Brain Fried: (Fe)Male Designs In Games

There are a lot of things going on recently. Let’s just take genders for example. This ancient old topic still rules around in many discussion boards and gaming news. I didn’t pay attention to it much previously – which I should have. My fellow writer @roosajokiaho shared with me a lot of statistics and facts about females in gaming culture.

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Lara Croft: the textbook example of signs of sexualization

This age old controversy has been around in the media channels for a long time. Game developers who are mostly males, are designing their female characters or NPCs (non-playable characters) in a less dignified way or bluntly put, as sexual objects and sexualised. The way I see it, female designs (regardless of who the designers are) are too focused on the body parts and how to expose them as much as possible. Designers have been getting away with it since the inception of 3D human models. This kind of design direction leads to an established custom that it is okay and accepted for female characters to be portrayed this way. Anita Sarkeesian made a long series about tropes in video games. Although my opinion is not as extreme as hers, I do see the given examples and it does disgust me why it is a given to design females in such a dismissed way.

You may wonder, what kind of designs are appropriate for female characters then?

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2B carrying 9S (Nier Automata)

A very good example I like very much, is 2B in Nier Automata. The character was not displayed or marketed as a maid fetish character at all, even though one might think so when first seeing the way she dresses. It is far from that, actually.  The dress that 2B wears, looks stylish and is even functional; The high cut skirt is not meant for easy peeping, rather increased agility for combat. These designs fit into the game context, because she is a combat android. You cannot judge a book from its cover after all. The game director did explain that the reason why 2B was designed with high heels though was because he just really likes girls, but that hardly counts as objectification. Anyways, I could actually continue with Nier Automata, but I probably leave it here.

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Nathan Drake (Uncharted series)

Let’s look at the counterpart: the male designs. Oddly enough, sexualization is not the first thing that comes to mind. It is male perfection. Males are commonly designed in a way to be the pinnacle of male shape. Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series has an unchanged look and body designs throughout the instalments. You could say he is an awesome chap with an appealing face. Then again, this character goes and kills millions of villains for the sake of finding treasure, with no consequences for taking lives. The preferred looks for designing a male lead is usually the same template: caucasian, short hair, well built body and pointy nose – sometimes a beard for added manliness- and normal every day clothes. In short, I would say bland. Funnily enough, character designers have lots of ways to showing female body assets but for males they work with one template. I hope I am not the only one seeing this.

BRAIN FRIED is a column to express my opinions on what’s happening in games or other relevant topics. It is totally fine if you don’t agree with me. I would be glad to hear from your side.

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