Sex and Female Sexuality in Wolfenstein: The New Order

How do the sex scenes in Wolfenstein: The New Order contribute to Anya Oliwa’s character and representation as a female? Can game developers learn anything from these scenes?

A pretty common double standard is that men who have lots of sex are studs while women who do the same are sluts. In the article, “Women aren’t vending machines: How video games perpetuate the commodity model of sex”, Alex Raymond explores  Thomas Macaulay Millar’s two models of sex in the context of video games. The first model is the commodity model, in which “sex is like a ticket; women have it and men try to get it…” This works with the double standard because while “guys want to maximize their take of tickets”, women are expected to “keep the tickets to buy something really ‘important’.” The second model is the performance model which instead of being a double standard, sex is “seen as a collaborative effort between two equal participants.” There is an equal amount of desire and consent coming from both partners. Raymond talks about how in the vast majority of video games sex is seen as the end goal or as the reward for something that the main character has done. It can be out of place and have no role other than to either enforce masculinity, serve as a prize, or appeal to the male gaze. This very much the commodity model because it depicts the NPC, whose “thoughts and desires aren’t relevant”, as being something that the main character has won. I want to explore these two models in video games even more and how it can impact representation.  This mechanic is sexist and is “dangerously dehumanizing behavior”, just playing into the double standards that people have to deal with in real life.

There are only two sex scenes in Wolfenstein: The New Order and both, in my opinion, fall into the category of the performance model. They are part of the cutscenes, have no player interaction, and have nothing to do with any choices you make when you are playing as the main character, B.J. Blazkowicz. Due to their realistic nature, the sex scenes in WTNO show that when done right, sex scenes can be a powerful tool to add to the story but add to characterization and good representation. Anya Oliwa, Blazkowicz’s love interest, is actually empowered and humanized through the use of the performance model. For example, the scene before the two characters are seen having sex, Blazkowicz delivers a note to Anya. She grabs his hand and looks up at him and asks, “Do you have a moment?” and after a small smirk from her, the scene switches to them having sex in the closet. For once, in any games that I have played, a female is shown to be in charge of her sexuality and that she too has desires and can be spontaneous. She initiates the interaction and from the reaction of other NPCs, it not the first time that casual sex has happened. Anya is not shamed for being sexual and plays a larger role than being just Blazkowicz’s love interest.   Alex Raymond says that in order for games to start have a better portrayal of relationships that “designers can start thinking of sex as a collaborative performance between two equal partners” and Wolfenstein does just this.  It is a good example of how if represented correctly and appropriately, sex scenes do not have to be just entertainment or fan service. They can serve a purpose and positively contribute to different aspects of the game, and sex does not need to be completely avoided.

I think the idea of the commodity model and the performance model is very interesting. I would like to explore those more and try to apply them to other video games, and other aspects of relationships and interactions, especially how they affect female representation/characterization and sexuality.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s