The last couple of years have seen a marked increase in sensitivity among gamers and the press, often in discussions about the industry and sexism. Some arguments about a specific game’s issues with women can be too easily dismissed as unimportant to the overall value of a release. Then there’s the rare trailer that should render any discussion moot; a trailer so jaw-droppingly wrong that your brain refuses to believe it could exist in modern times. Sometimes you get trailers like this one for Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z…
Where do I start? There’s Yaiba’s hateful, aggressively sexual way of talking to the woman he calls “Sugartits.” There’s the pioneering of the nonsensical, childish insult, “Take a suck…” And there’s Yaiba’s last line of “Just shut the fuck up,” shouted emphatically at the impossibly understanding woman on the other side of the conversation. Each moment seems to top the last for being the most repulsive.
There are so many troubling things here that it seems impossible to think anyone wouldn’t be grossed out on some level by this. It’s not just the dialogue--it’s the spirit of it. It’s just so angry, so crass, and lacking any irony or wit to it. This trailer is blunt in how its only interest is shouting insults at a woman, and it thinks that’s really compelling.
Watching it leaves me with a lot of “hows.” How does this exist? How did the dozens of people involved in making this game actually approve of this trailer and then share it with the world? How was there no one internally that didn’t anticipate any type of backlash and then cancel this ad? I hope this trailer happened because someone in the chain of command thought this would garner buzz for being so “edgy.” Otherwise, the creators of this video seem to think it appeals to a large number of gamers. But gamers aren’t childishly misogynistic enough to like this; at least I really, REALLY hope that’s not the case.
Watching it also got me thinking of a similar trailer. This video for Shadows of the Damned was excessively raunchy and childish too…
...but Shadows of the Damned’s trailer doesn’t bother me in any way like Yaiba’s does. I wouldn’t show it to my parents to prove how professional my chosen field is, but SotD’s lowbrow humor at least has some cleverness to it. The joke isn’t about laughing along with a character that bellows “I’ve always known exactly where to stick my sword...” at a woman; it’s about protagonist Garcia Hotspur’s endless references to penises. Both represent the troubling boys club mentality that’s prevalent in the community, but SotD did it with more than a little self-awareness. That kind of tongue-in-cheek attitude is something Yaiba desperately needs.
Despite the actual feelings it elicits, this trailer was meant to create interest in Yaiba. Until now, few had really been paying attention to Yaiba. The pre-release apathy was understandable, thanks to its combination of tired gaming tropes like zombies, ninjas, and cyborgs, but that perception could've potentially changed via a memorable video. And it has… from indifference to distaste. Now I want to play the final game, because I have to see if the actual dialogue could be this bad, if the main character is as unlikable, and if the low opinion of women is as prevelant as this trailer implies.
But until everyone can judge how much of the actual game is reflected in this two-minute embarrassment, I’m left wondering if this will be the last such trailer we’ll ever see or the first of many more to come. Will this type of backwards crap become a thing of the past once it’s clear that gamers have outgrown this kind of immature behavior? I want to think that the reaction to Yaiba will dissuade the next publisher from putting out something as bad as this, but history makes me think otherwise.