Heavy Rain’s sexism problem

21 Dec

Oh, Quantic Dream…

heavyrain

Heavy Rain is actually the game that made me want to start a blog. And that’s not a good thing. So expect this to be a bit of a rant.

I was really intrigued by Heavy Rain when it was first announced. I’m always up for a non-traditional gaming experience, and I thought that, even if the game sucked, it would at least be a cool experiment.

I played it on release and, overall, enjoyed it. I loved the threat of permanent death for any of the main characters, and the finger scene is still one of the most tense moments I’ve experienced in gaming. There was one trial that I failed, making me feel genuinely guilty, and this was one of the first games I can think of that (attempted) to seriously delve into the parent/child relationship that has been so popular in 2013. The game wasn’t perfect, but at least it was trying to do some unique, genre-pushing things.

So it’s really too bad that Madison Paige is an abysmal character.

Let’s get this out of the way first: Madison is not a real person, so I’m not actually targeting “her.” I’m saying that David Cage wrote a terrible, sexist character, which dragged his game down and ensured it would stay mired in some of the most immature elements of the gaming industry.

At first, I was sad. Here was a really interesting, if flawed, game that obviously wanted me to take it seriously. But Madison was this huge blip that made any serious, artistic statements almost ridiculous to me. She was the product of bad writing and characterization and just… sexism. Straight up sexism. It really sucked that a game I would otherwise have been happy to recommend to others had these really squicky parts.

So I went to the internet to commiserate with other gamers. Even three years ago, the online gaming community had less of a social justice conversation going on, but it was still there. But I couldn’t seem to find anyone talking about the sexism in the game. Instead, I found a bunch of gamers talking about how the “Madison is almost raped in a dream” sequence made them feel like they could relate to women’s fears better. (I wish I could find these comments now. But they were mostly made on forums, and I don’t have enough Google Fu to find them.)

Maybe the conversation was happening somewhere, and I just couldn’t find it. But my experience was that gamers weren’t having the same experience as me with the game. Complaints were much more focused on loopholes and dislike of the QTE gameplay — both valid complaints — and maybe someone would mention that Madison was a shallow character. It was very, very frustrating for me, and that feeling was what made me want to start this blog.

Happily, there are a bunch of people talking about it now. If you go google “Heavy Rain is sexist” right now, you’ll get a bunch of hits. I mean, if Cracked is talking about it, the issue has basically hit the mainstream. But, you know what? I got around to playing Beyond: Two Souls recently, and it only made me more annoyed about Heavy Rain. And I really, really feel like talking about it.

Let’s start with the “dream threat-of-rape” part…

I probably should’ve known at this point…

So this scene starts with Madison taking a shower, and the gamer gets full-on shots of her naked breasts and butt (the camera lingers on her butt, too).

Guys, there’s nothing wrong with nudity. There’s nothing wrong with showers or characters taking showers. But why is there an extended scene of a character taking a shower at this point in the game? What does this scene accomplish for the narrative?

Large portions of Heavy Rain concern themselves with the mundane details in our lives. Ethan trying to get his kid to start his homework. Jayden bouncing a tennis ball against the wall. I get that — and I think it’s one of the more interesting risks the game takes — but I don’t think the shower scene is one of those times. First of all, the only interaction you have with the scene is whether you want to turn the water off (and end the scene) or not. Typically, when the game has you perform mundane actions, you do every little bit of that action through a QTE. The gamer is literally sitting back and watching Madison take a shower with these really strange, voyeuristic shots in which you see every part of her body except for her vulva.

And, within the context, of the rest of the game, I’m not willing to read this scene innocently. Perhaps, if it’d been just one scene in the entire game, I would say “oh, it’s just a shower.”

Also, fun fact: Madison’s body was modeled after real-life model Jacqui Ainsley, but she was voiced by Judi Beecher. The other three characters’ body models were all based off of their voice actors. What’s up with the discrepancy?

The obvious answer is that Madison is partially meant to titillate the viewer. At the very, very least, she’s meant to be sexy. Now, again, there’s nothing wrong with sexy characters blah blah blah. Look, we all know this already. But there’s got to be something else to a character other than sexiness (more about this later, trust me, plenty more), especially in a game that has three other main characters that have more depth to them than “look at my slinky walk and my naked nakedness.”

So we move on from the shower scene to an over the top there’s-an-intruder-in-my-apartment scene that has attempted rape overtones (and don’t bother trying to argue otherwise because she’s in her skivvies and is thrown on her bed, so…).

Again, I’m cool with games dealing with violence against women — that’s a valid topic for media. You just, you know, have to not suck at it. And this game does suck at dealing with violence against women and specifically sexual violence.

Because you know what happens? Madison has her throat slit and she WAKES UP. It was all a dream.

But, all right. Does Madison have some reason to be having a dream about violent home intruders? Something in her past maybe? (lol like we ever get enough characterization to learn about her past) Maybe she’s on the run. Maybe she’s being hunted by a clandestine group she got involved in during her journalistic adventures. (Seriously, what kind of journalist makes enough money to live in a ritzy apartment like that by herself? Especially one in her twenties. But, you’re right, sorry, I shouldn’t have expected David Cage to actually think this character through enough to consider details like that.)

Nope. This scene has absolutely no significance to the plot. It’s never brought up again. It adds some empty action to the game, I guess, which is probably a big part of why it’s there.

And maybe this really was an attempt to help get the male majority of gamers to get into the head space of a woman. All vulnerable in the face of physically stronger men. Scared by the constant threat of sexual violence. I sure hope not, though, because that’s sexist as shit.

All that other sexualized violence too

The main problem here is that we’re not just dealing with the threat of sexual violence. I really, genuinely think games are capable of handling that topic well. (Later, I’ll talk about it a bit.)

But the violence against Madison in this game is more sexualized than anything else. Worse, it’s constant. Almost all of Madison’s major set pieces within the game have to do with sexual assault and often put her in a position to be easily ogled at by the player.

How about that part of the game where Madison goes to investigate a red herring, The Doc.

I guess I’ll give the plot relevance of this part a pass (red herrings are fair game in a mystery), even though, seriously, can Madison get one important part of the game?!

So Madison goes to see this guy and he immediately decides to assault her, I guess. It seems like all the men in this game want to assault Madison, so that pretty much seems par for the course. She either gets drugged or knocked out and has to fight her way out of this guys murder basement.

The entire scene is very, very sexually violent. At about 6:27 in that video the “doctor” is about to rape her with an electric drill.

Again, like the earlier scene, this one is completely over the top. She goes to talk to to a stranger and he decides to rape, torture, and murder her? Incredibly, grotesquely violent assaults certainly do happen in real life, but they’re by far the exception. In a game that has some veneer of the banal, these scenes stand out.

And then, by far my favorite of all of these scenes, is the one where Madison is forced to strip at gunpoint.

She goes to a club to get information out of the owner (I can’t honestly remember why or for what information), and, to get closer to him, sexes herself up by putting on more make-up, unbuttoning her shirt, and tearing her skirt so that it’s shorter. She dances a bit (there’s a definite up-skirt shot at 3:22), he takes an interest, she intimates they should go have sex, and he brings her up to his office.

The club owner wants her to strip and when she shows hesitation (the player doesn’t have a choice), he pulls a gun on her.

There are a few options the player can choose here. You can have Madison keep her clothes on and just sort of dance around a bit before incapacitating the club owner. Or, like the above video, you can have her strip down to only her underwear (that’s minus the bra, to be clear) at which point Madison will start to dance seductively in order to distract the club owner while she grabs a lamp to hit him over the head with.

For a game that’s trying to do a lot of the same things as film, I’m going to take the shots seriously. In this scene, the shots of Madison are entirely unsympathetic. There are ways that this scene could have seemed to be from Madison’s perspective — the camera can be an agent in making us feel empathy for her. Instead, we get full body shots of her as she gets progressively more naked. When she does her striptease for the club owner, we see her from the club owner’s perspective (that is, we get a shot of her, bent-over, waving her butt around at the camera) rather than seeing her get ready to grab the lamp.

It really seems that Madison exists solely to be sexualized in violent circumstances, whether it’s the literal threat of rape or a coerced (by gunpoint) striptease scene. How many straight male gamers missed the menace of this scene and mostly enjoyed it for its “sexy” content? I don’t think developers have to account for everything their player base uses a game for, but the developers here aren’t trying for anything different. The striptease scene isn’t shot in a way to make the player empathize with Madison any more than with the club owner. There’s literally nothing there to discourage someone from getting aroused from a woman being forced to perform sexual acts with the threat of violence.

Maybe Madison is constantly getting into sexualized situations because of a lack of imagination. Perhaps the developers couldn’t think of anything else for a woman to do in their game. I wouldn’t be all that surprised, considering Madison has the least reason to be in the game.

Madison exists to be Ethan’s happy ending

At the very start of the game, the three male main characters all have a reasons to be in this game. Ethan is searching for his son. Jayden is investigating the Origami Killer murders (I think they did a bad job with his story, but he still has reasonable motivation to be there). Scott is a PD on the search for the Origami Killer.

Why the hell is Madison there? She only becomes involved in the events of the game upon meeting Ethan and nurturing him back to health. And on that flimsiest of reasons she gets interested enough in his problems to apparently risk life and limb multiple times to investigate the Origami Killer.

Basically, she’s there because she’s The Girl. She has almost no backstory or characterization. Really, by the end of the game, we know almost nothing about her. It’s enough to know that she’s The Girl, oh, and also, she’s Ethan’s reward at the end of the game.

Time to talk about the sex scene.

[WARNING: awkward video game sex scene. You might not want to watch this.]

Other than everything about this making me want to cringe, there’s a lot in here that helps explain why Madison is in the game at all.

[On a side note: I didn’t do the sex scene in my playthrough, because what the fuck, dude. You’re on a time limit to save your son. Why are you having sex right now?!]

Here, all that stuff earlier about how the camera tends to place us an unsympathetic distance away from Madison makes more sense. This sex scene takes place from Ethan’s perspective, and the player has no control over Madison. Instead, they control each of Ethan’s movements as he takes off her clothes and clumsily fondles her. (Seriously, games, wait for technology to progress a few more years before we start in on the sex scenes…)

Madison, who is already made into an object of desire for some imagined ideal of the male gamer, is transformed into an NPC while Ethan is the protagonist and actor in the sex scene. There’s no way this scene would’ve happened from Madison’s perspective. That would’ve meant the player would have to have sex with another man.

Further, in the ending that’s considered the “best” by many players, Ethan is rewarded for all of his troubles in the game by a relationship with Madison. And her role in the game suddenly becomes clear.

Like in many of the “save the princess” style games, the hero is rewarded by a potential sexual relationship with a woman. (That’s why there are all those jokes about Link/Zelda and Mario/Peach.) In Heavy Rain, there’s a little less princess saving, but Madison still essentially exists to reward the player. Do any of her other endings really make sense for the story? Since her only connection to the story is through Ethan, the only ending connected to the story is the one that ends with Ethan as well.

At least Beyond was better

Beyond was so, so much better when it came to female characters. By that, I mean that Ellen Page did a fantastic job as Jodie.

Maybe it was easier for David Cage to write a female lead when she was the only lead, especially when he already had an actress as his base. I say this because even though Jodie was fully realized, the other female characters didn’t do so well.

Nearly all of the other major characters in the game are male, and the women who did exist are mothers. There’s Tuesday, who I’d argue is definitely the least interesting of the homeless characters. Her story is literally that she’s homeless and pregnant, while the others have arguably (I would argue…) more interesting and compelling stories. There’s Jodie’s mom, who is the less interesting “nice, if somewhat neglectful mother” to the more compelling, if more assholish father. The mean girls at the party and their mom…. The Native American grandmother. (She had more of a role, but that part was also super racist, so…. Let’s not get into that.) There were just a lot of moms who weren’t defined by much else.

Jodie exists in a context where there would be a lot of men in real life. Scientific research, the army, government. But, first of all, this is a sci-fi video game, and it doesn’t have to be realistic. And even in real life there’d be more women than this in Jodie’s life. In my opinion, it’s an oversight on the developer’s part to have so many major male characters and only one major female character (even if we spend the most time with her).

Sexual assault is treated differently in this game than in Heavy Rain. I thought the scene where Jodie is homeless and a man on the street offers her money for a blowjob was, actually, exceptional.

That’s a real life circumstance right there, and it actually contains social critique. Jodie’s appearance at that point is in stark contrast to Madison — underlining how sexual assault doesn’t just happen to the most attractive — and the power dynamics of the scene are actually very scary. Jodie is in a vulnerable position in more ways than one, and the man is taking advantage of that fact. At the point when Jodie refuses and the man gets violent, it doesn’t feel overblown. Instead, if feels plausible, which is horrifying enough without drills and masked men breaking into apartments. Additionally, at that point, I was already invested in Jodie’s perspective, so I had no issues identifying with her instead of with the creep who proposed she prostitute herself.

The scene in the bar is a little less successful. Bars are definitely places where sexual assault is sadly a little more common than I’m sure any of us would like. But the scene probably would have been better if it’d been a little more realistic. For example, if the men had tried to get Jodie drunk, gotten her to go with them to another location, or even cornered her in the bathroom. The fact that they tried to rape her on the pool table in full view of the mysteriously disappearing bartender could happen but is much less likely.

There’s also a shower scene in Beyond (actually, there are two, but one is more similar to Heavy Rain), but it’s much more mild. Honestly, I’m not sure what I think about it. Jodie’s way of holding herself and walking strikes me as more realistic and less sexualized than Madison’s, which goes a long way toward me being less squicked out by this scene. The biggest question I’m left with is why anyone would wear a ponytail in the shower.

Maybe David Cage will get it right next time?

Like I said earlier, playing Beyond made me angry all over again about Heavy Rain, but that’s really because Beyond did so much right. Jodie was probably my favorite female game character this year, which only makes Madison seem even worse. I’m crossing my fingers that David Cage can get it right next time, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Did Heavy Rain piss you off to? Tell me about it! Seriously. Sharing the pain makes it easier.

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30 Responses to “Heavy Rain’s sexism problem”

  1. Magpie Mind December 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    Great article. Admittedly I didn’t notice the sexism this acutely whilst playing it, although I did notice the voyeuristic shower scenes (which I did indeed find quite disturbing). I think that David Cage as a writer is perhaps a bit too melodramatic and seems to have a tendency to create female characters who fall into terrible tropes and are regarded with overt sexual attention or sexual violence within their game universe. I agree that ‘Beyond’ shows a marked improvement, but I guess I’m happier that it shows an improvement rather than a further regression!

  2. Gabriel February 22, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    Madison is one of the coolest female characters out there and my personal favorite in Heavy rain. She is Lisbeth Salander of video games. All of your critique is biased and does not concern her as a person or as a character, but your own thoughts and obsessions. She may not be a real person, but I wish she were. She is beautiful, sexy, smart, loving, caring, strong and tough as a rock. The only thing I may want to object is that she is at times too feminist. But she rides a chopper and she kicks a*se and she succeeds where the others fail. This is NOT sexist by any means! Quite on the contrary IMHO. The girl you mentioned in “Beyond two souls” IS attractive, as all the women are, but she may have other problems and the context is different. Maybe you think that the horrible things happen only in movies, but I can tell from real life experience, that bad things happen to good people, and some women are quite unlucky to get into trouble way too often, without being their fault. The love scene with Ethan is quite appropriate, because love is so rare in the world, and one should enjoy the few moments when it’s there. This is ZEN. Is it her body that bothers you because she is beautiful and naked? I’ve seen absolutely no negative comments from you about Ethan’s naked bottom in the shower, and it was the same thing. The sexism is in your own mind. You are sexist because you are discriminating her. In your opinion she may not have a naked shower while it’s ok for a man. (Remember, her genitalia is not visble, but that’s also the case with Ethan.) The crazy doc or the other criminals who want to do horrible things to her are part of the plot so everything just makes sense for me. Do you really think that mafia members are asking polite for a girl to see a movie together? Not in this life. Drug dealers and hardcore criminals think in a way that’s beyond our understanding, because we use our commons sense and our actions are not in conflict with the law. I have seen real life criminals in Balkan area of Europe (Ex-Yugoslavia) that could kidnap a girl from the open street in the daylight because she had a cute bottom and then rape her and kill her and feed her to dogs without a flinch. They did it about once or twice per month. I saw a criminal that permanently sold his own cousin to a forced prostitution slavery ring and he was happy and excited about the price he got for her (about 300$). These kind of people are out there and they are not blinking when they do their horrible deeds. They are not affraid of the police, but the police officers are affraid to meet them. While this may sound off-topic, I just brougt it up because the story in the game, while fictional, is at least plausible. Psycho killers like doc or the pervert Paco Mendez are real and they are dangerous. Girls have to protect themselves from this kind of sick psychos, as Madison does. She is a hero and a good example for any girl. Don’t be angry because of her nudity. A girl is sometimes naked and always beautiful not because we want to, but because that’s how things are. Life is unpredictable and so are we all.

  3. VV February 27, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    I completely agree with all of this.. The shower scene made me extremely uncomfortable and I only did it because I thought afterwards she would actually get dressed but nope. And then I couldn’t actually believe how it got progressively worse through the game! The stripping crap literally made me want to Brandon the game I can’t express how infuriating that was. I knew when the leading male characters were all introduced first that there would be one token hypersexualised female playable character and unfortunately I was proved very very right 😦 this game was clearly made to be related to by men. Not women. I found it awkward in the sex scene undressing a girl lol when I really obviously didn’t want to and it just all felt really bizarre! Such a shame as this really tainted the entire game for me..

  4. Pikachu July 7, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    There’s no rape-intent scene though. They kill her with a knife. All the guys have knifes. They had thrown her in the desk too. And tried to stab her. It was a murder scene, not a rape one.

  5. Nicole October 31, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    Thank you for your thoughtful criticism. I see you haven’t posted anything in a while, but I hope you will be back?
    I found your blog while looking for serious opinions on Elizabeth’s underwear-as-outerwear in Bioshock Infinite (loved *all* your thoughts on Infinite!), but I was pleased to see that someone other than me noticed how truly awful Madison is. I know Heavy Rain is old news now, but I found myself thinking about it again recently, for some reason. The (not-always-overt) sexism in that game is not the only reason I didn’t like it, but it certainly left a bad taste in my mouth. Madison, especially, has bothered me, in part because people like Gabriel (above) simply do not see the many problems with her characterization/the situations she is placed in. So…thank you for noticing. 🙂

  6. Rafael December 29, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    Hey I just finished Heavy Rain (going for the trophies now) and even though I really enjoyed its pace and awesome atmosphere, Madison bothered me a lot. I found myself rolling my eyes constantly during her scenes. “Oh, of course the camera’s gonna focus on her ass”, “Oh, of course she’s gonna sex herself up and dance provocatively”, “Oh, of course she’s gonna do a strip-tease”, etc… Sex, sex and sex, that was a constant during her scenes. I didn’t even allow Ethan to kiss her because I knew she would be there only as an object. Ugh. (And as a comparisom, Ethan’s shower scene is very quick, we don’t have the option to extend it and the camera doesn’t provide voyeuristic angles. It’s treated as a mundane thing, as it should be. Not the case with Madison’s shower scene unfortunately…) The game’s over and I don’t know anything about her past. I was really curious when I read in the game’s manual that she only seemed to be able to find sleep in motel rooms. I found it very intriguing and I wanted to know more about it… but in the end we end up with only that information from the manual. Because, like you said, her only connection to the story is through Ethan. The developers didn’t bother to show her as an individual character. And like Nicole said in one of the comments here, it’s really sad when people just can’t seem to understand there is a problem here. Madison could have been a great character, but the developers decided to take the easy (?) path and just put her there for eye candy most of the time.

  7. Jo January 13, 2015 at 11:12 am #

    Oh man. Reading this blog entry was very cathartic for me. I finally got around to playing heavy rain and not was i disappointed. I love alternative style games so I was really getting my hopes up but it turned out to be a huge bummer.

    As a male, I can say that this game made me sick for numerous reasons but Madisons useless dream sequence definitely made me sick to my stomach… And not even because it was violence against women but it was violence against women with BO PURPOSE!!!

    I do have a few points I disagree with in your blog. As a oldermale; who still seemingly can’t get female behind off his mind, even after rewatching the video, I can’t seem to really notice the camera lingering ON her behind. She’s just walking away from the shower.

    I also feel like the sex scene was slightly forced, but not entirely inconceivable. It was awkward but not terribly offending. If anything, I found that the pants being on both characters before the bed “hid” then to be the most insulting aspect of the entire sequence. Sex is a great thing. Not saying flaunt the details but jesus, at least represent it accurately.

    But as for the rest of your blog entry. I can’t agree with you more. The Dr scene was disgusting. Madison using her sex appeal to the Paco guy was also conceivable (guys are pretty predictable and dumb but at least were simple) but then making the character strip on camera at gunpoint was fucking creepy.

    Overall I’m just kinda sick of the entire game. Even the aspects without sexism is just morbid and annoying.

    I understand that that is kind of the point of the game but still, it’s just not worth going through all that garbage to have no revelation of any deep kind. Was such a meh game

  8. Todpole February 13, 2015 at 7:49 am #

    The story has many problems and Madison is near the top of those problems, right behind “how did Jason die?” My problem is how pointless she is. All she is sex appeal and nothing else. Maybe if she was replaced by the mother maybe I wouldn’t be this annoyed with her.
    By the way, what are you thoughts on Lauren? She was my favorite character in the game as I understood her moment, She was fun being around later in the story and if Shelby lives gets one of my favorite endings. I must be a a real bastard if my favorite ending is the one were all four playable characters die.

  9. Lemonabe July 1, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    I’ve never played Heavy Rain because I don’t own a PS3, but I have always been interested in it for its story. After a few years, I finally decided to watch a YouTube play-through while working on some other things. I, too, took issue with the game’s casual usage of sexual violence and the over-sexualization of Madison. The meaningless sexual violence is unforgivable. Full stop. Part of the sexualization of the female can be written off as genre, as film noir often features brooding males and a woman who exists purely as a sexual backdrop. HOWEVER, this game was made in 2010, not 1930, and to have a “main” character endure that sort of characterization is ridiculous. This game could have been an impressive feat of storytelling, but instead it is hindered by these egregious problems. This aspect of your writing is clear, cogent, and professionally argued.

    You touch on this, but it could have been better stated – Madison’s existence in the second and third acts are primarily to function as Ethan’s matron. She finds him on the hotel balcony, bandages him (in a completely unrealistic scene), and helps him (primarily because she is his, and by function, the gamer’s, “goal”, which you argue very well.

    I wanted to write a quick comment, and encourage you as a fellow writer to keep writing!

  10. Deutscher EU-Austritt July 26, 2015 at 12:04 am #

    What do I think? You are not able to create and sell games (that’s what men do), so you whine about the work of others. You are not able to fix any of the world’s real problems, so you complain about the dignity of fictional characters. I have no idea how empty your life is that you end up writing generic rubbish like this, but if you’d invest the time and creativity you put into inventing the fictional problems of fictional people into something useful, you’d be wealthy, liked and a positive example of something. Yet you aere neither able nor willing to do that but instead run the feminazi version of Nazi Germany’s Reichskulturkammer – an institution which decided which artwork was ‘Aryan’ and allowed, and which one was a ‘threat to the Aryan race’ and had to be burned. With your rabid hate on human freedom and your lack of own ideas you are also an insult to the founding fathers of America and of the internet – who, for some reason, where all male. Pathetic. Don’t like it, don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that. Judging from your blog post the developers of that game should be supported, as they draw the ire of feminazi jihadis – fundamentalists with an extreme and murderous ideology.
    PS: I don’t want to get personal here, but the reason why you write stuff like that is sexual frustration. It forces you to think about things like gender and sexuality all the time. Imagine how much better your life could be if you fixed that. You may even, one day, give up on your hate of men (dick envy) and have children – as, otherwise, you’ll get deleted from the human DNA pool. I can’t imagine you want to be a loser, strong girl.

    • Ven December 29, 2015 at 3:27 am #

      Wow, shut up. GDIAF.

    • reiko July 20, 2016 at 9:47 am #

      I don’t know why you are being such a misogynist in this comment, but your way of talking as if you feel more superior than women, the fuck was that?

      • Lolo Cassiopeia July 28, 2016 at 5:22 pm #

        Reiko, are you really that stupid? No seriously, your inability to understand anything results in your immediate, “shallow” defense of “oh you’re sexist!” defense?

        Did it not occur to you how he’s (assuming he’s even a he) being satirical?

        He’s saying instead of making games or movies well for the world and to share your priorities inlife, your job seems to be whining about others works. You produce whining, that is your contribution to the world. Whining. And when you are under attack, you use your genitals as the reason you are a victim. Nevermind that this is the internet and you cant see anyones sex or skin cclor.

        One moment you complain about the game character having a shower scene and taking clothes off, but next moment you complain that you cant do it to the guy. Which is it? I thought you said the sex scene was gross so you didnt partake?

        I guess we should make sure our society should make sure women are covered up. Oh wait, you meant only in video games? Yeah, those virtual sluts. How dare they have sex on media. Isnt sex gross?

        We should shame men, let alone women who have too much sex. Slut shame and man-whore shame. Shame on anyone who says anything else /s

        • reiko July 28, 2016 at 8:34 pm #

          If I could point the stupid one here, I think it’s you. That shower comment was meant as a light joke… and a mock; how they’re able to do a 360 view of a woman showering whilst we get a full clothing male shower and just the butt shot of Ethan. lol Yeah, I prefer not to see anyone naked no matter what the hidden message of the game is. I think it’s a cheapskate way to attract perverts to play the game when there are other ways to gain publicity.

          Anyways, I’m done. You do you.

          • Lolo Cassiopeia July 28, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

            So? Get over it. Nobody said Heavy Rain was a deep game. It’s really your problem alone that you have such a negative and easily repulsed reaction to the human body. I’m sorry that you do, since, well, like not only are you human you’re also one later of textile away from being grossed out all the time. I guess, avoid the beach?

  11. reiko December 25, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Well, if it makes you feel better (I doubt it), I’m one of those gamers who opted to not see her naked. The third time around, I didn’t get her to the shower (Ethan’s shower scene I wish I could skip, but that one is not optional though…), I didn’t allow her to have sex with Ethan (I mean come on! That was the stupidest, most forced scene ever!), and I just barely let her strip only for her to unbutton her shirt. That’s all. I don’t want to see her naked. Seriously, it’s just gross. Norman on the other hand… lol but we didn’t get any naked shower scene of Norman. Dammit!

    Okay, in all seriousness, I was pissed at her character development in this story. I don’t see her necessity in this story. She came out of nowhere! I know some of you will argue that she is not exactly pointless, you know for her being a journalist and her role in collecting information and all, but look at this carefully. See one of the names of the chapters (First Encounter), it’s very obvious that her reason to be in this game is not because of her helping in solving the case, but her primary role is to be with Ethan. Hence, her role as Ethan’s reward after suffering for so long. That’s not a bad thing, of course. The problem I’m having with her role is definitely because she is too forced and it doesn’t seem natural at all; just like her trying to kiss Ethan. That was effing awkward and that’s the first reason why opted Ethan to not kiss her!

    If I may add some more, if you wanted to see her as an ‘insurance’ in case something happens to Norman Jayden, well, that only happens to noob players. Because in fact, I’m really good with the fighting scenes that I actually had no problem keeping Jayden alive throughout the game and made him the hero. That’s why I can decide whether I want to keep Madison alive or not, but if I do, I won’t allow her to live her life with Ethan. She can either become famous, or let her Insomnia worsen. If she annoys me, she can just die with the doc or at Shelby’s. No reason for me to keep her. Why should I? Her personality sucks as well (remember one of the ending scenes where Shaun is dead and both Ethan and her are at the grave, mourning and what did she say? Let’s forget about Shaun’s death because I can give you a new child! Like, girl!! How stupid and selfish can you be?!).

  12. Jen December 29, 2015 at 3:24 am #

    YES! All those points plus that Madison and the sex worker are basically the same. While playing my only thought was, how much someone must hate women to write such horrible scenes :/ And Taxidermist? I was never scared by a flipping game like that, ever!

  13. tallinn1960 March 30, 2016 at 1:49 pm #

    This is coming in late. But having stumbled upon Beyond two souls and Heavy rain just recently, an occasional research on internet reviews brought me here. I am always interested in sexism in pieces of fictional culture. Which both games obviously are.

    I made an experiment with my 18year-old daughter just this evening. I showed her the shower scene, only asking “what do you think about it?”

    My daughter asked me to stop the scene two minutes into the video (I haven’t seen more of it either yet – but I am only talking about the criticism of the shower scene). Then she told me that shower scenes in movies make her afraid as one is so vulnerable in a shower. She (she isn’t that much into thrillers) does not like to see such a scene.

    Naked women and men in a shower are a mem for being totally without any defense in each and every thriller since “Psycho”. So if you ask what purpose that scene serves in “Heavy Rain”, is it exactly what it has been in “Psycho”: introduce a situation which soon will become as dangerous (or deadly) as a situation can be. And yes, I’ve seen this mem in movies with a man in the shower.

    It has nothing to do with sexism.

    • Jon July 19, 2016 at 8:13 pm #

      The writer already said that there’s nothing wrong with nudity or showering. Yes, they’re often a situational device to used to convey vulnerability and danger, and to create suspense because hey you’re naked and relaxing so the killer has an easy target to strike. This was not how Madison’s scene played out in any way, she’s just randomly showering so your point is pretty much moot The problem in Madison’s shower scene, as well the character’s issue overall, is that she was showering in a way that’s meant only to titillate. Like the author said, you can’t interact with the gameplay for the scene, just opt YES or NO. You sit back and watch the camera pan around her boobs, ass and legs. The scene serves no narrative purpose either, which wouldn’t be out of place since the game has tons of mundane moments but most of those moments are again fully controllable. Combined with Madison’s shoddy characterization, the repeated sexualized violence she faces throughout the game, and the fact that she was physically based off a professional female model instead of her average looking voice actor like all the other main male characters, points to a less than enlightened female character written by a less than enlightened male writer.

      • tallinn1960 July 31, 2016 at 5:54 am #

        “This was not how Madison’s scene played out in any way, she’s just randomly showering so your point is pretty much moot ”

        That’s a claim without any proof, whereas for me and my daughter the scene played out that way.

        But the real point is: seeing something as sexist is in no way objective. You may see the scene as sexist, whereas others do not associate any sexist idea with the same scene. So how can you blame the author for something that YOU put into the scene, not him.

  14. Lucy August 18, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    I have only played the game for two hours and already found it quite male-oriented, if not sexist.

    Particularly the first few scenes I was annoyed with the traditional gender roles. I mean, come on. This guy doesn’t know where the plates in his own house are? He doesn’t even know how to open the cupboard? Has he never made the table in 10 years? His wife is clearly stressed, why doesn’t he help her more. Surely he can find something to do without her explicit guidance. Why doesn’t he wash his coffee cup? Why does he leave his dirty underwear on the bathroom floor? Why doesn’t he wash his hands after taking a piss? Why does he respond to the request for making the table as if he is going to do some big heroic task (Leave it to me)? Why does he not clean up the toys (car, swords) while his wife is away and doing shopping and child care? Clearly, from the clean looks of the house, his wife arranges all of that and he seems oblivious to the work it requires. Why does he turn on the water before finishing brushing his teeth (so wasteful, not sexist)? Why does he think having sex is a good idea if the kids are playing outside and a party needs preparation? Why does he drink straight out of the carton as if noone else will use the orange juice? Why does he not engage her in conversation about the party preparations that are stressing her out? No wonder they split up after Jason’s death.

    How come he hasn’t learned to engage Shaun in 11 or so years? He knows that he is not stimulated by ‘How was school?” He clearly needs another conversation method. Why does he need a written list on the wall to remind himself that his son needs food and sleep? I mean come on–has he not figured that out after all these years? Has he really not contribute any domestic or care labour while he was married? I am amazed at how well-behaved Shaun is in spite of his dad.

    It also annoys me that the police investigator guy with his cool glove looks almost exactly the same as Ethan.

    I know that some of these issues are the result of us clueless gamers playing him, but it doesn’t give us options to be a more aware and supportive father and husband.

    I want to play his wife!

  15. Quinn Cummins-Lune August 19, 2016 at 12:16 am #

    Yo Deutscher, if you don’t have any positive comments, just keep your mouth shut.

  16. Red pill February 13, 2017 at 4:40 am #

    No offense but you’re an idiot. You wanna talk all this crap about sexism but want to ignore some relevant facts. 1) Madison wasn’t the only one to have nude shower scenes… the game opens up with a male shower scene. And 2) the rapey vibe doctor had a captive male chained up in the same basement he had Madisono tied up in… you really want to argue this game is sexist??? Two of the.three points you being up are null and void because you were too ignorant to bring up any relevant things that disprove your rhetoric. It’s really tiring coming across people like you who want to cry sexism and other bullcrap… it’s a video game that is Centered around murders, assaults and dark seedy crimes. Of course some of these things are going to target women. They also target men and young boys. Get off your step stool trying to reach for a hit that ant there. Think critically for once in your life and coke up with fair assessments.

  17. Omar Awad February 17, 2017 at 7:02 pm #

    UGhhhh finally. So let me just share my gaming story. Im a gay male feminist. And video gaming was never really my thing. Then last year i saw beyond two souls in a store and decided to buy it. I fell in love. The game had its faults but jodie was SUCH an interesting female character(even if she was the only one). I was surprised a non sexualized female main character existed in a video game because i knew how sexist the gaming community was. So i decided from then on to buy and play each and every female led game. I bought the last of us, tombraider 2013, remember me, infamous first light, mirror’s edge. I had three more games i was excited for: life is strange, tombraider 2, and heavy rain. I though if beyond was so good then another game by quantic dreams must be feminist(ish? I mean treats at least one female like a human), right? Well i was so wrong. I just finished it. The ending was nice but the game made me so mad throughout. Its sad that no one talks about how rediculous madison is. Every issue keeps getting brought up by gamers other than madison. GAAAAH

    • FireBrand (@jotak5555) February 17, 2017 at 8:15 pm #

      No offense taken or intended at all at your lifestyle and preferences but what the hell is up with your self-designation. It makes absolutely no sense, dude. (PS: Im not a white male, I didnt even grow up in the US or speak English as a first language… just saying before you assume, nobody liked being “pre-judged”)

      Your self-designation is like a gay person saying they are heterosexualists, which is like… who cares, man. Does it add to the conversation if I introduced myself to you and said I was a Mixed race Multinational Asexual who supported those having sex? You see how that’s odd?

      I’m sorry to say this also but by you saying you are a feminist, you are admitting that women are weak and aren’t treated equal around you. You draw attention to how weak and helpless women are immediately around your life. Obviously! Just think about it.

      Feminism movement of the early 20th century was about equal voting. 2nd wave was about many things including sexual liberation. Both are amazing! I only wish they happened sooner.

      But in modernity, what you’re saying is that women around you are still helpless and they are helpless unless people like you compensate for their lacking of everything.

      I refuse to believe that. I will never support a “feminist” for being a “woman” because I REFUSE to believe that women are the weaker sex. I REFUSE to be guilted into believing that women are oppressed as an entire sub-group. I REFUSE to be convinced that women all over this country are so weak, so easily brain washed, so bullied that they collectively are capable of being a slave-class.

      I refuse to equate women to a slave class.

      I can never call myself a “feminist” because I already live in a world where I treat people with “default” respect and don’t use their genitals or skin color to pre-determine how much I care about them or their worth.

      When individual shit bags show up, I will individually take them out, one by one. But I refuse to label women as victimized and helpless.

      And the last thing that a woman needs is support. Fuck that. I will help a person I respect if they are in a position of need. If that person has a penis or a vagina, I will help them if their heart is beautiful.

      I already have helped people even (ever bought a car for a complete stranger and taught them how to drive? Thats me) and I will continue to be selfish when I want to be and help others when I can.

      But what I will never do is pretend women are the weaker class.

      People need help in life. “Women” don’t. Because the women in my life have been the strongest fucking people in my life, and never gave up.

      • Gabriel Cornea February 17, 2017 at 10:44 pm #

        Dude, you just made my day! I couldn’t say it better!

  18. waynelittlewood July 25, 2017 at 9:01 pm #

    I’m not sure of the outcome of your game as there are so many possible ways it can pan out but she was actually the heroine in my playthrough. Jayden got himself killed, Ethan locked up. Scott, well Scott survived his dice with a watery grave. But Madison not only found out who the Origami killer was, she won the final battle and saved young Shaun. By far the most complete character in the game for me. Now I don’t know if any of the other characters have the climactic battle in other playthroughs. If she dies does Jayden follow his clues to the killer. Or any of the others. Or is he the killer? Does the game change accordingly.? I don’t know. All I do know is its obvious the writer of this didn’t play my outcome because she saved the day. And used everything in her power to do so.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    […] (You may check out this blog for an argument that is similar to mine concerning the game: https://howmanyprincesses.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/heavy-rain-is-really-sexist/) […]

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    […] playing Quantic Dreams’ Heavy Rain. It is an older game, so there is plenty written about it’s themes of sexism. I want to talk about my personal experience with Heavy Rain because, well, it’s important that […]

  3. Inclusive Design – Pros and Cons – Luke Artner - July 8, 2016

    […] females the game may not have warranted this criticism. For more information check out the blog at https://howmanyprincesses.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/heavy-rain-is-really-sexist/ On the other hand the necessity for inclusive design has the possibility to stifle an artist’s […]

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