(Not) Richard Keys and Andy Gray on video games
30th Jan 2011 | 15:27
Good afternoon folks, and welcome to the first ever edition of SixAxis Sunday. I'm your host, Richard Keys, and I'll be tackling some of video games' biggest issues each week alongside the linesperson Lothario himself, Andy Gray. (Albeit in a completely fictional construct which neither the real life Richard Keys or Andy Gray have endorsed or contributed to - and which does not represent their actual thoughts or opinions in any way.)
RK: First things first. As you've no doubt read in the papers, Andy and I have controversially exited jobs we love in the world of football, due to a sexism furore over at Sky Sports.
AG: Furore. Great player.
RK: Happily, CVG has taken us under its wing. I'm very glad, because they've explained there are no dark forces at play in the video games industry.
AG: Aye. Except Star Wars: Dark Forces. It deserves a new sequel, LucasArts.
RK: I want to say that Andy and I have completely learnt our lesson about the things we were recorded saying back at Sky. It was poor form and a bad representation for the game of football. We fully wish to make amends for our outdated comments, and the fast-paced, achingly modern environment of video games seems the perfect place to change our ways. So, Andy, what's caught your eye this week?
AG: The ladies.
RK: Come now. Banter! Haven't you been checking out PlayStation Home?
AG: Aye, that's right. It's been a real eye-opener for me. Has taught me a few life lessons.
RK: Really? Sounds rehabilitative.
AG: Especially when your avatar is a 18-year-old-girl. I'll tell you, Rich, there's no classical woo-ing in there; no "just tuck this in for me love" romance. It's a bloody bear pit.
AG: Oh yes, son. It's all Italian men surrounding you, restricting how far you can move. It gives you an oddly physical sense of intimidation in a virtual world. Refreshing.
RK: Erm, good. Unlike the sexist world of football though, it sounds like an ironic expression of post-feminist ideals.
AG: That'll be it, aye.
RK: Talking of refreshing perspectives, I've been boning up on the thoughts of David Jaffe, who I understand is one of the most successful, revered developers of his generation.
AG: Can we say boning?
RK: Context, Andy. Context. Sky HR explained it all to us, remember?
AG: Yep. Yep yep yep. No problem. Context.
RK: Jaffe is a very interesting fellow. He's a bold titan of language; a trailblazer of inter-gender diplomacy. Like when he this week compared Sony's new PSP, the NGP, to "fresh vagina".
AG: That's not on though, right? You know I struggle with this, so forgive me if "context" has eluded me again. But surely even a woman could understand that's offside.
RK: Will you never learn man! He's not stuck in the prehistoric universe of kicking a bit of leather around a field! He's an auteur of a new-age artform! This isn't sexism; it's bravery.
AG: Oh, aye. With you. Okay.
RK: Anyway, when Jaffe said that "new hardware is like new p**sy", it really put football's faux-philosophy in the shade. I mean, Cantona's "seagulls" guff is primary school nonsense compared to this level of sophisticated nuance, wouldn't you agree?
AG: Wha... really? Erm. Yep. Whatever you say.
RK: What else has grabbed your attention this week Andy?
AG: Two new games which seem right up our street, Rich. Bulletstorm and Duke Nukem Forever. Bulletstorm, get this... this is hilarious. Bulletstorm has kill combos called "Gang Bang", "Gag Reflex" and "Rear Entry", and a hero - and I mean hero - who says things like "strap on a dildo".
RK: Whoa! Andy, I think we'll have to stop you th...
AG: And apparently, right, it has "dialogue containing numerous jokes and comments that reference sexual acts... and having sex with one's mother". Sounds like the sort of banter we had back at Sky - but even worse!
RK: I don't think we ever quite...
AG: And then Duke Nukem Forever. Aw, Rich, you're going to love this. Two girls, right - TWO! - going down on the man! One of them even makes a little coughing sound!
RK: ANDY! For Christ sakes. Has the last week taught you nothing!?
AG: I'm so confused. Isn't this that "context" thing again? It's not sexist because... it's not sexist? I just don't get this Rich. How come what we did was so bad when this sort of thing seems to be all over the games industry like smutty chicken pox?
RK: Good God man! This stuff is ironic, yes? What we did, said - the whole "I wouldn't" Sian Massey thing...
AG: Which was never actually mentioned during public broadcast.
RK: Yes. Well that was disgusting. Football is caveman chanting, Soccerettes, OAP's dribbling into their Pukka... it's a man's world, and we were seen trying to keep it that way. This Bulletshower and Duke Of Nukem stuff - it's hip, Andy! The kids get it! It's of the now!
AG: Right. I'm not going to pretend not to be confused.
RK: Let's get back on track. I've been checking out some slightly more revered works of the games industry. Have you heard of Mass Effect 2?
AG: Is that the space one?
RK: Yes. That's it. The conversational system, combined with this sort of ever-moving progression model is really amazing. It's a whole new dawn for narrative. I really mean that.
RK: You continue your journey from the first game as Shephard, who's this guy - well, in fact he's anything you want him to be, really. Even a girl...
AG: Tight trousers.
RK: It's just such an immense, engaging world. The races you meet, the personality types you must respond to; it's astounding.
AG: Unnecessary sex and tight trousers.
RK: There's a lot more to it than that, Andy. Is that honestly all you know about it?
AG: No. I'm just saying. Unnecessary sex and tight trousers. Don't both those elements exist in the game? And wouldn't you agree they do little more than satisfy a hormone-spasm, randy juvenile fantasy? I may have my "context" muddled here again.
RK: IT'S EXCELLENT.
AG: I'm just saying... Miranda's libidinous appearance and overly-accentuated body - exaggerated all the more by buttock-brushing camera angles - is slightly at odds with the mature, genre-defining...
RK: Bloody female linos. What do they know.
AG: Exactly! That's all I was getting at! What were we talking about again?
RK: Erm, God Of War 3. An excellent romp, that one.
AG: He he he. Romp.
RK: The PS3 has rarely seen such graphical majesty. I think it's hugely underrated. In fact, I prefer it to Uncharted. Controversial, I know.
AG: I thought we were keeping our nose clean of controversy.
RK: Think we're on safe ground with this one. It's a lot of fun that game. I heartily recommend it.
AG: Little wonder. You were "hanging out the back" of all of those creepily bare-breasted nymphets weren't you? I saw it over your shoulder.
AG: I mean, I don't want to be a prude or anything. But how many of them jumped on the bed so that you could have full sex with them - apropos of nothing?
RK: When did you start saying "apropos of nothing"?
AG: When I begun a legal case against my employer's sister company for phone-tapping, and then was subsequently sacked from my day job following mysteriously leaked footage.
AG: Point is, I've done wrong. Heck, Rich, we've done wrong. But shouldn't people perhaps be a little more up in arms about certain prevalent - expected! - chauvinistic attitudes in triple-A game design? It's kind of like the things we did and said off-air being amplified with added filth, and then being paraded on-screen as "all boys together" entertainment, no? Unless I've got this "context" thing muddled again.
RK: Andy, Andy, Andy...
AG: And, right, aren't games - just like football - trying to shake off an image that they're exclusively for one demographic? Boys in bedrooms, Bovril-slurping neanderthals... it doesn't matter. It's the reinforcement of exclusivity that's the problem; testosterone-tickling, segregationist attitudes which ostracise potential new customers.
RK: You sound like Jamie bloody Redknapp. I think this is perhaps less of a trend than you're suggesting...
AG: Female masturbation in Bayonetta; shower scenes in Catherine; spending time with Lara Croft's inner thighs every time you climb a wall...
RK: It's just harmless fun. And it doesn't happen that often.
AG: ... Heavy Rain's cringeworthy flesh sideshow, The Witcher's never-ending procession of dangling areolae, the fact they tried to make a modern Leisure Suit Larry... not to mention E3 booth babes with the logos of poor-selling, poor-quality tech companies across their tits; the crapper the brand, the more diminutive the outfit...
RK: Gamers - heck, blokes - like this stuff. It's not evil and it's not rocket science.
AG: Oh, I completely agree, Rich. There's nothing malevolent about it, or wrong about gamers using it as a talking point. Sex sells, no-one gets hurt. I'm just wondering aloud if it's always appropriate for studios to shoehorn in these elongated, awkward icky scenes - especially when they work in an industry where just ten per cent of employees are female. It might actually smack of a need for a change in attitude during development, no?
To use a well-worn phrase I'll possibly never be employed to say into a mic again... at the end of the day, it kind of seems like football - the supposed epitome of fossilised male dominance and antiquated inequality - is doing more to address the issue.
RK: You have been talking to bloody Redknapp. Look, it's like this: Me and you, Gray and Keys; at Sky Sports we were dinosaurs commentating on an ancient world. But video games... they're a bleeding edge entertainment medium, splishing in the lapping waves of the zeitgeist. Any suggestion that major studios are still latently obsessed with pleasing an audience of sexually frantic teenage boys when their consumer base is now far more universal is poppycock. And I remember Elvira.
AG: I guess. What do I know? After all, I said: "Women don't understand the offside rule," and other such atrocities.
RK: Exactly. You're a monster. Let's move on. Besides, things are changing. Have you not seen the new 'desexualised' Lara Croft? No more ridiculous mammaries, but a harder edge; a real fighting spirit. Even Square Enix has said it's not going to "play up sexuality for sexuality's sake".
AG: Well, that sounds better. I suppose all industries are moving into the 21st Century now, and we've got to move with them. At least we've bagged a spot here on CVG, Rich.
RK: That's the spirit, fella. Anyway, that's all we've got time for. Thanks for tuning in and we'll see you next week, for another exciting episode of SixAxis Sunday. From me Richard Keys, and a rather contemplative Andy Gray, goodbye.
RK: You know that new Lara Croft?
AG: Oh aye.
RK: I'd definitely still smash it.
RK: Is this switched on?
[(Not) Richard Keys and Andy Gray have been fictionally relieved of their fictional contract on CVG following this afternoon's fictional events. Don't fictionally expect them to fictionally return any time soon. Fictionally.]