Oh boy! We knew it was only a matter of time until the trend of man-training books and movies like Men Are Like Dogs and Bring Your Husband to Heel would spread to online games, but we didn’t think it’d happen with this much gusto. The Boyfriend Trainer, with the tagline “No boyfriend is perfect! It’s time you trained him to become one,” is somehow even more ridiculous than it sounds.
In this game, rated appropriate for tweens, “training” means more than withholding sex—it means subjecting your eye-wandering, newspaper-dropping, sports-watching partner to slapping, Tasing, choking, and whacking with tennis rackets.
But before we crap ourselves with righteous indignation, let’s gather our wits about us, get some perspective, and consider what’s more harmful to young men: the barrage of misogyny and sexualized violence in mass-produced, “adult”-marketed, heavily distributed games such as Grand Theft Auto, or this laughable cartoon schlock, a stream of piss in an ocean of dime-store Web content designed for people with the most rudimentary understanding of gender relations.
Blogger Garland Grey comments on the lack of media outrage:
“Look at this thing you’ve never heard of! Why haven’t you come out against it yet?”
How many people are really going to play this “boyfriend trainer” game? How many people are going to be playing Duke Nukem Forever when it comes out? If [you] said, “What do you think about this game?” I would say, that’s abusive. Of course. But I’m not going to pretend that the two games are equally horrible or that we don’t live in a culture that sanctions sexualized violence against women.
Now produce an example of sexualized violence toward men that is being sold in Windows, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3 formats, all across America, and you’ll look like less of a dipshit.
If there were ever a choose-your-battles moment in the male blogosphere, it’d be now. Let’s have an adult conversation about the effects of hyper-realistic violence on boys, the racism and misogyny in the gaming community, and especially, as David Futrelle has asked, what women really want from games—and why those repelled by the morass of incivility on WoW or Xbox Live might be drawn elsewhere, be it Farmville or, you know, a game where you get to whack some tchotch with a tennis racket.
When we can address the deep-seated issues that plague and polarize the mainstream gaming community, then we can talk about the threat of AddictingGames.com—and why, suddenly, there are opportunities for anti-male baubles to make a profit.