Why Did Best-Selling Video Game 'Dying Light' Remove A Line Of Dialogue About Violence Against Women?
The zombie-killing game Dying Light topped sales charts in January, with the title outpacing even popular Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto titles in the U.S.
But a curious patch to the game that removes a reference to violence against women raises questions about whether the game's producers decided that it was simply too hot for a video game audience that in the post-gamergate world has been part of a backlash against social justice themes in games.
The removed content revolves around a character named Troy, who you meet in the game towards the latter half of the story. Troy is a resident of a land called Harran, a fictional land loosely based off of the real-life country of Turkey.
When you meet Troy, you notice that part of her face has horrible scars. Here's what her character looks like:
If you play the game today, you'll still meet Troy and interact with her; her character will still have the scars. But what the game's developers did is implement a patch that removes a line of dialogue from the game from Troy explaining how she got the scars.
As one Gamefaqs (a popular gaming webboard) user who played the game explains, she says “something along the lines of 'my brother threw acid in my face just for talking about going to school. Funny how it takes the end of the world for me to be in charge of a man.'”
In other words, Troy is a survivor of patriarchal violence – and the fact that she's a leader of a faction of people when a zombie outbreak starts shows that she was able to overcome it.
So the question remains, why did the developers implement a patch to remove her backstory and simply not allow for any explanation of her scars?
I emailed Techland, the folks who made the game, to find out. This was the response from Paul Milewski, who works for them:
Yeah the line was removed from our final version. Nothing major though, we just decided to remove it in the end to keep a certain vibe and feeling to our story and characters. Troy is the leader the Embers. She is a strong character in charge of a crucial role and it was mentioned to us in final play tests that that piece of dialogue took away that from that feeling. That’s not something we wanted so we listened to what people were saying and we ditched it. Since the line is also standalone thing which has no connection with the story, it was an easy decision to just drop it.
It's important to understand the context of what is going on in Turkey – the country Harran is loosely based on – today. Following the rape and murder of a 20-year-old woman there, there have been mass protests calling for an end to violence against women. The issue of sexual and male violence against women is very prominent in the country today, which is why Troy's original story could've resonated strongly against such a backdrop.
But in a gaming market where a faction of gamers recently revolted against the very idea of realistic portrayals of women and the struggles they face, perhaps Troy's backstory was simply too controversial for Techland to maintain.