For Our Consideration

Dead Island: Riptide promotional statuette flyer

It Belongs In A Museum

An awful Dead Island: Riptide promotional statuette serves as a breathtaking work of shock art.

By John Teti • January 16, 2013

You know, some people just don’t get art. Yesterday, a number of websites reported on a special collector’s edition of the upcoming zombie-game sequel Dead Island: Riptide. Available now for preorder in the United Kingdom and Australia, the “Zombie Bait Edition” comes with a few extras commissioned by the studio, Deep Silver. The package includes special artwork and a steel case to protect your copy of Dead Island from the elements. Oh, and there’s also a scale model of a nubile, bikini-clad woman’s dismembered corpse.

That last item created something of a stir. And yeah, I guess I can see how this 12-inch-tall vision of raw depravity might bug folks, since it is, objectively, the worst object ever created. But I would hate to see Rotting Bikini Torso dismissed as merely another marketing-department “oops!” moment. Let’s appreciate this thing as a work of shock art—an inspired sculptural snapshot of a certain ugliness that pervades the mass-market games industry. This lump of hand-painted resin both encapsulates and indicts a few decades’ worth of game-studio testosterone. It belongs in a museum.

The exhibit would start, of course, with the sculpture itself, because the longer you look at Double-D Decomposition, the more it has to offer. Right off the top there’s the violence. In this “grotesque take on an iconic Roman marble torso sculpture”—an actual thing said by an actual human being who works for Deep Silver—the limbs aren’t just gone. No, their gory absence suggests a struggle. This anonymous woman’s limbs and head were ripped from her, presumably amid spurts of blood and a few prerecorded voiceover-booth moans rendered in sparkling 7.1-channel surround sound.

Flesh Husk (In Swimsuit) is all about the details. Note the spinal column that juts out of the neck. The way your eye is drawn to an insouciant bit of bone on the arm. These are important cues in the visual vocabulary of Modern Game Studio artworks. They symbolize worship of the deities Dark and Gritty. According to lore, anyone who gazes upon these gods—and isn’t too much of a pussy to handle it—is granted the power of being a badass who nobody should mess with. On account of the darkness. And grit.

You’ll notice, too, that every part of the figure’s body is mangled except the breasts. A couple of the gashes on Oh God, You Just Know Someone Is Masturbating To This Right Now come close to the boobs, but they stop short, out of solemn reverence. This is in keeping with the long game-industry tradition of honoring huge bazongas above all (and honoring the ass, too, if there’s any development time left over after programming the huge bazongas). Even in the early years of 3D games, when female characters had faces that looked like bulging hexagons with lipstick, developers managed to give video game breasts hyper-real motion and buoyancy. Game women benefited from an experimental field of game science known as “boob physics” or “teat-jigglies.” This piece is a salute to that heritage.

The gore serves as a complement to the misogyny, because without that face and those limbs to distract the viewer, a clear point of focus—boobs—can emerge. It’s so elegant how it all fits together. You know in A Beautiful Mind when all those numbers and equations are connecting together around Russell Crowe’s head, like a dazzling crystal? This is like that, except with hating women instead of math.

The final touch of grace is the nationalism element. The statue comes in two versions, one with the Union Jack for U.K. buyers and one with the Australian flag for those Down Under. Thus Deep Silver quells any lingering queasiness with the soothing balm of patriotism. We can all rest easy knowing that while this woman tits may have met her tits end, she died tits for tits queen and country tits tits.

The sculpture is a showpiece in itself, but an ambitious curator would enhance the experience with supporting materials. For instance, the previously linked GameSpot article about the figure is filled with its own charms. Highlights include the affectless, haiku-like presentation of facts (“includes decapitated female statue”) and a Deep Silver marketing flack’s claim that his company “wanted to provide…a striking conversation piece on any discerning zombie gamer’s mantel.”

This artist commentary adds new layers to Union Jackin’ It, inviting the viewer to ponder the existence of a person who 1. has access to a mantel, 2. would desire to put this object on that mantel, and 3. would then endeavor to engage others in conversation of the object. The existence of the object does, after all, imply that such a person exists, a notion that lends the work a vivid sense of reality. Dark, gritty reality.

You could argue that the figure doesn’t deserve consideration as art, because it wasn’t created by an “artist” per se, and Deep Silver didn’t mean to send up the worst impulses of big-budget game studios. But that only makes it better. You’ve heard of outsider art? This is insider art, crafted by forces deep within the beast. The fact that it was meant to showcase the most appealing aspects of Dead Island is the cherry on top of the depravity sundae. It’s rare that we get to bear witness to an expression of awfulness this pure—it’s perfectly ugly. I hope to see it in a museum someday, as a relic of a bygone era.

Note: Deep Silver has apologized for the promotion. At publication time, it’s unclear whether the “Zombie Bait Edition” will still be sold as planned.

UPDATE Apr. 23, 2013: Reports from Europe and Australia indicate that the Zombie Bait Edition did indeed go on sale, complete with headless boob sculpture.

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207 Responses to “It Belongs In A Museum”

  1. Kilzor says:

    I don’t know what the big deal is, they took the trouble to include the very British warning that says “Warning: includes items that may cause offence.” /sarcasm

  2. evanwaters says:

    I dunno, I think Gore Fetish Project With Video Game Tie-In is trying a little too hard. You’ve got the tits, you’ve got the blood and removal of any objects of agency or communication, do we really need the satire of consumerist patriotism on top of that? There’s showing the needlessly sexualized aftermath of a gory dismemberment and then there’s just going over the top.

    • Histamiini says:

      Teti is right to point out the obvious: that the breasts are left unharmed. Now if I were in the provocative doll making business, and God willing someday I will be, I would have created an unharmed torso with mutilated tits. Not only would that be over the top, it would be to the point.

      • The zombies didn’t eat the breasts because they are fake.

        • Histamiini says:

          There has to be a zombie movie out there where the walking dead go for the tits instead of the brains.

          Possibly Japanese. And the zombies are all middle-aged business men.

        • tedthefed says:

          This doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but once I dreamed that I was trapped in a house full of zombies, except the zombies all looked and acted like normal people who were also attractive Asian women.  Also, instead of wanting to eat people, they wanted to make out with people.

          It was legit terrifying.  I had to sneak out without getting caught.

          …in my defense, I had just been playing Siren.

  3. WaxTom says:

    This needs to be bookmarked so next time the Commies come around this gets nominated because this is the article of the YEAR

    Also, I liked A Brilliant Mind, but it Moulin Rug! was robbed that year.

    • John Teti says:

      I didn’t get “Moulin Rug!” last night because I was tired and didn’t realize I’d screwed up the title of the other movie, so I just want to give belated props. I laughed out loud once I got it.

    • Citric says:

      Now I want an elaborate musical about the lives and loves of the makers of expensive rugs.

  4. Pandas_please says:

    Aww this is actually really, really depressing.

  5. Citric says:

    Remember that episode of Work of Art where everyone was told to be shocking, so they all whipped out their best tits and dicks and put semen on everything? This kind of reminded me of that. It’s gross, sure, and ugly, but it’s so oblivious and outright stupid that I can’t really be shocked by it. Ashamed, yes, mostly because I’m presumably in their target demographic, and apparently they view this demo as a group that wants a copy of “Strangely Specific Fetish #12 (Patriotism)”, but I’m not really shocked by it.

    • Pandas_please says:

      I think that’s the worst part about this whole thing; I’m not shocked by it.
      It’s just another piece of sexualized violence that we literally see every day. The linkage of violence with sex and sex with violence continues.

    • John Teti says:

      Ha, yes, I thought of that episode while I was writing about this thing. Definitely a similar aesthetic going on.

    • I absolutely loved that show. I would pause the episode after they presented the week’s challenge, pull out a notebook and spend five minutes sketching up the first idea that came to my head and a list of materials, then unpause and observe as nobody did anything close to my sketch. I thought about actually making the season’s worth of projects and submitting them as an audition portfolio, but I wouldn’t have the slightest clue what to do with a private show at the Brooklyn Museum if I somehow stumbled my way into winning.

      And yes, the shock and awe episode was spectacular in how boring and mundane every piece was, but no episode saddened me quite as much as when they were commissioned by Penguin Classics to make book jackets and nobody had read any of the books.

    • Merve says:

      Yeah, I can’t say I’m offended by the statue, but I do think it’s stupid as fuck. Maybe it was supposed to be a visual representation of a fun, innocent vacation being shattered by a gruesome, unexpected event (i.e. a zombie attack), but that’s probably giving the marketing “gurus” behind it too much credit.

      • Jackbert322 says:

        I honestly think it must have been a marketing gimmick. The “zombie bait” title (apparently calling people who don’t like objectifying women zombies?), the “may offend” sticker (REALLY?! I never would have guessed!), the apology given in about two hours, all to get attention for the game. But way to fucking time it terribly, assholes.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          I think “Zombie Bait” is a play on “Jail Bait”

        • Jackbert322 says:

          Maybe so. I might have been reading too much into it, just thought the word “bait” might have been specifically chosen to refer to the fact that people would flip out. Of course, I may be too optimistic in thinking the people behind this knew people would flip out.

          “At the end of the day, this is just a mutilated lady torso with large breasts.”

        • Merve says:

          I do think marketing folks are aware that they can bait web sites into commenting on crap like this, which results in a catch-22 for us. If we don’t call them out for it, then we perpetuate the sexist image of the video game industry. If we do call them out for it, then we allow marketers to exploit the blogosphere’s outrage machine, thereby increasing publicity for their product.

          I’m going to have to side with Bill Hicks here: marketers are evil.

    • Girard says:

      I never had the chance to watch the show, but that didn’t stop me from assiduously reading all of Teti’s TV Club write-ups of the show. So good.

       Having gone to art school (and a contemporary/conceptually-oriented program), I’m not sure if actually watching the show would provide wonderful cathartic schadenfreude, or would end up just hitting way too close to home…

      • Citric says:

        Speaking of TV Club and Teti (hopefully), how the hell is Project Runway back already? It starts up at the end of January apparently, right after PR:Losers ends.

        I think PR might be getting into deceased equine abuse territory, but I do love Teti’s take on these creativity reality show thingies.

      • It was actually a very good show. Some earnest, talented artists doing what they can in a few days. Of course they threw in a couple of nut jobs to spice it up, but generally it was about talent and creativity and the host (male french dude) was excellent.

  6. In before people start defending this hunk of junk (the statue, not the amazing article).

    • WaxTom says:

      Most disheartening quote I’ve seen about it: “I think the more crazy and manic videogames get, the more proud I am. It shows how unique the gaming culture is”

      Urgh, can we stop saying “gaming culture” like it’s some sort of anthropological study?

      • Cloks says:

        “gaming culture” is more like a disease.

      • Fluka says:

        I’m someone who recently came back to games, after years of not paying any attention to the industry whatsoever and giving them none of my money.  I played lots of stuff when I was a kid, but as I got older I started associating “big” games with stuff that I didn’t want to be involved with.  First person shooters starring big burly dudes blowing up pinatas of alien viscera.  Antigravity tit physics simulations.  Marketing targeted at guys pretending to be bigger guys (or said anti-gravity tit girls) shooting other guys.  A lot of it came from marketing.  “Gaming culture.”

        At some point, I got slowly reintroduced to gaming.  I realized that I had been wrong, and some of these games were awesome.  Things like Oblivion, Portal, Dragon Age.  There were games, and more importantly there was a culture around those games, where it didn’t feel weird to play as a woman, or hell, as a functioning member of society.  In the years since then, the games industry has gotten my fandom.  More importantly, it has gotten my *money.*

        Shit like this bust, and its defenders, brings me back to that old “gaming culture” feeling, and makes me sometimes ask myself: why am I wasting my time with this?

        Game industry: why do you not want my MONEY?

        • Merve says:

          Because your money has COOTIES. Yuck!

        • Effigy_Power says:

          I am with you sister.
          All I can think about is that as long as the gaming industry spawns abominations like this it really has no business being all pouty and insulted about not being taken seriously.
          Of course that is a generalization of the industry, not every company (I dare hope to say no other company) would have okay’ed this insulting piece of shit, but if you expect the public to accept gaming as a relevant part of culture, this is a bad way of doing it.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Because you’re not as easily won over by sex appeal.

          Marketing generally goes after the easiest and most readily available consumer dollar. Being a luxury, entertainment already has to fight an uphill battle for your buck. It’s not something you have to pay for, like food or medical care or your abode. Consequently, it’s generally (or should be) the smallest portion of any given person’s budget, and subject to frequent change from month to month. You see a fair number of gamers (including this one) who make trade-offs in their purchases (if I pick up a game when it comes out, I have to wait until the price drops by a third on the next couple of games that are released). 

          Luckily, there’s this wonderful demographic called the Male 18-34 demographic that makes more impulse buys per capita than any other demo. Because they’re men, they earn $0.30 on the dollar more than their female counterparts, they’re often single and without children, and have more disposable income than other segments of the population. And if they’re white…well…*SPLOOSH* is what I believe the term is. That disposable income just went up again. And the best part is that they’re so easily parted from their money. Just put a sexy woman on your product. Or some violence. Or something that looks expensive and masculine–they’ll buy that, too.

          There’s some perception among a certain type of male commenter on video game websites that entertainment is produced for him and his peers because they are the largest portion gamers (one GameSpot commenter posited 85% male, a figure I assume he arrived at by conducting a poll on his own ass). That’s completely wrong. Polls show that men are probably closer to tied with, if not below women in gaming. But it is probably fair to say that men account for closer to 85% (that seems high, so I’d bet lower) of all sales revenue related to video games. Especially those high-ticket collector’s editions. 

          Now video game companies do want your money, Fluka. But they want it in addition to the Male 18-34 demo’s money. You’re not the cake. You’re the icing on the cake. If they can get you, fine. If they can’t, well, you’d probably cost more money in marketing to persuade you than they’d make in profit from selling to you. It’s easier for them to pander hard to the young men, and hope for good reviews to sway the rest of the population interested in buying games. They’re assisted in this by a critical community that is largely in the same demographic their marketing is targeted towards (which is almost par for the course in criticism across all media). Which is why it sucks when some site spins off of the A.V. Club and not only doesn’t have easily quantifiable scores for Metacritic, but also doesn’t make purchasing recommendations for its reader and to top it all off, publishes tongue-in-cheek Op-Eds mocking them for pandering.

        • markiej says:

          I just realized that this stupid googah would make a *very* interesting statement on a woman’s mantle.

          If I saw this on a man’s mantle, I would (with no exaggeration) immediately google “how do I put someone on a ‘watch list’ of some kind”

        • Fluka says:

          @HobbesMkii:disqus Clearly game studios have not yet met the fangirl nation!  Someday, someone is going to harness the power of shipping and yaoi fanart to make a metric fuckton of money.  (BioWare’s finest scientists are already hard at work!)

          In all seriousness, I think you’re right about the root of the problem.  Game companies are lazy and extremely risk-averse.  They know there’s money to be made in appealing to that 18-34 white straight dude market, so why shake up the formula?  Hollywood blockbusters are similarly conservative in their goals, but mass market enough to not intentionally go out of their way to offend half the population.  My biggest hopes these days are in indie games, and in just plain getting more people playing games and expecting *more* from them.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          @Fluka:disqus The thing that I think separates video games from all other mass media is that they’ve remained geared almost entirely towards men. There is a great deal of money to be made marketing to women (Romance novels keep the publishing industry afloat, Rom-coms always turn respectable profits, and daytime soap operas almost never get canceled), but video games remain a steadfast bastion of masculine diversion, bravely leading us backwards through cultural history.

        • Merve says:

          @Fluka:disqus, @HobbesMkii:disqus: That’s the odd thing about the video game industry, isn’t it? If any other industry were to alienate 50% of its potential market, shareholders would flip their shit. Yet, in the gaming industry, alienating women is considered risk-averse. YOU COULD BE MAKING TWICE AS MUCH MONEY, FOOLS.

      • Girard says:

        “I think the more crazy and manic books get, the more proud I am. It shows how unique the reading culture is”

        “I think the more crazy and manic films get, the more proud I am. It shows how unique the moviegoing culture is”

        “I think the more crazy and manic TV gets, the more proud I am. It shows how unique the TV-watching culture is”

    • Girard says:

      Hopefully that caveat won’t be necessary around these parts. Unless there’s an influx from somewhere else.

  7. GhaleonQ says:

    So, for real, I love that this was going to exist for the reasons John (brilliantly and hilariously) explained that we should hate it.  It is daringly tasteless.  It’s amusing that HM-…GAM-…wherever U.K. people buy video games now would have to stock it as commentary on their place of business and passion.  It’s interesting in a way that Halo cat helmets are not.

    But can someone who went to school for art better dissect the bias at work here?  Something about the corporeal disgusting us in a way that the noncorporeal (read; video game world) can’t, or how bringing the human anthropological element into a work drives home meaning more than an inanimate object can?  After all, it’s just the old “sex and violence can stimulate similar animalistic impulses” thing present in tons of horror media. 

    Subjectively speaking, I find the “meaning” of this to be far less offensive than Japanese body pillows with girls printed on them (or, heck, making reputable series disreputable within the game ) or the Lancer replica that, for the 3rd(?) consecutive time, is coming with a new Gears Of War.  Why does a torso underline the horrific premise of a game more boldly than taking a fetishized death-dealing machine out of the 1 place where it hypothetically is useful?  (And I’m someone who appreciates the craft and beauty of well-made, actual weapons, so this is not merely pouting about violence over sex.)  Emulating Gears Of War’s atrocious layered character design, the Lancer is 3 gore-focused (rather than efficiency-focused) weapons strapped onto each other in a way that would render them unusable, and owning that symbol of wanton violence when one isn’t a burly brah capable of controlling it is way weirder to me than purchasing a perfectly ugly piece of kitsch.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I will go back to playing with my Ghaleon hand puppet.  WA-POW.

    • Citric says:

      Instead of thinking those other things are okay, it’s more important to ask why most of these pre-order bonuses or deluxe edition additions are stuff nobody sane would ever want in their house.

      I think the only one I actually liked was the Devil Summoner 2 plushie. It used to sit in my kitchen but the cat has made it her best friend.

    • “wherever U.K. people buy video games now”

      Depressingly, after HMV goes there will be 2 (possibly 3) shops in Sheffield that sell games. Admittedly it’s only the 5th biggest city in the UK but it’s still unusually low.

      • GhaleonQ says:

        …I think my hometown of 18,000 people in near-rural Wisconsin has more.  Weird!

        • Yeah but you have colder winters and presumably spend 6 months of the year stuck in your homes like bears, albeit bears who need a good stack of games to get you through the boring spells.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          @facebook-1192385620:disqus There’s no comeback that applies to Yorkshire that doesn’t also apply to the American northern midwest.  SO PERHAPS I WILL FOCUS ON CHASING THIS BADGER AWAY FROM MY NEO GEO COLLECTION.

    • dreadguacamole says:

       The existence of body pillows is justified by allowing the $100 reward for this kickstarter to exist:

       (Much in the way that I’m kind of OK with the existence of the torso, as it allowed reactions like John’s to exist. Or the reactions of apologists for it; those are hilarious.)

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I don’t really think a fine arts degree is really too necessary for deconstructing this, but since I have one that I’m not currently doing anything with, I’ll give it a go.
         The Lancer, while certainly a violence fetish, is still an object.  Even being a recreation of a chainsaw-enabled assault rifle and even being flecked with a generous dousing of red food-coloring and Karo syrup, the violence is still implied. 
         It is an inert thing that requires a certain amount of mental investment in order to imbue it with it’s worst traits.  There is also a sufficient air of escapist fantasy around it to diffuse the worst of those traits. 
         A severed woman’s torso, however, most certainly does not.  The violence is completely denoted.  As a species, it’s true we react with more immediacy to anthropomorphic representation.  But even with that consideration, this piece is so explicit, there is no possible reaction other than that so artlessly displayed.  
        More so however, is what it says about gaming culture, a phrase that too often feels oxymoronic.  
          While a giant space gun may be seen as ugly, juvenile and certainly violent, it is pure kittens and daffodils compared to what a bloody, semi-naked serving of woman says about gamers.  For a medium that has suffered a reputation for reactionary male territorialsm since it’s inception, there could be no possible artifact constructed to personify that belief better than this.
         You make a false dichotomy concerning violence versus sex, because in all my fortunately limited experience, I do not believe any woman has ever been separated from her extremities in a willing and peaceful manner.  While I only know as much about body-pillow culture as is easily spoofed by popular culture, the matryoshka doll layers of sublimated sexual objectification involved appears, at least, to be bereft of psychotic rage.
         But what can possibly be thought when presented with a pair of breasts, vagina and five bloody stumps?  It is the most terrible Freudian manifestation of a poisoned id I can possibly imagine.  And giving any credence to Freudian psychology is sufficient enough to earn the statue derision.
         And finally, look at that thing.  If nothing else, and there’s so so much else, from a pure craft standpoint, it looks terrible.

      • Moonside_Malcontent says:

        Oy vey.  I agree strongly with all your comments above, and wish I didn’t have to.  Although saying that gaming has been defined by patriarchy and male power-fantasy since inception might be hyperbole. I mean, there might be hierarchical themes of male dominance in Asteroid, I won’t say there aren’t (the penis-lance-penis-ostriches-penis-penis in Joust are obvious, of course). I really get tired of being told that as a gamer this is the kind of shit I must want to buy.  Even a step farther; as someone who likes and likes to play zombie games (the L4D series is an all-time favorite).  It’s very tiring having to constantly grasp for progressive and thoughtful gaming choices just to hold them up like totems, saying “See? See? It’s not ALL bad! We have Portal!  And Mass Effect!  Oh, God, they have a hooker-killing mode in the new BLOPS? Welp, back to square one.”

        • Fluka says:

          Hell, even zombie games don’t need to be this way!  We have The frikkin’ Walking Dead!

          The vast majority of the games I grew up with would not be defined as “male power fantasy.”  Point and click adventure, Maxis sims games.  Myst!  The world’s most infuriating game!  None of these things featured bloody, headless titty torsos or their philosophical equivalent!  (Okay, maybe Phantasmagoria did.  The *ads* for that goddamn game gave me nightmares.)  When did we make this transition to games being fundamentally defined as GAME DUDE CULTURE?    It never was that in the first place…

          Also, cuddling with the pillow-based boobs of objectified women is better than displaying their dismembered torsos, I think we all agree.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          To be fair, I never said gaming was defined by patriarchy and male power-fantasy since inception, I just said it has a reputation for male clannishness.
             But I completely agree.  And it’s frustrating because I really enjoy dumb gaming.  I’m not the type of gamer who only seeks out edifying and progressive examples of the medium.  In fact, I probably don’t do enough of that.
             I like games that give plenty of upgrades, bombastic weapons and armor, weird cinematic power fantasies -all elements that are likely more associated with a male approach to gaming.
             But sadly, those things are often intrinsically linked to the lowest-common-denominator gender dynamics of gaming.
             Every other medium has shown a capacity to create visceral, masculine entertainment that isn’t defined solely by the destruction or derision of anything not visceral or masculine.  And video games have as well.  But not nearly often enough in ratio to the rest of the industry’s output.  

      • Girard says:

        Like John Teti described, it’s like a perfect, crystalline distillation of misogyny in contemporary visual culture. 

        Like, unreflective pop-culture representations of women tend to emphasize secondary sexual characteristics to court the male gaze, sometimes upping the objectification by cropping out or covering ‘unnecessary’ humanizing attributes like faces and limbs. This goes the next step, making the cropping literal by leveraging that other great bugbear of misogynist culture, violence against women, depicting those troublesome humanizing/empowering components of the woman as having been violently ripped off (This woman can’t say ‘no,’ or push you away, fellas!).

        The sexual nature of the violence implied is undeniably articulated by the type of body presented – they didn’t choose Channing Tatum’s torso, they didn’t choose Kevin Jame’s torso, they didn’t choose Kathy Bates’ torso…out of the whole infinite spectrum of body types, they chose Megan Fox’s torso, and out of the whole spectrum of potential zombie injuries, they chose to rip off the arms and head and slap the torso in a string bikini.

        Every single decision with respect to this thing is so insanely wrong-headed. It’s almost perfectly awful. It would be like if the AssCreed guys thought “Hey, colonial-era maritime warfare! You know, there were slave ships on the sea at that period!” and chose to promote a collector’s edition of that game with a resin figure of a chained-up black man  with a leopard-print loincloth and a bone in his nose.

        • Girard says:

          Re: This being more offensive in the ‘real’ vs. ‘virtual’ world, I don’t think that’s the dichotomy that’s at play.
          Rather, within the virtual world of the game, the violence is contextualized. If you chainsaw a female zombie in that game, she is likely part of a group of various zombies of various genders that are presenting a threat within the narrative gamespace. This statue decontextualizes that violence, and singles out only a particularly offensive (symbolically and affectively) form of violence against a single, sexualized female form. 

          If rather than a physical resin statue, they had made an advergame where you take a chainsaw and chop up a virtual corpse of a virtual woman in a contextless white room, it would be no less problematic.

      • GhaleonQ says:

        Right, that’s what I wanted someone to flesh out.  Who says that degree was under-utilized?!  Nice work.

        I still don’t find the point-of-view very convincing.  (Maybe it’s a religion thing?  The meaning of the crucifixion remains equal, to me, whether it’s a simple cross, a crucifix, or Mel Gibson and his bastardized Good Friday beatdown; the haunted house version of hell is completely superfluous to the austere, unknown terror of it.  Symbols hold true potency, almost in the platonic sense.  And so on.)

        I think another guess might be the nature of the game.  It’s not like the player’s the one who’s assaulted, tortured, and framed this trophy, right?  It’s simply a transposition of the game’s cheesy violence as enacted on non-player characters by villains to a atrocious art piece: 1-to-1.  It’s, again, like Halloween, or like if someone bought Albert Molina’s spiked head from Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark and put it in their house (crafty foreigner traitors get their comeuppance in all pulp media, bwaha!).  However, with the Lancer, you have a weapon of questionable military purpose brought from the place where it’s ostensibly heroic to the real world.  There, its ugliness and meaning isn’t cloaked by its utilization against insect monsters. It just says, “In my free time, I pretend to grind up people and creatures with chainsaw rifles because I play the good guy, and the gore is what keeps me coming back.”

        • ToddG says:

          But doesn’t simply having a copy of Gears of War 3 displayed in one’s game collection essentially advertise the same thing?

        • Girard says:

          From a different religious perspective, the meaning of symbols is so fragile and subject to degradation, transformation, and out-right perversion, that the articulation of such symbols is subject to carefully defined prescriptions, as in the case of Eastern Orthodoxy.

          In a Neo-Platonic sense, every physical manifestation of a timeless truth, power, or figure is necessarily degraded (apart from the Incarnation), and the degree to which that degradation takes place needs to be carefully policed. (In secular philosophy, there may be an affinity here to Wittgenstein’s “Family Resemblance Categories” where like objects are categorized as more or less similar to a prototypical object rather than by some branching taxonomy).

          So an image of a broken, abused body can be seen as evoking (or an instance of) the Passion or whatever, but the aesthetic considerations invested in that image can radically change the degree to which that “Platonic” idea is evoked, and the way it is evoked. This image of a body is imbued with numerous problematic aesthetic decisions that make it not a locus of empathy (as the broken body of the Passion is), but an inhuman object. Which is just where its problems begin

        • Girard says:

          And from an objectively unquestionable religious perspective, that Ghaleon puppet is Satanic as all get-out and needs to be boiled in holy water, stuffed with garlic, and buried at a cross-roads.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          I differentiate between weapons as tools and weapon as, I don’t know, totems?  The Lancer isn’t as elegant as the Hiryu Strider’s Cypher, but they’re still supposedly equally useful within their universes.  Both Hiryu and Marcus and, I don’t know, Yuki from The Last Blade/Bakumatsu Romance are saving the world from threats in violent ways.  There’s nothing soul-wilting about any of that; it’s just what one finds distasteful.  So, no, owning the game Gears Of War 3 is not like owning BMX XXX.

          So, to me, the torso isn’t a totem, it’s a live-action prop like a Sierra feelie, the game in physical form.  It’s just that the game it represents is way more gruesome than Zork or whatever.  YOU didn’t kill beach folk.  It’s a plot point.  The Lancer seems to me to be a totem.  It has the meaning of the game’s violence (which you preferred for pretend) expressed in its physicality, but it’s stripped of the game’s heroic context.  It brings your acts into the real world but doesn’t provide you a situation in which owning that faux weapon is noble.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus I’m loving your comments especially.  No time to respond now, but consider them read and pondered.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus You’re REALLY making me consider changing my avatar.  “I’LL STEAL YOUR SOUL!”

          Anyway, that’s all very true or thought-provoking (to me).  I was surprised and a little pleased by earlier The Gameological Society articles and comments discussion about whether violence in video games instills antisocial behavior at any point.  People seemed sympathetic to video games as an experimental psychology experiment, that they make the brain at least rehearse and dissect behaviors and rules.  To return to the point you and others made about digital versus physical, I wonder if incremental, constant degradation of ideas or symbols occurs through digital play.

          I don’t really have an answer, so I’l shut up.  Thanks to you (and John and others) for the compelling reads.

    • Halloween_Jack says:

      You’re offended by “Japanese body pillows with girls printed on them”? Really? They make me almost unutterably sad, that someone is that starved for affection. 

      • MesotheleonaHelmsley says:

         Please don’t talk like that in front of Michiko.

        • GhaleonQ says:

          @Halloween_Jack:disqus *laughs*

          I meant, specifically, the “girls” part (as opposed to “women”).  It’s sad when it’s a replacement for adult comfort and affection and offensive when it’s pedophilia training wheels.

        • Girard says:

          Those pillows as pedo-training wheels is a horrifying thought. Those pillows as pedo-methadone (pedo-Nicarette?) is…well, also horrifying, honestly, but less so. It seems like those things seem as likely to reduce as induce the victimization of real people (without a dataset to tell us, I couldn’t say definitively which is true).
          The obvious and proper reaction to that whole business is revulsion, but I don’t know if that revulsion should metasticize right away into condemnation. I’d rather those guys work out their shit on pillows and cartoon porn than on real kids or images that require the victimization of real kids.

          And now I’ve gone and given myself a case of the creeping horrors on top of those already induced by the topic of this article. Time to go weep for humanity again…

        • GhaleonQ says:

          I’ll spare you my thoughts on existential moral honesty versus bourgeois morality (living according to principles versus following “the rules,” basically).  I agree with what you’re saying, if true (see also: gun ranges, pornography), but I wonder about the flipside: how many people who wouldn’t indulge in those thoughts do because of the (relatively) low social cost there.  Does the prevalence of a minor societal ill prevent more outbursts than it does lead the small-minded into “little transgressions?”  Social science varies by policy, country, and organization.  I’m sympathetic to your thought, though.

  8. joeyheadset says:

    Somewhere in the world right now, there is a warehouse full of disembodied bikini torso statuettes.  And some poor soul who has to figure out what to do with all of them.

    • Citric says:

      They’re apparently hand painted too. So one day, someone went into work, and was told that today their job was to paint bloody bikini torso statues all day.

      • Girard says:

        They were probably hand-painted by sweatshop workers who already have it up to HERE with the stupid ‘First-World’ bullshit they have to manufacture.

    • Lord Autumn-Bottom says:

      Or maybe this story was just all-pro trolling and there was only one copy manufactured, for the purpose of grabbing people’s attentions with this controversy, and then “retracting” the plan.  The outrage cycle is extremely predictable these days, after all, so it’s probably pretty easy to plan something like that to generate some easy press.

  9. Staggering Stew Bum says:

    I think the most shocking thing about all this is the fact that somebody thought it would be a good idea to make a sequel to Dead Island.

    Oh, and props to @JohnTeti:disqus for helping me come up with a name for my upcoming solo album, “Flesh Husk (In Swimsuit)”.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      The album opener should be “Oh God, You Just Know Someone Is Masturbating To This Right Now.”

    • Fluka says:

      I’m really fucking angry that this thing has succeeded in informing me about the existence of Dead Island: Riptide.  And getting me to talk about it.

      • Chum Joely says:

        And even quote its name again, because personally, I honestly hadn’t retained it from reading the few articles I’ve seen about it.  Now I know what game to go and buy three copies of, thanks Fluka!  8^P

  10. This article is one of the best pieces of writing on video games I have read in a long long time.

    I had a long discussion with friends about the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer, which is almost a perfect replica of this statue in video form. Less crass and diffused  but the elements are all there.

    • I think you might have misread the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer. Yes, it contains a shot of a scantily-clad woman kneeling in the rain, splattered with blood, but as it pans out, you realize that it’s not *her* blood. In fact, she probably doesn’t have any – there’s an entire squad of heavily armed police unloading their guns into her, but the bullets just bounce harmlessly off. The closest she comes to harm is a direct headshot leaving a faint graze on her paintwork.

      She’s a military-grade combat cyborg, and now she’s slumped in the street after presumably finishing her murderous rampage, as evidenced by the gore-soaked blades that unfold from her forearms.The final shot of the trailer is the reveal that this is how she ended up recruited as part of a special ops team specifically trained to take down rogue cyborgs.It takes the image of supposed feminine weakness and completely subverts it. I can only hope that either she’s a playable character or a recruitable team member at some point in the final game.

      • Fluka says:

        I cycled through the following thoughts several times while watching that trailer:

        – Cyberpunk wheeeeeeee!

        – Aw man…just another passive, scantily clad lady.  Why does she always need to be scantily clad?  Why does she always need to be big-breasted?  I get that she’s badass, but they’ve chosen to show her as spread-eagle on the ground, with a man putting a big, hard gun to her head.  Can’t CD Projekt Red ever portray women separate from sex?

        – Oh, cool, she joins the team?  Wait, is there maybe chance that I can actually play her or another lady in the game?  Come back, CD Projekt Red!  I need new RPGs!  I can forgive you!!

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          Yeah, it was a neat play on expectations, but I’d still like for some variance in the people that we see in games. I’m cautiously optimistic. IIRC, The Witcher had those porn cards you could collect for sleeping with women in the game. Hopefully the devs have moved beyond that stuff at this point.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          @Douchetoevsky:disqus My favorite part of The Witcher’s porn cards backlash was the CD Projekt CEO saying something to the effect of, “In Poland, we aren’t as uptight about sex as America apparently is.”

          And that may be true, but I’m pretty sure it’d still be pretty offensive in Poland if, after having sex with a woman, I took a picture of her naked to add to my collection of naked sex conquest pictures.

      • Aurora Boreanaz says:

        Yeah, the Cyberpunk trailer is pretty much the exact opposite of Torn Torso Intact Tits.  I am SO excited for that game!  I used to spend hours perusing my friend’s Chromebooks and drooling over the total body conversions.  My favorites were the one with the metallic fiber musculature, and the industrial strength brutes.

      • Travis Stewart says:

        To be pointlessly argumentative, I’m a little bothered by how unrelentingly pretty the whole thing is. I mean, that’s a lot of bodies and a lot of bullets, but the trailer doesn’t really care about that. It’s about how beautiful the bullets are when they disintegrate against her body, and how pretty the bullets flying towards her are. And the whole time she sits there like a statue, mouth slightly parted, unmoving save to blink some really, really nice eyelashes. I guess what I’m trying to get at is that until we see her wake up on what I’ll assume is one of those flying cars, it all feels like an aesthetic exercise. It feels a little weird, and I’m not entirely convinced we had an equally good chance of watching some hot guy in his underwear get shot in the same way. Or that we should really be seeing people shot like this (in terms of the emphasis on beauty overtaking the “reality” of the situation) at all. Pointless, I know, but still.

        • Merve says:

          I kind of agree with this. The trailer creeped me out. With all the close-up shots and pretty music, it felt almost as if it were fetishizing violence. Or maybe it was commenting on the fetishization of violence, which would make it less problematic. Or maybe it’s just a silly trailer meant to hype up a game years away from release and has no artistic goal other than to look “cool.”

          This is the problem with analyzing art. It’s difficult to disentangle the depiction of something offensive from the promotion or glorification of something offensive.

        • Ewan Mackie says:

          I agree – yeah, the women’s beautiful, but so is everything else. The way the police line up their guns, the way the camera swings to see the operative with the gun at her head….it’s all so…fetishized.

          Though the developers could legitimately argue they’re working from the source material. Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun books could provide endless fap-fodder for titanium fetishists…but still, now it’s in the more immediate realm of video, it’s somehow worse.

          Also, the “Making of…” video on the CP2077 website somehow manages to be even more offensive.

        • Histamiini says:

          @@Merve2:disqus It’s absolutely fetishizing violence. Like 95% video games do. There’s no need to dance around the fact that video games are mostly about the stylization, fetishization, celebration of violence. If someone objects to these representations on that basis, there is no argument against it, but I don’t see this instance as different than any other fabulous murder fest out there.

          As I understand, the woman in the middle is directly taken from an iconic image in the pen and paper game.

        • Travis Stewart says:

          @Histamiini:disqus , while you are very likely correct, I feel like there’s something a bit different this time. In most games, the act of violence itself isn’t the satisfying part. Rather, what is exciting is the capability. What excites people about something like The Elder Scrolls series isn’t the thrill of combat (which isn’t really that thrilling), but the fantasy of being combat capable. My most distinct memory of combat in Skyrim, for example, isn’t “that time I totally cut a wizard’s head off mid-spell”, but “that time I managed to kill four guys without needing to heal”. It’s “being the warrior”, not “watching the man’s head fly-off”.

          I do feel like this has changed somewhat, with things like the environmental kills of Sleeping Dogs and the addition of kill-cams to Skyrim and Fallout, since those actually pull the player out of the fantasy to watch a video of someone dying horribly. It’s definitely been there in games like Mortal Kombat or Manhunt. But in none of those cases do I feel like the game is selling the violence as an artistic accomplishment. My worry with the Cyberpunk trailer in particular isn’t that it lavishes a worrisome amount of attention on the violence, it’s that it seems to do so because the violence is supposed to be pretty. It doesn’t trigger responses based on its brutality (as the case of Mortal Kombat or Skyrim), but rather on its beauty, and that isn’t a sense I usually get.

        • Histamiini says:

          I would say that the aesthetization of violence is so ubiqitous in video games that most of the time we fail to notice it all. If the Cyberpunk trailer makes you conscious of what it is doing, it doesn’t follow that it’s particularly worrisome in this regard.

          The aesthetic of the trailer is pretty much your standard Matrix, Max Payne, Deus Ex ballet. We get off on violence in many different ways when we play video games. The point is to make violence fun, and it’s a stylized and pretty representation compared to the reality of violence.

          The bullets don’t break her pristine surface. She’s an image, an aesthetic object, static, and her purpose is to tell us of the chrome and beautiful violence of the Cyberpunk world. The streets are filthy but above them there is also the immaculate world of cyberspace and artificial bodies. Breaking free of the body, whether by augmentation or by the net, is a basic theme of the setting. Insanity is the main cost. So she’s one of those mad higher beings, she fell down to the street level like an angel, and was caught.

          Guns, slow motion, shiny surfaces, cool posing. It’s a pretty worn aesthetic as far as video games go. It’s a wonder it creates any associations at all.

          I mean it’s an advertisement, and as such it gets the message across. So it’s not surprising that it brings up these questions so automatically. Again, you can certainly object to it, but I don’t see anything unusual there at all.

          In a sense it’s just as obscene to try to be “gritty and real” with violence, because that assumes that you can be gritty and real in a video game. The reality is that it’s always meant to turn you on. Making the process of aesthetization obvious may actually be preferable since at least no one’s pretending that it’s not porn.

      • Lord Autumn-Bottom says:

        I was thinking she was something more along the lines of Pris, a malfunctioning pleasure model.  But then, considering the bulletproof skin and the forearm blades, you’re probably closer to the truth.

  11. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    I like you guys giving your take on the wider video game industry.

  12. Fixda Fernback says:

    Goddamnit, John… never change. This article is a thing of beauty, and besides making a point and making it well, it’s hilarious to boot. 

    Oh God, You Just Know Someone Is Masturbating To This Right Now” is just… I laughed way too hard.

  13. feisto says:

    I read the comments on that Gamespot article so that you didn’t have to, and…all I have to say is I got sadder and sadder, until I saw the questions about whether the bikini top was removable, and I just had to leave.

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Holy shit, that’s the most mouth-breather thing in the world. I hadn’t even CONSIDERED that people would think that, but of course, why wouldn’t they?

      I saw someone say “but would everyone be so mad if it was a man’s severed torso??” before I ragequit the internet yesterday.

      • Girard says:

        I saw people making similar false-equivalence arguments using this Walking Dead boxed set over on Polygon.

        • Ewan Mackie says:

          Within 10 seconds, you can go “That’s a zombie”, a creature of fantasy. This thing is clearly portraying a woman’s body – well maybe not “clearly”, but at no point can you say it isn’t.

      • Merve says:

        Would people be as mad if it were a man’s severed torso?

        Maybe if it were a man’s torso clad in nothing but a banana hammock with a clearly visible cucumber-shaped bulge…

        …and maybe if video games didn’t have a history of hyper-sexualizing or objectifying women…

        …and maybe if men were relentlessly mocked and belittled for their gender in video game culture…

        …and maybe if men faced a disproportionate amount of sexual violence…

        …and maybe if this hadn’t occurred so soon after 2012, the year when people finally started confronting the sexism in gaming culture en masse…

        …and maybe if the developers of Dead Island: Riptide hadn’t previously run into trouble for the “feminist whore” scandal

        …and maybe if the statuette had been presented with any context as it relates to the actual video game…

        …and maybe if…well, you get the picture.

        • Lord Autumn-Bottom says:

          Whoa, I had totally forgotten about that “feminist whore” thing.  Yeesh.  These are some bold motherfuckers…

  14. HobbesMkii says:

    I dunno…I don’t think the “striking conversation piece” is too far fetched. If you displayed it in your house, I imagine whoever visited you would converse about it, probably at the top of their lungs, and someone might even strike you with it. And then it’d be in pieces. 

    • Fluka says:

      “So…you’re into torsos, then?”

      • Girard says:

        ::looks at Dead Island statue on mantel::

        ::notices that DVD shelf is completely bare apart from battered copy of Silence of the Lambs::
        ::GETS THE FUCK OUT::

      • HobbesMkii says:

        “Oh, big into torsos. But just the torsos. I don’t like any of that humanizing context, like heads, arms, legs, or even groins and abdomens. My favorite scene from any movie is that one in Monty Python and the Holy Grail with the Black Knight. That one gets my engine going, if you know what I mean. I guess you could say I’m something of a torso-man. 

        …a lot of people don’t really seem to understand that. It makes it hard to meet people.”


    Deep Silver really knows how to get attention don’t they?

  16. Sandwichands says:

    Keep an eye out or my critique to be published soon titled “What if it was a male torso? : a review of male oppression through exclusion from sexualisation”

    I expect it will be published without grammar or punctuation on Kotaku for peer review.

    • Pandas_please says:

       You’ll really like the new DmC then. It seems like literally everyone and everything is sexualized in it.

      The game literally starts in a strip club, proceeds to the main character having a three way, has the main character answer the door (he has no idea who’s on the other side) the morning after completely naked, and finally has the main character get dressed, flying through the air with various items just barely, and sometimes not quiet, covering his gentlemen parts. It’s something, and as of right now my guiltiest pleasure.

      • Fluka says:

        The “Out This Week” comment thread yesterday determined with great care and deliberation that the gentleman in question, alas, has no penis.

        (Dear games: I will let you keep your hyper-sexualized ladies if you throw in some hot, objectified men into the mix too, along with some nice human-type women!  We all win!  BioWare, you’re doing kind of okay with this.)

    • Fluka says:

      I have recently completely blocked comments on kotaku from my computer, but I’ve been seeing the “What about if it was a male torso, huh?!” argument on a lot of other websites.

      Isn’t that really kind of the point?  It wasn’t a male torso.  It’s NEVER a male torso.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        A slightly damaged male torso in a bikini would be great, too. It’d suggest so many different avenues about the torso’s backstory!

    • PaganPoet says:

      You ever see videos of people on YouTube messing around with the character creation in Saints Row: The Third? When they’re creating their male characters, I’ve seen guys get curious about the “Sex Appeal” bar, fiddle with it, and then freak out and set it all the way to 0 because they can’t believe they a game would DARE to give the option to alter size of their character’s bulge.
      So even when games DO allow you to objectify the men the same way they allow you to objectify the women, they freak out over it.

      (For the record, I don’t count because I’m a pervert and I objectify all attractive video game men regardless of how they’re portrayed. I spend most of my elevator rides in Mass Effect moving the camera around to get the best view of Kaidan’s posterior)

      • Citric says:

        Yet when I play Saint’s Row I give my character a massive bulge, because he’s already a fat bearded cockney who sometimes wears flowered dresses and frequently is found in glittery high heels, he might as well be well endowed too.

      • Merve says:

        Speaking of men in Mass Effect…Jacob’s butt. Oh God, Jacob’s butt.

        • PaganPoet says:

          You’re probably right about Jacob, but I’m too distracted by Miranda’s butt to notice. She’s not even the right gender, and I still can’t look away.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          @PaganPoet:disqus “Okay, folks, welcome to your first day at Cerberus Operative Boot Camp! I’m your fitness instructor and resident plastic surgeon. I see a lot of junk in our collective trunks, so, rest assured, we will start out with about 100 leg lunge lifts. You will not get out of training until I can literally bounce a quarter off your butt.

          Now, ladies, I will need to take your measurements, so shirts off. If you read your employee handbook, you’ll know that all new female employees must increase their bust by at least one cup size (except you A cups; you have to go up by two). 

          Do any of you have unresolved daddy issues? Oh, all of you? Great! We will not be dealing with those at Boot Camp. Save that for if you ever meet Commander Shepard.”

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          Either Jacob or Miranda is better than Diana Allers’ butt.  She’s just so…odd.

      • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

        Honestly, I’d like to be able to play games where no one is objectified. I guess objectifying everyone is better than only women, but I really wish games could get the fuck over it. I want people to look back on games right now and be fucking ashamed.

        • PaganPoet says:

          Would you say the medium is worse off now than other forms of entertainment? I mean, yes, a lot of video games are embarrassing (or SHOULD BE embarrassing) to any reasonable adult gamers. But so is a lot of television and a lot of movies, right? 

          Not that I’ve really paid that much attention to it, but for every Breaking Bad or Mad Men, there have to be like five Real Housewives or Honey Boo Boos.

        • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

          I absolutely would say that games are worse off. Videogames don’t have a Breaking Bad or Mad Men or The Wire or whatever the best show is. I really don’t think that any game is anywhere near the level of the best TV or Movie or Book. 

          Obviously I love the shit out of games, and I recognize that they can do things other mediums can’t and all of that stuff, and I realize that there are strengths and weaknesses for each of these mediums and all of that stuff. 

          This is probably due to a number of things, including, but not limited to, the absolutely godawful “gaming community.”

  17. Fantastic analysis.  I would only add that the artist perhaps also intended to satirise the double standards society holds sex and violence.  In a world where we are encouraged to take vicarious pleasure in on-screen death yet shamed for sharing a couple’s mutual pleasure, is it no wonder that the vicious beast managed to savagely rip off a women’s limbs and head whilst leaving her flimsy string bikini intact?

    • feisto says:

       And maybe it would have come with a letter that read, “Congratulations on your purchase! By leaping at this bait, you have indicated that you are, in fact, not human, but a rotten being who bears only the slightest traces of the human you once were. Our research indicates that zombies can be injured by sharp discs such as records and game discs, so we have taken the courtesy of removing the game from the package. Enjoy your torso!”

  18. ToddG says:

    Apologies if I am “that guy” missing the joke, but the Crowe movie is entitled A Beautiful Mind.

  19. ToddG says:

    So now the Dead Island franchise is responsible for examples of both the absolute best and absolute worst video-game related art?  Congrat…ulations?

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Yeah, I remember when that first teaser trailer emerged and there was so much discussion on the possibility of a thoughtful, emotionally invested narrative driven approach to the genre.
         That certainly dissipated fast.
         It’s like a scene from some sci-fi dystopia where a group of refugees looks down on some pristine, edenic valley and declare, this is our new paradise!  Only to cut to the next scene where everything lay in smoking ruins and everyone’s beating each other to death with femur bones.

      • HobbesMkii says:

        Credit where credit’s due, neither Deep Silver nor the developer Techland actually produced the original trailer (that was Axis Productions).

        • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

          I know.  It was also a teaser that showed absolutely no game play.  The exact kind of thing that people seem to have diminishing patience for since it does very little to provide any actual sense of the game it’s ostensibly presenting.
             But still, a fine example of the rift between potential and reality. 

        • ToddG says:

          Yeah, that trailer didn’t really give me any strong desire to play the game, though it did make me check out the reviews before deciding not to play it instead of just dismissing it altogether.  Regardless, the teaser was beautiful by itself and I am glad it exists.  Glad enough, even, to hesitantly claim that it and this statue still combine to a net positive.  Probably.  *looks at statue again*  Maybe…

        • Merve says:

          @Spacemonkey_Mafia:disqus: I have nothing against pre-rendered cinematic video game trailers in principle, but releasing them months before potential players have any idea what the game will be like is just silly. For instance, I don’t understand all the hoopla over the new Cyberpunk 2077 trailer. For all we know, the game is years away. Why should I care about some two-minute film featuring a dying cyborg woman?

        • Fluka says:

          @Merve2:disqus To be fair, the company has described the Cyberpunk trailer’s graphic’s as their target render, and have pretty much said “it’s done when it’s done,” with the earliest date being 2015.  I’m in a “wait and see” stage, though I admit some of my interest comes at being depressed with the lack of RPGs coming out this year.

          (Damn it, should I be playing The Witcher series?  I admit I’m not that excited about playing a grim manly man medieval fantasy dude.)

  20. Cloks says:

    It’s titillating, but it’s no cyber-dwarf body pillow. I would’ve loved to be at the meeting where they agreed that a) producing a sequel to Dead Island was a good idea and b) packaging it with a dismembered sex-torso was also a brilliant marketing strategy. Kudos all around.

  21. stakkalee says:

    Thanks John – this is the best response I’ve read to this piece of dreck.

    Warning: Includes Content That May Cause Offence

    In the words of Melissa McEwan, proprietress of the feminist community blog Shakesville, “I’m not offended; I’m contemptuous.”  Here’s the thing: This promotional item isn’t transgressive, it’s banal.  The hypersexualization, the explicit violence, the Grim Grittiness, they were passé 2 decades ago, when comicbooks trod the same ground.  Dismembered Torso (With Boobs) shocks no one.  It breaks no barriers, pushes no boundaries that haven’t been tested a thousand times before.  Even in demonstrating the utter lack of creativity of the studio that produced it, it offers no revelations.  We already know that Deep Silver has no new ideas, as they’re making a wholly unnecessary sequel to a wholly unnecessary original game, a zombie shooter.  As John says, it belongs in a museum, but only as testament to the juvenile misogyny that pervades a certain segment of the video game community.  It’s the perfect capper to a year of constant reminders that that segment continues to immaturity, and ultimately, (hopefully!), irrelevance.

    • OldeFortran77 says:

      Warning: Includes Content That May Cause Contempt would probably be a more effective label. “Offense” has sadly become a badge of honor among people who complain about having to be “politically correct”.

      • Merve says:

        See, I don’t even find this statuette “offensive”; I just think it’s stupid. It’s not a piece of shock art to be displayed in a museum. It’s a freakin’ pack-in for the special edition of a video game. It has no artistic goal other than to look “cool” and to increase the value of the bundle for potential consumers. What I find hard to believe is that nobody on the marketing team stopped to think, ‘Oh, maybe this particular image could be problematic.’

        At the end of the day, the statuette itself is just a piece of plastic. It’s the inconsiderate (and possibly chauvinist) attitude of the marketing team that ticks me off.

        • stakkalee says:

          That’s exactly it.  The piece itself isn’t offensive; it’s a cheap piece of mass-produced gore that’s trying too hard to shock and titillate.  What’s offensive is what it reveals about Deep Silver, about their values, their beliefs about the presence of women in gaming, and their understanding (or lack thereof) of the interests of the male gaming demographic they’re trying so hard to cater to.  The contempt I feel is for those attitudes and the people who hold them.

  22. Cornell_University says:

    I actually sort of like this.  In the way that I sort of like Funny Games.  maybe LIKE would get me on some watch lists; appreciate?  to my eyes at least, it’s a big wet middle finger raspberry of OH YOU LIKE SEX AND VIOLENCE?  HERE YA GO FREAKS!  ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?  I see a lot of self awareness in it and no small amount of self indictment.

    though if I’m misinterpreting it and it has zero amount of those things, well someone needs to get hit with a barrel.

    • Bakken Hood says:

      That’s my interpretation that I’ve been afraid to mention, including the caveat at the end.  Anyone that actually would wank to this thing should have his balls confiscated by the state immediately.

      I just don’t think that thing was ever meant to be titillating.  The way I interpret it, it’s supposed to be a sick parody of gore and cheesecake, not a celebration of either one.  (Well, at least not cheesecake.)  I don’t think DoA jiggle physics, CoD swasticock emblems, or any of the other obvious points of comparison really apply here.  I tend to regard it as, I dunno, Lady Gaga to Lara Croft’s Britney Spears, or maybe the depraved love child of Quentin Tarantino and John Waters, albeit without the talent.

    • Girard says:

      If it’s even possible to pull it off, you need to be more clever than this to pull off the “absolution through irony” thing, especially if you’re going for an “implicit moral indictment” chaser.

  23.  Union Jackin’ It…
    Well, I’ve got a new favorite euphemism for masturbating.

  24. CNightwing says:

    I wonder how it would look on top of Belfast City Hall..

    Seriously, I’m not much of a patriot, but I feel ashamed of this rubbish by association.

  25. Moonside_Malcontent says:

    It could’ve been worse, as far as pointless and de-contextualized shitty art with bizarrely shoehorned Britishness goes.  They could’ve gotten Damien Hirst.

  26. Zack Handlen says:

    What the fuck you guys ha ha, you guys are all not into, and you think, whatever. You think like, it’s a big deal. IT’S FUCKING AWESOME, YOU GUYS. I mean holy shit! !!! Bunch of pussies going off because you can’t handle ALL THE FUCKING AWESOME. This is just a statute. You don’t even have to BUY IT. But now I’m not gonna be able to buy just because everybody has to start whining ?!? Was gonna be awesome, srsly. The fuck. That chick is hot. This is in honor of a hot chick. It’s _a tribute_. Hotness never dies, especially not boobs. Not even when there are zombies. IT must be sad for you not getting that. 

    (Sorry; everyone was being so reasonable, I thought a proper exhibit needed some color commentary.)

  27. doyourealize says:

    I’m glad I read this article. Until I did, I didn’t even realize there was a severed woman’s body attached to those boobs. I was just all like, “Whoa, boobs,” and stopped there. That would have been embarrassing after I bought it…

  28. Markthulhu says:

    Putting aside all gender issues and questions about how video games portray violence for a moment, how could they possibly think that anyone would want to buy this? Using shock value as a cheap marketing tactic only works if it attracts customers, but the only people who would want to buy this probably already have real disembodied torsos sitting in their living room. I just don’t understand what they were going for here, on any level.

  29. Chum Joely says:

    The comments page at Polygon’s article about this is interesting too. There are a couple of self-proclaimed “marketing professionals” who are hammering, hammering, hammering on the claim that the company’s only responsibility is to its shareholders, and since this made people talk about the game, there’s no problem whatsoever! Yay! So you can stop whining, everyone. (sigh)

    • Fyodor Douchetoevsky says:

      Man, does the “no such thing as bad publicity” thing have any truth behind it? Why does it keep coming up. Because I sure as hell will never pay for anything this dev releases.

    • Merve says:

      They say that any publicity is good publicity. Oh, how I wish that weren’t true…


    • Electric Dragon says:

      If I were employing them as marketing professionals, I’d tell them to get out immediately.

    • Girard says:

      That one guy with the Doom avatar is kind of a piece of work. It seemed weird that he was so consistently defensive of, and apologizing for, that thing, and then he started asserting/bragging about his job as a “marketing professional,” and I started detecting shades of Patrick Bateman.

      • Chum Joely says:

        Everyone on that side of the argument at Polygon has immediately and repeatedly jumped to the conclusion that people who criticize Deep Silver for putting this out are calling for censorship or legal action against it. I’ve gone through the same cycle several times:

        CHUM: God this thing is stupid and misogynistic.
        MARKETING DUDE: If you think it’s bad marketing, then vote with your wallet and don’t buy it. The people who made this are just trying to make money for their company, which is the only factor that counts.

        CHUM: That’s not the only factor that counts. This contributes just that little bit more to a “gaming culture” that I don’t think most people want to be a part of.

        MD: Look, censorship isn’t going to solve anything.

        CHUM: I didn’t say censorship. Just give some thought to social responsibility.

        MD: So vote with your wallet and don’t buy it, then!

        • stakkalee says:

          Goddamn but I hate that, conflating criticism with censorship.  No one’s going to imprison the Deep Silver morons, or take away their license to make shitty video games or throw them in a gulag or limit them in any way.  We’re just pointing to their shitty idea and saying, “Wow, what an incredibly shitty idea!”

        • Girard says:

          Don’t you understand? The universe is a solipsistic pseudocapitalist fairly-land where if YOU (just YOU) don’t spend money on something, suddenly it, and any cultural fallout/consequences it may entail, don’t exist anymore!

        • Ken King says:

          Sadly, I’m sure MD thinks not buying something DOES equate to it not existing.

  30. ferrarimanf355 says:

    Half-assed apology, and they still haven’t said if they were going to sell this… thing.

    I think that offends me more than that… thing they’re trying to sell, IMHO.

  31. Halloween_Jack says:

    Sadly, I’m not even shocked that this sort of thing exists or that there are some people who will pay extra for it; consider the example of Duke Nukem Forever, in which the game spent a lifetime in dogs’ years in development hell, only to be revealed when it finally came out as not just a bad game but a ragingly misogynist one as well, as if George Broussard thought that that aspect of the game had to be turned up to 11 to surpass the original.

    I don’t think that the girl-fearing adolescents and arrested-development adults simply go away following any level of public disapproval, and even if the people producing this stuff aren’t in that group themselves, they clearly have no problem catering to them.

  32. grovberg says:

    Gender studies professors began salivating at the sight of this thing.

  33. Girard says:

    “You know in A Beautiful Mind when all those numbers and equations are connecting together around Russell Crowe’s head, like a dazzling crystal? This is like that, except with hating women instead of math.”

    John Teti: National Treasure, folks.

  34. Knarf Black says:

    As someone who might actually put mangled zombie chaw on his mantel, I still think this is stupid. Why not just pay your local/regional horror makeup FX guru to make you a custom nekkid lady bust or, more practically, a badass rotting zombie head? That way you can have some offensively graphic mantel action that (national pride bikini aside) speaks to your personal tastes instead of advertising for a mediocre video game.

    • Girard says:

      “No, no, you don’t understand! This isn’t a promo statue for a video game! I paid an artisan TOP DOLLAR to custom-make this mutilated naked woman corpse for me! See? Totally not creepy and weird!”

  35. Effigy_Power says:

    A lot of people have said that this item is too outrageously stupid to be insulting, and in their own way they are right.
    And while I do appreciate GS as a place where I can be pretty positive about male gamers at least making an effort to understand the very prevalent bias against taking women seriously, as a female gamer this thing represents everything I hate about gaming.
    The feeling of constantly being rebuffed, categorized or insulted by the hobby you love more than most and spend quite a bit of your disposable income on is one of constant frustration.
    Between articles about male geeks insulting female geeks as camera-bait for wearing skimpy costumes other male geeks designed and “limbless titty torsos” (thanks, @Fluka:disqus), it feels really shitty to always have to be addressed as a gamer with the qualifier of being female.
    There is a good, sad reason why so many female gamers remain gender-neutral online out of fear of recrimination and lewd insults. A large part of the gaming community doesn’t appear to find this an issue and I’ve heard plenty of male gamers say that if I didn’t want the abuse, I should just not tell anyone I am a woman. For someone who has heard the same statement regarding her sexuality for almost 20 years now, this is a proposal that’s beyond demeaning and has to stop.
    I am aware that gaming isn’t the only entertainment branch that behaves like a “He-Man Woman-Hater” boys’ club, but it is definitely the one that has the least issue about taking our money and then calling us a slut or attention whore for enjoying those games. It is a hard pill to swallow and even for someone with a hefty dose of egocentrism it can be overwhelming at times to the point where to me personally the word “multiplayer” for the longest time was synonymous with “abuse”.
    Thank Kinareth for Steam and the GS group is all I am saying. Even the fairly benevolent act of not being hit on constantly is allowing me to enjoy gaming a lot more, since in places like WoW-guilds for example, everything without a penis is apparently fair game at all times.

    • Chum Joely says:

      I was wondering when you would weigh in on this. Hang in there, Eff, we really like having you around.

      • Effigy_Power says:

        I was just about to put on a Union Jack bikini and chop my arms off… I have to admit, I wasn’t really into it.

    • Citric says:

      This is going to seem like a tangent at first, but I swear I’m going somewhere with this.

      In Playstation Home, way back when it had a surprising amount of hype going for it, I made myself a man. He wasn’t an attractive man, he was a fat guy, probably late sixties, grey hair and mustache, hat, sweatshirt, work gloves. He looked like someone who might fix your furnace. In creating this man, I unintentionally launched a social experiment. Whenever I went into a group of people, someone would berate my man for being a ‘fatass’ or similar. I mean, I controlled all the variables in his creation, he was clearly looking like this on purpose, but his very existence seemed to put the denizens of Home on edge. I’m sure that one could think of an in depth reason for their hatred of my wonderful fat man, but that doesn’t matter.

      Naturally, my reaction to this was to do sexy dancing all up in their grilles and then chase them if they decided to run away. Immaturity countered with funnier immaturity.

      But my own childish antics made me realize that some people seem to use gaming (and online interaction in general, which is why I left Reddit and deleted my account) as a way to be a dick. They might not seem like a dick in reality, but they make a space where they can be horrible people because they think nobody is judging them. So they’ll say all of the things their coworkers and friends would probably suggest are real dick things to say, and get away with it, and find other dicks to be dickish with. Nobody sensible will correct them because they’ll just see a big wall of dicks and leave in frustration.

      Maybe that’s what separates a good online community from a bad one, the ability of members to make the dicks feel judged for their dickish behavior. I’ve seen a lot of dicks shut down here, for instance, so I don’t think they feel welcome.

      But that’s just the ill formed ramblings of a guy typing fast because a van was very likely to be crashing into my office.

    • Pandas_please says:

       You hit the nail on the head. It’s things like this that keep sending out the message of, basically, “you’re not wanted here.” or “we’re obviously not making these things for you so not offending you doesn’t even matter.”
      It’s hard to keep gaming when so many companies seem to be saying this isn’t for you.

    • evanwaters says:

      This whole thing reminds me of a wonderfully depressing clip on Youtube of some indie game design contest reality show, where one group comes up with this astoundingly misogynist “feminazi takeover” scenario complete with a queen bitch boss battle, and nobody on the judging panel bothers to say “What the Hell is wrong with you?”

  36. There’s one positive thing you can say about this: it better reflects Dead Island’s shittiness than that tearjerker trailer for the first game.

  37. Lord Autumn-Bottom says:

    Glorious article.

  38. Asinus says:

    On top of all of the other reasons it’s horrible, it also looks like it was designed by someone who has never seen real breasts in his (I don’t feel I’m going too far out on a limb to assume it was a “him” who did this) life. 

    • Merve says:

      Hey, porn stars can be mangled by zombies too!

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Sadly, no limbs were provided for you to go out on.

    • Effigy_Power says:

      That’s a good point.
      Besides all the metaphorical ugliness, those are some of the ugliest fake boobs I have seen in a long time, at least when adorning a torso.
      Funny how they apparently wanted to replicate the Venus of Milo and then failed to replicate any part of her natural appeal.

      Big plastic tits > Classical Greek Beauty.
      Just another crime in all of this.

    • ApplicationData says:

       You never played Dead Island, don’t you ?

      Spoiler: it’s made entirely on purpose, just like the shocking value of that torso.

      That’s why the boobs are fake, why she’s weaking a stereotyped “sexy” (sic) bikini (the “patriotic” flag is the icing on the cake), and if you look closer, looks like a “brazilian” (again, stereotypes) transsexual with silicone boobs. In the Dead Island’s setting, it’s 100% satire.

  39. Rene Garcia says:

    Well i don’t know about that ridiculous hunk of plastic, but your article is an incredibly well thought out piece of artistic analysis, your insights into the ridiculous justifications and your observation on the fact that the breasts are intact are genius, in fact all that is left to add is this: who thought it? marketing or the developer? Because that would be the most important thing: if marketing did it, then it speaks about how marketers see their public and often times the developer has no say on what happens with marketing, whereas if it was a developer idea, then, well then all your accusations are doubly troubling.

  40. exant says:

    somewhere there’s a warehouse of unwanted, unloved bikini-clad zombie torsos.

  41. ApplicationData says:

    If that torso was bundled with a copy of Carmageddon in 1997, journos would have called it a “provocative, bold move” and would have been remembered as a gory, cheesy satire of violence in video games.

    But we’re in 2013, so everyone has to pretend they’re against sexism to look good and feel like they’re improving the video game culture and industry with their “contribution”. Protip: it doesn’t work like that.

    The day a girl will be allowed, both by boys and girls, men and women, to play Dead Island (and enjoy the gory experience) publicly, without being called an asocial, a-little-psycho, nerd… will be the day sexism, in the video game community-industry-culture, lost the battle.

    I’m sick and tired of seeing girls and women hide their gaming habits (beside Facebook/smartphone games, and Wii Sport/Fit) to still have friends, because gaming is still “the basement dweller nerd hobby” according to non-gaming people (both female and male).

    Enough is enough, such bigotry toward gamers (of all gender) shouldn’t be tolerated, it’s the main reason why girls can’t and won’t go into gaming and game development: they don’t want to be the outcast.

    Boys (and men) can get away with gaming *now* because the social pressure is less strong on their shoulders, as the industry learned to market gaming as a “cool” thing for the male teenagers (nb: social pressure against gaming was a lot more stronger several years ago, when gaming was still a thing of the “nerds”), but there’s still a lot to do regarding the female teenagers.

    Hopefully, as Kim Swift reminded us, the biggots are losing the battle of time and 20 years later all the secretly-gaming girls will be gaming and game dev women earning money, publicly voicing their opinion, raising their kids, holding positions of power, and finally we’ll all be able to enjoy gaming in peace.