CD Projekt's Witcher 2 presentation at Gamescom this year sparked some minor controversy, yet again over in-game nudity. At 10:22 in the video below (the full thing starts at 8:50), there's a scene in which our protagonist Geralt rescues an imprisoned and about to be tortured woman who is nude from the waist up -- pretty much what you'd expect were this is a real-life situation. After all, prison ain't pretty, especially in olden times. Upon her release, she tells him she must cover up; she does, and they resume conversation.
Alec Meer of Rock, Paper, Shotgun (a publication we do normally enjoy) thought differently about it though, writing at the time the scene was an indication of immaturity:
The demo goes to great lengths to show a gritty, unpleasant world filled with suffering and dirtiness. And then, hey, boobs. Big, incongruously perfect, brazen breasts, gleaming like oiled whaleskin amidst the blood and grime covering every other surface in the game. The woman in question is a prisoner, supposedly being tortured. It’s supposed to be a harrowing moment – a mother who’s just lost her son and is now in grave danger, treated with monstrous disdain and the threat of hideous sexual violence.
Instead, it’s masturbation fodder, an unashamed invitation to admire a pixel-perfect fantasy figure. This women is supposed to be suffering, but I’m supposed to salivate. The camera lingers, closes slightly on those improbable appendages – even when Geralt dispatches her torturers-to-be, rescues her and she requests to cover her porn star body up again, we’re treated to a final titilatting jiggle, rather than a demure turnaround, as she pulls her unscathed dress back up. She doesn’t seem terribly bothered. The game doesn’t seem terribly bothered. It just wanted to show us some tits, because apparently that’s how you know a game is mature.
To the embarassment of Meer, this was quoted to the studio's senior producer Tomasz Gop by "The Cynical Brit", who noted they discussed the scene's presentation afterward, and the possibility of making changes accordingly:
"We had a conversation internally: 'Guys, we did the scene because we wanted to show a mature world. This woman has been tortured, but it's true that the way you showed it means some of the players think, okay, there's a naked woman, maybe there will be a sex scene. Guys, this was not our intention.' We're going to have to think about it; I don't know, redo some graphics or [direct the scene in a different way], because it's not about that. She's being tortured. Let's make it so players don't want to have sex with her, players really feel for her. This is what we're trying to do."
Back in April, CD Projekt co-founder Marcin Iwiniski told us they were definitely focusing on a more mature world this time around, and while there would be nudity, it wouldn't take away from the experience, but rather, add to it:
"The purpose of the game isn't to emanate violence -- it's not Postal -- or to emanate sex. However, it is a mature game in a mature world, and as we know the world has violence and sex, which are important parts of our lives -- especially the second. It's also important in [The Witcher series author] Andrzej Sapkowski’s books. Imagine our contemporary world without sex and OK at least a bit of violence – it would be boring, wouldn’t it?"
"There's a very special feel to it; it's not just going around to brothels or chopping some heads off."
"It is really important for us to give the gamer the feel of the world. It's also more realistic in The Witcher 2; it's still for the purpose of the game, but everything is more directly tied to the story; the collectible cards aren’t there anymore, and so on. We’re handling mature content in a more mature way."
Our feeling? Meer was a tad oversensitive and dare we say, oddly fixated on rather insignificant and/or imagined details. It's also worth noting he had no problem with Geralt's similar state at the beginning of the presentation (nor did any women, far as we've heard).
However it does seem like the woman could be a bit more bothered in general, yes, but that'd be a case of less then stellar direction and acting for this particular scene, not a biproduct of perverse developers with a false sense of maturity.
Whatever way it turns out, hopefully CD Projekt doesn't let a minority of prudish gamers compromise their vision.