For all purposes and intents, this particular article can be considered borderline NSFW. You might also find that it lacks quite the descriptive photos that I’d usually like to have on. I still included some of these pictures anyway, but hidden behind the links.
At the time of writing this article, a Google image search gone wild have caused certain embarrassment when done in plain view in the family living room.
Over-sexualized females are a familiar sight in many male dominated media; comic books, video games, and Japanese anime. On approaching a balanced gender ratio of 1:1 at a slow and steady rate, women in gaming have lashed out at the portrayal of women in video games, and so the calls for various changes in the industry now rings loud and clear.
More demand, no supply.
Though some would suggest that these studies of gender ratio are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Some of these studies are commissioned by organisations with a vested interest in disproving gamer stereotypes. They are not peer-reviewed or un-biased. Legitimacy of the studies aside, over-sexualized females are controversial topics of discussion in the game industry, while word on their male counterparts remains sparse. The sexualized female is no rare sight. In MMORPGs, the amount of skin liberated is bears a positive correlation with the tier of amour a female is wearing. While they both might start out resembling any other peasant, draped in cheap linen fabric, their end-game armor is vastly different from each other. The male armor grows bulkier, establishing an illusion of a hunkier male with sturdy chestplates and over-scaled shoulder pads. In contrast, the female armor tends to cover significantly less skin than does male armor. Their armor remains relatively unreliable – or even less reliable. The disparity in armorsmithing draws attention from both gender crowds. For a variety of reasons, what was thought of as a fan service to the consumer is now a disservice, leaving a foul taste in many mouths, regardless of gender.
A taste of the medicine
TERA’s female armors are commonly attributed with the inability to offer protection against even a cool breeze, and stands as a prime example on how not to design female armors. As they strive to bring bikini plating to the next level, some World of Warcraft players have decided to re-clothe various male NPCs with female armor. There’s also the Hawkeye Initiative. While not meant to be taken seriously, it provides a hilarious perspective. It also made glaringly clear the point that male sexualization takes a vastly different route from female sexualization. Whatever worked for males in the sexualization of females, aside from baring skin, is in need of an overhaul and should head back to the drawing board. It soon comes to mind that female input is necessary – one that is rather lacking in the game industry.
How do we do it?
I’m writing as a straight guy. To be honest, I’ve only a slight idea of what works and what doesn’t. Something tells me that Solid Snake has a solid booty that fully utilizes his otherwise latent potential for erotic fan fiction. But I don’t swing that way, so I don’t really know.
For the record, my mother and I are on the same page when it comes to accepting homosexuals; we welcome them and love them as much as we would otherwise – a point that was endearingly made clear to me moments ago. Note: Aftermath of the Google search. Maybe we should copy the guys from Twilight. I’m just kidding – the whole TwilightMoms thing still freak me out.
Well hang on – why should we do it?
Why do we even sexualize a female character in the first place? The coquettish game cover art seemingly does marketing really well. Although it’s a highly controversial move, it still works. It does its job so well that some developers and publishers feels encouraged by the reception to create games that pushes the boundaries of M18 Nudity. Scarlet Blade’s art style is basically soft core pornography, one that has catapulted into fame after being doused in hellfire by many critics. Despicable? Most probably. Even though the common man may be occasionally tempted by it, the temptation is almost invariably accompanied by a sense of shame. It cheapens and demeans. But as long as the market of pubescent boys and their over-charged hormonal drives exist, so will these games. But what’s left for the girls?
Just something to think about for today. —
“If you decide against sexualizing your male characters, be very honest about what’s going on with your female characters.” – GDC 2014 speaker Michelle Clough
6 thoughts on “Sexualize Male Characters!”
Goodness, I laughed at when I read about your mother making that endearing point. The things you put yourself through to write your posts 😉
A very thought-provoking post! Those sexualised male armours are incredibly disturbing. Hilarious though, as you say.
Its a memorable post to write, indeed! Haha, sometimes I can’t help but feel disgraced by the state of the industry.
Fine points brought up in this article. Might we also add that the following line made us actually laugh out loud: “TERA’s female armors are commonly attributed with the inability to offer protection against even a cool breeze…” So true.
Either male characters need to be sexualized more to level the playing field, or maybe the gaming industry just doesn’t sexualize either gender at all? (Clearly that’s not going to be happening any time soon.)
I love Tera to death. Sacred 3 has a pretty sexualized male barbarian in it. I know there are other games out there, but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head.
I would just rather have some decent looking male characters that weren’t just muscles on a feminine character, would be nice to see some hair on the chest or at least a good size package!
Interesting post! Though I would add that sexualization of -insert gender here- is upon the culture itself. And that isn’t a bad thing, if anything I think that people should explore MORE of their sexual-ness because there really isn’t anything bad about it!
I think the problem is that there isn’t just enough diversity to -choose- if you want to have a skimpy armor set or not. I think, if you created more choices, then the people who want to wear skimpy armor can do as they please, as well as people that want to have that ‘more realistic’ view of gearing up with having more coverage. I say to each of their own and give them the option to choose as they please.
On a side note, I wouldn’t say this industry is dominated by males -anymore-. If anything, the emergence of having an equal amount of women gaming as well as women within the industry (and growing) is a good thing and the market is shifting towards it.