Fuckboys in Gaming History: Warren Graham, Life is Strange

Fuckboys in Gaming History is the first, and perhaps most important, series I’m launching on this site. And for this first installment of Fuckboys in Gaming History, I had to go with Warren Graham from Life is Strange: the character who gave me the idea for this series.

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Let’s start with some background:

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word fuckboy (which takes on a variety of spellings) allow me to offer a definition. A fuckboy is a guy who is garbage, often characterized by his over masculinity, mistreatment of women, selfishness, inability to follow through, trolling, and so on. Fuckboys aren’t completely evil, just shitty. While some may characterize a fuckboy as the male counterpart to the “basic bitch,” I reject this definition. Basicness knows no gender while the fuckboy label is reserved for men, at least in most circles, for the purposes of this blog.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Life is Strange, it’s an episodic visual novel published by Square Enix. You play as Max Caulfield, a photography student studying at the prestigious Blackwell Academy located in Arcadia Bay. Unsurprisingly, there’s drama at your boarding school but it’s far from mundane. And by episode 5 it’s full on surreal. Although one could argue it’s surreal since episode 1, after all, you have the power to rewind time.  Life is Strange is all about the decisions you make. Your choices, as Max Caulfield, create a butterfly effect (i.e small decisions can have a big impact later on). At first your rewind powers make it seem like it’s impossible to make the wrong decision (given that you can see an outcome, rewind, and choose something else) but it’s not that easy. And therein lies the intrigue of the game.

In Life is Strange, Warren may be Max’s friend but, depending on how you play the game, the two of you can hook up. Personally, I avoided this as much as possible at every given opportunity due to Warren’s fuckboy status. This fuckery is multifaceted and, in true fuckboy fashion, the sooner you (the player) realize Warren is garbage, the more Warren reveals how garbage he really is.

Needy and possessive behavior

Warren is not alone in this (Max’s best friend Chloe isn’t exactly perfect). But Warren really can’t take a hint can he?

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His “Don’t ignore this message” text, early in the game, was red flag number 1.

Let’s take a second to acknowledge that I never texted him back last night… now let’s consider the context of this “message me back” plea. Warren sends this after asking to hang out but then redacting the offer immediately because he just remembered he has to study. First of all, you just said you can’t hang out so why do you so desperately want me to text back?  Secondly, this string of texts from Warren suggests that I don’t usually text him back. When it comes to Max and Warren’s relationship it’s clearly a one way street of thirst. Warren is the type to get your number from school directory because he really felt a connection that one time you guys talked.

Next up, we have a small but significant moment. When you return Warren’s flashdrive he hits you with that

“Where’s my hug?” aka the fuckboy anthem.

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Some of you may see my interpretation of that scene as harsh/cynical and in some ways it is. But I think we all know the “Where’s my hug?/What? No hug?” guy and he’s trouble. Which brings me to my next point:

Obnoxious flirting paired with entitlement

When Nathan Prescott gets aggressively in your face, in the parking lot, Warren steps in to help: getting a black eye in the process. You have to drive off before getting to talk to Warren about it but of course, he sends you a text message.

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His text reads “Earth to Max: Your white knight Warren here. I know you were worried about me” along with a selfie of his black eye and a thumbs up. Everything about this message says “HELLO, NOTICE ME. Look at this thing I did for you. I can take care of you, aren’t you attracted to me?” Line by line, this message is rude, entitled, obnoxious flirting. At this moment, I realized Warren was quickly crafting a “I’m chivalrous in a problematic way” identity for himself. Suddenly he seemed like the kind of guy who would hold the door open for you and then get angry if you didn’t say thank you immediately.

Don’t be fooled by this kind of fuckboy. The fact that Warren cares about you and makes sacrifices for you means nothing because all he really wants is credit in the form of your attention/affection.

The ultimate faux “good guy”

Warren is the type to complain about being friend zoned instead of facing his own shortcomings as a person or acknowledging the obvious fact that not everyone will fuck you just because you’re “nice” (especially when you’re actually kind of a jerk). This was clear after I declined his invitation to the movies, which was met with dismissive aggression.

Sidenote: He’s way more into you than you are into him but never backs off. My in-game evidence of this is the way Max (in my play through at least) reacts to finding this photo of them together.

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She wonders why he developed this and sounds a bit creeped out by this. Her reactions to other photos she finds (such as Victoria’s selfies) are more commentaries on the person/situation. Here she’s just like “why would he spend time developing this?” Warren having a photo of himself and Max doesn’t make him a fuckboy, but it helps inform my understanding of their relationship and his disposition.

Final thoughts…

Life is Strange is a game with women at the center: from the two main characters, Max and Chloe, to the mystery of what happened to Rachel Amber and your early attempts to help Kate Marsh. In a game that’s so much about females and female relationships, Warren’s sticks out like the fuckboy that he is. And this is just from my specific play through and observations. For more on Warren’s fuckery, I direct you to this thorough outline on Steam.

But in the end I have to admit, like many fuckboys, Warren wasn’t all bad. He did help me get into the principal’s office and, though he had no way of knowing it, that drunken polaroid selfie he took of us came in handy. So in episode 5, when presented with the choice to kiss him, hug him, or do nothing I knew I wasn’t going to kiss Warren. After all, video games are a form of escapism. With gaming, you can live out your wildest fantasies and mine is to reject every fuckboy who tries to date me. But in the midst of apocalyptic weather I didn’t want to just leave either…

So there you go Warren, you finally got that hug from me (albeit begrudgingly)

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You helped a lot, but you’re still trash though.

And thus concludes the first installment of Fuckboys in Gaming History.

Comment with your thoughts on Warren and tell me how you acted towards him in Life is Strange. How was your experience different than mine? And let me know what fuckboys you want to see in this series.

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4 Comments

  1. Yeaaaaaaaaaah I am honestly so torn with Warren, not about whether or not he is a fuckboy (he absolutely is) but whether or not he is written intentionally that way. I keep going back and forth. But in a game where almost every male character plays a negative, sometimes extremely negative role, he sort of stands out as this murky-grey gross “good guy” who raises my creep red flags but also he’s written to purposefully get sympathy (pity?) out of the player/Max. So I can never tell how intentional the writers are being with that character, and it bothers me since the rest of the writing in Life is Strange seems pretty freakin’ intentional to me.

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