This week's topic is one that's near and dear to my heart. Well, it's near to my heart, at least, and I mean that quite literally. It's also a perfect topic for today's holiday! I mean, who doesn't like to talk about large breasts on Thanksgiving? (Score one for the terrible synonym.)
During last week's column on Blade & Soul, the main topic that came up time and time again in the comments wasn't the game's combat, or the game's engine, or anything really related to the game at large. No, it seems that many of you were turned off of the game by the fact that the screenshot I used had a woman with huge boobs. That was the deal breaker for the game.
Your originally scheduled program -- 100% Sera Rant
Originally this column was going to be about how you can't judge a game by it's cover, graphics, or the size of its boobs. It was more of an esoteric approach to the argument as a whole, as I've always believed that games should be rated on their gameplay, not on their graphics, although I'm partially a hypocrite because I'm really turned off by "realistic" brown-toned artwork.
Honestly, I can't sit here and say that anyone is wrong when they say they don't like a game because of how it depicts women. I'm not going to change your mind about that in the slightest. You have your opinion on the matter, whether you like the artwork of Blade & Soul or any other game that features overblown women or you despise it to the four corners of the earth, and you have every right to keep that opinion.
But as I looked over the comments again, I found something far more interesting not in what people said, but in what they didn't say.
Who likes a brick wall? We do!
Out of all of the comments last week, only one person (Hi ToyChristopher!) actually mentioned anything about the man in the photo. You know, the burly, muscular, shirtless man who dominated half of last week's screenshot? He who had the large package? Ringing any bells? We were so busy being concerned about the depiction of women that we may have overlooked the depiction of men.
Yet, it's something we do pretty regularly with our games, movies, books, and other assorted forms of media -- especially our games. Very few of our protagonists (Nathan Drake and Alan Wake to name a few exceptions) depict men in what I would call a non-degrading manner. Honestly, how many of you readers out there right now are as ripped as the guy from Blade & Soul? My guess is very few.
While our interactive media may have started with a slightly overweight plumber as the titluar hero, we've certainly turned to making sure all of our character models feature strong, burly, and oversexed men who's muscles can give a woman's breasts a run for their money. I mean, look at World of Warcraft, for example -- a game that we normally don't consider sexually charged. How realistic is their depiction of men compared to the average guy?
Yet, we don't riot in the streets when we see a burly man as the typical video game character. We don't declare him to be sexually charged because we as a whole have assigned different values to the male and female anatomies.
Last week, many people used words like slutty, pornographic, oversexed, and trashy to describe the female characters. I bet if anyone would have described the man in the photo, it would have been words like, muscular, powerful, strong, and other words that carry neutral or positive connotations.
Is this bad? No, I wouldn't go so far to say bad. But it is a little unbalanced when you think about it.