Games journalist Jenn Frank has created a new online collaborative event which asks game developers to create titles centered on breasts that do not exist purely for teenagers to drool over.
Boobjam isn't just the best-titled event of the year, it's also an international call for game developers to create games about breasts that haven't been sexualized (or, at the very least, that haven't been sexualized in the stereotypically masculine way that we, as gamers, are all so familiar with). If you're scratching your head, just look at the image embedded at right, then imagine the opposite of that.
The sole criteria for entry in Boobjam is that developers "make a game that talks about boobs without resorting to the 'straight male gaze.'" Normally this is where I'd define the term, but c'mon, you people have played videogames before, right? So you know exactly what she's referring to. The vast, vast majority of female characters in videogames exist purely to give puberty a helping hand.
Whether that's personally problematic for you hinges on all kinds of variables, but the fact remains that the depiction of breasts in games is objectively one-sided. Boobjam hopes to change that by rallying developers to create games that might, say, offer comprehensive instructions on how to check one's own breasts for potentially dangerous lumps. Or maybe there's a superhero made of breasts. Point being: These games, though centered on boobs, are supposed to be about far more than attractive curves and unattainable standards of perkiness.
As a straight male, my opinion on these matters is admittedly a bit skewed, so why don't we get an explanation straight from Boobjam's creator?
There is an incredible range of experience invested in having (or not having, or newly having) boobs. But in most video games, boobs are this male gaze thing-they're there for (almost always) one reason, to titillate (one type of) players. And that's okay-lots of people like boobs!-but there are so many other ways to talk about them. Boobs mean a lot of different things to different people. They aren't two adjustable or removable objects, even though we do culturally think about them that way. They are, in fact, a part of a human body.
What do boobs mean to a new mother, or to a new woman? To a person in actual, physical pain? What might they mean to a real superhero or armor-clad warrior? Or, if boobs really are sexual objects, who, besides straight dudes, can sexualize them?
No one is claiming that a great rack doesn't have its place in gaming canon. But instead of having the same conversation over and over, why not try having a new discussion altogether?
Let's demystify boobs!
Get it now? Boobjam is an ostentatious counterpoint to stereotypically male-centric game development. Again, hate the idea if you'd like, but personally I'm all about tearing down society's cliché ideals, and there's simply nothing more cliché than the idea that everything should be about me simply because I've got external genitalia.
If you'd like further details on Boobjam, you can find absolutely everything relating to the 'jam on its official Tumblr page. Also, many low resolution renderings of pixelated breasts, because it's that kind of event.