The developers of Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture and the Dear Esther, The Chinese Room, have come out flailing against CD Projekt Red, which made The Witcher 3, with accusations of sexism.
The Chinese Room’s official Twitter account had some harsh words to say about the studio and its upcoming RPG, Cyberpunk 2077 while linking to a post written on GameSpot that had happened to use a photograph that detailed the production of the game’s initial CGI reveal.
The image depicts a scantily clad woman in a corset in a kneeling position. By itself, and without the context of the game’s CGI trailer, the image may seem out of place in a futuristic, cyberpunk RPG. It’s worth clarifying that the image itself was never used in any promotions by CD Projekt Red for the game and is a still taken from the aforementioned trailer’s production.
In the official trailer, as you can see above, a woman can be seen kneeling in the rain, surrounded by a pile of dead people with a squad of heavily armed police officers approaching her. The woman, as we’re made to understand, is a cyborg who suffered a psychotic break who’s later inducted into the Psycho Squad as perhaps one of the game’s main characters.
As one game designer James Desborough has noted, the aesthetic is a callback to the art of Art Cunningham in the original Cyberpunk 2013 books.
Leveling accusations of sexism against the game’s developer is about as fair as slamming it for having anatomically correct game models. Furthermore, conflating sexiness with sexism is about as sex-negative as you can possibly get.
This wouldn’t be the first time The Chinese Room has lashed out against “sexism” in gaming. Dan Pinchbeck of The Chinese Room penned an article for GamesTM a few months ago comparing the depiction of Quiet in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain to Nazi propaganda.
He wrote: “Here’s a thought experiment: let’s switch out the sexism for racism,” already conflating sexiness to sexism. “Let’s transform Quiet (or that quite extraordinary opening shot down the front of a nurse’s dress, just before she gets strangled by another woman who then gets set on fire) into a non-white character – I’m sure you can come up with a racist stereotype to drop in there. And what if the villain was, say, a hook-nosed Jewish banker who eats babies, in the spirit of old Nazi propaganda? Hell, what if NPCs just shouted out racial slurs occasionally? Still a game of the year contender?”
Pinchbeck wrote his piece to decry the popularity of games like The Witcher 3 (which can be seen in images on the right-side column) and Metal Gear Solid 5, which both won multiple awards in 2015 for their gameplay and storytelling.
One of the Witcher 3’s lead developers, Pawel Swierczynski, responded to the accusations of sexism with the following post on the gaming forum NeoGAF. It should be noted that the CD Projekt Red developer spoke as an individual, while The Chinese Room’s Twitter account spoke on behalf of the entire studio.
CDProjekt RED, company of 370 employees, a lot from around the world, many women (brilliant and talented) but also minorities: gay, transsexual (we might have been one of the few companies who had transsexual lead), all treated equally with only respect and support.
But we`re called sexist for showing a boob or panties. Really?
We always aimed to tell stories about people. And there are people with boobs and people with panties. Sometimes both.
Perhaps a studio best known for producing walking simulators should focus more on trying to emulate the success of CD Projekt Red instead of making petty attempts to tear down the successful developer with accusations of sexism.