[dropcap size=big]B[/dropcap]efore we go any further, if you haven’t beaten Book of Unwritten Tales 2 yet, then I recommend doing so before reading onward as there are spoilers ahead. I’ll add some space so that no one accidentally reads anything…

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Chantal (right) exemplifies the gender stereotype that in order for us to dislike a woman, she has to be ugly too.

Book of Unwritten Tales 2 takes a lot from fantasy and gaming culture…but does it take some of the ugly things too? You may have guessed what I’m referring to, but I assure you it’s a little broader than just that. Yes, my friends, I mean the rather unorthodox nature of Ivo’s magical pregnancy.

Do I want to be a party pooper? Certainly not! I will readily confess that some of the gag’s related to Ivo’s surprising state of health managed to get me to laugh out loud more than once. That didn’t stop me from seeing how problematic this sub-plot was in the game. This, coupled with the other representations of women, were concerning.

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Ivo’s long journey is complicated by the fact that she is struggling with a sped up pregnancy.

Ivo was accidentally impregnated by Nate when residual power from a powerful artifact (via the first game) grants the rogue’s secret wish to start a family with the elf princess. Romantic and sweet perhaps, but until we reach this moment, Ivo is ridiculed and shunned by many of the characters in Book of Unwritten Tales 2. She’s called fat often, and at one point Nate’s ship, The Mary, even goes so far as to call Ivo a whore. Naturally, Nate gives her a hard time, and it isn’t until Ivo’s virgin kiss restores Arch Mage Alistair that Nate believes she never betrayed him. Being a girl, I struggled to think what I would feel, knowing someone impregnated me without my knowledge (and against my will!) It was scary and disconcerting that a woman getting pregnant without her consent was considered funny, and not just that, but it was just a cheap gag for KING Art Games that served as an excuse to drag Ivo into the main story. As if she couldn’t find some other pressing reason to leave the elf burrow!

Couple that with the other women in Book of Unwritten Tales 2, and we see an alarming attitude toward women forming. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • The elf Queen, Ivo’s mother: Control freak, snobby, manipulative, perfectionist
  • Cybil & Chantal Van Buren: Ugly, power hungry, spoiled, ruthless
  • Vlad’s fiancee, Kiki: Ignorant, gold digger, shameless eye candy, materialistic
  • Lizzie, the bounty hunter: greedy, manipulative
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Ethel (center) lacks the problematic characterizations of the others, but she still is cast in the stereotypical role of cook and “homemaker.”

Now you could argue that many of the men are also shown in poor light, but I would counter that their representation in the game is not so fueled by gender stereotypes. I know that KING Art perhaps did not mean any harm. After all, Ivo’s mother tries to redeem herself, Lizzie is just trying to help her people, and Kiki opened the seventh seal of Van Buren’s chest that was only meant for one “worthy of heart.” Regardless of what the devs meant, however, I think it’s plausible to think that Book of Unwritten Tales 2 exhibits symptoms of a larger, more widespread problem in the entertainment world. The only way to combat these trends is, of course, to acknowledge them, wherever they may be.

About the Author

Amanda French

Amanda French first cut her gaming teeth by playing such classics as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Super Mario World at the ripe age of four. From there spawned a lifelong love of video games, particularly narrative heavy adventures and open world games. A creative writing graduate of Full Sail University, Amanda writes fiction novels in her spare time. You can find her work at the Independent Author Network under the pseudonym, Illise Montoya. Amanda’s all-time favorite games include Dragon Age: Origins, Fallout 2, and Tekken 5. She lives on the California coast with her husband and young baby son.

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