Open Letter to BioWare Part 2: I am a female who wants to give you money for your games. Please stop treating me like shit.

[This is an open letter to BioWare. Like the previous open letter I posted about this topic, this has been sent to the folks at BioWare. Unfortunately, my first letter's only response was an autoresponder promising that it would be forwarded to a human. I have yet to receive a response, and considering that it's been nearly a month I'll assume that one isn't coming.]

Hi, BioWare. This is wundergeek again. I haven’t heard from you since my last letter, but I was really hoping that you might have taken some of what I said to heart about the depth of loathing and betrayal that I feel about this awful Liara statue that Kotobukiya is producing.

You’ve made some pretty positive steps in recent titles. The variety of same-sex relationships in Dragon Age and DA2 was awesome, and I’m thrilled to bits that there will be a gay romance option for both men and women in Mass Effect 3. And while there were some problematic elements to the contest to choose the FemShep on the ME3 Collector’s Edition box, I’m willing to believe that your heart was in the right place and that you really were trying to reach out to the legions of fans, female and male, who love FemShep and want to see her get the love that she deserves.

With all of this positive progress, I really wanted to believe that the backlash that you received would convince you that this awful perversion of a great character by Kotobukiya was a mistake and a cheapening of a great brand. On the facebook page, you said you wanted to know what the fans thought, and we told you. There were thousands of comments posted in less than 24 hours. I would have commented myself had I seen the page before the comments were closed not long after the page was put up.

And I definitely wasn’t alone in my dislike of Kotobukiya’s vision of Liara. Thousands of us voiced our dismay, that you would take one of Mass Effect’s strongest characters – male or female – and turn her into an over-sexualized figure in a cheap grab for a few more bucks. Liara is an adult, a brilliant scientist, a powerful biotic, information broker, and total badass. This reduction of a strong, funny, awesome female character to a collection of sexy bits… this isn’t just a betrayal of your fans. It’s a betrayal of your own writers. I really feel for them, because if Liara was a character I had written, I’d be pretty pissed too.

The backlash was huge, negative, and spread across several fansites – including The Escapist, Daily Joypad, and even Kotaku. There was also a lot of backlash on your own forums – backlash that spread across multiple threads. Hundreds, if not thousands of people spoke out against Kotobukiya’s version of Liara, and most of their comments can be summarized thusly:

DO NOT WANT. This is not my Liara.

So after all of this, I had hoped that your desire to solicit feedback from fans was genuine and that you would take this anger to heart, that you would tell Kotobukiya to modify the design of the statue to at least partially mollify your many, many angry fans. Even after all the times you’ve let me down lately, BioWare, I still hold out hope that you’ll listen to your better nature. You have it in you to be so very good, it really pains me to see this kind of stuff.

But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that, nope, you weren’t really interested in soliciting fan feedback after all. You never intended to take fan feedback to heart in the first place; this was all a clumsy attempt to generate buzz for licensing tie-in to rake in cash from male gamers who would happily pay $55 bucks to stare at some random Asari with balloons tacked to her chest who happened to have stolen Liara’s Shadow Broker outfit. Because here’s the pre-order for the figure.

Were you trying to slip this under the radar? I hope not. I hope it’s nothing more than a simple case of the many fan sites I read being tired of the story and not picking up on the pre-order. I want to believe that, but after all of the awfulness you’ve put your fans through recently, I’m not sure that I can bring myself to believe in your good intentions anymore, BioWare.

I beg, implore you, even. Please reconsider. Scrap this awful, awful doppleganger of a beloved character. Consign the Kotobukiya statue to the trash heap and get it re-designed right, in a way that honors the spirit of the character. I’m not against a sexy Liara figure, when it comes to it. But I want a figure that honors the strength and intelligence of her character without simply putting her bits on display for horny male gamers.

Don’t just do it for me. Do it for all of your fans that you claimed to want to listen to who have told you that this is something WE DO NOT WANT. Mass Effect is a beloved franchise with thousands, if not millions of fans. We are not the people who think that video games are creating rapists, or making children stupid, or causing the moral decline of our society. We are people who love games, who specifically love your games and want to give you money for your games and merchandise based on your games. Rather than alienating your fans by asking for feedback and then ignoring it when it goes against an established marketing plan, how about you try actually listening to us? Because again, we’re the folks who are prepared to give you money! You have a vested interest in listening to us, right?

And if you decide that even after all of the hurt and anger your fans have expressed over this issue you still want to push forward and bring this godawful Kotobukiya Liara to market, then do us a favor. Next time, be up-front in your pandering. Have the balls to admit that you’re selling boobular figures to horny male nerds because you think they’ll buy anything with breasts and it’s an easy way to make some quick cash without having to do any of the work yourself. As much as I hate the pandering, this dishonest pandering is even more distasteful.

Ever your devoted fan,

wundergeek

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

72 Responses to Open Letter to BioWare Part 2: I am a female who wants to give you money for your games. Please stop treating me like shit.

  1. jose says:

    Here‘s the last thread on the matter, with pictures to the actual final version. lol, the response is almost unanimously negative. They must be confident there are far more horny nerds than Bioware fans.

  2. James says:

    They have an animated movie coming out, last time I heard. Hopefully it won’t take a page from this, but it seems like the chances are slim

  3. Bill says:

    Did you actually send a copy to Bioware? If you didn’t, you’re ineffectual.

    You should pay someone to edit out all the italics and gamer slang. It makes you sound stupid.

    You posted a video from The Escapist depicting how dumb boys overreact when feminists point out videogame sexism. Your voice is indistinguishable from the dumb boys’. You disprove The Escapist’s claim that women are making valid points calmly. Say it, don’t spray it.

    This blog is yours to vent however you wish. Just don’t pretend you are doing anything more useful than getting yourself all worked up.

    • L. E. Hairstylist says:

      tl;dr: What is this “tone argument” thing you keep shrieking about? Ah well, everybody knows that feminists can’t change anything, and certainly never have before. In an unrelated question, why did several of you just call Bingo?

      • SJ says:

        I’m going to yell BINGO!!!!! and – for no reason at all, I’m sure – post a link:

        http://www.derailingfordummies.com/

      • Alex says:

        That’s weird, cause I just ticked several of my bingo boxes as well.

        Somebody outside of your particular group offering advice that is immediately discounted, bingo.

        You thinking that anger and hurt is justification for saying whatever the hell you like in whatever TONE you choose, bingo.

        Reading of non-existent subtext that somehow always relates to a man making the argument that you have no potential to instigate change because you’re a woman, and not because you’re just not going about it the right way yet, BINGO.

        And yes, Wundergeek, complete rationality is the only way to ensure you’ve given yourself both the best chance to be heard and the best chance for a response. You need to understand what a rational, appropriately toned argument represents, if you don’t already. It’s not you appeasing to the desire men apparently have for women not to be “over-emotional”, it’s reflective that you have taken the time to think over your comment and consider all the implications of what you are requesting.

        If you’re writing things like “DO NOT WANT” you’re aligning with all the other people who talk that way on the internet, the idiots and meme-obsessed pariahs and irrational fools. And it makes them switch off. It makes you sound like you’re making some off the cuff remark that you’re writing on a whim without planning or research.

        Perhaps you don’t frequent many video game forums outside of Bioware’s, maybe you do.
        I certainly don’t and even still, in the brief exposure I’ve had to them it’s clear that they are featuring a plethora of angry nerds with low IQ’s screaming in caps locks that shotguns are overpowered / underpowered or that because a tiny aspect of the game has changed they can no longer exploit the system and win consistently. Or that they want their own character in the game because they like the franchise.

        This sort of lexicon and tone falls upon deaf ears. Bioware probably gets hundreds of fan emails a day, thousands even. They don’t have time to read sarcastic rhetoric or internet meme riddled rants. They don’t even have time to read the good rants when all is said and done.

        You need to get their attention in other ways, make a video, send a letter rather than an email, buy a billboard. Don’t antagonise them if you want something fixed. Unfortunately, you NEED to be rational and realistic in your claims and accusations when dealing with profitable companies, they can’t afford to listen to fans who aren’t.

        • Veric says:

          I agree with you that rational arguments are always better, but I find wundergeeks style more enjoyable and somehow rather effective. It’s feminism for the masses :P However, if someone doesn’t like her style, that’s fine, there are others.

          Yes, the whole Bingo thing is juvinile and pointless in that it’s merely dismissive. But I felt that Bill’s comment was just as dismissive. He wasn’t here for a discussion. To me it seems he saw an argument he didn’t like and decided to dismiss it not by addressing its points and providing arguments against them but by addressing wundergeek’s chosen *tone* and questioning *if she actually sent the letter*. That’s it. Clearly he wasn’t looking for a conversation. He hasn’t bothered with any replies. He was just as dismissive as if he had typed ‘BINGO’.

          • Alex says:

            Yeah her style is more than fine on here, the blog. But I hope she used her actual name in the letter and better language and tone, because i’d find it tough to take someone who calls themselves “Wundergeek” seriously in a letter that’s calling for change and maturity in my products and efforts.

            It’s all about time and place, I guess is what I’m saying.

            • wundergeek says:

              I signed the actual letter with my real name, which I’m not going to post here. (Not that it’s hard to find. I just want people to have to expend some effort.)

          • Bill says:

            You’re wrong about me.

            • Veric says:

              Um, ok… Could you offer reasons why I’m wrong, please? Although at this point I think the discussion is dead anyway. Cheers!

        • wundergeek says:

          Your inability to be emotionally divorced from anti-oppression discussions? That’s privilege, and I’d suggest you check that before you tell me that being emotionally invested in this is counter-productive. (I say this as a middle class white het ciswoman who has privilege of her own.)

          I have DONE the emotionless, hyper-rational arguing on the internet thing. And you know what? It never makes a difference. The reactions I get when being rational and free from emotion are EXACTLY THE SAME as the ones I get when I actually express my feelings. So, you know, fuck objectivity. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. It doesn’t make any fucking difference, and I’m fucking DONE being silent about how this shit affects me emotionally. If it doesn’t affect you the same way, then congratulations. And if you think I’m going about this blog the wrong way, then there are plenty of other feminist gaming blogs out there. No one’s forcing you to read mine.

          • Alex says:

            Your assumption that as a “middle class white het ciswoman” you have any right to demand these things of this company because it offends you is privilege. Your assumption being a white middle class woman in a first-world country that anyone is owed anything other than a birth and a death is privilege. Your attitude that if nobody will listen, you better shout and jump up and down and make a scene until you get your way is a particular brand of privilege displayed predominately by first-world children and first-world generation X’ers.

            Nothing any man on here says is informed by privilege any more than what you say. No one person is free of privilege so we may as well never bring it up ever again, because while we’re so busy looking for privilege, we aren’t actually listening to anything that’s being said.

            I’m sick of that word being thrown around like it’s on fire and you don’t want to get burnt, it’s become a hollow, malicious idea that only hurts progress rather than accelerating it.

            http://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com is one of the most balanced and fair feminism blogs I’ve come across (if one were to take your advice and have a look at some others), because it deals with feminism from a male perspective, and that’s how it should be. Because feminism and masculism are one and the same and if you are a legitimate feminist then you must also be a masculist.

            I’ll be linking it to the “feminists” here who link feminism101.com and derailingfordummies.com as often as I can, we could ALL do with a little more education.

            • wundergeek says:

              Non-moderator me says: Dude, chill. Was I saying that all men ever should be ignored because they’re speaking from a place of privilege? No. I was saying that it’s privileged to demand that a person speaking out against oppression that personally affects them do so in an “objective” and non-emotional manner. I was trying to do so in a friendly manner than acknowledged that I, too, have metric shittons of privilege and that this is something that EVERYBODY needs to strive to overcome.

              Moderator-me says: I’ll let your comment stand because I do like No Seriously WATM, but any subsequent comments in this thread will be deleted as derailing. My writing style isn’t going to change, nor is it pertinent to the discussion at hand.

            • noahbrand says:

              As one of the moderators of No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz, I’d like to clarify that we do, in fact, recognize the reality of privilege, and Alex is not a typical example of our perspectives on gender issues. Just for the record.

              We do have a really good blog, though. Come read it.

              • Alex says:

                [Sorry, but this is derailing. Privilege is the basics of the basics of the basics of anti-oppression. This isn't a blog about feminism 101 and I'm not going to have yet another conversation on the internet about privilege. It's time to move past that.]

    • wundergeek says:

      Did you actually send a copy to Bioware? If you didn’t, you’re ineffectual.

      Yes. Hence the whole first paragraph where I explained how I sent them this letter and all. I’m not just making this shit up for my health, you know.

      And, you know, HEAVEN FORBID I should be emotionally invested in what I’m talking about. Because as we all know, unless you can argue your point from a place of COMPLETE RATIONALITY, your points are invalid.

  4. diel says:

    If anything has been proven the past couple of years it’s that Bioware don’t really seem to give a fuck what their fans think. So, good luck with this.

    On another note I’m not sure why you’re singing the praises of their awful romances– gay or straight they’re goddamn embarassing for everyone involved. This is the company that produced Isabella, a character who is so outrageously misogynistic in her portrayal that I’m wondering if she represents the first step towards a Handmaid’s Tale-style dystopian future.

    • Isabela?
      Misogynistic?
      Really?

      I couldn’t disagree more. Isabela is one of the few characters in DA2 who enjoys virtually complete autonomy from any external source. Her integrity is inversely proportional to her amount of pants, she defies the (potentially) shallow preconceptions of the player by engaging in very meaningful rapports with the other cast (even going as far as grooming Aveline’s self esteem throughout the course of the game), and all this whilst wearing a knowing smirk and happily imparting her liberal appreciation of the grotesque.

      To me, she’s very much the finest character in BioWare’s entire catalogue.

      But on the subject of the Liara figurine: I’d have to say I find the figurine a lot less problematic than BioWare’s method of marketing it.
      You *could* legitimately argue that the piece itself is cohesive and in line with the quirks of a particular stylistic approach. Doesn’t make me a fan, but I feel there are more worrying things abound.
      – Such as this marketing trend of asking us to have an opinion on the physical features of the female characters in their games.

      Seriously, first the FemShep beauty pageant, now this? What the hell, Silverman?

      • On a different note, now that I’ve seen the figurine in colour, I feel obliged to give myself a pat on the back for being so accurate in my very silly tegaki account of the design.

      • diel says:

        Every line of dialogue she has and every line of dialogue about her is a joke about how much she likes to fuck. That is the TOTALITY of her characterization. You seriously may as well be arguing that Bayonetta is empowering or that Taiwan is simply exhibiting a sex-positive culture.

        • diel says:

          i meant thailand

        • You’re being incredibly reductive. And I think you’re aware of it.
          Yes, a sizeable portion of Isabela’s characterisation refers to her sexuality. Yet you fail to mention how the character is never cast in a judgemental light, or that a substantial amount of these occurrences subverts the expectations of the player.
          Her banter with Merrill and Aveline reflects this particularly well, in exchanges like the below:

          Aveline: How are you so successful with men? You’re not that pretty.
          Isabela: Cast a wide enough net, and you’re bound to catch something.
          Aveline: (Laughs) At least you’re willing to admit it.
          Isabela: Trust me. I’ve heard, “Get away from me, you pirate hag!” more times than I care to count.
          Aveline: Doesn’t that bother you?
          Isabela: Why should it? They don’t know me. I know me.

          Merrill: (Sighs) Why do you even like me? I must seem so dull.
          Isabela: What brought this on?
          Merrill: Your life has been… so exciting. The adventures, the duels, the passionate love affairs.
          Merrill: Compared to that, my life is a stale, dry biscuit. (Sighs) I wish I had your life.
          Isabela: No. You don’t want my life.
          Merrill: Why?
          Isabela: Because you have a good heart, and you deserve better.

          These are not exceptions to the “rule”. These are but a small sample of the varied insights to her character writer Sheryl Chee embedded in the game. She is far more complex than you seem willing to consider. In a way, I wouldn’t be surprised if this face-value negative perception of Isabela was partially authorial intent, meant to be confronted and countered as the player familiarised her or himself with the character during the course of the story.

          So yes, she likes a dirty joke, and doesn’t make apologies for it.
          – I fail to see how this alone renders her a misogynist construct. Because stating that it is somehow the total make up of her characterisation is an outright lie.

          These are not exceptions which prove this rule you seem convinced is inherent to the charater. These are only a small portion of

        • Also, apologies if I come off as somewhat tetchy. I’ve been arguing this for a while now, but it always manages to get me worked up for some reason.

          • diel says:

            There’s nothing reductionist about it, she doesn’t like dirty jokes she IS one. Out of the two examples you provide, the first one is her bragging about how much she loves to fuck.
            But thank goodness she’s not judged for being a porn fantasy. It’s almost as if the writers made her that way on purpose. She’s written as a charicature of a vagina with bits of human stitched around her, physically her tits and ass are inflated to ridiculous proportions, and you’re scraping your fingernails at bedrock trying to find even an ounce of depth in tired “whore with a heart of gold” cliches. I’m not convinced this rule is inherent to the character I’m saying she’s not a character to begin with. She’s an assemblage of aggressive pandering.

            • “There’s nothing reductionist about it [...]”
              “Out of the two examples you provide, the first one is her bragging about how much she loves to fuck.”

              Yeah. I sense this isn’t likely to go anywhere.

              • Mazed says:

                @diel: And if she were male, but with the same dialogue and characterization, would she be as offensive? If your answer is no, who’s being sexist here?

              • diel says:

                If she were a male with the same dialogue and characterization she’d be an offensive stereotype of a gay man.

                But I assume you mean if she was a straight man, which Bioware specifically didn’t do because they knew a “slutty” woman with huge tits a thin waist and a giant ass would draw in a lot more interest from a predominantly young male audience but hey LET’S PRETEND. Well, you’d probably end up with a mix between Duke Nukem and Leisure Suit Larry and we all know what deep, soulful, award-winning characterizations those are. I can only imagine the kind of snarky fun a wannabe Joss Whedon could have quipped up.
                But thank you for pointing out that I was the Secret Sexist all along. Maybe later you can let me know if I am a Reverse Racist.

                @Blank “Yeah. I sense this isn’t likely to go anywhere.”
                What I said about an hour into Dragon Age 2

              • Zaewen says:

                @Mazed Yeah, I think you’re onto something there. If Isabella were a guy, he’d be seen as fairly normal with maybe a lecherous streak, but women liking sex? And talking about it openly and unabashedly? Heavens forbid, that must be misogynistic. Everyone knows women only like sex so men will fantasize about them.

              • diel says:

                Yes, women like sex. It often doesn’t define 99% of their personality.

  5. Trollock says:

    Unless you are Games Workshop and dominate the miniature market you have to pander to baser instincts to reach sales company like Bioware woukd notice. Privateer Press does this with some of their minis, but Corvus Belli puts some tits and ass one pretty much every miniature in their Infinity franchise (see for yourself, it’s pretty tasteless even by my standards: http://www.waylandgames.co.uk/images/uploads/infinity/280131-0200.jpg). And apparently it works for them just fine.

    BTW: Why should Bioware give a damn about your opinion anyway? They are there not for their fans or art or whatever, they are there to make money. If oversexualizing every single female character will generate more short and mid term profits, even when it alienates dedicated fans like you to the point where they stop buying their games… they will go for it, because people who make this decissions have to honor ther shareholders. Nobody cares aboout long term profits as the executives who kae decissions now will be retired by then anyway. So, either stop buying and stop being their fan or deal with it and accept the as profit orientated company.

    • wundergeek says:

      I’m not saying BioWare needs to specifically care about my opinion. This is so very not about me. I’m saying that I represent many, many, many fans who hate this just much as I do. I’m saying that alienating their fans by pretending to want their feedback and then ignoring their fans when what they wanted went against what they’d already decided to do is a bad idea. And I’m saying that in the end, BioWare can make more money by LISTENING TO THEIR FANS than they can by stomping all over the goodwill that they’ve established, because we’re THEIR FANS. We’re the customers, and as such we have a right to be listened to.

    • Who cares if salacious poses make statues sell better. What sort of figure best suits this character and BioWare’s audience is besides the point. The point is BioWare should not have released this figure because it objectifies women, specifically a character that they have depicted as more than a sexual body.

      It’s offensive, whether it makes money or not.

      • Tay says:

        Bioware didn’t release it though. Some Japanese company did.
        That doesn’t make it right, of course. But considering how unpopular Mass Effect (and Western RPGs in general) are in Japan, if this is what it takes to get Japanese gamers interested in the title, then that’s fine with me. I’d just like to see more Japanese gamers interested in Western games, in general.

    • Ikkin says:

      BTW: Why should Bioware give a damn about your opinion anyway? They are there not for their fans or art or whatever, they are there to make money. If oversexualizing every single female character will generate more short and mid term profits, even when it alienates dedicated fans like you to the point where they stop buying their games… they will go for it, because people who make this decissions have to honor ther shareholders.

      Bioware should care about its fans’ opinions (as a company) because Bioware is a videogame company licensing its property to a third party to have merchandise made for said property, rather than a miniature company selling original miniatures to an audience comprised solely of miniature fans.

      As soon as you license a specific character to make into a figurine, you vastly change the set of people who will buy it. A figurine of Liara will draw in a ton of Mass Effect fans who would have no interest whatsoever in buying generic figurines (they are, in fact, likely to comprise the majority of people buying the figurine). Using another company’s character is likely to turn off some of the fans of generics, too, whether because they dislike the property or because they just don’t like buying stuff that’s branded with a property they don’t care about.

      Because of that, it’s very likely that the composition of the potential purchasing base for such a figure is going to be much closer to the composition of Liara fans than it is to the composition of figure fans. So if Liara fans are saying “I hate this and will never buy it,” Bioware should pay attention on purely economic grounds because they’ve alienated the people for whom the figure was created to sell to in the first place and are almost certainly going to make less money than if they listened to what their fans wanted to begin with.

    • Criminy Jimjams says:

      Oh good grief, really? REALLY?

      “..you have to pander to baser instincts”

      Come ON. Unless you eat your meat raw and sleep in a tree, exercise a little self control and join the legions of adults who can sit on a couch next to someone without needing to hump their leg. “Baser instincts” are a tired-out, disproven excuse for mental laziness of the most pernicious and frequently harmful kind, both on the part of the marketer and the consumer. How many people would have refused to buy a mini that was INSUFFICIENTLY PROVOCATIVELY POSED? Fuck all, that’s how many – or at least few enough that they can’t compare to the number of people who won’t be buying it specifically BECAUSE it turns a fascinating character into a reductive caricature of heteronormative sexuality.

      This is an insult to the fans of the game. Does Bioware really think so little of their male fans that they think we’re not going to enjoy a collectable unless we can rub our dicks on it? Really? THANKS FOR THAT.

      This continued, relentless “pandering” creates a market for this kind of stupidity as much as it continues to supply the one it assumes is there, and that says a lot more about the company than its fan base. There are certainly more and more guys out there who, having been shown another way, are perfectly happy to view women and female characters as people rather than a connected jumble of nubile parts, and as near as any of us can tell our dicks haven’t fallen off and we haven’t woken up gay. Why, just the other day I lifted something heavy!

      Saying that you “have to” pander to the idea that a woman can’t be interesting unless she’s sexually available to YOU PERSONALLY is to insult men, their intelligence, their values, and the women they admire so completely that it leaves no room for handwaving or excuses.

      This is an insult.

      • Trollock says:

        >How many people would have refused to buy a mini that was INSUFFICIENTLY PROVOCATIVELY POSED?

        Prepare for a nasty suprise: Loads.

        See, aside wargamig, creepy fetishist dudes are the only demographic that purchases minis in large numbers. Just check out any site that offers minis and aside from purely historical wargaming (which is hard to find these days, kids like grimderp fantasy more) you’ll see loads of fetish crap in everywhere.

  6. Giolon says:

    What you’re doing here is asking Bioware to take something away from fans who actually do want it, like me. This is exactly counter to your usual argument that there’s room for a variety of female representations and it’s not about taking away from someone else so you can get what YOU want.

    Have you taken a look at the rest of Kotobukiya’s Bishoujo (“Pretty Girl”) line? It spans Marvel and DC and has only recently started branching out of comics into things like Ghostbusters and now Mass Effect. The concepts are all done up by one of my favorite Japanese artists, Yamashita Shunya, mostly for his anime pin-up styled work. I’m not a huge fan of how some of the actual figures turned out, Liara included, but I do think some of them are great like Wonder Woman (she looks strong, confident, and attractive). I’m sure you’ll find them objectionable in some fashion no matter what though.

    While there may have been a fair amount of objection posted on the sites you mention, there are many fans in the anime community who are excited for this figure – men and women both. It’s an anime stylized take by a Japanese company and a Japanese artist on a Western, realistic character.

    But again you’re here actively asking, nearly demanding, for these things not to exist. I don’t think it’s right to do that. By your own previous arguments, what you should be doing is asking for a more realistic figure in addition to this one. I would like to see that too – of all the ME crew – like the canceled DC line of figures they had planned.

    • Niall says:

      Why you feel so entitled to see certain characters sexified by some anime artist? Just because one CAN it doesn’t mean one SHOULD, and that’s the real problem here. When we become attached to characters it’s because they have strong personalities or some other trait, and when they get turned into nothing more than eye candy for adolescent boys and greasy manchildren it’s at best odd and out of character and at worst just plain insulting.

      • Giolon says:

        Why do you feel entitled to having it not exist? It does not take away from Liara in the game. You have that representation and nothing can take it away from you. I wouldn’t ask that they change Liara in the game either. It’s a different take.

        I did not come here and throw personal attacks at you, why do you throw them back (“greasy manchildren”)? I knew I’d be offering an unpopular opinion, but I did my best to be respectful.

        • Ikkin says:

          Why do you feel entitled to having it not exist? It does not take away from Liara in the game. You have that representation and nothing can take it away from you.

          The idea that what a company allows its character’s image to used for outside of their source material does not affect the way said character is perceived is demonstrably untrue. There’s a good reason why, say, Disney would refuse to market such depictions of their characters — it would dilute the brand and hurt the carefully-crafted image of the characters that they created. They wouldn’t go to such extreme lengths to control how their characters are seen (their artists are forbidden, for example, to let the Princesses look directly at each other or the viewer) unless they felt it was important for that image to be consistent.

          And, on a related topic, there’s the respect (or lack thereof) that Bioware shows towards its characters and women in general. Since image is so heavily controlled by corporations, there’s a strong suggestion that Bioware doesn’t think that this conflicts with the character of Liara at all. It also suggests that they see this as a reasonable way to depict women in general, which is what this whole blog was created to argue against. (This blog’s general line of thought tends to suggest that, while “sexy” is not inherently bad and a plethora of different representations should be available, there are some depictions that are almost never okay. “Apathetically submissive walking set of breasts and buttocks” is chief amongst those that most of use wish would go away forever due to conflating sexiness with lack of interest)

        • Criminy Jimjams says:

          Um, actually that’s exactly how licensing works: it is a tacit approval that that is a fair and desirable way to portray the character that is consistent with existing portrayals. Or were you unaware that that is why you can’t buy CTW-licensed Elmo Trucknuts for your nerdmobile?

    • Trollock says:

      You are tasteless jerk who lets who lets talentless hacks who happen to be good craftsmen (anybody can be with expensive 3D printer these days) earn easy money. This causes true art do disappear which makes peope of refined tastes lime me very mad.

      I dislike you!

    • Ivan says:

      Your point is worth talking over but I need some info first: is this the only ME3 Liara figurine out there? or are there other versions? ,also your point about wundergeek’s letter that she should ask for her(I’m assuming realism and character representation as the base for that version here) Liara to be offered as a statue also is valid, but let me ask you this: Does the face on the statue really belongs to Liara from your point of view?

      • wundergeek says:

        Yeah, it’s the only one out there. Which makes this pretty saddening.

      • Giolon says:

        This is the only figure of Liara currently heading to market, but as I said, I’d love to see a more Western realistic style true to the character as much as I like seeing this anime pinup styled one getting made.

        On the face, it completely looks like Liara to me. Especially now that the painted prototype has been unveiled: http://myfigurecollection.net/image/desuminator1317829935.jpeg
        If I had never seen the concept art, or the name associated with it, and someone showed me just a portrait photo of the figure’s face and said “Who is this?”. Liara is exactly the first thing that would come to mind! Part of that may be that we haven’t been exposed to all that many Asari characters, but I think this figure captures her face almost to a T (I’d like to see more prevalence of freckling on her face).

        You may not be familiar with anime style, but large eyes, small mouths, features pushed to the lower regions of the face. Liara is already considered to to have a somewhat innocent, baby-faced appearance by Western beauty standards and this is how that look translates into anime.

    • wundergeek says:

      Dude, go back and actually READ the letter. I’m NOT against a sexy Liara statue. I’m against a statue that presents Liara as nothing more than a creepy sex doll. Contrary to popular belief, feminists don’t hate sex or sexy art. We just want the women in our sexy art to look like ACTUAL PEOPLE.

      • Mirasiel says:

        WG : “Scrap this awful, awful doppleganger of a beloved character. Consign the Kotobukiya statue to the trash heap”

        Sorry WG but I can see exactly how that can be read as wanting to take something away from fans who have different tastes to you, tastes which seem make it ok to flame away at someone who doesn’t share them.

        I’m neutral on this thing for the most part because I kind of like the statue, hate the face but I dont like Liara enough to spend 60 quid on her, no matter how good she looks or which incarnation she is.

        • wundergeek says:

          I don’t know how I can explain more clearly that the reason I hate this statue is that it renders Liara a non-person. If people are determined to still read that as me hating sex, whatever.

      • Giolon says:

        I did read the letter, as well as the first one, and I’ve lurked and read various other material on your site for months (I even listened to one of those podcasts that you appeared on and came off as a reasonable sounding person – as opposed to here where it seems the tone is as strident as possible to cater to the blog’s audience).

        What I wrote was based on the impression I got from both of these letters – if that was the wrong impression, then I apologize. However, it still sounds to me, even from this last comment that you don’t want THIS figure to exist, and if that’s the case, I think that’s wrong. Aruging for, and asking for a “realistic” Liara I think is a great thing (hell, even asking for an over sexualized male Shepherd or Garrus or whatever floats your boat I think is fine). I realize based on that being my first comment that you may assume I’m a drive-by anti-feminist, but I know that’s not the truth – even as you let your other commenters insult and cast aspersions to the contrary breaking, to my eyes, Commenting Policy Rule #1. But, your site your rules.

        I don’t agree with some of your points that you push, but I do find truth or agreement with other ones. I think that sometimes your approach to proportions and exactly matching actual plausible anatomy can be overly dogmatic. Part of art is that you have the freedom to create things outside the realm of actuality. Anime in general doesn’t look like actual people. I find the original concept art for this figure to be better than the final result: http://myfigurecolleciton.net/image/OhnoRaptors1311718934.jpeg
        It’s still stylized and thus she’s about 10 heads high, but her boobs aren’t quite so big, nor are they smashed together by her arms. Such body & limb proportions are fairly common for anime/manga style and applies to both male and female characters – see Code Geass http://www.fanboy.com/archive-images/anime2007-06geass.jpg – (as are extremely small, cuteified “chibi” characters), yet it seems both would be called out for being “unrealistic”. The artists and the fans of this style of art AREN’T looking for accurate representations of actual people. That’s kind of the point – part fo the interest IS the deviation from reality. There seem to be no problems that Liara is a blue alien with tentacles coming out of her head – because that’s not sexual or related to her status as a “female” character?

        Even though they’re partnered with a Western media license, these figures are primarily produced for the Japanese audience. The fact that they can sell them to some fans internationally in the West is a small bonus and far fewer than the amount of people that will buy them domestically. Even were they to make a figure exactly matching Liara in the game and sold it exclusively in the West, they’d still probably sell fewer of them than this figure will sell in Japan. Kotobukiya knows their market and they cater to it. There’s a much smaller figure collecting audience (of any styling) over here.

        • wundergeek says:

          I fully acknowledge that my tone here is pretty strident and that I engage in lots of hyperbole that I don’t engage in outside of my blog. But that’s not me “catering to my audience”. That’s me being emotionally engaged with my subject matter. One of the main reasons I started this blog is because all of this bullshit sexism in gaming pisses me off and I was just done being silent about it. And I was done pretending not to be angry about it. I’ve done the “talking reasonably on the internet” thing, and it never gets anywhere because no matter how reasonable I am, no matter how many facts I back my arguments up with – I’m always, ALWAYS wrong. So, you know, been there, done that, have the t-shirt. If I sound “strident”, it’s because I’m not bothering to hide my feelings anymore – not because I’m trying to pander to some perceived audience.

          As for the figure, yes. I don’t want THIS figure to exist. If the Kotobukiya figure is going to be the only Liara figure, then I don’t want it to exist. It’s bad enough that BioWare is licensing its characters to Kotobukiya, but it’s HORRIBLE that the character they licensed was LIARA, and not, say Jack or Miranda or Samara. The fact that they took the one NON-sexualized female character besides FemShep and turned her into a creepy sex doll is the worst thing of all.

  7. Hazmat Sam says:

    The fumiest thing about all of this is that you guys are just catching on to it now. People on dedicated RPG sites have been calling Bioware out on these things (as well as many others) for years now, and regular gamers have only just woken up to the mediocrity with Dragon Age 2. It’s not even uncharacteristically bad for this company, people just seem to notice everything wrong until now.

    The most amusing thing is watching how fans made ten million words of pornographic fanficiton and literally made a porn magazine for this game, and now they complain about a character being too sexualized. For god’s sake, every playable character in these games is designed first and foremost as a masturbation aid. I don’t even have a sex drive and it’s still obvious.

    • diel says:

      Yeah but if you get 8 hours into the game, sort it out so that your paragon and renegade score are both matching double digits (eg 22 and 11 ) and then hold down the left trigger and type in X-B-A-B while in Miranda’s office she will mention that she likes to do arts and crafts in her spare time so you see her ass ISN’T her sole defining characteristic after all!

    • wundergeek says:

      It’s not that I’m totes just noticing this stuff now. It’s that I always want to convince myself that BioWare is on the side of the angels, because they make games that insult me the LEAST. It’s heart-breaking because they’re so progressive with same-sex issues – so why do they have to be so backward in their treatment of women? And yet they write amazing games with amazing female characters like FemShep, so I find myself wanting to justify their behavior. And yes I realize how messed up that is.

      • Hazmat Sam says:

        “It’s heart-breaking because they’re so progressive with same-sex issues ”

        I’m going to be brutally honest here: They’re not progressive. At all. Every same-sex relationshiip in this game is a calculated pander to the slashfic demographic and/or the sex-obsessed degenerates on DeviantArt. Everything gay in these games is 100% aimed at straight voyeurs.

        You (and a good chunk of the rest of the internet) have convinced yourself otherwise either because you would very much like to believe that there’s a company out there that gives a shit or because, for some strange and insane reason, you actually like these games and need to rationalize it to be congruent with your morality.

        But hey, if you need cheering up, there’s this example of people with responsibly doing it right. (RPGCodex has always been fascinating to me for the weird duality of being grognards and trolls while also being one of the most diverse forums on the Internet. Someone pointed them to the Border House once, and the response to the “feminist, queer, disabled, people of color, transgender, poor, gay, lesbian, and others” tagline was “Cool. It’s like the codex only we’re missing feminists and have nazis instead”)

        • diel says:

          And to be completely honest their progressive attitude is probably a result of being too lazy to create different case-states for male and female PCs. Still, it’s better than nothing.

        • How utterly patronising.
          So anyone whose impression of the same sex relationships in games such as Dragon Age and Jade Empire differ from yours is delusional?
          I don’t see that as an inevitable. In fact, I reject that assessment.
          Not out of some personal bias or need to qualify my position, but because I can’t stand it when people make such staggeringly absolute yet unfounded claims.

    • Tania W says:

      “The most amusing thing is watching how fans made ten million words of pornographic fanficiton and literally made a porn magazine for this game, and now they complain about a character being too sexualized.”

      The difference is, fanfiction and fanart is designed by the fans (i.e. they want to expand on the story or draw/write the characters in situations that haven’t happened in canon), but that doesn’t mean they want to see the characters sexualized IN CANON.

      • Mirasiel says:

        But I can see how Bioware would see that fairly large (so it seems) slice of their fanbase and think “well shit, we are a business and we do like money” and do something to make money off of them.

        They also probably realise that the people who “Do Not Want” are not likely to *not* buy ME3 when it hits the shelves. For a business its a no lose situation.

  8. Pingback: Why is everyone writing about role-playing games? | Digital Ephemera

  9. Tedankhamen says:

    Totally off the present topic – I enjoy this blog and what you’re trying (sometimes against incredible odds) to do with games – make them include women as more than objects. I found this comic ‘Why Cleavage Is Bad For Crimefighting’ and thought it was up your alley. Cheers.

    http://dresdencodak.tumblr.com/

  10. jose says:

    Casey Hudson on twitter: “@femshep_com: The Kotobukiya Liara statue is nice but not my cup of tea. Will you be making any of her in a realistic style?” Yes!

    It seems Liara fans will be able to get a decent one.

  11. Ivan says:

    Hey wundergeek I have a bit off topic question since you look for anatomy fails could you tell me (if you have the time and interest) if there is one in this fan-art of Caitlyn: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/attachment.php?attachmentid=251836&d=1313976985

    • Veric says:

      Pffff, haha, I don’t think an art degree is necessary to see something’s off XD Then again, I do concern myself with anatomy more than perhaps the average person so…

      First off, everything over her hips seems to come from a different picture than everything below. I’m not sure what is going on with her abdomen, because although boob&ass shots are doable (albeit uncomfortable), she wouldn’t be able to slouch so casually like that. (I just attempted it now and yep, no can do. My felt shoulder was pushing left which brought my chest out, instead of in like in the picture).

      Also, have a look at the gun. It’s pretty much parallel to the line of her thighs and seems to be directly over her left thigh (due to her left hand placement and the line of her left forearm). What does it mean? The gun is occupying the place her torso would be. This isn’t necessarily bad, unless you’re sitting over a cliff without any support for your unbalanced torso. Her torso is quite literally leaning back away from her left thigh and towards the precipice. She doesn’t even have the excuse of legs spread for balance or leaning in with head and shoulders (certainly not far enough) for balance.

      However, as for ACTUAL human anatomy (like if her arms are proportionate to her torso) I’m afraid I’m not the best person to tell you. I’d have to redline it, and even so I wouldn’t trust myself to give you a definite verdict (I CAN tell you that her right hand is bigger than her left, lol :P). On the surface it looks good, certainly for the style it’s in.

      Other than that, the colouring is gorgeous! There are a few more little things off, just little details that seem to have been rushed but are easily overlooked so I won’t go into them.

      Sorry for butting in like that, I’m procrastinating :P

  12. Daniel says:

    Maxis is dead, long live EA.
    Westwood is dead, long live EA.
    Bioware is dead, long live EA.

    Your primary problem is you’re addressing a corpse. Your letters are likely being forwarded to some “public relations” android in EA who is promptly deleting them without reading it. Bioware as you know it is dead. Like a member of the Borg, the entity you knew and loved is no more. It has become just another soulless cog in EA’s IP homogenization factory. As time goes on, more core Bioware employees will leave or be fired and that will be left is an empty name EA can slap on the next shooter based RPG they churn out to increase sales.

    If you loved Bioware, the Bioware that gave us Baldur’s Gate, KOTOR, and Mass Effect, you’ll treat like you would any zombified loved one: shoot it in the head. Don’t buy ME3 or any other so-called “Bioware” games EA puts out in the future. Loss of profits is the only language EA understands anymore.

  13. Jessica Merizan says:

    I’m a BioWare employee and I’m listening. Actually, I’m the Community Manager and I’d like to get in touch with you. However, I don’t see any way to get in contact with you (a problem I’ve noticed in more than a few instances). Contact me at jesstifiedkill at gmail dot com or on Twitter @jessicamerizan if you would like to chat :)

  14. mmaster says:

    Blah. I’d forgotten about this in the “The video game industry sucks, but all of it sucks” kind of way, but I was brought back to mind last night:

    Friend: Oh wow! There’s this awesome new figure coming out! I’ll have to pre-order it!
    Me: Which one?
    Friend: This one! *shows a picture of the Liara*
    Me: No. No, you don’t. *Tries to imagine explaining the GMMAS posts and suffers a blue screen of death*
    Friend: But it’s great! Mass Effect was a great game! And this is by one of my favourite figure designers!
    My best friend: But it’s nothing like the character.
    Friend: But it’s awesome!

  15. jose says:

    So they changed it for the final version.

    Still child-like face, still spine-curving pose. It’s a bit sad that this sexed up figure (the comparison to male Shepard remains painfully eye-opening) is actually an improvement over what they originally were offering.

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