YouTube has recently removed any videos depicting beatings and murder of the suffragette from Red Dead Redemption 2, and critics are coming down on Rockstar for allowing it. Yet, none of this was an issue in TES: Oblivion or in Fallout 3.
YouTube has found itself in the center of a controversy sparked by a video from a YouTuber going by the name Shirrako. The video depicts him beating up, lassoing and killing a suffragette in several ways, including feeding her to pigs and an alligator.
The video was taken down by YouTube, and any reuploads were also removed . Granted, YouTube later restored these videos but the fact that they acted so quick to remove them at all may be seen as problematic. It is worrying in the same way that the platform never took action against similar videos of violence committed against NPCs in other games.
You may recognise the examples from the image above - which are the adoring fan from The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Sticky from Fallout 3. I chose them because some people apparently condemned Rockstar for purposefully making the suffragette annoying in order to make players more inclined to "live out their violent fantasies" against certain groups.
As many people in the linked thread pointed out - Rockstar did not endorse beating up feminists and you are even encouraged to help them in missions.
In the cases of the adoring fan and Sticky, Bethesda also made these two NPCs annoying, as believe it or not - people can be annoying.
Both these NPCs were made annoying on purpose and you can kill them in any way you can think of. Granted, there are no alligators in either game to feed these two to, but there are numerous montages of players killing Sticky and the adoring fan in the most horrible ways they could come up with.
Neither of these videos have been a subject of controversy and they have not been taken down to this day. One was posted in 2009 and the other in 2010, meaning they have been around for years and no one batted an eye.
Rockstar gave an equal opportunity to players to kill or help the suffragette, just like Bethesda let players do the same with the adoring fan and Sticky. Does it mean the former should be forbidden just because that particular NPC is an activist? No it does not, just like it doesn't mean Rockstar are to blame for player choices in the game since they ultimately do not harm anyone in real life.
The whole controversy, in the end, doesn't make much sense, since Red Dead Redemption 2 is a Rockstar game and it was to be expected that they would let players into morally grey areas. Just because the suffragette is an annoying NPC standing next to a shop Arthur frequents and interrupts his dialogue does not mean Rockstar did it out of hate for anyone.
Annoying NPCs put an additional layer of flavour into video games and the adoring fan and Sticky are prime examples. Who, or why, would remember and reference them to this day, more than a decade later, if they weren't anoying virtual creatures by design, so that players can sometimes take a swing at them in anger?
I let a Super Mutant beat Sticky to a pulp. It's not Bethesda's fault. It was a relief and a comedic moment, before quick-loading to a point ahead of his death so I could complete the quest. Many players have done similar things in games and it has never been an issue.