The Irish Question
The Irish Question
Warning: contains slang…
Top o’ the mornin’ from Brendan Caldwell, a man concerned with the depiction of the Irish in videogames.
AT THE bottom of the garden, at the back of the mind of Grand Theft Auto 3, there’s an abandoned railway tunnel. Drive down it halfway and you’ll discover four drunken tramps, at least two of which respond to the player in a squeaky Northern Irish accent: “You look like my daughter!” This insult will not go unpunished! Kill them. And lo, what were they holding? Petrol bombs. A Drumcree riot spawning in the subterranean netherworld beneath Liberty City? Perhaps not. Then again, the abandoned tunnel does exit right behind 8-Ball’s Friendly Car Bomb Emporium.
As a lot of games are shooters, the IRA raise their ugly balaclavas often enough. GTA games have become naturally adept at this. You (or maybe I) get the tingling, slightly concerned, slightly thankful feeling that the development team at Glasgow’s Rockstar North were familiar with some of the hypocrisies and down-right silly antics of these so-called “Republicans.” The Irish mafia in GTA IV talk about “the struggle” all the while getting off their rockers on booze, corruption and Snow (it’s 1930s slang, I’m bringing it back, I bloody well am).
In the end, they’re selfish and non-political – the best class of criminal, excluding Heath Ledger in face paint. But did anybody stop to think it all might seem strangely familiar to unspecified Balkan-boy Niko Bellic? I’ll bet it does. At one point he has to bust a character out of jail, a man who is essentially an Americanised Gerry Adams. He’s also a tosser by the way. But then again, they all are. Bloody Irish.
“Stereotype!” you cry.
“Stereooootype, there must be more to life,” I sing back. Rockstar should by now be used to getting the Daily Shite thrown at them in the Fleet Street. It happened again when they pumped out the character of Irish in Red Dead Redemption. Such a big upset, over such a wee thing. So the Irish are fated to be presented as being the Eternal Pisshead. Chill out brother, did you see what Rockstar made of the Mexican characters in the game? Or the British ones? Even the American ones were damned unlikable. Well shucks pardner, even John Marston hisself was a bit of a shite-hawk. It’s satire, what Rockstar are playing at. They lambast everybody.
There are other less notable Irish characters in games. A playable character in Far Cry 2 with a Celtic prison tattoo on the back of his hand. And our old buddy Sean Devlin from The Saboteur. But Far-Cry-2-man is never really developed as a character (‘cause it’s you, innit) and Devlin is only Irish insofar as he has a lovely turn of phrase: “I could eat the arsehole of a nun through a convent gate.”
Now, Atlas from BioShock is interesting. Some “research” that I got from the Telegraph shows that people with thick accents are less likely to be trusted. But who wouldn’t trust Atlas? He’s feckin’ lovely! TV executives employ friendly ho-tee-to-tee-to accents to make you empathise and come to like a character. Did 2K Marin also actively seek to manipulate the player with the use of the lovely Emerald tongue? Bedad, tis a moighty clever aul’ ting ta be donn, sure tis.
Colin Moriarty in Fallout 3 is more one of your villainous types. Bajaysus, he’s a nasty piece of work, him. Owns a bar. Probably beats up them there women he keeps as prostitutes. Not nice to Gob the Ghoul. Not. Nice. At. All. Yet no one ever seems to ask him how he kept his Irish accent after 200 years of national isolation. No planes equals no trips back to the ma’ land. Just how does he avoid ending up talking like everyone else? I think he just puts it on to pull women.