Volition: THQ’s Pornstar Focus On Saints Row Was In Bad Taste

THQ’s emphasis on pornstars for marketing the Saints Row franchise didn’t really go along with what its developers at Volition had going for the game, argues Volition.

In an interview with Edge, Saints Row 4 associate producer Kate Nelson says that THQ’s enlisting of pornstars to promote the previous games in the series struck her and others at the company as inappropriate.

“I did not always love how much THQ put an emphasis on porn stars,” Nelson said “In Saints Row 2 and Saints Row 3 there was an emphasis on the penthouse girls, and earlier Tera Patrick. I think it’s important in marketing games to make sure that the essence of the game is what’s being marketed, and I think the porn star angle didn’t really fit in with what Saints Row is at heart, which is a parody. We like to poke fun.

“You can be an important female character – you don’t have to have a D cup either,” she continued. “You can be large woman, a small woman – you can be blue. You can be who you want to be in the game and you have powerful female characters written into the narrative.”

You can be anything you want in Saints Row 4, including a large blue-skinned woman with small breasts who sounds like Nolan North. The game allows you to play whatever character you want to.

“I think our game actually does represent women in a positive way,” Nelson added. “But the press will focus on, oh hey, there are strippers, or there’s a dildo bat – it’s unfortunate from my perspective that that doesn’t come through. Because I hear women talk on panels and they’re like ‘there are no people that look like me in games’.

“Well, actually in my game [the main character] can look like you as our customization system is so extensive. We don’t get that across in our marketing or in the press because it’s difficult – we only have 30 seconds to explain.”

Nelson added that the “appointment” of Tera Patrick as a “special producer” on Saints Row 2 wasn’t well received by employees at the company. “Saying that someone who had no industry experience was in a role that is sexualised as a producer of our project, or saying the penthouse girls are our QA staff – I just…I can see the humour in that angle of promotion but for me that’s the line where it gets into reality.

“Saints Row in a lots of ways has empowered minorities and empowered women, which I think is important to get across.”

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8 Comments on Volition: THQ’s Pornstar Focus On Saints Row Was In Bad Taste

T Wal

On August 6, 2013 at 12:39 am

Oddly enough (or perhaps not) it seems the only person to really catch on how Saint’s Row properly portrays women is Ashley Burch: http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/zj12g5/hey-ash–whatcha-playin—best-game-of-2011

Enough With the Propaganda

On August 6, 2013 at 1:35 am

Oh for goodness sake. This manufactured hysteria towards gender issues is so cynical now it’s barely worth talking about any more.

Saints Row is a deliberately vulgar, immature experience, a form of ‘kidult’ escapism that revels in its own gratuity. EVERYTHING in the game is geared towards being OTT, crude, offensive and stupid, not just the game’s depiction of women. Did they ignore the fact that every man in the game is portrayed as a materialistic, testosterone-fuelled ‘bro’ as well? Nobody in Saints Row is shown in a positive light, because it’s not supposed to be about role models. It has always intentionally ditched the role model concept in favour of shameless depravity. It scares me to death that a producer of the next game is talking about the series as if it tried and failed to create people we could look up to, when anyone who ever played the games could tell right away that it never tried. I’ve immediately lost all hope for SR4.

And then this woman has the gall to criticise THQ for hiring a woman in a major production role for the games just because she happens to be a porn actress, an occupation that despite the uninformed protestations of some of the less critically-minded sexist feministas is NOT degrading to women but is in fact hugely empowering to them to use their natural looks and sexuality to their advantage, plus they earn far more than their male co-stars – something which I don’t remember ever hearing any complaints about in equal pay disputes. But even if you ignore all that, it’s their right to choose their profession, same as it was the right of those models to talk about each other’s breasts while playing Payday. Nobody forces these women into doing these things, the so-called ‘glass ceiling’ no longer exists due to stupid amounts of affirmative action laws to force women to the top of plum industries even if and when they’re less qualified than male counterparts who funnily enough don’t have anywhere near as many protective rights from the state.

So which is it, Nelson? Do you want women to reach the top, or don’t you? Because you can’t have it both ways. You can’t preach this self-indulgent girl power mantra in one breath then try to deny other women from their own chosen pursuit of success in another just because it doesn’t cater to your taste. You either want liberty or you don’t, you either want gender equality or you don’t. There’s no grey area here. Everything about this woman’s comment comes across as a hypocritical, self-deluding soundbyte to appease feminists and not any form of independent, rational thought – not to mention it appears that she doesn’t have a single clue what Saints Row is about.

Swcloud99

On August 6, 2013 at 6:05 am

As much as I agree with the above poster’s view on what Saint’s Row is, I have to disagree that porn is empowering to women.
It’s not empowering to anybody.
Believe me, go on a porno set and you’ll see how depraved it really is. It’s not uncommon for half the crew to be doing drugs while they’re working.
It’s sick that that industry even exists. I don’t mind people watching it, but the production of it is completely unhealthy.

Which is why it fits perfectly into Saint’s Row.

monotoy

On August 6, 2013 at 1:00 pm

totally agree with Swcloud99.

to say that off-the-shelf porn (not to mention more exotic branches) is empowering to women is plain BS. Maybe male actors earn less, but that as a proof that it would be an “empowering” business for women is a cynical joke, it’s like saying women would earn more in cleaning out nuclear plants after a meltdown for some reason, and so it was an “empowering” job.
But yea, maybe you you watch it and think they enjoy their job, since their excitement looks soooo realistic …

Ayrsey

On August 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

What annoys me about this article is the way that her opinion is being stated as fact in the sub-header. Any professional writer would say “Nelson says it was in bad taste” and refuse to take a stance. At least try to come across as somewhat impartial in news reports, even if you have displayed a childlike understanding of gender politics in the past by claiming women are forced by society to meet a paradigm of beauty or some other such crap. Not to mention that this paradigm is mostly created BY women in Cosmo and other gossip magazines so it’s entirely their fault, though obviously you’ve never read any of these since that would require research and effort plus it might challenge your views.

Arsey

On August 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

What really annoys me about this article is the way that Nelson’s opinion is being stated as fact in the sub-header. Any professional writer would say “Nelson says it was in bad taste” and refuse to take a stance. Instead it’s phrased in a way that seems to suggest the writer – and by association GameFront itself – agrees, without even questioning it. At least try to come across as somewhat impartial in news reports, even if you have displayed a childlike understanding of gender politics in the past by claiming women are forced by society to meet a paradigm of beauty or some other such crap. Not to mention that this paradigm is mostly created BY women in Cosmo and other gossip magazines so it’s entirely their fault, though obviously you’ve never read any of these since that would require research and effort plus it might challenge your views.

JawaEsteban

On August 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Alright, I was halfway paying attention right up until “Saints Row in a lots of ways has empowered minorities and empowered women, which I think is important to get across.”

That is easily the current front runner for stupidest thing I’ve heard or read from another person this month, and that includes the other evening when I was unable to get out of watching Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Guys, it’s your site, so if you want to keep beating the ‘gender tropes in gaming’ horse that’s certainly your perogative. However, don’t expect me to take anything you have to say seriously if you’re going to trot out borderline delusional natterings from Ns. Nelson as your evidence.

Egg Ebb

On August 7, 2013 at 1:53 am

Don’t confuse this with an equal rights argument. This is a clear case of “equality when it suits us.” At least Nelson isn’t trying to actually stifle promiscuous, sexually-liberated women but she sounds like only a few steps down from that. Plus, of all the games to try and make PC and progressive, Saints Row is just about the last one aside from Duke Nukem where it will be accepted. As the first comment says, it’s vile by design. It’s not supposed to be a teaching tool for how to live your lives, it’s supposed to be the ultimate form of escapism. Maybe Nelson should oversee a different IP starring women in prominent roles that actually works as a form of guidance or at least semi-realism, but trying to incorporate it into Saints Row is like casting Carrot Top in Angela’s Ashes. It doesn’t work.