This whole thread is definitely worth reading for a better understanding of The Creepy Marketing Guy and why so many games, particularly in early campaigns, seem to rely on generic strategies like sex sells.
So the next time you see a promotion for a game that seems to focus entirely on boobs, butts and explosions then you can be sure that it’s because the marketing guys are getting paid for the campaign, not the sales of the game, and they probably got to interfere in the process of game development, messing with the original vision of the developers, to make that happen.
(Before we continue – for the benefit of those about to frantically type a comment – the artwork is very much on brand for the artist, and would even be very suitable in an explicitly erotic game or just as softcore erotic art. The problem isn’t the art itself, it’s that it’s for a game about mechs vs kaiju)
This art was used heavily in a “buy now” promotion a few days prior to releasing the first playable demo* of the game that’s been in development for three years.
It’s probably good that the majority of people who like this art like it as a pinup and not as a promise of content to be in the game then.
If the most interesting thing about your game is a thing that isn’t central to the game or in even in it… a giant stop sign, clearly your game is going wrong. I mean at the very least, stop asking people to hand over their money for a product that’s guaranteed to disappoint. ***
This is of course, the most extreme example – but it’s probably something to consider the next time you see a game promoting itself with bizarrely incongruent sexual imagery, big promises and little substance.
* Playable in the absolute vaguest sense possible – there’s only movement mechanics so it’s not even an alpha release. Incidentally, from the second indiegogo (the first one was just for the site):
(Due to Mark’s forementioned affiliations – it is safe to say that a lot of these backers lost their shit at @femfreq for extending their deadline due to unforeseen support… I wonder what the difference could be…)
Look, I’m not saying that this marketing strategy wouldn’t be effective at getting the attention of twelve year olds… but is this really the best way to market products supposedly suitable for pre- teens?
This week’s throwback: cover image that totally tells us what the game is about and is very definitely appropriate to tweens. Yup, totally.
Seriously though, while 12-year olds are not too young to begin understanding their own sexuality interest in butts, how about we don’t make them internalize the idea of reducing women to body parts? And maybe consider what kind of message it sends to 12-year old girls?
So, a while ago the ever classy Soul Calibur announced that for #6, there’d be a couple of guest characters: 2B from Nier Automata who you can dress like Kaine and Geralt from The Witcher… who you can dress like generic Geralt.
So why is Ivy* in the bingo? Well, apparently she’s critical to 2B’s… something.
Because it seems that the marketing at Soul Calibur are now so over invested in the generic myth that never pays off that even 2B was not sexy enough, so she doesn’t even get to make an appearance until 30 seconds into her own intro.
And the story is apparently… all about Ivy for some reason? None of it seems to fit with either game, and more importantly none of it explains why we don’t have a “just got out of the tub” Geralt costume.
if your female character doesn’t look like she has lived the life she leads and you can’t get a sense for her actual personality by looking at her because you’re too focused on making her pretty and perfect and palatable it’s bad character design and you should feel bad
It’s worth noting that, generally speaking – this is why concept artists want to be concept artists. They want to convey feelings, story and inspire the imagination. It’s not uncommon for concept artists to do staggering amounts of research in order to find ways to convey a type of character in a type of time period.
So, if you come across a product created by a major studio where they have extensive executive and production staff – it’s safe to say that any aggressively boring female character designs are done at the behest of a particular type of individual pushing a ridiculous myth to try to seem like a genius.
It is important to call out this kind of absurdity, not just to try to reduce the amount of gratuitous objectification in media – but to also spare these poor artists the indignity of having a guy try to convince them he invented anime tiddy.
I think I’m one of the few people to whom sex does not sell. It perplexes.
While Paula makes this assessment in regards to her asexuality, I’d say it rings true to more than a few people, not necessarily only aces.
As we said before, unless it’s sex that’s being sold, marketing that hinges on sexyfying everything is more bizarre and confusing than effective.
A silly, sexualized outfit might as well fit* the character’s personality and preferences within her story. That doesn’t make her design any less silly and sexualized to us, real people consuming that story for entertainment and criticizing it.
*Keep in mind, though, that just as often it can’t be justified with even that much. Some characters walk around in bikinis or boob and butt windows despite being canonically modest or shy or body conscious etc. because Creepy Marketing Guy put his foot down and demanded for every lady in the story to be poster child of “sex sells”.
Recently, a friend sent me this image. It had been passed on by her boyfriend; it had reminded him of me. One might expect that connection to fill me with satisfaction, that I, a game designer and writer, am instantly associated with forward thinking and feminist ideals. Instead, I felt humiliated.
This is a great article that does a good job of explaining exactly why arguments excusing ”sexy armor” are invalid and altogether ridiculous.
This awesome article not only thoroughly explains why there’s no way to logically justify sexualization of female characters in video games, but also highlights the struggles that women in the industry go through:
The thing is, in this industry, you don’t want to be “that girl.” The world has communicated very thoroughly, with Anita Sarkeesian’s death threats, with so many comments on Kotaku, and with comments in the hallways of the workplace and the podiums of conventions, that being “that girl” is bad. Real bad. Potentially end of career bad.
But it’s not just dangerous for potential ramifications on career trajectory. There’s also a social component of how “that girl” is insufferable, annoying, and should be punishable by shaming.
Many female game designers, anonymously and publicly alike, confess how they have to deal with sexist standards of the industry, just so they can keep their jobs. It’s a legit problem that men, especially the ones chanting “sex sells!” or “it’s intended for male gamers!”, are either blissfully unaware of or willfully ignorant (my bets are on the latter option, though).
Please guys, read the whole thing.
People are often quick to dismiss arguments against the conventional wisdom that “sex sells” as “politically correct” idealism. But one of the most compelling argument against the slogan comes from the other side of the political spectrum.
David Ogilvy was one of, if not The great iconic Ad Men of the 1960’s. Unsurprisingly he was deeply invested in the idea of gender roles and claimed “I am less offended by obscenity than by tasteless typography, banal photographs, clumsy copy, and cheap jingles”. He also (literally) wrote the book on how to create effective advertising and measure the effectiveness of your advertising.
He was, amazingly, admantly against introducing sex to sell any product that wasn’t inherently sexual in itself for one simple reason:
All his research and experience in advertising told him it would not work.
What did Ogilvy very sincerely believed was the first step in creating effective advertising an massive sales? To create a high quality product.
That way all that was required was to sincerely show the customers why it was a great product and the rest would take care of itself.
So when developers distort their products (comics, books, movies, video games, etc) by cramming sexualised imagery into them with the mentality of “sex sells” so “more sex will sell even more” they are actually sabotaging their product’s reception, reputation, sales and it’s marketing campaigns.
At least according to an old white man from the 1960s who always assumed women should be house wives… and also happened to be one of the greatest thinkers in advertising.
Sadly, we still operate firmly in the reality where “sex” (or rather: erosion of female self-esteem) is considered a marketing booster and women speaking out for themselves in any way get shoved aside, so we don’t have to have the uncomfortable conversation that maybe they have a point.
Couldn’t help but make this joke out of the accompanying image from the Jessica Price article linked above.
Don’t know if the writer did it on purpose or not, but thanks!
What we instead refer to is a product where you can see the development team’s intentions are to create something where every element is involved in telling a specific story – and then someone (usually marketing) steps in and makes the change specific parts of them with the assumption that the cishet male demographic needs the sexual availability of at least one female character broadcast to them in order to be interested in the unrelated aspects.
In this case, they pick Cora Harper, who is an ultra-professional soldier (one of the most battle hardened in the team), introduced as being calm in a crisis, the second in command on the mission, and seems to use “male” set of animations for her running, etc (instead of the elbows-in butt wiggle run generally assigned to female characters, including fem!Ryder).
Then you see in the outfit in the top of the post before launching into the tutorial mission, during which she appears in cut scenes like this:
Pretty much every other female character in the establishing chapters of the game has pragmatic, non-gendered attire on and off the battlefield. But, since Cora is a romance option for bro!Ryder, she apparently needs to wear a fetish outfit sculpted around her boobs and butt, while on the battlefield. The other female member of the away team who is a romance option also similarly needs to broadcast she’s got a sexy side (she also only owns one set of clothes).
All other traits other than romance option to bro!Ryder are considered secondary – to the extent now Cora looks not just contradictory to her character but out of place in the game about exploring a new galaxy, finding wondrous alien technology and shaping humanity’s future.
(This does not seem to apply to the male romance options, examples 1 & 2)
Ironically this now means she is so out of place cannot be included in marketing material without making the game look a ridiculous parody of a dramatic adventure exploring alien worlds in a new galaxy. It’s almost like they should have just given her one of the dozens of pragmatic outfits I am sure the concept artists designed for Cora before being told to sex it up.
What is it with the “above boobs and under boobs belts” design feature that’s become so popular lately? Also, I thought Ashley’s outfit in Mass Effect 3 was insulting; the new BioWare studio really took it up a notch, though. … Good job?
I’ve read none of the promotional material for ME:A before it came out, so when I watched part of a Let’s Play of it out of curiosity, I couldn’t believe that Cora was this battle-hardened badass soldier type; I thought she was just another human on the ship. Her design makes me think of EDI before anything else. Those really sad attempts at actual armor pieces (like the baby plates on her shoulders) somehow make it worse, like Creepy Marketing Guy begrudgingly allowed it.
Also, send help, that butt window is staring into my soul.