The Domestic Masculinity of Helltaker | Sidequest

Jay Szpilka explores the surprising nuances of Helltaker’s unconventional approach to masculinity, despite the game’s harem-based premise.


Interesting and charming text, but it feels a bit like a straw-man argument as the violent, agressive man as the opposite is rarely portrait in games either. The games might have violent story, but the character itself is most often left rather blank for the player’s imagination to fill.

On the other hand the character in Helltaker sounds a bit more like a (slightly masochistic) superman kind of character that knows no weakness. This in itself is also a bit problematic as a male role-model, and similar super-women type of characters are rightly criticized for that.


It might be more helpful, then, to think of it as opposed to other stories involving harems rather than compared to your typical video game protagonist (though I don’t really agree that Big Aggressive Man is all that rare, though it’s certainly less prevalent than in the 90s). Harems are either tales of sexual conquest / domination with a Mega Cool Badass at the front or lead by blank self-inserts who inexplicably have women fawning over him.

When I played it, I didn’t expect such an explicitly horny game to be so…healthy?

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