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volume 1, issue 3

Today in loonygames:

New!! The Archives have been cleaned up, fead links fixed, and printable versions restored! Also, don't miss the new comments on the front page!

Livin' With The Sims: theAntiELVIS explores the wild and wacky world that is Will Wright's The Sims, asking the inevitable quesiton, "is The Sims the first step toward a virtual life where everyone is Swedish?"

Pixel Obscura: Josh Vasquez on Omikron: The Nomad Soul.

Real Life: Check out our newest comic strip, Real Life! Updated daily!

User Friendly: Updated daily!

Related Links:

Chris Taylor Gets Some: George Broussard interviews Chris Taylor.

The Bargain Bin: Jason "loonyboi" Bergman's review of Duke Nukem 3D.

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Random Feature :

Blue & Levelord Get Drunk: Truly the definitive interview with Levelord, Stephen "Blue" Heaslip and the Ritual level designer get drunk and talk about the gaming industry.

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Is Duke Nukem Sexist?

 

 

 

 

 

By Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman


Is Duke Nukem sexist?

It is a question that has floated somewhere under most people's perception of Duke Nukem since its original release. Is there a sexist undertone to Duke's comments, appearance, killing of women, or love of XXX theaters and strip joints? Or is it just part of the charm of the game? The way it's played out like a cheezy action movie with the artificially muscle bound guy, and overly proportioned women.

It is also a question that most people 'just don't think about.' Just like the question of where Duke's "Dukeisms" really came from, it's just better not ever mentioned, not committed to print.

"To tell you the truth, I don't have very much of an opinion on the subject."
-- Matt "Toxin" Anderson, Webmaster, Duke4.com

This article has evolved since its original conception. It was to be a look back at the media's reaction to Duke when it comes to the topic of sexism. However, much to this reporter's surprise, there was virtually nothing on the record about it. Letters to the Editor, message board posts and mailbag responses berating webpages and reporters for ignoring the topic was all that was to be found. This question was always haunting Duke in one way or another.

"Duke Nukem 3D can never be good enough to dismiss the level of misogyny the game portrays."
--Robert Denton, Wired Letter to the Editor, December 1996.

So, this article turned into a look at the community's response to the question. And the responses (the full text of them will follow) varied, significantly. Partially because of the two different forms in which they were asked (both in person, with the aid of a dictaphone, and by e-mail), people seemed to say more by e-mail than in person, but partially because most people had either never thought about the topic, or had long considered it, but never actually committed the thoughts to paper.

And why is that? How could it be that in our strange community, there was a topic this gigantic, this severe, that nobody ever decided to actually challenge? I mean, in this community with webpages committed solely to insulting anybody, nobody had ever taken on Duke? Maybe because the game was so good anyway? Out of respect for Duke? For the enormity he was, the franchise of Duke. Or respect for 3D Realms (the company that created Duke Nukem 3D)? Bashing 3D Realms never did take off the way id bashing seemed to have. Whatever the reason, it is a little strange.

So while the majority of the comments that follow are rather short and to the point, many are not, and are articles within themselves. For this we are thankful to all the people who took the time to say or write a few words, it certainly made for a more interesting article.

An identical e-mail was sent to all respondents, asking three questions. Was Duke sexist, did it effect their opinion of the game, and did the 'chicks' help sell the game. They were told to feel free to rant, and as you'll see, many did. The same question was put to those people asked in person.

To explain my interpretation of the results. Unless it was specifically stated that the respondent did, indeed, find Duke to be sexist, their answer was assumed to be 'no opinion/no comment.' Otherwise, yes is yes, no is no, and maybe is maybe.

The overall demographics of the respondents are 8 women, 16 men, with a twenty-year range in ages. 10 people were asked these questions in person, 14 replied to e-mail. To the best of my knowledge, these people are all in the United States, although not all are native American citizens. All are active on-line in the community and had previous knowledge of Duke 3D. They were not asked what they thought sexism was, so that is something to keep in mind. Certainly it may be assumed that they hold a general definition, but definitions do vary.

Overall 11 people feel that yes, Duke 3D is sexist. 6 people feel that it is not, with 2 maybes, and 5 'no comment/no opinion.' However, 11 of the people who fall into the 'yes' or 'no comment' category, also expressed that they liked Duke as a game.

"I think it is sexist, but I like that it doesn't try and hide."
-- PMS-Jack

Of the 8 women responding, 4 thought Duke3D was sexist, but 3 of those 4 women agreed with PMS-Jack in one form or another, stating that they still liked the game.

Of the men, 7 of the 16 felt it was sexist, but again, the majority of them also liked the game.

"I'm sorry, but those things don't make a good game in my book."
--Ron Jomero

Out of the 24 people asked, only 5 (4 men, one woman) stated that they did not like the game at all, the rest implied or implicitly stated they enjoyed playing the game.

So, the majority of people think Duke 3D is sexist, but they still like the game. So maybe that's the answer to my question? Because Duke is still liked as a game, the rest of the elements in it are overlooked? It certainly is a point brought up by Evil Avatar, "Because Duke was commercially successful suddenly it was politically correct to have mild nudity or sexism in computer games."

What does this tell us about our community? That the majority of us find something sexist, yet we still accept it for what it is. We're willing to turn the other cheek when we find something fun? Or we just 'don't care' about things like offending women. Or is it as Paul Steed explains, "...it's sexist in an attempt to be humorous, as opposed to being malicious." Is there such thing as humorous sexism?

 

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Credits: Illustration © 1998 Mike Sanzone. This article is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited...you sexist pig.