Ethical Escapades of Arkane Studio’s Dishonored – Part 2

The second big mission of the game takes players to the “House of Pleasure” which, as you guessed, is a mission that consists of prostitutes and strippers. As Anita Sarkeesian aptly pointed out in her YouTube series Tropes vs Women the only representations of women in Dishonored are as prostitutes, servants or witches (Source). There’s no strong representation of women to be seen in the entire game. This is no more clear than in this second mission of Dishonored where every woman is scantily clad, stripping or waiting around for one of the visitors to use her services. It is very clear from playing this mission that there was no conscientious design of the female characters, and they were merely afterthoughts used as background props for the player to walk pass, and if the animations are any indication, to be ogled by the presumed straight, male player (see Fig. 1).

 

Dishonored-1-sex-worker
(Fig. 1)

 

From this mission, it’s quite obvious the designers were not considering how to appropriately represent women in their game. This was later confirmed in an interview Dishonored lead designer Harvey Smith gave to Anita Sarkeesian where he told her “We internally sat down… Your comment I will always remember, and I will take it to my grave. It was something like, while Dishonored is a game that does many things very well, the roles that it has for women are very narrow.” The designers took a very conscientious approach to designer the female characters of Dishonored 2 and made the entire game playable as either a male or female character, all because of Sarkeesian’s critique of the first game. That shows the team was very concerned about the morals of their first game not matching the ones they believe are right, and adapting their designs going forward to reflect those morals.

Aside from female representation, Dishonored’s following missions begin to reflect the consequences of the player’s actions back to them. Depending on how the player chose to handle the thugs at the distillery in the first mission, there will either be a great deal of Weepers (diseased, violent people) if the player killed all the thugs or there will be no Weepers if the player chose to merely incapacitate the thugs or sneak by them entirely. The game punishes the player for killing by making following missions much harder as Weepers are incredibly unpredictable, challenging opponents who attack relentlessly with complete disregard for personal safety (see Fig. 2).

 

Weeper_attack2
(see Fig. 2)

 

Published by Stephan N. Reilly

Freelance writer and designer.

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