It may not have come up before, but I’m an immigrant to this delightful little country of wonderful people, flightless birds, and tasty fruit, all of which use the same name. But because of this, this time of year gets hard for me because; if you don’t like seeing your heritage and culture torn apart from the inside out and having its worst elements lauded by people with less Irish blood in them than the off-brand dyed beer they’re drowning themselves in, St Patrick’s Day can be a bit of an ordeal for Irish expatriates like myself.
It’s a bit of a sore subject, really.
My usual escape from reality is gaming, but unfortunately that’s no safe haven either, having more awful attempts at Irish accents between them than a Boston nightclub tomorrow night. I’ve collected the best and the worst of Irish characters in gaming, and written them down here for your entertainment.
Laugh at my pain, friends. Laugh at my pain.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue
Now, I love Assassin’s Creed; Desmond’s tattoo down my forearm has reduced my job prospects for half a decade, and I’ve been playing them since 2007. They’re not perfect, though, and nothing drove that home for me more than Shay Patrick Cormac, the man with three first names.
Assassin’s Creed Rogue was a good game, and is about to get a remaster you should probably pick up, but this was like nails on a chalkboard. He wasn’t stereotypical as a character, actually being surprisingly complex for the series, but that accent was atrocious. That’s what you get for hiring a Canadian instead of a Gael, I guess.
And if you think that’s a rarity, I have got some unfortunate news for you…
Ah, Moriarty. While his entire presence in Fallout 3 breaks the immersion of “we’re not supposed to know what happened to the rest of the world”, he remains one of the most memorable NPCs in Bethesda’s debut on the series. Owner of the imaginatively named Moriarty’s tavern, he was a acerbic bastard who profited from addiction, slavery, and prostitution. Less so than others in the Capital Wasteland, granted, but it’s still not cool, Colin.
A delightful fella that you never really have to interact with after the opening act, Moriarty was a publican, but at least not a drunk, and his accent, while hackneyed, honestly wasn’t the worst. Nope, that particular honour goes to:
Red Dead Redemption
What did we do to you, Rockstar? Who hurt you so?
Irish, because apparently that’s a name, is probably the worst representation of an Irish person in video games, and possibly all media. He’s a cowardly drunk who abandons our sweet beloved John at the worst possible moment, and, seriously guys, that accent is not even a real thing. No one has EVER sounded like that.
He’s the worst thing in RDR, and this is a game where you can tie people to railroad tracks for kicks. K.H. Sweeney, despite his Irish sounding name, is of course an American, so small wonder that he laid it on so thick. Bro. No.
Nioh’s William is technically Irish-born English, but for all intents and purposes hailing from Belfast, during a time when the British still thought it was cool to own our entire country. You just can’t stay mad at them though… Well, most of us can’t.
The accent is good. The accent is very good. That’s because Ben Peel is a Northern Irish actor, who the cool kids may recognise as the aggro husband from The Fall. I didn’t, and it bothered me the whole way through Nioh before I broke down and IMDB stalked him.
Nioh is a tough but thoroughly enjoyable game, and the portrayal was fair, possibly because there was a guy who actually knew what the accent was meant to be behind the mic.
There’s a theme emerging here, right?
Now remember, I’m mostly talking about accents, not characters, and Frank here really takes the proverbial cake. Atlas was convincing the whole way through Bioshock as the Irish revolutionary of Rapture and was, surprise surprise, voiced by an Irish actor. If you think I’m essentially punching you in the face with my point, it’s because I am.
Aside from Bioshock being one of the best games ever made (and it is, fight me), this authentic accent was one of the best in gaming. Shame about his American one, but hey, now they know how it feels.
Now, I play a lot of Overwatch. It’s why I can’t meet deadlines on other games. And, as a support main by both necessity and design, Moira has been my most played Overwatch character since her release. She sounds and acts Irish throughout, because she’s voiced by an Irish actress, and also because Blizzard respect their characters enough to not lean into the stereotyping too much.
I love Moira; not just because she’s a healer who can do reasonable DPS, has great mobility, and is insanely versatile in most team comps, but because she is a kick ass, chaotic neutral geneticist from Dublin, and that is goddam brilliant. This is a woman who is Irish, but it doesn’t entirely define her, something sorely missing from a lot of portrayals.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
The inspiration behind this article, Christ on a goddam bicycle this one hurts me. Aside from my love/hate relationship with this magnificent car crash of a game, the Fae, and by extension the Tuatha, were the lowest point. Who voiced these guys? Who pronounces Tuatha like that? Who signed off on this?
I can imagine no scenario where some Irish lad in the office didn’t say something along the lines of “C’mere, that’s not on.” None. And they ignored my sweet countryman in favour of this linguistic atrocity.
I mean yeah, they’re not Irish, but the voices would make Darby O’Gil blush. It’s nice to see Gaelic mythology get a look in on a deeper level in gaming, but not like this. Not like this.
So that’s that, the best and worst of my homeland’s representation in my favourite medium. Did I miss anything especially heinous or laudable? Let me know. Do you think I’m being overly sensitive? Don’t let me know; I don’t care.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to live the stereotype for just one day, and drink a disturbing volume of whiskey while cleaning my kitchen and singing along to black metal covers of traditional Irish songs. Slán go fóill.