Oversexualized but well written characters

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So, I finally got my hands on Dead or Alive 5+ and Holy shit does that game kick my ass! Probably because I've been playing Tekken non-stop for last year, but whatever
Okay, after completing story mode and getting accustomed to some characters I've found out that some of them are surprisingly well written. Not Persona or Mass Effect level of characterization of course, but taking into account the limitations that Fighting genre imposes they did a really good job.
For example, new character-Mila. She's a short haired tomboy with passion for fighting (looks like I got a thing for this sorta characters). She's quite talented, but not very confident. She's also a fangirl of Bass, another fighter in series who's famous for being one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Mila life's dream being to face her idol on a ring some day. Mila decides to enter the tournament after encouragement from Bass' daughter-Tina. So, we have a talented, passionate and humble fighter with more or less realistic goal that she strives to achieve.
Or take another example, Tina. She's one of DoA series covergirls being present in all games. She's very strong and confident woman with philosophy of her own. Her quirk throughout the series being constant chase for one dream after another. First, she wanted to be a model, then she wanted to become an actress, and by the end of DoA5 she announces her wish to get into politics. Funny thing is, she always manages to achieve goals of hers, thanks to her natural looks and talent on a ring. Strong, confident and independent woman who knows how to achieve her goals and uses all means available to her in order to do that.
Not too shallow, heh? And yet, you can make both of them wear bikini with bunny ears and make them fight in a mud.
TLDR: Just what's our stand on that sorta characters? Is it okay? Is it half-okay? Does the fact that they are oversexualized makes us not treat their characters seriously? What's your opinion? Do you have examples of your own?


Huh...maybe the picture doesn't do justice to the "oversexualized" part but that Mila chick doesn't look that bad in terms of silly sexualization (like...pre-reboot Lara "I could use these things as a flotation device" Croft).

Wait...you can make her strip to a bikini and fight in mud?!? I wonder if you could play that game one handed...

(Tee hee!! Tippy2k2 made an icky funny!)

Anywho, I personally find that if the characters personality means far more than the fact that they are eye-candy to some developers. A strong and confident woman is actually much more likely to end up being "lonely night fodder" (ewwww! Stop that before everyone throws up!) than a half-naked bimbo. Oh the naughty things I've done to Alyx Vance's picture (THAT'S IT! YOU GET NO MORE INTERNET FOR THE DAY TIPPY2K2!!!)

So basically, as an adult with a (somewhat) healthy view on women, I feel that the half-naked dancing ladies do absolutely nothing for me. I would personally prefer that they got rid of that aspect in gaming since I think it just makes gamers look childish but I don't see that ever happening. At least not while teenage boys are buying video games :)

EDIT: Good news everyone! I thought of a great example of this...

The entire female cast of High School of the Dead

I love me some zombies. I love me some of this show. HOWEVER, the fan service of this show is so ridiculously over the top that it actually takes away enjoyment. The camera man must be a midget or something because every scene involves the camera being low enough to get a panty shot no matter how "serious" the situation in the scene is.

Seriously HSotD? Seriously...? I want to love you but the sheer amount of this crap is distracting.

I wonder if I could just write the word "BAYONETTA" in massive letters on its own and leave it at that? As convoluted as the story in Bayonetta is I really liked her as a character. Anyway, anyone who has ever played Bayonetta for a decent amount of time knows that Bayonetta herself stops being sexually attractive after an hour and a half in. She's just in-character.

Probably the only game where "ironic sexiness" was actually done well instead as being a paper thin excuse to shove more boobs and jiggle physics into things. It has the best combat mechanics I have seen yet in a hack and slashy game as well. It out DMC's DMC easily.

Hmm thinking about it, Dante in DMC3 was oversexualised. Come on, a nipple belt? Boyish good looks? Witty oneliners and stylish sword moves? The game starts with him killing demons while topless and eating pizza? A fucking NIPPLE belt!

I guess he might be well-written more towards the end where he comes out of just being some cocky prick of a male power fantasy character and becomes a slightly more tragic cocky prick of a male power fantasy character.

Samara, Mass Effect.

Interesting and supremely well defined character, but... why is she wearing a swimsuit with a cleavage window, pauldrons, and high heels? You're seriously trying to tell me that's the everyday outfit of a warrior-monk? Yeah.

Jack, same series.

Good character, blah blah blah. Topless except for a leather strap that she uses like some kind of cupless bra. To be fair, I think half the point of that was to show off her tattoos. Still silly though.

Samara#'s sexualisation really clashes with her character and its awful that they chose to do that. But Mass Effect in general is pretty disgraceful with throwing people off the boat to sexualise them *coughmirandasbumcough* but the character itself wasn't bad.

If it doesn't actually conflict with the character then it doesn't bother me too hugely (but if it's Lara Croft silly it begins to do itself some harm if they want it taken seriously), although it's always nice to have some more diversity and some more ordinary looking people.

What's-her-face who is from dead or alive, but also in Ninja Gaiden Razor's Edge as a playable character. Purple hair...she uses her sexuality as a weapon for deception.

Bayonetta for sure. Lara Croft has been balanced out I guess. I really thought they did well with her character for Legend - I cared more about her character than her body on the screen.

Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell. Especially her outfit in the first season of Stand Alone Complex. She is pretty much a kickass, no nonsense super hacker and combat expert, but is wearing what amounts to a leotard and a jacket.

I was much happier when they have her proper clothing in season 2.

As for my opinion on it happening. It doesn't "bother" me as such, and most of the time it doesn't detract too much from the character, but I think it is the intent that irritates me more. I have never been bothered by nudity in fiction, but I feel that using it to sell a product kind of cheapens it a little. It's almost like they don't have faith enough in their own work to sell it without trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

When it is used purely for fan service, it irks me the most.

gamernerdtg2:
What's-her-face who is from dead or alive, but also in Ninja Gaiden Razor's Edge as a playable character. Purple hair...she uses her sexuality as a weapon for deception.

Bayonetta for sure. Lara Croft has been balanced out I guess. I really thought they did well with her character for Legend - I cared more about her character than her body on the screen.

Ayane. That is the character you are thinking of.

EDIT: More on topic. Honestly? I pretty much take every character seriously unless it is obvious the developer does NOT want me to take the game seriously.

I honestly don't think oversexualization is a problem because I look at it from the developer's vision rather than my personal standards and morality.

Sexualisation isn't evil. I have sex with my wife all the time, and I totally objectify her, but that's an extra thing I appreciate. It doesn't meant that's -all- I appreciate. I think nuLara is hot too. And Bayonetta.

So of course it's completely fine.

We can still make an argument about practicality though. So yeah, Samara's outfit doesn't seem very useful. But Jack? Why the hell not? She's a biotic badass with sweet tatts. Damn right she's gonna show them off.

As for DoA? -Every- character is sexualised, with tight fitting and revealing outfits. Men and women. We just only seem to care about the women more.

Well, most women in games are sexy or atleast attractive.

I guess Samara from Mass Effect 2. She's got that whole ice queen milf thing going on, but her character still shines through despite the unzipped skintight "battlesuit".

oreso:
Sexualisation isn't evil. I have sex with my wife all the time, and I totally objectify her, but that's an extra thing I appreciate.

You do know that "objectify" does not mean "find attractive/sexy". It means seeing a person as nothing, but an Object used for sex. And i hardly think, that's what you think of your wife.

IMO, if the way a character looks destroys your ability to take them seriously, assuming that it doesn't directly contradict their character, that's a problem YOU have, not the game.

Especially when we're talking about something as superficial as the fact that they're attractive.

I didn't play Mass Effect 2 and think "Oh, Samera is a tragic and intriguing figure, but I just can't feel sympathetic for a character with jugs like that"

If you ask me, THAT'S superficial.

Even if a character is directly sexualized (Take Miranda, again from ME) it doesn't mean there's nothing underneath. The problem we face with the portrayal of women in the arts is not that they're simply "Too sexy", the problem is that, too often, that's ALL they are.

Characters with average designs aren't any better than ones with attractive designs.

The idea that a characters appearance can dictate their complexity is no less superficial than the idea that their appearance is all that matters.

Amaror:

oreso:
Sexualisation isn't evil. I have sex with my wife all the time, and I totally objectify her, but that's an extra thing I appreciate.

You do know that "objectify" does not mean "find attractive/sexy". It means seeing a person as nothing, but an Object used for sex. And i hardly think, that's what you think of your wife.

To be fair, I see the term "Objectify" thrown around a whole bunch, often improperly, it's no wonder oreso got the wrong idea about what it means.

Saya from the VN Saya No Uta

Man, the first scene you see Saya you're just like "WWWWWWHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTT the fuck did /jp/ recommend". The sexualisation is made to make you feel uncomfortable, and the protagonist says as much. As the game progresses we kind of find out more about her and why she's the only thing that doesn't look disgusting to the protagonist.

It's a beautiful mess up story, Saya is probably one of the most interesting characters I've seen in a game, but its not for the feint of heart. You will need to resist the urge to close down the game ALOT.

It's a Japanese VN, what do you expect?

I have no problem with women AND males (we always overlook this part, it's not like male characters look ANYTHING like your average Joe either) being oversexualized, as long as there is something more underneath. This is the whole point of a lot of fiction anyway, we enjoy it to see things that are outside the norm, things taken to the extreme, looking and behaving in a way we ourselves cannot. Videogames would be boring as hell if it all would be totally realistic, seriously. Then you're better off living the REAL life, you know? Actually, I'd be pretty upset if all the female characters dressed and looked the way they do at my office!

As for Mass Effect, there is absolutely no problem with they way they did it there. Most of the characters are well thought out, and there's nothing wrong with having them attractive at the same time.

IllumInaTIma:
So, I finally got my hands on Dead or Alive 5+ and Holy shit does that game kick my ass! Probably because I've been playing Tekken non-stop for last year, but whatever
Okay, after completing story mode and getting accustomed to some characters I've found out that some of them are surprisingly well written. Not Persona or Mass Effect level of characterization of course, but taking into account the limitations that Fighting genre imposes they did a really good job.
For example, new character-Mila. She's a short haired tomboy with passion for fighting (looks like I got a thing for this sorta characters). She's quite talented, but not very confident. She's also a fangirl of Bass, another fighter in series who's famous for being one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Mila life's dream being to face her idol on a ring some day. Mila decides to enter the tournament after encouragement from Bass' daughter-Tina. So, we have a talented, passionate and humble fighter with more or less realistic goal that she strives to achieve.
Or take another example, Tina. She's one of DoA series covergirls being present in all games. She's very strong and confident woman with philosophy of her own. Her quirk throughout the series being constant chase for one dream after another. First, she wanted to be a model, then she wanted to become an actress, and by the end of DoA5 she announces her wish to get into politics. Funny thing is, she always manages to achieve goals of hers, thanks to her natural looks and talent on a ring. Strong, confident and independent woman who knows how to achieve her goals and uses all means available to her in order to do that.
Not too shallow, heh? And yet, you can make both of them wear bikini with bunny ears and make them fight in a mud.
TLDR: Just what's our stand on that sorta characters? Is it okay? Is it half-okay? Does the fact that they are
oversexualized makes us not treat their characters seriously? What's your opinion? Do you have examples of your own?


Well, many of the chicks in DoA are there for fan service, but are well written as well. Helena is tragic, Kasumi and Ayane have good arcs and even the assassin with giant tits Christie (my fave) is better developed than most fighting game characters. It's about balance. Dead or Alive tends to lean one direction, but got much better with 5.

sumanoskae:
IMO, if the way a character looks destroys your ability to take them seriously, assuming that it doesn't directly contradict their character, that's a problem YOU have, not the game.

Especially when we're talking about something as superficial as the fact that they're attractive.

I didn't play Mass Effect 2 and think "Oh, Samera is a tragic and intriguing figure, but I just can't feel sympathetic for a character with jugs like that"

If you ask me, THAT'S superficial.

Tell me, if your boss showed up to work one day in his underpants and nothing else, would you really have no trouble taking his instructions seriously?

I quite liked both Triss and Ves from the Witcher 2 if that counts, and in the first Witcher the conflict between Triss and Shani was interesting.

Other than those the only other examples I can think of are the ones already mentioned from the Mass Effect games. I mean seriously Jack, put on a shirt. It also makes it look ridiculous when you're doing something on some foreign planets surface, no doubt plagued with all sorts of ways a human could be killed, and here's Jack running around shirtless with some cheap mouth-breathing thing as her only ward against the elements. Damn that looked stupid.

Is Shepard leader because she's the only one in Mass Effect 2 and 3 capable of wearing proper armour?

Zhukov:

sumanoskae:
IMO, if the way a character looks destroys your ability to take them seriously, assuming that it doesn't directly contradict their character, that's a problem YOU have, not the game.

Especially when we're talking about something as superficial as the fact that they're attractive.

I didn't play Mass Effect 2 and think "Oh, Samera is a tragic and intriguing figure, but I just can't feel sympathetic for a character with jugs like that"

If you ask me, THAT'S superficial.

Tell me, if your boss showed up to work one day in his underpants and nothing else, would you really have no trouble taking his instructions seriously?

My boss isn't a fictional character; if my boss got stuck in an animation loop, I'd assume I was drugged, because shit like that doesn't happen in real life. Real life isn't designed or programmed, it's not susceptible to human error.

And I wouldn't give a shit even IF my boss showed up to work wearing cut off shorts and a sports bra; it's weird but I'm not gonna stop doing my job because of it, she could still fire me. If my boss gives me an order and it makes sense, I do it, whatever the fuck she's wearing.

A character dressing strangely isn't much of a plot hole; it's not any more strange than the fact that you can keep asking them the same question for 20 minutes and they'll repeat their answer on the dot every fucking time, or how they occasionally teleport across the room and clip through walls, or run in place.

Minute shit like this doesn't really bother me, it's not that big a deal, and it's not going to sabotage the character for me.

sumanoskae:
To be fair, I see the term "Objectify" thrown around a whole bunch, often improperly, it's no wonder oreso got the wrong idea about what it means.

:D

Yeah, I was kinda using the word facetiously. I'm kinda tired of its looser meaning of "ZOMG! You found me attractive! You don't respect me, jerk!"

Folks should probably lose the shame and insecurity here. I can totally ogle Lara or anyone all day and it wouldn't mean anything special about how I regard them as a person/character overall.

sumanoskae:
I didn't play Mass Effect 2 and think "Oh, Samera is a tragic and intriguing figure, but I just can't feel sympathetic for a character with jugs like that"

If you ask me, THAT'S superficial.

Great way to put it.

Zhukov:

sumanoskae:
IMO, if the way a character looks destroys your ability to take them seriously, assuming that it doesn't directly contradict their character, that's a problem YOU have, not the game.

Especially when we're talking about something as superficial as the fact that they're attractive.

I didn't play Mass Effect 2 and think "Oh, Samera is a tragic and intriguing figure, but I just can't feel sympathetic for a character with jugs like that"

If you ask me, THAT'S superficial.

Tell me, if your boss showed up to work one day in his underpants and nothing else, would you really have no trouble taking his instructions seriously?

And what does that really have to do with a fictional game universe where most things are overdone anyway? That's why it's called entertainent, not real life.

MGS, specifically EVA, you could argue even Meryl/Naomi weren't bad characters, even if heavily sexaulised. I mean, EVA has her top unzipped the entire time...
I don't mind sexualising, unless the game really pushes it in your face every 5 seconds.

The Madman:
I quite liked both Triss and Ves

I can kind of get Triss, but Ves? Really? Where do you get any kind of sexual-focus from her? I know Geralt has the potential to get it on with her, but it is unexpected and you do have to put effort in to get it (I myself, for my Roche playthrough, got told to fuck off for poor dialogue choices). I just, don't see anything overly sexual about Ves at all and when it does eventually occur, it seems to be private as hell anyway.

Can you explain your reasoning behind this?

BrotherRool:
Samara#'s sexualisation really clashes with her character and its awful that they chose to do that. But Mass Effect in general is pretty disgraceful with throwing people off the boat to sexualise them *coughmirandasbumcough* but the character itself wasn't bad.

If it doesn't actually conflict with the character then it doesn't bother me too hugely (but if it's Lara Croft silly it begins to do itself some harm if they want it taken seriously), although it's always nice to have some more diversity and some more ordinary looking people.

HEY! don't you dare talk bad about my girlfri-I MEAN miranda's awesome butt!

OT: Well obviously mass effect is high up there, so i'm going to mention:

FFX-2, I can't remember exactly what it was called, but when you transformed the characters with those "spheres", it was one of those "oh shit my parents better not walk by" moments.

Zhukov:
Samara, Mass Effect.

Interesting and supremely well defined character, but... why is she wearing a swimsuit with a cleavage window, pauldrons, and high heels? You're seriously trying to tell me that's the everyday outfit of a warrior-monk? Yeah.

Jack, same series.

Good character, blah blah blah. Topless except for a leather strap that she uses like some kind of cupless bra. To be fair, I think half the point of that was to show off her tattoos. Still silly though.

Ugh yes thank you for pointing that out. Why Samara had to have such a ridiculous outfit totally unsuited for her profession I have no idea.

And why the hell couldn't they have at least given Jack a tank-top or something? Her character design looked like a fanboy of The 5th Element went off the rails to design a "strap" outfit like LeeLoo. Yeah the tattoos were cool... but the stupid nipple-belt was really really dumb looking.

As for The Witcher and The Witcher 2, The Witcher had a few shallow sexual scenes with NPCs that hardly had any development at all. However in The Witcher 2 pretty much all of this was gone. I didn't find any of the female characters over-sexualized. They struck me as very empowered, actually. Triss is NOT to be messed with, even though she does have quite a bit of "damsel in distress" syndrome in Witcher 2.

Ok i'm going to bring BlazBlue up because how the balls could I forget? I mean the game takes the piss out of itself in a lot of the gag endings and the Help Me, Professor Kokonoe! Sections for having a few hilarious battle outfits but I would say it does restrain itself enough to be taken seriously. Tsubaki is practically dressed like a nun for an opposite example.

Makoto and Mu-12 for example. I really like Makoto as a character but there's a good non-constricting boxing outfit then there's this

I'm not complaining, it detracts nothing from her character, looks cool and does fit her playstyle.

I have no idea why Mu-12 is so... Exposed though. She's a weapon of world destroying proportions and OH MY GOD! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WEARING?!

Her "Battle Mode" is practically naked except for her swords and cool headband thing. I'm sure there's a meaning to her appearance somewhere but I can't find a solid one yet. Did Hazama design her appearance by any chance? If so it makes sense since he would make it hilarious just for the lolz.

Legion:
Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell. Especially her outfit in the first season of Stand Alone Complex. She is pretty much a kickass, no nonsense super hacker and combat expert, but is wearing what amounts to a leotard and a jacket.

I was much happier when they have her proper clothing in season 2.

Compared to some of the stuff in the manga, the Major is overdressed in SAC. Several characters in the show make remarks about how the Major dresses. Particularly right after she complains about women being objectified. :)

Morrigan from Dragon Age. Walks around with nothing covering her top half but what appears to be a sheer, silky scarf. Doesn't stop her from one of the more interesting characters I've ever seen in a Bioware RPG and one of the most interesting love interests, especially given the impact a romance with her will have on the plot.

I would say Witcher 2, but the fact is that outside of her two nude scenes, Triss' outfit in 2 is pretty practical, so I don't think she was that heavily sexualised.

As for whether it bothers me...usually not. Generally, it doesn't have much of an impact at all when compared to just how well written the character is. I won't like a character just because they show little leg, and I won't hate them if they do.

The only time it's really bothered me was in ME2. Samara is actually a very tame example; Miranda and Jack's outfits made it impossible for me to take them seriously. Especially Jack's. I get it, you're a badass psychic outlaw. Put a damn shirt on. The writing simply wasn't good enough to compensate for how ridiculous they both looked.

(Also second Major Kusanagi.)

BathorysGraveland2:

I can kind of get Triss, but Ves? Really? Where do you get any kind of sexual-focus from her? I know Geralt has the potential to get it on with her, but it is unexpected and you do have to put effort in to get it (I myself, for my Roche playthrough, got told to fuck off for poor dialogue choices). I just, don't see anything overly sexual about Ves at all and when it does eventually occur, it seems to be private as hell anyway.

Can you explain your reasoning behind this?

Mostly just her outfit is all, I agree with you that she's quite badass.

I wanted to get a decent picture to demonstrate but 90% of the stuff that pops up on google image for Ves are either pictures from the sex scene or Skyrim mods, what the hell?

Power Girl.

This is kinda touch and go because how well written she is depends on the person in charge at the time. But over all I find that I really enjoy her headlining stories and I find her to be a fun counterpoint to the grim and gritty stuff I usually read.

Zhukov:
Samara, Mass Effect.

Interesting and supremely well defined character, but... why is she wearing a swimsuit with a cleavage window, pauldrons, and high heels? You're seriously trying to tell me that's the everyday outfit of a warrior-monk? Yeah.

Jack, same series.

Good character, blah blah blah. Topless except for a leather strap that she uses like some kind of cupless bra. To be fair, I think half the point of that was to show off her tattoos. Still silly though.

I was going to say Miranda. She had a fairly interesting character arc.

The Wykydtron:

-snip-

I have no idea why Mu-12 is so... Exposed though. She's a weapon of world destroying proportions and OH MY GOD! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU WEARING?!

Her "Battle Mode" is practically naked except for her swords and cool headband thing. I'm sure there's a meaning to her appearance somewhere but I can't find a solid one yet. Did Hazama design her appearance by any chance? If so it makes sense since he would make it hilarious just for the lolz.

I can agree with both of the characters, but I just remember a quote from...Daisuke Ishiwatari, I believe? He did the character designs for Guilty Gear, if I'm right, and someone asked him how he felt about the Mu-12 design, and his response was something along the lines of, "I don't quite understand the point of it--I always thought armor was meant to protect the body..."

Funny thing is, when I first saw her CS artwork I thought she looked pretty cool and wondered how she would fight. Then when I first saw her intro and 'transformation' I stopped and went, "What the hell!? ...Japan!!!!!"

Raiden and Solid Snake are good contenders (ok maybe not Raiden)

sumanoskae:
IMO, if the way a character looks destroys your ability to take them seriously, assuming that it doesn't directly contradict their character, that's a problem YOU have, not the game.

Especially when we're talking about something as superficial as the fact that they're attractive.

I didn't play Mass Effect 2 and think "Oh, Samera is a tragic and intriguing figure, but I just can't feel sympathetic for a character with jugs like that"

If you ask me, THAT'S superficial.

Even if a character is directly sexualized (Take Miranda, again from ME) it doesn't mean there's nothing underneath. The problem we face with the portrayal of women in the arts is not that they're simply "Too sexy", the problem is that, too often, that's ALL they are.

Characters with average designs aren't any better than ones with attractive designs.

The idea that a characters appearance can dictate their complexity is no less superficial than the idea that their appearance is all that matters.

I think when people make the "Good character is too sexualized" argument, it's because there's often little context for it. Like, why does Samara dress like that? She has children so she's not celibate, but at the same time she is clearly more dedicated to her job as a justicar than to her relationships (thus giving her the willpower to track down and kill her dangerous children). With Jack it at least makes a bit of sense--she's been a science experiment all her life, of course she's going to be used to being seen basically naked, and along with her hair it can be argued that the way she dresses is a form of rebellion and liberation. And with Miranda, while she doesn't dress much worse than Femshep, the camera likes to make it known what the game wants you to be looking at.

And that screenshot isn't even from when you're romancing her. It's just a regular cutscene that's from her story arc. Stuff like that has no place in situations like that. When a game is deliberately sabotaging its characters for the sake of gratuitous ass and boob shots, it's hard to not argue that the characters aren't damaged in the crossfire as well. Yes, it doesn't affect the writing, however it can drastically alter the situations they are in as a whole. I mean, just imagine if Samuel L. Jackson did that whole "English motherfucker, do you speak it?!" scene from Pulp Fiction wearing nothing but a speedo and sunglasses. The speech and the writing may be the same, but can you honestly argue that you perceive his character a bit differently because of that appearance? Or at the very least, that it would confuse you just a bit?

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