The two lovely ladies you see above are playable characters from Vanillaware‘s new title, Dragon’s Crown. For those of you who don’t know, Vanillaware is the company that made the games Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Muramasa: Rebirth on the Playstation Vita). They’re best know for their very distinct art style, which comes from their use of proprietary programming toolsets and a process known as tebineri which allows them to create environments and characters that look 3D but are made entirely of 2D pixels. The intricacies of their art style however are not what I’m here to talk about.
There have been many criticisms made about the blatant sexualization of those two characters, and many others, in the game. Some have been good while others have been just ok. What I’ve noticed in almost all of said “criticisms” have been the attempts to write off the sexism inherent in depicting women in this manner. I’ve heard people say that they should ignore the ridiculous depictions of women and simply focus on the gameplay. I’ve heard people say that we should stop talking about how the Amazon and Sorceress have breasts and butts larger than their heads and talk instead about how pretty the scenery is. I’ve heard the “but the men look ridiculous too” argument. I’ve even heard that absolutely ridiculous proportions and positions the female characters are depicted in are ok because Vanillaware was trying to be over the top. To those people, I say please just shut up!
No, I will not ignore the ridiculous amount of sexualization because the scenery is pretty or the gameplay is good. I will not ignore the cringe inducing video of what I assume is a fan of the game delighting in rubbing all over a woman who is shown chained to a bed. (I’m not linking that video here. If you want to see it, go to Google. I warn you it is really creepy.) I won’t ignore that those women are contorted into positions no actual human can replicate without either being a contortionist or breaking a few bones just because Vanillaware made a few other good games. If you don’t like it, that’s your problem not mine.
Things like this need to be called out and called out frequently. There aren’t many games out there that allow you to play as a female character, and too often the ones that do go for this formula of women with over the top body proportions contorted into impossible positions. I’m sick and tired of being forced to choose between playing as a semi-realistic looking male character or a female that looks like a horribly photoshopped Barbie doll. I’m not going to sit silent on the sidelines just so sexist dudebro gamers can stare at ridiculously large bouncing breasts that defy the laws of physics.
I figure the only way we’re going to get game developers to stop it with the over the top sexualization of women in games is by letting them know we’re tired of it. If we don’t speak up and let them know that this type of thing isn’t ok and we really, really want something different they’ll simply keep making the games that make them the most money. Now, I’m not going to tell you to boycott the game or anything. What I will tell you to do though is to speak up when you see things in games you don’t like. Let the developers know, through twitter, tumblr, youtube, email, forums, or any other method you can think of, what you want in games. Let them know you don’t find sexism, misogyny, and sexualization acceptable in games today. Game developers are listening and watching. This might be just a bit of blind optimism speaking, but maybe if enough of raise our voices and refuse to be silenced we’ll get through to them.