Arkham City And The Word Bitch

Hey, look, it’s basically a huge-ass tweet.

Okay, so Batman: Arkham City was a videogame, which is, as we know, a thing that costs quite a bit of money to make. Since maximising return on investment was important, and Batman is aimed pretty squarely towards the mid-teens market, the game was designed to try for a Teen rating.

Now, let me say, I am not a parent. I am not a big fan of parenting, it seems like a lot of work and almost nobody I know seems to have gotten it right. I am not here to moralise about what is or is not appropriate for your kids to hear. But.

Arkham City tries to tell the story of a gritty, grimy, dark-and-edgy city full of literally mentally ill people under the control of a handful of truly deranged violent supercriminals. It is a world with mind-control drugs, with mass murder, with serial killers, cannibals, and a tiny amount of sexual deviancy.

A tiny amount.

Sort of.

In order to give this game some life, the developers had all the random NPCs say things. They try to threaten you when you fight them, and since they are not all Private School educated bullies in waistcoats, they tried to make them sound like, well, thugs. This means a lot of low language, but… they’re not allowed to use most of the swears you’d associate. See, to get a Teen rating, you can have a little bit of targeted, context-relevant swearing, but you can’t have characters saying fucking this or fucking that, or this shit is the shit or shit like that, because teenagers never hear language like that and parents presenting it to them will make their brains melt etcetera.

But there is a single word we know is a swear word that isn’t off-limits for the T-rating to repeat a lot, outside of meaningful context. That word is bitch.

The word bitch isn’t seen as a swear on the same level as those others. Oh, crap and damn are also lower tier, but you never call someone a crap, or a damn. Maybe we should start.

So the game uses the word bitch.

A lot.

Like, every mob in the game uses it.

How do you use that word without it getting tired? I guess you can mix it up. Son of a bitch, you’re such a bitch, and uh, then we run to the bottom of the well and someone suggests ‘gunna make you my bitch.’ And just like that, in this T-rated game, we have mobs regularly threatening sexual assault, but, you know, in a teen-friendly way.

So.

The censorship standards are silly and sexist in a really weird way. This means the game’s only option to ‘sound’ adult without actually being adult, is to take this single silly sexist thing and magnify it across hundreds of mobs throughout the whole game. Which means that Arkham City is a place where everyone you talk to, more or less, has this grubby, slightly misogynistic air.

If we’d let them say fuck and shit, we might have had a less creepily sexualised game. You know, for teens.

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