Dead Island or bust! The case for tasteless horror tchotchkes

Title Dead Island or bust! The case for tasteless horror tchotchkes
Author Tom Chick
Posted in Games
When January 16, 2013

It looks as if Deep Silver is going to remove a gory bikini bust that was part of the Dead Island: Riptide collector's edition. Which is hardly unexpected, but disappointing. Not because I want one. I don't. It's pretty gross..

Read the full article

In Victorian times people would have fainted even at just half a bloody torso.

The problem I have is why cave so quickly? Not to be a conspiracy nut but surely both the developer and publisher know what a hot button sexism is in gaming lately and so must have known what kind of furor something like this would cause, so it makes me think is this a marketing stunt to get attention to game I had no idea was coming out. It's just that Dead Island already had a sexism scandal with the whole 'feminist whore' thing and that didn't affect sales at all, in fact it got the game a lot attention and kept the game in the spotlight for longer than it should have. See this is just a mockup, I highly doubt any of these statues have been produced yet and so if it seems that the publisher is listening to it's audience and thus bad press is becoming good without any large financial loss involved.

I'm not saying this is fact but I know firsthand how sleazy marketing can be and there is just something not right about this.

Thanks for the write-up, Mr. Chick.

I wonder if the Riptide marketing department quietly views this as a huge success. Surely, they predicted the "statue" would produce a huge ick factor, and now it's generating a good bit of internet discussion.

I'm not sure if it's intentional, but you call it "Deep Space 2" instead of "Dead Space 2".

I don't really have a problem with this as a funny piece of tat. I have more of an issue with attempting to defend it as something the developers should be doing. If a fan made it, that'd be fine. Developers need to hold themselves to a higher standard or it can hurt their team.

Look closely at a hi-res copy of the picture. None of it is real; it's all a mockup. I bet not a single bloody torso was ever produced for Deep Silver, or ever would have been. And in the bottom right, notice the 'Artwork is subject to change'.
All of Tom's points are valid and he's written a lot I haven't even considered about this, but ultimately it's irrelevant. Deep Silver knew exactly what sort of reception this piece would garner. Whether you agree the bust is a clever reference to classic art, or just a puerile bit of trash, the effect is the same. People are talking about it and many people who may otherwise not have been aware of the new game now are. As far as Deep Silver are concerned, Mission Accomplished.

Without commenting on this issue itself, I don't think you need to worry about the future of games using sensitive issues like movies do. It's possible that they simply need to go through a stage of careful sensitivity due to the immature history of the industry. Once that baseline is established, the industry can start playing on tasteless things like other media do. It will get there eventually.

Thank God others think too, there is no way in hell this was intended to be distributed.

"if we feel something is offensive to us personally, we should not buy it rather than decry it as socially harmful"

This is true, but only for people who find a thing personally offensive and yet *don't* consider it socially harmful. People who do consider something socially harmful and do have reasons for that consideration beyond "it offends me", are perfectly welcome to voice their arguments (regardless of the quality of those arguments) -- why wouldn't they be?

Mayhaps your real problem is with people who want to declare things Socially Unlawful, not just Socially Harmful. Compare and contrast:

-- Decrying As Harmful: "I believe the Dead Island statue thing to be, on the whole, unwholesome. For [insert reasons here] and their own good, I implore the producers not to create such an item, and gamers not to buy it."

-- Decrying As Unlawful: "I believe etc etc...I implore Whoever's In Charge Of That to impose a fine on the producers, and I implore The Authorities to let me reach into gamer's private homes and rearrange their collectibles shelves to an acceptable level of wholesomeness."

The second one is a bit over the top, but the first one is fine, and possibly even an opening to a quality Angry Internet Argument.

P.S. I do find the statue to be a Bad Thing even after reading your reasons, but bear in mind that I also find the classical sculpture you mentioned to be a Bad Thing ;) Actually, I'm quite content to set the game+statuette aside as things for me to ignore because I don't like zombies or immodesty...if I was in a decrying mood, I would definitely start with the giant bronze statues of mostly-naked people that are all over my city and in front of my public library.

(whoa -- adding a P.S. post is all wacky when the posts are upside down like this)

I dunno -- Charles Dickens for instance was not averse to a certain amount of creepiness and gore. (Though not, I grant you, complete with illustrations. =)

So you categorize your DVDs alphabetically by title? Is this a compromise of some sort or is it based on a strongly held opinion?

Girl gamer here. The horror genre does that - it makes stupid chicks with huge t**s get murdered violently, and has been doing that in movies for years. It's a bit icky of a statuette, but I guess it's useful for Halloween. After all, that's every girl's excuse to be a slutty insert_title_here, so who are they to complain?

So is this the same marketing team that put together one of the most evocative trailers ever? The game itself, once bug fixed, was mostly competent, but came nowhere close on delivering what the trailer indicated.

Now we have an expansion, for a game that we know to be average/decentish. Would it have caused even a blip if they announced it with, say a gameplay trailers showing the expansion content? No. And they can't pull another awesome trailer out of the hat as we have seen that trick before. So, they go for the bloody busty torso gambit, and Dead Island is back in people's minds. It might not even be bad PR, if they handle the mea culpla well enough.

This may be crappy timing with all the negative press gaming is getting due it being the easy scapegoat for violence, but I think who ever runs the marketing for dead island is earning their bonuses in a big way.

I think a few teeth marks on a bare ankle would have caused a riot.

I think the mistake you are making is that you are considering Dead Island as a horror game, and so that this object is being pitched as an object of *horror*. I don't think it is, and I don't think this, and L4D are horror games. The Walking Dead game (which you should play), for example, has child zombies, but they are used to elicit depression and fear and guilt. No one complains about that.

What this object is, is an object of sexualised grossity, a physical two-girls-one-cup. Does this object evoke any significant moment, any genuine fear? No, it's just sits there and is disgusting, and it's digusting as a concept because it defines what Deep Silver considers its target audience to be. This isn't about pushing forward the genre and tackling challenging concepts, this is about returning to shock based, immature teenage boy focuses, and presuming an audience that has grown up would just lap it up. Only a creepy loner scumbag would want something like this in their house and become more of a creepy loner scumbag in the process, and Deep Silver has shown that this is what they consider their players to be by charging a premium for this.

"For instance, an important element of zombie mythology that no one will
touch is the child zombie. The closest we’ve come is the trailer for
Dead Rising, which has a child zombie."

Tom, you should play The Walking Dead, since you obviously haven't.

"We’re capable of making our own choices about what’s offensive, and if we feel something is offensive to us personally, we should not buy it rather than decry it as socially harmful. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to go down that road."

Are you certain you want to go down the road of squelching speech and denying the conversation that an honest opinion on this sort of thing can spark?

Though honestly, Mr Chick, I'm not sure why anyone would ever look to you and your blog for thoughts on gender issues, whether they be in video games or otherwise. You're up there with Gabe at Penny Arcade and Brett Easton Ellis for people with a demonstrated history of responding to this sort of thing well.

Are you sure you don't mean the trailer for Dead Island itself? Although there is one child at constant risk of zombification in Dead Rising 2, I'm not aware of a zombie child in Dead Rising promotional materials. The Dead Island trailer, on the other hand, used that zombie kid masterfully in ways that turned out to have absolutely nothing to do with the game we got.