The Hidden Controversies of 2012
Unless you’re vehemently opposed to using Twitter or Facebook, and try to avoid reading gaming news websites where possible, you’re probably at the very least vaguely aware that there have been all sorts of controversies surrounding video games, with a whole heap of sexism and probably some other –isms along with it. It’s been getting a bit manic, what with Lara Croft getting raped and Agent 47 humping a bunch of dead nuns or something.
But what about the controversies you didn’t hear about? Some of the biggest names in the industry have been tied in with some pretty serious stuff, but somehow these stories failed to make the headlines. Luckily for you, I’ve gone deep into the sordid world of video-games and uncovered some of the most shocking stories that the mass media didn’t tell. Be warned, fair readers, this could get heavy.
There’s No One Like Nolan
Prolific voice actor Nolan North has been criticised in the past for appearing in “too many” games, lending his voice to around 126 titles during his career, ranging from civilians in the street to lead roles as some of gaming’s most recognisable characters, such as Nathan Drake and Desmond Miles. Love him or hate him, you have to accept that he’s there and has a knack for providing characters with plenty of personality.
However, during the summer, a far more distressing event occurred. Leaked footage of a recording session for the latest game in the Mario series – New Super Mario Bros. U – showed our man Nolan in the booth laying down some vocals, in what appeared to be just some minor voices for the background. As the video continued, viewers listened in horror as Mr North began to repeat Mario’s catchphrase, “it’s-a-me!” over and over, in a pitch perfect impersonation of the voice that Charles Martinet made famous so many years ago.
The public was dumbfounded. Was Martinet out and North in? Fans fired tweets at both voice actors, begging them for answers. Nolan said nothing, instead promoting his appearances and material relating to the Uncharted series. After a week of receiving almost non-stop tweets, Martinet finally broke radio silence with the following tweet:
The tweet was removed almost immediately, but the damage was done. The news shook Mario fans to the core. One described it as “like finding out your dad is actually Tom Cruise, and you’re not a big Tom Cruise fan”. Groups were founded on Facebook asking Nolan North to be hung, drawn and quartered, while others attacked Martinet and his willingness to go along with the masquerade. What they didn’t know was that the story was only just getting started.
Not long after Martinet revealed the truth, other videos began to surface. Footage from recording sessions for Metal Gear Solid 4 showed North having a conversation with himself as both Snake and the Colonel. A source working at EA claimed that he had walked in on North recording lines for both Male and Female Shepard. A piece of audio leaked from the recording of Telltale’s The Walking Dead surfaced, and before it was rapidly taken down one user managed to snag this soundbite:
As more and more stories like this came to light, it all became clear: Nolan North had been performing the voices for every character in every video game since it all began. It was a hard story to swallow, especially since it meant that every so-called “voice-actor”, including the acclaimed female voice actors Tara Strong (Harley Quinn from the Batman: Arkham series) and Ellen McLain (everyone’s favourite psychopathic A.I., GlaDOS), were nothing but decoys hired to mask Nolan North’s impressive vocal range.
Unfortunately, just before the story hit critical mass, one classic female heroine sparked headlines by being apparently raped in her latest game, and the Nolan North story was rapidly forgotten about as the men of the games industry tried desperately to make sure everyone knew they weren’t sexist. With the story dead, it is to be assumed that Nolan continues to voice all the characters we know and love, whether male, female, adult or child. And who can blame him? That’s a hell of a talent when you think about it.
Sex Sells… But Who’s Buying?
You may recall a minor incident of a French print ad for the new PS Vita featuring a woman with a set of breasts on either side of her body, with a tag-line alluding to “double the sides, double the fun” (What? I don’t speak French). Feminists were enraged by the sick objectification of women, and a campaign to stop the ad from running was put in place, although this (naturally) petered out very quickly.
It wasn’t the only case of an advert gone wrong. Earlier in the year, the fantastic puzzle game Catherine finally made its way to European shores, and mostly did well to avoid controversy along the way despite its mature, sexual content. I say mostly, because not only did the launch event take place in a Strip Club, publishers Deep Silver very nearly ran this highly controversial ad in magazines across Europe:
Unearthed by a NeoGAF forum user, like everything else video-game related is these days, the ad enraged numerous feminist groups and the ever-active Everyday Sexism Twitter account, who instantly launched a campaign to try and ban this sick filth. Deep Silver rapidly fought back, saying the ad was a “hoax” and that “there was no way we would ever run such a horrendously offensive advertisement”. Despite their pleas, the publishers were forced to make a public apology, and even went as far as to say that 10% of profits made from each sale would go to a charity supporting abused women.
Naturally, this only angered the feminists further, some of whom proclaimed they “couldn’t be bought” and would be “boycotting your foul company”. A desperate Deep Silver floundered for a while with apologies and bigger promises, until, broken and defeated, they brought out the big guns: Catherine herself.
How exactly they summoned a succubus from Hell to speak on their behalf is a detail that was never divulged, but somehow, it worked. During the aforementioned Strip Club launch event, the blonde bombshell rose from the ground in a burst of flame and proceeded to defend the ad, pointing out that it was her choice to appear in the advert; she felt that it was humorous and captured the tone of the title perfectly.
The crowd were reportedly left stunned, and were so shocked they didn’t even hesitate to sign the NDAs Deep Silver passed around, swearing them to never reveal what they saw that night. The amassed journos couldn’t go home empty handed, thus an outcry about holding a launch event in a Strip Club was created, and the rest is history. Good old journalism, eh?
Link: Hero of Time or Ball of Slime?
Everyone’s favourite green tunic-wearing hero may put across a lovable image – having saved the world from the Dark Lord Ganon – but with great power comes great responsibility, and it seems that this little blond haired saviour isn’t quite as clean cut as he’d have you believe.
The story arose when an unnamed source claimed he had found a raving drunk Link in a Hyrulian bar, throwing back what he called “Lon Lon Milk” and telling lewd stories to anyone who would listen. The source revealed that he took Link to a booth, where the Hero of Time proceeded to tell him something shocking: he had been abusing his power to go back and forth in time for the most sordid reasons. It would appear that after having plunged his Master Sword into the slot inside the Temple of Time, a now-younger Link – in appearance at least – had been attempting to put his meat sword inside the slots of Hyrule’s junior population. Unaware that the source was carefully writing down everything he said, the perverted hero went on, describing how he “ploughed Malon’s field” and “went motor-boating with Princess Ruco”, along with around seven other acts too horrific to publish.
Like a poorly-aimed boomerang, the evening’s events came flying back into Link’s face the next morning, as he awoke to find the media having a field day right on his doorstep. As the story spilled out into the fields of Hyrule, the women that Link had so viciously taken advantage of in his child’s body stepped forward to give evidence against him. One victim – who asked not to be named – claimed that the sex pest had repeatedly tried to persuade her by telling her he was going to save the world, before turning day to night and trying to touch her inappropriately. With tears streaming down her face, she cried, “I thought he was just a randy teen, but now I know he was really an adult pretending to be a child… I feel so stupid.”
After weeks of hounding by the press, the Royal Family finally gave a statement, claiming they had “acted abysmally” and “were extremely sorry for any trouble caused by Link’s actions”. Princess Zelda added to this, saying that she was “no longer involved with Link in any way” and would be taking a few months to live with the Gorons to find peace. Link, meanwhile, was exiled from Hyrule and struck from the history books, with his title of Hero of Time being posthumously being awarded to Epona, along with an apology from the Royal Family for “having to aid the sick, twisted sex fiend”.
So why are we only hearing this story now? Well, in a dark day for the free press, the Royal Family also used their power to destroy all media evidence of the event, effectively wiping the story from existence. Rumours have it that the unnamed source who sparked the entire thing was tracked down and given a job as a royal spy, but we may never find out.
And there you have it folks; huge stories that the world will never hear of again. But, 2013 is a new year, and if the past twelve months are anything to go by, there are plenty of opportunities for scandal, outrage, and general controversy to be caused. Will the industry finally get over its sexist ways? Can publishers accept that people may well buy games not based on their covers? Only time will tell. As for me? I’ll be keeping my eye out for more cover-ups and stories brushed under the carpet. The truth deserves to be heard. Goodnight, and good luck.
Last five articles by Ric
- Playing Rhiannon, With Rhiannon
- The Hidden Controversies of 2015
- Best of 2015: Tell No Tales
- Best of 2015: A Good Walk Spoiled By John
- Best of 2015: My Summer As A Drug Dealer