Layperson’s perspective and criticism credentials

“Newbies should be seen and not heard”

Our long-time reader @red-queen-on-the-heathen-throne recently brought up important point we never put to words on BABD. It’s related to the “You never played/saw/read this (so shut up)!” rhetoric.
Namely, it’s the fact that perspective of someone who never consumed media in question is just as (if not more!) valid as the fans who knows all the lore, including Thermian arguments which supposedly justify bad design  decisions. 

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If a design isn’t good enough to communicate its narrative purpose to someone completely unfamiliar with the story behind it

(so each and every bikini armor falls under this), it fails as a design. As Red Queen puts it:

It’s not the player’s job to figure out what the designer is trying to actually tell them, as opposed to taking what is being communicated through this image at face value, before the game even begins.

And continues:

If this is what the game chooses to present to people who don’t know anything about the game yet, maybe don’t be quite so flippant about it when people get the wrong idea. Because then it actually matters that they don’t know anything about the game. 

So truly, insight of someone who doesn’t know yet how an element that looks ridiculous is explained in-universe (or even by the creators, in some additional material), is quite valuable, as it sheds light on potentially problematic things that lore-savvy fans and creators aren’t capable of noticing. 

Also please remember that parody/satire needs to keep their intent even more clear than stuff that plays the same tropes straight, otherwise Poe’s Law and “ironic” reproduction happens instead of insightful criticism.

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“Hand me your geek card!”

We’re often accused by detractors of not having credentials to talk about (usually) a game we’re criticizing, because we supposedly never played it. 
Putting aside a fact that with three of us being huge nerds and pop media consumers, at least one would be somewhat familiar (unless the product is super obscure) – why would that be relevant? No matter if we know the title well or just superficially, our criticism of female visual representation is always the same.

In-depth familiarity of a story behind combat lingerie hasn’t yet once made us ashamed of our words and deeds. If anything, the more we know about any particular Thermian argument, the better we are at picking it apart.
So asking us to “do our homework” before we comment will make the commentary far more critical, not more lenient.

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Whether or not we actually do comprehensive research for any particular piece of media depends on many factors, like: 

  • how influential versus obscure the media in question is
  • how interesting the excuses for skimpy female costumes in it are
  • if we’re already familiar with it beforehand
  • if there’s a Wiki for it
  • if a submitter provided some info
  • how much time we have at the moment

So while we try to at least look up everything we talk about, the amount of lore-heavy commentary (and its relative accuracy) varies from post to post.

Because, again, as we put it in our FAQ, this is not a full review blog, but one discussing character and costume design in the very specific context of in-story combat and meta-level sexism.
Finishing a game or knowing a TV/comic series full storyline isn’t necessary for us to point at a fictional lady who goes sword fighting in two pasties and a chainmail thong next to dudes in heavy plate armor and say this is an absurd image. It just is. 

~Ozzie 

Comic-only rebloggable post HERE

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