The “Girls in Games” debate is a tired one, to be sure. In decades past we’ve seen armies of pixelated DD breasts developed, perpetuated, and fought over. Always the argument boils down to progressives calling game females hurtful stereotypes and setters of unrealistic standards, and more traditional gamers asserting that it’s all in good fun.
To be honest, I don’t know where I stand on the debate. The logical rationalist side of me believes that the media we are subjected to does change our opinions and views of the world we live in, and that being regularly bombarded by images of girls with “perfect figures” could have a negative impact on our perception of reality. But then the high-fiving Neanderthal of a 22-year old male gamer side of me – well, he loves boobs.
This is a trend of course that exists not only in the world of games, but in the world of movies, television, magazines, and comics. OH MY GOD does it exist in comics. I grew up reading X-Men and Spiderman and the occasional Punisher but it wasn’t until I was in about high school that I started to really pay attention to the pattern. Girls with pencil-thin waistlines and cantaloupes on top, and guys with cobblestone abs and biceps like Cool J.
(Emma Frost, telepathic prostitute with skin of diamonds and breath of Courvoisier.)
The only person in the entirety of the X-Men universe who isn’t cut like Brad Pitt is Blob, and that’s his fucking superpower. The way Bruce Banner and Peter Parker are drawn they’d be pulling super models in the real world, and they’re supposed to be the dumpy nerds of their respective universes. So there you go guys score one for you too, shed a tear of hurt inadequacy at your objectification.
What I want to know is not whether this is a problem, or whether people are upset about it. I know full well it’s a problem, and you’re fucking right people are upset about it. Girls are starving themselves over toilet bowls to look like Cosmo models and Supergirl for guys who are hiding from them because Chris Redfield and Wolverine called them pussies and stole their lunch money.
What I want to know is – can anything be done about it? Has this train gotten so far from station that everyone’ll jump off if it turns around? Lots of us are crying out for more realism – we want to play people like us so we don’t feel like jerks for not hittin’ up the gym on a Thursday night. We want our boyfriends and girlfriends to stop swooning over people who have the advantage of having been created on CryEngine 3 with sex-hotness in mind.
(Steroids for breakfast, steroids for lunch.)
I admit I applauded (no not actually out loud you jerks) when I read about the Lara Croft reboot – it sounded like a very mature and interesting direction to go with a character who has practically led the booby charge since 19DD. But I was surprised to see some of my fellow progressives go even further with their demands. “She still looks like a super model,” they said, “it’s still incredibly unrealistic.”
Friends, there are SOME pretty girls in the world. And some of them DO actually do things besides rub on Hugh Heffner, that lucky fuck. In fact I know some pretty badass chicks who not only love rock-climbing and shooting guns, but are also extremely hot and love rock-climbing and shooting guns. Am I dating any of them? Nooo, but then I didn’t say the world was perfect now did I?
(Awesome girls being awesome.)
My point is I don’t think we need to go so far as to demand that every character is made to be hideous and inferior to us in order to boost our own egos. I personally think of it as a little incentive. We all have a drive to be like the people we idolize. We try in subtle ways to emulate them, whether it be their attitude, their hair, or their physical fitness. If you hit the gym a couple more times a week so you can try look like Chloe Frazer or Solid Snake (sans the mullet), I honestly don’t see that as a problem. So long as it doesn’t get out of control. There’s nothing healthy about obsession.
(Though I could see how someone could be obsessed by her.)
Suppose we did try to make EVERYTHING more realistic. And all the X-Men had kind of a ponch, and Nathan Drake’s fingers didn’t have the strength of Zeus to keep him glued to all those thin ledges. Suppose we all had to watch Lara Croft’s freshman-fifteen jiggle in her spandex “pants” as she huffed around some island looking for cell phone service.
There is a line for the suspension of disbelief. On one side of it there are women who by all rights should be wearing back braces to support their titanic bust. And on the other side there are couch-potato heroes saving the world by sheer force of happening to be the protagonist. Do you see what I’m saying? There’s always a compromise.
(Dear Christ don't let this happen.)
The gaming and comic industries have been around for a long time, and their content has never exactly been as concerned with realism as it is now in the age of Hi-Def. These days we can even be made to feel guilty in 3D. So the argument that people’s self-esteem may be at stake is justified, as is the argument that we have always liked it this way.
So what do we do? I think developers have been making good strides toward a standard of fairness and sensitivity overall. We’re seeing more Elena Fisher and less Sonya Blade. People Can Fly’s Trischka went through several transformations before Bulletstorm’s release in order to end up with a much more reasonable yet still very attractive final product.
But I’m curious to hear what others think about the direction we’re headed. Is it the right thing to do – cuttin’ in on everyone’s booby-loving fun? Or is it a dose of the future, and is that future a homely one indeed? Supposedly the voice of the people can change things, and Destructoid here has given us the opportunity to do just that, so speak up ;)
But seriously Cosmo, Dove, L’Oreal – quit airbrush and jaw-line editing all your models. You’re cheating. That’s called cheating.