Girls are typically held to different standards in life and in video games. I recently posted about the female character design for “Injustice 2” and how fans have always been up-in-arms about the poor graphic quality and lack of “pretty faces”, but in general I believe there are competing opinions on how women should be portrayed in video games.
Many games show women with not enough clothing, small waists, big breasts and provocative gestures such as “Dead or Alive”.
According to Polygon, Tecmo, the company that makes the game, decided to release it exclusively in Japan and Asia so the company wouldn’t have to deal with American and European criticism over the female characters.
A more common example of a female character with both fans and foes is Lara Croft from “Tomb Raider”. She is often used as an example of a female character who has been dressed a little less than appropriate, but she is still looked up to by women who play the games and appreciated by feminists.
The Huffington Post wrote about the evolution of women in video games. The article touches on how designing a woman is often followed by complaints from designers. Female characters are harder to design since they are expected to have more emotions that designers must create facial variances for.
what struck me as odd was this statement in the article, “It’s even been suggested they were more difficult to animate due to the female characters’ tendency to frequently disrobe.“ Why does this have to be a tendency?
As a girl gamer myself I can completely understand the lack of desire to play a game when you can’t take the female characters seriously.
I remember when “Marvel vs Capcom” was released and I couldn’t stand Morrigan (shown below) simply because the character was designed around her breasts and out of the U.S. her victory celebration is her dressed as a dominatrix with her opponent tied up. I understand she is supposed to be a succubus, but come on!
Often these female characters are topics of controversy and women like Aleah Tierney find the female character designs to be often ridiculous.
Aleah’s post touches on why women feel less inclined to play games where they can’t be properly represented.
When video games don’t offer a female option, then women feel inclined to walk away since it doesn’t take the time to consider them, but if the character isn’t realistic then this can also turn women off from wanting to play.
None of these issues are new and despite it being an age-old issue, these problems still have not been resolved.
There is a fine line that designers must walk, but typically cross in order to appeal to male audiences, but what about women that play?
Some gaming companies, Riot, Blizzard, EA, etc have begun to push beyond the generic female character silhouette to something more.
The typical female characters in League of Legends are known for having huge breasts that are always emphasized in splash art. Overwatch does a better job of clothing its ladies, but they are still designed with larger breasts/hips and tight clothes.
Zarya’s design is based off of a game designer on staff at Blizzard, but has now been seen as a representation of a more “butch” female and Illaoi is not the first female champion in LoL to go against the typical design, but she is the first to represent strength.
These two characters have broken the norm, but in doing so appear manly. Why is it that when we see a strong woman she must be designed as manly and if she isn’t manly then she is too sexy and cannot be respected?
While designers are trying to give variety to women in video games, the controversy still stands and women need a reason to feel like they belong as numbers of women playing games has dropped.
Hopefully this trend does not continue, and designers become more attune to girl gamers’ needs and wants.