In Argentina, A Pro-Choice Advocate Protests With A Doom Mod

Image: Courtesy Florencia Rumpel

With Doom Fetito, one game developer is taking Argentinian women’s fight for abortion rights into a new arena: the world of Doom mods.

Following a massive, 500,000-person strong march on International Women’s Day, the fight over abortion rights in Argentina heated up this year as the country’s government announced that it would consider legislation to legalise the procedure. Abortion is currently only legal in Argentina in cases where the mother’s health is endangered, or in the case of a pregnancy resulting from rape.

Thousands of Argentinian women go through abortions in clandestine facilities every year, being forced to pay an enormous amount of money for the operation, and risking their lives in the process. This law project has already been presented six times in the past, but only in the latest attempt has the government agreed to a debate.

Both pro- and anti-abortion rights advocates have been demonstrating ever since. Thousands of women throughout the country started organising marches asking for free, safe, and legal abortion in public hospitals and medical centres.

The anti-abortion rights group is smaller, but vocal and wealthy, and creates eye-catching displays. At one point, it created an army of little plastic babies that it marched with but apparently that wasn’t big enough. Back in April, a giant foetus made of cardboard showed up during a march, and it didn’t take long for it to become an internet meme.

Soon afterwards, a local game developer, Florencia Rumpel, took part in the Anti-Fascist Game Jam. She saw it as a chance to portray the topic in a game, which she called Doom Fetito, or “Little Foetus Doom,” a title that pokes fun at both the giant cardboard foetus and also the opposition movement that created it.

“I found a tweet comparing the cardboard foetus with a Half-Life boss, and I thought it could also be a good fit for Doom,” she said. Rumpel had already developed a game on the subject using Twine, in which a college student finds out she’s pregnant and goes through the process of deciding what to do. She can decide to have an abortion, but only through illicit means.

For an encore, Rumpel thought a Doom mod would be an interesting challenge. “I have loved Doom ever since I was young, and thanks to the Beyond the Filter episode and everything that Liz Ryerson wrote about the topic, I knew that making a mod for it would be a possible thing to do,” she said.

Screenshot: Florencia Rumpel

As the cardboard foetus has a major visual message, the developer thought her commentary should be equally visual as well. Although Rumpel has an already-extensive games catalogue on itch.io, it was her first time experimenting with a mod for a 3D environment.

Doom’s 3D isn’t entirely 3D, which made things a bit easier, since Rumpel only had to draw sprites from different angles, and not actual 3D polygonal models. In addition to police officers and the foetus, the mod features neo-Nazis, priests, and anti-abortion women.

She tweaked some of the assets in Doom to represent elements of the debate: The game’s medkits became misoprostol, a drug that can medically induce abortion. “The armour’s colour was changed for the green used in the bandanas representing free, safe and legal abortion,” she added. In an especially pointed bit of commentary, she used the Nazi characters from another Id game, Wolfenstein 3-D, to stand in for the police.

And then there’s the foetus. Rumpel designed its sprite from scratch, and placed it on the map as the final boss. The map isn’t exactly complex, but it takes a good fight to get to the end of the level, starting barehanded and shooting your way through the last few enemies with a shotgun.

When the foetus is killed, a medkit shows up beneath it, and the game showcases the following message: “You defeated fetito! Give this misoprostol to those in need so they might defeat it too!”

It’s a fairly gruesome image, but it’s more about ridiculing the ridiculous tactics of the opposition. Doom Fetito represents the fight of Argentinian pro-choice women against the anti-abortion rights groups, mocking the fact that their continuous attempts to raise their voice led to the creation of a six-meter tall cardboard foetus roaming the streets.

“What these anti-rights people were doing was plain ridiculous, and someone had to point that out,” Rumpel said.

Having over 10 years of documentation and assets available for Doom modders to use is another benefit of working on an older game, but Rumpel quickly found out that many sites hosting them are old, and links are usually broken.

“There’s also an specific order of actions to follow, and not respecting that methodology will cause your mod to malfunction and making the task of finding the problem way harder,” she explained.

As such, the mod isn’t quite all she hoped it would be. Adding attacks to the giant foetus fight at the end of the level was on her to-do list, but she only had a few days until the end of the game jam. Rumpel said she’s unsure about doing another mod for Doom in the future, as “modding a game is a time blackhole.”

“I’d love for the two games I made to stop being relevant,” Rumpel said. The law will go up for a vote in Argentina’s senate on August 8. “For now, the fight continues.”


Comments

    I am pro choice, but a doom mod seems like in poor taste.

    Wait aren't the laws already allowing the standard cases for it anyway? Rape and Health issues? if it's not one of those a child is natural consequences of you actions at that point. You can't just accidently have a kid.

      You absolutely can accidentally become pregnant: no physical or chemical contraceptive has 100% efficacy (standard condom is 80-90%, female contraceptive pill is about 90%).

      Positioning pregnancy as a shameful consequence of sex, thereby effectively individualising responsibility in an environment where a woman's agency in this matter is bound by the broader social conscience, is pretty reprehensible.

      People have sex, it's normal. Sometimes they get pregnant, and they should have the tools to decide what to do with their lives, instead of having to listen to tools telling them they're shit for being pregnant.

        Once again if you have sex you should be well aware that no contraception is 100% effective. it's not a shaming thing. it's a well known risk. If you chose to have sex, then it is a consequence of those actions. like playing a full contact sport. you might be able to wear padding and reduce the liklihood of getting hurt but, by virtue of competing you put yourself at risk. when you get a concussion you don't get to say "I took the risk of playing a sport but, will not accept being hurt".

        If you made a choice here, if you are a concenting adult, you have absolutely no one else to blame other than yourself for whatever consequences that fall on you.

        I understand in this society we always want to remove ourselves from the consequences of our actions. To blame anyone or anything other than ourselves. To do anything to escape the consequences of our actions. This is not something that should be encouraged. You chose to sleep with someone. At the end of the day, you cannot accidently create life. you can't. to say otherwise is to reject your responsiblity. unless you were raped, you made a conscious decision. live with it.

          So if you get badly injured in a sport, you shouldn't get surgery or anything, you should just live with the injury?

          I hope your life can stay so black and white for you, and that you never get something happen to you that is so devastating that you cannot deal with it. For many people, regardless of 'fault' things that happen to them can be too much to be able to cope with.

    This is insanely bad taste. What is this person 13?

      probably religious there about the same age.

        Getting past the nonsensical grammar, I still can't quite understand what point you are trying to make.

    Context for international players

    At the moment abortion is a grey legal area in Argentina. Abortions can only be performed if the pregnancy can harm the health of the parent or in the case of rape. If you are pregnant in Argentina and wish to have an abortion, you risk facing jail time. If the procedure isn't done properly you risk getting injured or even dying. Tons of women die every year in Argentina because abortion isn't legal in all cases.

    Since this sucks, feminism has been pushing for legal abortion in all cases since forever and has been ignored until recently. Shit got weird. No, seriously. I can't stress this enough. SHIT GOT WEIRD.

    In February a local talk show hosted a debate about abortion with feminist speakers. This caught everyone by surprise, but also got everyone talking about abortion. Later that month, Argentinian president Mauricio (fascist and misogynist bastard) Macri (gato) agreed that it was necessary to have a debate about abortion. We still don't have legal abortion, mind you, but whatever.

    Fast forward to March 25th and we get a protest orchestrated by the most conservative sectors of Argentinian society to stop abortion from being legal. The people who marched were:

    A woman whose tactic to stop abortion is to give away little plastic babies. This woman is the daughter of Videla's layer. Videla was a dictator in Argentina's most gruesome dictatorship.
    Actual neo nazis.
    Catholic people (worshipers, priests, nuns, you name it)
    They all marched alongside this thing.

    https://twitter.com/IglesiasDiego/status/978013358594121728

    See? I told you it was weird.

    If you don't feel like downloading this mod, you can watch the sidebar video.

    Going against the grain here, apparently, but I'm just gonna say it: Fuck yeah, Doom.

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