114: Holding Out for a Heroine

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Bongo Bill:
Here's the problem I have with blatantly sexualizing women in games.

I appreciate good-looking characters. I'm not going to try to pretend otherwise. However, there comes a certain point where it is obvious that the woman was just put in there to sell more copies. That, in itself, doesn't bother me either, depending on how it's presented. However, I've seen enough bad games in my time that used sex as a major point of the game, that when I see a woman who was obviously placed to boost sales among fourteen-year-olds, I immediately wonder "All right, what are they trying to distract me from?" It's such a transparent attempt at shipping a bad, broken, or unfinished game that it strikes me as an insult.

I agree with you, it is the feeling I get from Wet and that game is not even out yet.

The problem is either that game developers are assuming that their audience is so dumb that they'll overlook a bad game if it has a nice pair of tits in it, or that they could be right.

Yeah, we need to change the demand side of the game development equation (what game consumers want). Changing the supply side is just treating the symptom, and not the cause. I mean, if every game had respectful images of women and non-whites and others, while all of the consumers were themselves not respectful of women/non-whites, the consumers would simply leave the media format and find another one that agreed with their views. Of course, this doesn't mean we just give the supply side a free a pass to cater to every crazy whim. But the primary target of criticism should be the demand side.

Personally I have a problem with media that exploits women, or foreign policy tensions, etc. in order to turn a buck. But at the end of the day, it means I have a problem with those who would buy such things, much more so than the people who produce such things.

PS --- Woah, i wonder what people's reactions would be if this article was "Holding out for a Black Heroine." Yowza!

There are so many things wrong with this statement I don't know where to start. Since thongs DO expose the butt, I would have to say that a$$-flossing is most definitely a part of T&A. Perhaps you are unaware that "T&A" stands for "tits and a$$?" Breasts are not sex parts? Where on earth would you get that idea? If breasts were NOT part of sex, then you'll have to explain why exposing them is such a huge part of "Girls Gone Wild." I doubt the subtext there is "I can nurse your baby." Come on, stop making lame excuses. When the outfits resemble things found in Victoria's Secret, it's about sex. Maybe you can lie to yourself, but the rest of the world isn't fooled. Funny you think a speedo exposes male sex parts. They seem fully covered to me. I'm sure you would say, however that despite the speedo-esque definition this outfit provides,(LINK:http://xbox360media.ign.com/xbox360/image/article/803/803748/soulcalibur-iv-20070711053412247.jpg) this female is completely covered and there fore there's nothing to complain about.

Silly-lady trix are for kids. T&A is about size and shape not revealed percentages, thus ass flossing is not part of it. It's typically brought up with women who starve themselves thinking they'll look pretty being anorexic. T&A is the counter that basically says 'you'd look better if you had some tits and ass'. The only real sexual appeal to breasts are that they soft, but then again so is the inner arm. What makes them more sexual than any other soft part of the body is that they are 'taboo'. There are countless tribes through out the world that understand boobs are not sex organs, why the 'mainstream' can't I don't quite understand. Also I'm not aware of the male gentalia being 'visually appealing' thus I'm not seeing that laminated bulges (essentially how tight a speedo is) are much more appealing. Although feel free to put your foot in everyone's mouth and invalidate that 'females perfer personality' thing. As for your picture...


I imagine you mean the whole "woman in a relationship with an asshole" thing? Yeah, I've known plenty of girls that get into those relationships, and one of the things they always say is "they were different when I started dating them". Fact of the matter is, what really happened is the girl confused confidence with conceit. If her first impression was of the guy being an asshole, she wouldn't have been so attracted.

I was actually refering to the delusional one's who go into a relationship thinking that they can change the guy... there's alot of those. And I've never seen that situation with an obese asshole so... yea...

PS --- Woah, i wonder what people's reactions would be if this article was "Holding out for a Black Heroine." Yowza!

Someone would have to play the reverse racism card... or point out there are no [insert any of the hundreds of races here] Heroines...

This'll probably be my last post on the matter, unless someone thinks up something that's really out in left field.

You're right. You are consumers in this, but at the same time if every game developed had alternative costumes for every single person whose tastes differ you would never get into the game at all. You'd be stuck trying to figure out what looks "best" on your character. What about the transvestites who may want a male figure with female clothing? or homosexuals who want fashionable material (that's a generalization I apologize for that)? or the dominate male who wants muscle shirts and leather pants? or the gamer geek who wants his favorite T-Shirt with logo on it? Let's be realistic here, you can't please 100% of the people 100% of the time. So you make do with a broad generalization and portrayal of what you would believe the consumer wants in the game.

I suppose your point might be valid if you could demonstrate that homosexuals or transvestites or geeks were being systemically portrayed and then exploited through costumes in video games. But they're not.

The fine point here is not that there should be unlimited choice in the matter, merely choices that do not exploit characteristics that don't have anything to do with the game.

The link works if you take out the parentheses.

Actually LisaB I can think of one or two examples of such beings. One being Makoto from Enchanted Arms. A flameboyant homosexual dressed in garish costume who is in love with a secondary character. While these characters are the minority it still doesn't detract from the validity of my statement. Just because you refuse to acknowledge my point doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Also women are not being systematically portrayed as wanton sexual objects. While there is a majority that lends itself to objectification of women, there is a considerable amount of games that portray women in strong roles (IE Eternal Sonata, Kingdom of Heroes, Breath of Fire, Final Fantasy, etc etc.) I'm not so blind that I realize the majority of games objectify women, but there are quite of few that raise the bar towards women in roles of importance. Also my point was including the fact that there are almost NONE of these people portrayed period in video games. What about the negative stereotypes towards African Americans in GTA III or the ramifications of the Middle Eastern Character from GTA IV etc etc.. Women are not the only ones getting a bad rap here and I think there should be a much more worldly approach to this.

While I'm not denying the truth of the matter of female stereotypes in games, I'm not sure I agree with everything said in the article. The porno-outfits of fighting games etc is of course an issue, especially since it would take very little to create at least one skin for each character that does not consist of a bra and fishnet leggings. Ivy's aristocrat outfit from Soul Calibur 2 is an example. While Soul Calibur 4 has been dubbed Boob Calibur by many communities, the fact remains that it's a good series gameplay-wise. It's about two things: visuals and gameplay, and those work rather well. All games in the series has been flashy and exaggerated while the characters are a wonder of stereotyping, lousy writing and acting and, yes, huge boobs. However, my personal favorite among the cast is Tira, the homocidal, bipolar death-dancer. Partly because of the way she plays, and partly because she got the only good actor who manages to present her complete madness in a surprisingly vivid way. It might be worth to mention, however, that one of her outfits consists of a ripped leotard, so it's not a complete winner ~~

Moving on to personalities I think criticizing the personalities of action heroines and fighting-game heroines is the wrong end to start in. Saying Samus Aran is a "man with boobs" is pointless since male and female behavior is largely shaped by society. Perhaps in her society it's the men who prefer romantic dramas over action films and feel disenfranchised, while the women see the ability to remain cool and unemotional as a virtue? My point: She's as much a female character as any because there are no clear boundaries for what is male and female, only a myriad of exceptions. No, instead of arguing that the main character should break down and have a good cry in the middle of a military mission it'd be far more meaningful to argue what genres of gaming has been overlooked. Is it possible to make a game based on drama? Would The Sims count? Probably not to any useful extent as the created characters lack defined, complex personalities, but it's something different. The character types discussed in the article just wouldn't fit in many of the mainstream games because of the time generally reserved for cut-scenes and the like. And why just female characters in those roles? Everybody hurts sometimes, everybody cries... : ) It has to work both ways or the gender roles will just be perpetuated. If a cold, emotionless warrior woman is "a man with boobs", then won't a warm, emotional man automatically be "a woman with a penis" (or, as has been suggested previously in this section, simply "gay")?

I don't think that is progressive thinking. Giving choices of how "sexy" you want your mmorpg-character or whatever to be is a clear yes. Trying to force a character type into a field where they don't fit is a no. Rather, find a space where they can reach their full potential.

The heroine Jen from the PlayStation 2 game Primal is the best heroine I can think of in any video game. She wore a halter top THAT ONLY LEFT HER UPPER BACK BARE and that was because she had a nifty tattoo between her shoulder blades that had some significance with the story. She wore pants - and they were NOT TIGHT! She was strong, had emotions, kicked butt... Hell, she was just really cool! And she was very real. She never struck me as artificial. I think anyone looking for a good heroine should give Jen and Primal a go!

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