ME:Andromeda artist: "there are sensitivities within the company [...] about representing women"

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FriendoftheFallen:
Because some people (in these forums even) try and mock those who want the skimpy outfits as being immature or puerile.

Some people mock those who like sexualised designs (typically representing heteronormative masculinist conventions). Some people mock BioWare's rejection of that, and call DA:I or ME:A's characters 'intentionally ugly'.

I hope you at least acknowledge that both sides (if there must be 'sides' at all) need to be called out. This isn't just a 'puritans vs the status quo' situation. There are hyper-sensitive people overreacting to all sorts of things.

Talking crap about skimpy outfits is not a demonstration of critical thinking skills anymore than talking crap in favor of skimpy outfits is.

It doesn't/shouldn't take a genius to realise art is both profoundly subjective and profoundly contextual. It stands to reason that, say, Skyrim's default aesthetic and tone doesn't suit thong flashing supermodels cavorting around. I used the term 'mock' simply because you used it, but yeah, what I mean is critique.

...obviously, being a game open to modding (which makes it an interesting example in these kinds of discussions; you have the contexts and tone courtesy of authorial intent, then individual whims), it is a canvas a player uses to craft their own experience. I reinforce the realism of the world in many possible ways (immersive UI's, survival modes, gear and weapons which fit the world, darker nights, etc). Someone else may go full T&A, enabling free flight modes without the use of jetpacks, using Batman outfits and all sorts of weapons which don't make any sense in the game's original story, or/and which clash with the vanilla aesthetic.

Both are equally valid.

On the flipside (of it being very reasonable, nay logical, to raise an eyebrow at a 'slutty' outfit in certain tonal contexts), I'd take issue with someone admonishing something like Lollipop Chainsaw or Bayonetta for its designs and tone; it would be pretty daft to question proportions in hyper-stylised works, and if someone wishes to explore sexualised imagery and characters, then that is ostensibly their creative prerogative (just as it is others prerogative to then critique those creations).

Some believe art is about escapism. Others believe it should reflect reality (aesthetically and psychologically/emotionally) to better explore universal themes. Art's many things, of course, and that should be protected. However, no work - reinforcing the norms of the status quo or rejecting/subverting them - should ever be free from critique, analysis, and challenges. And, ideally, all people should be comfortable in the works they value being, frankly, torn to pieces by others. Over-identification is an unseemly, poisonous thing no matter who's doing the identifying.

Calling them immature kids (as some here have done) and trying to shame them for liking those depictions is a bit anti-sexual and Neo-puritan.

I hope, at least, you do not habitually conflate discussions about sexism and context as "anti-sexual".

Objecting to outfits because it doesn't fit the story is one thing, objecting to outfits because others find them appealing (as some have actually done) is a different story and is shaming some people for their sexual preferences.

Ostensibly I agree, but a grouse against T&A is no different to someone whining about BioWare making their female characters 'uglier' - when beauty is subjective, and there are many forms of it, all equal.

Should all games conform to one standard? Absolutely not, and anyone who thinks that is unavoidably anti-art, given art is about individual expression and communication.

You can object to or critique whatever you want but if you are consistently railing against imagery in games that others find sexually appealing it does come across as Neo-puritan.

I'm curious to know where the line lies between critique you somehow accept, and objections you then label and dismiss.

And I'm still curious as to how this relates to Mass Effect Andromeda (your original post took just one 'question', and proceeded to neglect any mention of ME:A or other 'questions' entirely). It seems to me just a work created by people with a certain perspective on how to depict its characters. I'd assume - going from what you've written - you'd defend their right to create what they created.

Darth Rosenberg:
I'd assume - going from what you've written - you'd defend their right to create what they created.

They have a right to create it how they want. If they say they created it for a particular reason I am free to question that reason and depict it as Neo-puritanism if that is what it seems like to me. We are free to critique critiques and critiques of critiques. That is what we have both doen in this case. I still feel that a lot of times the concern about sexually appealing videogame characters comes from a position of Neo-puritanism. Some people really do seem to behave and speak as if depicting a female in a sexual manner is inherently wrong. In cases like that the term Neo-puritan seems apt.

Somehow I don't think the "Neo-Puritans" you talk about have much overlap with the Neo-Puritan movement.

Or this version of Neo-Puritans.

Or any version of Neo-Puritanism that's self-described.

FriendoftheFallen:

Darth Rosenberg:
I'd assume - going from what you've written - you'd defend their right to create what they created.

They have a right to create it how they want. If they say they created it for a particular reason I am free to question that reason and depict it as Neo-puritanism if that is what it seems like to me. We are free to critique critiques and critiques of critiques. That is what we have both doen in this case. I still feel that a lot of times the concern about sexually appealing videogame characters comes from a position of Neo-puritanism. Some people really do seem to behave and speak as if depicting a female in a sexual manner is inherently wrong. In cases like that the term Neo-puritan seems apt.

If you're entirely free to call people neo-puritans, then why do you have such an issue with people calling you "immature and puerile?"

altnameJag:
Somehow I don't think the "Neo-Puritans" you talk about have much overlap with the Neo-Puritan movement.

Or this version of Neo-Puritans.

Or any version of Neo-Puritanism that's self-described.

Apparently having taste makes you a neo puritan nowadays

FriendoftheFallen:
They have a right to create it how they want. If they say they created it for a particular reason I am free to question that reason and depict it as Neo-puritanism if that is what it seems like to me. We are free to critique critiques and critiques of critiques.

Then why does it piss you off so much that people are critiquing your critiques?

Depicting women "realistically", but then not doing the same for men is highly questionable. It's a sign that what they're doing isn't ideologically motivated. Probably just political or economic. Either hoping to avoid bad press or trying to appeal to more women.

I find the whole concept idiotic.
Characters should look like whatever the storywriters want their creation to look like. People with "sensitivities" need to get over their sensitivities and accept that they cannot attain all beauty standards.

RunsWithBears:
Depicting women "realistically", but then not doing the same for men is highly questionable.

How are they not depicting men realistically

undeadsuitor:

RunsWithBears:
Depicting women "realistically", but then not doing the same for men is highly questionable.

How are they not depicting men realistically

If you compare the male ME character with the actor he is based on they are very similar. The female character however has been altered 'to be more realistic'. The picture is in the original post.

Obviously actors are selected for their looks. When it's female characters they represent 'unrealistic' beauty standards. When it's about male characters no one seems to care, no matter how good-looking or muscular he is.

RunsWithBears:

undeadsuitor:

RunsWithBears:
Depicting women "realistically", but then not doing the same for men is highly questionable.

How are they not depicting men realistically

If you compare the male ME character with the actor he is based on they are very similar. The female character however has been altered 'to be more realistic'. The picture is in the original post.

Obviously actors are selected for their looks. When it's female characters they represent 'unrealistic' beauty standards. When it's about male characters no one seems to care, no matter how good-looking or muscular he is.

Have you seen most of the male characters the creator pumps out? They're pretty butt ugly too

I've tried making a pretty boy for weeks and it's near impossible

RunsWithBears:

undeadsuitor:

RunsWithBears:
Depicting women "realistically", but then not doing the same for men is highly questionable.

How are they not depicting men realistically

If you compare the male ME character with the actor he is based on they are very similar. The female character however has been altered 'to be more realistic'. The picture is in the original post.

Obviously actors are selected for their looks. When it's female characters they represent 'unrealistic' beauty standards. When it's about male characters no one seems to care, no matter how good-looking or muscular he is.

If you're honestly bothered by male representation in media, there's more than enough room to argue for fixing both women's and men's representations, so I'm not seeing why you're arguing so vehemently against the female issue. These are complementary causes, not contradictory ones.

Unless, of course, your entire peddling of male misrepresentation is simply an intellectually and morally bankrupt hijacking of something that you actually don't give a damn about to "score points" in an argument. My experience with internet "eglitarians" and the like has me leaning towards the second explanation, but I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for now.

undeadsuitor:

Have you seen most of the male characters the creator pumps out? They're pretty butt ugly too

I've tried making a pretty boy for weeks and it's near impossible

I got as close as "young Chow Yun-Fat with holes in his eye-lids", but honestly? He looks like a dork. Which is good, because Ryder is a dork.

A chiseled jaw line, he does not have.

altnameJag:
I got as close as "young Chow Yun-Fat with holes in his eye-lids", but honestly? He looks like a dork. Which is good, because Ryder is a dork.

A chiseled jaw line, he does not have.

If only we could have had a "pudgy" body type, to really complete the dorky stereotype for Ryder.

Avnger:

RunsWithBears:

undeadsuitor:

How are they not depicting men realistically

If you compare the male ME character with the actor he is based on they are very similar. The female character however has been altered 'to be more realistic'. The picture is in the original post.

Obviously actors are selected for their looks. When it's female characters they represent 'unrealistic' beauty standards. When it's about male characters no one seems to care, no matter how good-looking or muscular he is.

If you're honestly bothered by male representation in media, there's more than enough room to argue for fixing both women's and men's representations, so I'm not seeing why you're arguing so vehemently against the female issue. These are complementary causes, not contradictory ones.

Unless, of course, your entire peddling of male misrepresentation is simply an intellectually and morally bankrupt hijacking of something that you actually don't give a damn about to "score points" in an argument. My experience with internet "eglitarians" and the like has me leaning towards the second explanation, but I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for now.

I'm not bothered by male representation in media, nor was I bothered by women's representation in media, until they decided to make a political statement out of it. It's the political statement which I disagree with.
I don't think 'unrealistic' (or idealistic) depictions of men and women are wrong, which is why I disagree with altering a female character to make her look less attractive. The fact that the media chose to only highlight the female side of what they think is an issue makes me sympathize even less with them.

So, to sum up, you aren't bothered by representation in media, you're bothered that other people are bothered by representation in media, and want to maintain what was the status quo.

altnameJag:
So, to sum up, you aren't bothered by representation in media, you're bothered that other people are bothered by representation in media, and want to maintain what was the status quo.

Funny since the status quo in the west. right now is mostly unattractive female designs who are possibly lgbt.

Meanwhile anyone in Japan who dares to have designs that pleases both the audience and the creator get lambasted by critics over here over how problematic the content is and even docking the score at times

gyrobot:

altnameJag:
So, to sum up, you aren't bothered by representation in media, you're bothered that other people are bothered by representation in media, and want to maintain what was the status quo.

Funny since the status quo in the west. right now is mostly unattractive female designs who are possibly lgbt.

Are you willing to hold up that figure?

undeadsuitor:

gyrobot:

altnameJag:
So, to sum up, you aren't bothered by representation in media, you're bothered that other people are bothered by representation in media, and want to maintain what was the status quo.

Funny since the status quo in the west. right now is mostly unattractive female designs who are possibly lgbt.

Are you willing to hold up that figure?

I second that. @gyrobot , bring out the stats and percentages.

CaitSeith:

undeadsuitor:

gyrobot:

Funny since the status quo in the west. right now is mostly unattractive female designs who are possibly lgbt.

Are you willing to hold up that figure?

I second that. @gyrobot , bring out the stats and percentages.

Make it three. I want to see some data on this one.

BeetleManiac:

CaitSeith:

undeadsuitor:

Are you willing to hold up that figure?

I second that. @gyrobot , bring out the stats and percentages.

Make it three. I want to see some data on this one.

Fourthed (it is a word, dammit!). I'd love to see this data.

Ask /v if you want. Or look at all those western vide game character design vs Japanese Game Character design since 2011. Unless they are clearly inspired by anime or had an asian artist on board they are mostly unattractive in general.

Then comlare with 2017's gems from japan and see how attractive the female cast is in general

gyrobot:
Ask /v if you want.

I asked you. Not V, not google. You.

Or look at all those western vide game character design vs Japanese Game Character design since 2011. Unless they are clearly inspired by anime or had an asian artist on board they are mostly unattractive in general.

Then comlare with 2017's gems from japan and see how attractive the female cast is in general

Japanese characters are extremely stylized. They don't obey realistic aesthetics or proportions. Meanwhile western games have strove for "realism" as graphics improve.

you're comparing apples and oranges

you want to know why western characters are "less attractive" than japanese ones? because literally no one looks like a japanese character

And realism is the cancer that is killing the appeal of western video games. No wonder the Japanese Game inddustry does catch flak from its audience because qho would had thought people like stylized characters, not designs from tumblr or something similar.

gyrobot:
Ask /v if you want. Or look at all those western vide game character design vs Japanese Game Character design since 2011. Unless they are clearly inspired by anime or had an asian artist on board they are mostly unattractive in general.

Then comlare with 2017's gems from japan and see how attractive the female cast is in general

I think we were asking for the ratio of attractive vs. unattractive female designs in western games to sustain your claim about the west having mostly unattractive ones. Telling us to ask /v is a cop-out.

gyrobot:
And realism is the cancer that is killing the appeal of western video games. No wonder the Japanese Game inddustry does catch flak from its audience because qho would had thought people like stylized characters, not designs from tumblr or something similar.

what characters look like theyre from "tumblr"?

name 5 in games from the last year

gyrobot:
Ask /v if you want.

That'll be $250 up-front with a further $100 for each hour spent in research past the first. PM me an email address that I can send the PayPal request to.

CaitSeith:

gyrobot:
Ask /v if you want. Or look at all those western vide game character design vs Japanese Game Character design since 2011. Unless they are clearly inspired by anime or had an asian artist on board they are mostly unattractive in general.

Then comlare with 2017's gems from japan and see how attractive the female cast is in general

I think we were asking for the ratio of attractive vs. unattractive female designs in western games to sustain your claim about the west having mostly unattractive ones. Telling us to ask /v is a cop-out.

I've gotten into this argument with Gyrobot before, trust me, quit while you are ahead it never goes anywhere, he will just take everything on /v at face value. Last time, he got schooled with pictures of western characters and was asked to specifically call out what made them attractive/unattractive, his response was the same as here, "but /v said..." and everyone told him to argue using his own words and not just telling people to go to another website, and then the arguement promptly died.

Gyrobot doesn't quite seem to get that just because /v says it doesn't make it true, also that very few people here give a shit what /v thinks, I post on /v and I don't give a shit what 90% of those idiots think, its mostly purposeful hyperbole and exaggeration anyway, things like calling out any western developer for having ugly characters is an insane exaggeration, like most things on the site, done for the lulz.

EDIT: wait I remember now, it was Battleborn, Gyrobot was arguing the female characters were all unattractive Tumblr designs, and when confronted basically just admitted it was something he read on /v.

EternallyBored:
EDIT: wait I remember now, it was Battleborn, Gyrobot was arguing the female characters were all unattractive Tumblr designs, and when confronted basically just admitted it was something he read on /v.

Hmm. Sounds like he's also not aware that tastes in sex symbols are not universal. PBS Idea Channel actually has a great video about the sexy Overwatch fan art, discussing how this might be a window into just how vast and diverse the spectrum of human sexuality is, that there is no one standard of beauty. I recommend it.

I wouldn't say that "I didn't buy it because the characters were ugly". But, I'd say that the characters looking poorly designed, and low budget definitely was a reason I didn't buy it.

I'm not saying that therefore they have to cater to my whims, and so on. But, if they find people aren't buying their games because they're pushing a certain representation, that's on them.

image

It's less that the characters look "Normal", because, honestly, they really don't. They look like somebody pressed random on the character creator a few times and say "Yeah, that's good".

The Lunatic:
I'm not saying that therefore they have to cater to my whims, and so on. But, if they find people aren't buying their games because they're pushing a certain representation, that's on them.

Except there's absolutely no proof of that happening other than the usual internet crowd making the claim they won't. Considering the sales of EA/Ubisoft games doing just fine despite the number of people professing to boycott them, I'll take the bet that there isn't any noticeable dent in copies sold.

Netscape:
* What are your thoughts on the allegations that female characters in Mass Effect Andromeda were intentionally made "less attractive"?

I think there is a world of difference between "not attractive" and "acutely malformed." The issue with the facial structures and animations is not that they are unattractive, it's that they are shockingly creepy and fall into a very uncomfortable place in the uncanny valley. Granted, there ARE certainly a large number of people with either birth defects or injuries which cause their features to not conform to normal human shapes. But there is an even larger number of people who are not necessarily "attractive" by Hollywood standards, but also don't look inhuman. In fact, that number of people would be the vast majority of humans on the planet. My coworker whose face I see on a daily basis is not someone I consider attractive by any means, but I also don't look at him and go "HOLY SHIT WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM." His face isn't pretty, but it also doesn't strike fear into my heart. That is the reaction ME:A's pre-patch animations drew from me, and seems to have drawn from the community at large.

Do you believe that Robertson is being honest about his investigation into the situation?

I couldn't say if he's being dishonest or not since his source is both anonymous and undocumented beyond what he's written in the article, as far as I can tell. All we've got is his word on it, whatever that is worth. He is right that Bioware has gotten flack in the past for how they portrayed women, particularly in the Mass Effect series (*cough* Miranda ass cam *cough*). But again, the problems with ME:A extend well beyond simple unattractiveness.

Do you believe that feminism or social justice played a role in the portrayal of ME:A's female characters as "less attractive"?

No, not at all. I am rather partial to Extra Credit's theories on the matter. They mention the possibility of a rushed development schedule which didn't allow for the normal checking and tweaking on all dialog scenes that would normally happen before the game ships. They pair that theory with the fact that ME:A was developed on a different engine from the rest of the ME series, forcing them to start from square one when it comes to their animation and gesture mechanics. Another theory is that the animation information became very compressed when the game shipped, forcing some of the data to be read improperly and go haywire. They don't know for sure, but there is a lot of good information in there on how Bioware puts together their conversation animations and all the intricate things that can go wrong.

What do you think the artist meant by "sensitivities about representing women a certain way?

I believe they are referring to the unspoken rule in mass media that men are typically allowed to be more ugly that women. Just look at sitcoms--Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens, Home Improvement, Newhart, Green Acres...the list is long and stretches waaaay back. The male leads are there because of their presence as comedians, and they are pretty much all not conventionally attractive. They're overweight, or balding, or frumpy looking. But Google their casts and look at their on-screen wives. They're usually talented actresses chosen for their comedy skills as well, BUT they are each and every one of them fit and pretty damn attractive. It's a lot easier for men to get by on their talent as opposed to their looks than women.

And if a woman is unattractive, it's usually for a specific purpose. She's the mean neighbor, or the crazy old lady, or eccentric friend, or bitchy ex. If a woman is unattractive it's usually tied to her character or role in some way. If a man is unattractive there may be some jokes made about his inability to get into a relationship (see George Costanza), but that isn't always a requirement. In short: male characters are more often allowed to be unattractive and get by on their charisma and talent than women.

Why weren't there sensitivities about representing men?

Because for the most part, there aren't as many constraints on how men are portrayed in the media. As I was just saying, men are more likely to be judged by their charisma and talent than women. Men are also allowed to age more than women. A good example of this was when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, and the difference between how people reacted to Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford's looks. There were certainly many saying Harrison Ford was looking pretty old, but the reaction to Carrie Fisher was much more acute and widely discussed. People called Ford old or worn out, but Fisher was called ugly, ancient, dried up.

This is all over society and marketing, as well. Just look at all the anti-aging creams they make for women, and hair dyes to hide grays. But men have that "touch of gray" dye which actually gives gray highlights. Men with signs of aging are seen as wiser, more sophisticated. "Silver foxes" they're called. But women with signs of aging are just seen as...old. Actresses like Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, and Judi Dench are helping to break that mold a bit, but the billion dollar anti-aging market still stands.

* Why do you think that the female default ryder looks very different from her model, whereas her male counterpart looks almost exactly the same? (images)

I'll admit until now I have never seen both character models compared to their human counterparts before. Looking at those side-by-sides, it could well be because they WERE trying to have a not conventionally attractive female lead. However, that is a completely separate issue from the awful animation errors the game shipped with. In that still the female Ryder is definitely not as attractive as the model (the key changes being the broader face and nose, shorter eyelashes, larger eyebrows, and wider lips set higher on the face). However she still looks human, I don't really get an uncanny valley feeling from that still. And neither do I get it with the male model. So I would still consider the "deliberately unattractive" theory and the animation errors to be completely separate issues.

I now in hindsight realize that perhaps the animation issues weren't the chief issue you were addressing. However the vast majority of what I've read in regard to ME:A has been about the animation errors and how not only ugly but inhuman the characters look. I did not realize there was a separate discussion happening regarding the attractiveness of the model on the whole. Upon my initial viewings of ME:A footage, I took attributed most of fem-Ryder's awkwardness to the wonky animation.

On the whole I don't think that changes much in how I responded, though. Bioware has received criticism in the past on how they've portrayed female characters in the ME series, not just as attractive but framing them in sexual ways more frequently than the male characters. There are marked and most likely deliberate differences between the female human model and Ryder character model, and from what I can see more differences than between the male human and Ryder.

So maybe "social justice" and whatnot DID have to do with it, but I don't think that's an inherently good or bad thing. Just a...thing. A thing Bioware was trying out, but got spotlighted by horrendous errors on delivery. I might just say that if they were going for a slightly less attractive female Ryder, it may have been wise to do the same thing with the male. The differences between the two are pretty striking, and it only draws attention to something that should have been done in a low-key manner.

I found out what happened with all the faces!

On a more serious note, I get the impression that the whole feminism thing was used to distract from a rushed development. It worked largely thanks to the gaming community's obsession with it to the point it'll collectively ignore other issues or explanations to focus on it, QED.

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