Square Enix Uninterested in "Sexy Nun"-Style Controversy

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Square Enix Uninterested in "Sexy Nun"-Style Controversy

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The controversy created by Hitman: Absolution's "Attack of the Saints" trailer wasn't the sort of attention that Square Enix was looking for.

You probably remember the Hitman: Absolution trailer with the squad of sexy nun assassins, and you probably remember the uproar that followed it, and you probably remember IO Interactive claiming, in all seriousness, that it did not see the controversy coming. That may be a bit hard to swallow but Square Enix Marketing Director Cord Smith insists that the publisher was caught by surprise too, at least in part because the creative team was focused on the specifics of advertising guidelines, which left it doing things like painting latex bondage gear onto exposed backsides.

"It's hard for any of us being immersed in a world or a creative field or a particular project to pull yourself out of that bubble," he said at the International Game Summit in Montreal. "But when you do try to see an asset like that with fresh eyes and say, 'What if you knew nothing about this? How you would react?' And it was only at that point I think we looked at it and [understood]."

The net result of the furor wasn't necessarily good or bad for the game, but while there may be no such thing as bad press, Smith said this wasn't the sort of attention Square Enix was interested in. "In general, you'd imagine any controversy provides increased awareness of the game's existence," he continued. "So if you're just looking from an awareness standpoint, maybe it's helpful in spite of the tone of some of the comments and debates that went on. But I don't think it was something we would want to exploit, that sort of awareness. It's a difficult thing from a public relations side. Do you try to dispel it or provide people with enough context to have a more educated conversation about it? Or do you kind of let it burn out?"

IO Interactive did take a bit of stab at the "educated conversation" route, explaining shortly after the trailer hit that it was aiming for a sort of grindhouse vibe with the trailer and that a lack of context also worked against it. It also quickly apologized for the whole thing, but hunkering down and waiting for it to blow over hasn't worked out very well either; Forbes published an interview with a former stripper yesterday who questioned the practicality of platform stilettos in combat and described the trailer as "an excuse to show violence against women by making them the initiators of violence."

Source: GamesIndustry

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Chicks get their barely-legal teenage sparkly vampire/werewolf romance-porn, can't guys just get to imagine being a bald badass that requires an army of sexy nuns to take down without hearing how our escapism is the one that is somehow destroying society and oppressing a gender?

I am not an animal!

So a random STRIPPER is suppose to be taken as a credible source?

Maybe she's just mad that her pimp doesn't move like The Man does.

Best way a publisher can react to this sort of thing? Just - fucking - ignore it! Seriously, it's the attention that fuels these people.
Imagine this going down:
-Your trailer is highly offensive!
>Why?
-...Why?... Because... Religious connotations, and sexual themes, and violence all at the same time!
>So?

Seriously, some people just want something to be offended about, and words like "why?" and "so?" are like kryptonite to them.

I too never understood the controversy, mostly because I'm familiar with the series but still, it's not like they're actual nuns, as I'm rather certain nuns aren't allowed to attempt murder.
Or the fact that they are very clearly trained assassins and thus a threat worthy of Forty Seven's talents at the murdering.

TopazFusion:
Lets be honest here.

If it was a female assassin doing battle with a bunch of guys disguised as priests, no one would have batted an eye.

..depends if they are overly sexualised priests. Through this ad, a average gamer who has never played this game only sees stripper nuns. Not a great first image for a assassination game and not what the developer should have advertised as a feature. Lets face it, if they just stuck with the nun thing and not gone with the stripper route, I doubt that most people will have a problem.

Anyway, my view is the same as ever. Stupid advertisement, publisher and developer faced consequences for it. Lessons are learned and the world keeps on spinning.

TopazFusion:
Lets be honest here.

If it was a female assassin doing battle with a bunch of guys disguised as priests, no one would have batted an eye.

...naked, sleek and muscular priests wearing nothing but swim wear and kinky fetish outfits I'd hope...

Anywho, uhh...yeah, when I got started with Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and was playing the Redemption church finale mission (which was a terrific way to bring the story arc full circle), I totally remember thinking, "you know what this grim and darkly satisfying ending to this epic tale of realism, stealth, international adventure and neck-slitting needs? Tits. Nun tits, specifically. Nun tits concealed behind cunningly designed fetish-outfits and tight black leather."

Can't have a good game without 'em these days!

Can we chalk the marketing, and a few other decisions, up to a simple case of the stupids? It happens to everyone. I don't find the trailer, or the context of those nun/hooker/assassins in the game, to either be interesting, sexual, funny, or edgy. Just dumb. Pure and simple dumbness.

A poorly thought-out advertisement for a game? Stop the presses.

Yeah It was stupid but people should just let it go. Judging by their repeated statements, I guess they have learned their lessons too. I hope.

1. I brought popcorn everyone, enjoy.

2.

"an excuse to show violence against women by making them the initiators of violence."

I read the interview:
1. She does voice her views a bit more eloquent than that, claiming that maybe the depiction of strippers in particular as victims of violence may have been a little ill-chosen, seeing as female strippers in particulare are often the victims of violent attacks.
It's not simply about women getting beaten up but more about strippers getting beaten up.
But I guess that wouldn't have made for as catchy a quote.

2. Asking her about the practicality of stripper outfits for assassinations, wielding guns in public and whether being a stripper prepares one for the life of an assassin is hilarious and kinda stupid.

I don't care. I've completely stopped caring. I'm tired of people bitching about every little thing. So what? They had form fitting faux-bondage gear (it was not restrictive enough nor contained enough straps for me to consider it true bondage gear), they were an artistic choice, they're not real, it's just a game, so on... I just don't care. Enjoy the game. Don't enjoy the game. Dismiss all the work they put into it simply on an aesthetic choice. It's an opinion, not a controversy.

Can we talk about something important?

itchcrotch:
Best way a publisher can react to this sort of thing? Just - fucking - ignore it! Seriously, it's the attention that fuels these people.
Imagine this going down:
-Your trailer is highly offensive!
>Why?
-...Why?... Because... Religious connotations, and sexual themes, and violence all at the same time!
>So?

Seriously, some people just want something to be offended about, and words like "why?" and "so?" are like kryptonite to them.

How about: Because it's dumb and needlessly provocative?

I've seen nuns portrayed worse in anime from the 80's and 90's and no one gave a two rats and a shit about it then. Why are we suddenly shocked over it now? People need to chill and find their funny bone again.

DVS BSTrD:

itchcrotch:
Best way a publisher can react to this sort of thing? Just - fucking - ignore it! Seriously, it's the attention that fuels these people.
Imagine this going down:
-Your trailer is highly offensive!
>Why?
-...Why?... Because... Religious connotations, and sexual themes, and violence all at the same time!
>So?

Seriously, some people just want something to be offended about, and words like "why?" and "so?" are like kryptonite to them.

How about: Because it's dumb and needlessly provocative?

If we didn't do anything that was dumb or provocative there wouldn't be a video game industry.

With all due respect, I think that women (or at least, specific women) being the initiators of violence is a pretty good excuse for violence against [those] women.

Make what you will of the sexy nun nonsense; if women are going to be the pro/ant-agonists of violent games, they're going to be subject to violence.

There is nothing wrong about nuns with guns in games, just as there is nothing wrong with this:


or this:

If you don't like it you don't have to watch it or buy the product, but get the f%# over it already and stop complaining.

For that matter if the game turned out to be bad, I'm rather sure it's not because they missed the proper dresscode for assassin nuns, but because of gameplay and game design decisions.
How about articles start picking up and discussing that instead, for instance a comparison between the earlier Hitman games and this newest one and which of the streamlined features and small, linear levels made the game any better?

For that matter, there's apparently also a movie called "Nude Nuns with Big Guns" from two years ago and I haven't seen the movie industry go up in flames over it, although it's rating seems to point out that it wasn't very good: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1352388/

Callate:
With all due respect, I think that women (or at least, specific women) being the initiators of violence is a pretty good excuse for violence against [those] women.

Make what you will of the sexy nun nonsense; if women are going to be the pro/ant-agonists of violent games, they're going to be subject to violence.

It's good to remember that the story does not have autonomous will - everything scripted that happens, happens because the writer says so. These nuns might have violence visited on them because they are the antagonists in a violent game, but the game's devs are still responsible for making them the antagonists, and consequently having them be the subject of lethal violence.

That said: this looks to be a relatively simple case of the stupids. They pushed their existing style of humour, and failed to take a step back, and realise that their creation was stupid, offensive, and plainly incomprehensible. Not like that never happens to anyone creative.

Nurb:

DVS BSTrD:

itchcrotch:
Best way a publisher can react to this sort of thing? Just - fucking - ignore it! Seriously, it's the attention that fuels these people.
Imagine this going down:
-Your trailer is highly offensive!
>Why?
-...Why?... Because... Religious connotations, and sexual themes, and violence all at the same time!
>So?

Seriously, some people just want something to be offended about, and words like "why?" and "so?" are like kryptonite to them.

How about: Because it's dumb and needlessly provocative?

If we didn't do anything that was dumb or provocative there wouldn't be a video game industry.

If they made a cheep thrill to draw attention to their game they have no right to complain when people see through it.

Kargathia:
It's good to remember that the story does not have autonomous will - everything scripted that happens, happens because the writer says so. These nuns might have violence visited on them because they are the antagonists in a violent game, but the game's devs are still responsible for making them the antagonists, and consequently having them be the subject of lethal violence.

That said: this looks to be a relatively simple case of the stupids. They pushed their existing style of humour, and failed to take a step back, and realise that their creation was stupid, offensive, and plainly incomprehensible. Not like that never happens to anyone creative.

I do, of course, recognize that fictional characters spring from the minds of their writers. I would note that good, well written characters often have ways of doing things their writers don't quite expect until suddenly the words are on the page, but I'm not saying that's what's happened here.

What I find disturbing, however, is the notion that violence against women is to be accepted as taboo without any regard to circumstances. Yes, the "sexy nun" thing is over-the-top, and it should have received a second glance if they were genuinely uninterested in courting controversy. But amidst all the various market pressures and design issues, I'm really not at all sure that "violence against women is a never-ever" is the kind of line writers should be saddled with. And I don't really think the interviewee's implication that showing violence against women, specifically, was the goal (or even a goal) of the trailer is a claim that really stands up to scrutiny, either.

DVS BSTrD:

Nurb:

DVS BSTrD:
How about: Because it's dumb and needlessly provocative?

If we didn't do anything that was dumb or provocative there wouldn't be a video game industry.

If they made a cheep thrill to draw attention to their game they have no right to complain when people see through it.

I'm complaining that you don't have a right to complain about their complaining over people complaining.

Nurb:

DVS BSTrD:

Nurb:

If we didn't do anything that was dumb or provocative there wouldn't be a video game industry.

If they made a cheep thrill to draw attention to their game they have no right to complain when people see through it.

I'm complaining that you don't have a right to complain about their complaining over people complaining.

I think you just like complaining.

DVS BSTrD:

Nurb:

DVS BSTrD:
If they made a cheep thrill to draw attention to their game they have no right to complain when people see through it.

I'm complaining that you don't have a right to complain about their complaining over people complaining.

I think you're the one that likes complaining.

I'm filing a complaint.

Nurb:

DVS BSTrD:

Nurb:

I'm complaining that you don't have a right to complain about their complaining over people complaining.

I think you're the one that likes complaining.

I'm filing a complaint.

Well... that escalated quickly :/

Dexter111:
There is nothing wrong about nuns with guns in games, just as there is nothing wrong with this:


or this:

If you don't like it you don't have to watch it or buy the product, but get the f%# over it already and stop complaining.

And if you really don't want ^That kind of attention, don't make this type of trailer. Nobody takes either of those examples seriously and now nobody takes Square Enix seriously either.

Quaidis:
I've seen nuns portrayed worse in anime from the 80's and 90's and no one gave a two rats and a shit about it then. Why are we suddenly shocked over it now? People need to chill and find their funny bone again.

"So?"

TopazFusion:
Lets be honest here.

If it was a female assassin doing battle with a bunch of guys disguised as priests, no one would have batted an eye.

Would the priests have stripped down before firing upon the assassin? Because I kind of doubt it. That's actually part of the issue right there: false equivalence.

Quaidis:
I've seen nuns portrayed worse in anime from the 80's and 90's and no one gave a two rats and a shit about it then. Why are we suddenly shocked over it now? People need to chill and find their funny bone again.

Well yeah, I'm sure everyone saw that same anime in question.

I mean, one commonality to the complaints here is that they come from a video game site. Regarding video games.

And I mean, wow, more outrage in the age of the internet than in the 80s? What are the odds?

Callate:

What I find disturbing, however, is the notion that violence against women is to be accepted as taboo without any regard to circumstances. Yes, the "sexy nun" thing is over-the-top, and it should have received a second glance if they were genuinely uninterested in courting controversy. But amidst all the various market pressures and design issues, I'm really not at all sure that "violence against women is a never-ever" is the kind of line writers should be saddled with. And I don't really think the interviewee's implication that showing violence against women, specifically, was the goal (or even a goal) of the trailer is a claim that really stands up to scrutiny, either.

As far as I'm aware their previous stance has always been that there were no female targets, but that they weren't going to artificially keep you from inflicting violence on the female NPC's. A distinction which I would say is a good thing. It is certainly feasible that a woman climbs the rungs of nasty and powerful far enough to warrant somebody paying a substantial sum for her death, but would it add anything meaningful to the game? There certainly would be a host of reasons why it is a bad idea.

As to the implication that the trailer's goal was to show or promote violence against women: no. Just no.
Freudian-style subconscious motive psychology is already dodgy when propagated by a qualified psychologist, but coming from the mouth of a layman it should not be taken seriously.
Until somebody hands me an in-depth psych evaluation of IO's creative team and process that conclusively states that this disaster of a trailer was the result of barely-hidden mysogynistic tendencies - or possible childhood abuse - I am going to stick with the obvious explanation: they tried to combine the magic elements of sex and violence with their own weird sense of humour, and failed miserably.

This whole sordid affair was stupid. Anyone who was offended by the fake violence visited upon the fake over sexualized stripper nuns are just looking for a fight. I don't think the ad was effective, but I didn't find it offensive in the least, and I do find the concept of real women getting beaten by real men very offensive. It was a work of fiction that people can argue till the end of days about it being some sort of chauvinistic power fantasy, but it ultimately does not matter. The developer is making a huge mistake by visiting this subject again and it should just be ignored, like all things one does not agree with that appears in the media.

Kargathia:

It's good to remember that the story does not have autonomous will - everything scripted that happens, happens because the writer says so. These nuns might have violence visited on them because they are the antagonists in a violent game, but the game's devs are still responsible for making them the antagonists, and consequently having them be the subject of lethal violence.

With that type of rationalizing and the extent of your will to find fault with this situation is amazing. It being a fictional work, the author has a right to lay it out as he or she pleases. And as a work of fiction, it should not be treated as if a real person beat the crap out of a bunch of real life fake nuns that were dressed like strippers. This whole argument is akin to the idea of thought police or regulation of creative works because some people find it offensive. The truth is, I find it hard to believe that trailer could even evoke such extreme levels of reflection and thought about it. Someone needs a hobby. :P

Kargathia:
It is certainly feasible that a woman climbs the rungs of nasty and powerful far enough to warrant somebody paying a substantial sum for her death, but would it add anything meaningful to the game? There certainly would be a host of reasons why it is a bad idea.

But there might be a similar host of reasons why it was a considered and meaningful choice, a possibility I wouldn't want to pre-emptively exclude.

Beyond than that, I think we're largely in agreement (Short version: sexy nun trailer stupid, but not intentionally geared towards [violence/promotion of violence] towards women.)

Calling it an excuse for violence against women is ridiculous. It's a Hitman game, people are going to get shot.

Developers can put whatever the hell they want in their game/trailer.

Baresark:

Kargathia:

It's good to remember that the story does not have autonomous will - everything scripted that happens, happens because the writer says so. These nuns might have violence visited on them because they are the antagonists in a violent game, but the game's devs are still responsible for making them the antagonists, and consequently having them be the subject of lethal violence.

With that type of rationalizing and the extent of your will to find fault with this situation is amazing. It being a fictional work, the author has a right to lay it out as he or she pleases. And as a work of fiction, it should not be treated as if a real person beat the crap out of a bunch of real life fake nuns that were dressed like strippers. This whole argument is akin to the idea of thought police or regulation of creative works because some people find it offensive. The truth is, I find it hard to believe that trailer could even evoke such extreme levels of reflection and thought about it. Someone needs a hobby. :P

You are both taking my comments out of context, and projecting explanations I did not even hint at.
The original post was a reminder to somebody that whether or not a chain of events makes sense in the context of the work, the writer is still the one responsible for those exact events - not the characters.
This has nothing to do whatsoever with any notion that writing crazy stuff is in any way comparable with physically enacting said crazy stuff.

Nor would I describe these basic observations about the nature of creative works to be "extreme levels of reflection and thought". At least, not unless I suddenly was gifted with the ability to excercise extreme levels of reflection during the course of speedreading my way through a single-page thread.

Callate:

Kargathia:
It is certainly feasible that a woman climbs the rungs of nasty and powerful far enough to warrant somebody paying a substantial sum for her death, but would it add anything meaningful to the game? There certainly would be a host of reasons why it is a bad idea.

But there might be a similar host of reasons why it was a considered and meaningful choice, a possibility I wouldn't want to pre-emptively exclude.

Beyond than that, I think we're largely in agreement (Short version: sexy nun trailer stupid, but not intentionally geared towards [violence/promotion of violence] towards women.)

It certainly could add to a story, but would that be enough to offset the certainty of the internet pouncing at any perceived lack of sensitivity handling it?

Otherwise: yea, you summed it up about right.

Kargathia:

You are both taking my comments out of context, and projecting explanations I did not even hint at.
The original post was a reminder to somebody that whether or not a chain of events makes sense in the context of the work, the writer is still the one responsible for those exact events - not the characters.
This has nothing to do whatsoever with any notion that writing crazy stuff is in any way comparable with physically enacting said crazy stuff.

Nor would I describe these basic observations about the nature of creative works to be "extreme levels of reflection and thought". At least, not unless I suddenly was gifted with the ability to excercise extreme levels of reflection during the course of speedreading my way through a single-page thread.

That's fair. I am just ready (too ready apparently) to fend off people who just attack it when the reality is that the fictional work this article is about is not of any substance. I apologize, I should not have jumped to conclusions. I guess I just miss the days that when people saw something they didn't like and it was causing no actual harm to anyone, they just didn't pay attention... If those days ever actually existed.

stilettos and war could be the next big thing :P

Baresark:

I guess I just miss the days that when people saw something they didn't like and it was causing no actual harm to anyone, they just didn't pay attention... If those days ever actually existed.

Oh, that happens. The problem is, that most of the idiotic accusations involve notions of it actually causing harm. "Think of the children!" and all that.

That, and people making a ruckus about the latest fad in corrupting literature tends to be somewhat more noticeable than people shrugging their dislike, and carrying on with their lives.

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