Unavoidable life implosion

I’ll provide more detail when I can, but this space will be silent for a while. There’s a good chance I won’t be responding to email or reading comments.

Play nice, kids.

36 thoughts on “Unavoidable life implosion

  1. I hope this is just because you’ve one the lottery and are currently running around the Canadian wastelands buying everything you can🙂

  2. Okay, obviously you wont be surprised by this, but it turns out Caesary has sunk to new lows.

    I can’t seem to copy the ad, but here’s the text:

    “One Click for a Roman Orgy!
    Click now!”

    With, of course, a female face and arm in the background. Blargh. I figure it might at least make a quick filler post, since clearly they’ve now dropped all pretense that it’s just a background image.

    • If you need to “copy” an image and you’re using a PC that you can’t by right clicking or whatever, you can use the Prnt Scrn button to copy an image of your screen to the clipboard, then paste it to Paint and crop it down to size, then post it up to photobucket or whatever.

    • To be frank, I’m insulted at the lack of men. Greco-roman culture was all about the mansex. this is like 300 all over again.

  3. Here’s a link I found that you all might be interested in (it even refers back to Wundergeek’s posts in a few places):

    “Boys Get Naked Better Than Girls

    It’s mostly about the differences in the way clothing damage is portrayed when male characters are involved as opposed to female characters. I don’t really agree with the author on a few things regarding the sexualization of male characters, but it’s still an interesting read.

    • Thanks for sharing that. Everyone oughtta give it a read.

      I believe it’s quite possible to depict an under-dressed woman in a manner that empowers much the same way that article describes Kratos’ near-nudity as empowering him, while at the same time not shying away from sexuality (but not blatantly fetishizing it the way games like Tera do) and completely avoiding a vulnerable or victimized look (the way this new Tomb Raider looks to unfortunately be headed). Such a depiction would be hard to pull off convincingly, given all our preconceptions, but nonetheless would be a worthy thing for directors and artists to aim for.

      Consider: If they were to remake the SNES game Chrono Trigger with the kind of visual and cinematic flair that games nowadays have, it’s possible that they could pull this off with Ayla, the (barely) fur-clad cavewoman party member–not that she was ever a particularly deep character, but the basic idea is there. I would even argue that that old 16-bit game already pulled it off, to a degree, even restricted as they were by technology.

      • I think it’s possible, but very, very difficult (and some people still wouldn’t get the point no matter what you did).

        A current-gen Ayla would probably look identical to her concept art as drawn by Akira Toriyama, only cel-shaded. And in that artwork, her low forehead and general Dragonball Z-esque proportions make her much closer to a female equivalent of the barbarian archetype than… almost anything else I’ve seen, anyway. Still not convinced it totally works, though, considering the cleavage. =/

        • Likely not, and it’s truly a shame. It seems obvious to me, but that should not be just because I’ve got an art degree and have taught figure-drawing classes. There is still a very distinct difference between exaggerated fetishized sexuality and exaggerated natural sexuality. The former should be kept firmly in pornography’s sewer, and it’s prevalence in games is truly obnoxious. The latter can still be very poorly done, though it isn’t a bad thing in and of itself–and can certainly be used very positively, without diminishing the subjects portrayed in the slightest. Art directors need to understand this. *Every” game consumer who appreciates what aesthetics do for their hobby needs to understand this.

          • Can you expand on your differentiate between “exaggerated fetishized sexuality” and “exaggerated natural sexuality” some more? I’m not sure I understand what you’re referring to in the case of the latter.

            • Sure. That one, at least, is kind of ambiguous, and pretty broad.

              “Fetishized” sexuality, as you’re probably aware, is the kind of thing tackled most often in this blog. Female “armor” designs in Tera, Lineage, and practically every other Korean MMO; Bayonetta, Soul Calibur, Dragon’s Crown, Dead or Alive, Mortal Kombat, Fran and Lulu from Final Fantasy, and others. This is where the subject is dressed in something that serves positively no purpose but to titillate and framed in a manner not unlike a fashion show or photoshoot. Every single shot is “male gaze”. Essentially, the only thing that comes across here is sex appeal. It’s only purpose is to arouse.

              This sort of thing has it’s place, and that place is pornography (or “erotica” if you’re trying to be classy). It should absolutely not be as prevalent in mainstream video games as it’s become, the reasons for which are well-covered by this blog.

              “Natural” sexuality is something that the article you linked sort of touches upon, as there are easy male examples, but it favors both sexes equally, more or less. The primary thing here is that the subject is depicted and framed in a way that illustrates a personality well beyond sex appeal, though that’s well-incorporated into their character design. My terming of this as “exaggerated natural sexuality” means that that aspect exists, but it doesn’t overwhelm the character, and seems more like a natural part of them rather than what defines them.

              Kratos is a prime male example. He’s as oversexualized as almost everything else in God of War. Other male examples would be Jecht from Final Fantasy X (though mostly as depicted in the Dissidia spinoffs) and about half the male cast of the Metal Gear Solid series, not the least of whom is Snake, the protagonist. His painstakingly-rendered butt is almost as conspicuous as Mass Effect’s Miranda’s.

              Female examples would include Ayla from Chrono Trigger, as mentioned before, most of the female cast of the Street Fighter series (with a few unfortunate exceptions that belong in the former category–most obviously Cammy), Fang, Tifa, Garnet, Quistis, and Yuna (X-2 version) from Final Fantasy, Sylvanas from Warcraft, Nariko from Heavenly Sword, KOS-MOS from Xenosaga, Samus Aran, Leliana from Dragon Age, and Tali and Liara from Mass Effect.

              That all of these characters, male and female, have deliberate sex appeal can’t be denied. However, care has been taken on part of the artists and directors of these games that they’re not just onscreen for eye candy, that they’re actual *characters* written as such, and that audience members not looking for titillation won’t have that shoved in their faces.

              Whether or not this is still a good or healthy thing is, of course, up to one’s own judgment, a good enough subject of debate itself. However, given how sex will always sell and sex appeal will never cease to be a deliberate part of characters both male and female, I would say that this is a perfectly acceptable compromise.

              • So, basically, you’re saying that you’re fine with a character sexualized in a way that doesn’t break suspension of disbelief? Like, Ayla’s costume, to use your example, is better than, say, Sakura’s from Street fighter because it makes sense that a cavepeople would wear furs while it makes no goddamn sense for anyone to go street fighting in a schoolgirl uniform. Or, to get back to body types, that Ivy from Soul Calibur is, besides her outfit, fetishized because there’s no way her breasts match her body frame, while Tifa from FF, who also has large breasts, is acceptable because they look like they could actually fit her, (well, the newer renders of her, now that graphics design is advanced enough to give modellers a choice between ‘completely flat-chested’ and ‘gigantic’) and thus characters like her don’t break suspension, unless every character is “coincidentally” large breasted. Am I getting the gist of it?

                If so, I sort of get that, but I think it’s quite misleading to talk about simulacra as having “natural” anything. Every single piece of a character has a teleology. Nothing about a character is “natural” in that sense. (frankly, the distinction between ‘natural sexuality’ and a fetish has always seemed a bit too Freudian for me, but that’s a personal thing, so I’ll leave that discussion aside)

              • I’m not sure that’s what Mazed is saying, Sam.

                The distinction seems to be less about whether the character design is contextually appropriate and more about whether there’d be anything left to the character if the “sexy” was taken away.

                Or, another way of putting it might be, is the character someone the audience can identify with? Would the female portion of the audience have any desire to be the character, or even do cosplay of them, if male interest wasn’t a factor? Because it does seem like there’s a clear distinction between that type of character and, say, Ivy.

              • @Hazmat Sam: Yep, that’s pretty much it. I suppose going into the deeper distinction might indeed be more of a psychological thing, as we are indeed speaking of fictional characters.

                Heh, on the subject of Sakura in Street Fighter: I say she gets a pass, because her choice of attire works within the context of the ensemble cast. The cast of series is completely over-the-top (to spectacular effect; SF4 is easily my favorite fighting game of all time, with one of my favorite groups of characters of all time), and Sakura’s outfit isn’t too crazy. If they were playing her up as a sex object, they’d certainly not have her wearing modest athletic briefs under her skirt like she does. She’s still got it, but the persona presented within the game isn’t remotely smothered by it. There’s a lot more positive to be said in general of her and other characters in the series, but these posts are rambly enough!

              • Also @Ikkin:

                And yeah, that too. I probably made the subject a bit more rambling than I needed to. >_>

              • Mazed: “I suppose going into the deeper distinction might indeed be more of a psychological thing, as we are indeed speaking of fictional characters.”

                Oh God, don’t I know it. It’s nearly impossible not to reify simulacra as it is. Calling something natural is just more negative reinforcement. The word “character” also does this, being that it can be used to describe physical actors, but I’ve settled on it as the best word we have, since “simulacra” is not a word for a declared non-academic zone like this one. Vernacular English has sadly not kept pace with hyperreality.

                As to Sakura, I suppose you’re right. I can’t rightfully appeal to practicality in a game with Hakan and Rufus in it.

                The Ivy thing, though I see a bit differently. Ivy’s got a fair bit of character to her She a scholar of alchemy (which makes the “oh, she stopped her aging process” thing in SCV slightly less of a cop out), got the Gothic ‘tainted blood’ thing, a mission to avenge her family, a magic sword, a guilt complex over that one time she was tricked into working with the bad guys, and one of the most bizarre family conflicts in fiction. (Her zombie-demon-ghost-pirate dad stole her soul and she still doesn’t have it back; she built an artificial replacementwith alchemy)

                No one pays any attention to that, of course, I think an armoured and anatomically-correct Icy could be an interesting character (well, at least as interesting as the other characters; this is a fighting game, after all) without changing anything else. It sure as hell won’t happen, but it could.

              • @Sam: I challenge game artists to design a female character with a full-on novelty body, hourglass with big boobs and butt and all that…and dress her completely normally, if not overly conservatively. And never show her wearing less.

                Just once! I’m sure they can do it!

              • Well, I never said there’s any chance in hell of it happening, just that it is possible and that characters remembered entirely for sex appeal aren’t necessarily defined in text only as such. (TVtropes calls this phenomenon “Everybody Remembers the stripper”.) I’m not saying it’s undeserved: Ivy’s most noticed feature is rightly her sex appeal; I’m just saying it’s not the only thing and the same character without it would probably do just as well. (for a fighting game, I mean. The bar isn’t very high for characterization in these things.)

                I’m 100% with you on that request, though. My dearest friends tend toward that body type, being sex workers and all, and it’s quite annoying for all of us that people have this strange assumption that people shaped like strippers always dress like strippers even when not stripping. Someone with a voluptuous body type that doesn’t dress like she’s posing for the agency when there’s a zombie attack or a dragon to slay would be refreshing. It happens in superhero comics sometimes, but that’s only an accident because the artists are lazy and draw all women the same way.

        • Oh, also, on your last point: I’m trying to think of a design that incorporates cleavage for any reason other than simply an excuse to show cleavage, regardless of the logic of the character or situation that they may be in.

          I got nothin’. >:/

          • OK now try to think of a design that incorporates naked men in only their underpants for any other reason then to show naked men in their boxers.

              • Or hell, even a wrestler wearing briefs.

                On that note, the female equivalent would be shorts and a sports bra, which I suppose could be cleavage-y without it looking very gratuitous.

                Hell. If she’s supposed to look like an athlete, and if the lady in question still has big breasts (rare on really toned bodies, but not unrealistic), that’s actually the most practical thing she could be wearing. So I suppose that actually answers that!

              • Sports bras generally tend more towards modesty than cleavage, though. Most of the ones I see have neckline high enough that you wouldn’t see much unless the camera was looking down it (and they’re mechanically different to the push-up kind of bras that are used to create the cleavage effect).

                It’d only work for athletes rather than warriors, though, since warriors will always have reason to keep more skin covered.

              • Depends on the time period and the climate. Desert armies generally dressed lighter to minimize fatigue, the Gaelic tribes famously fought naked, Greeks had the Muscle Cuirass, which really has to be seen to be believed.

                A brief tangent from a history enthusiast: The typical idea we have of pre-gunpoweder armour, walking human-tanks with fiftey pounds of steel strapped to them, is a comparatively recent phenomenon, one that only really became logistically practical (remember: military amateurs talk tactics; professionals talk logistics) for even the ruling class once larger horses that could bear it were bred and stirrups were invented. ( interesting gender tidbit: high heeled shoes were originally invented around Persia to augment said stirrups; they were actually a masculine military-chic fashion outside the battlefield, kind of like dog tags are now, for a significant period of time) Furthermore, heavy armour only really lasted until longbows and firearms obsoleted the knight; look at Renaissance military outfits sometime.

              • I was referring to the sports-bra and shorts combo in particular as seeming unusual for use on the battlefield, not a lack of heavy armor. Post-gunpowder-era military uniforms might not have been particularly well-protected in terms of armor (up until bulletproof materials were developed), but they still generally covered most of the body (unless I’m misremembering some counterexamples). Showing lots of skin on the battlefield in all but the most specific of circumstances would seem like fanservice, especially if the popular expectation (whether correct or not) is for the fighters to be wearing protective armor.

              • You’d be surprised. The Roman army managed to conquer most of Europe wearing things like this or this. To hell with shorts, they didn’t even wear pants, period. People really overestimate how much stokc ancients but on armour compared to shields, movement, and encumbrance.

                I know, I know, the audience reaction is the only important thing, and we’re talking about fantasy fiction, not historical documentary, etc. I agree with all that but, and perhaps it’s just me, I find the whole “fabricated pseudo-medieval” look pathetic and boring. I wish that audiences would not have the expectation that requires it.

      • I read the article, it was interesting.

        Now I do not know whether the new Tomb Raider will go for Lara being victimized or will it go for her being inexperienced (thin line there), but my main concerns are currently with Starcraft 2: Hearth of the Swarm. Why?

        Because they are doing Kerrigan in this one and for the first time in the storyline of the Starcraft universe she will have free will over her action and will not be a mental and/or physical cripple being dragged along by one of the factions ,read her story if you want full details, but put simply she has not been capable of thinking and/or acting independently of the fractions she was a part of, even Mengsk had her stolen from a Confederate lab that was doing Ghost/Zerg experiments, in other words before the Overmind and the Swarm turned her into the Queen of Blades she had been implanted with a mind-control chips and psychological conditioning by the confederates and then Mengsk had the implants removed and he played mind-games with her so he could use her as a weapon against the Confederacy and after she completed her mission at New Gettysburg he just abandoned her to the Zerg which in turn led to her being programed by the Overmind to kill all of the cerebrates and take over the whole ruling the Swarm thing after its death. And now at the end of Starcraft 2: Wings of Liberty campaign she is purged of the Zerg infestation by Raynor and as she had removed her psychological conditioning during the time she was a Zerg this is the first time in the Starcraft story since she was eight years old that she can choose her own actions (almost) freely and be a complete person again.

        And now that Blizzard has reached this part of the Starcraft story I am worried because I think there is a possibility for her to be a really interesting and complex character and I am worried now that they will either go with her being a stereotypical Zerg Queen/Master commander and nothing else or that her human moments will be badly done and predictable.

        • I’m feeling optimistic about it. I could be proven wrong, but Kerrigan seems to have been done, thus far, as maintaining a strong personality whatever her mental state, and I think she’ll keep that in Heart of the Swarm. Even if the events of the game result in her downfall, I don’t think it will be due to her being weak or powerless. We shall see, of course.

  4. Best of luck dealing with the implosion. Whatever it is, remember to take time to breath deep and slow when the stress piles up.

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