By lordgodalming 0 Comments
The mainstream gaming media’s reaction to Dante’s Inferno highlighted what is, in my opinion, one of the most curious facets of Western entertainment.
But before I go into more detail about that, let me take you back to the summer of 2000, when I spent three months living in Germany in college. My host parents both worked about 80 hours a week, and as a result I spent a lot of time alone in their house watching movies in German. (This is not a complaint, by the way, I’m a pretty solitary person by nature.)
If you have ever watched a movie on American television, you will know they are typically edited for time and content. The same is true on German television, but where American networks edit out mostly curse words and sexual content, the Germans leave those things in while editing out scenes of violence. This difference implies that most Americans find profanity and sexuality morally more distasteful than violence.
I found that to be a strange concept then, and I still do. Sure, swearing is uncreative, and most forms of entertainment overuse it to the point where it’s more boring and tacky than outright offensive. But without sexuality, our species wouldn’t last long enough to teach future generations that sex is dirty and shameful. Compare that to violence, which constitutes not only our justice system’s most heavily punished crimes, but also the greatest tragedies in human history.
Now, with that background information in place we can return to today’s game, Dante’s Inferno. Virtually every online reviewer panned the game for its “gratuitous” nudity and sexuality, while at the same praising the “creative,” extreme, and often misogynistic violence. (Ryan's review here on Giant Bomb thankfully bucked the trend.) Apparently, shoving a scythe through the face of a pleading sinner is great entertainment, but the presence of nude men and women crosses some line of good taste.Not that I am advocating Dante’s Inferno’s depictions of nudity any more than I am advocating its use of violence, mind you. In my opinion, MOST of this game is in poor taste. Not because of the mature content, but because of the decidedly immature manner in which that content is presented. Despite its high production values and reasonable level of polish, this game feels like it was made by a group of snickering high school boys.
Designer 1: All right, we need something disgusting for gluttony.
Designer 2: Let's do a huge fat thing that barfs and poops when it attacks.
Designer 3: Wait, let's also give it big old gross boobs.
Designer 1: Bewbs!
Designer 2: (High-fives Designer 3)
Dante’s Inferno had so many chances to explore culture, philosophy, and the human condition in general. Instead they went for the shock value of relentless (often woman-hating) images of violence and nudity. Nier's swearing, lingerie-wearing bunny Kaine seems positively thoughtful in comparison (indeed, Nier's story is both more interesting and more mature than that of Dante's Inferno). Considering that the source material for Dante's Inferno has stood the test of time by being studied for longer than the works of Shakespeare and shaping the view of the afterlife for most of Christendom for 700 years, such a juvenile game seems like a missed opportunity on all fronts.