From the “how did this get past the lawyers?” files

[Trigger Warning for abduction, assault, rape and treatment of women as commodities]

Duke Nukem Forever’s “Capture the Babe” CTF variant requires you to abduct a woman to score. The mode is revealed in the latest issue of Official Xbox Magazine US where they explain that Gearbox will give the option to give her a “slap” if she “freaks out” as you drag her across the map.

Err… so, um… what does the company have to say about this?

Speaking to the magazine, Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford said: “Our goal isn’t to shock people, but I think there’s some stuff that’s a bit uncomfortable. I mean, the alien’s plan is to capture our women and impregnate them to breed an alien army, so you can imagine some horrible shit happens.”


So lets get this straight. Because it’s in a game where extraterrestrial invaders* want to rape women and forcibly breed them, it’s ok that the “good guys” treat women as trophy objects who are to be abducted and assaulted if they protest.

Oh, when you put it that way. Fuck you, Gearbox.

It’s neigh impossible to find pictures online to see for yourself. Why, you might ask? Well

“You can get some things across in screenshots but not really,” he said.


* Note that a common definition for “alien” is “A person, animal, plant, or other thing which is from outside the family, group, organization, or territory under consideration.” Lets not go there. [].

15 thoughts on “From the “how did this get past the lawyers?” files

  1. koipond

    Of course the comment section is full of “Oh yeah! I really want that game now.”

    I just can’t really comprehend it. I think you can’t sum it up better than, “Fuck you, Gearbox.”

  2. PharaohKatt

    I was just about to submit this story when in saw this post up. It’s absolutely horrifying! I am reminded now why I stopped going to Kotaku. All the comments about how awesome it is, not to mention the ones pre-emptiveley attacking feminists… Makes me sick to my stomach. It’s certainly a game I wont be buying now.

  3. Azkyroth

    Having grown up with the Duke Nukem games I’d always interpreted them as an over-the-top parody of the “macho” action hero genre – sort of Aliens meets Johnny Bravo…

    This seems like a departure from that, though. It doesn’t sound like it adds anything to the game, certainly… :/

    1. Terri

      Yeah, Duke was always the hyper-macho, misogynistic, action-movie hero type. It was all about getting big guns and babes throughout. Even though I know it should twig every feminist sensibility I have, I found a lot of Duke Nukem amusing as a teenager because it was so intentionally over-the-top and unashamed about it.

      But this seems like they’ve pointlessly crossed Duke with the attitude towards hookers from GTA, and even though I feel like I shouldn’t be shocked that the misogynistic Duke would fit in with this CTF mod, at the same time it’s like… wasn’t the point of Duke that he was so awesome that women would just naturally flock to his side? Slapping a woman around to get her to come with him seems beneath him, even within the “women are rewards” attitude the game takes in general. Shouldn’t she be breathlessly clinging to his chiselled abs or something?

      1. Mary

        I am always a bit sceptical as a geek about sweeping statements about cultural change without evidence (show me the data!) but I think a possible hypothesis at least is that the cultural picture of masculinity has moved on, and for the worse on this axis.

        Perhaps, at the time of Duke Nukem 3D, the over-the-top masculine hero was ‘meant’ to attract women like flies, now the over-the-top masculine hero isn’t meant to stop at willing women? :/

      2. Liz Walsh

        Man, that’d be awesome, the mental image of this woman clinging off Duke’s chiseled abs, slowing him down as he runs back to base.

  4. Jayn

    Just the fact that it’s called ‘Capture the Babe’ is bad enough–there’s no good way of reading that. But the actual mechanics of it pushes it into a whole new ballpark.

  5. Keith Ealanta

    Well I’ve just had an interesting discussion with Randy Pitchford via email about this (he responded within minutes to my post to the company.
    I won’t quote directly from the emails as I didn’t warn him in advance that I might, but I’ve offered him the opportunity to to send me a link or comment that I can post here so he can make direct answer to our concerns.
    I’d say that (as he characterises it) the game elements being described are no _more_ misogynistic than any of the rest of the Duke Nukem content.
    He points out that the whole game is intended to by satirical/ironic (including the aliens turning men into pigs) but as I pointed out to him it’s very hard to tell whether it’s satire or misogyny with satire being used to excuse it.
    He offers one other detail which is that there has been something of a press recasting of the situation – I want to pass on his description of the real situation, but please do not take this as my saying this excuses things – All I think it does is cast this particular feature back into the general mess that is the rest of the Duke Nukem world.
    His description – in summary – is that the scene is one of the Duke rescuing his girlfriend from “the baddies” (ie the other team) and while DN runs away with her over his shoulder, he can give her “a little love pat” on the backside to let her know all is OK if she starts to get impatient.
    I don’t even want to begin analysing all that is wrong with that, but to be honest I think he’s probably right that it is actually no worse than any other component of the game. If we accept the satirical/ironic nature of the game (no, not at all sure I do) then it’s just part of the overall style.

    Still, I won’t be buying the game.

    BTW, taking my blog post off line for a little while I think about it all.

  6. Deanne

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. When I saw the video of the demo that was shown at PAX East (which ends with two women in schoolgirl outfits getting up from their knees after servicing Duke/the player), I knew I wouldn’t be buying any product from this company.

  7. Sam

    I can’t say I’m terribly surprised at this. Video games (along with most other entertainment media) have been getting steadily stupider over the last decade or two, and are now pandering straight to the Idiocracy crowd without apology as far as I can tell.

    I’m sure “Ow, My Balls!” will be debuting on television complete with Brawndo ads, soon…

  8. Ben

    The Escapist has posted a new item about the game, and I couldn’t resist responding.
    “Speaking to CVG, Pitchford echoed recent comments where he said that Duke Nukem is not as bad as he might seem on the surface. “It’s funny, Duke isn’t a misogynist,” Pitchford said.”

    “Pitchford points out how Duke actually puts himself “at great risk” to make sure women are safe, which is the premise of Duke Nukem Forever. He adds that it’d be interesting to see what a female version of Duke Nukem would be like, saying: “Maybe that’s a game.””

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