I had this minor delusion that the choices I make in The Witcher will eventually mean something, but so far they haven’t. I’ve played the game for 32 hours since I started. I’m scouring the game for memorable moments and joyful discoveries, but so far I have, at the most, managed to mostly be unimpressed.
There’s some snark happening, but that’s about as far as it goes. Geralt’s progressively fuzzier mug also fascinates, although I’m mildly miffed that I have to go to the barbershop now and then to shave it off.
I managed to work too much for a few weeks, so now I’m stuck with about three hours of playing.
On occasion I forget why I dislike the game. Janky controllers aside, I can play almost anything no matter how horrid the gameplay. But then it pops up, often in the middle of the screen.
A woman wearing almost nothing or with a blouse gaping so wide I can see her nipples. It’s not exactly a secret that The Witcher 3 sexualizes and makes the women in the game sexually available to Geralt at the drop of a hat, but I can’t avoid it. In other games where romance and sex is an option I have to opt in.
In The Witcher 3 I have to opt out. The women will come on to Geralt in an almost predatory fashion, they’ll parade naked or almost naked in front of him, invite him to baths, picnics and god knows what else.
In most other games this is optional. Even in games focused solely on romantic conquests (or perhaps common understandings) I as a player get to initialize the relationship.
In The Witcher 3 it feels as if a flip is switched, and then it’s on.
I’m not sure if it is the predatory nature of the women in the Witcher that’s really the problem or if it is the fact that I constantly have to rebuff them.
Maybe it is simply that I don’t want to be pursued and so obviously desired by these almost constantly bare chested and pinch nippled women. I find it interesting that it seems to be a desired behaviour from women, but when men do the same – as for instance in Dragon Age II – it isn’t quite as popular. Anders in Dragon Age II was criticized for pursuing a romance with Hawke, the player character. But strangely enough, men don’t like being pursued by other men.
I think the behaviour of women in The Witcher 3 may be yet another reflection of how men want or expect women to behave, and as a power fantasy it translates badly at least from my perspective. I don’t feel desired when playing Geralt. I fell hounded and sometimes apologetic for letting these women down.
It strikes me as odd how Geralt need not pursue any of them.
There is of course more than just a power fantasy created by CD Project Red going on here. There’s also the original novels by Andrej Sapkowski, which I did read a very long time ago. So long in fact that I barely remember them, but I do remember the mild sexism.
Based on such material, I’m not really surprised the game ended up where it did. Maybe I’m being too harsh and unfair. I can see where the game hooks into people and where it tries to hook into me, but so far it hasn’t been entirely successful. What I do know is that 30+ hours in, I will try to finish the game and move on to the next “most despised” in my list.
I’m trying hard to be appreciative of where The Witcher 3 succeeds an I’ll hopefully have reason to return to those aspects of the game at some point.
For now, I’m left to fend off lusty sorceresses and others trying to get inside poor Geralt’s breeches.
Power fantasy indeed.