The infamous “nuns with guns” trailer for Hitman Absolution struck a nerve among the gaming populous that had been left, until that point, exposed but fairly unmolested. It went, in the minds of many, beyond the boundaries of good taste and resulted in an outcry against the brutal and provocative imagery (violence directed exclusively against heavily sexualized women by the bald epitome of manliness that is Agent 47).
IO Interactive’s response? They have made changes to one of the game’s levels—the one in which players encounter these leather-habit-clad assassins—in the hopes of gracing the situation with better context.
Is this a viable solution? Does better explaining what the nuns’ purpose is and who they are in some way mitigate or counteract the viscerally unsettling act of murdering them in cold blood? Is that, itself, even something deserving of outcry, or are we instead calling out for censorship of our own medium?
Tore Blystad, the game’s director, feels that this entire controversy, and the mission around which it centers, will be “forgotten” down the road, less than a footnote in the history of gaming. Is he right? I don’t know, but I’d like to think we have longer, and stronger, memories than that.