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Dishonored Creators Responded To Criticism Of Game's Women By Making Emily A Badass

Dishonored
Dishonored

In Dishonored 2, people panic when Emily Kaldwin enters a room. When she’s caught sneaking around the docks, NPCs yell out in terror. It’s a special feeling to play a fear-inducing women in a game, and yesterday at E3, Arkane Studios’ co-creative director explained to Engadet that, if it wasn’t for criticism of Dishonored 1’s women, gamers may have never experienced Kaldwin’s badassery.

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In an interview with Feminist Frequency founder and media critic Anita Sarkeesian for Engadget, Arkane Studios’ Harvey Smith said that Emily Kaldwin, Dishonored 2’s playable co-protagonist who featured heavily in its marketing, was a direct response to complaints that Dishonored 1’s women were bland or offensive.

In 2012, Feminist Frequency tweeted that while Dishonored 1 featured “many truly brilliant elements. . . sadly representation of women are not among them. #Disappointing.” Sarkeesian’s 2015 video “Women as Background Decoration” showed several clips from Dishonored 1 in which the player peeks up sex workers’ skirts, throws them against walls or murders them.

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Yesterday at E3, Smith himself recalled that “Every woman in Dishonored 1 is either a servant, a prostitute, a witch, a queen or a little girl,” which he describes as “not an intentional choice.” So, Arkane Studios, in his words, “internally sat down” and made a “deliberate” decision to include more interesting roles for women. Kaldwin would help promote “more plausible balance in the [Dishonored 2] world.”

Discussing that decision to make Emily Kaldwin playable (and fearsome), Smith cited Feminist Frequency’s tweet, saying he’d “take it to my grave.”

Dishonored 2's newly-announced DLC “Death of the Outsider” will star Billie Lurk, another of its badass women.

Senior reporter at Kotaku.

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DISCUSSION

pontifex
Pontifex (G/O Fuck yourself, Spanfe||er)

Excellent example as to why feminist game criticism can be helpful.