Being A Sexy Green Alien Babe Can Sure Be Tough

Being A Sexy Green Alien Babe Can Be Tough

The exotic yet tantalising alien babe that humanity fetishises is a well-known sci-fi trope — surely, you've come across it before. Typically, games like Mass Effect let us seduce these characters. But in Redshirt, you can play as that sexy blue alien — and you can see first-hand why this fantasy that is sometimes peddled by sci-fi can suck.

Redshirt is a simulation game where players are crew members of a spaceship that is obsessed with Spacebook — this game's futuristic version of Facebook. You can play as one of five different species, one of which includes the "Asrion" race, pictured above.

Thing is, if you play as that race, something curious can happen. While the game lets you list your sexuality, whether or not characters actually respect that is up to them — much like in real life.

Male non-playable characters can sometimes be bigoted, and bigoted characters will give the player attention even if their Spacebook profile says they're not interested in men. This won't happen with other species — it'll only happen with the Asrion. You can, however, turn this feature off when you start a new game.

"It is a species meant to satirise the awful sexist trope of blue/green-skinned alien space babe, of course, which exists throughout various sci-fi media, from TV to games," Mitu Khandaker, the developer behind Redshirt, explained to me today in an email.

"It is a dynamic which intends to call out a few different aspects of sexism, from fetishisation and othering in general (someone, after I blogged about the Asrion, reminded me of http://creepywhiteguys.tumblr.com/ which is incredibly apt!) to awful people who don't respect women's sexual agency, and define it only in terms of their own. These are things which exist in both sci-fi, and the worst bits of social media culture in general, both things which Redshirt is lampooning," she continued.

Her intention was to make the player uncomfortable, sure — but hopefully, in doing so, also get the player to think about the problematic trope. It hasn't always worked out that way — recently a note on Tumblr criticised the game because it seemed as if the player paid for the "privilege" of being harassed. Thankfully Khandaker was sympathetic to this complaint, and promised to make this mechanic more apparent to players who want to play as Asrions. The necessity of doing so is apparent when you consider that harassment toward women is kind of normalised and expected, both from players and game developers alike.

"What I definitely did *not* want was for the player to experience any actual distress they did not expect, and so as soon as it was brought to my attention that this had happened, I realised what I'd done wrong, which is not to properly frame the experience for any player who might have the potential to be triggered by the dynamic, and allow them to opt-in to it," Khandaker said.

It's worth noting that the Asrions aren't the only commentary Khandaker makes in the game — really, the entire thing is a commentary about the way we use Facebook today. When I played a preview build a few months ago, I found myself gaming relationships and grinding out abilities to meet the right people and get the right jobs.

"The entire game is kind of a darkly tongue-in-cheek look at a possible dystopian future, so I guess the whole thing is intended to critique the ways in which social networking mechanics can, in part, make us treat others as resources or currency; the whole way the game forces you to play can be kind of cynical in itself," Khandaker explained.

You can buy Redshirt from Steam here.

Top image: Indie Statik. Note that the description for the Asrion reads, "Often mistakently perceived to be an empowered, all-female society, but actually just horrendously objectified by everyone else." Clever.


Comments

    "Male non-playable characters can sometimes be bigoted, and bigoted characters will give the player attention even if their Spacebook profile says they’re not interested in men."

    Because women can't be bigoted, or lesbians/bisexuals aggressive in their pursuit of heterosexual women.

      I understand your argument, but I guess if a woman is aggresive with how they pursue men she would be considered a slut and subsequantly denegrated and made fun of. If a guy gets called a slut its pretty much a badge of honor. So I get the logic there.

      But the game is just satire, unless the creator really wants to fight lesbian green alien rights haha.

      Because that just doesn't happen, dude. Women don't catcall women (or men) on the streets. It's functionally always men that do this.

    How the hell was my comment inappropriate?

    Tvtropes explains this oddly-specific sci-fi archetype better than Patricia Hernandez ever could.

    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe

      Why dig at the author of the article? That's completely unnecessary.

        You must be new here.

          Nope. Kotaku Aus has generally been a community free of that sort of bullshit, with a few unfortunate exceptions.

            Read any Patricia Hernandez, Plunkett or Bashcraft tweet-length articles which are just rehashed crap they found on Reddit or Tumblr and relinked here. Or even worse, their making mountains out of non-issue molehills. They try oh, so hard to be legitimate 'videogame journalists' but the second you squeeze out another 'article' about Cheetos, you cannot expect us to take you seriously when you most desire it. Or my favourite, when two or more writers have obviously no correspondence within Gawker and push out the same article hours within each other, or sometimes even years apart.

            http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/04/the-real-problem-with-that-controversial-sexy-video-game-sorceress/comment-page-2/#comment-1233780
            http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/02/why-were-there-no-women-presenters-at-the-playstation-4-event/
            http://kotaku.com/f-ck-cheetos-481537557
            http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/05/the-gay-joke-in-far-cry-3-blood-dragon-is-harmless-or-is-it/
            http://www.kotaku.com.au/2013/11/little-adorable-girl-practices-bowing-with-a-korean-robot/

            Kotaku AU is something I've been reading for a long time (I daresay longer than you) but after Tracey and Crecente left for the greener pastures of Polygon, the editors they replaced them with aren't even potty-trained. I'm guessing you haven't been reading the comment sections then, because the readership is becoming increasingly vocal at the dip in quality. Yes, there is still quality stuff to be found here, but the signal to noise ratio has gone down the shitter makes it harder for people like me to sift through the garbage.

              Thanks for the condescension. That was also unnecessary.

              So what part of this article do you have issue with? It's not 'tweet length' and it's reporting on an issue that has arisen with a developer of a successful indie game. There was no need to attack the author on it.

    Funny..
    But we all know guys are assholes nothing new there.
    Anyone who would play this sort of game wouldn't be enlightened. They would be annoyed they can't get their female green alien to have kinky sex with everything then go back to masturbating on chat roulette.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now