Female Characters in Video Games

edited in General
Following on from <a href="http://makegamessa.com/discussion/33/video-games-and-male-gaze#Item_15">Video games and Male Gaze.</a> I thought it would be appropriate to talk about female characters in video games, and gender representation.<div><br></div><div>[I reserve the right to edit this instantiating post when I have something clever to put here]<br><div><br></div><div><br></div></div>


  • [I was going to post this as a reply to the Male Gaze thread, and realized it was rather tangentile to the discussion. Given the lack of mods I started a new thread as to not give the admin(s) more work]<div><br></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">@BlackShipsFilltheSky not too worry. It's always good discussion when you are involved. I am happy that I had a 2am brainfart post.</font><div style="font-size: 10pt; "><br></div><div style="font-size: 10pt; ">I just go Analogue A Hate Story. Which jumped me back a bit into Digital A Love Story. Today I was discussing if Visual Novels were games, and what merit they had in the medium. While I can confidently say that there a quite a few terrible VNs I found Digital A love Story (Di) to be an excellent game.</div><div style="font-size: 10pt; "><br></div><div style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; "><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">The reason I bring this up is because in Di you are prompted for a pseudonym and your real name. It personifies the game, and while I enjoy how the game drew me in by doing that. I think that were the gender of the protagonist revealed to me it wouldn't make a difference.</font></div><div style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; "><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; "><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">A similar idea is what difference does Gordon Freeman's gender make? Would we care less about the character if he was a she? Would we think differently about Alex, or Alex's male equivalent also named Alex. I would say that I don't think so since Half Life — and all its numerous offspring never to reach the number 3 — are great games. I think Valve did an excellent job with Portal in this regard. We could switch Chell with Gordon Freeman, and I'm not sure there would even be a difference to the game.</font></div><div style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; "><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div style="font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: medium; "><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">On a tangential note I just realized that my favourite female characters in video games are courtesy of Valve. So either they are really good, or I just don't play enough games.  </font></div></div>
  • I think my favourite female game characters, ever, both come from the King of Fighters. Leona Heidern(whose character now seems feminist) and Athena Asamaya. Also I think the Tekken characters are pretty realistic and cool. Lin Xiayu being my favourite female character there.
    PS I neglected to mention that Angel(kof 2002) is also one of my favourites(mmmm I wonder why). No its her awesome infinite combos

    Now that I think of it arcade fighters have a pretty balanced roster of female variation
  • <p><font size="2" face="Tahoma">@shelton I think fighting games are the worst when it come to female representation. Dead or Alive and Soulcalibur are horrid in their representation of woman (they even have special boob jiggle physics). I believe that the issue of how we design our female characters can further resonate with the role that women find in the gaming community. There was a female fighting game professional who was so badly harassed by her team mate that she was forced to with draw from the Cross Assault show <a href="http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2012/02/is-pervasive-sexism-holding-the-professional-fighting-game-community-back/">link</a></font></p>
  • <p>When I began 3D art and modelling female characters, my first goal was:"How to make a model that compares to those already portrayed in the industry?" so I used the standard techniques(skinny, large breasts, "barbie doll" features) because the characters with these features were pretty much the only references available. I am a big Tomb Raider fan, Lara Croft was my main reference when I first started. But the more I studied her, the more I started seeing flaws in her character, she no longer appeared to me as very feminine in the way she reacts to certain situations etc. So I think the techniques used to create a "perfect" woman with unrealistic or enhanced features has just been a misconception of how to make characters appear more feminine, and maybe even a means to translate character traits. Game dev companies are starting to think about this and changes are being made in small steps, I think this is something that will be filtered out in the near future.</p><p><br></p><p>I don't see how an artist will be able to cater for the needs of the community as a whole, I think its a marketing risk and decision the artist will need to make when taking their female character's features into consideration. The human race is not the easiest species to please, there will always be an unsatisfied community. </p><p>@Karuji - boobs jiggle.....they do :)</p><p><br></p>
  • @Karuji yes you're right about fighting game and the design of female characters I think the Tekken series give us realistic characters. Can't think of big boob fighters from Tekken off the top my head(unless you count Ganryu and Panda/Kuma lol). There's tetsujin(hey, I just had a thought). Anyway I think the Tekken characters, both male and female are realistic and deep. Maybe not the male characters on second thought- all those muscles.
    In King of Fighters I mentioned Leona. If you look at the character or maybe played the game you'll see the feminism. For one she is the leader of the akari team(made up of muscleheads Ralf Jones and Clark Still).
    I will read that link now.
    Thank you
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    <font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">@shelton I have to seriously disagree with you. There is no way you can take Nina Williams any her cohorts as serious female characters. </font><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; font-style: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; font-style: normal; ">For a comparison Nina Williams, Leona, and Alyx Vance. To be fair I have pulled the first image from a Google Image search. [Edit note the picture of Leona was far to big. It has been cropped and uploaded to the forums.</div><div style="font-size: 10pt; "><br class="Apple-interchange-newline"><br></div><div style="font-size: 10pt; "><img src="http://eng.tekkenpedia.com/wiki/images/thumb/1/12/Nina_t5.jpg/180px-Nina_t5.jpg" style="font-size: 10pt; "></div><div style="font-size: 10pt; "><img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/2b/Alyx_Vance.png/240px-Alyx_Vance.png"></div><div style="font-size: 10pt; "><br></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">So if you had to run into someone who looked like any of the above character which is the most likely? And this is going </font><i style="font-size: 10pt; ">purely</i><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"> on their appearance. And in order to be good female characters they need complex backgrounds and story which are portrayed through the game.</font></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">@Johnny I don't think, as 3D artists, we need to take little steps towards creating better models. I think Alyx illustrates that. What we need is more people going: hey this is happening, and we join join in.</font></div><img src="http://makegamessa.com/uploads/FileUpload/41/f71870552ad127a5034f81fe4451f3.jpg">
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    I don't think you can really use that 'which is the most likely real life character' as you have done here, <br>sure Alyx is the most likely in an every day scenario, but the same can't be said for real life fighters, or the fake real life fighters (that wrestling entertainment stuff). <br>also take into account that a large portion of game settings are not realistic or likely to occur at all in real life (real life fighting tournaments don't have people dying/ launching energy attacks or whatever) so together I personally feel the argument of 'which is most likely in our everyday environment' to be pointless unless genre and setting are the same and properly accounted for.<br>(talking physical appearance here)<br>
  • <font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">@Skinklizzard  valid, but I don't believe that diminishes my point. The unrealistic setting is not something that excuses the portrayal of a gender in a game. The female characters in fighting games are not something that a female player would identify with, which means woman are less likely to play such games. Beyond that this portrayal of woman in these games is a reasonable cause of why these are treated disgustingly by their community. (Look at the Cross Assault link above for details)</font><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">If we had to contrast Alyx Vance (Half Life) to Cortana (Halo) with just looking at who female players can identify with. Would that be a comparison you prefer?  <br></font></div>
  • the comparison of characters to each other isn't necessarily a problem its using mundane real life (the societal norm) as the scale <br>for that comparison regardless of game setting I was saying was fruitless.<br>As for a cortana, alyx comparison I find it fairly difficult to judge having little exposure to either and not being female.<br><br>also I read the cross assault link and personally I feel you can't say that that behavior is because of the female characters in game, perhaps said portrayal might attract more than the average number of bad eggs but said eggs will be bad regardless of the characters. would a more realistic setting fighter game be different? would it be better to have realistic females and the current unrealistic males (sagat, yoshimitsu, king) ? personally I don't think either would make a difference, that and I find it to be slightly off that we're trying to discuss who female gamers will identify with, without relevant data or being female ourselves.<br>
  • @Karuji Nina Williams role is that of an assasin or the femme fatale. She has more realitic, standard clothing and doesn't fit the big boob category. That image of Leona is of the makeover in Kof 12. Local fans don't like it. She is(or was) generally more conservative in dress code. In fact I don't even play with her on PS3.
    Also what happened to that girl in that Capcom tournament is terrible but I think its just to unsettle oponents. Do you know who won

    @skinklizzard not being females ourselves is a very good. Lol I don't think that cosmo reviews games or female characters in games
  • <font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">@Shelton as I said first image from Google, which would generally be the first impression people receive when looking at these.</font><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; "><br></div><div style="text-align: left; "><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">To be clear what happened to Ms. </font><span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-align: left; "><font color="#263034" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 20px;">Pakozdi was blatant </span></font><font color="#263034" face="Arial, sans-serif" size="2"><span style="line-height: 20px;">misogyny it had everything to do with her gender! A gender, which I have said before, is shown very poorly in fighting games.</span></font></span></div><div style="text-align: left; "><span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-align: left; "><font color="#263034" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 20px;"><br></span></font></span></div><div style="text-align: left; "><span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-align: left; "><font color="#263034" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="font-size: 14px; line-height: 20px;">@skinklizzard </span><span style="line-height: 20px; "><font size="2">at no point have I said that I want fighting games to be more realistic. Just to represent women better.</font></span></font></span></div><div style="text-align: left; "><span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-align: left; "><font color="#263034" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="line-height: 20px; "><font size="2"><br></font></span></font></span></div><div style="text-align: left; "><span style="background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); text-align: left; "><font color="#263034" face="Arial, sans-serif"><span style="line-height: 20px; "><font size="2"><br></font></span></font></span></div><img src="http://makegamessa.com/uploads/FileUpload/36/bdd9143b025d14c20c63b335db6b9a.png"><div><br></div><div>Above is Ivy from Soul Calibur IV. The left is her alt costume, and on the right is her standard. What I am saying is that we need to be rid of costumes like the one on the right.</div><div><br></div><div>This is the last post I am going to make about fighting games since at no point do we <i>really</i> see personality, emotion or anything of substance from these characters.</div>
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  • @Karuji So where do we go from here in character design. Suit up TV news anchor style maybe
  • @shelton who is your favourite female character based on her personality, and why do you like those traits?
  • <p>I say we aim for something more real and practical because it seems to have a stonger form of communicating personality traits . This take on snow white, I thought, was well done: her armour is practical and looks to serve an actual purpose, its not provocative and curved to her body so no last attempt to seduce her enemies. But her armour can symbolize a heavy burden, shows she is under threat. Its even kinda simple, she didn't go armour shopping thinking : "which one will prince charming think is sexy if i run into him on the battle field", which amplifies the seriousness of her threat. It will visually give us an idea of her background information as well.</p><p><br></p><p>I haven't actually checked out the film yet, but I think its a lot more effective and the way to go...</p>
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  • Pretty much my favorite video game female. From her build to her outfit, its designed to reflect the game world and her role in it. This is what I think matters most with all character types in video games.<br><br>I HATE bikini armour, it doesn't serve its function therefore its bad design! Dont get me wrong, I love attractive characters both male and female. I play games to escape reality, to become more than I am in real life. But that doesn't mean I can ignore bad design.<br><br><img src="http://theshylion.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/mirrors-edge-20080820034731113_640w.jpg"><br>
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    <span style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; font-weight: normal; ">@BlackShipsFilltheSky why do a troll post when I know you have </span><b style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; ">so</b><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"> much you can contribute to the discussion.</font><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; ">@Johnny we don't always have to aim for real, as filiporekhov pointed out. People play games to escape reality. Personally I enjoy hyper realistic games less than I enjoy fantasy.</div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; ">But practical is another matter. Why does the armour with more exposed skin give me a higher rating than the one with less exposed skin. That just makes no sense.</div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; ">With regards to the Kirsten Stewart: Snow White armour. Immediate points for breast plate as opposed to boob plate. (Boob plate it likely to get the wearer killed.)</div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; line-height: normal; "><br></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">The armour still highlights her feminity, and is not that great for protection. If you haven't I recommend reading <a href="http://madartlab.com/2011/12/14/fantasy-armor-and-lady-bits/">this</a> it explains the issue really well.</font></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2"><br></font></div><div><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">@filiporekhov I'm happy you brought up Faith. She is a great character if I remember Mirrors Edge. It has been some time since I played it. But I believe you are correct in saying she is really well designed; nothing in her outfit goes to waist, or is there simply to show her sexuality. It all comes into being functional for her job. She is also is a determined and strong person.</font></div>
  • Here is another example of a beautiful character who reflects her function instead of her sexuality.<br><br>I also agree with Karuji, we shouldn't limit ourselves on reality, abstract concepts is what makes art magical and dynamic. But seriously big breasted fighting ladies with no protection...meh...Bewb punch :|<br><br><img src="http://media.giantbomb.com/uploads/0/1595/1846165-lady_hawke_dragon_age_2_super.jpg"><br><br><br>
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    @Johnny: Can we not use that new Snow White film as an anti-sexism thing? It's an incredibly sexist and downright terrible movie... The only thing that makes Snow White, y'know, Snow White is that she's pretty. The whole film is about being pretty. It's all the queen cares about: Not growing old because being old is not pretty. Snow White makes people around her feel good because she's pretty. The queen abuses people because she's not actually pretty anymore. Snow White is also a princess, BTW, because the only thing that lets you be special in America is birthright and random chance, things like effort don't cut it...<br><br>It's not like the male characters fare any better: The huntsman goes through phases of only being there to fight and then suddenly forgetting how to fight at all (this is so blatant that he handily defeats the main villain when he first encounters him and then gets whomped by the guy next time they meet), his role is simply to decide that he loves snow white and thus validates her prettiness. Because love and pretty bring you back from being dead. All those other people that stayed dead? Ugly, wasn't real love. Fuck em.<br><br>So yeah, well done, they had ok armor. Except everyone took off their helmets the first chance they got. And the movie was terrible. It felt like Hollywood trying for Bollywood levels of casual sexism.<br><br>@Shelton: C. Viper yo! ;)<br><br>@Karuji: I know you didn't ask me, but my personal favorite woman in a fighting game is Helena from DoA. Sure, she has unrealistically huge breasts in a game that's obviously objectifying everything (even upholstery and ninjas), but her fighting style is visibly beautiful. Christie's style in the same game (4) is also incredibly gorgeous to watch, which is generally what fighting games are about: The combat. I find Helena's the most believable actual combat style in a fighting game (ignoring the boobage, she actually represents something achievable to aspire to), along with Mitsurugi in the SC games.<br><br>That said, fighting game characters are well realised when they FIT with their styles. You're communicating in a game about reducing someone else's resources to zero. The characterisations have to make sense in that environment, not in everyday reality. Ivy, for all her cleavage, actually makes sense as the daughter of an undead glam pirate who doesn't age and uses a possessed whip sword of utter physical hax. She's not realistic, but she's also not unbelievable in the setting. Makoto (in SSF4) doesn't have the physical assets and immediate gender recognisability of the rest of the characters, but she's wearing a gi and resolutely moves like a karateka, no matter what. She makes sense. I think the point is to avoid an attribute or character being simplified down to a gender stereotype for no other reason than seemingly to include the stereotype.<br>
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    @Karuji I think the point I was making was that Tekken is not known for good character design period. Regardless of whether or not Nina is a good female design she is just plain badly designed. She's wearing purple camo?! A serious discussion of the merits of female Tekken characters is almost a little silly.<div><br></div><div><img src="http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/1/15692/1168238-tk5_king_super.jpg"></div><div><br></div><div>If you'll think back this is in fact in support of your argument.</div>
  • @<span class="Author">filiporekhov I remember enjoying Faith and Mirrrors Edge immensely, it has a mature story and is actually filled with strong women characters. For our purposes, as men discussing how to portray women fairly in games, she might be less useful. The writer for the game was a woman - which explains the genuine representation. It is obviously important to examine how women portray themselves in games, but it also becomes difficult to replicate from a male perspective.<br><br>@dislekcia your point about consistency with the environment is a good one - but it does not always hold true. Psychologists have actually done studies on immersion and they have found a number of things are required (you can find a full write up about it <a href="http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/07/the-psychology-of-immersion-in-video-games/"></a><u></u><a href="http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2010/07/the-psychology-of-immersion-in-video-games/">here</a>) and most pertinently to this thread is that the events of the  game have to make sense in its environment. However, it is also noted that further immersion is possible when the game's environment reflects real life - this is why motion controllers are such a trend. I interpret this then as hindering most fighting games from levels of immersion that other genres benefit from. It could be argued that this is because of energy attacks and crazy gymnastics, but I tend to believe that it is easier to suspend belief about something you have never seen (energy attacks) than about something that you constantly encounter (how women dress - even for fighting). But this point is largely theoretical, do you believe there is any truth to it?<br><br>I actually believe that the Mass Effect games are a good case study of strong female representation. Admittedly, the characters themselves can be horribly shallow -Miranda for example- but if we analyze two prominent races in the ME universe, the Krogan and Asari, we find plenty of healthy female representation. The Asari are entirely female and are the strongest race in the galaxy and the Krogan women are revealed to be highly powerful in Krogan society - even if it is only in the third game.  </span><span class="DateCreated"><a href="http://www.makegamessa.com/discussion/comment/485#Comment_485" class="Permalink" name="Item_17" rel="nofollow"></a></span>
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    @Dislekcia<div><br></div><div>Haha! Your rant about Snow White was excellent. Because of it being an ancient children's story it's easy to forget how fraught that story is with awfulness. (I'm gleefully imagining now how that film would be received if it had been concocted today.) Pretty sad that they didn't fix/update those problems because the visual design is impressive (from the trailer).</div><div><br></div><div>Okay... I'm going to try tackle Ivy now. Honestly I'm not sure if I can give a proper assessment, and if for some sentences I seem more coherent it is likely because I have paraphrased a friend of mine who is much smarter than me.</div><div><br></div><div>"<span class="Apple-style-span" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; ">You can't defend representation through the logic that constitutes it...</span><span class="Apple-style-span" style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-family: arial, sans-serif; "> You [will] just go in circles"</span></div><div><br></div><div>Ivy fits in the world of Soul Calibre. That world produced her and she is both believable and effective in it. She's also distinctive and recognizable. It's fair to say then that she is competently designed.</div><div><br></div><div>So Ivy is produced by the story, which is in turn produced by a team of game developers, who themselves have been produced by a culture and have been fed stereotypes for what women should look like in games and have been affected by market pressures and the results of several iterations of this franchise.</div><div><br></div><div>The narrative and the image and the character of Ivy are all part of a broader meta narrative and in this case that what is problematic. </div><div><br></div><div>I think it's fair to say that Soul Calibre displays women in a very idealized and often sexualized way. They are all youthful, un-aging, unblemished, athletic, busty, many scantily clad, and incredibly beautiful. </div><div><br></div><div>This isn't inconsequential. The representation of women does affect real people's body images and their treatment of others. Boys grow up seeing women through the lenses of these universes. Girls base their self-esteem off of these representations. And for <i>us</i> as an industry it says a lot about how we see women and who we are.</div><div><br></div><div>Some women who enjoy Soul Calibre enjoy playing as Ivy as a sexual empowerment fantasy, which is great, but many teenage boys choose Ivy for less laudable reasons. This isn't a good enough reason not to have sexy characters, but that the creators of Soul Calibre seem to primarily be focussed on appeasing these less laudable desires is <i>definitely</i> something worthy of criticism.</div><div><br></div><div>An argument that she works within the world in which he/she is found is simply not enough when discussing any game character. Such an argument would permit a racist portrayal of a foreign character in a racist fictional world. Such an argument permits the sexist portrayal of characters in sexist fictional worlds. Such an argument can be almost tautological, even if, sadly enough, creators of female characters manage to often get even this basic expectation wrong.</div><div><br></div>
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    <span style="font-style: normal; font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; ">@fileporekhov while that character doesn't highlight sexuality; it is not practical. That plate cover just the chest and not the torso. A sword slash at the stomach would be lethal were it not for the fact that character also </span><i style="font-style: normal; font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; ">seems</i><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2" style="font-style: normal; "> to be wearing chain male. On the bright side such designs is definitely a step in the right direction.</font><div style="font-style: normal; font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-style: normal; font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; ">@dislekcia always good to hear more people chip in. I have to say you are making me go and play my xbox games :P So totally get what you are saying about Helena. It does look absolutely great. I have to say there is a large amount of double sided tape and invisible string keeping Christie from a Janet Jackson moment.</div><div style="font-style: normal; font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-style: normal; "><font face="Arial, Verdana" size="2">I think Hitomi is a rather well done character aesthetically — given the setting. Her move do seem really elongated and forceful, but I'm not a martial artist (I should poke some friends in PTA about Tai Chi.)</font></div><div style="font-style: normal; font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-family: Arial, Verdana; font-size: 10pt; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: normal; ">I agree Ivy fits her setting, but I still don't think that she has a good costume. And yes the point of which would you most likely see in every day life is rather stupid.<br><div style="font-style: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-style: normal; ">@BlackShipsFilltheSky <i>I</i> know what you were doing. I was just trying to bait you into joining the discussion. I would rather have people discussing than making silly remarks: even if the subject matter is rather silly.</div><div style="font-style: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-style: normal; ">@Bensonance thanks for that link. Busy reading it now. Just a point I don't think realism has as much to do with immersion. If I am playing CoD, or Far Cry and the character gets shot and just move on, that isn't real I know it isn't real. To give some games that I've really lost myself in: Digital A Love Story, Aquaria, Brütal Legend. All those games have a good sense of coherence in their world. My understand the reasons why my avatar is doing certain things as I would want to do those given the situation.</div><div style="font-style: normal; "><br></div><div style="font-style: normal; ">Mass Effect is a really wonderful game. I've been rocking the FemShep since '07. Admittedly I have played past the first game so I can't comment about Miranda.</div><div style="font-style: normal; "><br></div><div><span style="font-style: normal; ">[</span><i>Edit</i> I was writing this before BlackShipsFillt posted his post. So this might seem odd :P ]</div></div>
  • @BlackShipsFillTheSky I agree with your observations about Ivy. I think that this itself is not a problem. Its only an issue because Ivyesque women, empowerment fantasies and less mature reasons appear to be the norm for female representation. As you said, it appears Soul Caliber appears to have sexy women for the sake of women. Having sexy women in games isn't a problem as long as there is thematic purpose to it. This is why I enjoyed @dislekcia's analysis of Bayonetta, there is a clear thematic purpose for her sexiness. As a whole, Bayonetta feels to me like a mature approach to using sexy women - whether it be for the purposes of subversion or not.

    @Karujii (Off topic pontification to follow) Yeah I think realism and immersion are constantly at odds with each other. Most games have higher difficulty levels that tend towards realism - one shot kills and so on. CoD and Far Cry to some extent do rely on realism, this is why there is a low sense of immersion with some of them - because it is not consistent with the real life situation it reflects (it doesn't take hundreds of bullets to kill someone in war, for example). Essentially, there is low coherence for what happens to your character relative to their environment. I would theorise that the Fantasy games you enjoy have high levels of immersion? I interpret this occurring because of a low level of reliance of realism. You are consciously aware that this is not a real life experience - there is strong coherence for what happens to your character relative to their environment.
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    @Bensonance Regarding immersion and realism, I think that when the game is not realistic (as in it happens in some kind of fictional world) that then what matters is consistency. (There may be a better term)

    I mention this because I find it most useful to think of it like this. Players quickly learn how fictional worlds work and, so long as they are consistent, won't have any big breaks in immersion.

    i.e. Soldiers in real world games (which should conform to real world laws) who take bullets with no visible effect break consistency, just like a fantasy world with unclear or contradictory laws fails. I suspect this is part of why "elegant" designs for games are so appealing. Obviously consistency doesn't provide immersion, responsiveness and cultural signifiers and fidelity do, but consistency breaks immersion when it fails.
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    @BlackShipsFilltheSky Agreed, I tried to say something similar in my post, but you put it much more eloquently.

    For me this is why I didn't appreciate the first ME 3 endings. They broke the world consistency by destroying the Mass Relays, which would have destroyed every system in which there is a relay - this wouldn't have been a problem in of itself. However, they clearly implied that life was born again after this event. Immersion Broken. Cue, Take Back Ending petition
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    @Bensonance Agreed, I was was just trying to offer some terms I thought you could use :) "Coherence" might be a better term than "consistency" now that I read @Karuji's post again.
    [Edit: Now that I think about it again I believe it's usually termed "Internal Consistency" in game design]
  • I think the breast plate dilema where the armour is silly reminds me of those games(and I believed everyone played them) where you can die by getting shot in the foot or hand - even fingers and toes can be legal

    My favourite female character in a game is ling Xiayou. And Athena KOF. Xiayou's clothing and fighting style is congruent with her character and valid in the real world(minus the pet panda.

    @dislekcia Yes! That is the most honest and entertaining review of the Snow white movie
  • @dislekcia C Viper, nice call
  • Wow, lots of reading, going to reply sparsely, sorry if I don't address everything...

    @BlackShipsFilltheSky: Actually, I was ranting about the "modernisation" of Snow White. They did "update" it to make it even more daft and about being pretty uber alles. It actually kept kicking me out of any immersion I could have had going, it literally made me wonder about the people who made it and how they see the world all the time.

    I think it's that "How do these creators see X", where X can be anything - most damagingly "me" - that creates debates and anger around sexism. Internal consistency is broken when people surface from the constructed experience and go "Wait, I wouldn't construct anything like this, you've lost me". Personally, I'm inclined to say that the "I wouldn't construct anything like this and I'm offended that you have because you're clearly insulting me" reaction is overboard, but people do love taking offense.

    @Bensonance: Yes, I think there's something to internal consistency being easier to maintain with things we don't see all the time. It's exactly that concept that leads to the uncanny valley of failed identification of emotion as human depictions get closer and closer to 100% realistic. All you need to do with the familiar is screw up one small thing, but you can imply with the unfamiliar or fantastic and still get great engagement. (Which is another reason that it's no surprise that a studio dominated by male viewpoints could easily produce a sexism game)
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    @dislekcia Icky, and I had been fairly excited about the new Snow White (Sadly I hadn't really thought about it much, I guess I'd expected a more egalitarian story based on the costume design).

    @dislekcia I don't want to be combative here, or condescending. I know I am a bit belligerent on this subject, but I do really believe it is important.

    Regarding problems people have with female characters in games. The problem certainly isn't "How do these creators see X". Although that is generally how the language is phrased when the critics talk about it. It obviously doesn't matter what the creators were thinking, they may have been thinking nice thoughts and have made an ugly game, or the other way around. Taking offense at someone else's point of view is obviously a silly position to hold and you're right to reject that.

    I think if a developer wants to attract a demographic it is important to portray them well, but the question of which demographics a developer courts is a question of business, not of ethics. (I do in fact wish more developers would court women, but that is because I have a vested interest in this industry)

    The problem that I have, and I imagine most feminists have, with the portrayal of, and behavior towards, certain demographics in certain games is that gamers are taught by the games they play. Just as viewers are taught by movies, etc. Players and viewers do adopt attitudes and expectations from the media they engage in. This is well backed up by countless studies.

    Obviously I'm not suggesting violent games lead to violence. Players don't go shooting people after playing Call of Duty or Battlefield, even though they may learn how to behave better in a combat situation. Though while reenacting Call of Duty in real life would be ridiculous, these players may come away with a reinforced negative image of Russia, and that is problematic (whether or not the developers of Call of Duty, or Battlefield, themselves consider Russia to be villainous).

    In my mind this is not a question of who is offended by our games but of what we are teaching those who play and enjoy our games. I believe developers bear responsibility towards their players, and that it is fair to criticize them when they resort to unimaginative and harmful stereotypes. I know this is a somewhat paternalistic stance.

    Soul Calibre is definitely problematic in its portrayal of women. It is not a mature game targeting adults who already have complicated notions of gender, it's a 12+ game. I still enjoy playing it, I don't feel offended by it, I certainly don't wish for the sexiness to be removed. But I think it could be contextualized better without removing any of the pleasure of the game (and I expect several years from now the franchise will have moved in that direction).

    I think the anger and offense around sexism in games is heavily compounded by gamers' reactions to complaints. Feminists who go into any critique of games anticipate horrendous backlash (http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/internet/2012/07/what-online-harassment-looks). Gamers historically have had very defensive reactions to these sorts of criticisms and what should have been a healthy debate often becomes an intractable internet feud.

    [Edit] Sorry folks I've edited this post a bunch of times, struggled to get the wording right. Also I apologize for the number of "obviously"s in this post. I fear I've worn it out.
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    @BlackShipsFilltheSky I just have to point out that Soul Calibur is 16+ not that the average 16 year old that much more of a nuanced understand of gender issues than a 12 year old.

    I agree that as developer we have a moral[1] implication to accurately portray different people in our game[2].

    One the of gamers'[3] reactions: gamers have made gods of their games, and god help you if you say anything bad about games. The more I look at gamer culture the more divested I feel from it. I don't see any purpose to T-Baging or calling someone a 'noob'[4].

    If I take feminism[5] as: The advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. than I am 120% behind that. I'm also behind bringing that same theory to all other groups that are, or can, be represented in our medium. I'm not saying that I want everything to be rainbows and unicorns, but we need to get rid of tokenism.

    With regards to the reactions. I found a sense of irony in it. The claim is that free-speech impedes free-speech. But the point of gamer reactions does conform to what I said above.


    1: I use moral because I feel that the obligation is moral instead of ethical: the ethical person knows not to steal, but the moral person does not steal.

    2: The fast majority of games appeal to heterosexual male fantasy, both men and women in these universe are crafted to appeal to the hypothetical 15-20 year old that play games. Games can be used for much more when we can directly use them to give players experiences of other people's situations. Looking at the work of That Game Company I am more convinced than ever that games can accomplish this.

    3: I am rather sick of this term. From recent observations the notion of the gamer doesn't exist. Social and mobile games have brought games to a mass population. Ironically this spreading of the medium, is what I believe, to be one of the causes in gamer hostility. Their territory is being encroached on by those who do not understand the precious 1337.

    I think the term need to go.

    4: Noob, much like gamer, is something we need to get rid of. Like words such as lol it has lost its original meaning — of newbie — and is a slur against anyone who does not match the gamer's view of 1337. Recently I have been responding to people calling other's 'noob' by showing how they are 'noob' at English, and should "Stop typing: every word you a greater 'noob' at English." In general I have had a positive response in that these 'gamers' cease the harassment of the new player: giving me a chance to coach them at the game.

    5: I quoted a definition of feminism here since I am not familiar intimately familiar with the ideology. I've read various documents, and watch shows such as Feminist Frequency I haven't always understood, or agreed with, the goal, or the purpose of their discourse. But I find that I would call myself a pro-feminist when talking in the context of that definition.
  • Don't mean to necro this thread, but someone sent me this link today, which I thought was relevant: Game Overthinker takes on Bayonetta's character design

    I'm not in agreement with everything this guy says here, I'm not particularly fond of his easy assumption that sexual objectification is so unassailable in games, but he is calling a spade a spade. And I like how Bayonetta as a character has to be seen differently. That's basically exactly what I was talking about above.
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    We have a Soul Calibre in the office rated at 12+ (it is the British rating not the American one it turns out). That criticism I made was a bit out of context.

    I think it is safe to say that feminists all self identify as gender egalitarians. And "feminism" and "gender studies" are interchangeable in my experience at UCT. There's no need to say "well what about other problematic portrayals". Feminism isn't limited to concerns about women. It's about gender, but feminists have been involved in much of the discussion about race as well.

    I'm not convinced that Bayonetta is subverting prejudices about women in games. From my experience of the game so far I think she is more of a case of sanctioning them.
  • I'm going to strongly disagree with the Game Overthinker guy.

    The problem is this:
    The video posits that women in games exist to serve male sexual desires and then goes on to applaud Bayonetta for fitting more complex of male desire. Game Overthinker is still only judging her in terms of her objecthood. He doesn't say it in those terms obviously, he's a guy, he's happy that all the female in his games are designed for his sexual desires, he just wants a better fantasy.

    He even starts the video defining her as an object of male desire. A "Project". Imagine if this were a film. Basically Bayonetta is Pamela Anderson's Barbed Wire. Which is to say an improvement on an awful lot of female game characters, and much better than just about all the sexualized female characters, but I struggle to applaud that.
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky progress is progress. It might not be the end result, but if it is going in the right direction then we should applaud that. Nothing changes immediately or drastically. The prototype is far from the final game, and more often than not the last ten percent is ninety percent of the work.

    If Bayonetta is only five percent of what the desire for the representation of female characters in video games then I suggest that the victory is seized since victories in this area are few and far between.

    If there is progress then let us work towards the next five percent or more.
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky: Oh, I agree! I did try to say that I don't like the way the dude just assumed that Bayonetta was there to be objectified and I think you're totally accurate in your analysis of his motives. His opening statements are pretty damn deplorable... But I posted that video because to me, it's all about someone with only that one single lens to view female characters in games through, having to make modifications to that lens due to the successful parody of Bayonetta. Which is what I was suggesting that Bayonetta is designed to do. I would also argue that, as a character, she expands to fill different lenses if you have them and makes you aware of the inaccuracy of the lenses that you DO have. That's what a good character should do - basically not be something that reinforces the lenses that are used to stereotype.
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    @Karuji I think you mistake my luke warm praise as affirmation. Bayonetta is progress in appealing to men better. As if that were what the industry really needs right now.

    @Dislekcia I don't know. I get the feeling that the game is so overtly sexist that to any smart person it seems like it can only exist as a parody, yet it also seems that the great majority of players are playing it absolutely sincerely with no sense of irony. So far in the game anyway the delivery seems pretty sincere. There doesn't seem to be any context other than a very fleshed out world where the most powerful females actually get naked to execute their enemies and attach guns to their high-heels. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the game doesn't seem to think so.
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky & @Karuji: If appeal we must, then let's appeal to better men and at least challenge our enjoyers to elevate themselves.
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    @Dislekcia I really cannot see how Bayonetta is challenging. She's a straight up male sexual fantasy for guys into tough assertive women.
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky: I've already gone over the elements that I consider make her a subversive character in earlier posts. If you don't agree, then you don't agree, that's fine... There is one point I'd like to make, though. Be careful that you're not deciding that any sexuality is inherently bad sexuality, instantly reverting a female character to an objectified fantasy object all the time. I have argued in the past that Bayonetta's sexuality is far more for her enjoyment than for the viewer's, even if it's still enjoyed by the viewer. That's the core of what makes it subversive.
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    @Dislekcia. I spent this morning agonizing over whether I was dismissing all sexuality as inherently bad with my gender studies lecturer from UCT. I don't take this sort of discussion lightly.

    It's only subversive of the incredibly low expectations set of female characters in video games. The only way it could be subversive is if one goes in expecting a typical video game fan service character.

    But it's still not a aspirational portrayal of a woman. She still exists to be fuckable before everything else. I can't imagine you think she feels aspirational for women? At best it is still fan service even while it mocks lesser fan service. But I'm not even totally convinced that there is any real mockery going on. The game never makes the viewer aware of what fan service normally looks like. Any subversion that is going on is only because the viewer is doing extra work to bring in that context to the game. The game itselt doesn't seem to create that context (from what I've played so far, it never brings in references to unabashed fan service besides its own).

    And I feel its own fan service overshadows everything else. Being aware of its fan service doesn't its make fan service a positive thing I think. Surely it just stops it from being completely insulting.

    There are ways to make a female character that is sexually aware and sexual in appearance and nature and make her strong and tough and a positive role model. Bayonetta just isn't that character. She isn't in a context that allows her to be that character.

    I think I just have higher expectations. I don't think I'm going to change your or Karuji's mind.
  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky: So what you're saying is that, as a character in a video game, Bayonetta is subversive of the current context that female video game characters exist in? I don't see how a character should be subversive of a context they're not part of, that would require some hardcore futurecasting. And Bayonetta as a game demonstrates a complete familiarity with the genre and type of game it is in a host of ways, yet it always carries this sort of knowing nod to everything the player carries into it assuming that they already understand what the game is about. Simple things like popular combos and abilities that players of DMC-style games will try by rote automatically work, but perform different effects on enemies (juggles are stuns, or combo starting moves actually end combos, etc) so that players have to be aware that they're playing a different game. That sort of thing is all over the place, just below the surface of the game, like I said above.

    So, while you agree that as a character, Bayonetta is subversive, you disagree that this is meaningful? Or is that there isn't enough subversion going on? I also don't see how Bayonetta's main purpose as a character is to be fuckable. Yes, she's attractive, but as I said above, the gaze is all wrong. Where am I not following here?

    I guess I'm in a similar boat to @Karuji, in that any subversion of these themes, especially something that I perceive as quite directed and very intended by the designers, is good. Especially in the current context of games. I would argue that expecting ALL portrayals of female characters in games to be aspirational, and thus dismissing stuff like this as worthless is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I hate to do this, but turn the lens around and aim it at your own work: Is Kicky an aspirational male character? No, he's a joke. Something constructed in the context that you find that sort of game. Yes, he's not motivated by a "women in refrigerators" type moment, but that's only due to the gender of his sensei... That's a hideously simplistic analysis, I know, but my point is that not all characters have be all aspirational all the time.

    Look, I'm not arguing that DOA-style fuck-dolls are ok. Just that the thing we need is MORE aspirational female characters, just like we need MORE vulnerable male characters and MORE complex characters in games in general. That doesn't mean that we need to destroy all the simple ones. Especially not ones that aren't AS simple as a single element of their construction makes them out to be.
  • Basically I am saying that she is not subversive enough, and doubting she's subversive at all unless you as a viewer are actively looking for the subversion. I'm saying I don't believe that the majority of players see the knowing wink. And therefore I disagree that it is meaningful, or at least, I'm saying that this subversion is an obscure meaning.

    At best the wink is there, but it is just there to appease more literate players, while under the counter the developers hand other players an uninhibited fan service experience. Although honestly I feel that is giving the game too much credit.

    I'm trying to say that she conforms to a MASCULINE idea of female empowerment. Which ISN'T particularly subversive. And so allows players who are inclined to, to appreciate her as sincere fan service.

    I'm going to say again what my lecturer from University said: She is being applauded for fitting a more complicated male desire than usual.

    What I want is a female character who is sexually empowered who doesn't represent a patriarchal view of female sexual empowerment. That would be subversive.

  • @BlackShipsFilltheSky: Ok. So that's where you and I differ then: I don't feel that she represents a form of female sexual disempowerment. To me, the elements of gaze and construction that I feel are there undermine the masculine sexual fantasy elements to such a level that it ceases to exist.

    Granted, loads of people may not see that at all and that's fine. That's why I posted the video link I did above - that dude started out viewing Bayonetta as a sexual fantasy object and ended up having to change his preceptions. The sheer fact that it challenged the only lens he had SO HARD as to force him to come up with a different way of seeing the character seemed pretty powerful to me.

    So what would a non-patriarchal view of female sexual empowerment look like? Could you make it an action shooter? Would it need to ridicule existing tropes through parody, or would it subvert the familiar instead? (BTW: I kinda feel like your perspective totally denies any attempt at subversion - you have to begin with the familiar and unchallenged in order to subvert and reclaim, which takes time to bear its full fruit at the end of the experience - you seem to say that any echo of the familiar is instantly invalidating to the entire process of subversion. At best we have different ideas of what constitutes subversive messages).
  • I don't know what this says about my personal taste in women, but I find Bayonetta more scary than sexy, but like MovieBob this occurred over playing the game.

    I do have to say that I find this debate to be somewhat funny: we are arguing to what degree bread with butter is better than just bread.

    I do have to say the @BlackShipsFilltheSky is right in that Bayonetta is not overtly subversive (as paradoxical as that sounds.)

    The Femenist Frequency video highlights this

    But one must be aware of a trope before one can subvert it. And while referencing the common tropes of women in fighting games would have enhance the subversiveness of Bayonetta as a character it would have been a negative impact on Bayonetta the game.

    And when you look at Bayonetta the game it is a ridiculously fun game with a female lead who is subversive. In the space of video games where female character are normally just used to pander to men.

    I don't think that a female would look up to Bayonetta as a role model in the same way that I would not look up to Marcus Fenix as a role model. They are hyperbolic representations of their gender.

    But like I said we are debating to what degree bread with butter is better than bread.
  • @Karuji: That's the Feminist Frequency episode that I spoke about in one of my first posts, noting how superficial her analysis felt to me. That's kinda validated by how the original was taken down, as it's no longer available on her youtube account. That's a re-post.
  • So I have been reading all the comments and articles linked to this thread and I have a question. What is it that we should(can) do about this?

    Reading up about this made me realise just how ignorant I was to the issue and I want to avoid making this mistake in future games that I might create.

    I thought about the female characters that I liked through the years and one that really stood out to me was Jaheira, specifically from Baldur's Gate II. I don't know if anyone is familiar with her, but I hope someone is. I think that she is a good example of a strong female character in a game. Should we endevour to create characters like her, or just characters NOT like the ones mentioned here?
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    @Karuji Comparing Marcus Fenix to Bayonetta is missing the point. Marcus Fenix is a power fantasy for straight guys. Bayonetta is (at least in part) a sexual fantasy for straight guys. There isn't a simple equivalence there.

    Your assertion that both Marcus Fenix and Bayonetta are both hyperbolic representations of their gender is really really problematic. (Are you really saying that you see Bayonetta as an exaggerated woman? And Marcus Fenix as an exagerrated man? What does that say about the way you see men and women?)

    @Karuji And you seem to suggest that Bayonetta is not pandering to men? (Or at least you contrast Bayonetta to a space "where female character are normally just used to pander to men.") From what I've seen anyway, taking her clothes off isn't necessary for the story, crotch focused camera angles aren't necessary, contortions that emphasize her genitals aren't necessary, there is no one there to see her besides the player, these things are there for guys to see vicariously. Whether or not you think Bayonetta is empowering for women it's safe to say that Bayonetta fits very well into a space that panders to men. (You've seen those Japanese subway advertisements.)


    But Bayonetta is a power fantasy as well, and she has agency in her own story, and she is in control of her sexuality, and doesn't need any help or attention from men in her story, and indeed is fighting against a patriarchal system, and this is what is awesome about Bayonetta.

    I don't think Anita Sarkeesian did a good job reviewing Bayonetta either.

    This is an article that supports @Dislekcia's argument very well (I think?). http://hastac.org/blogs/amanda-phillips/castrating-straight-male-gaze-bayonetta-or-least-making-room-other-ones

    Although I feel I agree more with this article (which kind of says that Bayonetta doesn't make the viewer ever uncomfortable enough for it to really challenge players and be more than an exercise in masculine pleasure) http://www.tannerhiggin.com/making-men-uncomfortable-what-bayonetta-should-learn-from-gaga/

    And I feel really badly, and guiltily, about the way this conversation has gone.


    @Rigormortis For myself anyway, I'd love for one of the community's goals to be to foster an environment where women feel welcome. We are nearly all men (at least 90% internationally and possibly more locally) and a lot of us here have core taste in games, games that are heavily targeted towards men. This being targeted at shows in the things we make and the things we praise. I'd personally like more women working on games in this country for their material contributions and their point of view.

    Men in this industry are then in a position of power to determine the nature of the games that get made. I take that responsibility very seriously.

    Admittedly I make games for men (or at least in a style played mostly by men) but it is very important to me that I portray women in a way in my games that gives them agency, makes them believable, and gives them roles that don't value them less than their male counterparts or diminish them to their sex or objectify them. (I haven't achieved this yet, but I'm trying).

    I don't want to teach my players to view women as objects (or as less valuable than men), I want my players (both male and female) to really believe in the worlds I create, and I don't want to offend women because, as a developer, I'd like to make games that women would be keen to contribute towards and feel proud of owning.

    As such, when I think "good female character design", I don't necessarily think "good marketing material" (which seems too often to be a heavy influence in female character design).

    I know that @Dislekcia is trying to portray women well in his games. I feel ridiculous arguing with him about Bayonetta. He's easily the game developer who's opinion I respect the most on this subject. I guess I have problems showing that. I am sincerely sorry.

    @Rigormortis I cannot actually recall much of Baldur's Gate II. But Bioware do give women significant roles in their games (though I haven't played Bioware games in a while). I think in pointing to Bioware you are pointing in a good direction. Recent Bioware games allow for romantic and sexual relationships with other characters, and Bioware have received a lot of praise for this (both the even-handed sexiness and the role of women in their games). (I should really play more Bioware games I guess).

    FilipOrekhov posted the female protagonist from Dragon Age as an example of good female character design. I imagine he agrees with you @Rigormortis.

    As @Dislekcia has said: sexualization of female characters is not necessarily bad. I'm not trying to say that. I do think that creating a sexualized female character without succumbing to pleasing male sexual fantasies and diminishing the character is terribly problematic. My friend who lectured Gender Studies at UCT often bemoans that (she bemoans the difficulty and pitfalls, not the existence of sexualized female characters, she is all for sexually empowered female characters).

    Chloe from Uncharted 2 is an example of a sexually empowered female character. Visually she's very attractive, but not very sexualized (I'm not trying to suggest her as an example of a good sexualized character). She is realistic looking (which suits the Uncharted world of course).

    I felt the playable female characters in Diablo 3 were pretty strong. They look for the most part like they kick ass and fit their roles.


    Even if the storytelling was very conventional.


    @Rigormortis I hope like you that something positive comes of this debate (it started out positive). Sorry about the epic post and picking at scabs.

  • I'm beginning to believe that this thread is some form of zombie that wont die, and in the process has become a lich. (Well at least the discussion is good)

    @BlackShipsFilltheSky please do excuse me if my tone if off. We have had good discussions about this topic, but right now I am repeating myself. I know it is stretched out across a long thread, and perhaps some of it is still in the female gaze thread, but I honestly believe that I have already answered your questions but to go in short.

    Marcus Fenix, Bayonetta, the cast of DoA, Soul Calibur, and most AAA, core, face games are male targeted, and pander to male fantasies. It as close to a fact that there is except for Bioware.

    Is Bayonetta pandering to men?
    I believe so.

    Is she a better female character than 95% of the one out there.
    I believe so.

    Could Bayonetta be a better character in terms of promoting a female role in games?
    Yes, but at the same time she is a step in the right direction.

    With regards to the crotch angles, de-clothing etc.

    I've already said it pandering, but at the same time I feel Bayonetta owns her sexuality, and to be honest I really can't think of another female character that does that. Also the de-clothing is taken to it's extreme. I mean her clothes are actually her hair, so she never actually has clothes; just a difference in how she covers her flesh.

    To be honest I find this is where things start to break down. Especially in the analytical articles, and @dislekcia put it best that Bayonetta is rediculously fun, and is trying* to be subversive. As far as beat-em-up go I haven't played anything as good. Devil May Cry wishes it could be Bayonetta.


    To go off on a tangent I've gone an watched a good deal of Anita Sarkeesian's videos and I can't say I really like them. I know I've watched a lot of content fro The Escapist. So in 5 minutes I expect a fair amount of content with at least some depth. Sarkeesian's videos feel like rant's about fluff to me. So I withdraw that video of being evidence of anything.

    To carry on Sarkeesian amended the Bayonetta video to focus on the marketing. I think there is a reason it was suggested that the business aspect for MGSA was represented with tentacles, and I believe marketing falls under business. E3 is evidence that the AAA marketing believes sex sells. So why would the people who market Bayonetta think differently. I'm not saying it's right, or that I condone it.

    That links to the point of Bayonetta causing discomfort to the player, as per the Gaga article. In AAA space such a thing is not possible, when a published funds millions or tens of millions or hundreds of millions into a game. They want a return so I highly doubt that they would completely alienate their target audience.


    So why do I celebrate Bayonetta. It's a fun game; an original IP; Bayonetta, the character, subverts** the normal roles assigned to her gender in AAA games.

    If you can celebrate Indie games and believe that because the developers were challenged by their limitations, and still made a good game. Than why not apply that to a AAA game. There are limitations on what they can do too, and I believe given those limitations Platinum did an excellent job.

    To expand on my earlier metaphor. Most games show female characters as bread, boring generic cut outs. We want cake, there are lots of cakes there are very different, and complex structures. Bayonetta is bread with spread on it. How good that spread is is up to your taste, but bread with spread is better than just bread. Sure it's not cake but at least it's a step in the direction.

    * and ** in both these cases it depends if you think the spread tastes good :P


    So in an attempt to not talk about Bayonetta any more. I propose a shift to talking about games that women play.

    Also I'm sorry if I came across poorly in any of this it's 1:30am and I've been at this post for a while, and I'm kind of surprised I don't have keyboard impressions on my face right now.

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