Is it bad that videogame characters are sexualised?

Nimzabaat

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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.
Here's a question, why is art imitating life okay for everything but video games?

Take the top picture. That is pretty indicative of real life in the gym I go to (well clothing instead of armor). The men with the buff bodies are usually wearing t-shirts and long pants, while the women are wearing almost a t-shirts worth of cloth placed strategically. That's real life for you. Yes, I know it's hard to go out and see it, but it exists. If you don't believe me check out tumblr, those people actually exist. While some people dress more conservatively, there are a number of people who just like attention. In video games the players are supposed to be the most interesting and attention grabbing people in the world. That's why when people criticize things like this they have to ignore NPCs. The players are basically the Nika Minaj's of that world and are given appropriate outfits, while everyone else is just drab.
 

Lupine

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slo said:
LifeCharacter said:
Another issue is that the sexy is always so one-sided. It's always women who need to be sexualized into stupidity, which tends to create tonal and stylistic issues because the men all look relatively normal. If you're going to go for sexy, make both the men and women sexy. And by "sexy" I don't mean make the men have attractive faces adorning their fully-clothed/armored bodies, or take the shirt off of a disgustingly muscled monstrosity and claim it's sexy.
Enlighten me, what does "attractive man" look like? Besides looking rich and having all the money in the world like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne.
Okay, as a straight man I'll admit that I don't often think about what an attractive man looks like...



...but you sir are being disingenuous.


Not only are you being disingenuous, you are slipping a little sexism in there for good measure. No. Bad, bad, bad. I'll admit that women, much like men, obviously have a over abundance of different tastes when it comes to what exactly they find attractive in a member of the opposite sex and so with this in mind, it becomes harder to say what exactly any "attractive person" looks like in a general sense seeing as your mileage will vary with what people think of as attractive. However, throwing the old "women are only attracted to wealth" stereotype in there wasn't really needed and honestly while I don't know you personally, I'm gonna say that you're better than that.

As for what an attractive man looks like, everyone has an idea. Even if it is just personal experience about the kinds of guys or gals that friends of the opposite sex are attracted to or people that tend to catch society's eye as being particularly attractive physically or otherwise. You don't have to be a girl to have an idea of what some women like and you don't have to be a man to know the opposite. I can agree that the insight could be vague maybe, but no one is asking that anyone be an expert on gendered psychology but rather to say what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
 

Gorrath

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LifeCharacter said:
Gorrath said:
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.
The problem is that people like to use characters like Kratos as a counter example to whatever hypersexualized female character is being pointed out. Sure, someone can certainly find Kratos sexy, but that's a completely different statement than "Kratos is sexy." He's not; he's an ugly hypermuscular thing with an angry murder face and the ashes of his dead family coating his body.

We may not be able to speak objectively, but we can certainly speak generally, and the only people I've seen point to Kratos as sexy are men trying to justify some sexy female character's clothing.
I don't agree. Saying "Kratos isn't sexy" as a matter of personal preference cannot be conflated with "Kratos isn't sexy" as an objective fact. If someone thinks Kratos is sexy and says "Kratos is sexy" they aren't wrong, they are just denoting a preference. Just replying, "No he's not," as if it's truth, suggests that your opinion of his sexiness is fact, which it isn't. I won't even begin to try and "speak generally" about what's sexy because I will not presume to speak for other people on what they do or do not find sexy.

I am friends with one woman and one man who think Kratos is hot, but that isn't evidence that he's sexy, just evidence that someone finds him sexy. Whether people try and use the look of him to justify the look of other characters isn't particularly important to me. Each character's look is justified by the creative decisions of that character's creators; they do not need any other justification. Someone claiming that the characters in DoA Beach Volleyball are justified by Kratos are making a nonsensical argument; just as nonsensical as claiming that Kratos isn't sexy as a point of general agreement. Most people probably don't find feet a particularly sexy part of the body, but even if I could get 95% of the population to agree with me, confronting the other 5% with this news isn't going to make them stop thinking they are.

Basically, the only argument that I think is justified in most of these discussion is the argument that the tastes of many people are not well represented in games because of creative stagnation brought about by corporate meddling and outdated (or bizarre) ideas about what constitutes a viable game. I don't find any arguments for or against the sexualization of any specific character to be compelling except those that fall into the realm of art criticism. The arguments that a specific character are or are not sexy are, to me, pointless as they really don't demonstrate anything but the personal preferences of the person making the argument.
 

EternallyBored

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Sexualization is a tool, it can be used to set the mood and tone of a work, like guns and soldiers can set the tone of a modern military setting. It can be used for characterization, like how scars can be used as visual shorthand for badassery or bad guys. It can even be used to set scenes, like a dramatic showdown sets up an inevitable conflict scene.

Like any tool, the audience can see its use as good or bad, and if it's used badly, the audience tends to criticize it, just like people criticize a mistimed joke, or a poor setting, or inconsistent tone, it is a mechanic of storytelling just like anything else.

The reason it gets brought up so much is that there are a number of people that think it is overused or misused often in gaming, when people see sexualization as something that is used as a gimmick to sell more games, it gets the same reputation as things like Microtransactions, or a modern military shooter setting, people become wary and quick to criticize it because they've seen just how wrong it can all go.

There are a lot of reasons behind such criticism, some argue from tonal and setting standpoint, where in games like Mass effect, you've got a change from 1 where everyone wears whatever casual clothing they want but switches to sensible looking military armor for battle, but in Mass Effect 2 you've got people running around in hard vacuum with just leather straps and clothing that would get you booted out of most sensible military or paramilitary organizations, along the same lines, some see it as tone deaf to be talking to a character (Miranda), and having the cutscene camera giving us sweeping shots of her ass and cleavage while simultaneously trying to make us listen to her serious dialogue.

For others its an imbalance of representation, they see it as something that only really consistently effects women and have an issue with what they see as a game sacrificing consistency and tone in order to titillate male players. Another common criticism is that male sexuality and sexualization is often treated as a joke, you can have Ivy from Soul Caliber walking around in leather straps and the game treats her seriously (or as seriously as a fighting game can treat a character anyway), but a character like Voldo who wears leather straps is basically presented as creepy and bizarre, along the same lines, such male characters are often played off as jokes or very campy gay.

There's plenty of other reasons and arguments as well, I'm sure others in this thread will bring them up, a lot of the conflict in these criticisms is because there really isn't a single convenient target to direct it at, so to some other gamers it looks like games are being criticized for having any sexuality at all. It's sort of like how modern military shooters get criticized, when something is seen as being too commonly used in a bad way, there often are so many examples that they all get criticized and it starts to look like people will jump on any modern military shooter just because they don't like the setting itself. Couple this with the fact that not every criticism is well presented or supported, and you get the current controversy where people fall under the impression that some critics think games shouldn't sexualize anyone ever.

It's a complex topic, and I think there are some valid points to be made about when sex is used well or poorly in a work, artistic freedom is important, but as with any commercial product, so is feedback from an audience that may feel their demand is not being supplied properly as consumers. Artistic criticism is an important component of a healthy media industry as well.
 

clippen05

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Some games are by design fanservicey. That's perfectly fine. Romance novels are marketed mostly for women, and would you guess, the men on the front all show off their proud abs. In the same way, we have games like DoA: Beach Volleyball. But not all books are sexist just because one type of books are over-sexualised. Ideally, this would be true for games, however, the problem is that while there are games like DoA that are clearly made for lonely men, many games that don't specifically target men are over-sexualised. I think Mass Effect is somewhat one of them: Samara comes to mind... Liara, not really. In the perfect world, we would have those over-sexualised games for men, over-sexualised games for women, and then the vast majority of games where either everyone is over-sexualised or no one.
 

WindKnight

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LifeCharacter said:
Enlighten me, what does "attractive man" look like? Besides looking rich and having all the money in the world like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne.
google 'bishonen' and check out the images that result.

Protip - if you freak out and hate the images that result, you've lost any right to tell women they can't complaign about oversexualised women.
 

Beliyal

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Gorrath said:
Basically, the only argument that I think is justified in most of these discussion is the argument that the tastes of many people are not well represented in games because of creative stagnation brought about by corporate meddling and outdated (or bizarre) ideas about what constitutes a viable game.
This is well said.


Gorrath said:
The arguments that a specific character are or are not sexy are, to me, pointless as they really don't demonstrate anything but the personal preferences of the person making the argument.
Though, I'll add to this that it isn't really about which character is sexy to someone, but was the character designed with the idea to make him or her look sexy to the core intended audience. And I wouldn't say that Kratos was designed with that idea. I can't imagine that his appearance stemmed from "Let's make a hot dude" rather than "Let's make a threatening murdering action-movie ideal dude". Of course, someone is going to find him sexy, there's a fetish for everything. But I doubt that was the main intention of his design. What also matters is the posing and the camera; Kratos never really poses around for ogling and I wouldn't say that the camera pans towards him in a way for us to get hot and bothered. It's more like that the entirety of his design tells us "This guy can rip you apart, he is dangerous and scary". Again, someone will find that sexy, no doubt. However, I wouldn't say that sexiness is in the core of his design and/or appeal.

Other than that, sexualization is not inherently bad, but there should be a time and a place for it. The problem is the abundance of it and when it's present in situations where it really makes no sense (when male armors are fully covered and female armors are not, for example. That smacks me in the face immediately, these characters clearly don't exist in the same universe). I'm generally not bothered by it, but there are far too many examples in all forms of media and at this point, it's just lazy and boring.
 

WindKnight

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LifeCharacter said:
Windknight said:
LifeCharacter said:
Enlighten me, what does "attractive man" look like? Besides looking rich and having all the money in the world like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne.
google 'bishonen' and check out the images that result.

Protip - if you freak out and hate the images that result, you've lost any right to tell women they can't complaign about oversexualised women.
Slander! I never said this! Correct this grievous mistake before I assail you with my bishie sparkles!
oh flaming doodles, trying to pick out the right parenthesis can be a headache sometimes... hang on, sorry about that (bows in apology).

slo said:
Enlighten me, what does "attractive man" look like? Besides looking rich and having all the money in the world like Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne.
well, ahem. (looks at old post and reads it out)

'google bishonen, and look at the images that result'. And keep in mind any negative reactions you might have to those pictures next time someone complains about oversexualised women.
 

endtherapture

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The_Kodu said:
IceForce said:
It becomes a problem when a character's sexualization is their only notable feature. When they have no other personality traits, other than their sexualization. When they serve no other purpose in the game, other than to be a sexualized object.

So, the sex cards in The Witcher are pretty bad, because they only exist to provide sexual titillation, and nothing else.

Miranda from ME2 is not quite so bad, because she at least does have a personality and a purpose in the story, beyond the obvious sexualization.
Which would be no issue if there were a Witcher style game for women.
I suppose there could be a Witcher game where you play as Triss or maybe Ciri but I don't think there's much of a market for looking at videogame dongs. And considering the budget of The Witcher 2, CDProjekt probably want to risk it a lot.

I would like to play as Ciri though. But just not look at mens dongs. Sex scenes are fine (but you don't see videogame vaginas in TW2).
 

Silvanus

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slo said:
[http://rghost.ru/58507470.view]
I guess it is about time.
Welp, here are a few other [http://wallpaperswide.com/dmc_devil_may_cry-wallpapers.html] images [http://wallpaperswide.com/devil_may_cry_4-wallpapers.html] from the same franchise.

That said, I do take your point. It sometimes happens, and I shouldn't have been so flippant. Nonetheless, I don't think anybody could genuinely claim it happens with anything even approaching the regularity that it happens the other way around.
 

babinro

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Grizzly_Bear_1 said:
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. =)
This is my opinion as well...though it's written a bit more harsh/blunt than I would have liked.

We are constantly exposed to sexualized media on tv, in movies, in ads on the street, in magazines, etc. It's so highly over exposed in daily life that I honestly don't see how it's existence in gaming could make things worse.

Does this mean I feel ALL games should use sexualized characters? Of course not.

It's refreshing when I see important female and male characters that are non-sexualized in games but that's pretty much the end of it for me. This isn't an issue that's ever had an impact on my purchasing decision.

Admittedly, as a male gamer I'm actually more annoyed by the rampant male sexualization than to that of woman. It makes things tougher to play the role of that character when they seldom display the traits of a typical male. I'd imagine woman might feel the same way for female counterparts as well.
 

Rahkshi500

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Like what most people here have said, I don't think it's inherently bad, but there are problems regarding it. I don't agree with some of the reasons people have brought up regarding such issues, though, but I do think that there is a problem. My reasons for there being a problem is there is an overabundance of it and not much of anything else, characters who are sexualized often lack a personality and character arc, and that this seems to be the only kind of sexual expression shown in gaming. Granted, it's starting to change slowly, but this is still more-or-less the primary expression and sex and sexuality, and it's expressed in a very narrow way, when sexuality is a very huge, complex thing amongst everyone. There probably would still be some people who will complain about any kind of sexualization, but if it weren't for the common problems that we have right now, then I don't think it would be such a big deal.
 

Gorrath

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LifeCharacter said:
Gorrath said:
I don't agree. Saying "Kratos isn't sexy" as a matter of personal preference cannot be conflated with "Kratos isn't sexy" as an objective fact. If someone thinks Kratos is sexy and says "Kratos is sexy" they aren't wrong, they are just denoting a preference. Just replying, "No he's not," as if it's truth, suggests that your opinion of his sexiness is fact, which it isn't. I won't even begin to try and "speak generally" about what's sexy because I will not presume to speak for other people on what they do or do not find sexy.
I will presume to speak generally because that's the only way to actually advance discussions like this. If we're not allowed to speak generally, everything is sexy because there is likely at least one person who finds it sexy. If you want me to put a caveat that some people might consider Kratos and whatever ugly fuck I'm talking about might be sexy to someone, I can do that, but that doesn't detract from the point. Kratos is not equivalent to whatever lingerie model he's being compared to simply because you know two people who apparently like ash-covered rage monsters with weird jaws.
I don't agree that those sorts of arguments advance any discussion. There's no need for a caveat because even that would not make the argument any more relevant. You are correct that Kratos is not equivalent to, say, the characters in DoA Beach Volleyball, but it doesn't matter. The existence of any one character does not serve as the justification for the creation of any other character.

The same applies to any piece of art. If you decided that you wanted to make Free! the game, you wouldn't have to justify the creation of this game by citing the existence of DoA. Even if DoA didn't exist, or no game like it existed, you'd still be wholly justified in creating the art you want to make. Even if no one else thought the characters were sexy, or thought the game was tacky, or thought you were a weirdo, none of that matters in the slightest as to justifying your game.

There is only one justification required for making a game; you, the artist, want to make it (even if "want" here is purely driven by profit.)

Now in a broader sense you might also need the justification that there is an audience large enough to make the game profitable, but that's only if we're bringing financials into this. So, if you want to make Free! the game, and there are enough people who want to buy/play the game to make it profitable, what difference does it make if any percentage of people do or do not think the characters from Free! are sexy? It doesn't matter, at all.

"Kratos isn't sexy," is not a worthy response to the claims that he somehow counts on the ledger, helping balance out DoA because:

A) The claim that he isn't sexy is subjective.

and

B) It wouldn't matter because the point your arguing against is itself totally irrelevant.

We don't need Free! the game because DoA exists, we need Free! the game because there is a market for it, and anyone's thoughts on whether the characters are sexy be damned. That's up to the individual to decide, not a committee of people who have gotten together to decide what does and does not count as sexy, generally or not.
 

Amir Kondori

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I wouldn't want ALL game characters to be heavily sexualized, but I think definitely think there is a place for cheesecake in gaming. I would even argue that it is not too prevalent, that sex and beauty are two things that appeal very strongly to people, and that it is only natural to have such things in all of our media.

As in all things, balance, for extremes are the path to evil.