It’s funny how when you have a female character who has magical or supernatural protection, and thus can “wear whatever she wants”, that “whatever” always turns out to be lingerie.

Glock H. Palin, Esq.

Yeah, funny that… It’s almost as if Thermian Argument and false assessment of agency had an ugly baby. And that baby kept turning up everywhere.

~Ozzie

So, Divinity: Original Sin 2 started off looking kind of promising.  Despite their head animator throwing a public tantrum on deviantArt, Larian Studios did seem to be making a fairly attempt to improve next time, after all someone had instructed Thierry to fix the artwork (to his great upset) in the first place.

So on 1 October 2015, their Kickstarter finished successfully.

On 11 February 2016, they published results of a survey they did which showed completely unsurprising results for a studio where creative leads can post rants about their right to be paid to objectify:

image

On 10 August 2016, it became pretty clear that Larian Studios decided the thing to do with this information was to double down and go back to their regular double standards:

image
image

Around May 2017 they started using their current iconic line up, the front and center lead of which has such a ridiculous costume it appears their advertising team feels the need to hide it:

image

Ironically, despite this apparently being less of Creepy Marketing Guy and more part of the studio culture, a lot of the content could be pretty good and they could probably get a lot more female players if they didn’t strive to save the booplate.

image

Alas, it seems to commitment knows no bounds:

image

Can’t imagine why they have so few female players…

– wincenworks

(submitted by Jury) 

Whoah. The absurd of Tera, the universal example of logic-defying female battle outfits, advertising itself to have “practical armor”… that is skin-tight and boobsock-y on women leaves me astonished. 

This armor is so totally practical that even Erik Larsen, the devoted anti-practicality in women’s costumes guy, probably wouldn’t mind it. 

Dear Tera’s Creepy Maketing Guy: Just because boobplate and figure-hugging metal cover more than what you usually call “armor”, it doesn’t mean you should label it as “practical”. 

~Ozzie

I think it’s been long enough but if you find yourself getting ready to type up a comment related to Mass Effect: Andromeda’s animations please consider watching this educational video from Extra Credits and not commenting here instead.  This post is going to be a clarification of what we mean when we say Creepy Marketing Guy, and since the first post on this topic featured Samara, it’s only fair that Cora be the star of the clarification.

First, let’s start with what we do not mean when we refer to Creepy Marketing Guy.  It does not refer to:

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:

image
image

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).

image

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.

– wincenworks

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.

-Icy

Cora Harper Official Character Sheet 

Settling for the next best thing.

As a blog focused on criticism, there’s something we come across regularly in responses to our writing – insistence that we’re “never happy” no matter how much better a particular example is than most media we feature on BABD. 

Readers (though mostly detractors) question why we can’t qualify something (mostly games) as 100% positive example if it does one thing better than the rest in its medium/genre/etc. 

Examples: 

It’s quite disheartening to have the audience insist that we should settle for media to be tiny bit better than mediocre and call it a day. That a game or its creator not being as bad as they could deserve to be awarded and held up as an example for the rest of the industry. 

image

We refuse to set our standards so low that “her battle costume isn’t a literal bikini” or “has characters who are female in it” or “shows a male butt/chest sometimes” qualify a title as good, equal gender representation with no room for improvement. 

Being better than a random asset-flipping game with stolen artwork in their web ads isn’t hard. Being better than your last project and learning from its mistakes should be a given. Simply not making asinine excuses for poor representation shouldn’t be applauded. 
No-one is asking for perfection, but all creators should be held accountable for the product they’re selling, with its good and bad sides.

Popular media, especially video games, has a huge problem with fan backlash against lesser-than excellent reviews scores*. And this is not much different – expecting negatives not to be acknowledged because positives exist. 

BABD in particular, instead of doing comprehensive reviews, is focused on female costume and character design compared to male ones. Yet even such specific topic can’t be talked about from both angles without someone decrying unfairness.
Does it really say more about us being negative and cynical or the fans being entitled and blind to any challenging point of view?

~Ozzie 

*The link leads to a satirical @pointandclickbait article, but the satire is not really all that exaggerated. Yes, really.

But is it really porn?

So now and again we get people insist that x title shouldn’t be counted because it’s intended to be viewed as porn (especially if that product is from a country outside the English speaking world… because reasons).

Reasons for this assumption often include:

  • The presence of explicit fan service or sex scenes
  • The inclusion of ridiculous double standards
  • Fans having labelled it as an erotic product on their own wikis
  • The publisher having actual porn products in their catalog

But generally this just assumes that by shoehorning in some sexualized content a product immediately becomes excluded from criticism.  Very few products exclude all content from their own genre (plenty of action movies have a romantic subplot for example).

image

Generally a lot of the cross genre trends have a pretty basic premise behind them, it helps improve the audience investment:

  • Comic relief in horror and thriller helps avoid the audience becoming desensitized or burnt out from the tension
  • Having a love interest can humanize a protagonist (or an antagonist) and increase your ability to get invested in them
  • Mixing a little mystery with your modern fantasy story reminds the audience of how little we really notice or know about the world around us and makes them more accepting to the idea of secret magic

So, what purpose does having ultrasexualized costumes for female characters and regular arbitrary fan service?  Well, mostly it’s because of the general belief that certain demographics need a lot of reassurance that some products are okay for them, and in fact made exclusively for them:

image

It’s been covered before, but I really feel the need to restate that the main reason for this is a very simple reasoning: x genre is a for (straight cis) men so we need to market exclusively to them and make sure they know we’re doing it (even if they think it’s already being overdone and kind of insulting).

(Evidence suggests this works… but only in the sense that it does make a lot of people think that the product is not for them and hence don’t buy it. Or just have more fun mocking it than they’d have playing it.)

image

That’s not to say that there aren’t products or stories where including sexual content gives it a boost, but generally you’ll want to do it in a way that makes sense and does actually improve the product and that still doesn’t make it porn.

You can physically eat a lot of things, but just as you wouldn’t call it food unless you buy it specifically to eat it, you shouldn’t call it porn unless you buy it specifically for sexual gratification.

– wincenworks

But is it really porn?

So now and again we get people insist that x title shouldn’t be counted because it’s intended to be viewed as porn (especially if that product is from a country outside the English speaking world… because reasons).

Reasons for this assumption often include:

  • The presence of explicit fan service or sex scenes
  • The inclusion of ridiculous double standards
  • Fans having labelled it as an erotic product on their own wikis
  • The publisher having actual porn products in their catalog

But generally this just assumes that by shoehorning in some sexualized content a product immediately becomes excluded from criticism.  Very few products exclude all content from their own genre (plenty of action movies have a romantic subplot for example).

image

Generally a lot of the cross genre trends have a pretty basic premise behind them, it helps improve the audience investment:

  • Comic relief in horror and thriller helps avoid the audience becoming desensitized or burnt out from the tension
  • Having a love interest can humanize a protagonist (or an antagonist) and increase your ability to get invested in them
  • Mixing a little mystery with your modern fantasy story reminds the audience of how little we really notice or know about the world around us and makes them more accepting to the idea of secret magic

So, what purpose does having ultrasexualized costumes for female characters and regular arbitrary fan service?  Well, mostly it’s because of the general belief that certain demographics need a lot of reassurance that some products are okay for them, and in fact made exclusively for them:

image

It’s been covered before, but I really feel the need to restate that the main reason for this is a very simple reasoning: x genre is a for (straight cis) men so we need to market exclusively to them and make sure they know we’re doing it (even if they think it’s already being overdone and kind of insulting).

(Evidence suggests this works… but only in the sense that it does make a lot of people think that the product is not for them and hence don’t buy it. Or just have more fun mocking it than they’d have playing it.)

image

That’s not to say that there aren’t products or stories where including sexual content gives it a boost, but generally you’ll want to do it in a way that makes sense and does actually improve the product and that still doesn’t make it porn.

You can physically eat a lot of things, but just as you wouldn’t call it food unless you buy it specifically to eat it, you shouldn’t call it porn unless you buy it specifically for sexual gratification.

– wincenworks