Hiya @fuzzyfungus - I agree with your statement about endorsement, and that’s what is so frustrating about NV. I want so much for it to be a really good example of an adult-level quality game, and it almost hits the mark. It has both positives and negatives (everything does):
On the positive: It’s one of the rare examples of an fps where you can choose your player design as female - and it isn’t just to “make her a hottie”. When you take the Courier out for training, it’s a local female that teaches you how to use your weapons. There are both men and women in charge in NV. Through the game, you interact with both men and women.
Then, it has all the inherent problems of setting - it’s a post-apocalyptic version of Las Vegas, and everything associated with that. It’s primed for negative action. However, it acknowledges it’s grim, dirty, and wrong. That alone makes it very different from some games that simply revel in just how wrong their location and society’s actions are.
How does the provided design of the game world affect players? There’s a mod to ensure that the previously empty Atomic Wrangler will be staffed with prostitutes for you have sex with. That mod won’t show the sex, but it does change game play to include payable sex. By including a Crier offering paid sex, and then a visitable brothel, the designer encouraged the development of the mod - because the person who made it thought it was senseless to have sex on offer, and then have no prostitutes. “I made this mod because I’ve become an ‘immersion fanatic.’ It really annoyed me there was missing staff at the Wrangler that contradicted Francine Garret’s dialogue.” He didn’t do it to include simulated sex - and the mod doesn’t. Still, including the town crier (one of the worst decisions by the game designers) seems to be a main reason that he made the mod at all.
The one thing I really do have a problem with is the use of such a young actress for the Crier role. For people who haven’t played the game: this character is designed to be annoying, so you’ll want to kill her. Killing her (a non-threat, just a female annoyance) even gets you a bonus. Keep in mind that language studies have found that young girls’ voices are some of the most annoying to men. I’m pretty sure her age at casting was an intentional move, and it had the desired results.
There’s even a Nexus mod to make her all but silent - yep, you can quiet that annoying Crier rather than kill her. (What a thing to be teaching guys to do.)
Here’s one player’s response to the Crier. Sarkeesian didn’t even use a particularly violent example of killing her when she put the clip she used into her vid.
The rest of the game may not be endorsing misogyny, but the use of a young girl to voice act a character who isn’t a threat (but affords an award if you kill her) most likely is. That’s what leaves me torn about NV, and that’s why I’m so frustrated by it all.