New York – Fans of retro games are excited by Rockstar North’s upcoming 25th anniversary re-release of Lemmings, the game which cemented the company’s presence in the industry while they were still known as DMA Interactive. However, not everyone is thrilled by one planned change to the puzzle-strategy classic.
A second female lemming will be added to the roster. She will join Lemming #4 as the only other non-male pixelated character.
Julie Christen, who worked on the team that adapted Lemming #17 into a female, says the change is the right thing to do. “Our culture is finally giving girls their due and recognizing that we play video games as well. An anniversary edition of a classic like Lemmings is a great opportunity to bring progress to a title without interrupting any of the qualities that made it great in the first place.”
Not everyone agrees. One of the most vocal opponents is Brian Smith, whose blog rose to infamy during the Gamergate controversy. He feels the change is not only unnecessary, but destructive.
“No one is retroactively adding women into classic paintings like The Scream or turning Leonardo’s statue of David into a woman. It destroys the original vision of the artists. Games are works of art, and we shouldn’t be ruining classics all because of rampant, out-of-control political correctness.”
Other critics of the move say it is not enough. “Why can’t I mod my lemmings to make them all women?” asks Taylor VanPelt, owner of she-pixels.com, a website dedicated to encouraging female gamers. “Or why are do all the lemmings have pale skin. This is the 21st century. You’d think a company like Rockstar would be encouraging diversity by now.”
Rockstar North is standing by its decision, which does have some supporters.
We showed off footage of the original game at a local café and compared it to the altered version. We pointed out Lemmings #4 and #17, the female stars, as they perform tasks such as blocking other lemmings, falling to fiery deaths, or exploding violently into a shower of pixels.
“I don’t get it,” said Ashley, a sophomore Columbia University nursing major. “There’s literally no difference between the male and female characters.”
“Isn’t that the point?” asked her friend, Lindsay, a women’s studies major. “It’s about time we recognize that the differences between men and women are just societal constructs.”
Ashley said, “No, I mean the sprites are made up of like 16 pixels. They changed absolutely nothing to the graphics, and I don’t think you could tell if they did. Lemming #17 is no different than the original male character.”
At this, her friend nodded approvingly.
Writtten by C.W. Briar