There's much ado about breasts and exaggerated anatomy in the recent articles from games journos. Much of the ado is about how we are now facing such a pandemic problem of female objectification and we need to have an adult conversation on the matter. Now is the time. Yes, now. Not back when a pixellated Custer sought to exact his revenge on an equally as blocky Indian woman tied to a cactus. No. It certainly wasn't back when Samus would appear in various stages of undress based on how well the gamer performed. No. It wasn't even when Dragon's Crown was announced in 2011 as a spiritual successor to Princess Crown from 1997. No. It wasn't even time from this when Brenda Romero cried foul at "gaming enthusiast" models traipsing about a YetiZen party. No. Now is the time to put on big boy pants and sit in brown leather chairs against a backdrop of dusty volumes and smoke pipes of tobacco and talk about the price of tea and China and... oh yes, boobs.
It's not even about boobs. The men in these critiques of female objectification revel in the sexualization. They plaster huge header images of the Sorceress and her jugs. They pass along animations of jiggling and gyration. They condemn these images as disgusting examples of the prurient. "When, Gods? When?" goes out the cry. "When will our sacred video game industry grow up and out of this rubbish? When can I play an adventure game in front of my daughter and not feel like a skeezoid." Surely, these images are old and tired. We've had enough in the 1970's. Can't we move on to something more positive and wholesome. These guys, they're like the townie sewing circle of the Elvira movie. They stamp out anything dirty and politically incorrect, but they do so for the approval of each other and the audience. I assure you, when the keyboard and monitor shutdown, these guys return to a world along the lines of Peyton Place. It's commendable to be an upstanding pillar of morals, but don't go throwing water on somebody else's fun. It's probably best to let people fight for themselves. Women and gays are speaking out on the issues, but it's these men that rush to the banner and wave it proudly like Old Glory.
To me, the maturation of the industry is one that will naturally occur. We can't expect every game to be the work of American Zoetrope. Not everything will look as good or have the depth of story that these guys want. We're going to have a bit of John Waters every now and then, and that's OK. In fact, the true adulthood of the games industry is where the American Zoetrope games can stand side-by-side with the John Waters games. It's an adulthood where everyone has: access, representation, and a voice.
Personally, I'm disappointed by some of the gay men who have spoken up on the subject. This is exaggeration in artwork. It's something we revel in, the absurd and over the top. I feel like in our quest for equality we've adapted to a puritan set of ideals. We shouldn't be pointing fingers and shaming George Kamitani for his art. This is so, because we would then turn around and flip on Drag Race to scream, "Werk!" and the top of our lungs. Or maybe not, but then why would that be? It's all in good fun and comedic and satirical. Call no drag queen a misogynist, cause she's already walked more than a mile in high heels!
The real bluster, however, is centered around this incestuous nature of the gaming press. Why even in this blog post, I am explicitly fornicating verbally with my cousins once or twice removed. We have such a predilection to report on each other during slow news days. And yes, there is a place for healthy trash talking among competition. What I don't like is the invention of an issue when everyone else is discussing the new hotness. As I said, Dragon's Crown was announced in 2011 and the Sorceress has not (thankfully) had a boob job since then. In today's discussion, one blogger decides to educate his audience on the "real" issues at hand. in the midst of that educational presentation, he launches an allegation that the artist must be a 14-year old boy. This allegation instigates some playful ribbing. so, the artist and president of the gaming company decides to respond in kind. Maybe you prefer muscle men over big breasts, implies a Facebook post. Ah! But here comes blog number #2 in Phoenix Wright style, "OBJECTION!" You say my colleague may like muscle men, blogger #2 smirks and pats a print out with the back of his hand. Don't you mean that you think my colleague is gay and by gay I mean "BAD," blogger #2 strikes j'accuse pose. His arm outstretched and with a piercing gaze, blogger #2 holds his daughter in the other arms. She is in full regalia a la Cosette from Les Mis. Cue dramatic chipmunk.
Oh why can't we just grow up? Can't we develop more than two reactions to cleavage in games. The first reaction is to cover our mouths and snicker. The other reaction is to run like a horse from a burning barn. It's not the boobs, boys. It's how you perceive them. Women don't just dress this way to arouse men. For arousal of a partner, women can have relationships with more than just men. A woman can also feel confident and own her sexuality. the image of a sorceress conveys to me that sexuality is a weapon in this woman's arsenal. Or wait... could it be something else? Could it be that sexualization and objectification along these lines flies in the face of your pre-conceived beauty myth? Could it be that the outrage against big breasts is some veiled attack against full-bodied women? I think I should save that topic for some other time.