Jan 072013

I spent a few hours playing this PC adventure game Primordia. If I recall correctly, chaos ordered it for me when I was mourning Glitch and complaining that I hadn’t liked a PC game since Myst.

It was both fun and irritating in all the usual ways of adventure games. You get a blowtorch but rarely get to burn things. The inventory puzzles are frustrating (but could be much worse).* I admit that I used a walkthrough at times, and didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty about ruining the purity of my experience.

There are some well-written reviews of the game that will actually describe it for you and help you decide if you want to drop a few dollars to play it (just don’t read the comments, unless you enjoy mild console-vs-PC flamewars).

What I don’t see reviewers mentioning is the sexism in the game. Really interesting sci-fi adventures that examine societal identity and creation issues should do better than lazy titty jokes and references to “gynoids” — in my opinion, anyway. Why is the little floating circular sidekick robot interested in human sex characteristics in an all-robot society that barely believes humans ever existed? Is this some sort of commentary on how boobs are inherently interesting to all intelligent life forms? Why is there a little female robot who ends up as a romantic prize for the sidekick once he completes the quest to “find the courage to talk to a girl” (a quest that is completed by, and I’m not making this up, talking to a lamp for practice)? Maybe that little female robot had hopes and dreams of her own. Maybe she’s a better conversationalist than a lamp.

There is one decently developed female character, who travels with the protagonist for a while and is primarily interested in the law, but she’s also the only character who has a humanoid shape with secondary sex characteristics and doesn’t wear head-to-toe baggy clothes. She has nice gynoid boobs and shapely legs, but I never get to see how hunky the robots are (and I’d be objecting less to the term gynoid if the males were actually called androids, but they’re not). I have problems with the final boss, too, and without giving away the whole game, there are some elements of “bad things happen when a woman gets uppity and tries to leave the kitchen to do men’s work.”

None of this was purposeful, I don’t think, and I’m sure that if the gaming community read this they’d call me a whiny baby for even caring, but these elements bounced me out of the narrative of an otherwise fun game. It may have been avoided if there’d been some women involved in production (I don’t think there were any based on watching the credits). Anyway, it all contributes to the feeling I’ve always had that my money is good in gaming stores but I’m not the target audience for games. I’m either an afterthought or a prize.


* This footnote is a nonsensical excuse to link to this hilarious fancybears thing.

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