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What’s up with Voldo?

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Exploring masculinity with gaming’s most important Italian

I like watching people fight. In animation, staged contests, virtual contests, and sometimes, real contests. But there are parts of fighting culture that bother me, and I’m still trying to unpack them. Martial arts is a huge, ancient, awesome thing, but its most public gatekeepers encourage men to act… not cool.

I wanted to make a video where I examined those macho ideals by surveying all the fighting game dudes who didn’t fit the hyper-masculine mold. Necro, Lee Chaolan, Faust, Belial— the list goes on. But no matter where my research took me, I always got pulled back to an inescapable, singular figure, and the contradictions he embodies.

Voldo.

Bandai Namco

What. Is up. With Voldo?

He’s haunted us since he first wriggled into our lives in 1995. Everything about him is evasive, slippery, hard to pin down: I mean his character, and his combat game plan, and reasons for existing.

Click the video up top to join me on a journey of discovery that swerves through gay biker clubs, heavy metal legends, and wrestling ballerinas.

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