This Mortal Coyle

Goth Stereotypes as Videogame Characters

This column is a reprint from Unwinnable Monthly #121. If you like what you see, grab the magazine for less than ten dollars, or subscribe and get all future magazines for half price.

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Fictional companions and goth concerns.

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If you’ve never dabbled in goth subculture, you may not realize how many gothic sub-subcultures exist. There are far more than I could fit in this column, and new sub-subcultures crop up all the time. While new niches’ “goth” authenticity (gauthenticity?) is often debated amongst other goths, I’m not here for that today. I’m just here to explain a stereotypical sampling by way of videogame characters.

Trad Goth: Charlie, A Mortician’s Tale – Traditional “Trad” Goths are those who rep the 1980s goth scene in all its glory (whether or not they lived through it themselves). Charlie, the titular mortician in Laundry Bear’s death positive game, has smoky eyes, bruise-colored lipstick, a mermaid tattoo, and a cascade of dark hair. When attending funerals, she wears a black dress with a Peter Pan collar and tall, black boots. Official art shows her hair intertwining with dark florals and, yes, a skull. It may not be mentioned in-game, but I strongly suspect that Charlie is listening to The Sisters of Mercy and Fields of the Nephilim when she gets home.

Romantic Goth: Damien Bloodmarch, Dream Daddy – This one is kind of a gimmie, since Damien is canonically goth and obsessed with the Victorian era. What are the trademarks of a Romantic Goth? Obsession with the Victorian era! Frilly outfits! Hanging out in graveyards! All topics of conversation with Damien.

Hippie Goth: Senua, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice – A Pict warrior, Senua’s hair is clumped with lime –a historically accurate Pictish aesthetic – and decorated with beads (this gives her a dreadlocked look, and dreadlocks were regrettably popular with white goths during the 1990s). Senua also has a dark-ass storyline in which she fights a giant raven, so don’t tell me she isn’t goth. Senua would fit in at Burning Man as easily as at a goth club, and that’s why she’s Hippie Goth.

Gothic Lolita: Margaret Moonlight, No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle There are a lot of characters I could have chosen here, but Margaret Moonlight has a particularly good outfit. She wields a scythe and sings a song called “Philistine” while attacking, capable of making her opponents comatose.

Metalhead: The Jester, Darkest Dungeon  Daubed with very creepy face paint, this guy attacks enemies by headbanging while strumming a lute. As per the Guild, he can deliver “chilling melodies and unsettling riffs that terrorize his foes, and give strength to his allies.” The Jester and Margaret Moonlight share some battle tactics: they carry scythes (in addition to his lute) and make music while on the offense. No wonder Gothic Lolita has its own genre of metal.

Nu Goth: Bea, Night in the Woods  Nu Goths are known for combining traditional goth vibes with 2012-era hipster vibes. Bea wears an ankh necklace à la Neil Gaiman’s Death, a black shift dress, black leggings and black boots. She’s a smoker trying to quit, who vapes indoors. These traits might still qualify her as Trad Goth, but the real hark of her Nu Goth status is that she plays drums on the computer. Millennials!

Pastel Goth: Gabrielle, Gabrielle’s Ghostly Groove  She has lavender hair and dances in a graveyard. She will definitely be posting those pics on Tumblr later.

Cyber Goth: Solene Solux, Hell: A Cyberpunk Thriller  Solene Solux is a non-binary cyborg dictator in an incredibly cool outfit, voiced by the incomparable Grace Jones. A cyborg capable of sending people to literal Hell is Cyber Goth, even with hot pink in their color palette.

Health Goth: Kuro, Katamari Damacy  “Kuro” means “black” in Japanese, and Kuro wears a dashing red-and-black outfit while rolling up objects to give the King of the Cosmos. All he does is run around and wear black. If that’s not Health Goth, I don’t care what is.

Visigoth: Alaric, Civilization V  The real Alaric I was a Visigothic King who sacked Rome in 410 A.D. because he hated authority and wanted to free Rome’s Gothic slaves. In Civ V (where the Goths are available as a custom civilization by Tomatekh), Alaric has already sacked the Eternal City, but you can still free the slaves and expand the Gothic territories.

Vampire Goth: Jeanette Voerman, Vampire: The Masquerade  Bloodlines  Jeanette Voerman owns a nightclub called Asylum, which should be enough goth cred for anyone. She’s also a literal vampire –which could be said for some members of Vampire Goth subcultures IRL, depending on whom you ask.

Mall Goth: Me, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood  A derogatory term used nostalgically on Twitter in 2019, being called a “Mall Goth” implies that you shop at Hot Topic and are not devoted to the music and/or “deeper” aesthetics of Gothic subculture(s). So, it’s about shopping. You know what else is about shopping? Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. Not gonna lie, I had some goth adventures in the Kim K game when it first came out. For me, the pleasure of the game was in styling my avatar as gothically as possible. I’ve forgotten most of the game’s mechanics, but I’m pretty sure I had to “do jobs” to “get money” to “go shopping” in order to buy my goth clothes. It got pretty real.

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Deirdre Coyle is a goth living in Brooklyn. Find her at deirdrecoyle.com or on Twitter @deirdrekoala.

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