Last Light’s Problem with Women

"The eyeshadow keeps enemies from spotting me at a distance."

Meet Anna, a sniper with the Rangers.

Meet Anna. She’s the first female character in the Metro series to have a name — other than Nikki the prostitute from the first game. Which means, if you couldn’t guess, today I’m writing about the sexist undertones in Metro: Last Light.

If you thought you’d never see the word “sexist” here on Space-Biff!, you’re not the only one. Since this is a site about the things I like, I don’t often talk much about the things I don’t like. Even my few negative reviews only exist because I really enjoy panning bad games. The thing is though, I really like both games in the Metro series. For the most part, they encourage thoughtful, even considerate, behavior. That’s a rarity in any genre of videogame, let alone in the first-person shooter genre, which one could argue makes its bucks by being the exact opposite of “thoughtful.” In fact, I’d go so far as to label Metro 2033 as one of the most moral games I’ve ever played — which is precisely why the sexism in Last Light bothers me so deeply.

The bounce-physics are so out of whack with reality that the breasts on display take on absolutely terrifying proportions. All evidence indicates they're sentient and should be granted individual rights.

Putting on the Ritz.

Before we get into it, if you aren’t familiar with the Metro series, you might consider getting up to speed by reading the synopsis I wrote last year, which explains most of the game’s themes when it comes to morality. Also, I’d like to quickly clarify two things.

First, I haven’t written much about sexism in games because the topic brings out the worst in some people, and I’ve been content to keep on writing about the things I like, and having my non-asshole readers keep on contributing non-asshole comments to the discussion. If you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like to hear about all this “sexism” and “misogyny” and “rape culture” stuff, the door’s right there.

Second, there’s a major difference between setting and sexism. True, they can intersect — but it’s a vast oversimplification to label any work of fiction that depicts women being taken advantage of as sexist.

For instance, Metro 2033 didn’t strike me (personally) as sexist even though its only named female character was a prostitute. For one thing, indulging in her services was a big no-no (the game penalized you by robbing you of all your hard-earned military-grade bullets, the currency of the Metro series; Nikki, as it turns out, wasn’t your average post-apocalyptic sex worker), and for another, the lack of women soldiers made plenty of sense according to the fiction of the world. After all, it’s pretty easy to imagine that a post-disaster society would both revert to the Rule of the Physically Strong and/or treat females as a valuable commodity to be protected at all costs in the interests of preserving the species, thus relegating most women to support functions like mothering and food handling. Not enlightened, but certainly not surprising of the society the game depicted, and it fits the general attitude that living in a haunted metro is probably pretty shitty. And it’s not as though the standard of living is particularly superior for the menfolk. Everyone suffers alike in the Moscow Metro.

I really don't get this line. The entire joint is filled to the brim with gangsters.

They’re their OWN bosses, see.

This means there are two different aspects to Last Light’s treatment of women.

The first is the game’s setting. I find it neither surprising nor worrisome that, within the fiction, a metro station run by criminal gangs should house a booming sex industry (though the insistence of certain of these prostitutes that they answer to no bosses of any kind, when said station is owned by said criminals, feels a bit like the designers were trying their best to eat the cake they were having), or that the metro’s sole bastion of “high culture” revels in high-breasted can-can lines as much as they do in shlocky pet tricks and bad accordion performances. These all fit into the game-world well enough, and in fact highlight just how grimy this life is when a whorehouse is situated mere feet from regular residential shanties.

The problem arises when the game herds you past grinning showgirls in various states of undress — including past the fogged glass of their showers, any concept of privacy or self-respect stripped away for the player’s puerile observances. And again when your character forcefully hushes a prostitute, holding a hand over her mouth to keep her voice and struggling to a minimum. Now, it’s true your character is muffling her cries because you were in the process of eavesdropping on an important conversation between enemies, but the real issue is what comes afterwards, upon her release: rather than being enraged at your imposed physicality, or even just annoyed, or afraid, or hopeful for an explanation — any of the things you’d expect a real human being to expect after being shoved into a booth and held immobile and silent — she basically says, “That’s how you like it?” and offers you a topless lap dance.

Unlike the first game, which had themes dealing with the value of life between enemies, challenging your expectations about others, and treating people in a generous manner, Last Light reduces its women to — pardon the word — a pair of tits.

Even if she were shown as willing to ignore your brutish treatment because she's desperate, it would make some sense.

She isn’t too bothered by this.

Matters only get worse when you realize the game’s sole named female character, the brash ranger sniper Anna, is around for the sole reason of providing a love interest. She appears for a scant few minutes in the game’s intro, then disappears until it’s time for her to get captured hours later. Upon her rescue, she talks to you for all of one minute and then begs you to sex her.

Great.

To reiterate, the one time we’re shown a woman fighter in any capacity in this universe — and remember, the only other roles we’ve seen are food handlers, mothers, and prostitutes — and she turns out to be just another princess in another castle, held captive by another monster, waiting for her knight to come and fill her belly with child. Which is exactly what happens, by the way: in the game’s bad/regular ending, it turns out she’s now raising your child on tales of your bravery.

The doctor's accusing eyes are a stand-in for how I feel.

Yep, we did it.

There are other irritating details, such as why women are the only ones in constant states of undress despite how undoubtedly cold it must become underground, but I’ll let those slide for now. After all, the point has been made: Last Light encourages its players to view all life as valuable and to feel empathy and generosity for all beings — at one point you even receive moral points for showing empathy for a hulking monster by letting it escape right after conducting a massive battle against it. And those are great themes for a game to have. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t seem to agree with its own message.

And that’s a damn shame.

Posted on May 21, 2013, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. Daniel Adamov

    Hmm.

    To be honest I do take some issue with the term “misogyny” as applied to such things, since to me it seems to imply some sort of active, conscious malice towards women. I rather doubt this was the case here, though: it just seems like a disappointingly juvenile slip, i.e. they were lazy rather than malicious and just didn’t think this through.

    Which is indeed a shame considering how serious this game is when dealing with other themes.

    • Oh, I think we’re in agreement. I only intended the term “misogyny” to apply to those folks who really don’t like discussing such things, and who swamp the comments sections of articles that do. Sorry for any confusion. =)

      I’m not under any illusions that Metro: Last Light is the most sexist thing ever. Quite the contrary — I’ve only bothered talking about it because the Metro series is so near and dear to my heart. And in a game that extols the virtue of being thoughtful, it’s a shame it doesn’t follow its own advice better.

  2. I too would take issue with the term “misogyny” applied to this game since it appears that the game writers fell asleep at the wheel when they got to the female characters but were not actively and consciously being malicious toward them. Luckily Thurot didn’t apply this term to the game and called it sexist instead, which from the article it clearly sounds like.

    These issues should be discussed but I find that the comment threads after such articles go to hyperbole and lead to nothing useful. Pointing out these stupid decisions that make games sexist is great, in a calm manner. At least some games right now are trying, like Tomb Raider. Hope games generally continue to improve.

    • Daniel Adamov

      Ahhh, yes. My apologies for not reading carefully enough, then – I’m afraid I’ve read too many comments threads where people seem to use those terms interchangeably, and assumed the worst. Saying it is sexist is fair enough.

      What gets me is that neither the brothel nor the love interest were necessarily bad ideas by themselves. It just seems like they put that in just because but then didn’t bother fleshing it out enough to make it seem believable. Which is simply bad writing independently of one’s opinions about sexism in video games, I think.

  3. There are rules to a lap-dance, like no touching. The woman is in charge.

    • Hi Leo. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. A few things:

      (1) There was already unwelcome touching. Rules violated.

      (2) What a wonderful way to use words to divert attention from what’s really going on.

      (3) The point is hardly the lap dance itself. Depending on whether you bother to pay for it, you’ll never even see that scene. The point is, the prostitute character doesn’t respond with annoyance, fear, or anger after being physically assaulted, and she isn’t portrayed as ignoring it out of fright or desperation. Rather, she just grins and offers you some sexy-time. Metro: Last Light already struggles with wooden characters, and when it comes to women, the problem is significantly compounded.

    • @Leo

      Is that seriously your point?

      Sincerely,
      ~Not a Douchebag

  4. Jar Jar is Dead

    Sad day. I was really excited to see where things went with last light. Sounds like there’s still a lot of good, theme-wise. But since the sexist undertones directly contradict the theme….seems like the game is a nice glass of milk with bile lurking at the bottom. =/ Bummer.

  5. Well put, The Innocent. I had hoped we would see something different from them (looking at history with women and wars in Russia etc), not the standard fare “if they agrue they will end up together” and “damsel in distress”, but no. Could have been cool to have the tables turned, though, perhaps? Or not… Ha!

    And dancing girls etc is one thing, but they way they handled it in the game was, well, let’s call it lacklustre. Still a good game, but marred by these issues. Had hoped for more, as I said, but I suppose such is the gaming world — it needs a woman’s touch, perhaps…

  6. I remember reading a thread about the sadly now-lost STALKER 2, and certain posters pleading for female stalkers to be included, but got the impression that there was no other reason than ‘skintight radiation suits’. STALKER avoided sexism/misogyny by completely removing women altogether, though it was thematically congruent: The Zone is a fenced-off and horribly dangerous place where people go largely through obligation or desperation, so it seems women have more sense than to risk being spun around and blown apart in an anomaly or gutted by a Snork.

    Metro sadly doesn’t have that option to omit, and falls down the sexy warrior/sexy plaything pit. Anna might as well be in a chainmail bikini. I have to agree with The Innocent: much as I love Last Light so far (not finished yet!), my spirits sank at the Venezia brothel. The Bolshoi can-can had a kind of madly grinning desperation to it, the glamour undermined by the grubbiness and the bargain-basement nature of the other acts (where do they still find all these stockings 20 years after Moscow was vaporised? Nylon’s pretty flammable), but the lapdancer made me embarrassed. I was hoping there’d be some subversion like Metro 2033′s big-boy-surprise mugging: maybe after a bit of grinding she turns her back to you and has radiation burns or mutation – but as far as I can tell it doesn’t even affect morality score. I’d love to know what exactly was in the design brief about that sequence, and whether it was put in under publisher pressure to tittillate the adolescent Call of Duty crowd.

    • Good thoughts, Anon!

      I’d like to know what was going on under the hood of that decision too. I’ve been informed by a fella over at Deep Silver that I missed the point of the lap dance scene, though I can’t for the life of me figure out how. I’m still waiting to hear a coherent explanation for it.

      I like your point about the nylon stockings, because other little things have bothered me too. For instance, by all accounts, the main diet of Metro-dwellers is mushrooms, pork, fish, rats, and mutant-meat (plus mushroom tea/vodka), so everyone’s got appropriately sallow faces and haggard bodies… except for the strippers, who without exception have glorious balloon-tits and healthy complexions. A scene in which Artyom is offered a lap dance and it turns out the stripper is jaundiced and sickly and desperate, would have actually fed into the theme by becoming yet another sobering example of how far humanity has fallen and how desperately it needs redemption.

      Instead, some of Space-Biff!’s top search hits are now “anna metro last light topless” and “metro last light tits.”

  7. Doesn’t Artyom get captured at least three times….and rescued by others at least twice. Yet this doesn’t diminish his character at all in your eyes. Anna is taken hostage after being seriously wounded in an assault that nearly kills Artyom. Suddenly all her other achievements/backstory is void. She’s just a silly princess now. You rescue the Communist at one point too, and he actually uses words to the effect of ‘Save me, your my only hope’. But again you didn’t mention him as being diminished by this.

    Rather than writing articles accusing game designers of misogyny, maybe you should be taking a hard look at yourself since the fact female (but not male) characters who stumble or fail even once are automatically downgraded to damsel in distress/objectified male-fantasy in your eyes would suggest your doing some serious projecting of your own subconscious onto these characters, then having the gall to accuse the people who wrote and designed them of harbouring a hatred of women.

    Where I’m from, that’s called hypocrisy.

    • They use the word “hypocrisy” over-quickly where you’re from, mate.

      If you’re really convinced there’s a parallel between the under-developed character of Anna, whose sole role in the story other than a cameo at the start is to get captured, saved, and sexed, and the protagonist who spends at least 15 hours getting developed, then you’re one of THOSE internet people.

      Where I’m from, we call them “pigs.”

      • To be fair, our bold anonymous poster has a point: when protagonist Artyom was captured after ten minutes of screen time, given no active role in his rescue, had unexpected gratitude sex with his savior in order to slip a nipple in there, and then conveniently disappeared from the story even though all the big heroic men were going off to war, it not only made perfect sense, but also contextualized the previously-problematic lap dance scene as subtle and appropriate.

        Oh. Hm. Maybe not the best comparison.

        As I’ve already said, I’m not accusing the developers of misogyny. I don’t believe they’re “harbouring a hatred of women.” Rather, I’m arguing that Last Light contributes (most likely through carelessness) to the fairly widespread problem that games treat women differently from men, and in a negative way. There are plenty of worse offenders, but I found Last Light’s treatment of women particularly disappointing because it does so much more than most games, preaching tolerance, understanding, and equality. Unfortunately, it then implies by action that only men and mutants are really worthy of equal consideration.

        Feel free to disagree, but actual discussion will take you much further than silly insults and assumptions.

  8. Another thing that dismayed me was the way that we are automatically expected to somehow feel positive towards Anna, enough to buy into sexy time scene. Why? Because pretty-girl. Personally I loathed her from first meeting her: I found her an obnoxious strident bigot, and was fully anticipating to be put in a moral dilemma situation where I’d have to shoot either her or the infant Black One. As I was one of apparently tiny minority who got ‘Enlightened’ ending of Metro 2033 first playthrough, I would have had no hesitation in painting the side of a bus with her brains to save the last helpless victim of Artyom’s home-made genocide.

    • Good points! Early on, I assumed the same thing about Anna and some upcoming moral dilemma, and I was completely prepared to put two into her head for humanity’s and the Dark Ones’ sake.

      I also struggled with similar thoughts on the sex scene: not only was I surprised by the sudden kissy-time, but I didn’t really want to get down with Anna. Someone argued that she and Artyom had been quarantined together for a week, during which time they would have talked and gotten to know one another a bit better, but to me that doesn’t properly stand in for character-building, because it doesn’t change the fact that I — the player — had only been with her for all of ten minutes. Being told “Okay, now you guys are totes in love” isn’t the same as watching that relationship transform and grow from irritation to comradeship to something more. Even if I were to accept that scene as appropriate to Artyom’s character and the situation, it was still deeply silly and horribly paced.

      • Very much yes. Frankly I would have been less jarred by Pavel putting a hand on my knee than when Anna went goo-goo eyed at me, bearing in mind how much more we had been through and bonded over. Pavel’s betrayal felt far more affecting, and the resolution of his and Artyom’s story more ambivalent, than anything to do with Anna. But I guess the games industry isn’t quite grown up enough for that yet.

        I still wonder just how much of the blame for Last Light’s odd treatment of women can be laid at Deep Silver’s door. I know they only took over from THQ in the final stages, but their hopeless idiocy over the ‘Dead Island Riptide Zombie Bait statue’ makes me mistrust anything they now offer. Any luck finding out what, if any, justification has been offered for the lapdance scene? I’d be interested to see what the current PR euphemisms are for ‘prurience’ and ‘titillation’ :(

        DLC announcement just out too – Anna gets her very own side mission, apparently! So in the interests of balance, will her tale involve being dry-humped by a buff dude in a PVC posing pouch? Or making sexytime with a character we’ve only known for 5 minutes, his polygon scrotum swaying on our monitors before the scene fades?

  9. What are you all a bunch of bible thumpers and sexists? When everyone is living in a Metro hiding from mutants is there no sex and nudity allowed? I’m pretty sure all the game is trying to convey is that the people huddled underground from the outside are doing their best to make sure what the now call home is just like how home was on the surface. Venice is just one of those towns that had entertainment and a strip joint. If everyone is so butt hurt over this then start telling off every strip joint owner or any theater owner that has showgirls. Honestly I thought it was pretty cool that Venice had a theater and a strip joint. It wasnt because I saw some women in lingerie or saw some tits but rather because there was finally a town that wasn’t just a bunch of shacks and people selling guns and ammo. There was a night life and entertainment. I thought it was cool, maybe I’m the only one.

    Then the whole Anna thing.. Honestly I knew from the get go that her and Artyom were goinv to hook up because if that was never an intention in the plot you would have been rolling out to get the Dark One with some dude with scars all over him. In a world where every single soldier is a male and where they protect women for the better of the human race there is no reason that you would meet a female sniper and go on a mission with her other than for Artyom and her to end up having feelings for eachother. I’m fine with this. You are just grabbing her and raping her. The two of them found comfort in eachother and decided to get it on. Big deal.

    Anyways what I’m trying to get to.. Games are a lot like movies nowadays in that they try to tell a good story rather then just running around and shooting for no reason like the good ‘ol days. If Metro Last Light was a movie no one would be saying anything about sexism and nudity but since its a game everyone is complaining about it. You saw the rating on the box and whybit was rated that way just like a movie. If you have a movie you dont want to see or dont want your children to see because of the rating then you dont watch it. Why is it that with video games no such concept applies and people end up making a blog about how every game on the planet needs to be made to E rating requirements. You saw the rating, you knew what you were getting yourself into, no its not sexist.

    • Hi ACH91332, thanks for weighing in. Unfortunately, a lot of what you’re saying is the very definition of either “sexist” or “ignorant.” Let’s take a look.

      “What are you all a bunch of bible thumpers and sexists?”
      I don’t believe you know what a “sexist” is. “Sexism” is prejudice, discrimination, or stereotyping based on sex. And when I say “sex,” I’m not referring to that unbelievably amazing act between human beings that I hope one day you’ll get to enjoy; rather, in this context you can think of “sex” much like “gender” (they’re distinct, but we’ll leave that for another time), and “sexism” is generally directed at women. Talking about sex in media does not make a person a “sexist.” On the other hand, expecting a female character to put out for no reason other than that she’s a female is the very definition of sexist.

      When everyone is living in a Metro hiding from mutants is there no sex and nudity allowed?
      Ever since I began talking about the problems with sexism in Metro: Last Light, I’ve noticed a distressingly strong correlation between poor reading comprehension and misogyny. As I’ve mentioned multiple times, I have absolutely no problem with the existence of a strip club in the Venice station. I have no problem with prostitution being in the game. It is, as you say, realistic, and I value the attempt. What I do have a problem with is that it’s handled so poorly. For one thing, if “realism” is the goal, then you must allow that the game’s strippers are hardly accurate depictions of what real non-idealized women look like, especially malnourished and living underground as they are. It’s also not “realistic” for a woman, even a sex worker, to get violently shushed by someone she doesn’t know and hasn’t approved for touching, and then to offer him sexual services with nothing more than a giggle. If you really believe either of these points service the “realism” you seem to value, then I struggle to believe you’ve conversed at length with any actual females.

      Then the whole Anna thing.. Honestly I knew from the get go that her and Artyom were goinv to hook up because if that was never an intention in the plot you would have been rolling out to get the Dark One with some dude with scars all over him.
      The very fact that you “knew from the get go” that Artyom and Anna were going to hook up, merely because she was a female character, is indeed sexist, and it’s sadly indicative of the twin tragedies that the media so often portrays women as little more than cattle to be traded and used up at a man’s whim, and that you’ve personally been trained by society to the point that you’re incapable of instinctively recognizing that this isn’t appropriate. Out of curiosity, let’s run three quick thought experiments:
      (1) What if Anna had been dog ugly, as opposed to being a stereotypical tough-but-soft dream-girl? Would you have still considered that sex scene appropriate given the circumstances?
      (2) What if Anna was already in a committed relationship, and not with you? What if she was primarily characterized by being professional and capable, much like the other soldiers in the game, rather than by her sexual needs? Would it have been fine for her to not have sex with Artyom?
      (3) What if the sniper character had been “some dude with scars all over him,” and he and Artyom had engaged in sexual intercourse because they were “finding comfort in each other”? Would the love scene have still been appropriate in your eyes?
      Answering “no” to any one of these questions reveals a lot about how our expectations have been shaped by society, and not in positive ways.

      In a world where every single soldier is a male and where they protect women for the better of the human race there is no reason that you would meet a female sniper and go on a mission with her other than for Artyom and her to end up having feelings for eachother.
      Well, my first feeling is that the reason me and a female sniper would go on a mission together would be to, um, successfully complete the mission, not assume I’m entitled to sex because I’ve spent all of fifteen minutes with her. But then again, I don’t think of women as chattel.

      I’m fine with this.
      I know, and that’s profoundly disturbing.

      Games are a lot like movies nowadays in that they try to tell a good story rather then just running around and shooting for no reason like the good ‘ol days.
      Precisely. Which is why I wrote a well-received five-part series explaining the themes of the original Metro 2033. That game was surprisingly mature and forward-thinking for a video game, which is the very reason I’m disappointed with Last Light’s treatment of women, which is anything but “mature” or “forward-thinking.”

      If Metro Last Light was a movie no one would be saying anything about sexism and nudity but since its a game everyone is complaining about it.
      The fact that you aren’t aware of the constant stream of ongoing discussion about sexism in film indicates a whole lot about how little you read, and not very much at all about the existence of said discussion. Also, I’d like to point out that most films don’t run beyond two hours; Metro: Last Light has the benefit of lasting around ten, which is plenty of time to develop its sole female character into more than a sex object. Which it does not.

      You saw the rating, you knew what you were getting yourself into, no its not sexist.
      I’m genuinely baffled by what you’re trying to say here. Sexism and the game’s rating exist independently from one another. Last Light was rated “mature” for blood, drug reference, intense violence, nudity, sexual themes, strong language, and the use of alcohol, none of which give me pause when used to further the story. What you’re arguing for would have required an “immature” rating for a stilted and backwards view of gender relations.

      • Fuckin’ amen!

      • Hey, I just stumbled onto your site after playing Last Light in order to catch up on the story, which after reading your synopsis seems very interesting and nuanced, that I missed out on in the original and after reading through your article and these comments I felt like I have to give my two cents.
        I have to say that the scene with the sex worker didn’t seem sexist to me in the least. Admittedly my experience with prostitutes is non existent but I would imagine that a woman in that position, especially in a society like the one presented in the game, would be inured to such behaviour and would, perhaps, be able to use it to her advantage. If one was so inclined you could take that lack of fear as a sign of strength, or weary acceptance hidden behind a pleasing facade, but either way it is up for interpretation. The only problem I had with this article was the tone. It felt that you were saying that your interpretation was the only one.

        In regards to Anna, I found it somewhat ham handed in the way they handled the relationship between her and Artoym. There did seem to be a lack of development between the two but that has to be understood within the limits of the medium. It really does take a game like Bioshock Infinite or The Last of US, a game where you spend a significant amount of time with the other character in order to have a believable relationship of any kind. Your problems with the tutorial portion of the game is in the same vein. It was strained and forced but necessary for the both the narrative and new comers. The “save the princess” trope is a common one in video games and your problem seems to be that she has sex with the protagonist after too short a period of time. That’s a legitimate critique but would you level it at Mario, or Mass Effect? Forgetting for a second that this is fiction, would you level it at a real woman? I don’t think you intended this but it seems like you are in support of a check list in video games, rather than free expression. By check list I mean certain things have to be presented in a certain way, either in order to avoid offence or to appeal to a larger audience, in order for something to be considered brilliant or well done. That’s a legitimate view but it is not mine.

        Anyway, I have enjoyed your site and I really appreciated your synopsis of Metro 2033.
        Vale

      • Thanks for your thoughtful input, Chris/Vale. Definitely some good points to consider!

  10. Metro Last Light, a game based loosely on a novel Metro 2034. Written by a Russian Author, A game created by a Russian Game development studio.

    My first problem is that you seem to be trying to implement your own beliefs of your culture onto another country, a country with there own culture, this is the very definition of Ignorance. But i digress.

    Metro is about a surviving populous, huddled in the Metro of Moscow, there are fighters, but guess what, it’s based on a book, something you seem to completely overlooked. As you have mentioned, it could easily and plausibly be imagined that in a situation like this, roles come to play that have not been needed for centuries. To keep a populous growing, women are needed.

    Just like in times of past, it was very VERY rare to find women who were taught the art of fighting. Why is it so strange here?

    Anna- Of course Anna was a love interest, Last Light deviated from the book, 2034, and changed the story, what else would she be added for, they wanted a way for Artoym to continue his linage, more than likely for a squeal.

    Now to my biggest problem of this “article”;

    “Last Light reduces its women to — pardon the word — a pair of tits.”

    This is because of Artoym walking through changing rooms to get around? Stripping these women of dignity as you call it, of course ignoring that no other Male’s are involved. But please let me go back to comparing the metro setting to Medievil settings.

    What was the most popular business for women back then? It sure as hell wasn’t fighting, prostitution was huge back then, what a surprise that it is also here. Even ignoring that the game is made and set in Russia, a country that has a thriving prostitution/Red light district.

    This article once again proves that when Sexism is brought to the table, people put there culture first, and never bother looking at the culture they are criticising so heavily, you never see Feminists lobbying for change in the middle east, or East Europe. Its always there back yard they want to change.

    • The best thing about this “article” (because putting it in quotation marks is the bestest insult) is that it brings no shortage of ignorant assholes out of the woodwork. Entertainment for months!

    • digitalpariah76

      “this is the very definition of Ignorance” – Well, before pulling that one out, I’d be sure to proofread your own comment first. Sheesh.

  11. That’s a simple minded article.

    First, the strippers are a drop of water in the ocean of women you can find in both Metro games, almost all of them as much dressed, desperate and pitiful as men are, in that harsh post-apocalyptic world.

    Second, even if I do love the idea in other worlds, the lack of women as important characters isn’t shocking either, in a world revolving around harsh survival and brutality. Sorry, but that’s not a heroic-fantasy story, it’s a realistic nuclear post-apo one, set in a very specific context.

    Basically, that’s a non-problem, fantasied by naive and simplistic individuals.
    A lot of games are worthy of such criticisms. Not that one, period.

    • This is one of those beautiful moments where you’ve perfectly expressed your own problem: “naive and simplistic.” Y’know, since you apparently don’t know how to read or think critically.

      First, the author of this article didn’t have a problem with the presence of strippers. In fact, he wrote, “I find it neither surprising nor worrisome that, within the fiction, a metro station run by criminal gangs should house a booming sex industry.” Try again.

      Second, the author also mentions that he had no problem with the first game’s lack of women. Rather, the problem was with Last Light’s TREATMENT of its singular female character, in such a way that it — despite your protestations — is very much a Male Heroic Fantasy. What “realistic nuclear post-apo” story requires a woman to act tough but actually be weak, exist only to be rescued, hand out thank-you sex upon being saved, and step out of the limelight right at the story’s crescendo? Answer: a sexist one.

      The fact that you can’t see the problem only shows that you can’t see the problem, not that there isn’t one. It also means you score a zero for reading comprehension and empathy, period.

      • Alright, thanks for replying, now is the time for a reality check.

        The author begins his article emphasizing that “Anna is the first female character to have a name in Metro LL”, and immediately jumps to that great conclusion: he’s going to talk about sexism. Implying that this very fact alone already is sexist.
        Note to self: when writing a book or a game, if there isn’t enough women characters, my work is sexist, and so am I.
        Where’s the link between the two? No reasonable mind knows. But here, just right here is the dismissal of your claim that he doesn’t have a problem with the lack of noticeable women.
        To be fair and honest, the author later on states that he didn’t take offense that the sole named woman in Metro 2033 was a prostitute, but hey, it’s not my fault if he’s incoherent, I didn’t write his article. He did. And this opening set the tone for the entire article afterward and incite to distrust.

        Next.
        He states his opinion that Metro is one of the most “moral” games (and I do agree indeed), and immediately opposes that idea to the fact that the game is promoting sexist sceneries.
        Wait. A game’ universe well thought, trying to be realistic, showing cruelty and mercy, treason and friendship, vice and honorability, xenophobia and social equality, gratuitous violence and true benevolence, nudity and sobriety, hatred and maternal love, fascist and communist ideals, is also showing sexism, a well known and unfortunate but real trait of our societies, as real as the formers are?
        No way. That’s crossing a line, dude.

        Stop. I see you coming. Nope, I’m not missing the point that “the criticism is about the game being sexist, not the game’ universe being sexist”. Indeed, I get the point. But the criticism is wrong, because he’s seeing sexist depictions where there isn’t any.
        Here’s why.

        1) The author thinks that the depiction of grinning, near-naked women walking by the player, without blushing or hiding away, is something wrong and sexist. In his mind, that’s picturing women as mere toys for the men (and male players) to peep at.
        And that’s simpleminded and ignorant. These women are sex workers, met on their field, at their work. There’s no shame involved, no privacy issue. It’s something normal to them. To be convinced of that, you should consider a trip to the Netherlands, to see by yourself how things really are in such a world. You wouldn’t even need to enter a brothel, just to look around and through the large windows freely opened on some of the streets. The canals are beautiful too, and it’s a cycling heaven (especially when it’s sunny).
        I’ll say it again, the crushing majority of women in both Metro games are clothed and behaving the same way men are. The author makes his character enter what is probably the only strip club underneath, and is shocked to see naked women walking around. Man, it have to be sexism.
        *This* reasoning, is wrong. Because as I said in my first comment, it’s naive and simplistic (with just a bit of sparkles of prudity added on the top, for the flavour).

        2) The author thinks that there is something wrong and sexist in the depiction of Artyom “forcibly hushing a prostitute that then flirt with him like nothing happened”.
        She’s a stripper, borderline prostitute, in a harsh world. That’s her work, to her, Artyom is just a client looking for a girl. The author said it himself, she’s not involved in the storyline and couldn’t know that he’s grabbing her in fear of being discovered. She’s treating him as a client. No more, no less.

        The way it happen is violent? The Metro universe is violent, people struggle to survive in a near-lawless world, where might is right.
        In this regard, the author surprisingly doesn’t raise an eyebrow over the fact that the people of the Metro are similarly violent in their non-sexual relationships. Colleagues, friends, unknowns yell at, insult, slap each other, for various reasons, without turning them into foes.
        In Venice, just a couple cars away from that poor stripper, a man is peacefully being molested and victim of an extorsion by two bandits, almost in the open, with no-one caring. Is it less violent?
        If those things ain’t worth a similar criticism, does it mean that such behaviour is to be praised in real life? Or is it simply a depiction of a violent world, where laws and civil rights are no more?

        Contrary to the author’ words, Last Light doesn’t “reduces its women to a pair of tits”. A mere handful of them are using their pair of tits as a mean to make a living. That’s all. Such generalization at this point is dishonest.

        3) The author claims that Anna is just there to be a love affair.
        Maybe she is. So what? Hunter is just there to be a mentor to Artyom, and so is Khan. Mentors, lovers, treacherous former friends, companions, nemesis, these kind of character tricks are classic rules in literature. The same would apply with a female player character and her lover.
        Unfortunately, this is much, much rarer, because this genre of game is mainly played by males, and thus developers usually favour these choices. It saddens me, but that’s how it is.

        Yes, Anna could totally have been more developed as a character. She isn’t (for reasons unknown to us – is it developement time pressure, lack of space or opportunity in the scenario, voluntary choice?). We can regret it (I do), but it doesn’t make the game sexist. Narratively simplistic? Maybe. Taking advantage of a male marketshare? Probably. But sexist? Please.
        Terms lose their meaning when you reinterpret them so lightheartedly. And it doesn’t give justice to people actually suffering from sexism.

        4) The author raises an “irritating detail”, about women sometimes being lightly clothed, despite the assumed cold.
        Firstly, those are as rare as lightly clothed men.
        Secondly, that’s a bit off-topic, but as a urban explorer and mainly an underground tunnel/quarry walker, I can tell you, it isn’t necessarily *that* cold underneath. Temperatures often are stable because such an environment is deeply burrowed and thus well insulated, and it would even be relatively cosy in inhabited areas such as Metro stations/cities, thanks to the warmth from human activities, animal bodies, fires, machines, etc., preserved by the aforementioned insulation.

        Note that I’m often irritated by the stereotypical armoured women in heroic-fantasy, for example. Y’a know, surprisingly missing vital protection over the thigh, belly, breast or hips. But fortunately, their arms and legs (up to the knees) won’t ever get harmed.

        Now, it would be dishonest to claim that nearly-naked women are just there, and act the way they act, because it looks and feels realistic.
        Of course these things are also added knowing that it pleases a lot of male players. It may be deemed an easy and lowly choice from the developers, but that’s not a sign of sexism.
        Sexism is a discrimination. What we’re talking about here, in the end, is the natural appeal of female bodies to hetero/bi males (which are the leading marketshare of FPS games, as I stated earlier). There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. And to be honest, Metro games keep that at the minimum level and get it pretty well implemented.

        The arguments of the author are either flawed or ignorant. That’s why I claimed this article to be naive and simpleminded. Hope you understand my point of view now.

        Want a good review about the morals in MLL? Here’s one I found an hour ago:
        http://www.vg247.com/2013/03/26/metro-last-light-has-earned-its-mature-rating/

        This is the example of a short review that gets the point of MLL.
        And thanks to your reply, I also gave a look to the 5-chapters review of Metro 2033 from The Innocent. It’s quite good.

        Hey, by the way, I was one of the 3,9% of players (according to the statistics provided by the author) able to unlock the “good”, moral ending in Metro 2033, on my first try, without even knowing there was one.
        Does it mean my rotten, sexist and immoral soul isn’t *that* rotten afterall, and that I still hold some good deeply burrowed in me? :o

        Many kisses and hugs.

  12. maybe devs aimed at creating a game with moral choices, even if they as persons don’t care at all about moral choices, and maybe they didn’t think about the possible sexism in the game.. who knows..
    (maybe next game will be non sexist and with moral choices…if it sells more..)

  13. Very interesting article, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I loved the first game, read the book, and have just started Last Light. I was browsing the Metro subreddit when I came across this image: http://i.imgur.com/Qr84vGm.jpg?1 – Glukhovsky himself sharing a screenshot of one of the lapdancers, and when someone wonders “what the feminists will think” he dismisses it with “feminists did not survive the nuclear holocaust”. It’s a pity to see attitudes like this toward women in a game that otherwise seems to have a lot to say about morality and ethics, as you note.

  14. theinoffensiveparadox

    Read all the arguements and I just facepalm…
    okay we get it, sexism isn’t okay, but your playing the game wrong. Just sit down and enjoy it and the experience. I don’t know how people get so flustered over such a little thing. The author says there is a little sexism and he’s right, good conversation starts about the issue, but then a anti-sexism fanatic sees the word sexism (probably google searches the word just to find threads to rant on). I think someone mentioned hyperbole earlier?
    Anyways, the ranter probably doesn’t know what it means since they spend more time reading feminism weekly instead of a dictionary. Simply put, its called blowing things out of proportion.

    Anyways, thought the games were great, main female roles were sloppy but non-essential background female roles seemed pretty accurate and well done. If you have a problem with the woman arytom actually interacts with just keep in mind he doesn’t have as much interactions with woman since he’s running for his life through the metro or fighting a war against Nazis and Reds. He doesn’t have time for that. With his life he was lucky even to get a quicky from the NPC (who was conveniently placed there). Personally I would have preferred that the girl had stuck around and had this whole bonding struggle for survival. Would have been more interesting than the a cliche damsel in distress.

    So theres my bit. Interesting article, like the game, this issue was probably just an oversight on a long awaited game. However think of all the cool stuff we couldnt have gone through if we were tagged along by a snide sniper chick the whole game. Flip side of that it would have been fun trying to sneak two people through tight situations as well

  15. Its really a shame that they put sex or nudity in video games at all. What a bunch of horn-dog perves, man. Why instill these themes in games, I mean whats the point? Is there a purpose or a cause? To get a woody next to your pal watching the game? Why ruin the game with silly animated girls getting naked? Why make women, in games, always out to be a sleeze or whore? What does that say about how the designer views women? It sounds like you have ulterior motives for putting that in there in the first place. Its a GAME. Its distasteful and unnecessary, really. Even the extreme profanity that’s crept in the games are “nails on a chalkboard” to the ears.

    Games like Turok (N64), Quake and Unreal never needed sex to be good. Despite the profanity, Condemned, Singularity, Bulletstorm, and Rage were better games without sex. Just making a point…..

    I would say, as far as post-apocalyptic games in the first person, Fallout 3 tops Metro in everyway.

    I wonder if the designer of these games that place sex in their finished product are chronic masturbators or porn fanatics. The quality of games are similar to that of animated cartoons. Anyone that creates a character and places sex upon them is mental motive-questionable and shouldn’t be making games under that mindset and shouldn’t be placing that on people. There’s enough sex in society. I think there should be a law against designers creating a game with a set of blue testes. Later

  16. Just played this game through, it’s great, cracking graphics, no “misogyny”, no “sexism” and no amount of far left wing circle jerk navel gazing means it is. Denying people jobs or paying them less because they are female is sexist and wrong, desperately seeking sexism is every single bit of media you consume to underline your “oh so liberal” credentials is pathetic. Yes, we get it, you are all wonderfully open minded, look at you all standing up for teh womenz when you’re not even one, well done. Maybe if you all club together you can ban something. Yawn.

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on Metro: Last Light | SPACE-BIFF!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 105 other followers

%d bloggers like this: