Trenched…for REAL men

23 Mar

Why oh why has Double Fine chosen to advertise it’s latest game in the ‘Amnesia Fortnights’ series, Trenched,  like so?

The tag line reads: “Turn no-man’s land, into real mans land”.

‘Real man’s land’. Really?

Four words. Four words is all it takes and immediately women, as well as men put off by the macho-man image, are forced to come to the conclusion that this just might not be the game for them. It is also  indicative of too much advertising these days (not that it was different before!), that still insists on assuming a primarily straight, male audience, and a male audience that buys into normative modes of masculinity.

Women play games, there is no avoiding this fact. Surely the people that make games should be trying to reach an audience as broad as possible, including women, and not using brute force advertising to alienate a significant chunk of it?

Kotaku is keen to insist that Trenched is ‘a game that seems to have everything going for it‘. Everything except gender inclusivity, perhaps?

From a quick scan of the Double Fine studio website, I determined that at least 9 women, as well a number of infants and dogs work on the team (see  ‘What is Double Fine‘ ). Surely these women, having already faced a number of challenges disproportionate to their gender to even get into the industry, would have some problem with the use of advertising that excludes them as potential consumers to games that they actually had a hand in creating!

Perhaps I am being too fussy? Perhaps the market for third-person tower-defense games released exclusively on XBLA  is wholly male, and thus makes it  a very effective piece of advertising? Perhaps, but more likely it is the responsibility of those in a position of authorship to promote inclusivity. When we get down to it, change can only ever come from inside the industry, despite pressures placed upon it externally.

This is especially disappointing considering the studio is Double Fine, previously responsible for innovative and original games like Psychonauts and more recently Stacking. In particular, Tim Schafer, founder and owner of Double Fine Productions, has been responsible for progressive female characters such as Governor Elaine Marley (The Secret of Monkey Island) and Lili Zanotto (Psychonauts) in the past.

Although it is yet to be seen whether or not Trenched will include female characters for play, women don’t quite fit into the role of ‘real men’, so I would imagine it unlikely.

How about you? Does advertising like this enrage you as a man/woman? Or are you willing to just let this slide because it is ‘just how it is’? Perhaps it didn’t even cross your mind?

Comments and discussion welcomed.

[Trenched is set for release sometime in  2011, exclusively on Xbox Live Arcade]



4 Responses to “Trenched…for REAL men”

  1. Anonymous April 1, 2011 at 21:45 #

    I think there are some women who fit into the role of ‘real men’


    • cooperda00 April 2, 2011 at 00:54 #

      Thanks for your constructive insight.

  2. Every Eating April 18, 2011 at 22:37 #

    The game is set post-WWI, during that time only men fought in wars. The tagline merely helps demonstrate the games themes and settings, as the game is based off of the ultra-macho war culture of the past.
    Furthermore, I’m sure the tagline was intended as satire, and it would seem that you were just nitpicking and/or looking for something to be mad about.
    I find it sexist for you to assume that just because a video game contains boys that only boys should play it. It seems like you are the person implying gender differences.

    • cooperda00 April 19, 2011 at 00:46 #

      The game uses a post-WWI aesthetic yes, but is entirely fantasy. As far as I can discern, the game is set in an alternate history where televisions were invented early and are an invading enemy force. That sounds like a fantasy setting to me. Surely it is not too much of a stretch to suggest that if televisions can walk, woman can be portrayed as soldiers. The ‘oh but its historical’ argument never holds much force. This wasn’t even my point, since the game has yet to be released.
      As I said, I am not a fan of using machismo to market games. This was a recent example of it. There are plenty of other things I could get mad about, but as a fan of Tim Schafer and Double Fine, it seemed opportune to vent my disappointment.
      I don’t assume that women only play games if there are women in it, this is not stated nor how I feel. But to reach a wider demographic (good for everyone), the industry needs to get past the need to solely direct their marketing (and perhaps much of their content) at men. In essence, all I am trying to say is that the marketing of the game, whether satirical or not, is deliberately exclusive of women. The game is ‘for’ men. You might compare this to the advertising of Yorkie Bar chocolate: ‘not for girls’. Yes, meant in jest, but sexist all the same.

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