>Fanart Hall of Shame: Stregatto10

>I’m getting kind of tired of arguing on the internet of what is and isn’t sexist when it comes to men in video games. I mean, has anyone noticed that the trolls in the previous post’s comment thread (and on See Page XX) have us arguing about depictions of men? Heaven forbid that I should talk about the feelings of a marginalized minority on a blog devoted to talking about sexist depictions of women! That just won’t do!

Whatever. I’m tired of beating my head against the wall for today, so I’m going to tackle something more cut and dry – improbable anatomy and big fake breasts!

So as always, legal boilerplate: All images you see here are the property of Dorotea Gizzi (Stregatto10). I don’t own a thing. The artist’s website can be found here and her DeviantArt profile can be found here. If you click on an image, it will take you to the DeviantArt page that it’s linked from. (I should have done this previously. I will fix previous Fanart Hall of Shame posts when I have some time to go back and re-dig stuff up.)

Now that that’s out of the way…

So Stregatto10 is proof that men don’t have a monopoly on creating sexist art. She has quite an extensive gallery of commissions, as well as a long list of commissions in process – so she looks like she has quite the side business going. While not all of her commissions are video game characters, it looks like about half of them are, and out of all of those (there were quite a few) there are only TWO that I can show here, since the rest are pretty much entirely naked except for strategically covered ladybits.

As such, most of what I’m posting here is non-commissioned fanart (at least from what I can tell). But if you log into DeviantArt and investigate Stregatto10’s profile, you can see for yourself that the commissions I’m not posting here are much, much worse than what I’m showing here.

First up is one of the two commissions that isn’t too raunchy to post here – Zoey from Left4Dead:


(PROPERTY OF STREGATTO10, CLICK FOR LINK)

So, pretty classic example here of boobifying one of the rare non-sexualized female characters in video games. (If you’re not familiar with Zoey, check out this image. She’s pretty cool, design-wise.) Sexy “please bang me against this wall pose”, check. Big fake perfectly spherical breasts, check. Passive expression, check. This is pretty much a how-to for everyone looking to dis-empower female characters with agency. But this is just the tip of the iceberg:


(PROPERTY OF STREGATTO10, CLICK FOR LINKS)

On the left we have the Taki picture that originally linked me to Stregatto10’s profile, while on the left we have the only other commission that I could show here – Shura (also from Soul Calibur 4). So in both cases we have a pretty giant case of yuck, though Taki is inarguably more freakish than Shura since both her boobs and her ass look like over-inflated balloons. But Shura winds up being just as perplexing since it’s a commission; clearly someone ASKED for this picture and paid money for it. But in what universe is either of these women even remotely sexy? Srsly, a universe of yuck.

And of course, things wouldn’t be complete without Ivy:


(PROPERTY OF STREGATTO10, CLICK FOR LINKS)

Some days I can’t decide if Samus’ Zero Suit was the worst thing to happen to fanart or if that honor should go to Ivy’s SC4 redesign. These are all just so, so wrong. Like so much other art of the Soul Calibur women, all of these Ivy’s seem to have some sort of organ TARDIS, since their rib cages are clearly not large enough to contain her internal organs. And what’s with the boob strap? That thing must be made of titanium to contain those ta-tas. Either that or it has an anti-grav field build in, because there’s just no way those boobs should stay in that top.

Lastly, I just have to ask. What is the obsession with having female fighting game characters rub boobs? I seriously don’t get it.


(PROPERTY OF STREGATTO10, CLICK FOR LINK)

And here we have another one of my least favorite characters ever – Morrigan. Amazingly, while her boobs are very, very large, they look like they might not be implants (it’s kind of ambiguous). But I guess that’s made up for with the completely ridiculous ass cleavage. This one is a pretty classic example of the “please bang me right now” school of posing.


(PROPERTY OF STREGATTO10, CLICK FOR LINKS)

Lastly we have yet another entry in why I will always hate the Dead or Alive girls now and forever. Morrigan’s breasts miiiiight not have been fake, but these breasts definitely are. Ayane (left) is just… so… passive. And Kasumi – what the hell is with that hand placement? I mean, I can’t help but wondering what she’s doing with that right hand, which I imagine is probably the point.

The thing that makes me sad is that Stregatto10’s coloring skills blow mine out of the water, even if she seems purposefully ignorant of how female anatomy actually works.

>To dudes who think gaming is "sexist against men": YOU’RE WRONG.

>[Edit: There have been some… interesting comments about this post both here and other places, mostly arguing that this post is heavily biased. To that, I can only say – go read my article. It’s that link in the first sentence, and it has actual numbers. And if you still don’t believe me, go examine some of my sources yourself.]

Response to my article about sexism in game imagery continues to trickle in over on See Page XX. Some of it has been really great, like a response by Morgue – the guy whose original study of Dragon Magazine covers I based my methods on. There’s been a fair amount of backlash too – not as much as I expected, but certainly enough to prove a point. A fair amount of the backlash I’ve gotten has been along the lines of “but game art is sexist against men too!”

In fact, just yesterday I got a comment that managed to cram “I’m not a sexist gamer”, “sex sells, get used to it”, “gaming is sexist against men”, and “your numbers/methods are flawed” all into one comment:

If I were a male gamer (which I am) and I would pretend demonstrating my theory that the gaming imagery is sexist AGAINST men, I could have done it with exactly the same set of data you are using. The basic male depiction is a Gym instructor Alpha male with a bare chest.

/headdesk

Despite my policy of trying not to feed trolls, I couldn’t let that stand and started off my response with the following:

Clearly your knowledge of how statistics works is flawed if you think that these same numbers could be used to argue that gaming is sexist against men. Go back and read the section on how I engineered the criteria again. I engineered the criteria so that this study intentionally made it hard for women to qualify as suggestive and EASY for men to qualify as suggestive. I mean, come on. I counted a COW as suggestive, despite the fact that any sane person would not call a picture of a cow suggestive. And DESPITE ALL THAT, the numbers still clearly show that across all areas of gaming, suggestive figures are OVERWHELMINGLY women. So please explain to me in what universe this can be used to support your premise of “sexism against men”.

But after I posted, I really thought that this bullshit line of reasoning deserved a more in depth response. Because, really – there are two things going on here. First of all, the idealization of men is not, IS NOT, IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE the same as the sexualization of women. There is absolutely nothing about the design of idealized male characters that says “fuckable” like the hordes of female characters designed for male viewers and players. So do not EVER try to tell me that men are treated with equal sexism as women in games.

(If you seriously believe this to be true, then you need to check your privilege and actually re-examine my sources if you don’t believe me. If you actually bother to keep count instead of ignoring all of the images that don’t support your bias, you’ll find that I’m right.)

Secondly, as to “all men in games are idealized”, I call bullshit on that too. The diversity of depictions of men in gaming is staggering. You can find male characters of all body types and ages in video games. Sure there’s a fair number of muscled meat-heads:

But for every Amarant that’s out there, there are many more non-idealized depictions of men. I mean, hell – look at Team Fortress:
Check it out – every silhouette is different. You’ve got huge guys, short guys, fat guys, and skinny guys, and some just average guys. And that’s just one game! Look at what happens when you look at existing video game characters! You’ve got gangly, half-developed teenagers:
LEFT: Hope from FFXIII, RIGHT: Sora from Kingdom Hearts 2

There’s a fair amount of differences just between Hope and Sora even. Hope is a more passive, less fighty type of character while Sora is more aggressive and hits things with large keys a lot – even if both of them do fit certain JRPG design tropes.

You’ve also got older characters:

LEFT TO RIGHT: Ansem the Wise from KH2, Leisure Suit Larry from ?, Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid (not sure which game)

Sure, Ansem looks pretty good for an old guy. But Snake looks pretty haggard here, and Larry is pretty tubby as well as balding. And again, you have a diversity of character concepts as well – from scientist to aging playboy to grizzled veteran, each of these characters is unique.

Most characters, of course, fall somewhere in between these two extremes in terms of age. You can find male characters in this set that represent every body type imagineable.You’ve got your super-skinny/gangly characters:


LEFT TO RIGHT: Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island series, Luigi from many Super Mario games, Kiros from FFVIII, and Zidane from FFIX.
There’s also a whole host of average dudes, like these guys:
LEFT TO RIGHT: Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Max Payne, Gordon Freeman from Half-Life 2, Link from the Zelda series, and Leon from Resident Evil

Say what you want about Link being sort of androgynous, but dude is definitely not a body builder. He looks like a pretty average guy who just happens to bash people with swords. Same goes for Gordon Freeman.

But really, I think the real nail in the coffin is the mind-boggling number of fat male characters out there:


TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT: King Hippo from Punch Out, Ward from FFVIII, Rufus from Street Fighter, Bowser from Super Mario games
BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT: E. Honda from Street Fighter, Steiner from FFIX, Karnov from Karnov’s Revenge, Mario, and Rodrigo Borgia from Assassin’s Creed 2

So, yes, while there is some truth to the fact that mainstream game designers are not the most creative people out there, the fact still remains that the diversity of body types seen in male characters in gaming is enormous. Mario alone should be proof of that – he’s one of the most beloved characters of all time and he’s basically the cartoon version of Ron Jeremy! The fact is that female characters in video games just can’t compete in terms of diversity.

Look at Faith from Mirror’s Edge – the fact that a slim, flat-chested woman was the lead in her own game is a matter of controversy! And check out the response so far to the new design of Lara Croft that isn’t ridiculously sexualized. The fact that these are both controversial says a lot about how women are depicted in video games. As for overweight women, the only characters I can think of off the top of my head are Queen Brahne from FFIX – not counting those awful princesses in Fat Princess.

Now, I will at the end, here, say that – yes. Male characters are disproportionately idealized. Is it ridiculous that Ryu’s arms are as big as his thighs? Yes. Are the Gears of War men ridiculous? Yes. But let me tell you, having to look at enlarged biceps just won’t ever compare with what women face when looking at ridiculous video game women like Taki.

>For Boxing Day, I got you some WTF!

>Hi, folks! I’m having a wonderful holiday, so I thought I’d share some festivus cheer with you all! Today’s WTF is decidedly frisky, but since it’s a long weekend that shouldn’t be a problem. (Or at least I hope it’s not a problem. If you’re at work while you’re reading this, you have my sympathies.)

WTF the first

A Street Fighter Condom! Obviously not sanctioned by Capcom, image very NSFW. So, okay – I’ll admit that this one is actually pretty humorous – and I’m actually kind of impressed that Ryu’s the naked one and not Chun Li (that’s pretty unusual for that sort of thing). Mostly, the bothersome thing is that the link from Destructoid pretty much assumes that anyone looking at this is a dude by opening up with:

Have you been looking for a way to combine your love of uppercutting people with your love of sticking your penis in things? Do you like not having to pay child support to illegitimate children? Are you frustrated that there isn’t a contraceptive device available that shows Ryu’s testicles?

Sure, it’s funny. But can’t I appreciate the absurdity of a Street Fighter condom without having a penis? Or is that not an option?

WTF the second

I was scarred when I found out this exists and had to share the pain: behold the Pokebra.

I got nothin’.

WTF the third

According to RPG Geek, there is an actual d20/OGL product for 3.0 D&D called Chainmail Bikini. The blurb on RPG Geek’s product info starts out:

From the company that brought you Bride of Portable Hole: The Book of Neurotic Fantasy, and the author who really wanted a feat called Bondage Attack in E.N. Arsenal – Whips, comes a product that brings the superficiality and vapidity of pop culture into the realm of heroic fantasy roleplaying.

Wow. That sounds really classy. I mean, this sounds exactly what I’ve been missing in my search for material to support strong female characters in fantasy gaming. (/sarcasm)

Okay, seriously? Anyone who got this for me would find them in about as deep a shit as if they got me a vacuum cleaner or a carpet steamer.

>You can find me on Delicious

>Hi, folks. Two things really quick before I go home and wait for the imminent arrival of family.

Thing the First

A few weeks ago when my Google doc of links for future reference hit nine pages, I started to slowly transfer them to Delicious just so that I could organize them, since it was getting hard to find stuff I wanted to link to. I’m not done posting links – I’ve gotten through about 4/5 of them. But I figured I’d throw up a link to my Delicious page in case anyone else finds it useful. Mostly I plan on using it as an organizational tool for myself, but it might provide you folks with interesting reading material.

If you’re a Delicious user and you want to send something my way but are too lazy to comment here, feel free to use the tag #gmmas to send it my way.

Thing the Second

A dear friend of mine wrote this amazing and completely win-filled response on tumblr to some of the backlash my article on depictions of women in gaming has gotten. If you liked the article, you should go read the response here.

Things like this make me pleased that I have such awesome friends.

That’s all from me. Have a good holiday!

>Boobular webcomic banners (warning: not dialup friendly)

>[Edited: The images should work now]

A brief side note: Things are going to slow down quite a bit until after the holidays, due to the many and varied holiday celebrations that come with having a large family. I’ll try to pop in and it least post some links, but things won’t pick up again until after New Year. So go and have a good holiday and take a break from reading about headache-inducing sexism. The wundergeek commands you!

Another brief side note: Yes, yes I know that webcomics aren’t games and that I’m “diluting my focus” by talking about them here. Whatever. Webcomics are still a bastion of geekery, so I view this is related.

And now, the ranting:
There are a lot of webcomics out there that rely on badly drawn boobs to try to draw traffic to their sites. And man, I get tired of badly drawn boobs. At least with game art, 95% of the time I get well-rendered disgusting boobage. I’ve been collecting banners that I’ve come across while keeping up with my favorite comics. Just as a “fun” little exercise, I made a little collage for your viewing enjoyment:


(click for much larger version)

The discouraging part is that it only took me three or four weeks to collect all these, and I’m not in any way a huge webcomic addict. (Or at least, with “only” 9 comics that I follow on a regular basis I’m certainly not as huge a webcomic addict as some people out there.)

I get kind of the same feeling looking at this that I do sometimes when I’m walking around the Dealer’s Room at GenCon, except with the added frustration that I want to make half of these guys take a f*cking anatomy lesson. Big fake breasts are one thing, but if you’re going to have them in your comic then at least draw them CORRECTLY. I mean, some of the boobs in this collage are just horrific. (I’m looking at you, Wireheads.)

It’s just frustrating, because I feel like I can’t escape the legions of horribly drawn boobages (yes I’m making up words again) even when I’m reading my favorite comics! The comics I love have strong female heroes who are not any more sexualized than their male counterparts – so why should I have to put up with this invasion into my nice, sane comic space?

Arg.

For those of you who’d like a snarkier take, I also did a second version of the collage with my comments overlaid. I won’t post it here since it, too, is quite large. But you can find it here if you want my analysis of why these banners suck.

>Depictions of Women in Games: Some Follow-up Notes

>I’ve gotten some critical comments regarding my article about depictions of women in gaming (please do go read it if you haven’t already). Mostly these comments seem to not grasp the fact that the criteria were intentionally engineered to be slightly ridiculous. So – a few things:

Re: The subjectivity of the criteria makes this statistically useless

This isn’t meant to provide numbers in the sense that you can use this to prove exact percentages. This is meant to provide numbers in the sense that it clearly documents sexist trends in depictions of women in game art across all areas of gaming. I engineered my criteria to be very conservative when labeling women as suggestive and very liberal when labeling men as suggestive, so the fact that the numbers I generated still show a very clear sexist trend is significant.

OMG why is a cow labeled suggestive?

Sure it’s ridiculous. Again, I intentionally made my criteria very liberal when looking at male figures to offset the deep personal bias that I have regarding this kind of art. I realize that no one is going to look at this cow and go “va va voom!”. But the cow isn’t wearing pants, which makes him suggestive according to the criteria I defined. And in fact, a significant number of the male figures I countered were monstrous humanoids, which seems significant in a way that I can’t pin down.

Looking at other sources

If someone wants to take my methods and apply them to other stuff like Pathfinder or Magic, please do! I’d appreciate a message here just to let me know what you’d find, is all.

Specific interpretations of numbers

I am not a statistician or anything having to do with math – I studied Fine Art. Also, I recognize that the subjectivity of the criteria makes specific conclusions problematic in some cases. However, what is inarguable is that across all areas of gaming, game art displays markedly sexist trends despite having engineered the survey to conservatively evaluate women that would commonly be called suggestive and to liberally evaluate men who would commonly be called not suggestive.

Lack of pants = suggestive?

You’ll note that I specifically said that characters “not having covered legs” would automatically be considered suggestive. Leg coverings include skirts, which are a non-bifurcated leg covering. Leg coverings do not include thigh-high stockings or tights. This is just common sense. If I tried to go to work in just tights or thigh-high stockings, I’m pretty sure I would get in trouble.

I’m not going to count biceps on men as suggestive for the same reason I don’t count them as suggestive on women. You can be attracted to people with large biceps, but calling bare arms suggestive is just absurd for either sex.

>Just for the record

>I’ve found myself saying a lot of the same things in various places on the internet in the past couple of weeks, so I’m going to say some stuff here so that I can refer back to this in the future and not have to articulate it again. With that in mind, let me throw some stuff out here:


I don’t care if you like cheesecake.

If you like cheesecake, good for you. I’m honestly not judging you; that’s a matter of personal taste. I also recognize that there isn’t just a binary between “I like cheesecake” and “I don’t like cheesecake” and I respect that too. I’m not going to get into the business of judging individual consumers of media for their tastes, because that’s just counterproductive and hypocritical.

I am (probably) not judging you

I’m reserving judgement for the artists, writers, and publishers who use cheesecake to make money. These are the people who are intentionally marginalizing women and perpetuating stereotypes for the sake of making a few quick bucks, and these are the people that deserve to be called out publicly on their bullshit. I’m not against all sex ever in RPGs. I’m not against all sex ever in art. I’m not against all people ever who like sexy art, or who like sex, or who like sex and RPGs. I’m against people who purposefully, deliberately, and systematically dehumanize women for personal gain and profit.

Wait, part of that was really important, so let me say it again:

I’m not against all sex ever in RPGs. I’m not against all sex ever in art. I’m not against all people ever who like sexy art, or who like sex, or who like sex and RPGs.

Okay, what else…

What do I want? A diversity of depictions of women in game art.

Women in game art are hyper-idealized and hyper-sexualized. You see so many male body types depicted in fantasy, but the only female body type you see in game art is Barbie. For that matter, there just aren’t any “fuckable” men that are equivalent to the cheesecake skanks they put in books. People go on and on about ridiculous beefcake, but if you start counting actual images, the numbers just don’t support it.

Calling women in game art skanks

I’m not going to apologize for calling imaginary women skanks, especially not women who have been EXPLICITLY DESIGNED to be “fuckable”. Everything about the costume, posing, anatomy, and other contextual elements of these elements is designed to make it clear to the male viewer that these women are totally available for banging. THAT is why I call them skanks.

For the record, I do regret comments I made about Jenny Poisson. I’m not going to go delete them because that would be cowardice, but I’ll state that I was under the impression she was a paid model and not a fan. That was not correct. I stand by my assertion that Paizo’s exclusive use of her photo to promote the contest was sexist, but I do regret the “splash damage” of my comments about the photo itself.

That being said:

I’m still not against sex, or against women who like to have sex, or against women who like to cosplay, or against women who like to dress sexily, or even women having sex while dressed in sexy cosplay.

Also:

On taking a more “objective” approach:

I am looking at all the ridiculous sexist imagery that pisses me the f*ck off and talking about why it is f*cking ridiculous. I don’t give a rat’s ass that I’m fighting a losing battle. I’m done being silent. I’m just done. I experience shame and insecurity about this shit on a near-daily basis, and I think that voicing my emotions is just as important as examining the imagery. Too many women feel they have to be silent about how sexism affects them. I’m done being silent. If that makes my blog less “useful” then that’s fine with me.

I don’t want all women to wear burkas

See again my comments re: desiring a diversity of depictions. See also comments re: not being against sex.

I reserve the right to come back and edit this should the need arise.