INTRODUCTION

The genesis of this blog came from an article that I wrote for See Page XX examining prevalence of sexist depictions of women in different areas of gaming. Before you read anything else here, you should really go read the article. (Yes it’s important enough to link twice.) If you find yourself wanting to argue with the article, please read this post here elucidating common arguments against my findings and clarifying some points regarding my criteria and methods.

My goal is to make this a place you can point people to regarding specific issues pertaining to sexism in gaming.

If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome! If you don’t want to read chronologically, consider checking out this guide on how to use this blog. If you’re a feminist or ally looking for a specific post to use as a reference, then visit this guide here.

New WoW models: Men get character, women get vapid beauty [MANY IMAGES]

A brief note before I start:

It’s been almost two weeks since my last post, and I apologize for not even putting up a freebie. However, despite my best efforts to stay the hell out of a recent blowup in the TRPG blogosphere, a certain person decided that he wanted to try to incite his followers to harass me. Again[1].

Thankfully, his followers don’t seem to dislike me as much as he wants them to. Either that or he just doesn’t have as many true followers as some other folks, because the referral traffic I got from his blog was pretty minimal. Still, it made for a very stressful and emotional week since I had to deal at first with the anxiety of seeing that he’d made a post about me, then with getting dragged into the whole shitstorm surrounding his post, not to mention the fun of having people calling me a liar on a social network that I frequent. (Mostly people that I’d already blocked, at least. Yay?)

Anyway, tl;dr. I spent much of the last week and a half working on not-blog things because it was easier to manage the fallout of a bunch of internet bullshit not of my making if I kept myself busy with other projects. So thanks for your forbearance, and thanks also to those of you who sent me messages of support.

 


On to business…

I’d been hearing people in my gaming circles talk about new character models in WoW for the last little while. And it’s about damn time, considering that I quit WoW more than four years ago and the graphics looked dated even then. But it wasn’t until last week that I happened to come across a detailed look at one of the new models – the new human male:

All in all, it looks like a decent improvement. And actual facial animations? Looks pretty cool. Curious, I went looking for the human female.

…and promptly wished I hadn’t:

Ugh. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Leaving aside the fact that all of the human preview models I’ve seen have been white (because white is the “default” setting for humans, of course), let’s just talk about the bullshit sexism here. Notice how the male human gets to have actual facial expressions that convey emotions? While the female character renders all have the same vapid expression but with different hairstyles. Because men get to DO THINGS and EXPRESS THEMSELVES but women get to BE PRETTY.

/headdesk.

But of course, it’s not like I should be surprised. It was this kind of bullshit that led me to quit WoW in the first place. The interesting/pretty binary pervades pretty much every facet of WoW. From my Ret Paladin’s inability to find high level pants that were actually fucking pants, to necro-tits, to the absolutely abysmal representation of women in the lore.

Oh yes, the lore. Where the few women who show up are completely useless (Jaina) or important only for their connection to a man (Tyrande). And all of the big important events that shape the world are set into motion by the BIG MANLY MANZ.

Because I hate myself, I decided to go looking for more of the new models. I’m not going to go through every race, because that would be tedious. I’ll just cover the examples that stuck out the most to me.

MOAR STUPID

When I located a preview of the female orc model, I was disappointed to see that her renders also suffer from vapid-sameface-with-different-hairstyles, although not to quite the same extent:

Now I’ll at least give Blizzard some credit in that the female orc’s physique isn’t grossly distorted. She’s rocking some serious superhero muscles there, not to mention that her breasts are actually affected by gravity and her torso has space for all of her internal organs. Hooray!

But this comment by senior Blizzard art director Chris Robinson bugged me:

Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft female orc redesign will help highlight the gender’s “‘warrior’ side a little more,” senior art director Chris Robinson wrote on Battle.net.

“That means moving away from the more doe-eyed version we know now toward a character you would expect to see fighting on the front lines alongside any of her Horde brothers and sisters,” Robinson wrote.

According to lead animator Steve Aguilar, the team wants to fix the female orc’s “blank stare,” which does little to convey her personality.

“We wanted to give her more of an edge so she would project a confident ‘Don’t mess with me!’ attitude,” Aguilar said. “… She now looks and feels more like you’d expect an Orc to.

(Emphasis Mine)

Uh-huh. Her “fierce” expression is much more supermodel than warrior as far as I’m concerned. Certainly not as fierce as…

…this guy here. Which brings me to my other complaint.

When it comes to Warcraft’s monstrous races, men get to be monstrous and women get to be pretty. Look at our male orc friend here. He’s got a bit of a hunch and frigging tusks. But lady orc? Lady orc has impeccably straight posture and her “tusks” are just a texture. Dude Orc’s tusks gets freaking polygons, Lady Orc’s tusks just gets some pixels. Weak sauce.

This is even more exaggerated when you look at the trolls:

This time the difference is even more exaggerated. While the male orc has a slight hunch, the male troll has a full-on stoop. Screw having 4-inch tusks, the male trolls have 12+ inch tusks. The new male troll renders also have mottled skin and what looks to be scarification on their biceps. These are some seriously monstrous-looking characters.

All of which makes the female troll model ridiculous by contrast. Her skin is smooth, with little visible texture, and her posture perfectly erect, with no difference in stance from her orc and human counterparts. Like the female orc, her tusks are only textures without any actual polygons. In fact, it wouldn’t take much to turn this female troll into a female orc. Shorten the ears, turn her green, and give her four fingers instead of two, and voila! Instant orc.

WHICH. IS. STUPID.

Blizzard has gone to the effort of designing these fantasy races (human, orc, and troll) with three very different physiologies that only apply to men. Because all of those differences go out the window once boobz[2] get tossed into the equation. So if you play a male character, you get the chance to play as several different flavors of monstrous, but if you play a female character you get generic pretty where the only difference between races is skin color and other largely cosmetic details. Great.

But at least none of that is as dumb as necro-tits.

/sigh. Where do I even start?

How about with the fact that the preview of male undead faces is to show off the different types of facial rot while the preview of female undead faces is to show off… hair styles. Coming back, once again, to the interesting/pretty dynamic. At least you can say that Blizzard is always consistent.

In some ways, the new models are actually worse than the old ones. Sure the old female undead models all wore lipstick, but at least they had the creepy black eyes. Now they have… closed eyes? With eyeshadow? (I desperately hope that this is just one model.) And while the hair on the old models looked appropriately scraggly, the new hair looks sleek and styled, even the crazy Bride-of-Frankenstein hair. And of course we can’t forget the necro-tits.

The artists did make one concession to gross deadness by desiccating the skin of her upper chest and highlighting her sternum and collarbone as well as the connective tissue. But despite rot that has caused this desiccation, as well as caused her shoulder blades to penetrate the skin, her tits are still plump and perky, not to mention weirdly devoid of nipples or areolae. Because when you die, that shit just falls right off. TRUEFAX.

Here is the bright spot (you only get one)

This is the only female model preview I was able to find that sported actual facial expressions. I’m… not at all sure what the hell is going on with her underwear. (How is it constructed? And why?) But, you know, facial expressions!

It’s small, but at least it’s something.


[1] Not naming names so don’t even ask.

[2] Note that I’m not saying that breasts = woman. Just that breasts seem to be the body part WoW devs are most fixated on.

 

Nintendo and Ubisoft: in which the pot calls the kettle black [MANY IMAGES]

Ubisoft’s colossal E3 “open mouth insert foot” blunder about it being tooooo haaaaard to develop female characters was useful in that it started a lot of great conversations about the lack  of playable female characters in video games. However, one irritating trend that I’ve seen is that there are other game studios who have rushed to proclaim “well OUR games have female characters”, only the female characters in question are nothing more than sexy collections of ladyparts, improbable and/or outright impossible costumes, and shitty sexist stereotypes.

And you know what? That’s bullshit. Yeah Ubisoft fucked up, but at least their fuck-up was one of omission, which is better than the committed, ongoing sexism required to produce a lot of the frankly awful female characters that the major games studios continue to churn out like this, or this, or this. (And those are all just things I saw this morning while catching up on a weekend away from tumblr!)

The company that irritated me the most with these tactics, however, was Nintendo, since not only did they populate their games with shitty characters but people actually praised them for it!

Of course, it helped Nintendo that this year’s E3 was pretty abysmal for women. Almost none of the AAA game studios showcased games with playable female characters, and as Vlambeer developer Rami Ismail snarked there were more severed heads than female Playstation presenters at E3.

So when Nintendo showcased their upcoming games that actually featured some female characters, notably Hyrule Warriors and the next iteration of Super Smash Brothers, many people heralded it as a breath of fresh air – just because at least one studio wasn’t stupidly pretending women didn’t exist. The dearth of women was so great that the inclusion of female characters, any female characters was seen as a good thing.

And in light of the glaring omission of female characters by other studios, it didn’t take Nintendo long at all to start tooting it’s own horn. Look at our upcoming games that are full of strong female characters! Which would be great if it were true. Unfortunately, the female characters in question are only “strong female characters” in the Hark! A Vagrant! sense:

I will never skip an opportunity to link to Kate Beaton’s Hark! A Vagrant!. NEVER.

So pull up a chair, kids, and let’s talk about why Nintendo fails at women in both of these titles that supposedly contain such “strong female characters”.

Hyrule Warriors

Hyrule Warriors looks to be an interesting game, truth be told. Based on the sort of epic combats that are characteristic of the Dynasty Warriors series, it has you fighting battles on a grand scale. Further, the cast of characters seems pretty well divided with half of the 12 “main” characters being female[1]:

LEFT TO RIGHT: Lana, Zelda, Midna

LEFT TO RIGHT: Agitha, Shia, Impa

LEFT TO RIGHT: Valga, Zant, Link

LEFT TO RIGHT: Argorok, Wizzro

(Not pictured with the male characters – the obligatory Ganondorf.)

Now there are some positive things here. It’s nice that Zelda is a playable character and actually doesn’t get back-benched for this title. Also, it is nice that female characters account for half of the main characters. However, there are some serious issues that come up when you start looking in more depth at the character design.

For example, the range of designs of the female characters is incredibly constricted, with all of the 6 main female characters being either “pretty”, “cute”, or “sexy”. But when you look at the not-female characters, the range is so much wider! You have a slim youth, mysterious warriors, an inhuman monster, a horrific shade, and… whatever the hell Ganondorf is.

So in the Zelda universe there are super-attractive male characters and monstrous male characters and some things in between, but there is literally no such thing as an unattractive female character. Because even in a universe where single characters can defeat entire armies, it is unbelievable that heroic women might also be unattractive?

Also, it’s important to note that there are some suuuuuper problematic character designs going on here. Most notably, Shia.

So she’s got gravity-defying nippleless sphere-boobs, improbable costuming, decorative armor plating that protects nothing while vital bits of anatomy are exposed, pointy metal objects stabbing her directly in the boob… Christ. It would be easier to find things they didn’t get wrong. What the hell happened to Nintendo’s reputation as a “family-friendly” game publisher?

But wait, it gets worse! Shia’s entire backstory is that she was once a guardian of the Triforce until she fell in love with Link and her jealousy of Zelda made her get all evil and stuff.

Right. Because the only motivation that ever exists for female characters is a man. And the reason she’s dressed like that is because she’s evil, and what better way to show that than to have her dress provocatively? Because, you know, sexy wimmenz = evil.

/headdesk

Depressingly. Zelda honestly isn’t much better than the trainwreck that is Shia. Sure, her design looks cool at first blush, but let’s look at it in a bit more detail:

I mean, it’s better than Shia’s design? But that’s not saying a whole hell of a lot. But I guess this is what “strong female characters” look like these days. Hyrule Warriors development producer had this to say about Zelda’s new design:

“Regarding the look of Zelda herself, she is a ruler. So we want to make sure she is seen as a strong character in that she needs to look like a ruler, she needs to feel like a ruler,” Hayashi said. “So, [she has] what you might consider a stronger look for the character.”

…yeah. She looks real empowered there, what with her armor that prioritized sexiness over actual protection of vital anatomy. One might even say regal.

But the worst, THE WORST part of this awful Zelda design? Her attack involves her loincloth levitating upward while she pulls glowy energy out of her ladybits to form weapons.

Hrm. Nope, not strong enough. Merida, help me out here.

Super Smash Brothers

Sadly, as awful as Highrule Warriors does with regard to its female characters, it still does better than the upcoming Smash Brothers. Here’s what the roster looks like, as of the most recent update I was able to find:

A lot of familiar faces there, as well as some new ones, like the WiiFit Trainer. The problem is, when you start breaking it down by gender, things get depressing pretty quickly: (Pokemon not included because I’m not prepared to argue about the gender of pokemon.)

Yeah. Way to go at including female characters, Nintendo. You’re clearly doing a bang-up job there.

Now, granted, the characters featured in Smash Brothers are all iconic characters from a wide variety of different series. But many of these series (Metal Gear, Sonic, Star Fox) have female characters that aren’t being featured. And sure, those characters aren’t the “iconic” characters of the series, but that in itself makes a pretty damning indictment of gender representation.

But wait! It gets worse! You see, Samus’ Zero Suit is once again a thing in the new Smash Brothers title, which. Ugh. Other M was pretty much the worst thing ever to happen to Samus, what with how it took away her armor and made her whinily subordinate to a bunch of dudes. Why does that shit have to become the dominant portrayal of her? WHY?

And yet here’s Nintendo, doubling down on the awful. The Zero Suit’s rocket boots, which were frankly one of the only things going for it, are now stripper rocket heels.

STRIPPER. ROCKET. HEELS.

And look! They made the suit even more vacuum-sealed than before, as witness by how bizarrely separated and defined Samus’ (awful, spherical) breasts are. Also, given the level of definition on her belly-button, that thing must be tight enough to cause problems breathing. Unless this is some kind of future tech thing. Space age polymers ftw!

The anatomy on the Samus model is also pretty fucking terrible, although that might not be immediately apparent from the above screencap so here’s another:

Holy bendy snake torso with bonus chest-TARDIS, Batman!

So thanks, Nintendo, for making me totally not at all regret that I haven’t owned any Nintendo platforms since the Game Boy Advance. And how about next time you try to claim that you’re “better” than another studio at including female characters in your games, look at the quality of those characters before you go trying to earn feminism cookies.


[1] According to what I was able to find online.

A Quick Note About Privacy

Okay, folks. I’ve been getting A LOT of traffic because of certain controversies surrounding D&D Next or D&D 5E or whatever it’s being called now. So I’m going to say a thing very briefly.

If someone posts something on the internet in which they talk about a personal experience without naming names and they say that they have done this because they are scared of personal consequences and of the implications for their personal safety and mental well-being, and they ask explicitly in their post that people NOT NAME the people who are being discussed? Do you know what a really shitty response to that post is?

POSTING LINKS TO THAT PERSON’S POST AND SAYING “HEY, THIS POST IS ABOUT [THIS GUY]“.

I appreciate that the traffic I’ve gotten because of this specific issue has been receptive, if not outright friendly. I don’t care. That is a shitty fucking thing to do. I am not obligated to sacrifice my personal safety to satisfy a need for documentable proof, especially when there are other places to obtain said proof.

So if you’re considering linking to a post of mine that discusses a specific person in an anonymous capacity and you know who the person is and you want to broadcast the anonymized person’s perfidy by attaching their real name to my anonymized post? DON’T.

Friday Freebies: The Girls Have Cooties Edition

Well, this week was an interesting week for sexism in e-sports, with organizers for Finnish e-sports tournament Assembly deciding to ban female players from its Hearthstone tournament. When asked if this was a translation issue, Assembly clarified that female players were indeed not allowed to compete – but that’s because it was a qualifier for an IeSF tournament, and the IeSF didn’t allow female competitors because they were trying to get e-sports to be seen as a legitimate sport.

…right.

Not surprisingly, this upset a lot of people. (Ben Kuchera is kind of a tool, but I feel like he did a good job of capturing my sentiments about this in this particular instance.) Happily, the internet backlash, as well as Blizzard “reaching out” to the Assembly organizers actually had an effect! The Hearthstone tournament is now open to all genders!

But the IeSF would still like you to know that they hadn’t intended for their incredibly sexist gender segregation policy to be sexist.

In non IeSF-related news…

This post on Escher Girls reminds me of the many reasons why I hate Kotobukiya and why I’m STILL pissed about their Liara and FemShep figurines.

The creator behind Empathise This was kind enough to contact me asking if they could link to this blog. They do a lot of great stuff like this about women’s experiences in gaming, so maybe head on over and share some love?

There’s been a lot of controversy brewing lately over The Mary Sue’s recent merger with Geekosystem. Bad enough that they’re removed a lot of the female-specific branding and are no longer calling it a space for women (an “inclusive” space is NOT the same thing as a space for women, it’s just not). But the former head of Geekosystem, now one of the lead editors of TMS, Glen Tickle is… well… a sexist douchebag.

Jill Pantozzi, TMS’ editor-in-chief made this post that completely failed to allay the concerns of long-time TMS fans, which included a totally weak-sauce not-apology from Glen Tickle. (“I was upset because people were mean to me”? NOT AN APOLOGY.)

There are some really great breakdowns of the timeline of events and why this all sucks so very hard, for the interested. Personally, I’m not going to unfollow TMS’ tumblr, but I won’t be visiting their main website. I’m not willing to give them any ad revenue until they get this nonsense straightened out.

The new edition of D&D is out, and the basic rules are available free online! I had a whole collection of links, but honestly so much crap has come up, good and bad, surrounding this release that I think I’ll be saving that for a future post.

Policy Note: How I spend my crowdfunding money

[For transparency's sake, this is being put up as a freebie, because asking patrons to pay me to write a post devoted to telling a subset of non-patrons to fuck off seems a bit hinky. So there you go.]

For the most part, I would call the Patreon for this blog a successful experiment. Sure it would be great to have thousands of patrons showering me with money for every gem of wisdom I happen to let fall from my keyboard so that I could become a Real (read:full-time) Blogger, but I’m okay with where I’m at. The money I get from my patrons gives me the space to write about things that I’m passionate about and pay some bills. Because that’s the thing about having a kid – they’re expensive, and I really don’t have the luxury to write things that won’t turn into money anymore.

The only problem is that having a Patreon has opened me up to a new and extra-fun kind of dismissiveness that makes me very cranky: people who want to set conditions on how I use my Patreon funds before they claim they’ll take me seriously. You know, because if I was A Real Feminist[1], I would be putting my Patreon moneyz towards some worthy feminist cause instead of selfishly keeping it for myself, with the worthy feminist cause usually being saving poor brown women from their own culture[2].

Which is bullshit for two reasons.

First.

Let’s not pretend that if, for some reason, I decided to listen to your unsolicited opinions as to how I should spend my crowdfunding money, you would actually seriously engage with anything I’m saying here. Because “I can’t take you seriously because you’re not doing [X] with your crowdfunding money” is pretty much the same as “I can’t think of a good reason to dismiss what you’re saying so I’m going to come up with bullshit character arguments instead”.

These kinds of comments never come from people seriously engaged with feminism or feminist culture criticism, they come from random dudebros who are grasping at reasons for why I shouldn’t be listened to.

Second.

If you do not back my crowdfunding, I am obligated to give EXACTLY ZERO FUCKS about how you think I should spend that money.

The only people who get to have an opinion about how I spend my money are MY PATRONS AND/OR BACKERS. You can decide to back me or not based on whatever criteria you like – you aren’t interested in what I’m making, you don’t agree with the things I say, you don’t like my user icon, whatever. That’s your prerogative! Live your conscience, vote with your dollar, etc etc etc. But if you’re not giving me money, don’t be surprised if I completely fail to give any shits about what you think I should do with my money.

This Blog, Patreon funds, and how I spend them

I have been nothing but up front with my patrons about how I intend to spend their money.  Hell, it’s in paragraph #4 of my pitch on Patreon:

For the most part, the money that I have earned from my Patreon has gone to pay for incredibly unexciting stuff. Like getting new clothes for my kid every 5 minutes[3], or generally helping offset childcare costs and increased grocery bills.

But honestly, the fact that my crowdfunding dollaz are being used to pay child-related expenses shouldn’t even matter. If I wanted to spend it on strippers and blow (I’m not), that should be a valid goal, so long as the thing I’m crowdfunding still happens and my backers are happy with it.

Policy Going Forward

From now on, any comment that either tells me how I should be spending my Patreon funds or tells other people not to back my Patreon based on same is going to be deleted. Period. I have better things to do than engage with this sort of dismissive bullshit.

As soon as I get a chance (I can’t do it immediately at the time of posting), I will be revising the comment policy posted in the sidebar to reflect this.

[1] It would be impossible for me to overstate how much I love Mallory Ortberg

[2] Because if you’re going to be dismissively sexist, why not sprinkle a little helping of racism on top? You know, for the lulz.

[3] Seriously they grow so fast and even if you shop thrift stores, it adds up

Hey, game devs. Knock it off with the corpse tits! [NSFW] [MANY IMAGES]

Yesterday, I had occasion to post the following on Twitter:

File that under the list of Shit I Wish I Didn’t Have to Say. Sadly, 95% of internet feminism seems to be saying shit that really should be completely obvious. (You know, like “hey – women are people”. Stuff like that.)

What prompted the Twitter mini-rant? Well, someone on my Google+ feed happened to link to this:

*sigh*

It’s like the artist was going through a mental checklist. “Okay, we’ve got 4 different skin tones. Staples, check. Rivets and metal plates, check. Creepy-looking veins, check. Just got to make sure I don’t forget the titties!”

Seriously. How ridiculous is it that the stitching and patches are actually more believable than the breasts, which have impossible cleavage (without support, breasts hang DOWN and AWAY from one another), seem to have no areolae, and definitely have no nipples. But then, as referenced in my tweets, this is hardly a new thing in games, tragic as that may be.

This particular gem is courtesy of Louis Porter Jr, who hasn’t bothered to hide the fact that he holds pretty regressive views on the portrayal of women in games. Back when I had just started this blog, he actually commented on a post I had made about Paizo, saying that he was glad that that Paizo was doing positive things with regard to racial diversity, but that sexualized wimmenz were just good business sense.

Uh. No. But thanks for playing, dude.

Still, it would be unfair to pick on LPJ too much, considering that Franken-Tits here isn’t exactly a unique phenomenon. So here is a totally-not-at-all definitive list of corpse tits in games that I had either run across previously or was able to find with only a modicum of Googling.

BRING ON THE CORPSE TITS

I honestly don’t know what game this first image is from, but frankly it pretty well sums up the problem that I’m talking about quite nicely:

That was on one of the first few pages of search results for “female lich”, which is an image search you should not do if you don’t want to see a whole lot of gory necro-tits with occasional gruesome necro-crotch.

Disturbingly, but not all that surprisingly, corpse tits are such a common phenomenon in gaming that they can be found in every subgenre of gaming.

It didn’t take much work at all to turn up these images for games funded on KickStarter. The image on the left comes from a game called Hands of Fate, which I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know was fully funded. Phew! I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine the horror of living in a world where a game of such bold artistic vision failed to become a reality.

The image on the right is from a game called Zpocalypse, which also fully funded. Right on! It’s so great to see so many independent creators get to realize their dreams of creating games that feature creepily sexualized women’s corpses.

Now I will give them credit for having a jawless zombie, mostly because I’m still bitter about not being able to play a jawless female Forsaken in World of Warcraft. But they just lose the points again for giving her weirdly pristine (considering the state of the rest of her) corpse tits.

Then we have this gem, which is actually (as far as I can gather) the cover image for Lich Queen’s Beloved – an official, Wizards-published  adventure module for D&D. Of course, on the Wizards site they only use the thumbnail on the left, which an amusing bit of obfuscation on Wizards’ part. Given the amount of embarrassing cheesecake art that I’ve seen in official Wizards’ products, it’s amusing that this is sufficiently awful that they don’t want to include the full image on their website.

But Wizards of the Coast is hardly the only large publisher guilty of this nonsense. Disappointingly, despite that Paizo seems to have been trying to not fail quite as much at female characters lately, they still included this character in some published material released August of last year.

 

And sure, she’s not as bad as the others. But the fact is that she is dessicated, her skin and muscle tissue are clearly withered and dried out. So WHY in god’s name is she wearing boob plate? Given that her nose and lips rotten and she is clearly giving zero fucks about that, I highly doubt it’s a fashion statement. And if her limbs and lower torso are at that level of desiccation, it’s not like her tits are going to be perky enough to need any support, not unless she’s had some very selective embalming done.

But let’s not forget video games! Because there are so. Goddamn. Many. corpse tits in video games.

One of the elder statesmen of video game corpse tits would have to be WoW, who from the very beginning made it clear that even in death the women in the WoW universe would have supermodel faces and amazing tits.

What makes it even more frustrating is the fact that apparently there are a few artists who work for Blizzard whose heads aren’t completely up their asses:

I have pretty much zero interest in playing a character like Barbie McCorpse-Tits, but I would totally play the shit out of her! Look at her! Rotten nose and face, not sexualized, just getting shit done. AWESOME. MORE OF THAT PLEASE. And less of this shit:

How sad is it that Resident Evil has the least sexualized female zombie? What the hell? Why is this a thing that game companies are competing over? Still, if I had to give an award I would give Guild Wars the trophy for the grossest corpse tits ever. Seriously, look at her. The skin on her face is leatherized but she’s still got fucking basketballs pinned to her chest. I’m surprised they didn’t put nipples on her for gods sake.

But wait! There’s more!

Even Facebook games just can’t resist getting in on that sexy necro-boob action. Look at miss Zombie Prostitute here. Sure her face and arm are all decayed and gross, but don’t worry, the important stuff is still perky and fleshy. (Also, the contrast here just underscores everything I’m saying here. Why do female zombies never get to wear any fucking clothes, but male zombies walk around in three piece suits and the like?)

The Bottom of the Barrel

As bad as all of that is, it actually gets worse. “But, wundergeek!” I’m sure you’re asking. “How could it get worse?”

Well, gentle reader. As bad as the above examples are, they aren’t generally being used to promote the brands that the represent. As awful as corpse tits are, most companies still have the sense not to use them to promote their products to a wider audience.

Of course, some companies aren’t put off such tactics by things like “common sense” and “taste”, which is how you end up with things like this promo image here:

Aww, yeah. We’re getting a first look all right. RIGHT AT HER TIIIIIITS! HIGH FIVE BRO!

…bad enough that you’re using Valindra Shadowmantle, the most boobular of all video game liches, as the promo for your game. But did you really need to make it worse by making an arrow pointing right at her necro-cleavage? Her impossibly fleshy and perky necro-cleavage?

However, I’m afraid that Valindra loses the crown for Worst Promotional Necro Boobs to Dead Island, whose publishers also net themselves an award for Shittiest Human Beings In Game Development:

That’s right, folks. For this box set, they actually included a promo figurine of a mutilated and disembodied torso with big, weirdly compressed fake tits. And then advertised the fact. AS A SELLING POINT.

Now given that Techland is the same studio that caused the uproar over their inclusion a skill named “Feminist Whore” in a test build of the game, misogynist promotion shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Still, publisher Deep Silver really went for the misogyny gold with this one. I can only imagine the conversation that led to this being a thing that actually happened:

The Boss: We need a promotional item to include with the box set. Ideas?

Operations Exec: A toy? Maybe a figurine?

Marketing Exec: Figurines make excellent limited edition items. They’re very collectible.

The Boss: Very good. Talk to me about how we can make this a quality, value-added proposition for our customers.

[Marketing Exec and Operations Exec look at each other]

Operations Exec: Well I was thinking a mutilated torso.

Marketing Exec: What a disembodied torso?

Operations Exec: Oh, yeah. Obviously. No limbs or anything. Just a torso. A mutilated lady torso.

The Boss: Interesting. I like your style. Do go on.

Operations Exec: [to Marketing Exec] So her torso should be totally mutilated, right? Except for her boobs?

Marketing Exec: Oh, totally. You can’t mutilate the boobs.

The Boss: They should be large and round. And firm. Very firm. There’s nothing I hate worse than saggy tits.

Operations Exec: [taking notes] Uh-huh. Got it. Does it have a face?

The Boss: Does what have a face?

Operations Exec: The mutilated torso figurine. Does it have a face?

The Boss: No. No face.

Marketing Exec: Why would it have a face? It doesn’t need a face.

Operations Exec: All right. So the spec I’m handing to my artist is mutilated torso, no limbs, with very large, very firm breasts, and absolutely no face.

Marketing Exec: I’ll get to work on promotional branding right away.

The Boss: This is some damn fine work, people. Damn fine indeed.

Operations Exec: Thank you, sir.


A Depressing Conclusion

Corpse tits in games go from depressing to outright scary once you consider the logic and carry it to its natural conclusion. Gaming culture is one that demands that all game women should be attractive and entirely available for the sexual gratification of a presumed male viewer. Game culture also objectifies women, breaking women down into their pleasing and less pleasing parts, emphasizing the pleasing bits and de-emphasizing the less important bits. When these two concepts collide, that’s the kind of thinking that leads to necro-tits.

At no point during the design of these characters are they ever considered to be people. They are designed piece-by-piece, carefully degrading their not-sexy parts while preserving the holy trinity of boobs, crotch, and ass. Often the face is allowed to be shown as decayed, because who cares what comes out of women’s faces? Ladywords? Ladyfeelings. Boring. Heads aren’t even mandatory, as evidenced by Dead Island.

Some of them might have story tacked on as an after-thought, but most won’t even get that much. Because the category of “woman” trumps that of “human”, and even in death women must be rendered as sexually pleasing objects, not people. Never people.

But that begs the question – why is there such a need to have sexy corpses in so goddamn many games? Why is no one taking a moment to be like “dude, that’s a corpse“? Frankly, if you’re capable of finding any of these images sexually appealing, I don’t really want to know you. Ever. But the dehumanization of women in games is so rampant, so systemic, that even the concept of FUCKABLE CORPSES doesn’t raise eyebrows.

Reasons Why It’s Too Hard to Include Playable Female Characters In Games

There have been some really great takes on just why Ubisoft’s proclamation that it was just a “reality of game development” that their newest title in the Assassin’s Creed series wouldn’t include playable female characters, many of which I covered in Friday’s link roundup.

However, some conversations on Google+ inspired me to do some silly drawings of some only-slightly-less-ludicrous reasons why it’s just too hard for studios to include playable female characters. A picture is worth 1000 words and all that:

It was nice to get a chance to return to my roots, as it were, by doing something silly for once (not to mention taking a bit of a break from Princess Charming); a lot of my posts recently have been rather serious, but sometimes it’s nice to just be silly.

Still, I think it’s worth using this post to make a serious point. Given that Ubisoft has already had female assassins in the series, including Aveline, a title character in her own AC game, it stretches my credulity beyond the breaking point for me to believe that it’s honestly that hard for Ubisoft to include a playable female assassin.

There are existing development assets already, including Aveline’s model and all of the motion-capture done for her animations. Would it really have been so hard to do some color-swapping of Aveline’s model and port her into the game? It certainly wouldn’t have been anything budget-breaking, given that this is a AAA title with a AAA budget. Frankly, female moon pixels and fire-breathing dragons are about as easy to believe.

Ubisoft would have done a lot better to own up to the truth: either they didn’t want to make a playable female character, or they just didn’t think of doing it. Instead, this gutless prevaricating has cost them a lot of goodwill. I’ve seen many long-time fans of the series who had appreciated the diversity of the series and its’ development team saying that they’re not going to put any more money into purchasing future AC games.

All in all, it would be hard to imagine a more bone-headed marketing ploy for a game that needs a large audience to recoup its astronomical development budget.


Self-Promotion Sidebar:

Do you link this post? Do you wish you could buy a print of these cartoons? Good news – you can! And honestly, who wouldn’t want to hang such beautiful satire on their walls? (Don’t answer that.)

 

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