Nude Descending A Star: The Naked Void

By Quintin Smith on October 1st, 2009 at 1:01 pm.


I’m scared. Here’s what I fear: I fear The Void is going to be the subject of unjust moral outrage because it features female nudity.

…maybe that’s making light of the problem. It’s not just female nudity that features in The Void. Talking to any female character results in the game cutting away to a vision of that woman suspended in a strange, shadowy limbo, naked except for particle effects and sometimes props. Gifting that woman with colour, as you must do to progress, causes a cutscene of them writhing in ecstasy that could probably suffice as a masturbatory aid. Doubly so if you’re a techy fellow like Alec and really enjoy particle effects.

At first I thought this was unbearably trashy, sexist and inane. You might too. Then I realised I was wrong. It’s possible you might not have the same revalation, especially if you’re the kind of easily outraged person I can see so clearly in my head writing furious blog posts and starting disgusted forum threads, so please, let me walk you through what went on in my head.

It took several hours of play, but eventually I realised the beauty and nakedness of the Sisters wasn’t harming my immersion in the game. There was no sense of ‘Here comes the fan service!!’, or that the sultry writhing I was watching was any kind of reward. Rather, it fitted with the Sisters’ role in the Void.

As I said before, the Sisters rarely move or back up what the say, and the Brothers’ savage protection of them adds to their objectification. It’s also not long before you find out the Sisters cannot turn down your gifts of colour no matter how scared they are of attracting the ire of their Brother. It’s not that they can’t resist the colour you offer- it’s that your Glyph does not give them any choice, making it a gift in name only. In reality, you’re infusing the girls with colour against their will to get what you need. You’re abusing them.

There’s more to this than soft porn, basically. I believe the nakedness of the Sisters in The Void is Ice-Pick’s way of emphasising their vulnerability and inescapable situation, and I believe the massively sexual closed-eyed curling and stretching they do with each gift of colour represents you taking advantage of them. I could also believe that Ice-Pick knew that adding some sex to their game would help it sell, and I’m not convinced they should be persecuted for that when they can pull it off without disturbing their original vision of the game in the slightest.

I guess you could still pressure The Void as a sexist piece of work on account of it depicting a world where women are kept locked down by men and rendered as pathetic and naked. My defense of the game against this would be to point out that the Brothers, the only men in the game, are the bad guys, and often come across as an exaggeration of the worst characteristics of males. They’re all enormous, stubborn, blind, hideous, controlling murderers who would probably do a better job of ruling all that they surveyed if they could agree on anything.

I’m more curious about my own reaction to seeing the nudity in the game for the first time. My instinctive response was “Oh, God”, because why else would a girl have no clothes on in a videogame but as a cheap way to keep the player interested? It took far, far too long for the other possibility to enter my mind- that this was a commercial game that was trying to use female nudity for artistic purposes.

Think I’m reaching? Maybe you think I’m reaching. I now present Exhibit A, a still taken from a video of Ice-Pick’s booth at Russian games development conference KRI back in 2007.

A woman! And she’s almost NAKED (naked!)!

Now, that guy in the foreground is Nikolay Dybowskiy, CEO of Ice-Pick Lodge. Pathologic fans out there will recognise him as the Haruspicus. What follows is me creating an argument based on his clothing and beard. I really hope this is going to work.

See, if Nikolay was wearing a t-shirt, didn’t have the facial hair he does, or generally didn’t look like the biggest Artist imaginable (which to say he looks exactly like you’d expect after reading my interview with him I’d be tempted to pass that naked woman off as nothing but a booth babe hired to dredge up interest in Ice-Pick’s booth. Doubtless she did mean Ice-Pick’s display got a few more visitors that day than it otherwise might have, but they still had her on display side by side with stuff like this painting:

It all implies these developers are comfortable with nakedness, and developed their game without the cynicism, fear of political correctness and Englishness that I know I have, and I’m sure lots of you reading this will too. Did I mention you can see the outline of genitals on your own (male) character’s ghostly avatar? You can.

Anyway, that’s my defense of The Void’s T&A. You’re welcome to disagree, but only once you’ve actually played the game and know what you’re up against.

Until then, here’s something for you to chew over: Before I decided that The Void’s use of nudity was tasteful, it caused a question to form in my head. Namely, in the case of games very consciously trying to be ‘art’, is it the job of the games critic to judge the ‘art’ inherent within them? Can a reviewer slate a game and give it a bad review for being ‘”Bad” “art”‘?

I mean, the games press is always cheetah-quick to praise games which attempt to give themselves some deeper meaning and transgress just being something you play, no matter what that meaning is or how the message is delivered. In reality, should we be taking marks off games when that message is clumsily conceived or delivered? As it stands now, we do not. If a game fails at its grander purpose the reviewer instead drops back down a level and scores the game on whether it’s fun to play.

That doesn’t quite sit right with me, and it shouldn’t with any developers like Ice-Pick Lodge who have genuine faith in the potential of this medium. At some point some of us critics are going to have to start criticising games when their artistic intention is banal, or insipid. What do you think, Nikolay?

Mm.

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123 Comments »

  1. fuggles says:

    It’s only a modern thing to be so critical of nudity I’m sure. In ye olde books of mythology and ancient greece I rather got the feeling that it was to infuse the imagination and create a response, probably not morally indignant outrage, but a response none-the-less.

    Have to say that I had never heard of this game until you guys flagged it up and now it’s really on my radar.

    • The Pink Ninja says:

      No, the Roman’s didn’t even have sex naked. That was the definition of libertine.

      The Greeks were modest too, though of course it was only applied to female nudity (Bar Sparta, sorta).

    • Quirk says:

      http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=libertine

      Wikipedia claims the word libertine originated with John Calvin vs Ami Perrin, and Britannica backs up that Perrin’s group were known as Libertines. I’ve found no references to your claim about Roman sexual habits. In short, I would like to see some sources for your assertions.

  2. Garg says:

    Splendid beard.

  3. drewski says:

    Particle effects? *drops trousers*

  4. sana says:

    The Staring Eyes Of Nikolay Dybowskiy

  5. qrter says:

    Great. Now we’re getting defenses of possible kneejerk reactions, which makes those defenses kneejerk in an of themselves.. ;)

  6. Rich says:

    Gotta agree with fuggles there. I think the obsession with sex and nudity in film and TV depends on the way they are used. Arty films and shows don’t tend to be targeted in the same way that more mainstream entertainment that just happens to include boobies does. Neither of these however, incur the same media fuelled outrage that surrounds a game with sex in. This is probably due to the naive assumption by many that if it is a game, it must be aimed at kids. No matter what the subject material or rating it is given. This is a good example of a grown up game for grown up people.

  7. Kell says:

    “In reality, should we be taking marks off games when that message is clumsily conceived or delivered?”

    At the risk of sounding belligerent: well duh!

    The recent “games are art!” cries from much of gaming culture seems to me to be less to do with the maturation of a medium, and more to do with garnering the validation of mainstream culture that geeks seem to so pathetically crave. Consequently, commentators are only concerned with establishing *that* a game is art, not that it succeeds as such.

  8. Dracko says:

    So really, all you’re saying is you’re still stuck in a Victorian mindset and are ashamed by tits.

  9. Gundrea says:

    There’s a near naked woman in that image? I couldn’t see her for I was too lost in those dreamy eyes and that enthralling facial hair…

  10. Clovis says:

    From your review the Void sounds like a pretty good game, but I seriously doubt it will reach a truely wide audience. Are they even releasing it (tits and all) on the XBOX 360? If not, nobody cares. Where was the moral outrage at the boobies and green pubic hair in The Witcher? There wasn’t any, because the game wasn’t popular enough. Now, Mass Effect shows a little side boob and we have a big deal. But a small Russian studio has nudity in it’s arty game? Not news, so not a controversy.

    I wish there would be controversy though. Most of the shows I watch (HBO and Showtime) have more nudity in them than I even want, and there is, of course, no controversy. So why should there be a problem with nudity in games that are rated for adults? Great, now I’m getting annoyed thinking about how the game ratings systems cause censorship…

    • Geoff says:

      Actually, there was a decent controversy over the Witcher sex cards, and the American version was released with the nudity censored out of it. It may not have gotten CNN coverage or comments from presidential candidates, but a lot of reviewers clucked their tongues at it – although more at the tone than the nudity itself.

      This does however answer my question about whether the Void will be available on Steam/Impluse/Amazon/etc for purchase in the US. Probably not. Hopefully direct download from Mambo will be viable.

  11. Guernican says:

    Full frontal nudity?

    I’d do it, if it was valid.

  12. Nenad says:

    While i am not Russian, I am currently in Eastern Europe, and something which may not be obvious is that around here, nudity (especially female nudity) just is not such a big deal…

  13. toni says:

    nothin’ controversial about that it seems. You always have to judge something like this in context. Now, nudity in theWitcher (a game I LOVE) is handled less then decent, not that I can’t accept Geralt is an old skirt-chaser but rather bad. the “nudy card collection” and little sex-cutscenes did nothing to define Geralt as a character or be necessary for the story. It was just degrading and stupid. I would have liked to see more flirting and witty dialogues between characters than : ok, let’s have some sex and geralt is sooooo masculine I can’t control myself, I stupid, weak slutty woman.

  14. Heroh says:

    When we’re exposed to undeniably blatant MALE nudity I’ll crank the ‘shocked’ meter up a notch. Until then, female nudity is a non-issue. I agree with Drako. The writer comes across as fumblingly awkward, bordering on puritanical. I’d rather think that the game was slightly risqué than having to think of it as ‘arty and trying too hard’. BLEH.

  15. Throdax says:

    I personally find the sisters in The Void erotic in a way that fit the game, erotic in a way that fit the game and erotic in a way of art.

    Of course art if a very broad term, but I think the problem comes for the way society sees “gratuitous” partial or full nudity. I think all ends up in the old clash of values, Nudity versus Violence.

  16. Mort says:

    Why aren’t there more adult themed games? Or with adult content? And I just don’t mean the usual 18+ cert blood guts and loldismemberment.
    Average gamer is what 36 now? From a casual observer you wouldn’t think it, more like as my wife would say manchildren shooting each other, no different to when we did it on the streets with plastic guns. We do nothing to counter this by naval gazing over boobs in a game.
    I do have a theory that as the vangard of gaming generations gets older we’ll see adult themes more accepted in videogaming. Or maybe not, maybe we’re just happy blowing shit up.

    Really looking forward to Void.

  17. Zaphid says:

    Hypercorrectness (is that a word?) is stupid. I won’t say who, what or where it started, but at some point, you have to ask yourself why is calling someone black almost bordering on offensive and why is even the smallest nipple big no-no. If something has nudity, it’s a feature right next to advanced particle effects and sixaxis controlled boobs. There is no problem with nudity unless the game is big enough to run a story about it, making it a problem, the fact that you don’t perceive it that way IS a problem.

    Our ancestors would probably /facepalm if they saw issues of our day and age.

  18. phil says:

    Can a reviewer slate a game and give it a bad review for being ‘”Bad” “art”‘?

    Yes, providing the game is attempting to convey an artistic statement, and failing badly, it is perfectly valid. A element of this is, I suppose, the game mechcanics used to convey that statement. If it doesn’t engage you, then the creator as failed, no matter how innovative, profound or transgressive it is.

    To borrow an example from an medium; the early, very hostile, reviews of Fennegans Wake were in many respects perfectly valid. HG Wells told Joyce – “you have turned your back on common men, on their elementary needs and their restricted time and intelligence.” I suspect HG Wells would have liked the Wii.

    • Clovis says:

      Joyce anticipated these types of reviews and provided a counter-point in the book itself:

      My colonial, wardha bagful! A bakereen’s dusind with tithe
      tillies to boot. That’s what you may call a tale of a tub!

      Or at least I would think he had, if I had any idea what a single line in the book meant. Fun stuff though.
      Edit: Oh, and on topic, I think The Void can use the Ulysses argument. Sure, it may be titillating, but are the kids going to buy the game and wade through the weird arty stuff just to see the nudity?

      I’m outraged!

  19. Markoff Chaney says:

    Nudity is not and should not be a big deal, as it is the most natural state we, as humans, can be in. Anything else is pretense and bowing to social norms based in shame, puritanism and the inability to recognize the perfection of form as it is currently manifested via the guiding hand of DNA. While clothing can provide titillation sometimes better than nudity can, I can find little in this world as beautiful as the naked female form and nothing more aesthetically pleasing. I’ll never understand how some of the most basic requisites of existence (Death and naked flesh especially) seem to be so constantly vilified and despised by the self same people who exist with both every day.

    Consequently, I think it’s vital that if we do measure works of art in some gradient scale, that we must, by nature, assign some as better (or having more value) than others. I think that’s inherently silly, so I love our Wot I thinks where you actually have to read what someone thinks instead of fixating on some number that can’t possibly convey all the information needed in evaluating a product. I think a better measure of artistic worth is the impact on the individual, and that can’t well be determined by another, or at least it shouldn’t be.

  20. dingo says:

    Hm while playing the demo I never saw the sister’s nudity in a sexual way.
    To me the game is in line of artsy games like “The Path” and therefore nudity is a way to describe or illustrate something (namely the vunerbility of the sisters).

  21. Turin Turambar says:

    “At first I thought this was unbearably trashy, sexist and inane. You might too.”

    No, i didn’t. The firs thing i thought when i saw trailers and images from the game, was in this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Venus_dormida.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:RokebyVenus.jpg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Goya_Maja_naga2.jpg

    • Sagan says:

      Considering the box art and that you get confronted with a naked woman almost immediately, with very little context, there is good reason to consider it “trashy, sexist and inane.” And just from playing the demo, I did not get any indication that it isn’t, and that their nakedness has any reason.
      And those images are something entirely different. Because if you want to draw a tasteful picture of a naked woman, it is OK, in our culture, to draw a picture of a naked woman. But if you put naked women on top of something unrelated, just to sell that something better, then that is trashy and sexist. With good reason.
      And at first impression, The Void certainly seems like the women in that game are just naked to increase sales. And even though Quinns gives a convincing reason why the ladies are naked, I still think that they could have conveyed that in a million different ways, and chose to make them nude just to increase sales. They put a nearly naked girl on the cover, after all. Which is why I consider the game a little bit trashy. Just a little bit.

    • TeeJay says:

      You should add “Olympia” by Manet (1863). Bceause it was a ‘modern day’ Venus, with a direct gaze and other features it was considered shocking: http://jssgallery.org/other_artists/Manet/Olympia_in_Juxtaposition.htm

  22. Kirian says:

    I’m pretty sure some of the criticism aimed at Far Cry was about it being difficult to care about things the designers wanted you to. One publication, whose name is mud ’round ‘ere claimed it was reaching too far and basically saying “Look at me, I did GCSE English”.

    Which is more or less how it should be. If a game tries for meaning and falls terrifyingly flat, then it deserves to be kicked for it. That, I think, drives at a big problem with ‘art gamers’ and many artists in general. Calling it art doesn’t make it any better*. Most cases it only makes it worse

    *Didn’t Marilyn Manson call himself an artist?

  23. Turin Turambar says:

    “Can a reviewer slate a game and give it a bad review for being ‘”Bad” “art”‘?”

    Yes, i would hope!
    I mean, just look at the mediocre The Path. :P

    • madhaha says:

      A prediction: you will won’t get Kieron to outright admit The Path is a steaming pile of pretension from some over funded, Emily the Strange style, monetizing sellouts. He (and to an extent Quintin Smith) is too wrapped up in the importance of the very existence of such games to give them a hard review.

  24. del says:

    The question that any form of nudity brings to mind, every time, for me is: did they NEED to make the character nude. It’s much like love-making scenes in movies or books; if it’s appropriate for the plot and subject matter then why the hell not?

    You sir, having played the game, must answer this: If the Sisters were lightly clothed, would it have spoiled the gameplay, storyline or atmosphere for you? If so, how big an impact do you think it made and, if it was only a tiny impact, was there really any point?

    I’m not pro or anti nudity in games and, by the sound of things, the graphic nature of the game suits the nudity down to the ground. As was pointed out above, unless they’re looking to move into the mainstream with it, women or even men lacking clothes really isn’t a big deal.

    • Quirk says:

      I’m not sure if it’s a “need” to make the character nude or not, but rather whether it adds anything.

      If there were a scene in a book in which the protagonist stepped stark naked out of his or her front door and meandered down the street, there wouldn’t necessarily be any “need” for him or her to be naked – the general effect could be achieved by simply going outside in underwear. The impact of complete nakedness is much greater though, not least because “naked” has a rich symbolic history; it speaks of vulnerability and weakness, or honesty and openness, or possibly a primitive animalistic state of being. In the film of that book, many directors would be tempted to change nakedness to underwear for fear of causing offence or for fear that its impact would be altered by the current prevalence of sexualised nudity in our culture. I’m not entirely certain that capitulating to the puritans and pornographers is the way to go. I feel that the core symbol is perhaps worth preserving for its artistic purpose.

  25. Hoernchen says:

    A lot of people, inlcuding me, want to see a score at the the end of a review, because we want to know if it is fun, not if it is art – especially when reviewing “art” ! Fun is definitely not the first thing i think of when hearing “art”…..
    And I did not like xeno clash….

    • The LxR says:

      Don’t you think that the text of the review itself is supposed to deliver to you what this game is about, and should you play it or not? When the review is followed by a score, there’s always the temptation to just glance at the score and don’t even bother reading the review, which can be misleading. There are a lot of really good games, that have an average score around 50-60 %, that a lot of people missed out on.

  26. Vandelay says:

    I find it interesting that Quintin hopes to dissuade knee jerk reactions by saying that the nudity and filling the woman with colour is used to symbolise rape and isn’t just titillation. Anyone likely to have a knee jerk reaction is probably going to be even more irate by that suggestion. Although I do get the point.

    The image Quintin gives of the game here seems to be far more leaning towards it being sexual rather than simple nudity. Those saying that they don’t think this would be seen as a big deal by many people are thinking about nudity rather than sex and I think sex in games is still a touchy subject. Think about the reactions to Hot Coffee and Mass Effect, which featured hardly any nudity whatsoever but caused absolutely shit storms when the media got hold of them. Taken out of context and not given the thought that Quintin does here, I could imagine many people finding something to complain about.

    Having said that, I can’t imagine that this is the sort of game that many parents are going to wander into a room and see their kids playing. This is really only going to have limited appeal and the audience that will be attracted to it won’t be lured in by a sight of some boobs, unless it is something they can nod and stroke their goatee beard in agreement with.

    Marking down something for being “bad” art? I think that is question that opens up a whole other can of worms, as you have to decide how to qualify what bad art is. I would say that artistic merit is probably the most subjective element of any medium and I don’t think you can say objectively that something won’t connect to everyone, unlike, say, level design which can be objectively badly done. If a review struggles to find meaning in a game that attempts to be artistic he is going to have to say so, but I don’t think that means the game is “bad” art. Instead, it means that the review just didn’t find anything that he was able to connect to, whereas other may well do.

  27. Marar says:

    Anothe East European reporting here, and nudity is not a big deal around here, I don’ think ANYBODY get’s outrage when they see nudity, on tv, or whatever (for crying out load the major tabloids, and they sell more then the mainstream newspapers, witch is kind of sad, have a naked girl on the cover, every bloody issue, and half the poeple on the subway reads them, and no one gets outraged), let alone a medium that has absolutely 0% media coverage (well except for the odd article that says that Counterstrike makes kids dumb/violent)

    Never did understand the Western revolt when it comes to such matters, I mean, we’re all humans right? We all have bodies, we all know what things look like and what-not, so, why is this a big deal?

  28. Lilliput King says:

    “This is really only going to have limited appeal and the audience that will be attracted to it won’t be lured in by a sight of some boobs, unless it is something they can nod and stroke their goatee beard in agreement with.”

    *Nods, strokes beard in agreement.”

    In all honesty, people in this thread have pretty much hit the nail on the head. No-one is going to complain, because no-one knows about the game. Or will ever know about it, probably.

    So it’s up to us to decide whether rendered boobs and orgasms add to the game or take away from it. Pure utility, none of this Victorian sense of decency.

  29. Arathain says:

    I don’t think the main issue here is the nudity itself- naked people are pretty and awesome, which I think any healthy person would be happy to admit. The main issue is the one the article touches on more heavily: is the nudity exploitative? Is it objectifying and sexist? Quentin describes a game in which women are purely passive and ruled by men, to whom they are naked and utterly receptive. They respond to anything you give them sexually, as if they can’t help but be pleasured by your (expicit) maleness. In other words, it’s a dominant patriarchal fantasy of the highest order. It sounds exceedingly unpleasant.

    On the other hand, we have the depiction of the men. They are “enormous, stubborn, blind, hideous, controlling murderers”, unable to progress for their own pointless conflicts. Abusers, with little personal responsibility and less impulse control. They are also part of a patriarchal fantasy, but the aspect of the patriarchy shows men in their worst light.

    The question to be answered by those who have actually played the game: does this balance out as a worthy expressive piece? Is the ghastly objectication of women aspect used powerfully to create a hellish world that is atmosphericly distrurbing to explore because it is uncomfortably reflective of society’s worst ills? Or does it simply walk far over the line into exploitation without enough to pull it back into art?

    Really, does it earn the boobs?

  30. damien says:

    i’m somewhat puzzled. videogames and (the majority of commercially viable) hollywood movies seem to have the same target audience – males between the ages of 18 – 34. so why do we expect movies to highlight violence and nudity, but expect games to stick to violence only? why is it more shocking when games highlight nudity and sexuality?

    unlike the graphic violence featured in most videogames, sex is a part of everyone’s life. i don’t (and never really have) get why one is considered taboo while the other is commonplace.

    i look forward to a time when game designers the tools needed to paint with all aspects of the human experience in their games, love, anger, loss, sexuality, revenge, sadness, etc. i think the experiences will be fascinating to play.

  31. Okami says:

    Never did understand the Western revolt when it comes to such matters, I mean, we’re all humans right? We all have bodies, we all know what things look like and what-not, so, why is this a big deal?

    Because every time you have sex, baby jesus kills an elephant!

    • Okami says:

      Meh, forgot to close that quote. Where’s the edit function?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Okami: I AM YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBOURHOOD EDIT FUNCTION.

      (You know, you can do it on the forum if you’ve actually logged in as an account)

      KG

    • Bhazor says:

      And you do know that work around doesn’t make a lick of sense when you allow non subscribers like myself to post?

  32. Ian says:

    I’ve not played it, but based on Quinns’ description to call the game sexist would be getting mistaken purely because it (possibly?) is representing sexism. If somebody writes a book about a white guy who kills black people because he’s racist it doesn’t mean the book itself is racist.

    Unless I’ve got the wrong end of the stick here and am missing the point entirely.

    Regardless, while I’ve not played it based on what’s in the article I think I see what Quinns is driving at.

  33. Cooper says:

    I would like to think that, from your description of the Brothers and Sisters, that Ice Pick are deliberately toying with, and parodying the normative aspects we take to be masculine and feminine. Grotesques, as they both seem to be (in the sense of extreme ends of spectrums) are useful destabilizing tools for these normatives (consider the more bawdy drag queens who do so as a jab at nonsense gender norms).

    However, having spent a while in East Europe and Russia, I doubt that this kind of thinking is common. I’d like to be proved wrong, but I fear it’s simply that it’s shock for the sake of shock, extremes for the sake of extremes and a culture that doesn’t have any problem with nudity.

  34. Seb says:

    I’d love to see a review of a game with mature content in it that simply accepted the content as being a normal part of like – like in all other artistic media – without all the ridiculous embarrassed, semi-apologetic self-justification that the games journalism industry currently has to indulge in. I think Quentin’s article is a great look at what is currently a highly-relevant issue. I just wish it didn’t feel like the equivalent of Wossy spending half of his film reviews pondering the question of sex scenes being acceptable in cinema.

  35. Chris says:

    I like nudity just fine, but it will be a bit uncomfortable painting a naked writhing woman while my wife is just a few feet behind me watching TV. I can claim artistry, gameplay, whatever, she’s just going to roll her eyes and think I’m a lame nerd using my mouse to make naked women writhe on screen.

    • damien says:

      this is a perfect example. it’s depressing that we live in societies where seeing you shooting, maiming, decapitating hundreds of humans is much less uncomfortable to explain to someone looking over your shoulder than a nude woman writhing around at your mouse’s touch would be.

  36. JKjoker says:

    after the Mass Effect 2 trailer i can accept any nudity… bitch!

    (also ive been forcefed so many sex scenes in movies and games though my life that im pretty much desensitized)

  37. hydra9 says:

    The nudity is certainly erotic, but tastefully done. And there are no sex scenes. It’s much more artful nudity than cheap thrills.

    Anyway, there is a definite, story-based reason for this portrayal of the women in The Void. Don’t want to spoilerize it, obviously, but it should become clear as players get further into the game.

    • Dominic White says:

      Even at first glance, it seems to be that the Sisters play a very siren-like role. They’re there as manipulators. They set goals, they open doors. They’re not your friends, but they definitely seem happy to be desirable.

      They’re meant to be alluring, in part because it inspires the player to help them (At least at first). Unlike the Brothers, who inspire immediate fear and repulsion, and a fight-or-flight instinct.

  38. Heliocentric says:

    I got my 5 year old a boot on biology, we went through a page a day at bed time reading it aloud and discussing any questions he had. I guess it was then when his questions on the reproduction page were just as valid as his questions on bones blood or the heart that i realised i don’t have a problem with my children finding out about sex, but how it is often handled.

    See, there is sex as a biological function, and sex as a matter of passion and emotion, sure those paths can cross but mostly in games sex is about titilation, crude objectification except when its not, then it oddly seems to sit higher than most movies approach to sex.

    When I’m faced with sex in a movie I ask myself was the movie and my understanding of it improved by that scene? Mostly no, they just wanted a 5 out of 5 in nuts magazine.

  39. Anthony Damiani says:

    It’s true, particles ARE sexy…

  40. Sonic Goo says:

    So… this post is subtly suggesting us to go to our blogs and start some viral outrage about this game so it will get the media attention it deserves because any publicity is good publicity. Right?

  41. Morningoil says:

    I’m writing this comment having reached the end of only the 2nd paragraph.

    But ‘Doubly so if you’re a techy fellow like Alec and really enjoy particle effects.’ is a fine, fine joke. Nice one Quinns.

  42. Gap Gen says:

    I gather that nudity is more of a problem in America than it is in Britainland. After all, the bestselling newspaper in Britain regularly has naked boobies on the third page (those being possibly causally-connected facts). It’s an odd thing, though – only ultra-violence gets a look-in in media coverage, but any hint of nudity is jumped on as borderline satanic. I’d argue that nudity on its own is utterly harmless – making nudity itself taboo only serves to fetishise it.

  43. TeeJay says:

    “…in the case of games very consciously trying to be ‘art’, is it the job of the games critic to judge the ‘art’ inherent within them? Can a reviewer slate a game and give it a bad review for being ‘”Bad” “art”‘? …As it stands now, we do not. If a game fails at its grander purpose the reviewer instead drops back down a level and scores the game on whether it’s fun to play.”

    First write a review that covers all aspects of a game. Second make up score at the end that reflects overall how much you like the game (for whatever reasons). You already weigh up graphical eye candy versus gameplay versus voice acting versus originality etc. and score wildly different genres against each other – is it so hard to add “artistic merit” into the mix? Scores don’t exist in the abstract but have to be understood within a ‘marking scheme’. Each magasine/website/reviewer can decide upon and set out their marking scheme for themselves, and readers will find the ones they appreciate best – there is no single ‘correct’ method.

    Moreover, very similar software can be intended as pure education (eg training simulations), ‘pure art’ or ‘pure game’ – or a mixture of all three. Software intended as one might be subjectively consumed as another. As long as you define the terms in which you are assessing it, it doesn’t matter how you review it or talk about it, or what numbers you decide to invent to stick on the end of a discussion as a summary or ‘indicator’ of some idea you are expressing.

  44. RagingLion says:

    “See, if Nikolay was wearing a t-shirt, didn’t have the facial hair he does, or generally didn’t look like the biggest Artist imaginable…” That caused the most massive lol from me as I realised, omg, you’re actually going to argue on that basis – both hugely ridiculous you should have to sink to that level and yet perhaps justified.

    So seriously now, yes, it will be very interesting to see what the reception to this game will be. I also have no idea how visible or on the radar of mainstream gamers this will be. I hope it doesn’t become: “Oh yeah, that weird Russian game with all those naked women in them”.

    I’m also interested in how I will react to the nakedness when playing the game for myself because I really don’t know right now. I mean, I might go out of my way to make sure noone sees me playing this because maybe they just wouldn’t understand.

    You’re last point is also very valid and timely. At this point in the industry so few people are trying to be artistic in their intentions with games that they often get universally praised (or despised for pretentiousness by some) for doing so without the art being judged on its own merits. Where the artistic ideas behind the games become one of the main components of them then it probably does become necessary to judge them on this basis.

    We might need some new journalists/reviewers to cope with these new kinds of games since the current crop are used to primarily just appreciating gameplay. RPS might be able to cope with it though :)

  45. Funky Badger says:

    I’m sure there’s a Cliffy B joke here somewhere…

  46. BoredWidDaUSA says:

    Yeah, puritania America is paradoxical like that. It’s ok to show people’s heads getting blown off and rapes and stabbings on TV but show one half of a butt cheek (which almost everyone at least has) or a penis (which about half the population has and interacts with on a daily basis) and “Oh no!!! How dare you!!! Think of the children (the males of which also have penises, btw)!!! You pervert!!!”

  47. Jambe says:

    Can anybody make any product which touches on sexuality without enabling rape, objectification, self-image distortion, shame, etc? Apparently Mr Smith believes so… and so do I.

    As others have said, nudity and sex should not be a big deal. If they are a big deal to you, you have some issues you need to work out.

  48. l1ddl3monkey says:

    There’s a parenthesis missing from your very interesting article, Mr Smith. 48th line.

    Stop.

    Grammar time.

    I did like the article and I’m really fascinated by the game and will give it a try. I guess I will probably get over the tits. If I try really hard.

    • Ian says:

      And now it’s my goal for the day to say “Stop… Grammar Time!” to somebody.

  49. Premium User Badge Lambchops says:

    “Until then, here’s something for you to chew over: Before I decided that The Void’s use of nudity was tasteful, it caused a question to form in my head. Namely, in the case of games very consciously trying to be ‘art’, is it the job of the games critic to judge the ‘art’ inherent within them? Can a reviewer slate a game and give it a bad review for being ‘”Bad” “art”‘?”

    Of course they can.

    However this is the kind of thing that could lead to arseyness between reviewers and somewhat tedious comments threads.

    I think that it’s fairly likely that someone who sees a game as “good art” will have a knee jerk reaction of “that’s just because you don’t understand it” to anyone who criticises the game as “bad art.” While this may sometimes be the case it may well be that the criticism is valid. This should lead to interesting discussion but realistically is more likely to end up in petty digs and name calling.

    However as long as people are mature enough to discuss things like inteliigent folk then an art focused discussion of a game is valid but otherwise it’s just going to be a waste of time. I think it’s definitely something that reviewers should try and do if there’s merit in it though; despite the risks.