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StriderHoang avatar 9:02 PM on 05.08.2012  (server time)
Today, I thought about oversexualization...

Iíve never been bothered by the argument of oversexualized females in video games, which is an especially common thing in fighting games. Soul Calibur? Letís just recreate Superman and She-Hulk. Street Fighter? Thereís always something redeeming about the characters on some level. Dead Or Alive? Well, thatís the whole point of course. But the argument finally hit me in a way that made me really think about the argument. Someone on tumbler reblogged a simple two way exchange that occurred.

ďItísÖ pretty damn sexist. Like, seriously. Stop. I know itís a good game but no. Bad.Ē

ďNo. You are wrong. That is all.Ē

Skullgirls is special to me because it feels like a progression of the genre rather than just what a lot of fighting games are: a sequel. Or a sequel that builds upon its series but not the genre. Think of the first time you played Street Fighter II then when super moves were introduced and then tag team mechanics. Regardless of how objectively Skullgirls brings new ideas, it undoubtedly meshes them together into a strong, cohesive package (which still has its flaws).

But if thereís one thing I know will hold back this game, itís the character designs. There are obvious panty shots and nearly everyone has a well-rounded chest thatíd even make the women from Soul Calibur reel in shock. But despite the gameís choice in design, I donít want people to just play this game because itís good. I want people to respect it for what itís trying to do and not what itís trying to display.

My god, is this how fans of Dead Or Alive feel?

I canít just defend these depictions of woman because I personally find them about as subtle as Ivy Valentine in a string bikini brandishing a can of whipped cream. Every time I win against Parasoul, those things flop up and down on defeat. I canít bring myself to defend how the characters are portrayed and yet I want people to pick up this game because of how well it blends the 6-button fighting scheme with the new eraís mechanics like chain attacks and aerial movement.

Certainly not every character is hypersexualized. Peacock is a younger girl while Painwheel is more of a frightening monster than a sex object. But seeing the argument made me think about the issue with more forethought then I ever have. I wonít claim to think hard about the issue of the sexual image of woman in games, neither will I claim to be entirely interested in the discussion. Iím also not saying Iíd wish Skullgirls would change how the characters look because I think thatís their image now and they have to stick with it. Dead Or Alive has never changed their depiction and it certainly looks like they'll embrace it well into their fifth iteration of the series, which I hate by the way. Not because of the sexualization of their females but because of how much counters seem dependent in any fight.

I canít make a clear conclusion about how to fix the issue but I do know one thing for certain about myself: I will make it clear that I do not want any of my female colleagues, friends, our future generation, and my girlfriend to take away any suggestions of body image from Skullgirls. If youíre comfortable with the issue and how some of Skullgirlsí more prominent characters are more than a bit risquť in their choice of costume for their bodies, than thank you for being responsible adults about this. Also, in light of the FGCís more controversial eruption earlier this year, Iíd hope that the male half of the demographic not prod the issue like immature high school students. I donít stand by Arisís actions and while heís made it clear that the FGC really is intertwined with that sort of attitude, that doesnít make it a good community if it embraces that.

I canít realistically propose that we approach how we design female characters more tastefully. If I could, I would. But Dead Or Alive 5 is clearly on its way and early indications reveal the females are still trying to fight as sexily as ever.

But is it wrong for me to say this one thing? Is it wrong for a game to be judged solely on its merits of gameplay? To ignore the issue of how characters are designed in sexually suggestive ways? I know Iím not the only person who vehemently defends Skullgirlsí honor as a great fighting game that brings a breath of fresh air into a genre that once experienced a collapse due to oversaturation. And Iíll continue to do so, whether or not people respect that Iím defending a game with a character with double Dís in a tube dress thatís too short. Itís because I believe in Skullgirls and what it represents at its core and not its chest; A fighting game that strives to bring a competitive and entertaining experience to both casual fans and hardcore tournament fighters, hopefully while grasping for that ever distant goal of balance.

So enjoy it. Just donít enjoy it.

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