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Some minimal spoilers for early in Mafia 3

Butch:

Well, had to cook, had wild kids. Nothing new.

But I was pondering something. Nudity. So here we go: two games in a row where we talk about nudity and it’s actually rather serious. To start.

So yesterday, in regards to the collectible playboys, you said:

It’s SO not made for me (take a look at the collectibles when you get to that point), but it’s been fun so far.

The implication here being that, as you are a woman, the fact that they put in gratuitous female nudity means it was not made for you. I’m curious as to what you mean by that. We’ve played games that have seriously gratuitous female nudity. TW3’s prostitute scenes come to mind. While you rolled your eyes at them, you never said “Well, the fact that you can have sex scenes that have fuck all to do with the plot, and feature female nudity and barely any male nudity means this game was SO not made for me.” This is hardly the only example. I remember you doing a major eye roll at your OWN CHARACTER lounging, gratuitously nude and somehow bustier after you banged Blackwall in DAI, but, again, you never said that THAT game wasn’t made for you.

And I ask because I also read in your sentence above that “me” is really a proxy for “women.” Which is quite the statement.

So what sets this game apart from all the other games with gratuitous female nudity we’ve played?

Feminina:

That’s an interesting question. I think it’s basically the way that the female nudity is collectible rather than incidental.

Like, “here’s a fun thing to do on the side, collect pictures of naked women!” rather than “here in the course of the story some women get naked,” which as you say often occasions an eye-roll or worse, but at least is nominally part of the game. It is, in that case, people IN the game doing things. (I understand that some earlier Witcher game, TW2 maybe, had collectible female nudity as well? but I didn’t play it so the question didn’t arise there for me.)

This nudity isn’t a meaningful part of the game’s story (Lincoln the character doesn’t even have any comment on the magazines, so it’s not a personal quest), and doesn’t involve any characters (even nameless NPCs like the many prostitutes Geralt could visit) doing anything. It’s a purely optional add-on featuring people who have nothing to do with the game’s story (though they do at least have names, since the Playmate interviews are included–the Vargas prints are another matter).

So the fact that the optional add-on is something I, and presumably most straight women, have pretty minimal interest in, but that straight male players presumably have a markedly greater degree of interest in, suggests to me that the game is aimed at a particular demographic that does not include me.

I guess it’s just…a game that says “here’s a fun extra that has nothing to do with anything but we put it in because we thought you’d like it,” when that fun extra is naked women, is a game that is not actually talking to me.

Which is fine. Not all games have to talk to me (very few are really made specifically for my particular demographic), and I’m enjoying it anyway. I’ll collect the naked women, because I’m a sucker for collectibles. It’s not a problem. It’s just an observation.

Butch:

The first Witcher game did do that, and took shit for it. Worse, you GOT the collectibles not by finding them, but by banging them. Get the woman in bed, get the nude card. That’s pretty damn skanky.

But, again, the prostitute scenes in TW3 had no point. None. They didn’t even make sense if you took it on faith that Geralt did, in fact, love Yen or Triss. It’s Geralt doing things, sure, but nothing that was part of the game, like the sex scenes with Triss and Yen. Or whoever.

But as for this game…hmm. I just wonder if that translates into the rest of the game. Granted, I’m early, but have you gotten the sense that the REST of the game isn’t “talking” to you? It’s narrative/character heavy, which you are into. It seems, early, that other than the collectible nudity, that it is aimed at you as much as any other violent but narrative heavy game we’ve played. It certainly seems that it’ll have more themes than, say, Heavy Rain, and you like themes.

Cuz if the rest of the game IS talking to you, and yet you feel that it’s talking to you, or aimed at you less because of the collectibles, that’s a mistake by the devs.

Feminina:

Oh, wow, that is sleazy. “Oooh, Geralt, you big stud, thanks so much for the awesome sex, here take this naked picture of me to remember it by?” I guess…?

My Geralt never actually visited any prostitutes, but I think it’s still different. It’s an in-game choice: your version of the character either does, or does not, pay random women to have sex with him, and even if you do, it’s not COLLECTIBLE, really, it’s just an animation you watch for a few seconds. Didn’t you say it’s the same nude animation every time, even? It’s not something you have a measurable reward for, anyway: not like being able to scan through your list of accumulated collectibles, and probably get a trophy if you get the whole set.

Unless there was a whole mini-game around visiting prostitutes that I entirely missed, which is possible.

Again, it’s not a huge deal, and no, I don’t feel that the rest of the game is actively excluding me or anything. The game as a whole is made for me in the sense that it’s made for people who like sneaking around murdering hundreds of dudes on the way to fulfilling various mission objectives. It’s a good time.

The driving parts were made more for people who like driving in games, but that’s probably not gender based. And as noted, I actually don’t even hate the driving as much as I was afraid I would.

It’s just the collectible naked women that are kind of a “hey this is for boys” tip-off.

Butch:

Yeah. That’s pretty….boy.

There wasn’t a prostitutes mini-game. And I see your point. But then, you can ignore collectibles as well. If you don’t want to see playboys, don’t pick them up. So either way, it does have a degree of player choice.

Maybe they were heading for a GTA vibe? Cuz that game has a lot of open world mayhem, running from cops, and, well, gratuitous nudity. And it was a successful game, lord knows.

Feminina:

Oh, to be sure, if I were deeply offended by the Playboys I could refuse to collect them. It’s not as if I’m required to pick them up. Nor am I required to actually look at them even if I do pick them up. (In fact, I haven’t looked at most of them, though more because I never get around to looking at anything I pick up–as you know–than because I’m troubled by the nudity.)

Still, I think collectibles, for which the game keeps a running tally of how many you have/don’t have, are different from the choice to visit or not visit prostitutes (at least, in a game that doesn’t specifically track these visits). If I don’t ever get around to purchasing something from a specific merchant, which is basically what we’re talking about, there’s no real impact on my record for that game, whereas if I leave an entire set of collectibles untouched, that shows up. Maybe I don’t get a trophy! The horror!

Horror aside, the distinction I’m making is basically that the game COUNTS one thing, and doesn’t count the other, which I think is a meaningful difference, even if it’s not one that has deep significance to us personally (given we’re not going to try to get platinum or anything).

I never played any of the GTAs, but it has a definite bit of that vibe. The driving, dramatic crashes, stealing cars, dragging people out of cars to drive off in them…all that.

It’s like Grand Theft Assassin’s Creed.

And certainly the period-appropriate Playboys, along with the Hot Rod magazines and the hit album covers, and the news items on the radio mentioning Billie Jean King or the war or whatever, help give you that sense of what’s going on in the culture at the time. And that’s important, for a game with a story as grounded in a specific time period as this. It’s not that it’s out of place to have these items.

It’s also not that it’s necessary. It’s not as if we need Playboy’s playmate profiles to understand Lincoln’s approach to the social order or something. At least, not unless he starts talking about the collectibles.

Anyway, it was a perfectly fine choice to make, and it was also a choice that was made with a specific ‘typical’ player in mind, and that player was not me. That’s all I’m saying.

Butch:

HA! True. For all you know, if you open them they just say “What are you trying to do, perv?”

But fair. It essentially forces those people who care enough to look at them. But still. I always look at the trophy list cuz I’m curious, and, right now, .4% of the people who’ve played this game (on PS) have platted it. .4%. So not everyone feels the need to collect all the centerfolds.

HA! GTAC.

Unlikely he’ll start talking about the magazines.

Though….

Well….do I want to go here? Maybe. It’s probably a stretch, but…. I’m guessing the centerfolds and prints are all of white women. And given the general attitudes on that…..

I dunno. Maybe I won’t go there.

This is a very good discussion of nudity that did not derail. Yet.

Soon. We’ll derail Monday, I’m sure. We generally do when I actually play.

Feminina:

I thought about going there! I had some comment that was like “does Lincoln Clay really care about some white dude’s fantasy white chick?” but I started to think “I wonder when Playboy had their first black centerfold? maybe that’s going to be some culturally relevant moment…I should look it up…” but I got distracted and went off on some other tangent instead.

It was actually March 1965 (Jennifer Jackson), so she’s probably in this game. Maybe Lincoln WILL comment. It’s…an interesting milestone, but not an insignificant one. Maybe we’ll see.

And no, it doesn’t call you a perv if you try to look at them. At least the first one doesn’t. I looked at it out of curiosity, and it shows the cover and basically a digital version of the centerfold images, plus I think the model’s interview? Some text pages, anyway. (I mean, who cares about text when there’s nudity to be viewed, right? It’s not as if I’m playing this game for the articles.) Not the whole magazine, but a number of actual pages from it.

Hot Rod probably does the same thing, but are we expending any energy talking about that? Poor, sad, nudity-less Hot Rod.

Wait…did Hot Rod have topless centerfolds or anything? Suspicious now…

Butch:

I was thinking more the “forbidden interracial” trope. Which is also a rather controversial thing.

Maybe he’ll comment on that issue! Would be rather interesting if he did.

By the way….should you be googling all this playboy stuff on your work computer? Just sayin’.

I’m rather surprised it was that early. Hmm.

ICWUTUDIDTHERE with the articles comment!

Man, this game sure paid out the licensing fees, didn’t it?

As for Hot Rod, we should check! For the blog!

Feminina:

I SHOULD probably stop reading about Playboy during work hours. You’re not wrong.

“It’s for serious scientific research! About…health! Social health! Or something!”

YOU check on Hot Rod. I can’t risk it.

They must have spent a bundle on licensing, all right. Music, Vargas, actual magazines, classic album art…now I’m wondering where they got the commie propaganda. Which, I’ll note, is the only collectible that any of the characters have actually said anything about so far. Not sure if that means anything.

Butch:

Yeah. You’ll likely get a “So….anything you want to tell us, Femmy?”

Don’t get in trouble. It’ll slow down the blog.

I’ll check Hot Rod!

Doesn’t seem to be any nudity. Lots of cars, though.

As for the propaganda, even early on, war seems to be a thing. Not being able to leave it, etc. I have a feeling that the man who got home from war only to GO to war in his way is going to lead to some themeage.

I mean, the first real pre-heist cutscene has Lincoln in his army jacket, talking to an ex Marine who tells him no one ever really leaves combat. I don’t expect that to be the last thing we hear about war/fighting/conflict.

Feminina:

No doubt the war will play into things. I mean, not only is Lincoln a vet, coming back, as you say, to his own local war, but it’s still going on in the time of the game. It’s certainly the very active backdrop to everything that happens.

Cars, eh? Well, it’s certainly a game for people who like cars. I’m sure there are trophies for driving around in all the different types of cars, or something. Me, I just steal whatever’s closest and get the hell out before the cops show up. I figure given his (my) execrable driving skills, my Lincoln is not exactly a car dude. I mean, sure, he had that nice car that Ellis was looking after for him, but I figure he just won it in a poker game or something. He doesn’t really care that much about it. That’s what I’m going with.

At least, he never complains when I get into some broken down jalopy.

Butch:

His car is hard to drive! And I keep making it backfire. Sorry, Lincoln.

LA Noire was the same way. You could “collect” cars by driving each one. And there were a LOT to drive. I was like “yeah, whatever, I’m just gonna drive whatever’s near. And easy to drive.”

Feminina:

I am constantly squealing the tires every time I speed up or slow down.

I did manage to change the radio station, though! The internet’s advice is sound.

On that particular matter.

This should not be construed as an across-the-board endorsement of the internet’s advice, which is often extremely unsound. Listen to your librarian, kids.

Anyway, there’s other stuff on the airwaves, although I didn’t hear anything super jazzy. Give it a try.

But don’t give a try to driving every single car. Neither of us has the attention span for that.

Butch:

What about librarians ON the internet?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm?

Paradox.

Feminina:

Oh, their advice is always fantastic. Count on it.

Butch:

You’ve never steered anyone wrong. Not once. Golden advice for years and years.

Feminina:

You got that right. Everything I’ve ever said: a sparkling gem.

It’s gonna be great.

Butch:

It already is, Femmy. It already is.

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