Non-binary artist slams Resident Evil Village’s Duke as one fat-shaming video game trope too far

Ed Nightingale May 10, 2021
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The Duke Resident Evil Village

Resident Evil Village. (Capcom)

Resident Evil Village is finally out so everyone can experience the stomping eroticism of Lady Dimitrescu themselves.

But one character in the game has come under fire: The Duke.

The Duke pops up regularly throughout Resident Evil Village as the merchant, able to sell protagonist Ethan Winters various items, ammo and weapon upgrades. There are some clever references to the merchant from Resident Evil 4 for series fans too (he of “waddaya buyin’?” fame).

However, The Duke’s appearance has disappointed and angered some fans.

The tall vampire lady isn’t the only character with towering height in Resident Evil Village. The Duke looms over you, but with a belly that bulges from beneath his shirt. When you first meet him he lunges, belly first, out of his cart.

He frequently spouts lines about food and eating. And by bringing him ingredients from animals you’ve killed, he’ll cook up meals to offer health upgrades.

Many fans have noted the game’s fairly obvious fat-shaming. The Duke is a character to be laughed at purely because of his weight. But why?

Non-binary erotic artist Anshuman Iddamsetty, aka Boarlord, tweeted their disappointment at the Resident Evil Village character. In an essay on how video games demonise fat people, they write: “I refuse to accept that in the world of prestige video games — AAA in industry speak — a body like mine and those of the people I love and admire, can only exist in one of two ways: a cheap laugh or a sight of disgust, usually both.”

That’s certainly the case with The Duke. He might be a merchant, but his size is used as cheap shorthand for gluttony and greed.

Back in January during the Resident Evil Showcase that previewed the game, The Duke was first revealed. “The director wanted to give him a unique look,” we’re told in the video. “He’s an interesting fellow”.

But is making a character fat really all that unique? Is it “interesting”, or just lazy?

On the flipside, he’s at least a fun personality in Resident Evil Village. Cropping up at opportune moments to sell his wares, he’s a friendly face in a world of horrifying gothic monsters.  

Between the various villains, Village is a freak show of horror tropes: vampires, werewolves and more.

However, we have to agree that the design of The Duke really is one tired trope too far.

Resident Evil Village is out now. Read our review here.

Related topics: gaming, LGBT gaming, Resident Evil

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