Objectification - ace13 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Objectification

All the vulnerable areas are covered, and it's good for agility!


About a few months ago, I stumbled upon an awesome Chloe cosplayer that Megan Marie wrote about here. I became hooked on the Cosblog series. After that, I went back to look at each of the older entries, and am now up to date. I enjoy reading about the inspiration behind each cosplayer's character choice, seeing their creativity when designing their costume, and the final product, in interesting locations. 

Something I've always wondered though, when I look at this section, is how many women check back to their article to see the community's reaction. I remember when I first read Chloe's entry, and I was so impressed. Jessica looked so much like Chloe, and her costume was really great. Then I read the comments. Many had respectful compliments, but some were incredibly rude. Unfortunately, if you read other entries, there are even more of these kinds of comments. 

Hot. Her nose is messed up. Her butt isn't big enough. How ugly, is she a man?! These are some of the comments I discovered on these blog posts. And I remember hoping (well, I still do) that if these cosplayers do look at their entry, that they wouldn't be hurt at these ridiculous and unnecessary comments. I particularly remember this one female cosplayer, who was Lightning, and she was especially mocked for her looks. I felt so bad, that when I noticed her contact information, I sent her a compliment saying I saw her on GI. I really did like her cosplay a lot.

So what is my point in saying this? Well, there is a huge difference between complimenting a person or admiring a character's beauty, and treating them like a piece of meat. A simple, but effective guideline to follow is: If you can't say something respectful, then don't say anything at all. 

Objectification is an ugly thing, and it is a huge societal issue that I could make multiple posts about. But that would be opening up a whole other can of worms, and I would like to discuss something else now.

A few days ago, GI's Dan Ryckert reviewed Dead or Alive 5, and he gave the game a 6. In his review he said it had not really improved anything. The controls and gameplay were stale, the cutscenes were awkwardly introduced, and the storyline was weak. He also happened to mention that the game "feels unchanged, from the creepy obsession with virtual breast physics (now with sweat!)"


I'm a fighter... I sweat!


There was a bit of an uproar from the community upon reading Dan's review and seeing the Test Chamber video. There were some people who were respectful and said they felt disappointed because Dan wasn't reviewing the game seriously. And then there were others who were upset because they felt Dan was focusing on the character's breasts.

I'm not here to criticize the score the game received, or how Dan reviewed the game. I haven't played the game myself, but in light of the gameplay footage, I do think the complaints Dan wrote about were justified though. What I would like to expand upon is one of Dan's remarks, in which he says the game concept can be defined as "make a bunch of big-bosomed ladies punch each other again." This is a problem.

I have nothing against "sexy" women in games. In fact, it's nice to see a woman in charge of her sexuality, and proud of her curves as part of her character, like Chloe (from Uncharted). She's more than that though, and in designing her, Naughty Dog didn't make her appearance the most significant aspect of her personality.

Even if a character is not sensual, she doesn't need to have revealing clothing or blouse-bursting breasts to be influencing. With a well-written character, she can be attractive while having depth. Intelligent, confident females can be sexy without depending upon their attire or physical features. These strong persons are going to go after what they want, or do what's needed, to the best of their ability, and we feel connected to them along the way. Whether they are in a tee-shirt or uniform, they are attractive. Just look at Jill Valentine or Elena Fisher. Both are strong characters who aren't sex objects, and are very relatable. 


 

Women are a lot more than their breasts and butts. This seems pretty clear, but sometimes the game industry seems to be ignorant of from time to time. In the Test Chamber video, towards the end, you can see Tina wins and is celebrating. And her celebration includes the camera zooming in on her breasts, then her butt as she strokes her hips. This is objectifying, and she's presented to us as a sex object. Dan even demonstrated that you can zoom in on her chest too, to see the remarkable sweat feature, of course. 


 

You could try to argue and say, wait a second, she's strong! She's punching and kicking butt all by herself. And she is. However, she's in a bikini top, the camera is zooming in on her body parts, and it's essentially stripping away her power. It makes it seem that her main reason for being included in the game is for fanservice. 


So Where Do We Go From Here?

Tecmo and Gamestop promoted DOA with exclusive swimsuits. Between this promotion, the breast physics and sweat feature, this is saying: you can buy our game to salivate over female fighters! This is pretty creepy. But if you really think about it, what's also bad is how gamers are being stereotyped. This isn't the only franchise to use skimpy clothing to sell games, and it seems to point out that developers think their fanbase is interested in leering at characters. Instead of focusing more on appearance, why not focus more on the character's personality/backstory?

So with this being said, how do we progress? A friend here, Theora, recently made a good point in saying that in relating to characters it is a two way street. Developers and gamers need to meet halfway. I couldn't agree more. Developers need to stop placing more of an emphasis on female appearance, and gamers need to be willing to see characters as more than just eye candy. Dan commenting on this in Gameinformer, an influential game magazine, is so important, and I was so happy to see this. The discussions we have here about these issues are also very important too. It shows developers that we want the bar raised, and that we're more intelligent than you think we are. 

 

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