Gaming industry, you gotta make up your mind.
This sorceress has giant boobs. She's going to be in a video game. This is a problem.
Kotaku and Gearbox have pinned Vanillaware's lead artist and president with being everything from a teenage boy to a sex-offending criminal. There's no shortage of slurs and swears in what is no longer a discussion as it is a schoolyard name-calling match. I'd say Gearbox is winning, by the way. I guess stones thrown from glass houses pick up momentum.
Why is it that we've reached a point where breast size is equal to controversy? Gaming characters have a long line of big breasts, ranging from fighting games, to actions games, RPGs, and so forth. It wasn't an issue then, but it certainly is one, now.
Most of this rage comes from an industry that wants to shed the days when the industry was a boy's-only (if it ever was) clubhouse and allow admittance for females. Any girls who want to play in the house shouldn't have to play with GI Joes, sure. But should they only be able to play with Barbies that have their clothes sewed on and breasts hacked off? That doesn't sound right.
Any videogame character with large breasts is automatically sexist. This is a scientific fact. Any sexualized female is a part of a male-centric power fantasy. This is what we're supposed to believe.
But does this fit every fantasy?
There is this concept that videogames since the 80s have been developed for straight white male boys. Anything that doesn't go out of its way to show how progressive it is is clumped here.
The concept is that the boy plays as a big, strong, muscle-glimmering alpha male who roams around, beating things up with his alpha man fists and saving the super sexual woman. Imagine something along the lines of Golden Axe--but forget that you could play as a woman. Something like Mario--except neither of those leads are sexualized. Maybe Mega Man--but he's an adorable robot and doesn't save a woman. Maybe, ahm--you know just smash those three games together and you'll see what games supposedly have always been.
Gamers have argued that men in videogames are just as sexualized as women, but the counter-argument here is that the men are a part of the male fantasy as well. The male plays the big strong man saving the sexual woman. Easy enough.
Here's the problem in pushing this idea into Dragon's Crown: You are the female. You don't have to save her; you don't have to win her over. You play as her kicking ass and saving the day. She's her own power fantasy. So then, who is this power fantasy for?
To say that it's for straight males again leaves little room for women to have fantasies at all. This isn't even to mention the fantasies of gay or bisexual people, let alone transsexuals. Figuring out what fantasy is for whom is tricky and pretty well impossible.
One thing I do know is that my girlfriend always prefers to make a character for herself who has big breasts and wears provocative outfits. She's a straight white female. She should hate this, but she genuinely enjoys being a badass and sexy woman who saves the day. She says she likes to play as "pretty" women. And why wouldn't she, if the concept of the male power fantasy is that we like to play as rugged, handsome men? Women should find escape in pretending to be those stereotypical caricatures of themselves, too, right?
Why would women only want to play as rugged, flat-chested she-hulks
So the industry reacts. They react by lashing out, screaming slander, and fighting against people's creative expressions, because they don't agree with those expression. That's not how inclusion works.
Not only that, but it's an impossible way to include women in games. You can't tell the rain to stop raining, and you can't tell an artist not to draw breasts. The idea isn't to make less games that feature super sexualized women, it's to make more games that have what would be considered the standard archetype for women. The industry sees where women are being under-served in their escapist fantasies, and they need to fill those gaps. They don't need to lash out at those who are not.
So then the gaming industry is doing that, right?
Of course not. In fact they're completely against it.
With Epic expressing that a Gears game starring a female would never sell, and the developer of Remember Me describing their trials and tribulations with publishers demanding the protagonist of their game be a male, it seems like the game industry doesn't actually want games that appeal to women. They want manly masculine games for men, because girls don't buy games.
But then they yell at people who make what they consider manly masculine games for not trying to appeal more to girls?
The industry is in an inclusive conundrum right now where it knows that it needs to make games for women, but no one wants to take the first step and actually do it.
In the West, anyway.
Japan is Better
The country responsible for the jiggling woman that has burned a fire of controversy is actually the country doing inclusion right. They make dating sims, dress-up games, RPGs, and plenty more solely crafted for a female audience. Not to mention Capcom was the only publisher willing to pick up Remember Me. They actually have a system in place where boys and girls can play with their Barbies and GI Joes, big breasts and no, together in harmony.
The Western gaming industry makes a lot of fuss about the Japanese industry, where they are and how they have to catch up to where we are, but this is a case of not recognizing when something is actually ahead of its time. They're in the future we're too afraid to reach. They should be the model, not the issue.
We're also yelling at a completely different culture to be more like us, so that's a problem, too.
So, What Do We Do?
If the gaming industry wants to be more inclusive to women, then it needs to be more inclusive. They need to make games with strong female leads, make the games they think girl gamers want. But they can't try to force games featuring sexualized females out the door. It's not only the opposite of inclusion, but it's also impossible. Everyone has different fantasies; there's no way to know who wants what. They just need to make a little bit of everything.
Games for Western girls are coming, and they will come soon--
As soon as the industry has the balls (or breasts) to be more like the country they point fingers at and say is so far behind them.