Halo 4 SRS
Jack Thompson – not the Australian actor, star of such hits as (Star Wars Episode 2 and some other stuff…), but American Lawyer. If you don’t know him by name, you know that those two words mean some sort of trouble, most likely in a litigious happy manner… but if you do know him, you probably sigh, as his name brings up scorn and derision, a person whose sole purpose of existence seems to be so that furries have someone to look down on.
He exemplifies a narrow minded misunderstanding of video games, which we tend to ascribe to the older generation, but that’s a generalisation that isn’t always fair or accurate. He certainly does echo the thoughts of some elements of the community – I was watching a movie, I don’t recall which, where they showed an ad for a Hitman game, an older patron said, directed to his female companion, but loudly, so clearly with the intent of making his displeasure known, ‘Great, now they are teaching kids to be hit men’. I admit, my response was not gallant, as I, equally loudly, responded with ‘You’re a idiot’. Thankfully, he shut up for the movie.
I bring up Jack Thomson because, well, clearly his parents did a terrible job. Sorry, dad joke – I’m actually legally obliged to make at least three of them per article. Don’t bother counting them, just think happy thoughts and let them wash over you.
I bring up dear old Jack because one of his famous examples of misrepresentational douchebaggery was when Mass Effect was released. Yes, the original. There was, gasp, heaven forbid, a sex scene with an alien, a blue alien. It’s so risqué that you can see it in its entirety on YouTube… You see more blue flesh in Avatar than in this scene – hell, you see more blue flesh in the Smurfs than you do in this sex scene…
Anyway, it was described as a “Space Rape Simulator”. Yeah. Sorry, you’d probably bleached that from your mind. But, yeah, you can see how incredibly accurate and well researched that particular statement was…
But this isn’t about those idiots, this is about a different set of idiots.
You see, there is a space rape simulator, they just got the wrong title.
Halo. Yep. Think about it.
You’ll find it in multiplayer, with, well, I was going to say particularly obnoxious players, but it’s fairly prevalent…
The Teabaggers. Some of you have started to defend it in your mind, you’re saying, but it’s just a show of dominance… oh, it’s just in good fun… oh… uh… and now you are twisting your foot awkwardly like they do in the cartoons. Some of you are saying ‘So uncivilised’ in your best Obi Wan Kenobi voice. And some of you are uttering variations of WTF. (There are probably those that are frothing at the mouth and scrolling down look for the comments section, but we’ll ignore them.)
I’ll explain it for those that don’t know, and for those that do, because it adds emphasis. Also, it saves you the trip to UrbanDictionary.com. You know, this isn’t something I expected to be writing about… so I am just going to use Urban Dictionary: To have a man insert his scrotum into another person’s mouth in the fashion of a teabag into a mug with an up/down (in/out) motion.
Right… did we all get that?
It’s used in games to show ‘dominance’ – they killed you and now they are going to crouch/uncrouch over your corpse.
Let me spell it out – partly for the peanut gallery, and partly for effect.
They pretend kill you, and then, in some sort of alpha male weird sexual dominance thing, they come up and sexually violate the corpse by putting their virtual scrotum in your face.
It’s definitely non-consensual – well, at least on some occasions, there are probably groups of people who really enjoy that sort of thing and have all agreed to it.
It’s definitely sexual – the whole sex organ thing.
And it’s in space – yeah, you can do it in other games too, but Halo fits the ‘Space Rape Simulator’ example better. And… well, more on that later.
I’m going to gloss the whole necrophilia aspect of that, if it’s okay. We’re right to ignore that? Right? Good.
‘But!’ I hear the voice of exposition say, and I’m going to skip those bits and address their points…
The first argument is that it’s what’s expected in these games, you know, going into it, that this is going to happen. And in honesty, if you fire up a multiplayer game, you can, and should expect there to be some douchebag idiot either trying to ruin the game for everyone or prove that they have some sort of relevance in their messed up lives. So yes, expect it, but that doesn’t make it right.
You can also expect racist, sexist and homophobic slurs, that doesn’t mean you should be happy about it. (And I don’t want to trivialise those, but I do want to make the connection of the endemic inappropriateness of it all.)
Maybe, maybe, if that was the whole point of the game, it might get a pass – you couldn’t complain that the multiplayer has too many Spartans, because that’s what the game is about… and you know, I’m still not comfortable with that.
Yes, it constitutes as a sexual act – are we really arguing this? Oh, you mean do the rules not apply because it’s a virtual world. That’s interesting, actually – is this some sort of disparity between sex and violence. From a video game perspective I’ve killed the population of small countries, I’ve wiped out planets and reduced entire solar systems to irradiated Stone Age rubble.
The difference is, that’s the game. You show dominance by winning, the killing is only a mechanism, a counter, within the rule set of the game. Tea-bagging isn’t. You are making it personal, you are making it no longer about the game, and you are doing it in a very unpleasant way. This isn’t about winning, it’s about humiliation.
In soccer, you win by scoring goals – that’s the point. In Halo, you win by ‘killing’ your opponents. On the football field you expect some physical contact, less on the basketball court, a lot less on a golf course.
Can you imagine if they did that sort of thing in golf? (Cue Tiger Woods joke.) Or any sport?
It also still constitutes an act that is meant to establish sexual dominance –and even if it is removed from the ‘real world’, it’s still all a bit ‘rapey’ , who am I kidding, a lot ‘rapey’, for me to be comfortable with – and I think we are too comfortable with it.
And that’s the other reason I chose the Halo franchise – in the lead up to the release of Halo: Reach, there was a ‘bug’ that stopped the victim from seeing the, uh, action… Bungie described it as “impossible to perform humiliation move”, and promised a fix – it was patched before the game came out. (Denying us a number of mildly humorous headlines, no doubt.) And yes, that was their official description.
Endorsing and encouraging it… Call of Duty (AKA COD, and you know what, I hate using COD as a positive example) offered a perk that when killed, you dropped a live grenade, killing anyone who attempted to, uh, hump your corpse. So, discouraging it. Honestly, I have no idea if it’s still offered – not that COD is a bad game, I just never got into it.
Halo 4, after 343 took over the reins from Bungie kept it in, which I guess makes sense in terms of appealing to the rabid fan boys, but then they weaponised it. (That’s not really a word, but, well, you know what I mean.) They made it so the Holograms would teabag the fallen enemy. Oh, here comes the voice of exposition again…
Originally, if you caught someone doing it, it was pretty much a free kill – it’s always about risk versus reward, and so it meant if you were trying to humiliate someone, there was a chance you’d get killed doing it, but now, people use it as bait – they use their virtual avatar of their virtual avatar to dry hump a course and maybe get another kill out of it. So, back to encouraging it.
Is this really what we want to say? Is this really how we want to present ourselves as gamers? Surely we should be doing all we can to prove that Jack Thompson is an idiot.
Sure, if you have your own little group, with your own little rules and everyone is aware and so on, sure, go right ahead – if that’s what you enjoy doing with consenting adults, great, enjoy, be thankful you aren’t furries. But don’t bring that to the multiplayer – we don’t want it. It’s not appropriate.
Addendum 1: Although there is a part of me that appreciates a certain irony of players using ‘gay’ as a pejorative and then performing this action.
Addendum 2: Obviously this is written from a male perspective – I’m really not in a position to judge life as a gamer from a female perspective. If you want an insight into how much extra stuff female gamers have to deal with, check out: http://fatuglyorslutty.com/ it’s actually quite depressing.