Vampires have been such a staple of modern media that it’s weird to think that some could have a skewed mind about what they do. I’m sure if you talk to girls of a certain age, the only exposure they’ve had to a vampire is that of a certain Mr. Edward Cullen: A vampire who can walk around in the daylight and is never seen to feed. Quick lesson about Vampires as a fictional being: They feed off the blood of others, typically by biting their neck, to restore energy or to turn someone into one of them. Now we’re all clear on that, lets take a look at Castlevania Lords of Shadow 2: A game where you play as Dracula – the guy we think of when we hear the word ‘Vampire’.
Some members of the press has been shown the game before it’s release next month and are picking up on a feeding scene. After the first section of the game, Dracula awakens and is weak. He stumbles around and comes across a room with a scared family inside. To progress you have to regain energy which, because you’re a vampire, involves feeding off of prey: The Family. The game turns first person and you pick off the father, mother and the daughter – although the daughter is bitten off screen. Eurogamer describes the scene as “uncomfortable, sure to shock, and [..] pretty clever” and understands that the sequence is there to tell the player that Dracula is not a good guy. You are in control of a bad person. The description of the scene in Eurogamer’s preview isn’t all too huge and goes on to talk about other things discussed in the meeting. It’s sister publication, USgamer, decided to take a different tack though. It decided to base their whole preview on this one scene and on how a weak vampire feeding on prey is tantamount to rape.
“Sexualized imagery is nothing new in vampire fiction” Very true. Often vampires are seen as womanisers and something to be desired. “But this scene is kind of stunning for how blatant it is with its allusions to rape” okay, hold on, now you’re getting a little too far ahead. The scene that has been described in previews by Eurogamer, Gamesradar and Destructoid is one of Dracula feeding off of innocent victims, not rape. The article then goes on to draw comparisons between the scene and the boxart of RapeLay. Yes, you know the one. The game which has you raping a mother and daughter at a Japanese subway. Of course the two are the same, how silly of me thinking it was just a normal vampire trope that has been used since vampires were introduced into the written medium. The article continues with the author saying that the scene made her uncomfortable, but she has to applaud the team for taking on challenging material. Well, alls well that ends well then. You didn’t like a scene and it made you uncomfortable which was exactly the desired effect. Well done to the development team for correctly portraying what you wanted. I mean, it’s not like you’d then call for the scene to be removed, right? Oh..
The article ends with the author doing something that I – as a “journalist” myself – will never do. It calls for the developers to cut the scene. I know my place in this hierarchy: I write about games, I don’t make them. If I don’t like something in a game then I’ll say that I don’t like it. I won’t then try and create a campaign decrying the scene and that it needs to be removed. I’ve once wrote about how people cry for games to be accepted as an artistic medium, but that won’t happen because of how people react to certain scenes – scenes exactly like this. If this scene was in a film, then no one would bat an eyelid. But the fact that we’re doing it in a game is what makes the fiction such heresy? No. I’m sorry but no. You are not the developer – You are not the one with the creative vision for that game – You are not the person who calls the shots. You are a journalist writing facts – except in this case the facts are skewed. Dave Cox – the producer of the Lords of Shadow series – has taken to Twitter to say that all press saw the same build, where it’s not just the female characters who are fed on. But USgamer is trying to state that it’s just the women and that’s why the scene is inherently rape-y. I know who I’m going to believe: The guy involved with showing this game to the press and not the journalist who used a whole preview to show off their own agenda.
Will the scene – the scene of a vampire doing what a vampire does – be removed? Well, you just have to ask Dave Cox about that.