Why I don't think The Witcher 3 is sexist


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HELLO! This is much less exciting than that Fallout 4 reveal, isn't it? Despite being around for quite some time, I don't really trigger the same kind of nostalgia or excitement in people as a well-loved game franchise - unless I have a box of donuts in my hands.

I don't. Sorry.

This week, some people on the internet proposed a theory that I want to respond to - that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is sexist. According to Feminist Frequency, run by Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathan McIntosh and makers of Tropes Vs Women, a series that looks at women in video games and caused an awful (and mostly stupid) ruckus over social media, The Witcher 3 is a sexist game, featuring toxic masculinity, sexist language and a generally misogynistic attitude towards women.

Now, I like Feminist Frequency a lot of the time. It's generally a force for good in the fight against internet dickery. But of course, that doesn't stop them being occasionally wrong, as I think they are in this case. Because, in my opinion, The Witcher 3 handles sexism excellently. Like its similar distant cousin, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Witcher 3 treats prejudice as a ridiculous concept, with empowered women that have just as much of a voice as Geralt, as grumpy as the chap is.

Let me use this example to explain.

There's a moment in the game where protagonist Geralt expresses surprise that the widows of sailors are continuing their lives as before, without husbands or brothers taking care of them, Geralt's companion and sometime lover Yennefer exhaustedly states "women don't need men to take care of them, Geralt." DUH, GERALT, says the game. Other women, such as the playable Ciri and the cunning Keira, are smart, badass and just as good (if not better than) Geralt at many things, including fighting.

And yes, you can sleep with a lot of the women - but it's not like it was in the first Witcher game, where women were literally collectible cards. There's a story to each romantic encounter, and you have to actually decide whether it's even a good move. One particular encounter felt, to me, like a good idea - until the final decision, where I realised that having sex with this wonderful lady would be selfish, so I had to say no.

As for toxic masculinity, I agree that Geralt is devoid of many emotions (explained as part of his Witcher mutations, of course) and that's not necessarily a good thing - but the previous Witcher games weren't ideal, and The Witcher 3: Geralt's Sad Face attempts to retcon something that was once the case into something much better.

Geralt speaks with fondness about Ciri, lust towards Yennefer, regret and sadness towards Triss and pity towards the Bloody Baron. He has feelings, buried under all that machismo, and there's nothing wrong or even bad about that.

The Witcher 3: Real-Time Beards is actually an incredibly good example of the positive steps the games industry is taking towards not only better representation of women, but also better in-game treatment. Bioware have been doing it for years, with transgender characters, female badasses and dudes willing to step up against sexism, and The Witcher is now carrying on that tradition. Play the game, decide for yourself.

Elsewhere this week...

For most of you, the big story this week was Fallout 4. Yes indeedy, Fallout 4 has landed harder than an atomic bomb on what used to be your house, and it looks incredible. Never mind the fact that Bethesda still hasn't mastered making people look real rather than mannequins crudely wrapped in ham - Fallout 4 promises to be as rich and enthralling as ever before.

Bombs! Vaults! Armour! DOGS! We don't know much at the moment, but we will on the 14th of June at Bethesda's E3 conference.

Fallout 4

However, that hasn't stopped fans from coming up with some of their own theories, including a particularly believable one about Vault 111s' experimenting with cryogenic sleep (for those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, many of the vaults doubled as unique, often twisted, human experiments). This is why the man at the end of the Fallout 4 trailer looks so similar to the one we see before the bombs drop. You can read more here.

But in all the Fallout excitement you might have missed the release of Massive Chalice, and if you didn't read that out in an Alan Partridge voice then you have let yourself down. Massive Chalice is a game about eugenics, fighting and strategy. Just like family Christmas dinners, am I right?! Haha.

That's all from the news vault this week, and I'll see you next time which is roughly 3 days before I go to E3 for the first time ever. I'll be back with a sack full of news to dole out like some kind of Video Game Father Christmas. Why am I still talking about Christmas?