“Girl” Games

By Shamus Posted Thursday Dec 7, 2006

Filed under: Game Design 37 comments

Jay Barnson has a great interview with Georgina Bensley, author of Cute Knight.

I actually picked up Cute Knight through Big Fish Games. The game itself isn’t normally my thing, but I’d read a bit about its various innovations and wanted to have a look. Besides, it was very cheap and I’m a sucker for indie developers.

In the interview they get around to talking about “games for girls” vs. “games which are not aimed directly at young boys”.

Rampant Coyote: A lot of the attitude in the business (particularly mainstream publishers) is that “girl-friendly” games means dress-up, shopping, and … pink. What do you think it means to make “girl-friendly” games? And should I be embarrassed about liking Cute Knight (who does have pink hair, I note…) myself?

Georgina: One reason that I prefer “girl-friendly” over just “girl games” is that I don’t think I know precisely what girls like either. I know what I like. I know some things that supposedly are more popular with female players than other things. But people like different things. Some girls play Quake. Not me, thanks. And I wouldn’t be any more interested in Quake if you dyed it pink and made it about roaming the mall attacking passersby with make-up kits. (What a dreadful idea!)

Girl-friendly, to me, means that a female player shouldn’t feel excluded by the game. There are lots of subtle ways that mainstream game developers can show that they don’t really expect girls to play. Default high-score lists filled with male names. Selection between male-only character options. Claiming to have equal options for male and female characters, but actually having twice as much content available for male PCs as female ones. Always showing female characters within the story as weak and helpless. Things like that. I don’t think anyone, male or female, should feel ashamed to play a game that’s girl *friendly*.

Unreal Tournament, Aryss and Tamika
I like how these ladies from Unreal Tournament have metal plating on their shins but have bare tummies. Lots of the female taunts in the game are double entendres about how big your gun is or about your performance in battle. To a certain extent this can be humorous and campy, but too much of this and the game feels stupid and juvenile. And look at those poses. Despite the ridiculous guns, these ladies are flaunting something besides their combat prowess.
I think she is spot-on here, although I want to add to her list of “girl-exclusion” a few things that really get on my nerves.

The worst is the sexing up of all of the females in the game. I always roll my eyes when I go to select or configure my character in the game and find that the males look normal and the women look like strippers. The man gets body armor and the woman gets a titanium bra. I can imagine how a game would look if this dynamic was reversed: It would look disturbingly homoerotic. I can picture a game where the female characters are in jeans and t-shirts, and the men all look like Fabio in tight pants with silk shirts open to the navel. I know if I saw that I would not be eager to play the game.

The other thing I find irritating are games where you can choose your gender, but you’ll run into female NPCs that treat you like a man anyway. Too often they will flirt with you (and lay it on preposterously thick, eww) no matter what gender you are. I don’t think the designers mean to imply lesbianisim, I just think that the female player character is tacked-on and nobody bothered to give her appropriate dialog options. Stuff like this creates the impression that the designers never really expect females to play their games.

I like girls. Girls are pretty. If I want to see a pretty girl I know where to look. (Right in front of my wife’s computer, usually.) And I think most guys know where they can get their hands on pictures of pretty girls when the fancy strikes them. If your game is good, I’ll play it without needing to be bribed with the promise of half-naked polygonal girls. Some of us are grownups who can go a whole hour without needing to see that sort of thing. Trust me. I’ve never heard anyone say, “That game was great but it didn’t have enough fanservice.”

I have nothing against games which openly embrace fanservice, but I do get irritated when developers do this sort of stuff and then cluelessly bemoan the fact that they can’t attract more female gamers. If the game looks like it was designed to please the average FARK boob hound, then you can hardly blame a female for not taking interest. So I agree with Georgina: If you want a game that women will buy, you don’t need to make the game about shopping, you just need to make sure the game treats women like people.


From The Archives:

37 thoughts on ““Girl” Games

  1. wildweasel says:

    I’m a guy who sometimes plays as a female character. Because sometimes it gets boring playing as the steroid-pumped space marine or the typical heroic warrior guy. And I have to say, playing females is a lot more entertaining when they’re a bit more modest.

    I’m ashamed to play games like Tomb Raider (though admittedly it’s because they all suck, but that’s beside the point). Lara Croft is not my ideal game character. Reduce the breast size a bit and give her some more clothing (she’s in the freaking mountains more often than not, it’s bound to be cold, so why does she always insist on wearing a tight T-shirt and hotpants?).

    Personally, I hate how the majority of females are handled in video games. Especially their pain sounds. The original No One Lives Forever had some pretty annoying death screams for Ms. Archer. I’d prefer to settle for some low-key grunts (like Tavion from Jedi Knight 2).

  2. Ubu Roi says:

    I've never heard anyone say, “That game was great but it didn't have enough fanservice.”

    Obviously I need to start doing game reviews.

    Civ 4: “Entertaining, but Catherine was seriously overdressed. Don’t even get me started on those ugly English dames.”
    BattleFront 1942: “I really enjoy firing the big guns on the cruiser, but the lack of scantilly-clad captured nurses to rescue from the Japanese was a disappointment.”
    Dawn of War: “Oh, come on, no Imperial Hetaera Corps dressed in silk armor?”

    Yeah, I could have fun with that…

  3. Shamus says:

    wildweasel: I’m right with you. I play as females about as often as males. I don’t see anything odd about this any more than it would be odd to read a book about a female main character. When I do so, I don’t want to play as some skank. I want to play as a hero. Er. Heroin… Heroette. Heroic Person of Gender?

    Blast it. Fine, I’ll use the dictionary…


    Ah. That’s it.

    I HATE when I can’t come up with the spelling for simple words. I’m too young to suffer from senilet… senileity… sinilety… er. Geezer brain.

  4. Will says:

    Oblivion got a lot of those things right. I played a female Breton and never encountered a “he” or “sir.” And they even made a couple gender specific missions. You brought up one such quest a while back.

  5. Justin says:

    The man gets body armor and the woman gets a titanium bra.

    I’m not convinced this is the fault of video game designers. Really, aren’t they just taking their cues from vast swaths of fantasy literature and film, where, seemingly, the less armor and/or clothing the women wear, the more protected they are?

  6. *** Dave says:

    Aside from the occasional FPS (which, since it’s FP and just involves shooting, doesn’t really raise the gender issue in my book), my most significant involvement in computer gaming is “City of Heroes.”

    On the one hand, the game story and mechanics are strictly non-sexist. There are very few pronouns, and all the NPCs treat people the same regardless of gender.

    The game world adds a bit more gender element in — most (but by no means all) of the bad guy groups are guys (but, then, so are most criminal gangs and organizations). There is a good representation of female arch-villains (and NPC uber-heroes), though.

    For the individual players, the costuming for the females has more pieces that are “sexy” (oh, look, another bare-midriffed shirt), but there are plenty of ways to cover up to a greater or lesser degree — and the guys can be as bare-chested or revealing as they want, too.

    The biggest problem is with body types. CoH has Male, Female, and Huge. The latter is a hulking body form that is male; no idea why no female Huge.

    Now, frankly, both the Male and Female bodyforms tend to be unrealistic, just as in the comic books. Captain America would look pretty freakish if in the actual proportions presented (just as most mega-body builders do). One can, however, make a male character slender and even sickly (though not, interestingly enough, fat).

    Female characters, though, have big breasts regardless of what you do. You can slider them down to the minimum and they’re still very well-endowed. They also tend toward having overly long legs (beyond the “heroic ideal”) though you can shorten those.

    Can’t make a fat woman, either.

    For the record, I tend toward making female characters in CoH, for roleplaying reasons (though they tend to be fully dressed, to the point that my wife pokes fun at me about it), but also because — well, as one fellow player noted, if you’re going to be playing the game watching someone’s butt, might as well make it an enjoyable experience in and of itself.

    I seem to have wandered afield. Let’s just say I agree with you and leave it at that. :-)

  7. Roy says:

    I'm not convinced this is the fault of video game designers. Really, aren't they just taking their cues from vast swaths of fantasy literature and film, where, seemingly, the less armor and/or clothing the women wear, the more protected they are?

    It’s totally the fault of the video game makers. Regardless of where they’re choosing to take their cues from, they’re the ones making the game. They don’t have to take their cues from any particular source, and could, if they wanted, choose to challange “traditional” depictions of fantasy/sci-fi women (and while there’s a lot of fan-service in fantasy art, it’s hardly impossible to find more reasonable depictions of women in fantasy and sci-fi).

    Shamus, re:”I don't see anything odd about this any more than it would be odd to read a book about a female main character.”
    If only more people felt that way. I worked in a bookstore until quite recently, and many people refuse to buy books for their male children if the main character isn’t a boy. I heard “Oh, I don’t think he’d like that. It’s about a girl” more times than I care to remember.

    “If you want a game that women will buy, you don't need to make the game about shopping, you just need to make sure the game treats women like people.”

    Exactly. If you make a *good* game that treats people like people, it won’t matter what sex the gamer is.

  8. Sara says:

    As a girl who has played a few different games, about the only one I’ve seen that treats women roughly the same is “Fallout 2”. You can be as crude as you want or as naieve as you want as either gender. There are a couple places, in fact, where it’s advantageous to be a female. SOh, Neverwinter Nights does alright too, I guess.

    Anyway, the dress has always gotten to me. My husband probably tires of hearing, “Oh, joy, look at her armor” so many times. I dunno. It’s possible to market games that both genders will like. You can still have NPCs who look… eye candy-style (to put it politely), but at least have some options for playing characters that may not fit the stereotype. K. Thx.

  9. Shamus says:

    Sara: This is an excellent point. I don’t mind the titanium bikini, as long as there are more modest / realistic choices.

  10. Telas says:

    I’m not totally certain that a large proportion of female gamers would play a game, even if you could design it with female gamers in mind. I would think that you’d only get about 20% of female gamers to play, compared to the same proportion of male gamers (i.e. for every 5 male gamers, you’d get 1 female gamer).

    These numbers are a WAG, but I don’t think any broad-based game would reach parity between male and female gamer without some serious changes in our society. The differences are too broad. Of course, I’m 40 and may be entirely incorrect; by this age, it should have happened at least once. :-)

    This is not to say that we should pitch women to the side, or that the sexualization of video gaming is perfectly okay. Frankly, a lot of the social ineptitude I see in geeks can be attributed to learning their skills from other than face-to-face human interaction. Fair is fair, and there should be the same options for women as for men.

    I also think that there’s a certain presumption of a double standard, when it might not be there at all. How many males in games can be created as ugly, fat, short, scrawny, or “nerdy”? From what I’ve seen, not very many. To assume that “sexy female” is any less of a stereotype than “manly man” (sorry, but ‘macho’ got co-opted by the Village People) is to only see one side of the equation.

    Finally (and this may tick off some of the activists out there), some women enjoy playing the sexy gunners shown above. IIRC, Asia Carrera is a Quake fanatic, and designed her own “skin” (a very apropriate word, in this case).

    Bottom line: Treat women as equals. Not as sex objects, but not as a slim man with breasts, either.

  11. wintersweet says:

    I agree with you, but I don’t think the gaming industry overall gives a crap. Many companies periodically pay lip service to the concept (or do something superficial like reducing Lara Croft’s cup size), but most of them really don’t get it and they’re not trying very hard TO get it. I live in the SF Bay Area and I’ve seen dozens of listings for gamer focus groups. Of these listings, only ONE would accept both male and female participants. All of the others were for men only. That tells me something.

    I don’t have any problem with sexy options, but there should be other options too. (And while yes, the Manly Man stereotype is also very stupid, it’s less limited in some ways–such as he usually gets armor–AND there are a lot more Ordinary Joe male characters than Plain Jane female characters.) I’m also usually pretty entertained by the inadvertent lesbianism in some games, but again, there should really be more choices! (Same for gay male and bisexual gamers.)

    Among the few rays of light is Nintendo. I think that Nintendo’s success with the DS Lite in the female and over-40 market in Japan is connected to the thinking behind the Wii, so I am hoping there will continue to be more development in the nonheterosexist category there. Fingers crossed!

  12. Tirgaya says:

    Meh… games are games. Lara Croft is a character. So is Master Chief. Both are pretty unrealistic.

    You have a character that can shoot various sorts of rays of energy, create a ring of fire around herself, carry over 400lbs of equipment, summon a phantasmal sword, and even call down a meteor swarm (Elf sorceress Baldur’s Gate Dark Alliance PS2/Xbox) and you’re gonna complain because she is wearing leather bikini armor ?

    I don’t know about you all, but the only one of those I’ve ever seen any woman do in real life is wear leather bikini armor.

    We expect the violence to be unrealistic and entirely over the top. Why should anyone expect different from the character dishing out the violence ?

  13. Shamus says:

    Tirgaya: Like I said, I don’t have a problem with the leather bikini. (That is, I am not offended or outraged.) But I certainly don’t expect women to see the game and want to play it. It’s not about realisim, it’s about making the game palitable to a broader group. Sure, you can have a woman with a huge bosom and chain-link panties, but women (and some older male gamers like me) are more likely to give it a pass.

  14. LafinJack says:

    Apologies if this doesn’t work right, not sure if HTML works here:

    Or copy and paste this: http://www.lafinjack.net/pictures/comics/cascadefailure_20050620.gif

    As usual, Fallout was way ahead of the pack in this. Fallout 2 allowed you to play a female, and some parts of the game were either closed off or opened up plot-wise because of your gender.

  15. Lyz says:

    AMEN!!! And thank you! The clothing thing was also the first thing I thought when I read Georgina’s comments in that article. Personally, half-dressed, overly-busted women in games turns me off in general, and if I see one on the cover it’s pretty much an automatic write-off for me. Sure the game may be good, but I have no interest in spending my precious little free time looking at half-dressed chicks. And although the point about “manly men” is true, it’s still obvious that the manly men were designed to appeal to, well, men. The height of masculinity is actually not generally attractive to women. Most girls like a guy with a little more sensitivity and a more handsome face. I’ve never seen a “male targeted” game that had a really hot guy on the cover (although I don’t browse through them much, granted.)

    I know a lot of girl gamers, some of whom are really into WoW (I haven’t tried it yet) and more of whom are obsessed with games like the Final Fantasy series. Now THAT game has eye-candy. If you want to attract the girls, add more bishounen-type guy characters and a romance story line and that’s probably the best you can do (besides the gender options and differentiation already mentioned.) IMHO.

  16. Deoxy says:

    I think one reason for the “large bust” problm in gaming is (hopefully) starting to get archaic now, but will likely not be gone ven in cutting dge technology for at least 5-10 years:


    Completely unrelated example that nothelss ought to get the point across: miniatures. I have a collection of D&D minis, and there is the occasional mini that is “hard to identify”. It’s not really a big deal, but it can be humorous at times.

    Person in full plate? OK… male or female? Well, if they don’t add “woman bumps” on the armor (yes, I’ve actually heard them called that on minis – yes, I thought it was stupid, too, but it gets the point acroos), there is no way to tell.

    In video games (such as FPS games where the skins are customizable), how do you comunicate sex quickly and easily? Well, over-emphasizd sex-traits.

    The lower the graphics level of the game, the more the sex-traits must be emphasized for quick and easy visual identification.

    As time goes by and graphics get better, the NEED for this dimishes, but the habits don’t necessarily follow. Also, in real life, there are people that are difficult to idntify as well… especially from a distance and without hearing them speak. This can be perfectly reasonable in a game as well, of course, but I don’t see it being desired nearly as often as it happens in the real world.

    The other points (about options for play and what women are willing to play) are good, except for one thing: cost/benefit analysis, combined with self-fulfilling prophecy and critical mass concepts.

    Making a gam with fully-fleshed out options for both genders (such as Fallout 2) takes more effort, more work, more time… more MONEY. Currently, women generally don’t play nearly as many video games as men, so there’s a smaller market there. This means spending more resources on something not likely to pay off. Which results in NOT spending those resources, which of course results in not attracting women to play, which reinforces the original decision not to spend the resources on it, etc.

    It’s about incentives, and the incentives will be difficult to change until a large enough number of women play. And a large enough number of women will be difficult to attract until enough games are made that don’t exclude them…

    You see what I’m talking about. Until some game developer makes the monetary sacrifice (actually, more like several) or until nough women starting gaming anyway, the incentives on both sides make it difficult.

  17. Bogan the Mighty says:

    The problem I am seeing is like I’m pretty sure at least one person said this already. Male character models are drawn up in the same way. If a woman is not supposed to play a game with a well endowed sexy character model because it is just eye candy should the guys out here not play when the male models are large well chisled men with more muscules in their forearm than I have in my entire body? Really they are just making what they sort of view as the perfect hero. They can do amazing feets to save the world so why not look good while your at it? Don’t get me wrong I’m all about treating women equal and what not. Its just that in reality we’re getting the same treatment, but don’t really care cause we’re guys.

  18. Heather says:

    As a female who occasionally games and who has also had a hand in designing 3d characters–male and female (for my husband’s company, not for an actual game) I think I may have some insight here.

    One of the reasons that female characters are designed the way they are is that the designers have NO CONCEPT of what makes a female avatar more female. I remember back when Shamus was trying to build female avatars. He started with a male then started reproportioning, adding hips, thinning the waist, adding a bust. Each time it didn’t look right he added more hips and bust. Eventually I got out my drawing books and showed him that the physiological differences are much deeper than chest, hips, and thighs. Once he got the shoulder blades and hips at the right angle the rest came together, without having huge breasts or hips.

    Even the default avatars in Poser and other animation programs are basically masculine avatars that have been redesigned to look female. A game designer is not going to take the time and effort to make a female model from scratch when adding a huge chest and hips will be enough, especially for the male who is likely to play them.

    As far as games for girls, I notice that females, including myself, tend to lean towards puzzle games that incorporate community. Puzzle Pirates is a perfect example. Sim games that deal with relationships also work. This means tht if we are going to play a fighting game (I love Unreal) or a non-relationship based sim game we are likely to play it with others, which means that I want to play Civ WITH someone and not alone and will not play Diablo 2 or Unreal Tournament without someone to play. I usually go for a character that looks somewhat like myself–so the weird alien characters are a no-go for me and I tend to go for the more realistic clothing styles.

    Problem solving games are usually good, Sim games with a relationship aspect, puzzle games, cutesy games with fun game play (I do like Nintendo games, RPG’s with females that are interesting to play, any game with a GOOD story line, first person shooters where the character looks at least mildly human and is at least mildly modest. Those would be what I call “girl friendly”.

  19. Cineris says:

    This is an issue that comes up every once in awhile — And from a certain perspective I think it’s sensible to talk about the way game characters are depicted. (The more typical angle that this sort of talk about videogame characters comes from is the stereotypical feminist rant, which is something I don’t find helpful at all.)

    Looking at the UT characters above I don’t find them particularly oversexualized. Sure, they’ve got exposed abdomens — But they’re mostly clothed, and in practical clothing. Though UT’s design philosophy has changed there used to be a team of all men that ran around with pants and shoulderpads on, but no shirts, so I hardly think it’s problematic for there to be female characters looking like the woman in the image.

    I also don’t find the pose of these female characters particularly alluring — It seems more to convey the characters’ cool competence and easy familiarity with their weapons than anything else. The only thing that bothers me about those two characters is how rail-thin they are and how disproportionate their legs are. I don’t mind if the female characters in an intergalactic space tournament are attractive, but they shouldn’t be so skinny that you wonder how they can carry their equipment.

    There are any number of examples where women are oversexualized (the original Tomb Raider games, though I hear they’ve improved with the latest one, and DOA naturally), and it’d be kind of embarassing to play those in public. While there are greater and lesser offenders, I think on the whole that most games emphasize feminine attributes… as a signalling mechanism. In the same way, pretty much every black character that shows up in videogames is a thug. Basically I just take the rampant use of basic signalling/stereotypes in games as a sign that game storytelling hasn’t advanced all that much.

    With the next generation of graphics engines coming out I’m hoping that some of the absurdities we’ve come to expect in videogames will be scaled back. I mean, if you’re modelling a character down to the pores on their skin, having Madonna-style cone-breasts is ridiculous. It’s a faint hope. I don’t think we will really see substantial change until the industry itself stops catering to the lowest common denominator of male fanboys who actually get off on whorish female characters. Either that, or when the barriers to entry drop enough to make it possible for anyone to tell a story in a game without extensive technical skills.

  20. Telas says:

    Heather – Great point about the modeling. An analogy: Serious outdoor gear (snowboarding, climbing, biking, mountaineering, etc) used to be designed for men, and women were just “smaller sizes”. Now there are female-specific designs out there, which encourages more women to engage in those activities.

    OTOH, the vast majority of climbers/bikers/boarders/etc are still men. The numbers have improved, but men still outnumber women by a large margin.

  21. Lyz says:

    Bogan the Mighty – I’m serious. What women think is sexy and what guys think women think is sexy are, as far as I can tell from my acquaintance, VASTLY different. I, in fact, do not know a single female who thinks what my sister and I call “lumpy men” are attractive. Anyone who has that much muscle needs to spend less time in the gym and more time with a book or helping old ladies cross the street or playing with children or something. I say if you make eye-candy for the boys but you want the girls to play, too, make eye-candy for the girls. Lumpy men are gross, not eye-candy.

    …. Maybe there just aren’t … er, many (any?) female game designers that get to work on non-female-targeted games?

  22. It’s interesting that you brought this up, because I very carefully *didn’t* mention the overt-sex-appeal aspect. :)

    Couple of reasons – one is that it’s such an obvious target, there are tons of articles across the internet and gaming media complaining about too much T&A in games. It’s all been said before. I wanted to look beyond that and bring up some less-commonly-discussed issues that have annoyed me as a female player. Like the highscore list on an old NES cart, that had all-male names on the starting list except for one female name, down at the bottom with 0 points. Or the unbalanced number of romance quests available in various RPGs, where a male player got three different elf chicks to possibly marry, and a female player gets one knight who says a couple lines of poetry.

    The other reason is that I don’t personally MIND silly oversexed avatars. Perhaps I’ve been playing D&D so long that all the chicks-in-chainmail fantasy art seems perfectly normal to me… :)

  23. I’m with Lyz. I don’t think the women in video games in any way, shape, or form resemble my idea of the feminine ideal. So, okay, these games are made for guys, and maybe that’s what guys want in a girl. But the males are also stunningly unattractive from a female perspective. Hint to all character designers: if you drew a little scale model of me next to the hero, and his muscles would be bigger than my FACE, I guarantee he’ll look disgusting to at least 70% of the women out there. I mean, I guess there have to be some women that like that kind of thing, but not any I’ve ever met.

  24. Rick the Wonder algae says:

    I played City of Villians for a few months last year untill I started playing WoW (COV is just kind of shallow).

    One of the character concepts (because COV lets you have backstories the rest of the players can read, how cool is THAT!) I went with was a normal young girl whose father kills her mother, kidnaps and abuses her, until the athorities find them and kill the father in a shootout, the multiple violent tragedies shattering her young mind. (I got lots of props for her incredibly disturbing backstory and creative presentation too).

    So I needed a model that looked like a normal everyday pre-teen to teen girl, perhaps a bit dirty or ragged looking because she’s living on the streets and insane. Instead, the closest I could get was a sweater, Catholic schoolgirl skirt, bobby socks, tennis shoes (not too bad so far), dark rings around her eyes (the rings around the eyes mask at a slightly purpler skin tone, (nice touch makes her look weary) and a rack bigger than her head (I turned them down as much as I could, but they don’t get any smaller than head-sized).

  25. Fulano says:

    I totally agree with what Heather said about the creation of avatars. There is one game that does it the other way around. Second Life has a default avatar that is female (Nicknamed ‘Ruth’) and the various modifications that are used to create every avatar are based on her. The down side is that we encounter the same problem creating male avatars as Heather’s husband had with his female model – it just looks off.

    Interestingly enough, most of the male avatars have either overly pronounced male characteristics (Huge shoulders and almost no waist) or have a faintly bishounen look to them. I got around it by giving my avatar a huge gut and stocky legs.

  26. I know this may sound odd, but, as a male gamer, I almost always prefer playing with a female avatar/character when given the choice.
    I don’t know why, but I always find my self enjoying it more.

    But trust me, this doesn’t come from being some sort of big-breast obsessed nerd.
    In fact, I find a modest, ummm, upper-mid section far more attractive then one the size of the front of a truck.

    I also greatly prefer modest dress on women.
    In fact, this leads to my sister hating me for commenting on her some times less-then modest dress.

    So even in games with perfectly believable female characters, such as KOTOR, I find my self greatly preferring the female character.

    Not to continue ranting, but this also actually applies to my taste in other media, like movies and TV shows.
    Most of my favorite characters are the more normally built and modestly dressed female characters.
    And I often find my self almost embarrassed to play as/watch the less-then modest female characters.

    and now I have forgotten what I was going to say next so I will just end my little rant here.

    Good day :D

  27. Weak Kitten says:

    One interesting thing I’ve noticed in WoW is female players buying guild tabards to cover their bare midriffs. I asked a warrior why she did this. She said that it was because she simply didn’t enjoy the look of having half her body exposed, she was playing a paladin darn it! Later my mother had a similar complaint about her character running around looking half naked, she was playing a priest and it just didn’t feel right.
    On the other hand Blizzard decided to redo the male blood-elf models just before shipping because they felt the models weren’t “masculine” enough. I heard a lot of complains from female players over that because they felt that the first model was much more physically attractive. I guess this shows just how much “fan service” female players are given.

  28. Hmm. I seem to already be registered here. May as well leave a comment. I don’t like to exagerate as I prefer to be as exact as I can be in my communications. So…
    (1.) I too like to play using a female avatar as I’d rather look at a female body than a male body as I “follow her along” from a third person perspective. The sexier the better and I don’t expect her to be what a woman likes to see unless the woman is a Lesbian. (But of course everyone has their own personal preferences concerning sex appeal to that means not everyone one CAN be appeased.) But as I play alone, pleasing others is of no concern to me. In a first person perspective it doesn’t matter much.
    (2.) I see no diffence with a game than in seeing a movie about a girl or reading a story about one either.
    (3.) Sexy Fantasy Women are a norm to me too. What part of “fantasy” do people not understand? If I wanted too much reality, I’d not be playing games, seeing movies, or reading stories in the first place.
    (4.) If I was rich, I’d hire girls and women to make video games they like, just to teach the world what they really do want to see in a game, and to see if they can agree, or confuse us guys even more so.
    (5.) Hmm. I’d rather see a muscular man or woman than a fat one of either. (Get enough of that at home!) Fantasy is escapism for me. I can tell the difference though, between having fun in a Fantasy world and having to settle for boredom in the Real world. (I.e., no Magic!)
    (6.) Pardon my digression here, but it may yet be related to the topic. I’m attracted to attractive girls. My male friends are too. But due to the competive nature, we each want to keep the pretty ones to ourselves, and let the other attend to the lesser ones. In games, that’s not a problem! However, not that many sexy girls like it when they the guy they chose turns out to be a a gamer. Ergo, the situation in “Big Bang Theory” does seem to ring true! (However, I would stop gaming with my friends if a gaggle of girls stepped in and announced they were stripping! Also, if I was married to Kelly Rippa, I wouldn’t take her for granted either. Her hubby games on-line. The first time she heard the big explosions she didn’t know what was going on!)
    (7.) Sigh. I guess that’s all for now. If anyone replies I’ll most likely never know it unless I stumble here again.

  29. Nighthawk says:

    “the males look normal and the women look like strippers.” Riiiiight. All males are huge and ripped like 98% of video characters. Most of us gamers are overweight and balding. Come on it’s a game. Comparing the UT gals there to their real world American Gladiators counterparts and I’d say they are spot on. So the American Gladiators gals happen to dress like strippers ;) If you want to play a game with everyday people it’s called the Sims. It you want to play a gladiator type game with characters who are based on human growth hormones, cocky and probably vain enough to were a armored bra because it looks good play UT.

  30. Katrani Merack says:

    Hello! I’ve just recently stumbled onto this Blog, and this is the only article/whatever you call ’ems I’ve wanted to comment on so far.

    I’m a teenaged girl. I don’t know what I like yet, and I basically have no clue about most guys (I do know they’re deeper than ‘ass-boobs-hotness-wee!’, though), since they’re as much a mystery to me as I probably am to them. I’ve been playing video games since I was about six or seven. I don’t care what a character will look like, as long as it’s not overdone and they have a good characterization. Examples:

    Marle, Lucca, and Ayla from Chrono Trigger. Sure, it’s a SNES game and you can’t see much. You can still tell Ayla basically wears a fur bikini. But it took me ten playthroughs to notice this, mostly because I loved rereading the dialogue and didn’t pay attention to the sprites. GOOD.

    Fran and Ashe, most Viera from FF12. Yes, the Viera are obviously over-endowed. The lingerie clothes don’t help that much. But the named ones- Fran, Jote, Mjrn, the ones you do sidequest stuff for- are characterized enough that I don’t mind. Plus, I love trying to repeat the accent. Mjrn is obviously a younger Viera, and looks such- even if she is only in two cutscnes, you can still tell she’s supposed to be younger. Maybe the Viera equivalent of a sixteen-year-old? Ashe wears slightly revealing clothing (a miniminiskirt, for one), but she was given depth and it’s not as distracting as having to look at a Viera and try to ignore how utterly the designers failed with their outfits. I still hate it, but it’s not as bad. GOOD. Mostly.

    Aerith/Aeris and Tifa from FF7. People always say TIfa’s boobs look huge. I can’t tell though, because the graphics are so poor compared to now. Admittedly, I’ve never beaten the game, but doesn’t the fact that a lot of people prefer Aeris over Tifa and wished they’d switched places for the death enough to show that a girl can wear a completely-covering dress and jacket and be liked? GOOD.

    Coco from Crash Bandicoot. Crash’s sister is a tomboyish tech person, and that makes her so much more memorable. Ask me to name any Crash character besides Crash and I’ll most likely choose his sis. GOOD.

    Catalina from Sly Cooper (original, never played the sequels). Yes, her midriff is bared. But that’s about it that I’ve noticed. She’s a strong character, and rarely has moments that make you think ‘wait- what did she just do? That’s not like her!’ GOOD.

    Lulu and Yuna and Rikku from FFX I found to be borderline examples. Plenty of chances for the fetishes to start, and except for Lulu seem to border the damsel-in-distress trope sometimes, but not oversexed a whole lot except for Rikku’s removing-the-wetsuit scene. GOOD. X-2, on the other hand was horrid. It completely made Rikku’s hyperness more visible, turning her into a mockery of her origin. Yuna had basically the same personality, but worse clothes. Paine was alright, except for the outfits. Stupid dresspheres. And don’t even get me started on Leblanc. HORRIBLE.

    Kairi from Kingdom Hearts. In the first game, she had an okay personality, but that might’ve just been because she wasn’t actually in a lot of the story stuff, just mentioned a lot. The second one drove home the point that she was completely useless and had justt been tossed in as a love interest for Sora. Even if she had a mostly-modest outfit, she annoyed the hell out of me. BAD.

    Even thouhg most of the Harvest Moon games are for boys, and I’ve never played any with a ‘girl’ option, I love them. Mainly because the girls that are depicted are still semi-relistic, even if they are slight exaggerations (Nina/Pouporri as ‘cute but demanding’, Ann as ‘tomboy’, Karen as ‘tavern chick’, Elli/Mary/Maria as the ‘quiet but cute’) and, except for Karen in one of the games I played, dress normally. VERY GOOD.

    I could think of more, but I’ve got to go soon and htis is probably long enough already. So, yeah. Just my twobits on what’s right and what’s wrong with some games that I’ve enjoyed. Yes, I chose mostly good examples. But that’s because everyone is already pointing out what developers are doing wrong.

  31. dyrnwyn says:

    In Soulcalibur 4 you can turn the breast size for female characters down to almost nothing. The funny thing is the physics engine doesn’t accept that you would do this and makes there chest bounce the same way. creating the most twisted abominations I’ve ever seen. so unless you want your character to be the daughter of a human and a ochre jelly you have to have massive boobs.

  32. Shoku says:

    If art assets were a little easier to churn out you could just have a check box type option for making all the character models regular looking or not. I’m sure a lot of people would play the full homoerotic and strippers setting just to laugh at what it looked like then turn it back off while the sex hungry audience would just set it to the usual strippers setting without much trouble.

  33. mazer says:

    About females getting romatic sidequests with females:
    I think thats partly because people dont want to miss out on sidequests.

    If playing a dwarf or giant lizard dosent change the plotline, why should a purely cosmetic choice like gender change which quests I get? Thatd be like red-haired characters getting more xp or blonds getting better loot.

    Heather makes an interesting point about choosing avatars that look like herself. I’d never considered that before. Usualy my avatar depends upon the game I’m playing. For multiplayer FPS’s I choose the smallest avatar possible, which usualy ends up being female. For third person games I go for the largest avatar possible so thier easier to keep track of in crowds. Anything else I go with the weirdest alien or most tricked out cyborg cause that looks cool.

    Possibly thats why females seem to care more about realistic avatars than males. As several people pointed out male avatars tend to be just as unrealistic, if more clothed.

    As far as Lyz and kacie’s comments about unrealistic male avatars not being attractive, anorexics with breasts larger than my head arnt exactly my cup of tea either. I think theres a significant difference between “ideal hollywood beauty” and what people actualy think is attractive.

    And about the comments on unrealistic scanty clothing, while more options are obviously better, as cliched a phrase as “kids these days” is, i have 3 sisters, and theres definatly a difference between ” unrealistic” and “unnessecarily trashy”

  34. Nemitri says:

    I’m tired of sexism, I wish people would treat others better.

  35. Lionday says:

    Harvest moon anyone. The new ones have the choice at the beginning of the game and they don’t seem over breasted (Well except for the Inn girl she’s pretty much always been that way).

  36. DarenBowel says:

    Nice tips. Heather makes an interesting point about choosing avatars that look like herself.

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