As both Sara and I enjoyed playing Soul Calibur 2, we picked up a copy Soul Calibur IV for the X-Box 360 at GameStop yesterday.
We didn’t do any research into it, just going on the strength of the fun we had playing Soul Calibur 2 together.
Both of us were aware of the rather revealing costumes the female characters wear in 2 and were prepared for more of the same in 4 but when the developers upgraded the games, they “upgraded” the female characters as well.
All of the females clothes have gotten skimpier, some are practically non-existent and they have all had massive boob jobs. Some digital plastic surgeon made a ton of cash on this lot. (FYI: This game is rated teen).
Neither of us mind this. We accept it.
It’s part and parcel of the gaming world and the characters are obviously designed to get teenage boys to part with their pocket money and games companies have been developing female characters in much the same way since drawing the cover art on Commodore 64 cassettes.
Yet, in light of the ever ongoing discussion about the lack of women in tech, I wonder how games like this affect girls wanting to enter the games design industry?
I can’t think of many strong female characters in video games that don’t come equipped with the kind of rack that wouldn’t result in instant, debilitating back pain for any woman who tried to perform strenuous activity without a specially constructed bra.
I also can’t think of many female characters (any?) who’s clothes are impractically tight, defy logic, aren’t ultra revealing or fall off at the drop of a hat.
Again, I understand why the game designers do this but in todays world, where young women and girls are bombarded by the media into comparing themselves to impossibly airbrushed and photoshopped models, why on earth would they want control a character with a body that defies the very laws of physics?
I know men are also “perfected” by video game designers. Bigger muscles, waxed chests, nobody ever has a hairy back or a weak jawline, but you never see a male character with an impossibly large penis either?
We never see Ryu beat the crap of Ken with a bulge in his pants so large that he should not be be able to walk, let alone to kick, but we are expected to believe that these women can stand up without falling over under the weight of their breasts?
In most cases their boobs are so big they couldn’t swing a sword without slicing their own nipples off, well, not unless their arms are long enough that their knuckles scrape the ground when they walk.
Why would young women ever want to enter a male dominated industry such as games design when the characters we create today make them compare themselves to an impossible fantasy?
Sara, rightly so, finds such characters a turn off to playing video games. I have seen Gabby, who is the target age group of the game, deliberately select characters in games that have more clothes on, because the skimpy costumes are off putting.
The argument may be made that in the tech industry, the lack of a strong female to male ratio can be laid, partially, at the feet of women who simply don’t enter the industry or being willing enough to take risks compared to men, despite preferential treatment in some cases. (Yes there are multiple sides to this argument, men could do better, but then again, so could women and this post is not one that I intend to debate that in.)
In the games industry the same argument cannot be made. Women may make up the majority of social gamers, but they are seriously under represented on the developer and designer front.
Gabby is an amazing drawer and potentially would make an awesome games designer (if she doesn’t end up as a graphic novel artist first – look out Frank Miller).
Despite the fact that the games industry may be a more lucrative career I can understand why she would not want to go down that route.
Why would she want to enter an industry that actively promotes an impossible physical standard, makes her compare herself to the fantasy of people who we can only assume have never talked to a real women, let alone dated one?
Why would she enter that world when the very games they produce push her away?
Hopefully we will see change in this area. It would be great to see big title games that target women that aren’t just Farmville or bejeweled clones.
How about a Tekken style game featuring women that actually look and dress like the women at real martial arts competitions?