This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things
[added by edit] Greetings, dudebros! It seems that this years-old article is still proving popular, and thus I have received some unsavory comments from men who are butthurt because I posted my personal opinion on my personal website. If you are such a man, please feel free to leave your need for validation in the comments. Your impotent performance of hyper-masculinity will be duly noted, mocked, and probably edited if I'm feeling creative, or deleted if I'm feeling bored.
One step forward, two steps back.
Being as hopeful as I am about video games in general, I sometimes take it rather badly when I get whacked with a curveball such as this. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present the latest colossal pile of misogyny from Aeria Games: Scarlet Blade.
This is an MMORPG with tits and ass everywhere. Yes, even on the characters that look like little girls. Yes, it's fucking creepy all on its own.
As a new release, you can buy a bunch of founder's packs for various prices. These include a 'seal remover' that lets you remove your character's underwear and prance around naked. Did I mention that you can ONLY play busty women, or suspiciously young looking busty girls?
What can I really say about this? Here's a game that says, very clearly, that it's not interested in the money of anyone but hormonal teenage males. Everything about it looks to be a shameless attempt to shove softcore porn into a generic MMO in order sell itself. It is the dictionary definition of objectification.
What's that, I hear you say? Just because it has naked women in it doesn't mean it's objectifying?
NO. Shut your damn mouth. Sit over there, in the idiot's corner, because you haven't been paying attention. Let's get one thing straight.
SEXUALITY IN VIDEO GAMES IS OKAY. THIS, HOWEVER, HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEXUALITY.
Sexual Vs. Objectifying
Gather 'round, kids, and let me explain.
It's possible for characters to be sexual, but not objectified. It's possible for characters to be sexual AND objectified. It's possible for characters to be not sexual, but objectified.
See, a character's sexuality is all about how they think about sex in relation to themselves. Objectification is how other characters (or players) think about sex in relation to them based solely on shallow, trivial shit like what they're wearing. Let's have some examples.
Zevran in Dragon Age: Origins
He's the elf dude who hits on you regardless of whether you're playing a male or a female character. He's obviously bisexual, unafraid to talk about it, and willing to jump in the sack without needing much encouragement. He's an example of a character that clearly thinks about sex in relation to himself a lot, but he's not objectified by the game. Nothing about his armor, for example, is overtly sexual - it's all of the 'I go into combat a lot and need protection' kind.
Man, do I ever dislike Bayonetta. Yes, yes, strong female character and all that bullshit, but come on, the game was marketed based on her having giant tits. I have to give her this much, though - it's made very clear through the entire game that being sexual is part of who she is. She's flirty all the time. She talks and acts like a female Casanova. If you dressed her modestly, she'd still ooze sex appeal. She's an example of a character that is sexual, and is also objectified - because if you know nothing about her apart from what you see in screenshots, for example, you see tits 'n' ass doing stupid porno poses in combat.
And now we come to Scarlet Blade.
If you ever want an example of characters that are objectified, here it is, and this is why: they're all dressed up with the singular purpose of titillation with no, repeat NO, sign of their own sexuality. The actual backstory of the game has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with post-apocalyptic mayhem. There is no reason to make all of these characters overtly sexual to a ridiculous degree, apart from the jaded notion that sex sells - and, more specifically, sexy women sell to men.
Let me say it again: THIS GAME HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SEXUALITY. It has everything to do with objectification. All these female characters whose boobs bounce around and whose wardrobe consists of nothing but dental floss and pasties over their nipples? All there because the game designers seem to have such a low opinion of gamers and of their own game that it can't sell on its own merits, and the only solution is to add tits 'n' ass to it.
NOT fully fleshed out female characters who display their sexuality through dialogue and interactions with others.
Just tits 'n' ass.
Objects, in fact.
A Final Word
I call this game a colossal pile of misogyny because it's only the women who are objectified, in case anyone wants to make any stupid fucking arguments to the effect of 'WAAAH sexy womens are not automatically sexist!' There is no parallel in gaming where this kind of shit happens to male characters exclusively. In fact, I'm hard pressed to think of ANY game that needlessly sexualizes its male characters at all.
I will not play this game. It could be the best thing since sliced bread, but everything I have seen of it - from promo shots to gameplay videos - makes it 100% clear that it is not in any way aimed at me. It's so relentlessly tasteless that I'm pretty sure plenty of its target demographic will be turned off as well. (Frankly, if I were a guy, I'd take it as an insult that the game devs think I'd drop money on a game solely because it has boobs in it.)
One thing I can't help wondering is this: WHY? Why the tits 'n' ass? This is 2013, and you can see more hardcore shit on Reddit in a couple of clicks! Why, in the name of Satan's left armpit, would a game studio turn away a giant female gamer audience and a large subset of male gamers who are skeeved out by the constant booby parade?!
I can't even get offended by this shit anymore. I just have to be mystified that these guys missed the memo that, hey, WOMEN PLAY GAMES.
Here's a review of Scarlet Blade. Watch and enjoy. I have to go play Skyrim and work out some aggression.