Dishonored a secret critique of Patriarchy and Industrialisation

It is very rare that I disagree with Feminist Frequency. However on the subject of the game Dishonored I feel that I have to I’ve been following this game and while on the surface it has weak female characters there is a gimmick which opens up new insights. That object is the heart which acts as guide if you use it, it fleshes out a deeper story beneath the surface. The world is a pseudo Victorian setting  and this was a deliberate choice on the games designers. I studied Victorian studies at university and I think it helped me when it came time to make an analysis of the game.

There is a romanticized standard to the Victorian era and the Industrial Age. This game in many ways deconstructs this fantasy and shows the seedy underbelly. This is where the heart comes into its own. Each individual has a tale which can only be heard through the heart one of the employees at your central hub dream’t of being a sailor seeing the world and yet she can’t because of her gender. The protagonist and by proxy the gamer are shown the horrors of female trafficking in the Golden Cat each girl is a victim drawn to the city with promises and forced into servitude, stripped of their dignity and what little rights they had. The rebels one of them is a slave trader.

It is true that the game lacks strong positive role models however it peels back the stark realities of life in the Victorian period and at the same time serves to point out some of the realities of our own world. Human trafficking still goes on and it is women and children who pay the price. There is still inequality in our world ,gender imbalances, different pay rates and patriarchal overbearing is still a problem especially in organized religion. The Order acts as the prime Patriarchal model in Dishonored and it could be argued that it reflects the worst traits of organized religion.

Feminist Frequency is right though the majority of the female characters fall under stereotypes and it would have been interesting to see stronger female character development. I look forward to further Feminist Frequencies and games with more defined characters.

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