think that’s unfortunate since I agree that marketing these things does serve to “further promote and perpetuate a culture of violence against women.” Of course, that’s not to suggest that Duke Nukem or Gearbox Software are directly responsible for sexism or any sexual assaults in the US (correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation), only that I think there’s a plausible link between an economic system in which sexism and sexual violence are often promoted together in general, and the prevalence of sexism and sexual violence in that society, illustrated here by the statistic that “there’s a woman sexually assaulted every two minutes in the U.S.” This is what, in economic terms, could be called a social externality, the cost of which isn’t borne by abstract market forces or private companies, but society.

    That said, it’s entirely possible that the prevalence of these things in various media are simply a reflection of society and societal attitudes as a whole — neither promoting nor condemning them, just acknowledging their existence — but I think enough psychological studies have shown that our attitudes about these things are often heavily influenced by our surroundings, our family structure, the social conditions and norms we’re exposed to growing up, etc. In other words, it’s as much a symptom of the problem as it is a link in the complex causal chain causing it.

    The way I see it, it’s just one big, social feed-back loop, and I think people need to consciously start looking at these things and asking themselves if there really are connections here, and if so, figuring out what to do about it. But even that’s difficult to do when genders are objectified and gender stereotypes commodified. This, of course, raises the issue of censorship, which is another tricky subject.

    Even Plato realized the influence certain things can have on individuals in society, but his solution — the censorship and/or banishment of poets and the like who didn’t say what was for the good of his ‘ideal city’ — seems just as unacceptable to me as the seeming use of things like sexism and sexual violence against women (cheeky or otherwise) as marketing tools. At the same time, I’m not sure what to do about it without resorting to such drastic measures, especially when its use is often so successful. How do we change how women are viewed and portrayed in media without censoring or banishing the proverbial poets from our ‘ideal city’?

    Comment by Jason — March 24, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  3. What’s funny is you’re reacting exactly how they want you to so they can build up more buzz :D. You’re also forgetting that the overall goal of the game is to rescue these women (with the exception of the “Capture the Babe” mode).

    Also, the news about that particular multi-player mode went live on 03/02/11 curtesy of

    Oh! and I agree with the first commenter:

    Comment by Nitpicker — March 25, 2011 @ 4:55 am

  4. What about all the violence against men in video games?

    In Bulletstorm for example, there is a feature where you can shoot a guy in the balls and watch him beg for mercy. I don’t see anyone ranting about how that promotes sexual violence against men.

    Women like you need to stop harping about portrayals of violence and accept that in video games, people, both men and women, get hurt and killed in various horrible ways. This does not affect violence rates in society and to suggest such a thing is disingenuous. I hardly think kidnapping a woman and spanking her on the bum is even worth a mention compared to the violent content of other games.

    It’s just a clever form of manufactured controversy so superficially minded people like you will jump on the bandwagon and give Gearbox free publicity.

    Comment by Sten — March 25, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

  5. Hi.

    Thanks for noticing the game and thanks for advocating women’s rights.

    I feel that I should point out that you don’t know what’s actually in the game as you haven’t seen the game play that you are referencing yourself AND because you have been influenced by reading other stories from people who also haven’t seen what’s actually in the game, you are being affected by their desire to create controversy. This experience you’ve had has manipulated you into a perception that isn’t accurate and has resulted in you also incorrectly characterizing what is actually in the game in a way that misleads your audience.

    Having said that, I’m a big proponent for fairness and equality with all people and am an advocate for human rights of all kinds for all people.

    So – Thank you for advocating for women’s rights and if it helps you to use Duke Nukem Forever to bring attention to your very worthy cause, by all means.

    As you do so, I hope you carry yourself with the highest standard of integrity and correctness as those who seek to tear down your efforts to promote women’s rights will discount your advocacy if they detect that you are manipulative towards your agenda instead of honest towards it.

    Good luck and keep up the fight!

    PS – If you’d like to see what this is all about yourself, Duke Nukem Forever releases worldwide on June 10th and in North American on June 14th. You can visit the game’s webpage at


    – Randy Pitchford

    Comment by Randy Pitchford — March 25, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

  6. First off, having your press event in a strip club very much sends the message that in your mind, men come first–and who gives a damn as to whether female journalists feel comfortable and safe attending.

    I wouldn’t consider Penny Arcade any kind of authority on this subject, considering their decision to mock rape survivors with their “dickwolves” t-shirt and then stay silent in the wake of their fanbase attacking dissenters with rape/death threats and making names like “teamrape” on twitter. Oh, and sending pictures of dead and mutilated women to dissenters…real classy.

    Damn, those whiny minorities are so sensitive, eh?

    The “well men are oppressed toooo!” fallacy is classic (not to mention the idiotic “if you don’t complain about every other woe or injustice in the world, you can’t complain about anything” fallacy). Saying that objectification of women in video games is the same as general violence against both genders in video games is ignoring the actual history of men and women on this planet.

    Not to mention the ignoring of what kind of bullshit this sort of thing perpetuates…I and other female gamers have gotten so much harassment and crap from male gamers, simply for having two X chromosomes, that many of us either play online games under pseudonyms or with male avatars, or (as in my case) only game with other females.

    But then, that’s what’s nice about being privileged–you don’t have to know or care what people in minorities and marginalized groups have to put up with when you and yours are always catered to.

    And Pitchford–your implications that the OP is somehow being dishonest or manipulative (as well as that condescending bit about _being_ manipulated in the first paragraph) is disgusting. Your claim to be an advocate for human rights is a joke when you can’t even be bothered to treat female gamers and journalists like human beings.

    Comment by Artemis — March 28, 2011 @ 1:34 am

  7. Don’t have energy or time to write a full comment, though, I wouldn’t really respond to you but the comments who apparently didn’t read your article or only read it so much that they could give typical comments.

    I just wanted to let you know you had support.

    Comment by konkonsn — March 28, 2011 @ 5:29 am

  8. Randy,

    First of all, thank you for taking time to come here and respond to my post.

    That being said, I have to disagree with you. I’m not sure what is in the game play would completely change my mind about what I said. One of the above comments mentions the fact that correlation doesn’t necessarily equal causation, something I hope came across in my post (although I acknolwedge that the intent behind certain statements doesn’t necessarily always translate online so well.)

    Let me put it this way – I hope it comes across in my post that I’m not making outlandish Carole Lieberman-style claims that “Capture the Babe” will lead anyone to actually commit any acts of violence against women, sexual or otherwise. The horrifying statistic I listed above has been around for a while, long before Duke Nukem Forever will hit the shelves. For the record, I think claims like those made by Lieberman are unfair, misinformative, and incredibly harmful. The media (certainly not just video games – but movies, television shows, music, fashion, etc.) tend to show violence against women all the time. So much so, that it’s become a norm in the media landscape. I’m pissed that Duke Nukem is contributing to the barrage of messages and imagery.

    Despite my cautious cynicism that the game play will show me something different, if it does, I will be more than happy to revise and update this post. As it stands, the likelihood that I will purchase Duke Nukem Forever is extremely slim, but when the game does come out, and reviews and videos go up, I’ll search out the youtube videos of “Capture the Babe” as gamers tend to upload.

    In terms of honesty and integrity; many reputable gaming outlets were reporting the story, and like all the posts I write, I was interjecting my opinion from a feminist gamer media critic perspective.

    Comment by Rachel — March 29, 2011 @ 11:29 am

  9. @Sten

    As I just wrote in my response to Randy, I am not saying (or attempting to imply) that correlation equals causation. I threw that stastic in there to say “Hey, this is the reality of women’s experiences when it comes to violence.” This isn’t limited to video games, and I would do the same thing when writing about a fashion spread in a magazine, a big studio movie, or a popular televsion show. However, my topic of choice tends to be video games.
    As for Bulletstorm – totally not the same thing. Here’s why. For one – you’re not playing as a woman who’s going around and shooting guys in the balls. Yes, I know Trishka is there and helps Grayson, but Grayson is the only playable character in the game. Secondly, that isn’t the main objective of the game – the objective is creative kills, and, “Mercy” the skillshot you’re referring to, is only one in 100+ options to score points.

    I am more than aware of violence in video games – for the most part I don’t really have a problem with it. The games that video game developers create, to me, isn’t so different than the violent movies, television shows, music, etc. that’s already out there (and that’s been around for much longer than video games have even been in existence. However, what I write is from the perspective of a feminist gamer, so I don’t really have an interest in writing about how violent Call of Duty or Killzone is – the tagline of this website is women and pop culture, and as such, that is the focus. Plus, there’s plenty of other blogs covering that stuff already. Not so much when it comes to covering the rampant misogyny and sexism in the gaming community (not from just developers, but gamers, bloggers, commenters, etc.)

    Here’s the thing about sexism in any industry or media – it doesn’t change unless people talk about it, write about it, and let people know that it isn’t okay.

    Comment by Rachel — March 29, 2011 @ 11:34 am

  10. @Rachel

    First off, slapping the woman’s butt isn’t the main objective either. the main objective is to move her from your opponents base to yours. Who is to say you’re not SAVING her?

    As for sexism, I’ve yet to hear ONE woman complain about the sexism that is rampant currently against men in society. Slapping a man in ANY way is 100% acceptable in broad daylight. A man gets “idolized” because of his body and being shirtless, it’s ok. A woman for the same thing, it is sexist. Men have the same pressure about looking muscular and hot that women do, but you don’t hear people crying out against that unfairness. No, more often you hear women going “Real Me DO look like that. Men SHOULD look like that.” Those things have been around just as long.

    Yes, women were oppressed in the past. Key word in that sentence, past. In today’s society, being a woman means you have a MUCH better shot at ANYTHING than a man. Why? because to prevent women constantly going “that’s sexist” if a man is given a chance at something, the government has laws that require X amount of females to be hired, gives X amount of dollars per female to colleges for admitting females each year, making them pick more females on average than men who had better grades, ect. All womens club? 100% acceptable. All mens club? Sexist.

    It’s ok to be against Sexism, but only when you’re ACTUALLY against it. Not just against when you don’t like what your equal rights gave you: Equal portrayal. If that was a woman carrying a man over her shoulder and slapping him in the ass, or hell, even the FACE, you wouldn’t complain even once. In fact, you’d probably LAUGH, finding it hilarious.

    General rule of thumb: If you’d be even slightly ok with what is being shown being done to a man, you can’t call it sexist.

    Morgan Freeman has a quote on racism. “How are we going to get rid of racism? Stop talking about it!” This works on sexism as well. You notice how the ONLY time people find ordinary things sexist, is when a huge group of feminists get overly pissed about it? Notice how almost all those things would be ok if it was done to a male? There you go. Sexism only exists because you guys KEEP BRINGING IT UP. Will the occasional, actually sexist thing still happen? Yes, but EVERYONE will call foul then, because they’d be against it being done against men or women, which is what REAL sexism is, doing something to someone because of their sex. Not doing something to someone because they are a woman, as most of you feminists seem to think. example: If that had been a woman on a forum just for dad’s, it’d cause a lawsuit and be “sexist”. But because it’s a man it’s 100% ok.

    Multiple polls have shown that the large majority of college kids show no signs of racism OR sexism at all. Yet we’re labeled as “the most racist and sexist generation ever.” because we make jokes equally against all people, not giving anyone special treatment or special “exclusions”.

    So stop bring it up, treat all cases of what you consider sexist as “would I be offended if it was being done to a male?” if so, THEN you can outcry against it. Otherwise, you’re crying wolf, and it just makes you look ridiculous. THAT’S why most non-feminists have stopped taking you seriously anymore, you cry wolf on practically EVERYTHING nowadays as being sexist and oppressive.

    Comment by Andrew D. — March 29, 2011 @ 11:25 pm

  11. Colleges don’t admit women in preference over women, Andrew. Rather, several colleges practice what would be called affirmative action if it was reversed on behalf of men so that the average points at admission are lower for men than for women.

    Neither are there minimum quotas for women in college admissions or payments based on how many students are female.

    On the game itself: Are any of the active characters female? Can one rescue men from the aliens and slap their bottoms if they whine?

    Comment by Echidne — March 31, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

  12. 1st of off, thanks for making greate publicity for my new game coming out in June.

    2nd, Why oh why do groups of women have no problem when you can decapitate someone’s head or knife someone in the stomach (my personal favourite btw) but when theres a game that comes out and has a little fun with multiplayer game modes and allows you to slap a girl on the ass (which I hardly think will make people to start going up to girls in public and giving them a good old slap on the buttocks).

    but most importantly of all, stop trying to take away our freedom of speach and the ability to express ourselves in games. If you dont like the game DONT buy it or let your children play it. Simple as that.

    Comment by Duke Nukem — April 1, 2011 @ 5:33 am

  13. I’m laughing right now.

    This article is simply nothing but another feminist begging for attention. Of course any sort of thing such as this against men would be completely fine in your eyes.

    This was actually enough to genuinely anger my girlfriend who is the one I’m buying the game for!

    Comment by Aaron — April 4, 2011 @ 10:34 am

  14. Uh
    I know misogyny in general is highly problematic and if it wasn’t this site wouldn’t exist in the first place
    But honestly
    Who goes into a Duke Nukem video game expecting anything other than that
    That’s like running onto a busy highway and blaming the traffic engineer patriarchy for your inevitable injury
    That sounds convoluted but my point is there are honestly problems in society that are more worthwhile to tackle

    Comment by Jenna — April 4, 2011 @ 2:43 pm

  15. Another feminsit bullshit, wake up, and about the violence also against men? (this exists in videogame and in real life, but nobody cares)

    Keep up giving audience to one of the best games coming!
    Gearbox is even inviting you to protest more to promote the game!

    Comment by John — April 12, 2011 @ 3:05 am

  16. Awe… I like feminism… The fact that if a woman sodomised me she can get away with it, but I can’t do that too a female — Just is justice.

    Now, I’m glad you like poking at videogames… But what about the victoria secret catalouges? What about music videos? What about MTV? What about that show 16 and pregnant?

    I believe all of those hold more impact to children than a video game.

    Woman have all the rights… Women can slap men, sue men, take a man’s children away — Women can lie through everything and basically have the initial right-away in everything.

    Sooo with all those bad media and the rights woman have already… If you don’t like the game, don’t buy it; don’t watch the videos for it; don’t let your kids see it.

    It is that easy.

    Comment by JaC — April 15, 2011 @ 4:12 am

  17. ‘Why aren’t you focusing more on violence, that’d be more convenient for me since women actually criticizing sexism makes me uncomfortable’. Seriously this whole ‘look, a distraction!’ stuff gets old after a while, sexist dudebros. If you wanna be sexist, just admit it.

    Secondly, criticizing a game does not ‘take away it’s freedom of speech’. What you’re really complaining about is that you hate the criticism, you’d rather be allowed to stay complacent and let the sexism roam free. Your ability to ‘express yourself’ seems to so often come around to degrading women, do you not see a problem with that dudebros? Maybe you have issues with women.

    @Aaron: Yeah, because men are just as often sexually harassed as women right? And if it’s such a problem, why aren’t you and the men like you out there talking about the harmful things to men? Why do you expect women to do it for you? Probably so you can keep derailing women’s issues, yeah.

    @John: Violence against men? Oh, I see, clearly that’s much more important than the violence against women. But that’s the implication, right? Violence against women exists in real life too, often perpetuated by men.. who then dismiss and excuse it as ‘not as important’ as other issues.

    @JaC: Yeah.. because men never get away with rape right? Women who are victims are never blamed for ‘being in situations’ that ‘got them raped’ or wearing certain things or being certain places, right? There’s your justice. ‘There are more important issues, because I say so.’ Evading it all is so easy isn’t it?

    Women have all the rights huh? Which is why they’re paid equally, face no discrimination when it comes to media, and are totally not beaten to death by their husbands but ‘what happens behind closed doors should stay behind closed doors’ and ‘she probably did something to bring it on’. This is because we as society only /pretend/ violence against women is wrong when it’s out in the open and extreme and therefore it’s hard to excuse away (Sexually assaulting women to keep them quiet though? Oh wait that’s not ‘big enough’. Excuse!). Also ‘a man’s children’? Pretty sure she did 90 percent of the work making them, so pretty sure they don’t just automatically belong to him. Nice job with the implication that women suing men or taking her children away from an abusive father is somehow a right they should be grateful to you for. But you sound mad they even have the power to do that at all. It’s also pretty dishonest to frame things as if women are automatically treated so much better while you and a bunch of these other sexist commenters prove they don’t. ‘Be grateful for your scraps, woman’ is your basic mindset.

    And your great solution is… ‘pretend it doesn’t exist’. Like a good thoughtless status quo supporter. Ah, bigotry must be nice for you.

    Comment by LilithXIV — May 5, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

  18. The problem with Duke Nukem, when compared to other sexist works of media, is that Duke Nukem has a reputation to maintain – specifically, of being a high-testosterone, low-IQ lump of muscle with a lot of big guns who panders to the crudest and most base forms of humor imaginable. Duke Nukem is, in a sense, designed to be a over-the-top misogynist gorilla – it’s not exactly satire, but it’s self-consciously ridiculous. You’re supposed to laugh at just how ridiculously insane Duke is. Duke Nukem may resonate with the frat-party audience, but the fact that a healthy adult can’t possible think it takes itself seriously means that its ultimately just trash, rather than a serious problem, I think.

    Compare this to the Grand Theft Auto series, which are not self-consciously ridiculous; the more serious tone of those games makes the way women, particularly prostitutes, can be used and killed without real consequence much more problematic. In those games most women, and their deaths, are just expendable sources of points and amusement, and there’s nothing in the tone of the games (GTAs 3, Vice City and 4) to suggest that this is anything other than typical fare for a run-of-the-mill gangster.

    Sure, Duke Nukem’s content is tasteless and demeaning, but worrying about it is like worrying that the Soviets in Red Alert 3 are racist portrayals of the Russian people. Sure, the portrayals are ridiculous – Lt. Dasha is the stereotypical hot-and-loves-the-motherland Russian; the Premier is a greedy megalomaniac who cares nothing for anyone, least of all Soviet citizens; Dr. Zelinsky is a timid scientist without a backbone who is used by the government to create tools for controlling the world; Commander Moskvin is a bloodthirsty, not-so-subtly drunk bastard who’d shank you if he met you in prison; etc.

    But these portrayals aren’t really problematic because Red Alert 3 is designed to be ridiculous. It’s hard to say exactly how seriously the new Duke Nukem game is taking itself, and I could be proven wrong when it comes out, but given the marketing campaign I’ve seen so far, I get the impression that the Duke is being brought back with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. Think about the way they announced the delay, for example – or the fact that the player can control Duke pissing into a urinal. I mean, what? That’s not gameplay, it’s just ludicrous, which is what Duke Nukem is supposed to be.

    Also, side note to those saying “Women already have everything!” and “Another feminist attention whore!” and “There’s violence against men two!”. Shut. Up. Not only are you reflecting extremely poorly on the gaming community and contributing to mainstream reasons to ostracize us, not only are you missing more substantial reasons to be less concerned about Duke Nukem than about other games, but you’re just plain wrong. Take a look at; consider how people are trying to ban vaccines against the Human Papilloma Virus (which can cause cervical cancer) because they think it will turn girls into sluts; take a look at how, in most countries where prostitution is illegal, the prostitutes are punished more frequently and heavily than the johns; take a look at studies showing that having a feminine name statistically and significantly reduces a Ph.D. applicant’s chances of success; and just take a look at the ratio of battered women to battered men, and the motivations behind these beatings – if men thought of women as equals, they would be beating on women as much as they beat on each other, and for the same reasons. Hint: they aren’t.

    Yes, men and male modes of being are occasionally and in some circles discriminated against, and yes, this is a problem which must be fixed. But it does not justify or excuse the generally more pervasive and more harmful discrimination against women that occurs at all levels in all societies.

    As to how to counteract the problems we face in ALL forms of media concerning the portrayal of women, I’d say it’s conceptually very simple: make better games/movies/books/music/TV shows. In the context of games, at least, Extra Credits ran a great video on how we could improve female characters in the gaming world:

    Comment by GarrickW — May 6, 2011 @ 12:25 am

  19. LOL @ this “women have all the rights” bullshit.

    As a feminist gamer who is just getting into photography, I love this blog! Keep up the great work and ignore the haterz. Anyone who spends time defending a piece of shit game like fucking DNF has wayyy too much time on their hands.

    Comment by Samia — May 31, 2011 @ 7:08 am

  20. […] game entirely.  One woman, who decried the “Capture the Babe” mulitplayer mode in her blog, claims that Gearbox is not just negatively influencing gamers but society as a whole.  Not to be […]

    Pingback by Duke Nukem Forever: Controversial? Not really. - GotGame — June 1, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  21. God, another idiot blogger who doesn’t understand either the game or the word misogynistic.

    Definition of misogynism: Hatred of women

    Duke Nukem: Fictional macho playboy who loves women, can’t get enough of them, and fights an alien invasion in an attempt to ‘save’ them.

    So, he slaps a women on the rump…yeah, you might view that as outdated, disrespectful, maybe even ‘sexual assault’…but it’s not misogynism.

    God…the internet is full of dumbasses.

    Comment by Laz — June 2, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  22. I was raised by a single mother, and have been around women all my life. That said, I know what’s fiction from fact. Duke is supposed to be this ridiculous character. He’s a satire of men, if anything he’s making FUN of us. He’s showing our base instincts and throwing them out for everyone to see. Women have had problems with men(a bit of an understatement)but sexism DOES happen towards men(which I don’t think you are arguing about here) and games objectify men all the time. Do you think most men look like duke nukem? Or look like Squall from final fantasy 8? You bring rape statistics which is utterly ridiculous and a little insulting to actual victims of rape crime. The fact that you even impose yourself important enough to be a “Gamergirl” is ridiculous. You want equal rights? stop making a big deal about even being a “gamergirl” in the first place. When females began to become more prevalent or at least visible in the industry, it got ridiculous with all these declerations of “HEY IM A GIRL AND I GAME TOO! LOOK AT ME” My mom was playing video games right around the time they were invented. She never thought it was a big deal. Just as when I see a dude calling himself “69Videogameguy” I just think of him as a simple person lacking in originality. It doesn’t further your cause in blaming something that was supposed to be crass in the first place. Do you think the average duke nukem player will really think about harming women after he plays the game? Do you think about harming men after you gun them in the face for a thousand times? Have you ever thought of yourself as sexist in any way? For every duke nukem there will always be games like parasite eve or half life 2 that further female characters. In terms of gaming, if you want to judge it as an artform, then you must be able to allow it in all of it’s forms as long as it doesn’t cross the line into illegal territory(like most forms of art). Censorship is the worst possible thing right now for the game industry.

    Comment by Brendo — June 7, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

  23. First they do lower the bar in colleges and give greater funding to females.
    Second I grew up with an abusive step mother, but I guess they dose not exist right? Its always the mans fault.
    Third You did 90% of the work… In labor. How about the financial support that most of us men have to pay for.
    I was not going to buy this because I find it a little to stupid for my taste. Now you have talked me into it,
    for you I will buy two copies. You remind me of Jack Thompson you have never played this game, but you are already
    attacking it. Guys we are not allowed to have any thing catered to just us anymore. They can have
    all their man hating TV programming that they want its ok for them. Just we better
    not do it, never mind that this is done in an absolute over the top insane way.

    Comment by sinn1 — June 8, 2011 @ 5:13 am

  24. The sheer idiocy of this post and debate is overwhelming. This is a GAME! And a game that’s not meant to be taken seriously at that. And seriously, men are treated just as bad. Pretty much every man in Duke’s world is 50X inferior to him, and they are regularly transformed into pig cops and have their balls blown off. Hell, in every single media, male deaths outnumber female deaths. Men are blown up, eaten, ripped in half, castrated, the list goes on and on. Then there’s the increasing number of female protagonists that are also slaughtering those male henchmen by the dozens, and does anyone complain? No. So don’t think that we men get it easy, it’s just that normal people tend not the bitch and moan about this stuff every day, unlike you guys. So, I will kindly ask you to STFU and be more mature, as the people buying and defending this game sound far more mature than you.

    Have a nice day.

    BTW, your article is doing nothing except giving free publicity to this game, allowing more people to become interested and buying it, increasing sales and making more Duke Nukem games likely.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 13, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

  25. The game is meant for men. If you dont like it, dont play it.

    Comment by Anoymous2 — June 20, 2011 @ 2:26 am

  26. Hah. I wouldn’t expect any less from Randy’s interpretation of Duke Nukem. Putting the obvious sexism and misogyny present in Duke Nukem aside, let’s face it…

    Randy Pitchford makes terrible fucking video games. I find it insane that any one honestly enjoyed playing “Borderlands.” Luckily I know I am not the only one that believes that Bordemlands was one of the worst, most badly executed video games ever made, not to mention just plain ugly. And don’t try telling me that those shitty graphics were part of the aesthetics or Randy’s failed attempt at “creativity”… because oh god do they look like shit. It was a game I would buy on the Xbox Marketplace for 3 dollars and then get bored of in 30 minutes, not 50. It was nothing but pointless leveling with no plot, no interest, and nothing even remotely aesthically pleasing, like please change the landscape or throw in a cut scene or two, I am dying of boredom! It wasn’t even remotely challenging, basically the entire game seemed to revolve around annoying the gamer until they never want to even hear the name “Borderlands” again. I could play one of those free online MMOs for dorky teenage boys (which I never would) and probably have a better time.

    Anyway I’m done ranting about that, but after playing Bordemlands, I was convinced I would never buy another game with Randy Pitchford’s name behind it, and now after seeing all the Duke Nukem trailers which are ridiculous to me to the point of parody… I only have two words : fucking retarded.l

    Comment by Angie — June 20, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

  27. Also -to the random commenter above- violence against men is rarely committed by women, on the other hand violence against women committed by men happened daily, every 10 minutes or less around the globe. That’s why a video game like this can be damaging because it hits closer to fact then fiction.

    Comment by Angie — June 20, 2011 @ 6:14 pm

  28. Wow, Randy, you’ve proven to pretty much every woman on the face of the planet what a fucking misogynist asshat you are.
    I’ve been warned about the Duke Nukem games, and not just for their poor overall quality. but even this is just… I literally have no words for this. For someone to actually think trivializing sexual assault against women for entertainment purposes is okay – in even the slightest degree – you must have to be fucked in the head. Or really, really hate women.

    Comment by naked-asteroids — June 26, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

  29. @Naked-asteroids

    I don’t know, not sure those starving women in Somalia will have seen, you know, because they’re a little busy watching their children die while their sons and husbands are rounded up by Al Shabab, maybe someone should get them an xbox so they can see how truly terrible Duke Nukem is?

    Oh, and if you even dare to do one of your “Don’t provide a distraction, I’m so tired of it” routines, just think about how you can claim to take the moral high ground while calling the unimaginable suffering that millions of your fellow human beings are going through a “distraction” from the “real issues”.

    Comment by Liam — August 16, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  30. I can’t believe all the effort that went into not researching anything the “feminists” were talking about on here.

    Your own link shows that cases of rape have seriously declined.

    Numerous studies prove that violence in video games does not increase violence in the real world.

    Almost 50% of domestic violence is committed by a woman against a man. (no violence against men though, right Angie?)

    I also find it humorous that you have a problem with the game release being at a strip club, one of the best places to see a demonstration of females exerting their power. I hate to break it to you but you and your friends do not represent “women”, you only represent yourselves. Despite what you want to believe there are women that enjoy showing off their bodies. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the internet but you should check it out sometime, at any given second there are thousands of women showing off their goods for fun. Strippers do it and get paid for it. That probably makes you mad though, right? How dare those women do something they enjoy and make money while they are doing it! They’re harming your oh-so-noble crusade!

    Comment by MEga — August 28, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

  31. Besides the game “Rapelay” here is another example of what is terribly wrong with society. “Capture the Babe?” As if we are objects to be captured and enjoyed at a man’s convenience. These games reflect how truly devalued women are in society. It is made out by society and games such as these that women are on earth for reasons that involve sexually pleasing men and being at their service anytime they please.

    Comment by Tiffany Majdipour — November 21, 2011 @ 8:24 am

  32. doubt you’d care if it was castrate a man in place of capture the flag.

    Comment by derek — January 6, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

  33. Wow!!! I wonder why I never here about these games, my brother always plays video game but I never paid attention to it. I’m so amazed on how people like these making video games don’t realize how their affecting our society, and what its teaching to the younger generation, if my generation. I was most shocked on how Mr. Pitchford actually corrected the twitter that they were slapping the women in the face but the ass “REALLY” what difference does it make. I feel people like those have some desire in these video games like this being sexual in some way. People will never open there eyes to this situation unless it’s banned to add this in video games or any where else. Its so sad what its doing to our society.

    Comment by Natali Fernandez — April 12, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  34. Very interesting article, and even more interesting comments. I think that generally speaking (as a video game player), Duke Nukem games are stupid. I never thought they were ever necessarily sexist either. However, i can say that i feel as though this new game mode ‘capture the babe’ IS unnecessarily sexist. Adding the ‘babe’ element or the ass slap to the game mode does not in anyway enhance the game play experience, rather, it just further adds to the video games lack of creativity. The presumed goal of game development is to make a game for your target market that sets its self apart from its competition. Duke Nukem attempts to do this through ridiculous game modes,which are uncreative and extremely similar to its competitors (gear of war, Call of duty, etc) not to mention extrinsically sexist. It is perhaps for that reason that this game never sold nearly as much as its counterparts.

    Comment by Elvis Rosales — April 25, 2012 @ 6:04 pm

  35. How can you make a video game that promotes violence against woman. This is the stupidest game ever made . It is not right to play a game that you capture a woman as if she was an animal. It is just weird that anyone would want to play this game. Not only do you chase a woman ,but the fact that there is a violent act against her is to much. This CEO is crazy if he thinks that this game is “awesome”. It is a good thing that I have never heard of this game. If it was a popular game maybe it would concern me a little more. However, the fact that this game even exist scares me to think that there could be games like this in the future if not worse.

    Comment by LilianaC — April 29, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

  36. My first thoughts on this article were, “lol this is a joke” then it turned into pure horror. How can a game so openly degrade women? this is just another insult to women like the games that offer a special cheat code to make the busty protagonists take their shirts off at the end of the game. This is blatant hatred for women. This game first offered assault towards woman, then the CEO corrected himself and said “its a slap to the ass”. WOW, STELLAR, this really makes it all the better now doesn’t it? I wonder if there will be some special code that will allow the man to rape the woman and then finish on her face? I wonder if it’ll be called “the white face finish”. Because honestly, that’s all this game needs. Moreover, how could the sexual assault of a woman be even implemented into a game? This question is very redundant seeing how women can be raped in real life and then shamed to be “whores that were asking for it”. Now, we see injustice and oppression in reality, and in video games. My vagina weeps for the future.

    Comment by lucero Medrano — April 29, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

  37. I have been a gamer for as long as I can remember one particular franchise and never played was Duke Nukem. I was aware that the game was in development for over ten years majority of that period being with 3D Realms before being transferred, completed, and released by Gearbox. I was also fully aware that the franchise is essentially filled with crude, vulgar, sexist humor made for the absent minded immature adult. The game is dated, not being able to rise above the ashes that once encompassed it in the faded memory of nostalgia. I actually like Gearbox as a developer, having developed some fantastic games such as Borderlands or to a lesser extent Brothers in Arms. Needless to say they may have got in over their heads when taking over the development of a dated franchise, and letting the perceived machismo of the main character get to them with the inexcusable premiere party; the correction of slapping a helpless woman on the booty to calm them down just takes them that much farther from the respectable developer they once were. This is one of the main reasons the game didn’t do well, besides horrible game mechanics and the lack of will to just let the dated game fade from memory.

    Comment by Irving M — April 30, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  38. I hate that in games the female characters always have that look of “beauty” that no one could obtain. Women are either sexually objected in video games or we are completely excluded. Why is it that they can even include violence against women in video games? They know that kids play them, and most kids learn certain behaviors from the video games they play. This just tells people that it’s acceptable to hit women. It says women are just an object you can slap around to get what you want. If it’s illegal to hit a woman in real life, how is it legal to do it in a game? Maybe someone needs to slap that CEO around and see how awesome he thinks it is when the shoe is on his foot.

    Comment by Katy S — April 30, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  39. “Capture the babe”? really?? who would play such a stupid game like that? Like many people out there I enjoy playing videogames once in a while as a distraction but the games I usually play are: NBA games, madden NFL, or FIFA since im a huge sports fan but i would never play a game which whole purpose was to capture a woman. The dumbest thing that the CEO said about this game was that “in capture the babe women dont get hit in the face but a slap in the Booty” like if that makes the game a whole lot more interesting smartguy!So what this video game really reinforces is the some back in the days where a “woman was suppose to be a mans property” I think Pitchford should go back to the drawing board and come up with something else.

    Comment by Luis G. — April 30, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

  40. How low as a society have we come! It is unbelievable that even in video games violence against women are being permitted. Women in video games have always been sexualized take for example tomb raider. Women in video games are always made to have big breast and in most cases wear reveling clothes. It’s very disappointing to see that our society is allowing this. They have come as far a allowing a male character to slap a women. They might finding entertaining but I find it straight out disrespectful. Its even more disappointing to see that the men are condemning this as okay by participating in the purchases of this game. In my opinion they should take this game and all games that promote violence against women off the market.

    Comment by Teresa H. — April 30, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

  41. As a girl who does play an ample amount of video games, I am astonished to see these sort of displays. While I do understand that the major demographic of video game players is men, they would think to want to cater to women as well; I guess I’m wrong. This is a horrifying display of misogyny and it upsets me that this still goes on in this day and age.

    Comment by Kaitlin V — May 5, 2012 @ 11:36 am

  42. I have played videos games for most of my life. Games like duke nukem had really never appealed to me. Whenever I go to the game store, games like duke nukem usually sit on the shelves until they are finally discounted to a price that is usually 90% less than the price it had orginal been sold for when it was released. The only time games like these get attention is for the negative press they get when the game is about to be released.

    Comment by AL P — May 8, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  43. Game play violence has really exploded. It seems to be a way for people to get their violence out in a non harmful way. The problem with this, is that it is now acceptable to be violent outside the game. This idea of capture the babe is pretty outrageous. How is it ok, in any way, to “capture” a woman against her will for the pleasure of a game? This may be a so called “fun game” to play, but it promotes all the wrong things. Are we going to start regressing into actual capturing of women? Didn’t we fight, as a country, for the freedom of all men AND women? If this CEO Randy really wants to promote feminism, why don’t we have video games with strong female leads instead of men like duke nukem? I’m not against video games, as I love them, and yes violence can be entertaining some times, mostly when you blow something up, but sexual violence should never be acceptable.

    Comment by Mohit Sharma — May 11, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  44. I agree that the CEO of this game should promote positive images about women. Now these boys that are playing the game and they are not thinking how it affects our society. I do not understand how slapping a girl is pleasurable. I think is wrong, rude, and harmful in a way. Randy needs to be more creative in a positive manner. Being aggressive with women is not the way. He needs to learn how to respect no degrade women.

    Comment by Karen Acevedo — May 12, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  45. This article seems to address the overt sexual marketing that companies’ use to promote a products while demoralizing women in the process. Some people seem to be comfortable living the status quo. This allows the desensitization of things and images that are cause for concern. It’s well known fact that images have a psychological effect on the brain. Constantly seeing the idea of women being subjected to sexism and accepting of those attitudes perpetuates the thought that it’s ok even if its wrong. Slavery was ok in the minds of many although it was pretty obvious that it was wrong at the same time.

    Comment by DeAngelo H. — May 13, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

  46. Sadly I don’t think the author understands the world of Duke Nukem. He is just a hyper masculine characterization of action heroes. He was created because of other medium’s portrayal of tough guys. He comes from things like Rambo, Die Hard, and Commando. Let’s remember he was made in 1991. He is shown to be irresistible to women, confident, aggressive, smart mouth, and politically incorrect. Pretty much a macho character parodied.

    Now to Duke Nukem’s fans of his games this just keeps things in the same universe that was created for him. It would ruin the character of Duke if you took this away. Video games are not a reflection of our world. They create their own worlds. The game mode “Capture the Babe” is just a variation on another game mode called “Capture the Flag.” It is a dig at other video games, something Duke game’s have always done, but with a twist of Duke’s universe in it. This is not something that should get people so riled up.

    Comment by DannyM — May 13, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

  47. It’s a shame that the primary way a gaming company can market their products efficiently is if they exploit the negative images of women that portray them as submissive sex objects. I am sure the marketing campaigns realize the impact that this can have, but they unfortunately do what they must to sell their products. The only way to change this is eradicate the idea that women can be so objectified. However, in order for that to happen, it is important that we discuss the topic openly so that people can realize how negatively this image effects our idea of women in society. If we can make others see how desensitized we have become to body image and sexual objectification, we may be able to at least scratch the surface of how perpetuating these stereotypes is seriously harmful content to show to young children, and possibly even more harmful to the women who are abused by men who learn from it.

    Comment by Neda D. — May 24, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

  48. The gaming industry keeps outdoing itself in terms of creating more and more inappropriate and sexist games. By replacing a “babe” with a flag shows that women are considered to be inanimate objects that can be dominated and stolen. I always thought men joked around when they said such things to make girls angry but I have learned that there are men that really do thing in largely misogynistic terms. The video game industry continues to use sexual domination as a way to sell video games to boys and young men by appealing to their desire to dominate women sexually.

    Comment by Melody S. — May 27, 2012 @ 10:55 pm

  49. I think this is the best comments section yet. I was hoping to hear more dialogue between the guys defending Duke Nukem and the ladies critiquing it. I had just gotten my popcorn ready too and everything, damn…

    Comment by David A. — May 30, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  50. The fact that Duke Nukem is a macho character parody is not going to come across that way to children. As for men although it is a parody, they are also susceptible because subconsciously they are taking in the sexist actions the video game character does and are more prone to act on them in the future. Pitchford trying to defend himself by justifying the slap is a joke because it doesn’t matter what body part a man chooses to slap it is still abusive to women. If it is sexual, it is still abusive because women are not taken seriously and merely seen as playthings for men to grab at their disposal. However, in the patriarchal society we live in I am not surprised to see men defend their wrong actions. Certainly if women created video game in which men were being abused and belittled for points or levels I am sure the problem would have been solved by now.

    Comment by Andrea C — December 3, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

  51. This really had an impact on me since I know nothing about video games. To know that there are such games as these sickens me. From what I understand it has been created by the patriarchal culture we live in today. What is ridiculous is that the one who creates this thinks that there is nothing wrong and that it should be used for educational purposes. Really?! I thought it was better to teach your child what was right instead of teaching them what is wrong?! Use your knowledge/power to make the word a better place to live in! As a whole society we need to break from this patriarchal culture that promotes misogynistic behavior. We are used to these behaviors and take them to be the “norm” but we must also remember that norms and values are socially created making it easy to change their definition throughout time.

    Comment by ElizabethR — December 3, 2012 @ 7:23 pm

  52. As a video game player I understand the variation of “capture the babe”- however crude it may be. But I don’t understand the fact that he would have to hit her at all in order to save her. The first few comments made my stomach turn with such ignorant things said and feminist bashing. That is just patriarchal thinking at work. Thanks for the article.

    Comment by StephanieR. — December 4, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  53. Being an avid gamer since my childhood, I’ve come across several games in which women are sexualized, physically, sexually, mentally abused and toyed with. Games like the GTA series, Duke Nuke’em Series, Tomb Radder, God of War, and even computer Games where women would wear armor that BARELY covers their breasts/butt. The list goes on. GTA even had a sex mini-game which was removed through an update, but thousands of people played and uploaded the mini-game to youtube racking up thousands of views. Anyways, what Randy and his friends over at Gearbox Software have conjured is by no means right in any aspect. Why do it? Because it follows the path patriarchy has established. It sells. Violence in general is pretty prominent amongst the most popular video games. You rarely see a non-violent best seller these days. The gametype of Capture the Babe is just ridiculous, why would you make that? Duke Nuke em has a huge influence on younger kids(a lot of parents have no idea what ESRB Ratings are)and teaching them these things at a young age is just horrible.

    Comment by Pravesh S. — May 23, 2013 @ 10:26 pm

  54. Referring the comments above me, regardless of the type of character Duke is or if the game is satire, there is still a women being sexually assaulted on a video which young boys (and girls) and people all of ages will be playing. This right here is a problem in and of itself. It completely disregards the reality of violence against women, and is trivializes it even further as Pitchford calls this atrocity a “love slap”.

    Comment by Jessica P. — May 28, 2013 @ 5:20 pm

  55. As i have never played any of the Duke Nukem franchise i find this really confusing on why a company would make such a bonehead move that is so likely to anger the feminists. Someone developing this type of gameplay must of known that something like this is going to have the public in protest. I mean to really have groups of army men fight and shoot their way to capture a woman sounds like torture not to mention the way of claiming this woman is slapping her ass which I am sure she doesnt appreciate. This in all ways does promote violence against women and competition in men.

    Comment by Andrew O — November 20, 2013 @ 8:06 pm

  56. After reading Pitchford’s comments and reading a few in this feed, I was pissed off! It’s one thing to create the content that is perpetuating misogynistic bullshit but by doing so reveals the ugly truth within most gamers. They feel like this is okay which is terrifying to know because of the real context of men’s violence against other women and men. So far removed from the original takeaway, the first comment is a link to a comic strip from Penny Arcade where they trivialize the issue by linking it to another popular franchise, Call of Duty. I guess in our society, it is okay to both slap a woman’s ass as you carry her as an object in a game of capture the flag (funny, right? the game even tells you to think of the “babe” as a “flag with boobs”…) and kill millions of people. The ignorance the comic fails to acknowledge is that Duke Nukem is perpetuating notions of abuse and violence against women. Where they see it fit to describe the death of millions of people in the fictitious world of Call of Duty as equal to the violence, abuse, and sexism women have to go through day in and day out is totally disproportional. For most women and men, violence against women is a reality, not a fiction.

    Comment by Albert A. — December 2, 2013 @ 8:25 am

  57. Violence against women is nothing to joke about. It is not a game. Video games like this that promote violence and aggression should not be permitted. I am a girl who used to enjoy playing video games, until I could not handle the community any longer. I would sign online and immediately get messages to “shut up and go back to the kitchen.” These teenage boys believe it is acceptable to treat women like objects because that is how they interact with women in the game. Video games like this objectify women and dehumanize them into easily disposible objects that are worth nothing more than another toy. This is not acceptable. We need to promote awareness to the issue of violence against women and not market this problem to young, impressionable boys.

    Comment by Vanessa R. — May 20, 2014 @ 9:28 am

  58. Girls in nerd culture are often treated as sex objects, decorations, or an objective. Mario has to save Princess Peach. Grand Theft Auto is littered with hookers for players to ogle and beat. In comics and movie adaptations of comics, Harley Quinn is the Joker’s ever-loving psycho babe, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow) is in a sexy, black, skintight suit, Poison Ivy doubles as both a villain and the object of every nerd’s desires. In television shows like Doctor Who, the Doctor will take on a new, disposable female companion every season the accompany him through time and space until he gets bored of them. At conventions like Comic-Con, Wonder-Con, ALA, etc., women are either worshipped as goddesses for the sexy costumes they worked hard to create out of passion for that character or shunned as “fake nerd girls” for not being able to list off the birthdays of every member of the Star Wars cast. This objectification has stopped being just an in-game thing long ago- it perpetuates the whole nerd-culture and teaches and boys playing these games that this is how they should treat girls, and it teaches the girls playing these games that this is what they should expect.

    Comment by Maya K — June 1, 2014 @ 12:37 pm

  59. Again, I cannot believe my eyes as I read something as terrible as the ideas that Randy Pitchford pitches and that they are implemented as video games to be sold and brainwash impressionable young minds. He is only perpetrating the rape culture that is so epidemic in this day and age. We are constantly bombarded by ads that show us that it is okay to objectify women. By objectifying women, we are releasing the value that they hold as human beings and make it easier to abuse them. Isn’t it easier to abuse something that is an object, has no feelings or emotions, and can’t fight back? Would you feel bad for knocking over a lamp? No! Of course, not, it is an inanimate object. Well that is what we are doing here, we are objectifying women, and making it all right for men to think that they can play a game where “capturing the woman” is just another setting on the controller. It is ludicrous to see how normative this type of behavior and thinking has become and how assholes like Pitchford can sit there and anger us and not care one tiny bit about what he doing to influence America. I wonder if he has children, and if any of them are girl, and how he would feel if they were abused. I wonder if that would happen, would he change his stance on women’s rights and feminism and try to anger them as much as he does now.

    Comment by Pnina O — June 2, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment