I happened to stumble across something in my internet travels that reminded me of an old post that I did about industry game artist Hyung Tae Kim – who gets paid a lot of money to draw freakishly distorted women with flopping distended lemons pinned to their chests, freakishly long legs, and lovingly detailed ladybits. For those of you who haven’t seen the old post, go take a look. (Linked to the blogger version since I still haven’t gone back and fixed the wacky image sizing problems that importing to wordpress caused…)

I kind of forgot about it for a while, but it looks like NCSoft – the publisher of Guild Wars – is picking up Blade and Soul – the MMO that HTK has been hired to design – for publication, formerly referred to by the code name “Project M”. I’ve been having trouble finding details, but I’m assuming this means it will be available for publication in North America, which is about a million different kinds of fucked up. I mean, Blade and Soul makes Tera look like they’re not even trying:

So I’ve pretty much promised myself that if I find out that any of my friends express a desire to play this game, I will either stop talking to them or smack them repeatedly in the head until they come to their senses. Seriously, every female model has lovingly modeled cameltoe, which is just… disturbing. And about every third screen shot I found makes sure to show it off.

Clearly this is not a game aimed at women, or anyone who sees women as anything other than pieces of meat.

And you know, whatever. Once upon a time I would have ranted and raved, but really -what else is there that I can say? Hey, look. It’s yet another game coming out of Korea that treats women even more like shit than North American-developed games do, and yet tons of North American dudes are falling over themselves to play this game when it’s released. I’ve kind of lost my ability to be surprised at this shit anymore.

So instead, I thought I’d take a look at the incredibly fucked-up anatomy of the Blade and Soul character models to point out just how freakishly inhuman these women are. Now last time I took on HTK, I got many, many comments along the lines of OMG ITS JUST THE STYLE WTF U DON’T KNOW WHAT UR TALKING ABOUT or U R JUST JEALOUS HTK IS MORE AWSUM THAN U!!!1!eleventy1!! And, yes, I’m aware that HTK is not illustrating using a North American style. However, there’s a huge difference between even vanilla “anime” style and the distorted freak-shows that HTK creates.

To whit: Here is a Blade and Soul character model with almost no foreshortening:

Oh my god, people. I swear if I could punch HTK through the internet, right now I would. I realize that the model had to be created by the game studio, but this is pretty faithful to the proportions that HTK uses in all of his illustrations. Now, the many and varied ways the figure is distorted can be a little confusing, so first of all let’s start with vertical proportions:

For those of you who have seen me do these posts before, I hope you’ll remember me pointing out that the average human is around 7 heads tall, plus or minus half a head. Now, it’s pretty common for comic book artists and many video game studios to use 8 heads as a standard female proportion to give characters a more “statuesque” look. (Again, I prefer that women look like actual women and not goddamn statues, but that’s just me.) But this freak of nature here is 9 heads tall. NINE. That’s not even remotely possible in nature. Furthermore, she’s more than half leg. Really – check this out:

If you take her legs and add one head height to them, you have a normal human being. (And now I’m thinking about just a head prancing around on bizarrely stretch legs and it’s kind of freaking me out. Brr.) So first things, first, let’s take Gumbi here and correct her vertical proportions a little:

Now, yes. This does create a few more problems that it solves, particularly with the torso. But notice how when you look at the legs, they look a lot more like human legs? Now it doesn’t completely solve things, because you still have some fundamental proportions problems:

(Let’s just take it as given that the boobs are fucking terrible and move on to less obvious things.)

So you have the problem that her torso has been shrunk in order to make her legs as long as possible. This has resulted in her having a microscopic rib cage and a waist only just wider than her head. Now there’s nothing wrong with having your shoulders be narrower than your hips, or vice versa. But there’s just no freaking way that you’re going to get this much of an hourglass figure without enough corseting to cause internal bleeding in the unprepared.

Her legs are also a huge problem, even after one adjusts for their impossible length. The way HTK draws his women (and the way the model is constructed), the hips and ass are so exaggerated that the legs become cylinders that are tacked on to the front of the hips. Which is so very wrong and not how real people actually work. The hips and buttocks are not separate from the legs – they are part of them. And legs aren’t cylinders pinned on to the front end of the lower torso. They attach, via the hips, on the sides of your body, like so:

So with all of this in mind, what would a corrected figure in the same pose look like? Well, let’s take a look:

(Looking at this now I think the hips might be a little off. Drawing on top of HTK’s super-distorted figure was really hard; it kept throwing me off and I kept having to make corrections to my corrections.)

When you have the corrections on top of the original lines of the figure, you can really see how exaggerated the figure is from the waist down. Aside from the shortening of the torso and the clearly problematic breasts, the torso is actually far more normally proportioned than the legs. The legs are where most of the problems are: they’ve been elongated unnaturally and the hips and buttocks have been stretched horizontally to ridiculous proportions until the torso and lower body look like they should belong to two different figures.

And you know what, having hips this wide and curvaceous? Not necessarily wrong. But it is wrong on a body with a torso this compacted and waifish. You’ll see hips this wide on full-figured women, sure. But not on freakish HTK women without even enough space in their torsos to keep all their internal organs, much less space for them to eat meals that don’t come through a straw.

The thing that makes all of this the most disturbing is that all of these problematic distortions were an obvious, conscious choice. Because here’s the thing – HTK’s understanding of human anatomy is quite clear from the rendering of musculature in his illustrations. I can’t speak to the understanding of the people working from his illustrations, but I can definitely state that HTK understands just what he’s doing when he mutilates these poor women’s bodies.

Someone please explain to me why we’re paying this man the big bucks?

140 thoughts on “Blade and Soul: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

  1. It’s disappointing, because I actually really like his male character designs (and especially his male costumes). His women though, both in design and clothing, are just disturbing.

  2. Now last time I took on HTK, I got many, many comments along the lines of OMG ITS JUST THE STYLE WTF U DON’T KNOW WHAT UR TALKING ABOUT

    I’ll take offense to that. When I commented about the difference between style and content I was not saying that the deliberate distortion of the bodies wasn’t sexist, I was saying that I wouldn’t go call every drawing with inhuman proportions to put emphasis in some trait of the character an anatomy fail just because it is sexist.

    I’m not sayin that all the anatomy fail posts in this blog aren’t actually fails either, the one with different lenght in the shoulders and disjointed arm was an actual example of a broken anatomy.

    I also argued that the Chun Li post wasn’rt an actual anatomy fail because the exageration of the thigh muscles, as sexist as may be it’s consistent with the rest of the cast in that department. Then other people came defending that the males are distorted to shown strenght but the female was to give her a better butt, I won’t deny that either or say that it’s not sexist but I still won’t call it an anatomy fail.

    You said that you weren’t against distorted bodies and mentioned that you were okay with the impressionism, I think, but it seems that you label every female depiction outside of the realistic norm to be an anatomy failure from the artist. What do you expect? to make every female character realistic while males can be portrayed in any distorted manner?, wouldn’t that be sexist too?

    I still think that as much as those designs are sexist and mysogynistic they are not fails but an stylistic decision, and yes, I read the last paragraph.

    • Whoa, there. I wasn’t referencing you specifically. I reserve internet caps for paraphrasing trolls, and even if I didn’t agree with your points I wouldn’t have referred to your comments as trolling. I was referencing comments like THESE:

      “As computer art student, I may only say one thing: Would you please all try and draw something that wouldn’t end like a crappy stickman before to criticize with your short minded opinion someone else’s works?” and
      “Moreover, if you had a bit of culture, you would ask yourself what was the Manhwa style and if you had the slightest knowledge of eroticism in art, I doubt you would open your mouth and show so much stupidity in your so-called critic of the artist…Open a book, learn something and then try and talk” and
      “Looked @ your work. Honey, nobody wants to look at women who have the face of a man. HTK is so good at drawing and his women are attractive and many of them in the games have very empowering strong characters. You lack both the talent and argument to make this blog viable.” and
      “A game that was developed by an artist who’s signature style is severe deformation of human anatomy and uber-exaggeration of female thighs; a game that was made to sell that particular artstyle to the fans of that particular artist, can’t really be blamed under ‘demeaning to women’ label. That seriously wouldn’t persuade anyone, but only would provoke hostility from the loyal fans of that artist. “

      • wundergeek,

        you write your blog in a certain style. when commenters reply in a style similar to your own, you call it trolling.

        you expect others to see look past your sarcasm, hyperbole, and derogatory style to read a serious message in your words. but you don’t do unto others as you would have them do unto you. you dumb down their words into internet caps and eleventy-one exclamation points.

        you excuse your use of internet caps by saying you reserve it for replying to trolls. maybe they reserved their troll voice for replying to you?

        i don’t point out these double standards to call you a hypocrite. no, i am asking you in all seriousness to consider that it is counterproductive to your cause to set a low standard of discourse, and then object when others reply in kind.

        • But there are no “double standards” here.

          There is a difference between rather brutally critiquing an artist’s work (and calling out the industry that keeps hiring him) and attacking an individual.  There is also a difference between snark and just talking smack for its own sake.  Capisce?

        • I’m going to make fun of people who claim I can’t criticize HTK because my art isn’t as good as his, because their position is just silly. Telling me that I can’t criticize HTK’s work because I can’t make art as good as his is like telling Roger Ebert that he can’t criticize movies because he can’t make movies as good as Steven Spielburg.

          Once upon a time I might have tried to have more respect for their intellectual position and not make fun of them, but a year later I’ve learned that it’s just not worth worrying about trolls. I’m pretty clear and consistent in my own head about the definition, but neither am I going to stress about what people think about my definitions, because this is MY space.

          • “I’m going to make fun of people who claim I can’t criticize HTK because my art isn’t as good as his, because their position is just silly.”

            True but it in no less silly than criticizing art that isn’t trying to be realistic for not being realistic which over 90% of your anatomy fails posts consist of.

    • I wouldn’t say that they’re fail as much as deception. Ever heard of simulacra? It’s a post modernist term for a phenomenon where the image we have of a certain thing isn’t based on reality: it’s based on an image that is based on another image, which in turn is based on another image and so forth. And while male figures may get this treatment from time to time, it’s never as prelevalent as with female figures. I mean, just look at that thing. There’s no fooling us here, the artist hasn’t started with a real life model, or even with a photo of a real woman. She is based on other models and drawings of figures that share the name “woman” but don’t have any connection to women in the real world, because they in turn are based on other “women”. So in that sense, yes there is a stylistic distortion to this creature that is deliberate and can’t be considered a fail in anatoy, since there is no anatomy to consider.

      However, the artist is also trying the pass this off as a woman, however obvious the differences, and that’s where the fail would be.

      • Oh hey, It’s been a wile since we had someone else here that read Baudrillard and all the rest of those Frenchmen!

        To answer your question, this subject has come up before, but the people posting here are, with a few exceptions, not even modernists, let alone post-modernists. Explaining that simulacra are semantically and representatively null by definition made me look weird. Explaining that, as a simulation, the model in that game is more real than anything ever painted.. well, I think it made me look insane.

        “However, the artist is also trying the pass this off as a woman, however obvious the differences, and that’s where the fail would be.”

        Now see, I’m not sure that they are. Wikipedia tells me that “The game consists of four playable races, humanoid species called the Jin, the Gon, the Lyn, and an exclusively female race called the Kun.” These things are explicitly non-human, so I’m finding it hard to see how any pretense is being made. I mean, unless you’d argue the same for elves and dwarves? Or am I missing something?

        • Sam: If Blade and Soul were the only thing HTK had ever designed, sure. Except it’s not, and all of the women he’s ever drawn, explicitly human OR nonhuman look exactly this way and share the same freak-show proportions. So your argument is kinda invalid.

        • What wundergeek said. Even if these creatures aren’t overtly passed off as human, they are oviously based on creatures that are. There’s also the question of how the human psyche works, namely being pretty good at associating symbols with real things, otherwise we wouldn’t have simulacra in the first place. In theory, these figures (and almost every other woman portrayed in the media for that matter) aren’t based on anything real. In practice, we’re told, explicitly and implicitly from the cradle to the grave that they are – hell personally I went into this picture and many others thinking “hey this isn’t so bad, what’s the problem?”, and lots of drawing classes take up a huge amount of time explaining that the way you draw a brid, a hand or a car doesn’t look realsitic because you’re drawing from a symbol, not actually drawing what you see. Bottom line is, you can’t expect people to separate reality from the symbols if you keep being fed the idea od the symbols as representing the reality and don’t have any frame of reference.

          • But see, these things aren’t symbols. That’s the difference. The characters up there aren’t stylized; they exist exactly as perceived because they are models in a three-dimensional space. It would be impossible, to use a basic mistake for example, for us to get one of the bodies drawn from two different perspectives, like you always see in comic books. because these things are part of a wholly consistent system. (much more consistent than reality, if our current knowledge of quantum and relativistic physics is accurate!)
            For instance, if someone asks “where does she keep her organs?” then you can just point out that there are no organs to keep, just hit points.

            So, you say we’re supposed to read it as human? Why, in God’s name? It’s not labelle a human, it doesn’t act like a human, (unless you know a place on Earth that runs on MMORPG logic) and, as this post has detailed, it doesn’t even look human. IT takes a truly warped sense of anthropocentrism to see it as a Human.

            I’m not blaming anyone personally, mind. Companies that produce these things are culpable as culpable for encouraged us to confuse them with people. Every time you critique a design and corporate fires back with “Oh, that’s her culture/It fits her personality/it’s justified by the worldbuilding/etc.” then not only have they committed the error of trying to inject representation into their simulation, (simulation always “envelops the whole edifice of representation itself as a simulacrum” when they contact, which is why all representations in video games, like narrative, for instance, are always terrible.) but they’ve actually participated in reifying their creations to escape their authority as creators. If it happens enough, they might even come to believe it. (the Soul Calibur series is the biggest example. If you’d only listened to the developers’ statements you’d conclude that they were forced to make it more ridiculous each instalment by the iron law of tits or something)

            And hell, once the people that built the thing are convinced that it’s real, that they have no control of it, then I can’t really fault the consumer.

            • Of course it’s supposed to read as human! Why on earth do you htink they picked that model? Of an alien or fanatasy creature was what they wanted ,they might as well have picked a Dalek, but they didn’t. We look at stick figures and think of them as human, there’s no excuse in the world for saying that we should look at this in another way, even without the creator’s comments because god knows that most gamers probably don’t care about them.

              Just look at the thread here. For all I know, we may be the only people in this thread who even know that simulacrum is, and it’s a very abstract concept that even some sociologists dislike. Sure, some people may dig up the old “it’s not real” argument when protests like this one are raised, but they don’t mean it – entertainment vaule comes from some sort of identification, and the quickest way to get that is through characters that the target audience can consider themselves the same as (which is incidentally also why studios refuse to put minority characters front ant center). Rationally we know that this creature only can exist in the gaming world, emotionally we don’t.

              That’s also why I’m surprised that you’re objecting to Wundergeek’s posts. She she basically does is to pull the fabrication to an emotional level and make it a statement. Our entertainment, especially in games, comes from being allowed to indentify with the character as an avatar of yourself or as a real person. What she basically does is to point out how women is depraved of that. She picks up a character and says “look, this character is impossible to identify with and here’s why”, effectively demonstrating the object as simulacra and taking away the creators’ excuse that they don’t have any control.

              • “Our entertainment, especially in games, comes from being allowed to indentify with the character as an avatar of yourself or as a real person. ”

                Perhaps the Internet has warped my perceptions with its weirdos, but somehow I strongly doubt this. Hell, escaping your identity is the whole point of, well, escapism, is it not?

                I think that if this is really a specifically emotional issue as you attest, then we’re going to have a very different view of the situation because I have learned that my sexuality is rather unorthodox by even Internet standards. I’m afraid that I only understand the appeal of that these models are suppossed to have intellectually, and the visceral disgust they evoke even less (since, you know, it’s not like humans were all that pretty to begin with) which, I am aware, is a poor substitute for a refined instinct. I’ll take your word on this.

                You also seem to be talking from a sociological perspective, while I’m talking from philosophical one. As much as they’ve overlapped historically, philosophy doesn’t privilege humanity so that’s another difference in paradigm.

              • I don’t mean this to be insulting, but you not reading these women as human is a pretty abnormal reaction IMO. I think 99% of people are going to have the same reaction to these women as if they were human, and that you just read too much philosophy.

              • That actually explains a lot. Call it human privilege if you want (I wouldn’t, as branches such as ANT and post humanism is moving away from all that). I think it has more to do with taking actual practises and thoughts into account. You can speculate all you want in what’s real and what isn’t and what different words mean, but at the end of the day it all comes down to actual reactions.

            • This is the most creative way to defend sexualized images of women in mass media I’ve seen yet. xD I’d congratulate you, but who knows if I’m actually here! XD

      • So in that sense, yes there is a stylistic distortion to this creature that is deliberate and can’t be considered a fail in anatoy, since there is no anatomy to consider.

        However, the artist is also trying the pass this off as a woman, however obvious the differences, and that’s where the fail would be.

        I still can’t help but feel that anatomy is a big part of the reason why it’s so bad for the artist to try to pass the simulacra off as a woman. Even though you say there’s no anatomy to consider, your definition of the problem includes “however obvious the differences,” which seems to me like it ought to refer to anatomy.

        All stylized art is simulacra. But some stylized art seems acceptable as artistic shorthand for “man” and “woman” (otherwise we’d have to be against cartooning as a whole, which seems to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater) and others don’t. Even with simulacra, there has to be some difference between exaggerated proportions and “her skeleton doesn’t work right.”

        • “All stylized art is simulacra.”

          No, stop that. If representations were identical to simulacra, then we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I know that we aren’t allowed to get too technical here, but this is an equivocation that absolutely needs correcting now:

          “Such is simulation, insofar as it is opposed to representation. Representation stems from the principle of the equivalence of the sign and of the real (even if this equivalence is utopian, it is a fundamental axiom). Simulation, on the contrary, stems from the utopia of this principle of equivalence, from the radical negation of the sign as value, from the sign as reversion and death sentence of every reference. Whereas representation attempts to absorb simulation by interpreting it as a false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation itself as a simulacrum.

          Such would be the successive phases of the image:

          – it is the reflection of a profound reality;

          – it masks and perverts a profound reality;

          – it masks the absence of a profound reality;

          – it bears no relation to any reality whatever: it is its own pure simulacrum.

          In the first case, the image is a good appearance – representation is of the sacramental order. In the second, it is an evil appearance – it is of the order of maleficence. In the third, it plays at being an appearance – it is of the order of sorcery. In the fourth, it is no longer of the order of appearances, but of simulation.”


          “It is a new generation of signs and objects which comes with the industrial revolution. Signs without the tradition of caste, ones that will never have known any binding restrictions. They will no longer have to be counterfeited, since they are going to be produced all at once on a gigantic scale. The problem of their uniqueness, or their origin, is no longer a matter of concern; their origin is technique, and the only sense they possess is in the dimension of the industrial simulacrum.

          Which is to say the series, and even the possibility of two or of n identical objects. The relation between them is no longer that of an original to its counterfeit – neither analogy nor reflection – but equivalence, indifference. In a series, objects become undefined simulacra one of the other. And so, along with the objects, do the men that produce them. Only the obliteration of the original reference allows for the generalized law of equivalence, that is to say the very possibility of production. ”

          (bolding is mine, not the original)

          So, now, to address your statement:

          “Even with simulacra, there has to be some difference between exaggerated proportions and “her skeleton doesn’t work right.””

          No, there is no difference, not just with perceptions of “women,” but no difference in with simulacra, period. That’s what makes distinguishes them from representation in the first place.

          • There seem to be about five different definitions of simulacra between your post, Mim’s, and Wikipedia, so don’t patronize me when I misunderstand something. (I was writing on the assumption that the “image based on an image based on another image, with no basis in reality” definition that Mim gave was what it meant)

            In any case, there’s something I fail to understand about your argument, now that I understand it better. Why in the world are you suggesting that videogames are simulation with no relation to reality when the third category of images, which “play at being an appearance” and “mask the absence of a profound reality,” is a far, far, far better fit with the way videogames are generally used?

            You suggest in a comment upthread that videogame characters exist exactly as perceived because they are 3D models within a wholly consistent system. But why should its existence in a wholly-consistent system deny its potential representational value? Consider the way a layperson would define “simulation” — a program which was created for the express purpose of modeling reality well enough that useful data about reality can be extracted from it. How is something like that not representation?

            Unless I’m missing something, it appears far more reasonable to suggest that all four types of image can apply to a wholly-consistent system just as well as they can to a static image. If you have a graphical fluid simulation, it can either be a reflection of reality (correctly predicting data about how water will react in the system it’s a model of), a perversion of reality (consistently giving incorrect data about how water will react in said system), an illusion of reality (creating a game based on a simpler model that pretends to be the real one), or have no reality value whatsoever (giving data for how flubber will react in the system). Saying that the fluid simulation cannot be factually wrong because it is a simulation is facially absurd. Videogames should, in theory, be no different.

            A wholly-consistent system does, of course, have the possibility to be a simulation in the philosophical sense, but it’s quite a leap to go from that to suggesting that videogames as a medium are that sort of simulation, and I don’t think you’ve made that jump satisfactorily. Games certainly don’t need to feign at representing reality (the best example of this, of course, is Tetris, which makes me wonder why suggested 3D models as evidence that videogames are philosophical simulation), but almost all modern games do to a greater or lesser extent. On the more blatant end, you have your sports games (be a football player!) and your racing games (drive awesome cars really fast!) and your strategy games (command an army!) and your simulation games (run a city!) and your role playing games (be an adventurer!), all of which use a pretense of reality as a hook — and that sort of game has a heritage that goes back decades before Pong to an oscilloscope game from 1958 called Tennis for Two (play ping pong/tennis!). If this type of fake representation is not of the “order of sorcery,” then what is?

            All of which leads back, of course, to our terribly-modeled leg monster up there in Wundergeek’s post, which can only be criticized on grounds of anatomy if she is a representation rather than a simulacra. But, given that being part of a game does not, in fact, automatically imply that she’s a simulacra, I think there’s a good argument to be made that she’s in the representation category and thus open to criticism. In fact, I would argue that this sort of character would never have existed in the first place if they weren’t representations of humans — it’s impossible to manipulate an audience’s lust for women using something that they don’t consider to be a representation of a woman, and without that, there would have been nothing for this sort of thing to be modeled off of. (As much as you might like to believe that no one actually finds these things sexy, marketing departments sure believe that they do) The hideous final result might be the result of massive artistic inbreeding, but most of the artists and modelers who use this style likely would have chosen not to continue perpetuating it had they not believed that their drawings and models represented sexy human women rather than monstrosities divorced completely from reality.

            • I don’t think you did misunderstand anything. As any acadamic subject, you could write books to define sumulacra, and I think I recognize Sam’s criteria (even though I refuse to read it carefully becase academish is difficult enough in my own language and if I wanted to try it in english I might as well be studying).

              Other than that, you’ve made an excellent argument. Hats off to you!

            • “Consider the way a layperson would define “simulation” — a program which was created for the express purpose of modeling reality well enough that useful data about reality can be extracted from it. How is something like that not representation?”

              That’s your problem: simulations do not model reality, (That’s absurd when you think, isn’t it? We’d call them models otherwise, wouldn’t we?) but perfectly emulate a hypothetical reality that does not exist, down to the physics and unreal logic. This process is referred to as “simulation,” and it doesn’t have to be video games, necessarily; games are just the only things that are intrinsic simulations so far, in that they are fundamentally the electronic performance of binary formulae, so that even the most photo-realistic game is completely and consistently divorced from physical reality in at least one way. If it helps you understand, a non-game instance would be something like the movie Sucker Punch. (which, not coincidentally, very much resembles a video game)

              I’m not trying to patronize you, by the way. I’m not even the person that brought this up. I’ve learned since last time that this isn’t the place to bring up intelligentsian matters, (the site policy of definition by popular mandate means we are inevitably going to make errors while equivocating between subtle nuances of meaning that the average person has no time to waste learning, like what’s happening right now) but since it is brought up, well, I expect us to deal with it properly. I don’t want you to get a PhD overnight; just don’t debase the discussion absurd comments like “All stylized art is simulacra.”

              • That’s your problem: simulations do not model reality, (That’s absurd when you think, isn’t it? We’d call them models otherwise, wouldn’t we?) but perfectly emulate a hypothetical reality that does not exist, down to the physics and unreal logic. This process is referred to as “simulation,” and it doesn’t have to be video games, necessarily; games are just the only things that are intrinsic simulations so far, in that they are fundamentally the electronic performance of binary formulae, so that even the most photo-realistic game is completely and consistently divorced from physical reality in at least one way. If it helps you understand, a non-game instance would be something like the movie Sucker Punch. (which, not coincidentally, very much resembles a video game)

                Hmm, I think I didn’t describe what I was talking about well enough.

                I didn’t intend to conflate the layperson’s “simulation” (Simulation-l) with the philosopher’s simulation (Simulation-p) — I intended to offer them up as separate concepts, both of which can be compared to videogames. Simulation-l is a model that is created through the same techniques as Simulation-p is, but, as you’ve said yourself, it’s not Simulation-p because it’s based off of the real world.

                My argument was that, since Simulation-l exists, one can’t use the way videogames are created to categorize them as Simulation-p. Any example of Simulation-l, like the fluid simulation(-l) model I described, is just as much an “electronic performance of binary formulae” as a videogame is; it’s made out of the same code, with those same binary formulae being used in an attempt to replicate reality rather than create something divorced from it.

                Of course, Simulation-l can’t avoid being divorced from reality in some ways, but its connections to reality are far more compelling than the things that separate them. And, I’d argue, many videogames are in that exact same position — the very concept of procedural rhetoric depends on this, for instance, as does the wish fulfillment that drives all of those “career” sort of games I mentioned in my last post.

                I don’t want you to get a PhD overnight; just don’t debase the discussion absurd comments like “All stylized art is simulacra.”

                I’m not going to get into the rest of what you said, but it is rather patronizing to tell me I’m debasing the discussion by making a mistake about a very complicated subject when any conclusion I draw will by necessity be based on the limited information offered in the comments section of a blog (and Wikipedia).

        • I think it’s more about the motives behind the distortion than the distortion itself. You could analyze Mario with how many heads high he is, his shoulder width and foot and hand sizes, and he’s pretty ridiculous. But there isn’t that history of valuing Italian plumbers only for their big noses to make it feel skeevy.

  3. What gets my gamer goat is that this game (and Tera) are so damn pretty if you look past the female character designs. The world, the art, the textures, the details are gorgeous. Its just a damn shame they used their talents for evil. Can you imagine the glory that would be these suits of armor if they were rendered in such loving detail and finely crafted textures as the lace babydoll and thong are up in the montages?

    • Distorted, yes. But compare these to modern women, and you’ll realise that the first two are actually possible to attain.

    • This is not even relevant, these statues are commonly referred to as fertility idols. The purpose being so old is not able to be proven but most history buffs believe them to be embodiments of fertility. The childbearing anatomy is emphasized, mainly large breasts and hips. Sometimes the vagina is clearly detailed while at the same time they never have feet, the face is never detailed and hands are extremely rare. These themes recur in all of these statues and this is why they are commonly believed to be representations of fertility.

      Now while you MIGHT be able to argue a game where people can make a choice is okay (though good look on that one seriously.) Forcing people into having to play as characters you directly compare to this isn’t acceptable by any means.

  4. I can’t get past the shiny plastic people. Do the male characters look like that, too, or is are the disturbing highlights reserved for the female characters? I can’t really tell from the images I could find because, not surprisingly, the male characters are wearing far more clothing. *sigh*. Reminds me of trying to play Aion. Beautiful world, seriously sexist design.

    On the subject of messed up art, you might…ah, enjoy isn’t quite the right word, be interested in a tumbler a friend of mine started on the subject. It’s mostly comic book art, but game art gets in there occasionally.

    • Actually I put up w/e art I find or comes my way… right now I’m getting mostly comic art (and that’s my forte neways xD ) so that’s why it’s mostly there 😀

      Also thanks for promoting me! 😀

  5. It’s sad that it has come to the point where nothing more can be said but “*sigh* Yet another game with sexist interpretations of women”. You would think that the gaming industry’s view of women would have improved by now. FFS it’s 2011! A decade into the 21st Century! Why the f*ck is this sort of crap still happening so often? I could maybe look past it if it only happened every now and then, because then maybe people would look at it and laugh at how stupid a company must be to think sexy ladies on the box would make gamers fork out $50+ for a game.

    But it is still happening in a large portion of games…and so many gamers and industry professionals just don’t see why it’s a big deal. I mean, we’re still seeing articles like “Top 10 examples of good female game characters” being filled with the same ten or so girls (most of who were created over 10 years ago), and it’s disappointing that that’s the best the gaming industry can do: A handful of “good” female characters, surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of pointlessly sexualized and offensive female stereotypes.

    It’s so disheartening 😦

    • The problem is that the gaming comunity is too entitled to this kind of crap, they simply can’t understand why there’s people who find those sexist practices offensive, they just take the people opposing them as prudes, which is not the case. Some people would keep repeating the classic “it’s just a game” or “sex sells” as if those were actual justifications to this obvious lack of variety in representation of the women in games.

  6. Doubly so for those of us who quite enjoy attractive women, and simply don’t enjoy mutilated horrors and don’t require/prefer women who are attractive to dress like strippers.

    And that argument serves double duty; against women, it serves as a, “You’re not a guy so you can’t understand,” and against men, it serves as a, “What are you, queer?” More class for your word count!

    And of course, us queers don’t exist.

    • Exactly. Beautiful women is one thing – cookie cutter porn princesses is quite another. It’s one thing to admire an attractive woman, quite another to strip a woman of funtioning clothes, body and personality just for the sake of titillation. It’s bloody scary when you can’t consider the people you’re attracted to as a different species.

      • It’s bloody scary when you can’t consider the people you’re attracted to as a different species.

        Not quite sure what you were getting at here.  Did you use the wrong word somewhere?

        But the rest of your comment really says it all.  The male characters come off as heroes; the female characters come off as ornaments.  I see absolutely no reason why making female characters look more “heroic” would necessarily make them less “attractive.”

        But yet, that seems to be the argument that keeps being trotted out.  And I can’t help but interpret it as “it’s not enough to simply idealize female characters; if they don’t look vulnerable and weak, they’re not appealing enough.”  And I could have a field day with the unfortunate implications of that.

        • No I didn’t It’s just that in heterosexual culture, the othering of people you’re attracted to is so prelevalent: women are reduced to their breasts and butts and both genders assign each other traits that turns them into stereotypes and turn courting into a form of warfare.

          And sure, you can do that as a lesbian too, but most of us don’t. If all women are turned into walking sexual charactarstics for fanservice, that can be sexy on one level, but at the same time I am a woman myself, and the entire gender being objectified like that is insulting and demeaning to no end. In short, there’s one single mold that all women have to fit into to be considered attractive, and on top of that it’s the mold that cripples them in day to day life. And what’s the unfortunate implication in pointing that out? Of course you’re allowed to be attracted to a vulnerabel woman, it’s when her helplessness is the cause of your attraction that things get creepy.

          • Oh, no, I agree with you.

            However, your last sentence was “It’s bloody scary when you can’t consider the people you’re attracted to as a different species.”  I can tell that you’re not in support of “othering,” but those two words make that sentence sound like the absence of “othering” would be “scary.” 

            So I was guessing that you meant either “when you can” or “as the same species.”

            • more like, when you can’t dinstance yourself from the group that you’re supposed to be attracted to, you’re hit with the full force of the dehumanization that attraction is supposed to be built on.

              • So what you meant was that if you’re someone who can’t “other” the people to whom you’re attracted, it’s scary.  Gotcha.  Now it makes perfect sense.


      • “cookie cutter porn princesses is quite another.”

        I know I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but please do not insult porn talent like that. Hell, porn has a greater diversity of body shapes than regular media, so this is an even more offensive (and lazier) shorthand.


        “It’s bloody scary when you can’t consider the people you’re attracted to as a different species.”

        Two characters completely changed that sentence into a Gor pastiche. That is the most beautifully elegant typo I’ve ever seen.

        • Have you even looked at the pictures up there, the clothes, the stance the camera angles? This IS porn. And the only reason I’m using that word is because it’s a goddamn game and it’s not supposed to be. You can appreciate sex workers all you want, but there’s a pretty big jump from doing that and thinking that all women should look and act like a sex worker on the job for every minute of the day.

          And there’s no typo. Either there’s a grammatical rule that turns that sentence into gibberish, you you’re just written the most offensively heterosexist sentence I’ve seen in a long while. I’d actually call it homophobic and it very well might be, if only becuause you decided to troll on me instead of contemplating what I meant or, you know, ask. Made even worse by that fact that you’re a sociologist who doesn’t grasp a reference to othering in a discussion about gender. Good job.

          • 1. You were not talking about clothing. You were, in response to a comment about “mutilated horrors” making an analogy to “cookie cutter porn princesses”. (Indeed, you specifically mentioned how they are stripped of clothing, remember?) Not only is that false (find me a medium with more body types represented than porn. Go ahead, try) but there has been a really disgusting history over here wherein porn talent has been regarded as inhuman and monstrous. I’m being a lot less angry than I’d normally be about this because you’re apparently foreign (possibly literally?) to this culture, but that doesn’t excuse you from making those statements.

            2. “Either there’s a grammatical rule that turns that sentence into gibberish”

            Not gibberish, no, but saying “It’s bloody scary when you can’t consider the people you’re attracted to as a different species.” means that you think it is frightening that peoplecan not see think of their sexual partners as subhuman. You’ve said literally the opposite of what you’ve meant.

            (And speaking of asking about what you don’t understand… perhaps if you actually googled “Gor,” you’d know that me calling that statement a “Gor pastiche” is a lighthearted poke at your ironically othering statement.)

            • No, I wasn’t talking about clothing. I was telling you that they actually ARE porn stars, as inthe their literal function is to serve as softcore porn. And don’t you dare go into splitting hairs about wether or not different body tymes means that isn’t pron by definition. I’ve had more than enough of petty squabbling like that.

              It was a reference to the sentence above, allright? And mind you that I’m a lote *more* angry than I’d usually would be since you’ve managed to 1. try to give yourself the moral highground after putting up a jibe that ridicules 2. a reference to homosexuality and/or 3. a freakin’ language barrier. Bonus points for making your punchline into something holds no meaning outside of anglophone nerd culture. Oh, you’re a saint allright. Do me a favour and avoid saying anything if you can’t stop yourself from going smartypants.

            • Look, it confused me at first, too. 

              But what she was getting at was as follows:  Let’s say that you’re a lesbian—in other words, a woman who is attracted to other women.  As such, you can’t view women as “other.”  Viewed through that lens, can you see how the presentation of uncanny-valley distortions like Kim’s art as somehow erotic might be creepy?

    • Hi Viletta,

      I know several strippers personally. You may not be aware of this, being that queer women are the opposite of the normal audience at a club, but strippers are nice people that generally have above average taste in clothing because of how important clothes are to their job. Even if they totally freak you out, please do not compare HTK’s fashion sense to strippers’. They don’t deserve that.

      • I don’t think Viletta was insulting strippers. Hell, I used to be a “exotic dancer” (as we were called) back in the day, but I’ll be the first to admit that none of us wore sexy lingerie and 7 inch heels on a day-to-day basis. Not only would it be freezing (and socially unacceptable) but we would end up with very sore and blistered feet by the end of the day. It’s simply not practical to dress that way every day, let alone when you’re going on the sorts of epic and dangerous adventures that many game characters go on.Which is why these types of female characters in games fail so hard. It’s as though the artist hasn’t seen women outside of a strip club, so they assume that’s how we all dress on an average day.

        • Good lord, no. I’d be the last person to fantasize that dancers always wear their work clothes. I just find it annoying that the standard method to express that something is tacky is to compare it to a stripper. It reeks of lazy Hollywood stereotyping. I know the strippers around here certainly have better taste than to wear those frilly little abominations, (more muscles too, but that’s another topic entirely) and I doubt my little town is all that exceptional.

          Regardless, I’m still twitchy when someone equates “mutilated horrors” to sex workers, though. I live in Alberta (Canada’s version of the South, basically) and I’ve seen where that attitude leads.

          • That’s fair enough. I can’t speak for everyone in the industry, but the places I worked at were…well, to put it bluntly…tacky. So I see where Viletta is coming from when she compares these character designs to stripper outfits (I wouldn’t call us “mutilated horrors” though!), as we often wore similar outfits. Our manager herself was quite a fan of boyshorts that rode up to show our asscheeks in particular 😦

            But I often look at these types of designs and laugh, because it really does seem like the artist hasn’t seen a woman outside a strip club. I bet he would get a right shock when if he walked backstage and saw us changing into daggy old sweatpants and tshirts, and wiping off our makeup, when our shifts had ended.

  7. OK first off as wundergeek already said NCSoft is the publisher of Guild Wars, the maker of Guild Wars is ArenaNet from Bellevue, Washington, while the maker of Blade and Soul is Team Bloodlust from Korea so just so I am in the clear about this if the rest of you already are: Are both ArenaNet and Team Bloodlust part of the same artist union? Or are they just two game programing companies that are both part of the NCSoft corporation?

    OK so now about Hyung Tae Kim: anybody who tries to defend him as a standard Manhwa(Manga is Japan’s word for comics and Manhwa is Korean) artist should read this: ,and this: , and then if you do not get why I sent you to read those two articles let me spell it out for you: Hyung Tae Kim’s ,,artworks use a deformation technique where Kim disregards anatomical accuracy to achieve a specific feel to the character.” (I am going to refrain from describing the feel I get from the dude’s female characters as I expect that the rest of you guys will cover that subject quite eloquently and in good volume)

    Now here are the ,,typical characteristics of manhwa:

    -The face and eyes are often exaggerated in a cartoon style while the figure is more realistic in proportion.
    -There is (usually) a more frequent use of gradient screentone.
    -The left-to-right reading direction of the book.
    -The Korean name of the author/artist. It is usually double-barrelled and with syllables that do not exist in Japanese (usually the most reliable method of differentiating manhwa; exceptions being when a culturally-neutral pseudonym is used or when the artist is of Korean ethnicity but resides in another country).
    -The Korean names of the characters in the manhwa.
    -The untranslated sound effects (not always present) are in hangul.”

    So to the point about Hyung Tae Kim: he is not a standard Manhwa artist. He is an artist from the Manhwa region who uses his own style when drawing (and yes his style did develop from the Manhwa style) but it is his own style not a standard style in Korean animation (since you already mentioned it the fashion disaster that is Aion does not have the anatomy fails that Blade and Soul does, and no I have not played it, but watching the official artwork I do not find the anatomy fails that wundergeek pointed out here) so any criticism he gets are not and can not be viewed as criticism of the standard Manhwa style.

    • Are both ArenaNet and Team Bloodlust part of the same artist union? Or are they just two game programing companies that are both part of the NCSoft corporation?

      As far as I know ArenaNet has no artistic ties whatsoever to Team Bloodlust. The latter seems to be a team of NCsoft developers in Korea while ArenaNet is a more or less independent development studio in the US. They’re part of NCsoft West which is responsible for the “Western” market (read: N + S America, Europe, Australia) and thus are using a rather realistic/non-manga-ish style. Regarding their armour and character designs ArenaNet is hit-and-miss sometimes – particularly with certain scholar armours – but I’d say they’re definitely one of the better studios out there when it comes to this kind of issue.

      • Whoa, you are right. NCSoft West is the publisher of Guild Wars, so I guess i have a question: Was Blade and Soul picked up by NCSoft West or the eastern market (read Asia) subsidiary? Or is it going to be distributed by both and was picked up by the NCSoft corporation? In other words is Blade and Soul coming to a shop near you or is it staying in and around Korea?

        • Blade and Soul was made by NCsoft Korea primarily for the East Asian market like Aion or Lineage. Should it be successful (and I’m sure it will be) it’ll also be released in the West. I don’t know how long that’ll take though. If you take Aion as an example the Western market got the game a year or so after its South Korean release. So if B&S is coming out in South Korea this year it’ll probably be released one year later in EU/NA. NCsoft West will then work as a distributor for the game over here.

          Interestingly most of those Korean style games haven’t been overly successful in the West. Aion was a big disappointment – it’ll be interesting to see how B&S turns out.

  8. Like others have said. It is one thing to think women are beautiful, or to enjoy having sexy women fill up your games and other media. There are different levels of sexual “idealisation”, some better and some worse, often both in different ways in the same instance. This is something so much more than just “sexy women”, it’s sexual distortion beyond the point of reason or excuse. I don’t get this kind of bullshit. These women (or women-likes, to those who play the “they’re not human!” card, as irrelevant as that is) aren’t even sexy any more, it’s just weird. I look at these images and I don’t feel anything at all, there’s no excitement, no titillation. I see that they are women, they have the traditionally “sexy” attributes – and yet all I can think is “what is wrong with these pictures?!”

    Yet, somehow, this is obviously what people is supposed to think is sexy, what women is supposed to look like and what men is supposed to want. I don’t get this culture. They just look wrong.

    • “Yet, somehow, this is obviously what people is supposed to think is sexy, what women is supposed to look like and what men is supposed to want. ”

      See, that’s your primary mistake: You’re assuming this stuff is supposed to be erotic. Maybe it was, a couple decades ago, but the reason for anything to be the way it is in a creative endeavour 99% of the time is “because that’s how I learned to do it.”

      It’s like superhero comic books. The people there don’t even notice the problems because those problems were there from the beginning, and have grown to become bona fide genre conventions in and of themselves. No one complains about them for the same reason no one complains when you have faster-than-light spaceships on your sci-fi show. Your feelings on the subject are identical to the majority of consumers: they don’t consider these characters sexualized because they don’t, as a general principle, appear sexy. Clothing, or lack of clothing, loses it’s power as a signifier once it becomes ubiquitous. (Women wearing pants doesn’t mean anything anymore, for instance, and now neither does bikini-armour in video games) The characters that actually are sexy in this environment are only so because the industry singles them out and says to the consumer “You! Masturbate to this!” (That’s why gamer tastes are so arbitrary. Tifa Lockhart is a sex symbol? Why? Well, because corporate said so, certainly not any difference between her and the competition.)

      Something with human-esque proportions, on the other hand, would look so different and clash so much with the fashionable art style that it would hit the uncanny valley with the force of a hydrogen bomb. Remember all those “corrections” people sent in to EA about Mirror’s Edge?

      • Sam, of course this stuff is supposed to be erotic. Go to any of the forums and read the freaking comments. That’s the way it’s intended and that’s the way it’s being read by many, many men – even if you personally aren’t reading it that way.

  9. It’s sofcore porn, simple as that. Makes me embarrassed of those from my male gender that drool over this sort of thing. The artist distorts the body because he knows it will sell…. period. It’s a shame that he’s right.
    I suppose this is why anime porn is so popular in Asia and has migrated to the West. Men’s sexual fantasies have become so skewed that they can only be satisfied by characters that can only exist on paper.

    • Edit: SOME men’s sexual fantasies have become that skewed. I certainly don’t want to generalize on something like that.

    • I don’t think you should be embarrassed or disappointed in those that will drool over this stuff. It is very carefully crafted to set off sexual triggers over which we have very little control.

      A heterosexual man that finds these images arousing is not a sexist or a freak, he’s an animal reacting to stimulus. The features that have been exaggerated have been shown time and again to be sexually appealing and by exaggerating them, they can be more so.

      Were you to encounter a human with the proportions in these works, they’d be extremely strange and unsettling. But through the abstraction in the medium, our brains can fixate on the emphasized features and ignore the ones that don’t make sense.

      I don’t think that this is representing a feminine ideal or is fundamentally sexist, it’s a careful abuse of a known psychological reaction. It’s more closely related to putting toys in cereal to sell it to children than it is to the oppression and marginalization of women.

      That being said, it does portray an impossible ideal for women who see the reaction of men to the artwork; an ideal that the men wouldn’t even enjoy in a real woman.

      • “I don’t think that this is representing a feminine ideal or is fundamentally sexist, it’s a careful abuse of a known psychological reaction.”

        You know, I don’t believe in malicious intent here either, but you’re making a false dichotomy: It could be both. For instance: American slavery was a purely economic system that theoretically paid no consideration to race, (Originally, plantations used indentured white servants and native peoples until it became cost-effective to import Africans. Hell, the firstperson legally enslaved in America was owned by a black man!) but you’d be insane to say it wasn’t indisputably racist in implementation.

        • I agree completely, That was my purpose for adding the word “fundamentally”.

          I wanted to make a different point and I didn’t think anyone wanted to read through a paragraph of caveats to get to it. Sort of an ongoing problem with internet conversations, I find.

          • There tends to be a lot of inane “it’s just good business” apologia in this sort of discussion, and I jumped the gun. My apologies for the misinterpretation.

            • No need to apologize. I’m happy to clarify.

              I’m with you on the apologetics. I feel that the “It’s just good business argument” also implies “This was a concious business decision” which, in my mind, adds the malice of forethought to any other offence they might be making.

      • It is sexist. While these character might be supranormal stimulants, you have to consider: 1. what we find attractive is very much socialised. 2. there’s a difference in making up a species with bodies to push buttons and to dress them up in ways that hampers them just to play up their attractiveness even more, and 3. using bodies distorted to this degree is alienating, not matter what the context. And it is especially so considering that women make up almost half the market that this game has to reach.

        • Hazmat Sam Hit this above as well. My point was that this is also sexist, but that’s not the driving force behind the design decisions. I feel that this was about targeting a specific demographic with whatever weapons they could get.

          Regarding women making up half the market: that is true, except that you rarely design a product for the entire market. A product made to appeal to everyone will likely appeal to no one. They picked a target audience and went for them whole hog.

          • I meant to say that your point doesn’t hold much water. Of course sexism isn’t the primary purpose because it never is. Even the men’s rights campagins don’t exist for the sole purpose of declaring men’s superiority. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a huge problem – it’s the same logical hole that gives us a world full of racism and a population where noone will admit that they are racist.

            Of course you can. Just look at the Dragon age and Mass Effect games! Not only do they manage to bring some appeal for both genders, but they do it for gay and bisexual people as well. Hell, to go even futher, name some of the msot successful games: Tetris, Bejewled, The Sims, Sim City, etc. All of these have the boradest possible appeal and they’re still making money today.

            • Your point about sexism is valid, but it’s not based on the argument I meant to be making. A poor choice of words on my part. I’ll attempt to clarify:

              Original Quote:
              “My point was that this is also sexist, but that’s not the driving force behind the design decisions.”

              Second attempt at clarity:
              I don’t feel that the views or opinions of the artistic team or game designers regarding women were the basis for the character design. I believe their marketing research was. Hence, the decision was not fundamentally sexist.
              The final product, though, displays an adequate lack of interest in the fair and respectful depiction of women to infer that they don’t care enough about the issue to restrict themselves.
              Ergo, also Sexist.

              I hope that makes more sense.

              • I doesn I just think that the reasoning rings false. Even if marketing research or grnre pressure plays into it, there’s always room for interpretation, not to mention that the focus and the meathods of the research isn’t random and that all games have to niche themselves in roder to grab attention. If you add that to the discourse about women in gaming, I have a very hard time blieving that the team was completely passive in this.

              • See, I’ll agree that there’s probably a marketing component to this. But understand that they’re deciding to market their game by turning women into twisted parodies of humans. When a company decides to make money by LITERALLY DEHUMANIZING WOMEN, that’s sexist.

          • Except that women account for almost half of gamers now, at 40% and growing. So it seems foolish to exclude half of the gaming market right off the bat.

            • So much to respond to, terrible forum for doing so, but such a good conversation. I’ll defend or clarify my arguments as best as I can as concisely as possible.
              1: Choosing a demographic to appeal to is standard practice in the entertainment industry. Corollary: knowingly excluding demographics is also standard practice.
              2: The company has chosen to use tools they know will sell their game to a target demographic regardless of any ethical or social implications. This is not fundamentally sexist. That was my main point.
              3: The tools they chose to use were the sexist portrayal of hyper-sexualized women.
              4: It is not despicable or freakish for a heterosexual man to react positively to these images. It’s natural and normal which is why they keep making them and succeeding in selling them.

              Points I haven’t made yet but foresee coming up:
              1: There is an important difference between excluding and offending a demographic. If a company manages to offend people, it lowers their ability to market to them in the future. Not by much, though, because most people don’t notice things like game designers and artistic directors. So even offending people isn’t much of a risk for the company.
              2: “But they look gross!” No they don’t. Not to a lot of people.
              3: No, I don’t think it’s okay that companies do this all the time and that gaming is full of it. Making stuff because it sells well is not, in itself, adequate justification.

              • Choosing a demographic to appeal to is standard practice in the entertainment industry. Corollary: knowingly excluding demographics is also standard practice.

                Just because something’s standard practice doesn’t mean it makes good business sense, though. Being people, businesspeople often make suboptimal choices for the maximization of profit, whether due to shortsightedness or prejudice — and it’s very easy to think of examples where excluding a demographic is an obviously terrible idea to anyone with half a brain.

                I don’t think there’s much evidence that going, “ooh, boobies!” guarantees sales. A game that’s terrible and not pleasant to play won’t sell much no matter what’s on its cover, and a game with awesome gameplay will sell far more on the merits of that gameplay than its female characters’ cup size (very few of the top ten best-selling games used that as a hook). There might be some benefit for a game that falls somewhere in the middle, but alienating women means taking a guaranteed loss of a demographic for a potential and not-particularly-large gain in a smaller demographic (guys who both enjoy cheesecake games and aren’t embarrassed to be caught buying them). Even then, that benefit is mainly in the form of catching guys’ attention, which doesn’t work particularly well for anyone in particular if everyone’s doing it.

              • point 1b: no, there’s really not. Take the recent example of a gaming company solving the issue of sexual harassment by making their release party a guys only event. Also, haven’t you been following this discussion? Women get distanced from these games precisely because the depictions are offensive. People don’t want to be associated with them, and so they distance themselves from the game itself. And how about the ethnic and sexuality related slurs that alienates people from MMOs? Or the articles dedicated to the racism in the games themselves? People do get offended, the only difference is wether or not the companies want to listen.

  10. Whatever about the proportions. Why do they all look like porn stars? The oily skin and lacy negligee are really silly. They don’t even look like fantasy characters.

    • I would like more attractive and sexy male characters in games, for female consumers.

      I would, too. Creating a fantasy world in which everyone is attractive is a rather different thing than creating a fantasy world in which everything female is attractive and guys can look like whatever — and character designers who do that tend to have large female fanbases, if Tetsuya Nomura (Final Fantasy/Kingdom Hearts)’s popularity is anything to go by.

      • I’d like to see if a designer can avoid overdoing the fanservice or falling into “cookie-cutter cutie” syndrome, while at the same time still making characters look “idealized.”

              • She seems to be based on a modification of the male heroic ideal, doesn’t she? Her shoulders aren’t nearly as exaggerated, of course, but she’s still got a much broader chest than women tend to be drawn with (which brings to mind the “V” shape that the guy heroes have), and neither her legs nor her hips are particularly exaggerated like female heroes’ tend to be. The overall effect isn’t masculine, though, just super-human and powerful as all get out.

                It seems like it could be an interesting style to play around with, because it looks really cool and has much more (positive) visual impact than the more-common sort of superheroic/adventurer women who are so long and thin that they look like they’ve been stretched out like silly putty.

        • Mass effect 2 is sort of the example we all hold up for people doing things right. Every character had a style that supported their background and outlook.

          Even though Jack ran around mostly naked, it came across as active disdain for convention rather than overt sexuality. Her unlockable costume involved her putting a shirt on. She also was modelled with breasts that were small enough to be carried about unsupported.

          Miranda used her attractiveness to her advantage. She said so. She exploited the traits that had been engineered into her.

          Jacob was the most cookie cutter character for me. Straight up soldier with high ideals and big muscles.

  11. A pervert game for perverts made by a pervert artist. I’m just going to stick around and wait for Guild Wars 2, who actually did female character designs (especially for the charr and asura) right. Actually as a male, I find these games insulting to me, as a male. All they say is “Hey you don’t care about gameplay, story, or meaningful content. No, we know that as a male, we just have to slap tits and long legs on a product and you’ll give you all our money. You nerds are so pathetic and lead by your own dicks you wouldn’t know quality if it beat you to death.”
    I agree with Ryan that these images are carefully constructed to set off sexual triggers, and it’s wrong to treat men as animals. But when you start defending this kind of shit, when as a male you act want them to treat you as an animal who only makes decisions based on what penis wants, then I lose respect for you, and your opinions.

    • *claps*

      It’s nice to hear it from a guys point of view. Being honest, the point you made is mostly how I see it. When games become more about sex appeal than gameplay, you really have to wonder if the gaming industry is making any effort to become as mainstream as say the movie industry.
      I have mostly male friends, the majority of which are gamers, and I would never peg them as the kind of people that pay 60 bucks for a rendered pair of tits when they can download porn for free lol.
      I think if you wanted a game with smut in it, it should be shelved in the backroom of your local game store, rather than put next to triple A titles which I consider works of art. No doubt you won’t find “One Night in Paris” next to something like “Inception”. Games should be no different.

  12. Well, shouldn’t Charles Schulz’ PEANUTS be criticized too, according to your logic?
    You know, Charlie Brown doesn’t have ‘anatomically correct’ body.

  13. KHT (Because I’m Korean, the last name comes first)
    Is a wonderful artist, and as an manhwa artist, it as naturally expected of him to purposely distort his bodies. KHT said himself said that he was more comfortable drawing girls, and in fact, he is very well known for his girls.
    KHT distorts his bodies because he wants the viewers to feel a “certain feel” to the characters, whether it be sexiness or not.
    But seriously, Sex Sells. KHT is one of my favorite artists, and his designs and distortion of the human figure is what defines him most.
    Take an example of everyday anime: Can you actually watch a whole series WITHOUT seeing a beach/hot springs episode? There’s bound to be bouncing boobs flopping everywhere, whether you like it or not. Asians are more comfortable (in a sense) when it comes to natural nudity (bathing, changing clothes, etc.).
    And I firmly believe that KHT is NOT sexist- how else would he have a beautiful wife (KKUEM) that is strongly influenced by his style? And to further argue your accusation against KHT, KKUEM ONLY draws girls, which look almost exactly like KHT’s girls, but with cooler colors.
    Distortion and perception of the human body is an art by itself, despite your strict views on women.
    Stereotyping girls in art is very common- and you need it too, to show a variety of characters.
    Why don’t you go blog about Lady Gaga and Britney Spears too? All they wear in their music videos are either only underwear, or nothing at all. Lady Gaga also promotes nudity and sexiness with her perfect body. So does everyone who sells “sexy” a sexist to you?
    Please do not insult KHT nor KKUEM- artists, just like people, have their own reasons for doing things.

    • “But seriously, Sex Sells.”

      That’s funny, I could have sworn good gameplay, a good story/characters and decent advertising sells. That’s why games like Uncharted, Gears of War, Call of Duty, etc. sell far better than games like Dead or Alive Volleyball and the recent Tomb Raider games. People fork out $50-$100 for games in order to do just that: play a good game. They aren’t forking out that amount of money to see well rendered tits. That would be ridiculous.

      “Take an example of everyday anime: Can you actually watch a whole series WITHOUT seeing a beach/hot springs episode? There’s bound to be bouncing boobs flopping everywhere, whether you like it or not.”

      Uh…I don’t know what anime you’re watching (possible hentai?). The average anime DOESN’T have “bouncing boobs flopping everywhere”. They might have a couple of well endowed characters or even a few fanservicey hotspring scenes, but they are rarely used as the PRIMARY FOCUS of the anime’s marketing and promotion. Not unless the series’ main focus is fanservice or hentai.

      • Pathos, Logos, and Ethos.
        Pathos is the most influential part of anything and everything, as said by my English teacher.
        And why the hell would I be watching hentai?
        I’m a 14-year-old girl who knows that KHT style ISN’T sexist at all, and anyone who watches/watched anime knows that breasts are bound to be seen everywhere, whether we like it or not.

        • That’s sort of the point, isn’t it? Anime isn’t a force of nature, it’s a human creation. If that human creation involves constantly involves distortin half of the populaton an turning them into creatures whose sole purpose in existence is fanserive, then it’s sexist. I know it’s easier to shrug things like these off and go on with your life than to put your foot down and get ridiculed, but that’s actually the only way to get the good things in life.

        • You’re 14 years old? Well that explains everything then.

          Come back here when you’ve left high school and actually know a thing or two about sexism in the real world. Once you leave school and move out of home, you no longere have your parents to wrap you up in cotton wool and tell you you’re just as equal as everybody else. You’ll start seeing the injustices that exist in this world, from the way women are treated in the media to the way women are treated in the workforce.

    • “Asians are more comfortable (in a sense) when it comes to natural nudity (bathing, changing clothes, etc.).”

      You seem to have forgotten that Asia is more than just China, Japan, and both Koreas. My parents, born and raised in Laos, frown heavily upon the notion of being nude anywhere outside the privacy of our own home, and then only among those who live in the same home… for the most part. It was an unspoken rule that we, my parents, siblings and I, never let my grandfather see us naked. Ever. My parents also never completely change, that is changing underwear and all, when my siblings and I are in the room. While they occasionally just ask us to turn the other way, it is far more common for them to shoo us out of the room. Sure, you could say that their attitude is due to that fact that they’ve spent the last 20 or so, just under half of their lives, in the United States but this attitude is not out of place back in Laos, at least in the cities of Vientiane and Luang Prabang as well as some of their surrounding areas. The only times any sort of nudity outside of the home was acceptable was when young children were outside bathing or playing in the water. Even then, many children will have something covering their genitals. Laos aside, Asia also contains several predominately Islamic countries where public nudity may be illegal though I can’t speak with any authority when it comes to these countries

      • Anyways, my main point is that you should stop labeling everyone/every artist as “sexist” just because they draw girls some funky way that’s too their liking.
        Maybe KHT’s art is something that represents ideal beauty- and ideal beauty (most of the time) can not be achieved because something ideal is usually out of our reach.
        And unless you have actual evidence that has fingers pointing at KHT for him saying something like “I think all girls should be born this way,” or some other REAL sexist comments, don’t bother calling him a sexist. How else would he been able to marry a gorgeous woman who follows his style?
        I think the blogger of this wordpress is too strict on feminine values- try picking on female figures such as Lady Gaga or some other celebrities for making men give the wrong impression on women.

        • A person doesn’t actually have to say something along the lines of “I think all girls should be born this way” to be sexist. A person’s actions also has a lot to say as well after all and it’s not like every person who has a negative opinion verbalizes it, especially if he or she knows it would be something most would frown upon. Maybe KHT has said something similar; maybe he hasn’t. It’s not like there’s following him 24/7, recording every little thing he says. Having a wife who has a similar style doesn’t absolve him of anything either. He could still be sexist. There are plenty of men who are sexist yet have wives or girlfriends. Just because she follows his style does not mean that there is nothing wrong with it. Having followers does not making someone or something problem free.

          Also, how does KKUEM’s appearance have anything to do with, well, anything? All right, she’s pretty, but what does that have to do with how KHT draws? Nothing at all. It just means she’s pretty.

          Wundergeek’s blog specifically concerns her “growing frustration with the escalation of sexist imagery being used to sell games”, not how people such as Lady Gaga and Britney Spears give others the wrong impression on women. Furthermore, there are plenty of bloggers who do devote their time to doing such things. Just because wundergeek does one thing doesn’t mean she has to do the other. It’d be exhausting, really. Also, what exactly are these feminine values you speak of? Do you mean traditional feminine values? If so, I fail to see any promotion of those in this post.

    • But seriously, Sex Sells. KHT is one of my favorite artists, and his designs and distortion of the human figure is what defines him most.
      Take an example of everyday anime: Can you actually watch a whole series WITHOUT seeing a beach/hot springs episode? There’s bound to be bouncing boobs flopping everywhere, whether you like it or not. Asians are more comfortable (in a sense) when it comes to natural nudity (bathing, changing clothes, etc.).

      A couple of things you need to take into account:

      First, “sex sells” is inherently sexist so long as it uses “sex” as shorthand for “women.” Unless either KHT or the culture at large is “selling” sexy males in the same way (which almost certainly isn’t the case considering just how degraded his female portrayals can get), it’s a really bad excuse.

      And second, natural nudity and sexualization are not the same thing. It’s possible (if difficult) to have a scene where characters are at the hot springs without turning them into fanservice objects. However, skimpy clothing is unnatural nudity — it cannot exist without humans choosing to make it, and tends to make the “sexy” aspects even more obvious than they would have been if the character had been entirely naked due to playing up the taboo. “Bouncing boobs flopping everywhere” is also highly unnatural — they’re more the realm of Boobs Don’t Work That Way than natural nudity. =P

      • Great explanation, but I am totally sidetracked by what on earth is wrong with that woman’s breasts in the picture you linked? The leftmost one….maybe its just me, but it looks like there’s a much smaller boob between her left breast and her jacket. Like there’s some seriously bad foreshortening going on there or some even more unfortunate decisions in costume design. >.> Either way, boobs don’t work that way lol.

        Oh, also, I’ve always been fond of this as an example of what sex sells really means.

  14. “even more like shit than North American-developed games do” — hmm, is the North American company Valve that exceptional?

    Because Valve does female characters right. It’s not just the design. They make their interactions right too, eg. Alyx Vance and Dr. Mossman in the Half-Life 2 series. Is it because they have women working as developers? (You can listen to Developer Commentary right in the game)

    • Instead of accusing people of “whining” (i.e. dismissing their complaints as childish petulance), why don’t you try coming up with a convincing argument as to why his art isn’t sexist (not to mention grotesque)?

      • (Okay, “grotesque” is subjective.  But there’s something vaguely Uncanny Valley, not to mention skeevy, about the positions into which the characters seem to be contorting themselves.)

  15. That’s some ol’ bullshit right there now.

    Feels even more frustrating in that they have some models of characters with dark skin tones that actually look decent. After doing a search on more of his work, and after Magna Carta sometime ago, I’m really turned off by all of this guy’s work. More so when you toss in anatomy & proportions into his body of work; and many of the women seem to just be reskins with different looks–kinda reminds me of the artist of One Piece who seems only capable of drawing two female bodytypes and just changes how they look to have a different character.

    That bsing “sex sells” mantra needs to be changed to something ‘the female sex sells’ because we’re sure as hell not seeing men dressed in similar attire or even portrayed the same if their models are even half-dressed.

    Even though I only just doodle, I do find your lessons of drawing anatomy extremely useful and I’m taking notes for any future attempts on the human form as I go through your backlog.

    Almost as an aside, I feel rather affronted at the “bell hooks” poser and disgusted at the most. That’s rather heinous feeling thing to do.

  16. Most of these look like the boobs are supposed to be their own characters, the women attached are merely for mobility. Might as well just draw a set of huge breasts atop some long, shiny legs with a camel toe.

  17. I always find it funny that dudes spend so much time and energy defending this crap by using things like the old “sex sells” while proclaiming themselves Smarter in their arrogance of argument. Never seeing the irony of defending a concept that makes them look like grunting idiots who only care about eye candy.

    Also, I did a spit take on the upskirt pictures with the text “This is important release information”. It’s hilarious in a sad way…

  18. I don’t expect to have correct anatomy in games/anime anyway.
    Already knew people will play this just to fap since the trailer came out.

  19. Art’s pretty subjective as to what’s good and what’s not.

    That said, I don’t like his style of art. I first encountered HTK’s work on the cover of Savant and Sorcerer for Exalted and felt like the cover had reached out and gouged me in the eyes.

  20. If the aim was to perfectly replicate reality you’d have points, but the aim is to not replicate reality but to do something unreal and place exaggerated on the anatomy.
    You have no point and spent your time writing nonsense. But what ever makes you happy I suppose.
    I don’t know what your problem is but it’s personal, so go deal with it in a corner by yourself.

    • [Derailing, in that it is entirely contrary to the spirit of contributing meaningfully to this discussion]

  21. I’ll be honest, I like the character depictions for both male and female characters in this game. But there are a few things you missed, probably because you didn’t look into it hard enough because you probably didn’t care to. Fair enough. But i’ll point out that the character picture you chose to use as your anatomy representation, was of a character type that was not meant to look like a normal human. That race of character in the game was made to be overly large to depict a sort of “giant” race. The race in the game that is meant to represent normal humans actually does look a lot more normal as far as proportions go as opposed to the one you used, though admittedly still a bit exaggerated. Is it sexist? I would say no, simply because the males of the same race in the game are equally exaggerated. The males of the same race as the one in the picture you used are gigantic hulking humanoids with more muscles than anyone should ever have, and are even larger than the females of the same race.

    Are the females made to fit the “sexy” stereotype? You bet they are. But the males are also portrayed in the same way, muscular, sculpted, well toned bodies. Does the artist seem to go for realism? No I would agree that he does not. But that’s part of what makes the game what it is. It’s already not realistic by having characters that can do things that are physically impossible, which is why people play games. Why not have characters that look just as fantastic?

    And as a side note, it may be aimed at the male audience, but my GF is just as interested in playing it as i am, and she also has no problem with the character designs.

    In short, you spent a lot of time explaining how the females are very unrealistic, but you don’t seem to realize that that’s not a bad thing at all. Just because they don’t look completely realistic doesn’t mean they are automatically disgusting abominations. I think the females in the game, even the one in the picture you used, are quite sexy.

  22. Maybe some of us work hard, and prefer to stare at SEXY ASS, SEXY LEGS, BIG JIGGLY BOOBIES, and AWESOME gameplay generics during our off time. Not to say it is right to distort the human anatomy that way or this way, but that is why it is considered a “fantasy RPG” where things that are impossible are possible. So in all respect to your blog, I think HTK’s character models allows emphasis on the beauty of the body, you have to agree majority of men would consider legs, hips, breasts, even crotch area (not to be a pervert) erotic and exotic parts of woman, and it is a serious Marketing strategy. For men who seek not only gameplay pleasures but a little spice of erotic sensations during combat. Not all of us are pedophiles yes, but not all of the Korean Fantasy based MMOs are meant for everybody. So all in all, it is a good thing or a bad depending on your POV(point of views) nobody is wrong……..

    this is why it is called a game…..we make the impossible happen
    distort reality as it is, and add in elements that are going to trigger our taste bugs to keep us attached to the game. well I could go on and on about other things but pretty basic….

    Don’t ask why HTK is getting big bucks. There are people who like his sexy female work and and some professional gamers might look beyond that point. But all in all I do believe east-asian MMOS especiallly korean ones are very revealing and pervy. Tell me if its wrong lol but its true…..

    I mean I got a girlfriend and she plays with me, behind her back I still think these cartoony chicks are FUCKING HOT and sometimes I even WANK OFF to them. lol. In all honesty, it’s what floats your boat right?

  23. your gonna call me a troll, but that would just be an excuse to have your way. quite frankly, you are being too literal. art is art- anatomically correct or not. the overly stylized characters were designed and meant to emphasize the most “attractive parts” of the human body, so to speak. this aspect of the game was known to be quite sexual, which is the point. I only ask you, why do you insist on showing off the fact that you know an anatomically correct human and all its proportions? i can damn well say that the models as they are are far more appealing as opposed to a proper human figure- we see it all the time: in games, and in real life. plus, this is a FANTASY mmorpg. if you’re gonna be so analytical about ratio’s and size and proportionality, why not question the entire world world of the game? and why DO you stop at women? is it because you are some “purist” who cant stand the thought of a very sexually explicit woman because its naughty? grow up

  24. First off, let me just say this.
    I’m a girl.
    You can choose to believe me or not, whatever, doesn’t bother me. But I’ll tell you my opinion of this game, and of this article, from my eyes.

    One, the game: While I sadly missed the recent closed beta for this game, it looks to be a fantastic Action MMORPG. From the pictures, trailers, and videos I have seen of this game, I am very hyped and excited for this game. The visuals look absolutely stunning, music seems gorgeous, and all around, this game seems to be the real deal.

    Now, secondly, about this article: Dude/Bro/Chick whatever you are, YOU’RE doing it wrong. The one picture you chose to analyze in your “omg 9 heads so huge!” picture actually made me laugh. You DO know that race is meant to be BIGGER than the rest of the races, right? They are the Gon, and they are SUPPOSED to be freakishly huge like that — they are giants. So when you squeezed her down to that stupid “normal” size as you called it, it was actually, 100% wrong.

    Another thing, to base your opinion of a game, SOLELY on the fact of how the WOMEN in the game look, is absolutely idiotic. You never mentioned the gameplay, OTHER visuals, music, ETC. All the other important elements that make a game. You pointed out the women, and how they didn’t fit to your “normal” standard of how a woman should look. You sure as hell didn’t mention how the men are always buff, sqaure jaws, perfect faces, etc. You focused solely on the women. To be honest, you’re one of the ONLY FEW who actually do.

    Are the women sexualized in this game? Well, duh. They are in every game. Just like every male is ripped and buff beyond belief. I honestly don’t see what the big problem here is, maybe you need to shift your focus away from such shallow things.

    I look at the panty shots that you’ve chosen to post with your article, and laugh. Because lady, if you’re so serious about GAMES and WOMEN ART, then there is no point to be taking your criticism seriously.

    I’m a girl, and this game has been sold to me. And I’ll be happily playing as a flipping female fighter, panty shots and all.

  25. The only thing about it that I don’t like so far “Ive been playing the game” is that there talking about faction based PVP. I think they should go more with a free for all pvp and then just allow people to join guilds. And break away from the whole “I can just not equip the factions pvp flag and play a normal PVE game all the time”. It should be free for all completely none of this “i don’t like pvp” either you play it all pvp or just don’t play period in my opinion.

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