In a video game where you play a frontier-era outlaw who murders and steals, one social justice warrior is mad that in addition to the thousands of people in the game you can kill, you can also kill a suffragette.
Late last month, Rockstar Games (the makers of the “Grand Theft Auto” series) released a new game: “Red Dead Redemption 2” (RDR2). It’s a prequel to “Red Dead Redemption” and is basically “Grand Theft Auto” with horses and the Old West. So, “Grand Theft Wagon.”
Anyway, the largest city in the game, Saint Denis (which is modelled off New Orleans), is home to a non-playable character (NPC) who is a suffragette. Now, pretty much every game these days has at least one character that players can’t stand, and RDR2 has a ton. One of those is the suffragette, because she stands on a street and is constantly yelling, “Let me vote.” She says this when you’re walking by, she says it when you’re a block away, and you can hear her saying it while you’re in the nearby tailor’s shop. If you make a lot of trips to the area, it gets annoying, especially when her dialogue gets mixed up with the tailor's.
One RDR2 player, known on YouTube as Shirrako, was livestreaming the game when he couldn’t take the NPC’s wailing anymore. Shirrako directed the game’s anti-hero, Arthur Morgan, to walk up to the suffragette and punch her so hard she’s knocked to the ground.
Emanuel Maiberg, a writer at Motherboard (hosted by Vice.com), was not happy about Shirrako’s antics. It doesn’t matter that Shirrako has other videos on their YouTube page in which he beat up the mayor of the town of Strawberry, followed and beat up a “homeless blind man” who was actually a scam artist, tried to attack children, and killed an entire town. No, it was beating up the annoying suffragette NPC that was unacceptable.
To be clear, Shirrako is livestreaming a walkthrough of the game, but uploads individual moments that are interesting, such as strange encounters and game secrets. When asked by Maiberg about the multiple videos of attacking and murdering the suffragette, Shirakko said he uploaded the videos because the NPC was really annoying, not because she was a suffragette.
"I know you're probably expecting some political answer but the truth is it was simply a funny moment from one of my streams which I've decided to upload as a separate video," Shirakko said. "Not sure if it was intentional by Rockstar Games but the NPC is made to be rather annoying, when you try to shop for clothing in the game, your dialogue with the shop keeper keeps being interrupted by her shouting, so I simply wanted to shop in peace, I'm sure that as a gamer you're familiar with these annoying NPC situations."
There’s another point in the game where you encounter suffragettes. It’s a Romeo and Juliet plotline where the son and daughter from feuding families fall in love. The woman is a suffragette, and the man wants to make sure she is safe during her rally, so you tag along to protect the woman. Shirrako doesn’t have a video where he attacks this group just for fun, because the group isn’t annoying, like the single NPC in Saint Denis.
Gamers have been attacking NPCs for as long as they have been able to, and the most annoying ones get it the worst. There’s another NPC in RDR2, Nigel, who pops up every now and again looking for his friend Gavin. You’ll hear him screaming for Gavin until you leave the area. So long as you’re near, you can’t escape him. “Gavin?” “Gavin, where are you?” “Oh, Gav….in!” and so on. He never gives you a quest to find Gavin, and there is no voice actor for Gavin, so it appears he’s not even in the game. I tell you this because people have been killing Nigel to stop him from annoying everyone with his search.
Annoying NPCs are going to be annoying, and players are going to get rid of them in new and terrifying ways. It doesn’t mean they’re murderers or misogynists in real life. Maiberg had to go to the comments section of Shirrako’s YouTube videos (pro tip: never read the comments) to find some vulgar quotes and people complaining about modern-day feminism.
RDR2 is a massively popular game, so it’s no surprise that some people will try to smear the game (and gamers as a group) for clicks and attention. It’s as predictable as gamers dealing with annoying NPCs.
For the record: I'm currently playing through this game and loving it.