The newly released Obsidian Entertainment video game Pillars of Eternity caught some flak recently for including a transmisogynist joke submitted by one of the game’s Kickstarter backers. The joke, which was part of the text on a memorial that players can discover and investigate, was discovered by a twitter user, who brought it the publisher’s attention.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the terms “transmisogynist” or “transmisogyny,” these words refer to systemic ill treatment of transgender people. Everyday Feminism offers a fantastic definition of “transmisogyny.”
Obsidian agreed to investigate and, finding that the joke was not properly vetted by the design team, worked with the backer to develop different text for the game. They have since updated the game with the new text. The new joke, which seems to be at the expense of the twitter user who started the campaign, isn’t perfect, but it’s an improvement to be sure.
The video game industry, and especially it’s players, has been having a lot of serious problems with misogyny of many kinds in the last year. Women are routinely harassed on the internet by male gamers who see themselves as defending their hobby by trying to make it an exclusively male space.
Women, as well as people of color and people on the queer spectrum play games too, and in fact, more of them play games that do the kind of straight white males who cause the problems. Some publishers have taken a stand and sought ways to be more welcoming to fans outside of a specific subset. Obsidian seems to be one of them, which is a smart move on their part. Jokes like the one removed from Pillars of Eternity don’t and anything to video games, they just serve to remind marginalized groups that people still want to marginalize them.
Luckily, services like twitter allow players to speak out and get the attention of companies that otherwise might miss these problems completely. Video games take a lot of people doing a lot of work to create, and things are bound to be missed.