Update: In response to a huge negative backlash, Deep Silver have issued a statement via twitter apologising for “any offense caused by the Dead Island Riptide “Zombie Bait Edition”, the collector’s edition announced for Europe and Australia.” Deep Silver claim they “sincerely regret this choice” and are “collecting feedback continuously from the Dead Island community, as well as the international gaming community at large.” No mention is made of any plans to changes the Zombie Bait Edition’s contents.
The original cinematic trailer for Dead Island was a heartfelt, emotionally gripping and surprisingly touching piece involving the hungry dead and juvenile defenestration. It made a big impression on people for very positive “artsy” reasons although the game basically ended up being like Borderlands with zombies and a cast of TV Tropes entries as protagonists. Dead Island nonetheless proved popular enough to get a spin-off – Dead Island Riptide – coming this year, and to market it publisher Deep Silver have returned to the subtle, nuanced, emotionally-gripping marketing methods of that original trailer by peddling a limbless, bloody, overtly-sexualised woman’s torso with the game’s “Zombie Bait” collector’s edition.
While I’m not one for overpriced collector’s edition tat myself I can still appreciate fun toys and ornaments like the Far Cry 3 Vaas bobblehead and the Darksider’s 2 Death mask. Even the Gears of War 3 Epic Edition’s bust of Marcus Fenix, with its quasi-fascist Arno Breker undertones, is aesthetically pleasing enough that I can see someone putting it on their mantelpiece or coffee table. It’s not to my taste but then neither are models of Yukiko from Persona 4. I might incidentally have my own ideas and preconceptions as to the sorts of people who’d own either of those things, but I own a Lego model of Luke Skywalker’s Land Speeder from Star Wars: A New Hope so I’m in no real position to judge.
A model of a bleeding, dismembered woman’s torso with a protruding rib cage and curiously unscathed (barring the surgeon’s knife) breasts is another thing entirely, so I’m entirely comfortable judging the sort of person who’d buy a collector’s edition of Dead Island Riptide for it and then proudly put it on display. I imagine such a person to have either the artistic taste of a brick or a deep-rooted hatred for women bordering on potential homicide. It’s the kind of thing the police would find perched on a velvet pillow atop an altar of decomposing pig carcasses and copies of “Atlas Shrugged”, slap-bang in the middle of a serial killer’s murder-den. The kind that’s little more than an underground concrete box with the word “WHORES” daubed on the walls in blood and faeces.
I’m equally comfortable judging whatever loathsome marketing cockroach at Deep Silver thought this was even a palatable idea, let alone a good one. Right now I have a coherent mental image of a smug, coiffured, suit-wearing twat sitting in a room full of other smug, coiffured, suit-wearing twats with a hateful pearly-white grin stretched across his hateful, sunbed-tanned face. “Listen up guys”, he announces, imagining himself as Moses on Mount Sinai because it’s what some NLP book he read told him to do in these situations. “I’ve got a stellar idea!” I imagine this arsehole’s name is Tarquin, because that’s the kind of name I associate with people who think a fetishised bleeding torso is a great way to sell a game to a wide audience. He probably would’ve suggested a fleshlight in the base of the torso too if he thought he could get away with it.
Deep Silver has the gall to call this grisly snuff-totem “Dead Island’s grotesque take on an iconic Roman marble torso sculpture” that will “make a striking conversation piece on any discerning zombie gamer’s mantel.” Hey Deep Silver, you DO know those “iconic” sculptures often started out with arms, legs and at least a head, right? I’m no expert on Roman depictions of zombie-inflicted injuries but I do know they’re only headless and limbless because the weight of centuries, numerous wars and plain old wear-and-tear tend to have that effect on statuary. Incidentally many of those sculptures were of naked young men but I suppose that little fact didn’t “synergise” well enough with your market research. Oh and by the way I don’t think “discerning” means what you think it means.
Christ, it’s as though all the debates and discussion in 2012 about the treatment of women in videogames had never happened. A new year has barely started and we’ve already got another example to add to the pile of reasons gaming is still a hostile place for women, metaphorically reduced in this instance to scraps of meat for the ravenous hunger of a slavering brainless mob devoid of any self-awareness. All because of some cretinous PR chucklefuck’s stupid idea for a marketing stunt that will ultimately and unfairly reflect badly on the developer, Techland.
In closing I also have more than a few judgemental thoughts about several gaming sites that regurgitated Deep Silver’s press release sans-opinion instead of challenging this obnoxious PR horseshit, but I’ll keep those to myself for now. They know who they are.
Source: Rock, Paper Shotgun