Gearbox chief Randy Pitchford has reacted angrily to criticism of the portrayal of women in Duke Nukem Forever's controversial "Capture The Babe" multiplayer mode.
Speaking to Eurogamer in an exclusive interview published today, Pitchford hit out at claims the game tacitly endorsed violence against women, stating: "The minute you try to suggest that Duke would himself commit an act of violence against a woman just because she's a woman, or advocate that, that's offensive to me."
The source of the row is a gameplay mechanic in the game's twist on classic Capture The Flag, where the player grabs a girl and throws her over his shoulder. An on-screen prompt appears enabling the player to "spank" the girl to stop her from impeding progress.
But Pitchford was insistent that the criticisms represented a misreading of context that misunderstood the nature of the franchise.
"Duke is a Hugh Hefner kind of character – he's absolutely not a Chris Brown kind of character," he said. US R&B artist Brown was prosecuted in 2009 after admitting charges of domestic violence against popstar girlfriend Rihanna.
"I think Duke would kick that guy's ass," said Pitchford. "That guy's not a man, he's an asshole. And I think Duke would hate a guy like that.
"His whole purpose for living is to be loved and hailed as the king. Without that he ceases to exist. So the idea that he would hold anything against any person, not just through gender, but for race, religion or anything, is absurd."
He added: "It just doesn't make sense in the ethos of his world. That's where I'm actually offended by the association some have tried to make."
Pitchford further denied that the name of the multiplayer mode was intended to stoke controversy. "It's not supposed to be provocative, it's a Duke play on Capture the Flag, so the name has to be derived from Capture the Flag," he said.
"There's this line somewhere where on one side of it nobody even raises an eyebrow... And then on the other side there's, 'Oh those people should be in jail'.
"The line itself is okay, the line is a fuzzy, amorphous line and that's where Duke lives. He lives in that realm there between what is absolutely wrong and what is not even in question."
After 14 years in development, Duke Nukem Forever launched today across Europe.