Thursday, August 20, 2015

SJW: Social Justice Witcher

Lawrence Richards, writing for gaming site The Leveller, recently took on a special challenge playing through The Witcher 3 (which we've previously discussed here):
I wanted to see if instead I could play a character whose interests were a bit less tedious than being some empty, unquestionable Nietzschean superman. I wanted to test the so-called freedom of what is clearly the most groundbreaking open world game of our generation, to see if I could reject the usual triple-A heroism and play a character who is sensitive, humble, committed to social justice rather than self-aggrandisement. 
I wanted to play a male character who could be an actual ally to the empowerment of his female co-stars, a-la the new Mad Max, rather than just the tough guy who saves them. I wanted to immerse myself in this world committed to freeing its inhabitants from their miserable feudal bondage, rather than just saving the day and making sure that the system can survive. I wanted to play a hero that Gamergate couldn’t wank over.
Giving some of the series' reputation for cringeworthy misogyny, The Witcher 3 may seem like an odd choice for Richards to try to play the character in this way. However, the developers have played up the nuanced choices available, and there are supposedly 32 different ending depending on how you play the game. Many reviews have called The Witcher 3 out as a good example of an expansive sandbox action game. With this in mind, he decided to play the game as an anarcho-feminist. Was he sucessful? Kind of.

There's also a neat little side-diversion on game economics and NPCS:

I tried to keep those ideas of money and exchange and autonomy in mind as I freed numerous entrepreneurs through the world. But ultimately it was all done in good faith, as well as a sense of resignation that there was no way for me to guarantee helping cottage industries was going to help the workers. There were very rarely apprentices, which made each smithy and merchant’s shop a kind of Ayn Rand utopia in which the only visible labour is that of the brilliant entrepreneur, the source of all value and creativity. This, though subtle, was for me one of the blandest features of the game, because it is an accidental trope rather than a philosophical decision.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments!

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