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Addressing some confusion
by jasonrohrerWednesday, July 24, 2013 [5:28 pm]

Spoken interviews are a funny thing, because much of the context is stripped away. What did you and the interviewer discuss between the quotes that were chosen? What tone of voice did you use? And so on. Most of the time, this works out okay, but when dealing with touchy, hot-button issues, the result can be a minefield.

As a result, much confusion has arisen both about my creative goals for The Castle Doctrine and about my personal views that relate to the game. I will now set the record straight.

Of course, since the issues here are complex, I have to summarize. As the saying goes, if I could put it all down succinctly into words, I wouldn't have had to make the damn game.

The Gender Issue

Why can't I play a female character in this MMO?

First, though it is massively-multiplayer, it's not an MMORPG. Yes, a bunch of people play together on the same server, but that is all. There are no role-playing elements of any kind (character building, leveling up, etc.).

Like loads of non-RPG games, you play a specific character in this game. That character is a guy. In fact, he's the guy from this 1991 yellow page ad:


Or, more accurately, he's the guy this yellow page ad might be targeting. This game is a 1991 period piece about the social construction of manhood in that era. This is how I remember my security-obsessed father, and other fathers that I've met from that time share many of his traits. These guys were the burglar alarm generation. I suppose their paranoia wasn't completely unfounded, because the choice of 1991 is a loaded one (it was the peak of violent crime in the US---2012 was twice as safe, by comparison).

A lot has changed concerning gender roles in the past 22 years. But many aspects of the traditional, physical male role still lurk beneath the surface, which is why this topic is still interesting. Is a man still supposed to be a protector for his family? Is he supposed to be able to fight?

Disturbingly, even in a somewhat gender-bent, pacifist family like mine, that undercurrent is still there. As a particularly wimpy man (on the very-skinny end of the skinny bell curve), I'm not at all comfortable with that role. But that doesn't mean the role isn't thrust upon me anyway, especially when things get dicey.

Distilling all of this down, I amped up traditional, period gender roles in this game to the extreme. The girls even wear bows and dresses. The boys even have short hair. This is a cartoon of the iconic, nuclear family.

The Gun Issue

Obviously, no one is troubled by the presence of guns in this game, because then they'd be far more troubled by almost every other mainstream game. So, the concern is more like:

Do you really believe that guns should be legalized? That's crazy, man!

Yes, I do believe guns should be legalized. No, I'm not a gun owner, and have no plans to become one, but I have no desire to stop you from owning a gun. I also don't drink, but I don't want to stop you from drinking.

That's just my philosophical position. If you're not hurting anyone directly with your actions, I believe it should be legal. Thus, I think we should legalize guns, drugs, religion, suicide, fireworks, gambling, prostitution, all books, all movies, all video games, consensual sexual behavior of all kinds, gay marriage, polygamy, incandescent light bulbs, and on and on.

That might sound like a pretty whacky, incoherent list to you, but each of those things is currently illegal somewhere in the world, each involves consenting adults making their own choices, and each has no direct, third-party victim.

While the Germans don't get why Americans have such a problem with prostitution, the Americans can't imagine outlawing something like Wolfenstein, and so on.

But really, that philosophical discussion has very little bearing on The Castle Doctrine, which is not a game about legalizing anything, and barely even has guns in it. Guns are just a hot-button topic right now.

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