WARNING: The content of this page may not be
suitable for younger viewers. if it were a movie, it would be "PG".
Long long ago, in the April 1999 issue of Nintendo Power, Claire Fenwick wrote a
letter saying, "...it's frustrating when the story (and heroine's wardrobe) is
aimed at male gamers." Gender equality, or the lack of it, in gaming was always
interesting to me, so I decided to take a stand.
Times have changed a bit since then, and things have improved a little. More
realistic and positive characters like Jade from Beyond Good and Evil have come
to the forefront, and some old-timers like Princess Peach are getting a bit more
credit than they used to. But I still have a bunch of examples of hilarious
stuff game developers used to do with their female characters (and continue
to do in many cases) so take a look if you're interested.
Incidentally, I'm responsible for most of the pictures you see on this
page...Raven and Tina come from the game promotion material, but the others were
drawn by me.
Read Mewd's e-mail about GOOD FEMALE
CHARACTERS IN GAMES, it's a nice counter-point to my arguments, and Mewd
brings up some good female characters from recent games.
If you've got something to say, e-mail me.
Mai Shiranui is the mother of all "bouncy" fighting
women, designed by SNK for the Fatal Fury and King of Fighters games. She's
supposed to be either 21 or 29, depending on how
you count, but quite a bit of the art designed for her makes her look younger.
Between her gigantic breasts and "barely legal" appearance, Mai is surely one of
the queens of sexist "babe" heroines in videogames.
Samus gets my gold star of approval! Unfortunately...I'm too lazy to
make a star graphic to put here! I've defended my decision to put Samus down
here as an exploited character for a long time, but I've finally thrown in
the towel, I have to admit, she's a good female game character. The latest
games in the series played a part in this, I like that they don't hide
Samus' gender anymore, yet she's still the same Samus as always...she isn't
suddenly being shown as a sex symbol. I still find it a little
bit silly that many of the Metroid games reward you with a medium-clothed
picture of Samus if you finish in a short time, but she's still possibly the
best female game character around.
Candy and Dixie Kong
Candy Kong represents the worst of both worlds when it comes to videogame
women: She has both the ridiculously unrealistic figure of the "babe" type
heroine, and the pink clothes (even a bow in her hair!) of the "cute, helpless"
heroine. Did I mention that she just stands around and waits for the other
characters to show up?
Dixie is pretty good by comparison; she actually got to be the star of one
of the DKC games. Still, with that ultra-pink outfit, and long blonde
ponytail, she's a lot more cutesy than necessary.
As I've already mentioned, street fighting games tend to be one of the
worst genres for exploiting women. Witness Tina, from Dead or Alive. Her
breasts are as big as her head (which is also true for most of the other
women in the Dead or Alive games) and her fighting costume is nothing but
un-fastened leather underwear and a tiny vest. Finally, Tina earns a special
place of disrespect in my heart, for winning the cheesy "best videogame babe
of all time" poll run by IGN.
Lara Croft is arguably the most exploited woman in videogames. Eidos
and it's employees try very hard to claim that she's a "positive role-model"
for girls, but that's hard to believe when they've released official
Playboy-style measurements (Bust, waist, hips) for her, and even a couple of
semi-nude pictures that only hid the "naughty" bits.
When I say "damsel in distress", who do you think of? Princess Peach
Toadstool has been kidnapped in nearly 10 of the popular Super Mario games,
and a Peach-clone called Princess Daisy was kidnapped in Super Mario Land.
Now I have to admit that Nintendo has started giving her more chances to
participate, especially in "spin-offs" like Mario Party which is great.
Yet she still has to do everything in a pink ballgown and high heels.
Fighting games were among the first titles to start making big-breasted,
scantily clad heroines, and Cammy is one of the most risque, with a one-piece
so small she moons the players every time she turns her back to the screen.
Alex Jaffe contributed this character. He says:
I was just looking at the Gender Equality section and i think Captain Syrup would
fit in there like a glove. When Nintendo finally gives a female a villain role,
(an anti-damsel-in-distress role if there ever was one) and she was a brilliant
villain who in my opinion could top Bowser any day, they ditch her after two
games! And who do they put in her place? A demented spirit clown! it makes me
sick. Many sites are calling her the most neglected Mario character since Luigi
got his own game.
When Microsoft unveiled the X-Box, they decided that they had to have a
"babe" to promote it. Raven is that babe. One of the most annoying things
about Raven is that a lot of guys actually claim that she's ugly. Well, she
is a bit muscular, to be fair, but what do you expect? A supermodel marine?
Not likely! And the fact of the matter is, she still has a beyond perfect
figure shown off with tight, skimpy clothes, both of which were being used
shamelessly to sell the Xbox. Thankfully, Raven was relegated to the land
of tech demos: she never got her own game.