About maybe a week or so ago, it came to my attention that there was some uproar amongst players of the coming Street Fighter V concerning one Rainbow Mika. In specific, the camera angle when she engages her super move, which starts on a super-tight shot of her spanking her ass before twisting her upper torso in a way that makes owl necks jealous as she dares you to have a staring contest between her eyes and her buttocks. The angle in question was adjusted to hide the smacking animation, obscuring the no-doubt years of work getting the BootyPhysX engine showcased, as evidenced below
Like most videogame-related crises, this is much ado about nothing, blown up in to astronomical proportions, but(t) it still got me thinking about why this stuff becomes such a big deal. It got me thinking about the idea of war on sensuality. And, as a male, it got me thinking about sex. So it’s time to write about my thoughts!
Considering my own sexuality, I sort of don’t seem to have this much of a problem in my videogames. BioWare seems to be about the only game developer that acknowledges that dudes and girls have bouncy fun with other dudes and other girls, which I find remarkably unfair but that’s another topic for another day entirely. I also don’t have any problem with guys finding the curvy, squishy bits of a woman appealing. That people find physical attraction to parts of anatomy is not the problem. It’s the focus on that anatomy entirely. As if a woman is built solely to showcase those parts for the enjoyment of hetero males. The character above has an outfit that stays together by straight guy power fantasy logic. She literally punches people with her ass. No weapon in fiction has been more ridiculous since Oddjob’s bowler hat.
In spite of those same character “traits”, Capcom elected to pan the camera up a bit in an attempt to perhaps provide a meager amount of dignity to R. Mika. It was met with remarkable amounts of jaw-dropping and annoyance as people instantly leapt to the idea that some shadow organization of people who don’t view women as a vehicle for ass and titties forced Capcom’s hand and are spoiling their fun. Ignoring the fact that there are myriad other games that pander to this mentality, this example began to shine as a bum-shaped beacon of political correctness gone mad.
All genres of game are victim of this idea that female empowerment is intrinsically tied to their ability to showcase their anatomy in exciting fabrics…or lack of fabrics. My most recent enjoyment of Blade & Soul is definitely cooled off by the outfits and physics engines at work for lady avatars. The simple act of turning in place sets my poor lady’s mammaries bouncing around like a mosh pit in a paint can shaker. It’s inescapable in its obviousness even when my character is wearing something that wouldn’t invite these movements. It honestly looks painful as hell.
This has been an issue with videogames for as long as I have been alive, and while I’m not mentally scarred from the exposure as a result, I also am old enough now to realize that this sort of thing is not fair. Women and girls should feel good about the character personas they slip in to. And though there are several positive places to point at, the thing is they’re too few and far between. The most recent really positive lady protagonist that I have known of is the rebooted Lara Croft, released in March of 2013. Before that, there was Jade from Beyond Good and Evil, released in 2003. That’s ten years in between a parade of boobs. It engenders an idea that girls can only ever be strong if they acknowledge as frequently as possible that they have soft stuff jutting out from parts of their body.
To be fair, the example games and characters I’m listing don’t suddenly become terrible games because of their treatment of women. Blade & Soul is shaping up to be a sleeper hit MMO for me. Bayonetta, by all accounts, is a very solid series. Street Fighter V is still going to be played like mad because it’s the grandpappy of the fighting game. That’s not the point here, though. It’s about realizing that women can be strong without having to focus on their curvature.
Being sexually aroused by a fictional character is not a terrible thing either, let me be clear. We watch the tales of powerful characters unfold, even taking on those roles ourselves. If a game is written well, then you’re getting attached to the character by design. Whether you attach by the head or by the pelvis isn’t really important–it’s still an attachment. Hell, I found Adam Jensen to be probably one of the most attractive characters in gaming recently. I have no shame in admitting that, just as admitting that R. Mika has a hypnotic bubble butt should not induce shame. However, part of the reason Jensen is attractive for me isn’t just because he’s handsome. He has a variety of other aspects to his personality that further draw me in.
By comparison Kratos should have been interesting to me as well, but all he was to me was a murder vehicle. Then there was a whole QTE event where you boinked two women at once. That’s not affirming masculinity, that’s displaying a lack of confidence in your character. It’s the male equivalent of R. Mika–a persona whose only gimmick is butt-punching. Or cocksmanship, as the case may be.
Strength of character can titillate just as much as physical assets. Even moreso. It’s high time that game devs realize that and realize that more and more women are getting in to gaming and should be treated as more than the stuff they have to pull blouses and jeans over.
I’m not saying people are horrible for liking boobies and booties. I’m saying that more than that should be made apparent.