Vulipix using Will-O-Wisp!
The problem with crediting “sexing up” the game with increase in sales is that it assumes sex was the only avenue of generating interest - a theory that doesn’t hold up when you consider that some of the biggest selling game types (flight simulators, first person shooters, side scrolling platformers) often don’t include any sexual angle at all.
Back in 1970, Marvel comics experimented with putting Conan the Barbarian in comic format. After the first few issues sales began to decline and the writer, Roy Thomas (who loved Conan), went to Stan Lee (who was indifferent to Conan) for advice. Stan looked at the covers and the sales, and told them to shift away from putting animals on the covers and instead use more humanoid monsters.
They followed Stan’s advice: Sales went up again and the comic continued for twenty-three years. However you don’t see many people campaigning that “Humanoid monsters sell!" then trying to fit them into all marketing regardless of product or target market. (And sex obviously wasn’t selling Conan, they had bikini damsels after all)
Conan the Barbarian, in his loincloth and flexing his muscles, looked like a poor man’s Tarzan (which had been the popular comic fifty years ago) when battling animals - but when battling humanoid monsters he looked like a more mature fantasy narrative that was new and unique in comics at the time.
The only narrative that sexing/male gazing up a game really provides is “This game is made to cater to the fantasy of straight men.” So if swapping out your old narrative for this one increases interest and sales dramatically - then your old narrative must have been pretty boring.
There have been numerous warrior women in video games over the years. Most of them have been under marketed, relegated to sidelines, ignored or otherwise mishandled due to general fear that they weren’t meeting the “make straight men feel important” factor that modern markets cling to as their sacred idol.
- Cate Archer is essentially a light-hearted, distaff James Bond in the No One Lives Forever franchise dresses in the attire of a fashionable lady in the 60s. Often sexy but out of character for the production. Monolith would later try to replace her with “Contract J.A.C.K.” and have since lost the paperwork so nobody knows who owns the intellectual property.
- Faith Connors from Mirror’s Edge has the fitness and style we’d expect of a free running rebel and certainly looks good on the cover.
- Mona Sax was, until the end sequence of Max Payne 2, a badass assassin who liked her tight tops but also pants and a jacket to side her gun (Mona starred in more or less equal space with Max on the cover of Max Payne 2, but is barely even mentioned in Max Payne 3).
- Aveline de Grandpré dresses in badass leather when assassinating and very becoming gowns when socializing as a noblewoman. It was originally released on a handheld device and if you want to play it on the PC or console that you play the rest of the Assassin’s Creed franchise on you need to buy it online at very specific places that weren’t marketed. (PS3) (X-Box 360) (PC)
- Left 4 Dead has Zoey and Rochelle are both attractive young women who possess the will and the skills to survive the zombie apocalypse.
- Nilin Cartier-Wells from Remember me is an attractive revolutionary - publishers not only freaked out about the idea of a female lead but also at the idea that the female lead might kiss a man. (Too much like men kissing men!)
- Borderlands 2 showcases women off all sorts and each possesses their own style and is equipped for their situation - be it adventuring, working as a mechanic or running a bar. (This game has sold over 10 million copies by the way, and been featured on BABD as a positive example)
- Casandra Pentaghast in Dragon Age certainly does not wear bikini armor or anything exploitative - but there’s no shortage of folks who find her incredibly attractive.
It’s actually not that difficult for creators to make female characters who are sexually attractive without going into bikini armor or other exploitative tropes. I mean, if you give a woman agency, ability and personality - odds are good people will find it sexy.
Essentially the problem is that the gaming industry, and many other mediums, are reluctant to take the risk of incorporating different perspectives and different priorities over “games to reassure straight white men that they’re straight and awesome”.
“We dressed up as the book Madeline, with six people dressed up as her and me as Ms. Clavel, their teacher. One of the Madelines, however, was the truly special one…the one with the beard, that is. Our experience was hysterical—I’d walk all the girls (and one guy) down the street in two straight lines. Guys would be walking the other way, whistling or hollering at all the pretty ladies. Then, as they got to the back of the line, they’d see my friend Brennan, then they’d see me, and I could tell that they were suddenly wondering if ALL the Madelines were men.”
the last sentence
There will never be a time when I don’t reblog this because it is my fave.
Princeless – Book One: Save Yourself (2012)
Story: Jeremy Whitley , art: M. Goodwin
"And this one—-"
Protective clothing that actually protects is such a novel idea.
I featured the first three panels waaay back, but the broader context makes it even better!
This is Japan in a nutshell. Forget all the crazy stuff with the weird tv programs and the cosplaying—that’s just the outer shell that gets attention because it’s unusual. This, this is the beauty of the country. I’ve had little grandmothers chase me down because I dropped my shinkansen tickets. In amusement parks, the attendants do their upmost to get lost items (usually cardigans or kids’ shoes) back to the owners—before the owners even realize they’d lost said item(s). I’ve had complete strangers not only give my thorough directions but have offered to drive me to the place I needed to go.
It is so, so, so hard to go back to the States after you get the J-treatment. I mean, Japan has its downside (“What is this madness you call pizza???”), but the general attitudes of everyone—even the so-called hardcore yankees (two of whom who, on a blazing summer day, helped me find one of my schools when I was heinously lost in the labyrinth that is the neighborhood in which said school is located)—is the epitome of the mindset that I wish everyone would adopt. Because yelling at people gets you nowhere. And being able to empathize with people kinda helps make this country a really nice place to live in.
Okay, I don’t usually add on to posts, but let me tell you a story.
Back in 2008 I traveled to Japan with my high school, and because it was the 20 year anniversary of our “sister city” partnership, the mayor of our sister city paid for our entire group to go to Tokyo Disney Sea. We were all elated, got in when the park opened, rushed to do everything we could.
Well, there’s a little ride near the front of their Tomorrowland where you ride around on a little rollercoaster-style pod. Kind of like bumper cars meets the disney tea cup ride but it’s also in water. It’s wicked fun and even though it was November, my friends and I were all willing to go on. One of my friends was wearing a scarf her host family had knitted for her, and on one of the turns of the ride, it flew off her neck and we watched in horror as it drifted across the water and got sucked under another pod carrying people.
We get to the end of the ride and explain to the attendants what happened, and as soon as she lets slip it’s from family, they all but rocket into action. They shut down the whole ride, and not only did they get the scarf out of the machinery, they blow-dried it for us so she could wear it again. It was freaking remarkable.
People in Japan are hella nice, yo. It meant a lot then, and even 5 years later, it still means a lot now.
Japan is so densely packed with people, that if they had american attitudes a civil war would erupt.