Welcome back to Feminism in Gaming. I’m Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me! Now to dive right into the topic, we all know that Dark Souls has a reputation for being annoyingly difficult and hard, but how does it fair from a feminist point of view? It’s true that the story of Dark Souls is mysterious and open to interpretation; however, when found it can make for more than intriguing discourse. In specific, I’d like to at base level discuss the Player Character, the Fire Keepers, and Dark Sun Gwyndolin.
Armor in Dark Souls looks like just that. Armor. Period. The armor’s proportions change slightly based on your character’s body size, but that’s it. There’s no armor shaped like breasts, there isn’t bikini mail, nothing of the sort; which is a huge plus given the gaming industry’s obsession with sexualizing individuals.
The story is no different given your gender identity selection in Dark Souls 1; nobody treats you differently, it isn’t some major plot point. Quite literally, the whole point of gender selection in Dark Souls is so that you feel more comfortable with your character. That being said it really isn’t perfect in regards to sexualization. The two examples being Quelaag and Gwynevere, with Gwynevere literally laying on her side and barely covering her massive chest, while Quelaag as a spider demon only has her chest covered by her hair. These irk me, but they’re the only two examples.
Next up is the fire keepers. A fire keeper can only be a woman, as only women have the powerful humanity that can tend to the bonfires, or so many speculate. Most fire keepers have their eyes gouged out and their tongues cut out so they cannot argue or talk back. At first, I felt like that was a reason to make a couple of these characters silent. But there are actual ways to restore the fire keepers’ Quelana and Anastacia’s methods of speaking, and learning about them as people and characters.
In fact, one Fire Keeper in Anor Londo, the woman wearing the Brass Armor set, never went through this ritual, and leads the Darkmoon Blades, a group of soldiers dedicated to working for and protecting the gods and Dark Sun Gwyndolin.
Oh, Gwyndolin, how poorly you were treated by localization. You see, Gwyndolin is an AMAB trans girl, though not necessarily by choice. It’s made abundantly clear in the game that Gwyn saw Gwyndolin’s affinity for sorcery and the moon as a feminine thing, and raised Gwyndolin as a daughter. This was meant to give us some context into Gwyn’s, admittedly, sexist and awkward thought process.
However in the Japanese text, it seems that after all of this, Gwyndolin identifies as something closer to gender queer or simply nonconforming, and the Japanese text appropriately used gender neutral pronouns when discussing Gwyndolin. This was very trans positive and made me incredibly happy, but the localization still irks me to my core.
Everyone in the game flat out ignores Gwyndolin’s identity and pronouns. They call Gwyndolin He the entire time, and it completely invalidates the lore, and the point of having a Genderqueer character that leans towards femininity.
In Japan, Gwyndolin’s voice actress was female, in the localization, the voice actor was male. You may not think this is a big deal, but erasure of trans identities happens in many games. The localization of Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, for example, completely removed the information that Vivian was a trans girl. This is why discussing these topics is important, because we as people are not invisible, and we deserve to be seen.
That’s all for now in this article, but I have MUCH more to say in the future! Thanks for reading guys, have an excellent day!