I chose Spec Ops: The Line as my game of the year for 2012 because, amongst other reasons, I saw it as evidence that (mainstream) video games were maturing. Yahtzee agreed in his review of the game, and also chose it as his game of the year in his Top 5 of 2012.
But then Deep Silver announced the Zombie Bait edition of Dead Island: Riptide, the sequel to Dead Island. It was to be made available exclusively to the UK and would include a rather silly and distasteful 30cm-high bikini-clad, torn and bloodied female torso. I say "would have" because since the announcement of the Zombie Bait edition the Internet has been in an uproar and Deep Silver has issued a lame apology for it, leaving its actual release in doubt.
Publishers and studios are always offering up all sorts of crap to sell and promote their games, but this torso statue is shameful and offensive. To some, it's offensive because it's misogynistic and exemplifies the kind of objectification that women face everyday, and that excludes women from games and the games industry. To others, it and the reaction to it is silly, and a matter for satire. It is offensive to me because it makes assumptions about its audience and because it makes video games look like a hobby for kids.
There are some who would argue that it does not necessarily reflect poorly on the industry as a whole, but I disagree with that. You see, the Zombie Bait edition is just the kind of stupidity that the mainstream media and non-gamers like to grab hold of when they need something to blame for society's lastest deviant act. It's the kind of thing that makes games look like a frivolous, childish, time-wasting hobby rather than the expressive, insightful, artistic medium that it can be. And although non-gamers usually have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to games, it gets a little tiresome and difficult defending them against crap like this.
I hope Deep Silver does not release the Zombie Bait edition with the torso statue. Perhaps it could include something just as tasteless, but less objectionable, like a foot, a hand, or even a bloodied melee weapon. Whatever it decides to do, it has certainly managed to create talk about the game, which is, I'm sure, what it intended all along. That, too, is shameful.
Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek has posted a discussion article on the Zombie Bait issue. It includes opinions on the matter from eight women who are employed in the video game industry. The article itself is great, but if you're looking for some good laughs, check out the comments thread.