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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Editorial: Stop Trivialising Folk Heroes - Part One: Boudica.


Hey, guys, Murphy here. Today we have a guest editorial for you by Reecey of Nine Over Five, talking about the mistreatment of folk heroes, which is something we have ranted about together many a time over a mug of warm eggnog, with a snarling hellbeast sitting nearby staring intently at us.

Enjoy.

Editorial: Stop Trivialising Folk Heroes.
Part One: Boudica.


Guest editorial by Reecey.


Ryse: Son of Rome was a launch title for the XBox One.

I thought it sounded incredibly lackluster and daft, and dripping with American imperialism, since you are literally playing a Roman and fight for Rome as opposed to against the empire.

Yes, you fight for Rome against Boudica.

Let me break down exactly why this is dripping with American imperialism.

Boudica is the leader of armies of the native people and you play as the invader who is crushing their attempts to expel the Roman empire.

This is the first century equivalent of playing as a European colonist crushing Native Americans trying to get you to go away and stop oppressing them.

That’s what I thought of it, but then I read the Wikipedia page and I got mad.

In Ryse, Boudica is the daughter of King Oswald.

In real life she was the Queen of the Iceni.

Yes, a Queen has been demoted to a Princess.

But, actually, this is even worse than that.

The King she has been demoted for lived several hundred years after she died and about two hundred years after the Romans left.

Also, she was the Queen of the Iceni, who lived in Norfolk and Suffolk, and Oswald was the king of Northumbria, which is further north than Norfolk.

So, he lived after her, further north than her, and after Roman rule ended and somehow has been rewritten as her father.

On top of time and space concerns, King Oswald of Northumbria is of a totally different ethnic group to Boudica. She was a Celt, he was a Saxon. This is a big problem in its own right and we’ll get to that in a minute.

For now, I want to bring up the worst thing that Crytek did to Boudica.

In real life, Boudica was a menace to Roman Britain and she killed a lot of people.

Her motivation wasn’t just driving out the invaders, it was revenge.

Her husband was a client king, and he wrote in his will that the kingdom was to go to the empire and his daughters.

When he died, however, Rome annexed the Iceni kingdom, Boudica was flogged and their daughters were raped.

In Ryse you play as a soldier fighting for the empire that had two young women raped because their father wanted them to have partial control over their kingdom.

Of course, we can’t have that, so Crytek ripped Boudica away from her position of authority and her tragic past, writing her daughters and their rapes out of the story altogether so that Americans could play their imperialist fantasies without having to recognise the monstrous crimes of invaders against the native people.

(Oh, by the way, Rome’s over the top reaction to Mr Boudica’s will and death was half because they refused to recognise a will leaving a kingdom to a woman. So you’re not just fighting for imperialists, but misogynistic imperialists. Considering what a depressingly large proportion of gamer dudes are like, leaving that in may have gained them sales.)

Now, the Celt/Saxon thing.

It’s worth bringing up another Celtic hero here. Specifically King Arthur (who was definitely Celtic, don’t believe Geoffery of Monmouth when he calls him a Roman, he was a racist and a liar).

King Arthur is said to have lived in the Dark Ages, he and the legends that surround him were created because the largely Celtic people of Britain (who Rome had abandoned at this point) were having to deal with a new invasive threat.

Namely, the Saxons and other Germanic peoples from that area.

Oh, yes.

Crytek, (a German company) rewrote a woman who would have been legend to King Arthur as the daughter of a king from a people who invaded Britain and subjugated and absorbed the Celts.

Again, this is the first century equivalent of taking a Native American chieftain and rewriting him as the son of… I don’t know, time transposed John Quincy Adams and stripping all of the horrible things that happened to the Native American chieftain out of the story.

Just because these things happened a long time ago doesn’t mean they didn’t happen and doesn’t mean that you get to do what you want with them.

Boudica was a real person who killed real people (a lot of real people) and was assaulted by real people.

Her story reflects the struggles of oppressed native peoples everywhere and the fight against imperialism in all its forms.

She is not some fictional character who can be used and abused for the sake of sub-par video games.

In the next part I’m going to go more into the treatment of King Arthur by the media (especially the American media) and why framing him and Robin Hood as fairy tale characters is awful and needs to stop.


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