It’s a warm, beautiful sunny day. I’m walking down the streets of a city. I walk by a guy who says, “Nice legs.” I pull at my gun, and shoot him dead. I keep walking; I pass another guy, who says, “I want to rape you.” I pull out my gun and shoot him dead too. I walk on, every single man I pass catcalls me.
No, this isn’t DC and it isn’t my reality. This is all happening from the comfort of my office desk. I’m playing the new first-person shooter game called “Hey Baby” by LadyKillas Inc. which allows you to shoot and kill men as they walk by and catcall you. There are two options when deciding how you want to confront the harasser, you can click on your mouse and shoot them down with your .80 caliber machine gun at which point a grave pops up, OR you can press two on your keyboard and “shower them with love” which means saying “thank you” and a bunch of hearts fall from the sky.
The game’s website reads:
You walk down the streets and realize the streetlights are burnt out.
There’s no one around. You hear a footstep behind you. The light flickers.
You turn and he says, “I wanna lick you all over…..”
And then you remember, you’re packing a 3′ long .80 caliber machine gun that’s locked and loaded.
Ladies, are you sick and tired of catcalling, hollering, obnoxious one-liners and creepy street encounters? Tired of changing your route home to avoid uncomfortable situations?
IT’S PAYBACK TIME, BOYS…..
While I can appreciate a game about the prevalence of street harassment that doesn’t objectify the bodies of women, especially with so many games that are blatantly violent towards women (Grand Theft Auto 4 and Rapelay are just two examples), I don’t see the benefits to “Hey Baby”. If men play the game are the going to learn not to sexually harass women in public spaces? Perhaps for some women this game allows them to release some their anger from experiencing street harassment on a daily basis, maybe it even makes some feel more empowered. But this is not how I felt after playing.
My first thought was although the catcalls are very real, it is unrealistic it was that every single male I pass is a harasser. Not to mention the fact that even though a lot of street harassment occurs from men harassing women, we also know that men are not the only perpetrators of street harassment. Next I became pissed that my only two options were to become violent or shower my harasser with love. Finally, there didn’t seem to be any way to win the game. Eventually I was blockaded in by the bodies of four harassers that I had just murdered and couldn’t move forward or backwards. Needless to say, I am not a fan of “Hey Baby”.
At the very least, “Hey Baby” has stirred up some controversy and brought national attention to street harassment. The game has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR. I just wonder if this game perpetuates the culture of violence that we are trying to fight against? How can we can create a game that not only brings attention to problems of street harassment, but also empowers both women and men and gives realistic ways for dealing with and fighting against street harassment.
Test “Hey Baby” out and let us now your reactions to the game.