Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Should whoever came up with "The Replacer" be replaced...?

Ok, so people may know me as a gamer who isn't a big fan of the sexism we can sometimes find in the industry. Well guess my reaction when I first saw this last week:

The Replacer, played by Peter Stormare, explains that he is there to fill-in for MW3 multiplayer players as they'll be spending all their time playing the new maps, fighting zombies and playing with a new gun. 

What does he do in your place? To list a few things: sit with your wife whilst she gives birth, go on a blind date with a fat girl, try and assemble furniture, chat women up at work whilst being an arse to your boss, and listen to your nan moan at you for never coming to visit anymore. Basically, he does a load of things a man "should" be doing.

Now, I could go on about how sexist this is in terms of how there is no female Replacer for the many female fans of the COD series (I'd suggest Jane Lynch), or that they missed a hilarious comedic opportunity for the Replacer to go on a girl's-night-out in place of a female player. Female COD players already put up with not having a female avatar to play as (not a pre-requisite for many female gamers, but it would be a nice touch), and here in the advert we don't see them depicted AT ALL. This is in stark contrast to the marketing for the main game a few months ago, where we see iJustine blowing s**t up with the boys. Here women are represented as angry, moaning or looking down at the silly man who can't build a bookcase. You could see how I could go on a big rant about this whole thing...

However, I'm not. Probably because despite the ad's flaws, Stormare is funny. I particularly love the monkey bit, which I think makes the whole advert and stopped me from raging after seeing the others (mainly because it doesn't involve a woman being annoyed or chatted up).

My main problem is the old joke of gamers as men who are irresponsible and would jump at the chance to avoid doing things they need to do in real life, just so they can play their precious games, often leaving women behind to deal with the consequences.

Now, gamers can laugh at it knowing that not all gamers are like that. The advert is tongue-in cheek really; laughing at a stereotype (at least I hope...I may be giving Activision's marketing team more credit than they're due, but hey let's be optimistic here). But people who don't play games...? They'll look at this and think: "OH THE GAMES INDUSTRY IS ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO LEAVE THEIR LIVES BEHIND TO PLAY THIS GAME! LET'S BAN GAMES!!"

I think we just have to be careful when marketing games, with games such as COD, as it could reinforce all the wrong kinds of stereotypes to people who don't know much about gaming (or much at all...). Shooter-style games are under a lot of scrutiny at the moment due to recent tragedies, and depicting male gamers as those who shut themselves away from real life to shoot at pixellated people is exactly the sort of thing Fox News & Co would like to grab and sensationalise. 

The Replacer is a funny idea, but I do think there could've been a better way to market this DLC and a better gender representation (for both sides) might be a start. To anyone thinking of commenting: How do you think it could've been marketed differently? What was your opinion when you first saw the advert? I'd be interested to know.

Btw, if anyone does need a Replacer to put their self-assembly furniture together for them, give me a buzz. I put every single piece of furniture in my room together. By myself. Even when it suggested 2 people. Hardcore.

They're all still standing too - knock on wood! Well...veneer covered MDF...

EDIT: I originally had John Abruzzi (the role Peter Stormare played in Prison Break) written down because I thought it was funny, because that character is someone you really don't want to fill in for you. Should've clarified that in my writing though, as some didn't realise I was making a joke and corrected me. I have since changed it to avoid any confusion and to make sure focus is on topic rather than a reference. And thanks to people for telling me what happens to him...I haven't got that far yet...


  1. The ad is good. Good enough to think about grabbing the game off the shelf.

    I like your write up.It is good and well written.

    Because I don't play video games means I believe in your all CAPS statement.

    Your web page design is very nice. I might sign up for one seeing yours.

    Best Always - Ben

  2. One thing I think they could have done better is make it possible to skip the 30 second advert on YouTube. You know, like every other and longer than 20 seconds.

  3. A great read thank you Ellen.

    I'm certainly no Call of Duty player but having played a bit of Modern Warfare, MW2 and Black Ops. I hoped to god they would've had playable female characters by now. This game is set in the somewhat near future is it not? By then I would expect women to be treated just as equal as anyone else. Yet in this game there aren't any female soldiers you can play? Appalling. I hope Treyarc are blind to that possibility rather than having a bone to pick with women. Ignorance is preferable over full-blown sexism.

    Admittedly I found the trailer funny, the monkey part that is. It really does seem that this trailer is pointed towards the straight male gamer. Having recently started my college course in media, I've found out in industries like gaming, you are often told to base everything on the larger demograph, as moral twisted as that can be.

    Thank you for writing this. I love to read other peoples similar views and opinions.