However, whenever something that comes out to challenge this… its always the same cishet men who make this claim who also cry about a male character not meeting their expectations.
That’s because, unsurprisingly given that they’re usually designed by men, those supposedly exploitative images are generally made by men, for men to fulfil not just their fantasy of power but also of being some weird form of hyper masculinity.
Appealing to women is not a priority they actually care about, only the fantasy that their ideal would definitely get them laid. Many don’t allow themselves to consider if its appealing to men-loving-men… and well, they certainly don’t think about nonbinary people or anyone on the asexual spectrum.
Of course, if you read this blog, you almost certainly already knew these guys only thing about themselves – but I thought you’d enjoy the hilarity of them telling on themselves so spectacularly.
After a seven year pause in games, Samurai Warriors 5 is out and it features a new kunoichi (female ninja)
character – Mitsuki. You can tell she’s a kunoichi because she’s dressed like she’s from a ninja gaiden game. For those not aware, Ninja Gaiden is set in 1980s USA and Samurai Warriors is set in Sengoku Period (1467 – 1615) Japan.
Now the thing with the Sengoku Period is that it is an area of history where we have some good evidence of female professional warriors (onna-musha) being around (though their role has historically been downplayed and so the specifics are unclear) and we have some artwork depicting what they might have looked like… unsurprisingly the armour they wore was the same as the men’s.
When not in armour, they are understood to have worn clothes typical of feudal Japan… basically the opposite of this outfit.
So… how can this be an improvement? Well from Samurai Warriors 1 – 4 the equivalent character was a kunoichi who’s name is… Kunoichi and is… *checks notes* apparently fifteen years old…
And, again… I want to stress… there are real women from his era with artistic depictions of them available, so for a game where most of the cast are historical figures… this is um… well I don’t need to tell you.
I didn’t say it was a big improvement… or one worth congratulating them on, but it is at least a very minor improvement… very, very minor.
Very, very, very minor.
While it may not seem like the initial bingo material – I invite you consider how the fuck she is supposed to do literally anything in this plate armor.
The helmet literally covers her eyes so she can’t see anything past her toes
Her exposed mouth and lower face, combined with clawed gauntlets, mean any attempt to adjust it would mangle herself
The armor is form fitted to her torso so she can’t bend, turn or even make big movements with her arms. I doubt she can even breathe with that boobplate.
Leg legs are locked into the “maximum thigh gap” pose. so she can’t even walk, let alone engage in combat footwork
This is not armor, this is some next level BDSM shit for people who find vacuum bondage too vanilla. (nsfw)
(Honestly glad there is no mantis race… at least I think there isn’t…)
Unsurprisingly a large part of the Steam community screenshots etc is ogling even more ridiculous sets of armor.
I don’t know which is worse, the weird horny marketing put together by the Creepy Marketing Guy or the more generic, family friendly marketing that tricks people into downloading the game and finding the options for female characters are fighting fucktoy, sexy sorcereress and bad archer..
So I’ve been listening to a new podcast, it’s a pair of women talking about topics dear to their hearts: Dungeons & Dragons and Feminism.
Obviously as its a podcast they have less visual element (though they do an excellent job in describing key points) but I felt this one was particularly relevant since it included them talking about some academic studies done on the gender related trends in the art of Dungeons & Dragons.
I highly recommend checking out the podcast and giving them a follow on their twitter. Among other things, they also post their sources so you can review for yourself.
They upload at the start of the month, and are currently polishing up their latest recording so now is a great time to drop in and give them some encouragement.
Hi LG. So on the female power fantasy thing: I agree that the sexy warrior babe thing is overused, and women should have WAY more options. But, in interractive media-video games & rpgs, shouldn’t women have the OPTION of playing that, as well as not?
Please remember that I’m a dude, and my opinion on what media “should” or “shoudl not” look like in regards to a) how women are portrayed and b) what women should enjoy is pretty close to irrelevant. I try to throw in a cheap joke here or there, or offer some practical application for what women (or any other group regularly discrimnated against) have said about it. I’m not about to start criticizing women for liking what they like or how they interact with video games.
I will say that any game that markets itself on it’s ability to appeal to the male gaze (especially through super-sexy / absurdly revealing clothing on its female characters) isn’t doing it for their female audience. I’m all for fully-featured, rich, comprehensive character customization, both in physical traits and clothing. Let folks do what they want with their character (including skin tone, muscle & fat composition, size, height, weight, etc). I’m more suspicious of a game in which it is incredibly difficult to find female clothing that is both functional and non-revealing.
I’m guessing @bikiniarmorbattledamage can offer better insight into this, but for me, I’m casting a side-eye to any video game that markets itself using half-clad women as marketing gimmicks.
This is a nice summary of the quoted post and of what our response to things like “do you want to ban all sexyness in media?” is.
In a perfect world, all RPGs will give the player the ability to play as any gender, and wear armor in all levels of protection/nudity. But that’s not the world we live in.
We don’t want to remove all sexiness from all mediums in past, present and future. What we want is for the media’s default representationof women toNOT just be “hot chicks” for the presumed cis het male audience to consume as objects. We just want women in media to be treated with as much respect, complexity and care as the men. And maybe then we can also explore more male power fantasies besides just “big muscle.”
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.
Also to note, some creators try to “justify” their boring, pandering designs. Character design should speak for itself. You shouldn’t need someone there to explain it, unless there’s worldly lore the viewer needs to know (like family crests, or magic stuff, etc).
Does the character look nothing like a sniper, while the creator insists that she is? Probably a bad design. Is the character’s backstory strangely convoluted, while also not impacting the character at all besides making an excuse for her to look hot? Probably a bad design. Is the character wearing clothes anachronistic with the setting, just to look hot? Definitely a bad design, unless she sneaked in some stockings from a parallel future universe. (Looking at you, Witcher 1.)
Don’t let em fool ya.
So, the creators of Divinity 2: Save the Boobplate … sorry Divinity 2: Girls don’t play video games… sorry Divinity 2: Original Sin have shown off a couple of hours gameplay for Baldur’s Gate 3… and this is the iconic character in the intro sequence before you pick/create a character.
Which means aside from being in this atrocity, she also gets the dubious honor of being the character who we see as a fellow prisoner having a parasite implanted via her eye (then the first person scene implies its happening to you, even though she is playable as one of the pre-generated characters).
Lae’zel is a githyanki, basically a near human but not human “alien” race from another dimension with a long history and pile of lore which actually makes the whole scene worse. However, what I wanted to cover is this is what female githyanki look like in the current 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons art:
So for this character, Larian Studio’s entire design process has been:
Remove all muscle tone and threatening aspects of appearance