Is it bad that videogame characters are sexualised?

Dizchu

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endtherapture said:
Recently I've seen a lot of ripping on characters like Bayonetta, older Tomb Raiders, Liara in ME, Morrigan zero suit Samus, Tifa, even characters like Dante etc. for being "hyper sexualised". It is spoke about as a bad thing.
I personally think it depends on the context. If the game is a straight-faced "serious" experience then I'd like to see little to no sexualisation in it (unless it is somehow central to the plot and delivered tastefully but let's face it, the planets need to align for that to ever happen).

In campy, less serious games like Bayonetta I think the sexualisation is very welcome. It's a celebration of the male/female form, something expressed in other kinds of art (cosplay, stage shows, modelling, fashion). But there needs to be a distinction between "objectified sexuality" and "non-objectified sexuality".

Bayonetta is not objectified. She is an extremely adept fighter who uses her sexualised movements to destroy her enemies en masse with grace and finesse. Lara Croft was only really objectified in promotional material back in the 90s, apart from that she's basically a female Indiana Jones but with extremely increased agility and athleticism. Even her portrayal in the latest Tomb Raider isn't entirely realistic, she shrugs off a lot of injuries like they're nothing.

The wave of "pop culture" critics acting like it is awful, how dare you dress women in skimpy clothes, this is terrible, it distracts focus from the game. Now I'm not the kind of person to play these games and I think that stuff like bikini-chainmail looks stupid from a design point of view. But what is wrong with having female characters that are sexualised when it makes sense?
I absolutely hated some of the ridiculous female armour in Skyrim. Big holes in the chest place to show a bit of cleavage/collarbone. I didn't dislike it because it was skimpy, but because it made absolutely no sense. This problem extends to many of the designs in the game such as the weapons (spikes on a sword's handle, really?) so I think it's rampant "artistic licence" rather than sexualisation.

Inevitably, some men and women are going to be hot. Some of these are going to use their bodies and attractiveness as a weapon. What is so wrong with this? Isn't there a whole host of characters in fiction who are based around their great beauty?
Absolutely. I much prefer playing an attractive woman than a hairy man with the physique of a wrestler. To be fair I prefer playing attractive women that dress appropriately (not dressed unattractively, appopriately for the situation. Lara Croft in the Peruvian mountains with shorts? No. I'm sure there's a way to make her look attractive in a parka).

By complaining about "hyper-sexualisation" aren't we effectively slut-shaming these characters and those who dress skimpily, something the feminist sect complains about?
The argument against this is that women in real life "choose" to dress that way and women in video games are "chosen by the (male) designers" to dress that way. Now this is a flimsy argument that has a point (kinda) but makes a generalisation. Bayonetta and Skullgirls' characters were designed by women. They're women that chose to dress women in provocative clothing. Are they sexist?

When men do it I only think it's sexist if it's completely unpractical while every male character has practical attire and the female character is weaker/less reliable as a result.

F.Dubois said:
I personally disagree that it is a rampant problem but I can also see how someone who spends a significant amount of time looking for such things might get the feeling that developers and writers use a pair of boobs and an ass instead of wasting energy and making an interesting character.
Absolutely. I'd much prefer a relatable character with a great personality that happens to have great T&A rather than great T&A attached to an entity I can't connect with at all. Video games and pin-up art are not the same thing and I wish more designers realised this.

Irick said:
It's not bad that sexualised characters exist. It's not bad because non-sexualized characters exist.
Many of the most popular female characters are non-sexualised (Alyx Vance, Chell, Jade, most depictions of Samus, Lara Croft's more recent depictions, and so on). But I don't entire disagree with your point. Those characters are popular because they have... well... "character". Good characters resonate with people. "Sex appeal" appeals briefly but there's no substance. Publishers often think that a quick buck is better than lasting appeal which is why they'll resort to it.

Luckily, there are a lot of well fleshed out characters that speak to us out there, so it doesn't bring me down too much :3
I agree with most of your opinion actually and it's refreshing to have a good outlook rather than some of the doom-and-gloom opinions many have with gender representations.

Gorrath said:
So is there a broader problem with in games with sexism? I'm inclined to say yes. The levels of female sexualization VS male sexualization seem to be out of proportion.
I think the kind of sexualisation males and females have in pop culture are different. Women are depicted in visual ways usually and men are depicted in ways relating to their roles. For example anything Stephanie Meyer has written and 50 Shades of Grey. Twilight's sex appeal relies on the eagerness of a male (two actually) to provide for and protect the main female character, sometimes in ways that are extremely problematic. 50 Shades does the same thing but throws in BDSM (or the author's interpretation of BDSM). The males are considered attractive physically, but it's their actions that form most of the appeal.

Anime, books and now more than ever movies have caught on to the fact that there is a huge mostly untapped market for female (and LGBT!) fanservice.
Oh my god I hope so. I'd love to see more depictions of lesbians for women by women, rather than the weird fetishised version (aimed at men) that's been all too prominent.
 

Casual Shinji

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Autumnflame said:
Its like if you have a woman in a somewhat form fitting clothing your sexualising and demeaning her
while if shes too severely clothed your oppressing her sexuality and controlling her as a woman.
Now maybe I just don't get around much (and I don't), but I have for the life of me never heard that complaint before. At least not outside of discussions about conservative religion.
 

HeeweesRus

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One of worst things wrong with gaming imo. its always in your face to the point where it takes me out of experience. thats why i dont play games like that.
 

Gamer87

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I don't mind sexualised characters at all as long as they are also characters. Sexy is good. What I do mind is presenting characters as nothing but sexualised objects, to have them designed mainly for titilation. I find that offensive, unimaginative and cheap.
 

SuperSuperSuperGuy

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Not inherently. An abundance of sexualization that panders to a specific gender is bad only because it excludes a gigantic chunk of our population; I like to look at attractive girls sometimes, and there's nothing wrong with that, so if people want to look at attractive men, they should be allowed to do that, too. Additionally, sexualization becomes a problem when it doesn't fit thematically, for lack of a better term. Sexualized characters should have traits and personalities other than their sexuality, as well.

To tie my thoughts into games, specifically: a game can't survive on sexualization alone. A bad game that happens to feature sexualized characters is a bad game because it's a bad game. Sexualized characters don't make or break a game mechanically. In order to be good, a game has to have things that would be good regardless of the presence of sexualization. Before you say "why not just make it not-sexual, then", as I said earlier, there's nothing wrong with looking at characters that one finds attractive. I don't like it when games put of pretences, however; if it's going to be full of sexualization, then they should at least let potential buyers know. A lot of people don't like fanservice, so they should be given a chance to opt out of it, so to speak.

Let's use a game that I played relatively recently as an example: Senran Kagura. While I'd never say that it's a masterpiece of game design, it's a damn good beat-em-up that is unfortunately plagued by frame rate issues. It's also unabashedly fanservice-y; the premise of the game is, essentially, "female ninjas with huge breasts fighting other ninjas". You go in knowing exactly what you're going to get, and if you have a problem with that, you don't have to play it. There are no pretences of it being anything more. However, I would describe it as a sort of "come for the busty ninjas, stay for the surprisingly deep character development and world-building and fast, frenetic gameplay" scenario; the game has qualities beyond the fanservice, and the characters, while sexualized, aren't sex-objects. Immediately saying that Senran Kagura is bad because of its sexuality ignores the other positive aspects of the game. I understand that it's not for everyone, but it's not awful like Kotaku tried to play it up to be.[footnote]Kotaku basically tried to make this game into "Dragon's Crown 2.0" and resurrect all of the controversy that surrounded the Sorceress and Amazon. It didn't really work out for them.[/footnote] The only issue that I really have is that there's no equivalent that stars men; while I wouldn't play it, myself, it's only fair. Senran Kagura's sequel actually does have a male character that is treated exactly like all of the female characters are, and I think that's a step in the right direction.

Really, for me, most of the problems with sexualized works don't stem from the sexualization itself, but from the belief that the sexualization will carry it by itself. The only issue that I have with sexualization itself in modern media is that it's pretty lop-sided in favour of people who like women, rather than people who don't.
 

crypticracer

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Casual Shinji said:
Autumnflame said:
Its like if you have a woman in a somewhat form fitting clothing your sexualising and demeaning her
while if shes too severely clothed your oppressing her sexuality and controlling her as a woman.
Now maybe I just don't get around much (and I don't), but I have for the life of me never heard that complaint before. At least not outside of discussions about conservative religion.
It does exist. It's the same idea as creating a western and completely ommitting native americans and slavery because your afraid of being racist, without out realizing that by doing that you are making a statement that they weren't that big of problems and you can just ignore them.

There isn't an easy answer to the inbetween. All you can do is your best. Do some research and try to treat everything with respect. Your still going to upset some people, but hey. That's art.
 

Silvanus

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Sexualisation isn't bad, in itself. It's bad iiiiif;

1) ...The sexualisation is so commonplace it's pervasive, and difficult to avoid;

2) ...There exists a significant imbalance between the treatment of the sexes.

Currently, both of these criteria are being met, so I think the situation should be improved. It could be greatly improved by introducing a greater level of parity between the treatment of the sexes, for one.

slo said:
So, where's the fourth picture?
The one with the bare-chested man and fully clothed woman and "SEXIST: YES" written under it?
It'll be introduced to the chart when that scenario actually happens.
 

veloper

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Freedom of speech and expression. Cherish it.
Sexualization in fiction is not bad as a phenomenon.

You may still call such games shit for this or any reason though. We won't care, but you can.
 

Gorrath

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DizzyChuggernaut said:
Gorrath said:
So is there a broader problem with in games with sexism? I'm inclined to say yes. The levels of female sexualization VS male sexualization seem to be out of proportion.
I think the kind of sexualisation males and females have in pop culture are different. Women are depicted in visual ways usually and men are depicted in ways relating to their roles. For example anything Stephanie Meyer has written and 50 Shades of Grey. Twilight's sex appeal relies on the eagerness of a male (two actually) to provide for and protect the main female character, sometimes in ways that are extremely problematic. 50 Shades does the same thing but throws in BDSM (or the author's interpretation of BDSM). The males are considered attractive physically, but it's their actions that form most of the appeal.

Anime, books and now more than ever movies have caught on to the fact that there is a huge mostly untapped market for female (and LGBT!) fanservice.
Oh my god I hope so. I'd love to see more depictions of lesbians for women by women, rather than the weird fetishised version (aimed at men) that's been all too prominent.
Right, I agree with you there. It's just that in games specifically there seems to be a lot of fanservice targeted at male audiences with drastically less aimed at women. I'd like to see more for everyone because I actually like fanservicy stuff. If everyone gets to enjoy fanservice aimed at them, I think less people will be so adamant that fanservice aimed at me needs to go away. Plus, I'm empathetic by nature; why WOULDN'T I want other people to enjoy sexualized things that appeal to them and have those things available? I think anime, books and movies have shown there is a market for this stuff, it's just execs are too far behind the times to recognize it. That'll change though, as all media continues to be more inclusive.
 

Grizzly_Bear_1

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It does not matter if it's right or wrong. It simply cannot be stopped. There are all sorts of games, not just the big AAA titles out there. And there are mods for PC games that do anything you can imagine. As long as the internet is on, it cannot be regulated, and is a waste of time to try. The only thing you can do as an individual is regulate yourself and vote with you wallet.

As far as complainers go, they will always be a nuisance as long as the internet is on as well, and they cannot be stopped. Too bad they don't learn more self control rather than obsess over sex all the time. But go ahead, waste your life trying to scrub the internet free of porn and anything you consider bad taste. =)
 

Gorrath

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LifeCharacter said:
...or take the shirt off of a disgustingly muscled monstrosity and claim it's sexy.
I generally agree with most of what you said except this part. It presumes that any one person or group of people get to define what "sexy' is. If you don't find Kratos sexy, hey, that's cool. But let us not engage in the fallacy of claiming that something is objectively not-sexy. Sexy is so wrapped up in subjectivity that we shouldn't pretend type of body does or does not count.
 

Canadamus Prime

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8bitOwl said:
I think this chart explains it so well there needn't to be any other comment:




In my opinion, as long as the videogame follows this chart in order to avoid sexism, all is well. I believe sexualized characters are a-ok as long as it's for both genders. Similarly, avoiding sexualization is good as long as it doesn't apply only to the male cast.
Well there's this, but there's also the fact that the sexualization has to fit the overal tone of the game. You can't have a serious war drama with women going around in skimpy bikinis and men going around dressed like Calvin Klein models. It just wouldn't fit. And then there's the fact, as I've said on previous occasions, that I think sexualization has as much to do with how the character behaves as it does how they are dressed. For example, Wonder Woman. Full disclosure I don't read comics so my only real exposure to Wonder Woman is through the DCAU and those WB animated movies, but despite her showing quite a bit of skin, hell she's essntially going around in a swimsuit, I never thought of her as sexualized (yes I know her history, I watch Moviebob). Why? because she carries herself like a badass warrior woman and not a pornsatar.
 

Teepop

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I am a-sexual and I don't have a problem with you lot having your sexualised themes in games. Live and let live.

I don't like sexuality but I am not going to inflict my minority view on everyone else if they aren't breaking the law.

Funnily enough I had the original Bayonetta and found it quite unpleasant. I played the demo of Bayonetta 2 and I won't be buying it. I would buy it were it not for the fact that the style and themes make me feel uncomfortable and repulsed. The game play is pretty decent and the graphics and style of the enemies are cool but the other stuff is just....weird, yuk no thanks.

I had no issue with the original Tomb Raider. I don't view larger than average breasts as being "sexual" in itself. I mean its just fat right but I guess sexual people see more to it - so in some respects that's your problem because it comes down to your own personal perception. I personally never saw anything I'd classify as "sexual" or "sexualised" in those games.

I mean really do you guys find the early Tomb Raiders sexual? Lara is as about as realistic as a Minecraft character. Do the proportions of such an object trigger your sexual instincts? You must be kidding right?

I think there are two questions:

1, Is it bad?

2, What should you do about?


Answers:

1, Depends who you are. Clearly it is not bad to the majority of the audience.

2, If you feel it is "bad" vote with your wallet and don't buy it. Just like me. In a free market with plenty of products appealing to different niches I am not being discriminated against by them creating a product that doesn't appeal to, or even "offends" me.

These games are perfectly legal products and don't break any laws regarding decency so that is the limit of what you should be doing if you don't like it. If you feel that the age rating on the product is inappropriate then contact the organisation in your country that issued it.