Ethical Escapades of Arkane Studio’s Dishonored – Part 3

The next two sections of Dishonored after the quite disappointing “House of Pleasure” are the “Royal Physician” and “Lady Boyle’s Last Party.” In this first section, Corvo is tasked with capturing the Lord Regent’s doctor, Anton Sokolov. From Anton the player’s will be able to get to the Lord Regent’s mistress, then use her to take down the Lord Regent himself continuing the previous chapter’s decision to value female characters as merely objects to obtained or used to further Corvo’s goals. In this mission, the designers included a “madman” character whom the players have to get past to collect a rune, one of the ways player’s get upgrades in the game. The only way to deal with the “madman” is to either kill him or choke him out. There’s no way to talk to him like you can with other side characters in the game. He can only be dealt with physically.

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The madman

This plays into a broader societal response to mental illness, of which this madman character (see above image) is a very poor depiction. People with mental health illnesses “are no more violent than people without a mental illness” (Source). They are, in fact, “much more likely to be victims of violence than to be violent.” So the developers chose to favour the popular societal misconception towards mental illness in favour of the truth. The developers are actually doing more damage by falsely propagating the idea that people with mental illness are insane and violent, and must be dealt with by using force. The developers clearly did not value attention to the truth about mental illness or how their game would affect the self-image of players with a mental illness.

The next chapter “Lady Boyle’s Last Party” continues the trend of objectifying every single female character in this game. I was really quite shocked they found a way to objectify Callista, one of the members of your home base who helps you. The player can “accidentally” walk in on her bathing. I say accidentally because the player looks through the keyhole and can see her clearly bathing, then has the option to still barge into the room. She then she covers herself and tells the player off (see below picture). But they can still stand there looking at her as she’s clearly uncomfortable with your presence. This “easter egg” is simply sexual harassment, it’s clear from this inclusion the developers did not value female players and rather assumed that their game was being played by a straight, male player as many developers do.

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Totally unnecessary sexualization of an otherwise strong female protagonist

I had trouble identifying ways the game used the three methods of resolving conflicts, I feel like that’s mainly something to be identified during the development process rather than in the final game. As I mentioned in my previous game log, the developers chose to completely redesign the female characters in their game after Anita Sarkeesian’s critiques of the first game’s female representation. This is very clearly an example of the dissolve conflict resolution method, and although, unfortunately, an approach only taken for Dishonored 2 it’s still a great example of developers redesigning their games to meet certain values, in this case, the value was positive female representation.

Published by Stephan N. Reilly

Freelance writer and designer.

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