The mind-blowing depth of female video game characters

Or not.

I found this helpful diagram laying around in the intertubes, and couldn’t help but notice that it was teeming with truthiness.

Much has already been said about the insultingly crass objectification of women in video games. It seems we are meant to believe that iconic female characters such as Lara Croft, the female cast members of the Dead or Alive and Soul Calibur fighting series, and Final Fantasy heroines such as Tifa Lockhart are great because they’re “empowering”, butt-kicking heroes. But upon closer inspection, all of the most prominent female video game stars definitely have something in common. And it’s not the advanced martial arts maneuvering that makes their laughably impractical outfits look even more ridiculous as they bounce their way across the battlefield. Furthermore, the trend only worsens as time goes on — characters such as Chun Li who started out relatively conservative in appearance seemed to, ah… “blossom” to self-caricaturing levels of overexposure as time went on.

Of course, our beloved bounty hunter, the strong, silent Samus Aran, was portrayed as the expectation-shattering surprise of the century when the best ending of the original Metroid revealed that the warrior inside the spacesuit was actually a woman. Look, everyone! She’s subverted all your preconceived notions about video game heroes! Oh, and she’s stripping down to her bikini now I guess. Never mind. I mean, what else would she be wearing under that clunky Chozo suit… an outfit that couldn’t double as lingerie? GIRL POWER! I feel so liberated.

The message is clear. Lady protagonists, if you want to make a name for yourself, better get packing. And don’t forget your battle armor (a transparent bikini) and a host of exciting bonuses for the most tenacious gamers, like the unlockable pole dances in Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (it adds so much to the gameplay!). Sure, maybe Princess Peach has remained wholesome and pure for the duration of her appearances in the Mario franchise. But ultimately she amounts to nothing more than a textbook damsel in distress — another item to be collected by Mario. Or, at best, she becomes the walking embodiment of every stereotype about women’s emotions, even when the tables were supposedly turned and she was out saving Mario in her own game. As such, she’s reinforcing negative assumptions about what a female video game character has to be, and hardly represents much of a victory for female protagonists in video game history.

Are there any female video game characters with household name status that have actually discovered a realistic middle ground between bra-busting gunslinger and the demure, helpless kidnap victim whose signature move is baking a cake for the real hero? I’m sad to say that none really come to mind. If Samus Aran would get therapy for the compulsive exhibitionism she displays in the best endings of Metroid, and maybe update her wardrobe to something besides a painted on Zero Suit which gives the ludicrous proportions of DoA a run for their money, she would be my pick for a truly strong and intriguing female protagonist whose character development might tell us something other than how her cups runneth over. Until then, I can’t wait to be treated to more gratuitous “jiggle physics” in games that would never have featured any such skimpy gallivanting had the main characters been male.

30 Responses to The mind-blowing depth of female video game characters

  1. Tyler says:

    I think there are probably quite a few Fire Emblem girls that you could find that fit that middle ground bill (ie. Princess Elincia, Mist, or maybe Lyn), but they aren’t exactly household names, which is unfortunate.

  2. Starr Spark says:

    The video game industry is dominated by men. Men, in general, like big boobs (women too, admit it).

    While strides are being made to make things more equal (Princess Peach did eventually get a game… even if it sucked), get used to being objectified, because it’s gonna be like this for a while.

    Honestly, you could make games with less appealing-looking women characters, but why would game makers “risk” a game with characters that players won’t “relate” to. Players genuinely like to place themselves in the fantasy of the game, and no one like to imagine themselves as ugly (rugged, maybe, but not unpleasing to the opposite sex) or likes to imagine dating an ugly chick (I’m sorry, but it’s true)

    It’s also the same issue as ANY form of mass media – those generally deemed attractive are given the most important roles (often over talent, no less). For women it’s the face, figure, and rack (not necessarily in that order). For men, it’s the face, hair, and body tone.

    And if we’re gonna get into it, are we also going to point out men in video games are often hard-bodies? Where’s the complaints for men protagonists needing to have more realistic beer bellies or scrawny geek bodies? (I’m partial to the skinny geeks myself, but I’m weird)

    And from a genetics and all that standpoint, video game heroes are generally people who run around a lot, kick ass, etc. They’re have to be healthy (well, come, there’s a health bar 😉 and athletic. This lends itself to people who are normally deemed attractive in many ways (or, in the way of “not fat”).

    Of course, that’s just from the looks-department… I agree women characters need more juicier roles, better plot lines, more glory, etc but I think it’s gonna take more than a few women in the industry to make it happen.

  3. Juja says:

    “Men, in general, like big boobs (women too, admit it).”

    This is absolutely true. Bigger boobs = better in almost all instances. People can have issues with roles women have in video games and character development and all that, but leave the big jugs alone!

  4. Jeff says:

    Well you saw what happened when Nintendo tried to give Samus a deeper storyline and downplayed the visual sexuality of the character (she hasn’t appeared in a bikini since Super Metroid). Everybody had a royal fucking fit. They called her poorly designed, weak, “offensive,” etc. Male gamers suddenly became radical feminists and whined about how her “character” is a bad role model. They even dragged out a cowed “grrl gamer” on G4 to whine about how women should be “offended” by this “portrayal.”

    The problem is of course is that it takes heavy blinders to RAGE and RAGE some more at Samus in Metroid Other M and just NOT see how other games treat female player characters. Which was probably why all that complaining just rang hollow for anybody with half a brain and an ounce of critical thought.

    Also, strange as it may sound, I propose that the Japanese tend to design female characters better in games than Western developers, if only because, in my opinion, they try to remember that they actually are designing females as characters and not just make big-breasted versions of men. In fact the two most well-designed females characters ever, in my opinion, are Samus Aran and Jill Valentine. Because so far they’ve mostly dodged the cheesecake bullets, have been portrayed as capable, yet complex characters in their own right and not just “one of the boys” but with ridiculous costumes so they can remain visually pleasing to men.

  5. Chelsea says:

    Thanks for your comments. I’m glad people actually took the time to make some extended commentary beyond just “I HEART BOOBS”.

    Starr Spark,

    “Players genuinely like to place themselves in the fantasy of the game, and no one like to imagine themselves as ugly”

    I totally agree. I don’t think most people would want to play as an unattractive character, and I’m not suggesting that female characters should be made uglier. Rather, I was thinking that maybe it would be nice to see a female character become popular and successful based on her fascinating personality and back story, and not because her boobs weigh 20 pounds each. Or are all women below a 36G “ugly”? I don’t think they are.

    “And if we’re gonna get into it, are we also going to point out men in video games are often hard-bodies?”

    You’re absolutely right. Male game protagonists are a bunch of “pretty boys” more often than not. But think about some of the most successful, well-known male protagonists: Mario, Sonic, and the recent incarnations of Solid Snake (who is getting old and wears an eye patch). Is it a roundup of youthful, flawless hunks with washboard abs who celebrate winning their games by taking their clothes off? Not really. In fact, I’m pretty sure people would laugh or cry in horror if you were “rewarded” by getting to see Mario disrobe, yet it’s common practice (and even expected) that if you don’t get to see Samus in her undies, it’s definitely not the ideal ending.

    Jeff,

    “Well you saw what happened when Nintendo tried to give Samus a deeper storyline and downplayed the visual sexuality of the character (she hasn’t appeared in a bikini since Super Metroid).”

    I agree; Samus’s characterization, voice, dialogue, and overall attitude in Other M were obnoxious as hell. And I’m not trying to suggest that female characters known for being quiet and mysterious should suddenly become a bunch of chatty Cathies. For instance, I’d be outraged if they gave Link the Other M treatment and suddenly he started running his mouth with a bunch of similarly terrible nonsense all day. I just think maybe Samus doesn’t need to take all her clothes off or be given a set of ridiculous bolt-ons in Smash Bros Brawl. Link and Mario don’t have to be overtly sexual to be successful, so why should Samus?

    Also, Samus has stripped down to revealing attire in games post-Super Metroid. See: Metroid Fusion. And Zero Mission gave us the skin-tight Zero Suit, in which Samus has been flaunting her hyper-inflated chest ever since.

  6. Starr Spark says:

    I’d love it if male protagonists started disrobing for winning games, but I’m dirty like that. Maybe not Mario, but we never expected Peach to do that either. Not Sonic, because… well, isn’t he naked already??

    Having less than G-sized boobs does not equal ugly, but why can’t my heroines have a C rack as well as a good story? If you force a flat chested heroine onto gamers so they actually pay attention to the story, the story isn’t that great anyway. Hot chicks are a perk to video games. Why not have some perky… perks? to go along with a great story.

    The only chick characters I’ve seen with 20-lb boobs are ones in fighting games, which are visual-treat games, not games in which you need or expect to get a hard-core story.

    And that’s where it goes back to the man thing… men are very visual. Men (and women) play video games for personal enjoyment, and if men want to visually enjoy the pixelated rack of a fictional chick, why deny them?

    Let’s face it, in an equal world women wouldn’t have to be extremely “talented” in the chest area or all-over body to get noticed, but smart women know how to use their physical “talents” to get want they want. Lara Croft’s hotness launched a great franchise; I wouldn’t hold it against her (yes, I can hear guys saying “ya, but I’d hold her against me!” or something like that).

  7. Jeff says:

    “I agree; Samus’s characterization, voice, dialogue, and overall attitude in Other M were obnoxious as hell”

    Actually I wasn’t saying that, because I rather enjoyed Other M’s characterization of Samus. In that, at least she had some this time instead of just sorta being a silent robot. My point was that gamers, particularly male gamers threw a fucking fit and started calling her an “annoying cunt” and all sorts of other nasty stuff. The fact the the majority of the female gamers joined in was particularly saddening too. IT also seems as if her problem is simply being female, because nobody seems to complain much when other game heroes talk for hours on end. And the message is received loud and clear. If you are going to make female heroes, they better keep their fucking mouths shut.

    “For instance, I’d be outraged if they gave Link the Other M treatment and suddenly he started running his mouth with a bunch of similarly terrible nonsense all day.”

    Maybe just you, but this issue has been an IGN chestnut for decades. They keep whining and demanding voice acting in Zelda so much that they are obsessed with it. Also think about the unintended message you are communicating when you say the problem with Samus in Other M is that she “talks too much.”

    “Also, Samus has stripped down to revealing attire in games post-Super Metroid. See: Metroid Fusion. ”

    I don’t see that much as revealing. It’s just a Bare-midriff shirt and some shorts. Since you failed to make the connection between past and present, you’d see Nintendo actually moving away from the over-sexualization of previous games. Since you also consider her spacesuit, skin-tight as it is yet covering every inch of her body, as also being sexualized, you sort of condemn the creators into a double bind where they literally can’t clothe her at all because nothing they do will be “right.”

    “I just think maybe Samus doesn’t need to take all her clothes off or be given a set of ridiculous bolt-ons in Smash Bros Brawl. Link and Mario don’t have to be overtly sexual to be successful, so why should Samus?”

    Because it’s a new part of her moveset? She doesn’t strip naked. Hell it;s basically the same thing Zelda does. What’s the issue here?

    “And Zero Mission gave us the skin-tight Zero Suit, in which Samus has been flaunting her hyper-inflated chest ever since.”

    “Flaunting?” She just has them. I’ve never seen this flaunting and I’m somewhat worried as to what your definition of “flaunting” would be if this is or standard of it.

  8. Chelsea says:

    Jeff,

    “Maybe just you, but this issue has been an IGN chestnut for decades. They keep whining and demanding voice acting in Zelda so much that they are obsessed with it. Also think about the unintended message you are communicating when you say the problem with Samus in Other M is that she “talks too much.””

    Yeah, IGN seems to have this weird idea in their heads that Link’s tradition of not talking needs to be changed. I don’t agree with them, but they’re entitled to their opinions.

    Also, my problem with Samus in Other M was not simply that she was talking. I was excited about the idea of seeing more of her back story, and seeing her character fleshed out… until I actually played the game and cringed whenever I heard all that terrible dialogue (not just from Samus, but all the characters in the game). It was cheesy, inconsistent and just very poorly written. Maybe another developer could write better lines for Samus that I’d enjoy listening to, but Team Ninja is apparently not that developer. I am definitely not against the idea of characters speaking, as long as they are given quality dialogue.

    “I don’t see that much as revealing. It’s just a Bare-midriff shirt and some shorts.”

    The point is, you are rewarded in Metroid Fusion by seeing Samus take of more of her clothes the better you played the game. And as a female gamer, that bothers me. It’s not a bikini but the fact remains that she is taking her clothes off and posing seductively. Whether you enjoy that probably depends on a) whether you are male, and b) how much cheesy sex-selling you’re willing to tolerate in otherwise enjoyable entertainment. For instance, I don’t really enjoy the DoA fighting series but if I did, I wouldn’t want to be seen playing it by anyone I respect, because it would be embarrassing. Same way I wouldn’t want to be seen watching Striptease. And yes, I already know people will say “you’re just a big prude” or “the human body is natural!”, but the fact is there is nothing “natural” about the women fighters’ appearance in DoA, nor am I required to want to see women stripping or wearing almost nothing over their cartoonishly proportioned bodies.

    “Since you also consider her spacesuit, skin-tight as it is yet covering every inch of her body, as also being sexualized, you sort of condemn the creators into a double bind where they literally can’t clothe her at all because nothing they do will be “right.””

    I don’t think that’s true. Samus in her Chozo space suit looks just fine. It’s not some woman running around in a mini skirt and halter top with giant boobs hanging out while fighting, and that’s why I enjoy her look in the Metroid series: her armor, as crazily stylized as it is, could actually be conceived as functioning as armor and not just a way for the male developers to show off her body.

    “Because it’s a new part of her moveset? She doesn’t strip naked. Hell it;s basically the same thing Zelda does. What’s the issue here?”

    Haha, I wasn’t talking about the fact that she takes off the Chozo suit to reveal the Zero Suit. I understand that’s part of her moves as a character in Brawl. I’m talking about the tradition (that appeared in Metroid, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, and Zero Mission) in which you are rewarded for playing better by seeing less clothing on Samus in the ending.

    And I didn’t think I’d really have to spell this out, but just because an outfit covers every inch of a woman’s body doesn’t mean it can’t be so revealing that she might as well be naked. Do a Google image search on Soul Calibur Taki if you don’t believe me. While at least Nintendo has spared me the indignity of having to look at Samus’s nipples through her shirt, her painted-on Zero Suit appearance in both Zero Mission and Brawl have taken her in a very obviously more sexual direction, which apologists are defending by virtue of the fact that it’s not a bikini. As Taki proves, that doesn’t mean it’s not revealing.

    ““Flaunting?” She just has them. I’ve never seen this flaunting and I’m somewhat worried as to what your definition of “flaunting” would be if this is or standard of it.”

    http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080329182437/uncyclopedia/images/f/fa/Wii_zero_suit_Samus_ARAN.jpg
    I realize Samus is a collection of pixels, not a real person, and therefore cannot “flaunt” anything herself. But whoever designed this pose and then artificially sucked all the air out of her costume so it hugged every last exaggerated curve did it with one very clear purpose in mind. There are women in real life who are “well endowed” but actually manage to wear clothing that don’t draw attention to this fact with wardrobes that consist of all plunging necklines and skin-tight apparel. You know the difference when you see it.

  9. Starr Spark says:

    “Whether you enjoy that probably depends on a) whether you are male, and b) how much cheesy sex-selling you’re willing to tolerate in otherwise enjoyable entertainment.”

    I am a female, and I very much enjoy women taking their clothes off. Granted, I’m bi, but don’t assume all women are mortally offended by sexy game chicks.

    “There are women in real life who are “well endowed” but actually manage to wear clothing that don’t draw attention to this fact with wardrobes that consist of all plunging necklines and skin-tight apparel.”

    Sure, there is a time and place for particular apparel, but a well-endowed woman shouldn’t HAVE to hide her body–why should she be ashamed of what she has? Because other women don’t have as much? Because some men (or women) might–GASP–get turned on? We can’t advance women in society by telling some to feel better about what they were born with while telling others to hide it or you make everyone else feel bad (or really, really good).

    And your picture link… what you take from that depends on who you are. I see a juxtaposition of cute/girly (ponytails with some free hair always say this to me), sexy (the body) and strong/defiant (the facial expression and the very obvious gun with a finger on the trigger). It seems we both read it as “Come get some”… but I think Samus is referring to an ass-kicking, not sexual advances.

  10. Chelsea says:

    “Granted, I’m bi, but don’t assume all women are mortally offended by sexy game chicks.”

    To be clear, I’m not mortally offended by sexy game chicks. I’m annoyed by how game developers insist on cheapening their games by throwing in totally pointless, gratuitous semi-nudity. By your logic, why not throw naked women into every movie and game? After all, men and women like looking at boobs, so clearly entertainment can only be improved by adding as many naked, huge-breasted women as possible.

    “Sure, there is a time and place for particular apparel, but a well-endowed woman shouldn’t HAVE to hide her body–why should she be ashamed of what she has?”

    Well, strictly speaking about video game characters here, video game girls aren’t real people. Pixels on a screen can’t be proud or ashamed of anything. What I’m really getting it is what those 36G breasted, barely-clothed characters represent, and why all the male developers CHOSE to give them 36G breasts and ridiculous outfits instead of proportional chest sizes and realistic apparel. They could have just as easily chose to make female game characters look attractive AND realistic, but instead they generally choose to make them a bunch of advertisements for lower back pain, because why bother taking the time to focus on story, dialogue and character development when you can just give every female star a virtual boob job and call it a day.

    As for real-life women that are well-endowed, it is possible to be proud of the way you look without dressing like a prostitute. Just because an attractive woman doesn’t do battle in lingerie doesn’t mean she’s ashamed of the way she looks. It probably means she has some self-respect. But in video games, as in real life, classy women that have an appearance of self-respect who are not willing to show skin to get ahead are ignored in favor of women who show off their “goods” at every possible opportunity, sleep their way to the top and engage in other morally questionable behavior in a series of moves that they and their defenders will refer to as “just using what’s at their disposal”.

    At the end of the day, will most men (and some women) enjoy staring at a bunch of female game characters with ludicrous breasts running around in skimpy bikinis? Absolutely. Will it sell and be profitable because of that? You bet. But it does not advance the status of videogames as a story-telling medium with memorable characters on par with the best movies out there, it does nothing at all to discourage the objectification of women (but hey, according to most guys, objectifying women with T&A at every turn is apparently awesome, so who cares, right?), and it reinforces the stereotype that videogames are nothing but a plaything for immature 13 year old boys.

  11. Jeff says:

    “Stuff about voice acting in Other M”

    Well you are entitled to your opinion, but I thought the voice work was above average. I know the bar is set pretty high when it comes to Nintendo franchises, but in comparison to some other games I thought it was ok, and lots of reviewers thought so too so I know I’m not alone.

    “The point is, you are rewarded in Metroid Fusion by seeing Samus take of more of her clothes the better you played the game. And as a female gamer, that bothers me.”

    Unfortunately Nintendo is locked in by tradition, because their big brave first step in making the first non-sexualized female protagonist was revealed in such a way. And if you are bothered, well, it’s probably best to not take it personally, especially since then Nintendo hasn’t done it much since. And I think you are using rather charged words like “seductive” when most of the time she’s just kind of standing around and being pretty. She’s not cupping her breasts or spreading her legs or anything, so I agree with Starr and wondering just what you are seeing in these pictures that makes you think that way.

    “Stuff about Taki And Samus’s suit”

    I disagree that Samus and Taki’s suit are anything like each other. But rather than comment on your opinion of how a completely covering bodysuit is uber sexualized, I’d simply ask what the solution is. IF a Bikini is too sexual, yet a full bodysuit is also sexual, and so are shorts and a midriff… What’s the answer? Samus running around in a t-Shirt and baggy jeans? On a space station? Does that even make sense? (BTW the men in that game also had skintight suits. As well as quite a few of the men in Soul Calibur.)

    Speaking of which, in a later post you ask about “realistic apparel.” Well I hate to break this to you, but a skintight bodysuit IS realistic apparel for a space-farer like Samus and any other Astronaut. Real Astronauts have a wear a suit so tight they can’t even take them off to piss, so they piss right there in them.

    “What I’m really getting it is what those 36G breasted, barely-clothed characters represent, and why all the male developers CHOSE to give them 36G”

    36G? Is that how big you think Samus’ breasts are? Jeeez. Not even in that picture does she get anywhere close to that. What are you raving about?

    “As for real-life women that are well-endowed, it is possible to be proud of the way you look without dressing like a prostitute.”

    Speaking of prostitutes, I wonder if you think GTA does worse for women than games where women are to protagonists. Because in those games women are treated at their worst, as items for men to use. Maybe that’s where the focus should be instead of trying to throw female characters who have made it into stardom under the bus for not being absolutely 100% perfect.

  12. Starr Spark says:

    That picture of Samus looks a C, maybe a D… nowhere near a G

    http://www.bigbustsupport.com/image-files/breast_size_chart.jpg

    haha

    However, other games have had chicks which obviously huge breasts, fighting games in particular. However, those games are far from realistic, unless you wanna argue that there really are people out there that shoot lightning from their hands. It’s a caricature/fantasy, much like the men have impossibly huge muscles (unless they’re on some serious steroids, I guess) and everyone gets fantastic air-time when jumping. It’s not meant to be realistic, which is the point–if we wanted to be real and boring, we wouldn’t be playing games, now would we? (Don’t argue The Sims here, they’re not realistic either)

    “Just because an attractive woman doesn’t do battle in lingerie doesn’t mean she’s ashamed of the way she looks. It probably means she has some self-respect”

    Clothing yourself to hide your body does not mean you have self-respect any more than not clothing yourself means you don’t have any self-respect. How do you explain nudists? Self-respect has nothing to do with clothes.

    “But in video games, as in real life, classy women that have an appearance of self-respect who are not willing to show skin to get ahead are ignored in favor of women who show off their “goods” at every possible opportunity, sleep their way to the top and engage in other morally questionable behavior in a series of moves that they and their defenders will refer to as “just using what’s at their disposal”.”

    You can’t single men out of this one, men do “whatever it takes” too. But don’t fault people for using what they’ve got. That’s like saying “Here, we’re having a math test today. However, you’re smarter than everyone else; you need to not do as well as you could so others won’t feel bad about you doing better.” You can’t tell other people to not live up to their potential, even if all they have is looks. Hell, you kinda gotta feel sorry for them. Looks fade over time… people get smarter over time. They’re depreciating in value while smart/skilled/hard-working people gain value.

  13. -_Q says:

    Seriously, the power suit looks pretty cramped and sweaty. She’d be kicking off her boots and relaxin at the end of her mission, no doubt. Anybody would be dying to get out of that suit.

    The only thing unrealistic about Samus stripping down to underwear at the end of a game is the lack of refreshing beverage in hand.

  14. Chelsea says:

    Haha, yeah you guys are right. There was nothing unrealistic at all about the fact that Samus’s Zero Suit had high heels added into it for Metroid: Other M. Now she’s taller which I’m sure helps her out as she’s running round shooting Space Pirates. Obviously there’s nothing sexual or impractical about that at all. Even though both male friends I know who watched the cutscenes laughed hysterically during her gratuitous “ass shots”, and commented on how great those heels made her ass look. Nope, nothing distracting or ridiculous here!

    You guys clearly will find away to justify anything, even finding a way to argue with the obvious fact that confident women don’t walk around 24 hours a day in a bra and panties, suggesting instead that if they don’t, then obviously they must be ashamed of themselves. Not much of a rational argument there so I think this “discussion” has run its course.

  15. Starr Spark says:

    Actually Chelsea, I think our arguments have been more logic-based, while yours are more feeling-based.

    Yes, it is highly impractical to fight/run around in high heels. However, you have not been talking about heels until now, but rather about her big breasts and bodysuit.

    “You guys clearly will find away to justify anything, even finding a way to argue with the obvious fact that confident women don’t walk around 24 hours a day in a bra and panties, suggesting instead that if they don’t, then obviously they must be ashamed of themselves.”

    While I cannot speak for anyone else, I have not argued that at all. I just don’t see your rationalization that a woman must cover all signs of female sexuality in order to be considered a confident, self-respecting person. I’m curious as to what your opinion of make-up is. But to be entirely fair, I spend most of my time wearing only panties, so maybe I’m just biased.

  16. Jeff says:

    I concur with Starr. You aren’t reasonably arguing your points or responding to ours.

    You might have a point about Samus in her high wedge heels except for two things. One, for 95% of the game she’s in her power suit as well, which amplifies her abilities. The suit itself doesn’t have high heels and even if they did she’s more than capable enough with the suit’s power to fight effectively, which leads into my next point.

    Metroid is from Japan, and most Japanese martial arts concentrate on the balls of your feet. I know being a practitioner of judo myself. This goes for karate and kendo and others as well. This is why female Japanese martial artists have the least problems with wearing heels, considering that’s how they practice anyway.

    Remember that I do agree that gaming does often give female characters a raw deal, but I disagree that Samus is the one getting it, outside a few cheesecake-y type screens of her in a few of her earlier games. This is why I wonder why there is this intense effort to critique Samus when there are games out there that actually do treat female game characters as nothing but eye-candy or items.

    But I do still have that one question. What is the correct way? It’s a fine thing to reactively point out flaws, but it’s much harder to actually give a correct path. What is the solution to this mess? You seem to have thought it through, so I imagine you do have some sort of answer. If so, what is it?

  17. CaptainTruth says:

    I concur with Chelsea. And I am shocked to see the comments section has been derailed into a debate over boring (heels) and who cares (judo, yawn). I should also add that I’m not actually shocked- that was a little thing called sarcasm. I feel I should state that clearly, considering how completely everyone missed the point of this article. I’m looking at you Jeffstarr.

    Watching one of the worlds most influential industries consistently and deliberately pander to an audience of glorified middle school students is wretched. The non-existence of a “real” female protagonist in videogames is insulting. And the woman actually in videogames have become little more than caricatures. When you defend that absence by saying, “Sexy and Strong aren’t mutually exclusive blahblah” you miss the freaking point.

    Videogames are without a mainstream “real” woman hero. No Sarah Connor is coming to save the day. No Ellen Ripley to kill those gosh-darn Aliens. Just a cast of characters that is too pathetic to even look at.

    So you can just keep buying games like Bayonetta (1.35m units sold!) if you want. I’m sure all those heaving digital breasts will be a comfort as you watch the role of female protagonist diminish into nothingness.

    or to paraphrase, as Jiminy Cricket once sang, “Always let your GENITALS be your guide.”

  18. Jeff says:

    Uhm… well there’s just not much to say to a retort like that. What’s with the assumption that I’m sockpuppeting Starr?

    Anyway, first of all it was Chelsea who brought up heels, so you take that up with her. And you may think judo is boring but it was a relevant to my point, and I love practicing judo so you can go soak your head.

    Thing is, I agree that female protagonists are few and far between, and the best designed ones aren’t perfect. But to throw them under the bus while you blindly ignore problems a bit more pressing (Games like GTA and God of War literally using them as sexual objects to be used by men) seems a bit counteractive. Samus and Jill Valentine IMO are the best and here really haven’t been any problems with them other than overly ideological analysis.

    I do have a few issues with your “ideal” character types, though. Sarah Conner is a target of the Terminator in both of the movies because HER SON will grow up to be some kind of great hero. In the first movie it’s actually Reese that does all the dirty work, and in the Second movie it’s the Terminator that does all the dirty work. She’s killed off before the third movie even begins. That’s not much of a heroine, really.

    As for Ellen Ripley, well… I can defeat her status in your eyes with a single image.

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_ek5O2C3F5aY/TPrdocBqIoI/AAAAAAAABMk/-DUCVPHj1K0/s1600/Sigourney+Weaver+Alien.jpg

    What was this Infendo story about again?

    Actually, this story is about a strawman argument, really. It presents the design of male heroes as overly complex and the design of female characters as idiotically simple. Sure some crappy characters are designed (see GTA) but that’s true of male characters too (such as all those guys in Gears of War, who basically have the same musculature and different heads). I think this is a subject that is worth pursing, but only in an even handed way without name-calling or reactionary and insulting retorts.

  19. -_Q says:

    When gamers stop supporting games that portray “degrading,” “over-sexualized” women (or men, for that matter) then the industry will respond.

    As long as gamers keep buying Bayonetta and the next Soul Calibur, what else do we honestly expect to happen?

    There is demand, apparently. As a man, I find characters like Taki and Ivy more idiotic than insulting, but people need to understand that outrage and internet discussions will hardly change anything.

    If movies started CGI-ing bigger boobs onto every actress and suddenly profits went up, you better believe that Hollywood will be putting that new feature into every film.

    Once the issue becomes a big enough “moral dilemma” for gamers that they are actually willing to sacrifice buying a “good game” because it has hyper-sexualized characters, then we may actually start seeing some change.

    Developers make the games, but gamers determine which developers KEEP making games.

  20. Jeff says:

    Considering the weapons-grade complaining that happens were you ever to try and make a female character the protagonist of a game if she displays too much femininity or not enough or is too sexual or not enough… is it any wonder why game makers are hesitant to even try?

  21. Starr Spark says:

    I really don’t have anything left to say in this, but how did me and Jeff suddenly morph into a single being? rofl

    If it’s because we agree on the same issue, it’s not that hard understand that logical thinking can turn out similar results… hell, irrational thinking can result in the same thoughts too. I guess someone doesn’t like people with dissenting viewpoints…

  22. Starr Spark says:

    Oh, sorry for double-posting, but I do have a solution to this issue. Just allow players to create the character(s) from the start, similar to the Sims (I know, I know, such a fluff game but it’s got a fun people-creator). Games don’t have to be gender-specific at all; storylines don’t hinge on characters being one gender or the other usually, and if it is (say, you’re rescuing your significant other) then all you have to do is switch out some npcs in the game (instead of rescuing a gf, you’re rescuing a bf instead… or hell, maybe still be a gf if you want, could be lesbians, yay for equality). Then, people look like whatever the hell you want, and if the storyline subjugates certain characters it can be turns around to what the player wants.

    I SOOOO wanna be the Average Looking but Smart as Hell Chick that rescues her Slightly Below Average Looking but Funny as Crap BF.

  23. Chelsea says:

    “I guess someone doesn’t like people with dissenting viewpoints…”

    Wrong. However, I do have a problem with people who look down their noses on others and act like they’re the only ones with a solid grip on logical thinking. Especially when your and Jeff’s ideas of “logic” suggests that being naked is the epitome of self-confidence (guess that means strippers should be every girl’s role model then, because look how self-confident they are with their sexuality), and you have the audacity to suggest that wearing high heels is realistic for a female fighter (because look at how many real life martial artists wear high heels in the ring… oh wait, no they don’t), despite the fact that a) Samus isn’t Japanese, b) Samus isn’t doing Judo, and c) Judo practitioners do not wear high heels.

    And since as I already said, it is a complete waste of time to try to have a serious debate with people who don’t operate with the bounds of logic or respond intelligently to my points, instead trying to justify everything they say with non-reality based suggestions such as claiming that high heels could be realistic because they take Judo (lol), there is no reason whatsoever to continue talking about this.

    So to be clear, I am not conceding defeat; I’ve already made my points and you have chosen to respond with “arguments” not based on anything found in reality, or responding to arguments I never made (for instance, you keep claiming nobody wants to play as an ugly or average looking character, a point I NEVER supported or tried to suggest). My points still stand, and I am bowing out of this argument confident that nothing I’ve said has actually been refuted in any serious manner.

  24. Starr Spark says:

    Hrm…

    “Especially when your and Jeff’s ideas of “logic” suggests that being naked is the epitome of self-confidence (guess that means strippers should be every girl’s role model then, because look how self-confident they are with their sexuality), and you have the audacity to suggest that wearing high heels is realistic for a female fighter (because look at how many real life martial artists wear high heels in the ring…”

    Me and Jeff are separate people. As such, no I did NOT suggest that wearing high heels is realistic for a female fighter… I in fact said: “Yes, it is highly impractical to fight/run around in high heels. However, you have not been talking about heels until now, but rather about her big breasts and bodysuit.”

    And I’m not /suggesting/ anything about clothing or lack thereof… I’m saying outright: “Clothing yourself to hide your body does not mean you have self-respect any more than not clothing yourself means you don’t have any self-respect. How do you explain nudists? Self-respect has nothing to do with clothes.”

    Your points may stand, but only as your opinion; all of our points are merely opinion. However, the very fact that you completely dismiss anyone who doesn’t agree with you just shows who is really looking down their nose at others.

  25. Jeff says:

    There’s really no point in arguing anymore if the other side just wants to thrash around, throw insults and deliberately misread or misinterpret points in order to have further, fruitless argument.

    So there’s nothing really more to be said. But I’ll finish by saying that ignoring the presence and progress of a few of the female characters that have made it into the mainstream and damning them for not being 100% perfect is counterproductive. If you analyze what you’ve said in this comment section, Chelsea, you should notice that you’ve certainly critiqued fashion more than most. IF you were to do this in real life, the feminists you are trying to emulate and would probably like to be counted amount would say you are actually doing the chauvinists’ work for them.

    It would be as if you went to the top colleges in the U.S., rounded up all the women in them, and told them they were dressing too slutty. You are reinforcing that these women, fictional or nonfictional, are to be judged by their looks instead of their actions. In a sense you are focusing purely on the victims of the very system you seek to criticize. Even if you are attacking the fictional characters as a means of critique of the creators, you actually haven’t named any of them yet, so there’s really no point if there is no target. Lastly, if your point is to attack fans of these characters or those like me and Starr who disagree, then you’ll need to phrase your arguments in a way that comes off more positively. Negativity just leads to your opponents digging their heels in and nothing will get solved.

    Take this as a learning experience.

  26. Blake (not that Blake) says:

    Wow – I have to agree with Chelsea, it seems like you guys are reaching for anything to justify the objectification of women in games. If anyone thinks that Samus’s Zero suit is designed for “practicality” they are fooling themselves.

    Lets move away from Samus for a minute and look at the bigger picture. Look at MMOs and other RPGs, the armor that the female characters have wouldn’t protect them from the rain, let alone an attack (e.g., Fran in FF12 or Guild Wars characters). Look at almost any woman in any fighting game. Compare characters like Eliot & Brad in Dead or Alive 4 to Lisa or Kasumi. Yes, I know that there are “idealized” men in the game too, but not to the same extent. I mean, where is the female equivalent of Gen Fu 🙂

    Is this to say that there are no well-designed female game characters that don’t objectify women (e.g., Jill Valentine or Alyx Vance), but they are in the minority in current video games.

  27. Jeff says:

    “Wow – I have to agree with Chelsea, it seems like you guys are reaching for anything to justify the objectification of women in games.”

    Well this is a nice generic statement except I’m pretty sure I said that there are some games that objectify women, particularly ones that cast them as “power-up” prostitutes for the main character to use and throw away. That, is objectification. I think it would do well to actually look up what objectification means according to feminist theory before attempting to apply it here..

    “If anyone thinks that Samus’s Zero suit is designed for “practicality” they are fooling themselves. ”

    I don’t believe anybody said it was “practical” but I’m still wondering why we demand practicality from such fantasy science fiction things such as Metroid. Again I have to point out that Metroid is from Japan, where they treat outer space much more like a backdrop than in Western Science Fiction Traditions (Actually, much like Star Wars does). It’s always sticky to apply western political ideologies and societal views on a culture that has many differences from our own, as you run the risk of ethnocentrism.

    IF we’re still on about the high heel thing again, I actually talked with a friend of mine and this friend said Samus would sit higher up in the suit (which BTW amplifies her strength, so it wouldn’t matter anyway.) But if you’ll reply that I’m just not “getting it,” then I can point out that Musketeers in France before the French Revolution fought in these goofy little shoe add-ons called “pattens” and essentially fought in heels all the time, and they were very much a formidable fighting force.

    “Lets move away from Samus for a minute and look at the bigger picture. Look at MMOs and other RPGs, the armor that the female characters have wouldn’t protect them from the rain, let alone an attack (e.g., Fran in FF12 or Guild Wars characters). ”

    Well actually my only involvement was with Samus. There are many arguments to be made in support of your claims, as are there many defenses as well (for example, many Greek warriors went to fight completely naked) but that’s not the scope of my involvement, so I won’t argue.

    “Look at almost any woman in any fighting game. Compare characters like Eliot & Brad in Dead or Alive 4 to Lisa or Kasumi. Yes, I know that there are “idealized” men in the game too, but not to the same extent.”

    I disagree. Basically you are denying the sexual objectification of men in these games. They are shown with rippling impossible muscles, sometimes shirtless, and stern expressions, as is the masculine stereotype. From the gay man’s perspective, there is no greater titillation than seeing a buff chest, six-pack abs and toned thighs. And a lot of these games are full of that. I’m suspecting a little heteronormativity here.

    “Is this to say that there are no well-designed female game characters that don’t objectify women (e.g., Jill Valentine or Alyx Vance), but they are in the minority in current video games.”

    I even agree here (although Alyx Vance? Really? She doesn’t even do much in that game except talk and wave a magic science wand.) but that’s a separate issue as to whether they are being objectified our not.

  28. Malik says:

    I’m sorry, but the whole Mass Effect Series and mainly the female protagonist Shepard puts this article to shame. Have fun playing it, which you should’ve done 4 years ago.

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