Are you bothered by the depiction of women in video games? Or do you think it shouldn't be taken seriously as many video game characters have exagerated features? Hit the comment section!
Sex sells… regrettably…?
I've got a bit of a bee in my bonnet: I'm frustrated… no, dejected with the use of sex in games nowadays. Every time I think things have changed for the better, something happens to make me realize that… no, it hasn't. Now, the thing that prompted this article is a TV ad I saw for the new Need for speed undercover. You know the story (it's basically "The fast & the furious"), a guy getting into a racing crowd to fight some crims who have a habit of racing. Only way to get on the inside is by impressing them with your racing prowess and presto! we have a game. So far so good. But the ad's voiceover is done by the chick who sets this up for you; sort of introduces the player to the scene. "My job is to get you in, your job is to race", she says. Nice. Then some nice in-game shots of the impressive graphics, engine sounds, skidmarks, explosions, yummy. And then our chick goes: "You're in deep… Exactly where I want you to be". Why, thank you, darling, and to quote James Bond: Would you like it harder? The first part of course is perfectly understandable. Being "in deep" means being deep undercover. The second part, however, doesn't leave much to the imagination. I mean, a cleverly dressed young lady with makeup and Lara Croft-breasts, basically saying she wants you "in deep"…? How oblivious do you have to be to the hidden meanings of the English language to not get the symbolism here? This is the sort of thing that makes me roll my eyes a bit and think: Argh. Another game not quite satisfied with amazing graphics and an almost biblically good engine… they have to have sex in it as well. Or not, as you'd have it. There isn't any actual hanky-panky, since that would totally get the "Moms against games that screw up our kids" organizations picketing the game shops.
Right now you might be thinking: "Has Kalah taken his medication recently?" Yes, I realize that sex is a natural part of the world of motor racing. Street racing was invented by posers with testosterone levels higher than the Cro Magnon and an obsessive need to show off, and there is no doubt that right next to a tuned Nissan Skyline you should have a 20 year old hot Asian chick wearing as little as possible to cover her outrageous womanly forms – and that's fine. So what the hell am I talking about? Well, since this is a Heroes site, let's return to Heroes, shall we… Sex isn't just a part of games in which it should be a natural part of the context. Here's a picture (click to enlarge) of a Heroes 5 creature, the blood sister, in fact.
Note that although she's covered the "important" bits, she hasn't really covered her important bits. It's not exactly what you'd call a fighting armour, this. Her top doesn't cover enought to keep her warm, much less stop an incoming arrow from piercing her heart. Also, can somebody tell me who thought high heels would be a good thing to wear when entering the battlefield? And the skull covering her crotch is a stupid, adolescent, feeble-minded idea from a total plonker of a designer, who's only concern was not to make the outfit look even remotely functional. He only tried to make it look cool – which it doesn't. I'm not finished. The level 6 creature has the same graphical flaws, and also carries a whip, for all those S&M fans out there. Oooh. I actually quite like much of the other artwork in H5; Haven creatures like the squire and the archer look quite believable, it's only when the gender of the creature is remotely female that you get that "get those clothes off" mantra coming from the designers. It's the same thing with the heroes. Here's a look at the Academy wizard Nur, m'kay?
The description of her tells of a "Djinn master of meditation and mental concentration" with an "intellectual capacity to a state of incredible resilience". Yes, that's just what I was thinking the moment I saw her picture: mental capacity and intellect. Not the minimal piece of jewellery covering her nipples. Then there's the Dungeon heroines Kythra and Eruina.
If you read about their personal histories, you will find that they are rich, powerful and excel in their respective areas of expertise. But who cares…? Necro heroes next.
Lucretia. Nice rack, Luce.
Raven. I'll bet you'd all like to see your girlfriends in that outfit, wouldn't ya… I know the designers did. In fact, the strippers at the H5 release party did wear that…
Frankly, this sort of thing really annoys me. It annoys me when it saturates a game like it saturates a Conan the Barbarian album. Busty babes wearing armour bikinis as if that will somehow protect them from an attack against their stomachs… or anywhere else for that matter. Nice to look at, but after the first few sexonds (sorry) of enjoyment it just annoys me. And it's so many games. It's as if games won't sell these days unless there's something sexy in them. I honestly think that game designers plan their games around this; a female character? A'ight, the first thing we need to do is make her sexy. If the designers are more concerned with in-game mechanics and story lines, it's like the developers brought a finished product to the producers, and the man in charge said: "That's great, lads, I hear the game plays well, has good graphics and a well-built plot. Now put a half-naked girl with big tits in there, please." I mentioned Lara earlier; well, we all know she's the fantasy of many youths the age of 13-19 out there, and that much of the game sales of this series are not attributed to the game mechanics or graphics, but to Lara Crofts… attributes. I actually liked it when they reduced the size of Angelina's bra stuffings for the second movie, and I liked it equally when they hired a fitness instructor as PR representative rather than a glamour model like Jordan. You get a Lara who's still hot, and appeals to hormone-filled adolescents as much as a picture of Angelina, but you also get a sense through her movements that those outrageous jumps and dives aren't really out of her reach anyway.
Why am I writing this? Why do I bother? It's not like the gaming industry (or the movie industry for that matter) is going to change any time soon. Sex sells, that's the way it is, and I'm not standing on the palisades against that. I'm not the conservative mom who thinks anything with the F-word in it should be burned. I didn't mind seeing Janet Jackson's boob at all. Well, I suppose I'm trying to appeal to the more intelligent of your brain cells somehow. The one that says: No, I'm not buying a game just because there's a pretty girl on the cover. No, I don't want to buy Britney's latest album, because although the stylist/surgeon has made her very sexy, she can't really sing. I want you to feel like I feel. I want you to think about this rather than gobble it straight up like a teen who's just been told smoking is cool. I want reason in my games. It simply isn't reasonable to have a woman going to war with nothing but a loincloth for protection. It's ridiculous to the point of stupidity sometimes, and it spoils the experience by its mere lack of logic. So please, Nival and the rest of you, stop it. Just stop it. If you're going to give a girl any armour at all, put a proper set of armour on. Make her take it off when she's back in the castle partying. And don't give skinny girls a pair of knockers the size of watermelons; I seriously doubt they have plastic surgeons in the Might & Magic world. I want ya'll to be as annoyed as I am when game producers and moviemakers go too far with this. I want you to shake your heads in dejected disbelief and then – if the game is any good – forget about it and play it anyway.