FashioNessa: Slutty vs Sexy

FashioNessa here!  What makes female game characters sexy, kick-ass, and approachable and what makes them annoying, over-sexualized, blow-up dolls?  Despite popular opinion, it is NOT the amount of skin or the size of the chest.  It isn’t that easy.  We all like our characters to be alluring and attractive but when does it go too far?  I put together a few examples of slutty versus sexy.

We’ll start with two women with very similar outfits.  Both of them are covered nearly  head to toe with little skin showing.

(Bayonetta from Bayonetta and Miranda Lawson from the Mass Effect Series.)

In Sega’s Bayonetta, this gun-toting witch takes every chance to spread her legs, crawl on the ground, and make orgasmic sounds during attacks.  Her stiletto boots are actually guns and her “magic hair outfit” strips away occasionally to leave her twirling naked in a barrage of over-the-top combat effects.  These things weren’t sexy, they were annoying.  Not one person I saw play this game got through it without eye-rolls, groans, and head-shaking laughter at the stupidity.  Which was too bad, because it took away from the strength and wit this character had.

Miranda Lawson is a similar character.  Skin-tight clothes, incredibly smart, and a little bit of a bitch.  But Bioware made her alluring without having her spread–eagle every time she shot her gun.  Her movements within the game are subtle and well-animated with the occasional perfectly placed camera shot.  This is a game where you can choose to have sex with this character and it is still classier than Bayonetta.

(Sonya Blade from Mortal Kombat vs Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy 7)

Can you spot the difference between these outfits?  I’ll give you two guesses….

Both of these characters are wearing tight, white tops, black pants, and fighting gloves. They both have thin waists and large breasts.   But it’s the little details that put Sonya into the less-than-desirable category.  Outside of the gratuitous nipples, her shirt is suctioned to her body and her pants are lowered to show off a tan line and a bellybutton ring.  (Which I can only image would get ripped out in a fight.)  Tifa’s clothes are actually her size and look damn good on her.

These differences really impact the reactions of players, just like in real life.  Imagine seeing someone walk down the street in Sonya’s clothes next to someone in Tifa’s.  Which one would you find attractive and which one would you feel like you should dig out some dollar bills for?  A little goes a long way in these cases.

(Ivy from Soul Caliber vs Cammy from Street Fighter)

Here’s a couple famous fighting-game characters.  This particular comparison comes down to believability and symbolism.  Ivy is, quite literally, strapped into her clothes.  Her top is hanging on for dear life and the bottom is little more than a tissue. At least her neck and left arm is well protected….And after adding in the whip, the imagery of bondage and domination is loud and proud in this particular outfit.

Cammy, on the other hand, looks sexy in her painted-on outfit. She’s still showing skin and jutting out her chest, but even her face has more personality than Ivy.  I trust that her clothes are going to stay on while I do flips around the screen and kick some Ryu face with her long, tattooed legs.  Her tie and hat are symbols of authority, leadership, and professionalism.  I’ll take Cammy’s nicely placed scar over Ivy’s outfit-matching lipstick any day.

(Shadee from Prince of Persia vs Nariko from Heavenly Sword)

There’s always a big controversy over how much skin a female character shows.  I believe the real issue is HOW the skin is shown.  There’s nothing wrong with being bare if you do it right. Bodies are beautiful and we are programmed to like looking at them.  Lets just use a little bit of class.

Shadee is a typical example of ‘naked for no reason’.  Her outfit is ridiculous, uncreative, and not even that aesthetically pleasing.  Which is too bad, because her character could have been pretty fantastic.  Nariko, another scantily-clad, duel-bladed vixen, does it right.  Her clothes make sense in the world and work beautifully with her hair and movements.  The outfit was designed to show off her body, and they did it elegantly.  Now if only the game had been a little better….

(Harley Quinn from Arkham Asylum and Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw vs The Mechromancer from Borderlands 2)

Our final comparison of the day is pigtails.  Pigtails are a common symbol of youth and innocence and show up a little too often on sexualized characters. This trend either needs to die here and now or it needs to be done right.

Two examples of pigtails done poorly are above on the left.  Harley Quinn (whose trashy look in the newest Batman title was a sad disappointment) dons the pigtails with her ‘childlike’ voice and mannerisms, obsession to play with toys, and does everything to please her strong, older man.  Juliet starts the game off just turning the legal age of 18 while she giggles in her pigtails and plays with a sucker in her mouth….hmmm….can we say pedophilia anyone?  These are examples of pigtails done wrong.  Creepily wrong.

The Mechromancer from Gearbox’s Borderlands 2 may be young but she is a crazy, robot-controlling, trash-talking, punk.  These aren’t Sailor Moon pigtails, they most likely have a trip-wire.  Pigtails done right.

So there it is.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting and playing sexy, female characters.  They don’t need to be genderless to be strong and they don’t need to be naked to be attractive.  Like anything else, making memorable characters takes a little moderation and a lot of thought.

FashioNessa out!

Eve’s Top Ten: 10 Ways to be a Better Gamer

1. Be Like State Farm – Being polite in a game is just as important as in real life.  It makes everyone enjoy the experience.  Send gifts to your friends, help out that little rogue that’s being eaten by wolves, give away potions you’ll never use, let that other guy lead the way.  Be a good neighbor and you’ll get back what you give.

2. Speak Up – Don’t be afraid to be the “bad guy” in situations.  If that 12 year old is shouting racial slurs tell him to stuff it.  Sexist remarks and all-around childish behavior is so prevalent in games that staying quiet is just as bad.  Calling them out isn’t being a killjoy, it’s being an adult. I guarantee others will back you up.  Here’s a link to a site that keeps all the messages women get from online players. (Warning: Some of the things they say are pretty atrocious.  http://fatuglyorslutty.com/)

3. Shut Up – Contrariwise, if you’re the asshole doing all the hate-speak, stop it.  There is a HUGE difference between friendly smack talk and being a despicable human-being.  Use the same sportsmanship as if you’re playing face to face.  There may be a lot of tension and hissed words exchanged on professional courts, but you don’t see LeBron tea-bagging Stoudemire after a game.  Just…grow up.

4.  You’re Doing it Wrong! – Please stop trying to help.  Yes, you may have a higher kill-count than your friend, or have logged in more hours, or can solve that puzzle faster, but guess what?  No one cares.  Your friend just wants to sit down and play the game without the constant “Here, let me show you how to do it.”  If they need help, they’ll ask.  The “friendly suggestions” you keep giving them aren’t helpful, they’re annoying.  Stop stressing that the game “isn’t being played right” and just enjoy that you have someone to play with.

5.  Read Game Reviews: Then Ignore Them – Game reviews are a good source of information about a title you’re interested in.  Generally, a review will tell you enough about the game to help you decide whether you want to try it out.  But don’t ever let them decide how you feel about the game.  People may give bad reviews to over-the-top monster movies or terribly dubbed Kung-Fu, but we love them all the same.  So make up your own mind about what you dislike and what you enjoy.

6.  Smell the Digital Roses – Games are pretty!  Developers work hard to make it so.  While we watch a movie our passive minds take in all the beauty the film has to offer, but when playing a game we’re so focused on the gameplay we miss the environment around us.  Take the time to stop and appreciate the visuals, your devs will love you for it.

7.  Try – Today we have all the answers at our fingertips. There are strategy guides and walkthroughs for everything.  The idea of getting “stuck” in a game is no longer an issue.  I believe this is essentially a very good thing….HOWEVER players often simply stop trying.  It’s too easy to dive for the internet the second something gets tough.  Give yourself a good 20 minutes before you look it up, you might even come out on the other side just a teenie higher in the ol’ cognitive function area.

8.  Lose – Along those same lines, go ahead and purposefully lose sometimes. This may be one of the hardest things for gamers to do.  We’ve trained ourselves to win.  We always beat the boss or make that jump or solve the puzzle.  But a key to understanding games is experiencing all the things the game has to offer.  Force yourself to put that little pride-chip aside and walk straight off a cliff once in a while.  Learning about the losing conditions and their affects can make you a better player and teach you about the game.

9.   Go Old School on your Ass – We watch old movies, we read old books, but we rarely play old games.  There are technical barriers such as not owning that old console anymore or our PCs are just TOO good now, but there are ways around these things.  Borrow a game from a friend, find an arcade, or download an emulator.  See what games used to be and how far we’ve come.  It will help you build a greater appreciation of your current games and understand the game industry as a whole.

10.  Play Games! – Obvious right? WRONG!  Being a good gamer is about playing ALL types games.  If you spend every bit of your time in one genre, that’s not really a “gamer.”  Everyone has a favorite type, but being a well-rounded player is important to understand what games are about, ESPECIALLY if you are or want to be in the industry someday.  Try at least one game a month that you never thought you’d give a minute to.  Hate shooters?  Rent Halo 4!  Make fun of social games?  Try out Cityville 2!  Annoyed by sports titles?  Put an hour or two into Madden!  If you just open your mind a little I guarantee you’ll find something out there you’ll like.  Experiencing the variety the industry has to offer is the true difference between being someone that just plays games and being a Gamer.

-Eve