Anytime something shocking or awful is done by the video game industry, you'll have people chiming in that we should leave it alone because it's actually art and so it has a right to exist (because apparently being art means the ability to exist without criticism and any criticism is actually the equivalent of censorship!) It seems apparent that Deep Silver had similar thinking—looking at how the controversial special edition of Dead Island: Riptide is marketed, they say that it's an "an iconic Roman marble torso sculpture."
Which is to say, they wanted us to consider their torso like this art, which to me, seems absurd. They're not equivalent at all. One is good art, the other, not so much.
But, let's bite—so proposes Gameological in their write up, "It Belongs In A Museum." They consider the Dead Island torso as art that could be in a museum—but not just any art type of art. Shock art.
Shock art is a type of art that, according to Wikipedia, "incorporates disturbing imagery, sound or scents to create a shocking experience. It is a way to disturb 'smugs, complacent and hypocrital' people."
But if we actually stop and analyze the Riptide torso as a work of art, things get kid of ridiculous.
Note the spinal column that juts out of the neck. The way your eye is drawn to an insouciant bit of bone on the arm. These are important cues in the visual vocabulary of Modern Game Studio artworks. They symbolize worship of the deities Dark and Gritty. According to lore, anyone who gazes upon these gods—and isn't too much of a pussy to handle it—is granted the power of being a badass who nobody should mess with. On account of the darkness. And grit.
One might note that the breasts, however, are intact. There's a good, artistic reason for that.
This is in keeping with the long game-industry tradition of honoring huge bazongas above all (and honoring the ass, too, if there's any development time left over after programming the huge bazongas). Even in the early years of 3D games, when female characters had faces that looked like bulging hexagons with lipstick, developers managed to give video game breasts hyper-real motion and buoyancy. Game women benefited from an experimental field of game science known as "boob physics" or "teat-jigglies." This piece is a salute to that heritage.
The best part comes when John Teti, the author of the post, explains the gore:
The gore serves as a complement to the misogyny, because without that face and those limbs to distract the viewer, a clear point of focus-boobs can emerge. It's so elegant how it all fits together. You know in A Beautiful Mind when all those numbers and equations are connecting together around Russell Crowe's head, like a dazzling crystal? This is like that, except with hating women instead of math.
Ouuuuch. But, there you have it, defenders of Severed Torso As Art. It's art now; we've considered it as such. What that art says may not exactly be good—but hey! Art.
It Belongs In A Museum [Gameological ]