Fuckable female robots in video games – a timeline [LARGE][maybe-NSFW]

Recently, my brother sent me a screenshot from a MOBA in development – Paragon – of a female android character named Muriel. When I saw it, I promptly headdesked:

Paragon_Muriel.0.0

I was furious. Furious! ROBOT CAMEL TOE?? THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS! Which is what I yelled at Twitter, only to be promptly reminded that Mass Effect had gotten there previously, with EDI – a fact that I had forgotten because the very first thing I made EDI do was PUT ON SOME GODDAMN CLOTHES.

That got me thinking about female androids, and video gaming’s problem with wanting them to always be fuckable. So I started doing some digging, and Wikipedia handily provided me with a list of fictional female robots in video games! Huzzah! A lot of them I had heard of, but there were a lot that I hadn’t, and… jeez. Some of them are really bad. I struggled for a bit on how to actually present what I came up with, until I just decided to arrange them all in chronological order. So I plunked my screenshots into Illustrator and promptly… uh… got a bit carried away:

Timeline
CLICK THROUGH FOR MORE READABLE VERSION

(Note that some results from the Wikipedia list have been omitted. I chose not to include characters from visual novels, since those feel like their own distinct thing. I also, FOR THE LIFE OF ME, could not find any screenshots of the character from Doreamon worth using.)

Now because this is me, while I was staring at all of these screenshots of (mostly) incredibly sexualized character designs, I started wondering exactly how I could quantify “bad” for the purposes of determining the overall level of badness. After all, when going through the Female Armor BINGO, a lot of the points like “how does it attach” or “almost naked for an adventure in a cold climate” don’t really apply to characters that are robots. So instead, I compiled a “hierarchy of sins” (to steal a term from Dogs in the Vineyard) of sexualization, starting with things that represent not being sexualized at all (“Nonhumanoid”, “Humanoid, fully covered”) and going all the way to totally objectified (“actually naked”, “camel toe”).

Then I went through for each character I plotted on the timeline and counted the highest criteria that they met on the “hierarchy”, at which point I made some loose categorizations to see what would happen, and I got this:

androids

I realize statistics don’t mean as much when you invent the criteria and kind of half-ass the definitions, but two thirds of the designs counted are at least moderately sexualized, and only 18% of the designs weren’t sexualized at all. So, you know. SURPRISE! Most female android characters in video games are sexualized! What a shock!

Next time, I’ll write about something equally surprising. Like, character creation in RPGs is important, or video games require an input device in order to play them.

>Industry artist fail: Hyung Tae Kim (so VERY VERY nsfw!)

>While looking for another entrant in my fanartist hall of shame, I happened to stumble across an artist whose work I had not been familiar with – Hyung Tae Kim. I initially found him when I stumbled across this image:

/sigh. Distorted anatomy? Check. I mean, even more so than usual. Improbably large breasts that defy physics? Check. Lovingly detailed ladybits? Cheeeeeck. This guy is a charmer all right.

When I did more research I discovered that HTK is actually a pretty influential artist in the Asian gaming industry. He’s worked as lead character design on a huge number of roleplaying games, including the War of Genesis series (3 games), the Magna Carta series (2 games), and Blade and Soul online. And while normally, I wouldn’t tackle an artist like HTK because of the fact that he does work primarily in the Asian games industry, the fact remains that he does have a HUGE following here in North America and does occasionally work over here. That blue crotch-floss with butterflies? The cover for an Exalted sourcebook. So I figure that makes him fair game.

Amusingly, one of the first articles that I found about HTK that tipped me off to what a following he had over here was this one. The headline image shows a totally cleavagey chick, but don’t worry folks. She’s just an exception!

WTF is up with her boobs, man?

If this is an exception, why go to the effort of picking out this one? Methinks thou doth protest too much, sir… Anyhow. Mr. Mahan is mostly correct in that yes, a lot of HTK’s women don’t display actual cleavage. No, instead they have impossibly large, impossibly pointy breasts that flop around like distended lemons. I mean, seriously. Look at these things:


LEMON BOOBS AHOY!
I never thought I’d have to invent a new category of boob mockery, but here it is. LEMON BOOBS. Methinks this guy can’t be getting a whole lot of action because holy shit in what universe do women have breasts that are this large and this pointy? Those gazongas are practically WMD! Also, contrary to popular belief, jiggle physics does not exist in real life just because it’s called “physics”. I know that there has never been a situation in which I’ve had to dodge being hit in the face with my own breasts, so ease off with the anti-grav field!Another pretty common feature of HTK’s artwork is the OUTTHRUST LADYBITS. (Yes, capitals required). If you look at his art, a lot of the women seem to be thrusting their ladybits pretty much right at the camera:

NOOOOO! THE LADYBITS!

So, I’m guessing he would feel quite a bit of affinity with the WoW artist who did that infamous ladybit assassin picture I mocked a while ago… Another pose that’s way too freaking common is the “please do me from behind” school of posing:


Come on. It doesn’t get less subtle than this!
So, yeah. This guy clearly not winning a lot of awards for class. I realize that Asian culture is a lot more misogynistic in some regards, but the fact that there are plenty of North American dudes panting to get their hands on scans of this guys art books is just discouraging. This takes the garden-variety misogynistic character design we get over here and make it seem tame in comparison!The thing that makes me really want to punch HTK in the nuts is his fetish for lovingly detailed ladybits:


Seriously? Talim is totally underage! That’s just gross.

The thing that makes me most sad is that Blade and Soul seems to have adhered to HTK’s designs pretty slavishly in the rendering of their character models. I mean check this out! We have actual modeled camel toe:

Yuck.

>Anatomy: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG (or: Body customization in Perfect World)o

>Perfect World is yet another Asian free-to-play MMO with a freemium subscription model, published by a Chinese game publisher. And the advertising is pretty much what you’d expect from a freemium MMO:

Wow. Passively posed female spellcaster chick in cheesecakey outfit. Yawn. But then you have things like this promotional wallpaper:

Okay, so you have the mascot, who is practically a fetish checklist. Girls with wings, check. Short skirt, check. Boobage, check. Thigh high stockings, check. Whatever, that’s pretty standard. What kind of blows my mind is the stuff they cram into the background. The catgirl with the “come hither” look is pretty standard until you consider the fact that right next to her is Chick With Random O-Face. I mean, what? Random cleavage is one thing, but random orgasms are something else entirely.And then just to make things even more confusing there’s Random Upskirt Tiger in the lower corner. Why is the tiger checking out Fetish Wing Girl’s ass? Why??

Hey, look! Seasonally appropriate cheesecake! They obviously didn’t spend a whole lot of effort on this, since the outfit is mainly just a color swap with some fur trim added, though I’m a bit distrubed by the reindeer antlers. I mean, catgirls are pretty standard, but reindeer girls? Brr.The thing is, none of this really seems at all out of the ordinary. Random orgasms aside, it’s pretty middle-of-the-road as far as cheesecake goes. No, Perfect World earns a special place on my shit list for its body customization options that can result in characters like this:

Holy shit! Not even ridiculous Ivy fanart can compete with those knockers! How is she even standing upright? Are those things full of helium? Surely this has to be some kind of disturbing hack…

Oh god! There’s more of them! I mean, these are so horrific that the bunny girl looks almost normal in comparison, and she’s really, really not. Even better if you click for the larger version you can see that the chick on the left is named “WhoreNi”. Um. Wow. So, evidence points to these characters being played by men…

So what the hell is going on here?

Well, it appears that in Perfect World there are body customization sliders, including – obviously – for breast size and waist size. What’s disturbing about this is that it results in characters that no longer even resemble humans:

The guy who created this character even posted on the official PW forums asking other users to rate his character for attractiveness. When called on the fact that she, uh, kind of looks like a freak show, he responded:

Good point, I think I got carried away with the boob bar. 😀

Um. Yeah. Just a bit, dude.

Perhaps an even more disturbing feature is the ability to customize your characters based on a picture, utilized here to creepy effect:

This is all very disturbing and creepy on so many levels. Body customization is not necessarily an evil thing in and of itself. It has the potential to be quite a positive feature, if used to allow for non-idealized body types. The problem here is that Perfect World uses its powers for evil, allowing its users to take it to such extremes that you can generate offensively freakish parodies of humanity, waifish women who resemble nothing so much as poles with two zeppelins tied to them. How any of these women would function in daily life, much less kill things with swords, is beyond me. I mean, just tying your shoes would be a challenge with those titanic ta-tas.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting all of the onus on the publishers. Clearly the men creating these characters deserve a fair helping of blame. Any man who would create one of these characters just because they COULD clearly has some pretty skewed views of women. But the publishers of Perfect World are the ones programming the slider in the first place. They’re the ones deciding where to code the limits on breast size, which has equally off-putting implications.

>Boobs: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG (Taki)

>Sometimes it’s easier to show what’s wrong with an image by drawing directly over it, so that’s what I’m doing today. (Every once in a while, my degree in Fine Arts does serve a practical purpose…)

I know I’ve been picking on Soul Calibur IV a lot. I promise I’ll move onto other targets, but for the purposes of what I’m doing here the freakish anatomy of the Soul Calibur IV women helps me make a point a bit better.

Okay, so today I’m going to pick on Taki, the boobtacular spandex ninja:

Her boobs in addition to being unnaturally huge are also POINTY, which is just kind of freaky. There must be some serious architecture to that spandex suit that we don’t know about, because… yeah. Boobs don’t do that. So let’s go in there and do a little correcting…

Now, I didn’t make Taki small-chested by any stretch of the imagination – she’s still rocking somwehere between a C and a D cup. See the difference there? But check this out -In the designer’s quest to make Taki a walking fetish, they’ve turned Taki into something actually not human:

The red lines are how Taki was drawn, and the black are my corrections. When you compare the two, you can see that they’ve given Taki so much of an “hourglass figure” that her rib cage is practically inverting itself, as is her stomach. This begs the question, where does she keep her organs? Also, you’ll notice that I fleshed out Taki’s ass a bit. That’s not me making Taki a bit fatter, that’s me giving Taki the musculature needed to connect her legs to her torso.

Considered from this angle, this makes the Soul Calibur IV women even more disturbing. Namco has gone from fanservice-y idealized women to women that are demonstrably not human. Considering that the Soul Calibur series is aimed mostly at young men, should we be surprised if the segments of the target audience partially internalizes some of these attitudes, even if only to a small degree?

>Better character designs: Sophitia

>My plans are to make this a semi-regular feature. I won’t promise a regular schedule of these, since my muse is a fickle creature these days, but I will promise that this won’t be the last.

Okay, remember Soul Calibur VI’s freakishly proportioned jiggle-fest Sophitia? Of course you do. (Who could forget? Brr.) But just for the sake of comparison, here she is again:

If one considers that the human head weighs around eighteen pounds (thank you, Google), then it looks like she’s carrying around 54 to 72 pounds of boob around there. Just for a little perspective, guys, you can understand how difficult fighting with those bazookas would be by strapping a nine-year-old to your chest and trying to swing a sword while so encumbered. At that size, the boobs would be about as rambunctious as the nine-year-old.

So here’s my take on Sophitia as she should have been. (And apologies for the sketchiness and the somewhat ghetto coloring job. I didn’t feel like taking the time to make it a finished piece.)

(CLICK FOR LARGER VIEW)

My Sophitia is regularly proportioned, but still quite sexy. Her proportions are athletic without being waifish. My Sophitia has never had breast enlargement, and she isn’t averse to eating a freaking burger now and then.

The other huge problem besides the anatomy is the white-washing. How about the fact that she’s explicitly Greek by her story and costume, and yet she’s a paragon of Aryan beauty? Seriously, wtf? Mediterranean people are brown. (In fact, my Sophitia might not be quite brown enough. I struggled getting the right skin tone with only photos for reference.)

Lastly, I also changed her costume. If she’s a Greek warrior, why invent some bullshit faux toga for her to fight in? Why not clothe her like an actual hoplite? Hell, the hoplites pranced around with no pants on and short sleeves, so you’d have a historical excuse to put her in a fanservice-y outfit. Make the skirt on that bad boy a little shorter and you’d still be within the realm of accuracy.

So that’s Sophitia. Any suggestions on who I might tackle next?

>Jiggle Physics Has Not Been Good For Fighting Games

>Back in the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I had a huge addiction to Soul Edge for the PlayStation 1, which later became the Soul Calibur series. I played the subsequent games – Soul Calibur 1 and Soul Calibur 2 as well. And sure there was fanservice – what fighting game didn’t have fanservice?

Okay, so sure in Soul Calibur 2 Sophitia and Cassandra’s skirts flipped up into panty shots when they moved. Whatever. The thing I love, love, love about Soul Calibur is that the gameplay is actually affected by a character’s chosen weapon style. I took enough tai chi to appreciate how Xiang Hua’s sword technique works, and I enjoy playing Seung Mina and Kilik since they use staff techniques that I learned in tae kwon do. The various martial traditions appeal to the martial arts geek in me.

But Soul Calibur 2 was the last game in the series I was able to tolerate. The fanservice was moderate in Soul Edge, a bit more in Soul Calibur, and actively irritating in Soul Calibur 2, but after that it was actively intolerable. And the most recent game, Soul Calibur 4 is downright ridiculous!

So, first of all, Soul Calibur introduces several new female characters:

(From left to right: Setsuka, Angol, and Tira) All of these characters have pretty ridiculous character designs. How exactly am I supposed to find a woman with an umbrella and platform flipflops intimidating? With those breasts and those shoes, she looks like she’s about to fall on her face. And what about Angol? What the hell is with the crotch floss and the stripper boots? And Tira’s costume can’t even be called a costume, really. It’s just a few pieces of torn fabric.So all of these are pretty bad. But what makes all of this worse is when you compare pictures of existing characters from Soul Calibur 2 and Soul Calibur 4…

So on the left, we have Sophitia from Soul Calibur 2. And yes the costume is ridiculous. She’s going to prance around in that ridiculous top with no bra and just a few pieces of string holding her in? And the built-in panty-shot physics? But as ridiculous as the Sophitia from Soul Calibur 2 is, she is still within the realm is what physically possible in a human being without surgery. She’d be a genetic lotto win, but it could still be possible.Compare that with the Sophitia on the right from Soul Calibur 4. We’ve gone from “extremely improbably but still possible” to absolute abomination. Her breasts are twice as large as her head, for Christ’s sake!

We see pretty much the same thing with Cassandra in terms of proportions, but her costume has also gotten much worse as well. In the space of two games, she’s gone from supermodel in a short skirt to a total freakshow. The skirt is gone, there’s a giant cleavage-hole, and her boots have gone from ankle boots to stripper boots. And as awful as these transformations are, Sophitia and Cassandra weren’t even “sexy characters”!
(I wasn’t able to find anything showing all of Seung Mina’s costume from Soul Calibur 2.) Is the economy that bad in the Soul Calibur world that none of these women can afford to entirely cover their breasts? Do they use cloth as currency? Because what’s with this costume? This is just awful, especially since Seung Mina is one of my favorite characters. But this still isn’t as horrific as…

Taki is one of “the sexy characters”. The body paint outfit was introduced in Soul Calibur 2. Taki’s proportions on the left are definitely problematic, but the Taki on the right is just cartoonish. What woman has boobs that pointy? They’re like bazookas attached to her chest – and just look at the camel toe! I imagine she winds up pulling spandex out of her crotch after every fight.

Last we have Ivy. Ivy’s dominatrix outfit (her default, btw) was pretty ridiculous to begin with in Soul Calibur 2, but it’s gone from an outfit to a few pieces of dental floss. Her breasts are bigger than even Taki’s, and whenever you Google Soul Calibur 4 images of Ivy are usually the first ones to come up.

I just don’t get it. I mean, what about any of these women is attractive? I mean, if I was a man I’d be insulted by shit like this. Clearly the design team made a decision that big breasts move product, but do they really think that male gamers are so shallow that they’ll buy anything with huge tits all over the cover? Game developers have made that mistake before – just look at Acclaim and BMX XXX.

The really sad part is that it didn’t have to be this way. Check this out:

This is one of the new characters, named Hilde, and she’s awesome! The armor, the expression – they’re fantastic! She kicks all kinds of ass! Why couldn’t they have designed more female characters like Hilde? Why stuff the game full of walking freak shows? I really wish I could understand the decision making process here. If any of these women were real, they’d look like Maxi Mounds. They certainly wouldn’t be able to swing a weapon, much less fight effectively.

It’s disgusting, and it’s disappointing. As much as I love the gameplay of the Soul Calibur series, I’m certainly not about to buy any future games in the series. And I certainly hope that gamer men aren’t as shallow as Namco’s marketing department seems to think they are.