IDrownFish of the Seven Seas wrote:
Question, digg, for the sake of discussion and because I'm curious:
How would you describe the ideal female model / aesthetic?
One design issue with female bodies is that they generally vary far more than male body types do. Males typically end up stocky or lanky, or somewhere in between, but our bodies are typically more square. Sure, we have different natural waists, and some of us have broad shoulders, etc. But because we don't naturally have curves, the overall effect tends to be rather rectangular. So most games just design a male model that's right in the middle, and excepting for muscle/fat %s, it's close enough to the body most males have.
Female bodies vary far more wildly. Where their body tends to carry fat (bust, hips, rear), how broad their shoulders are, how thick their neck is, whether or not they have a natural hourglass or are more sturdy, etc. And then you take the same body type and add height and it changes quite a bit, where it doesn't for males, because female body fat percentages are naturally higher.
That said, most female gamers I know fully accept that this is not a super realistic goal for designers. At least for normal, single-player games (because there's something to be said for development time when you're expected to drop MANY days of your life, and a subscription, into a game to play that character).
So what I think is important is that female models are designed according to female perspectives. If guys want idealized models for male characters, fine. If females want idealized models for female characters, fine. But what's not okay is when female models are idealized relative to the male gaze
What that means, specifically, I can't say. At the end of the day, I still have a male perspective. I can sympathize with the female position, but I don't know what it's like to be interacting with a female model relative to female body image.
What I can deliver via testimony from the female gamers I know is that most of them want characters who are suited to the task at hand. Which IS an idealized version of a body. Fem!Shep had a stocky frame and muscles in her arms and solid thighs AND she had curves and some delicate features. But then when you applied the male gaze, she turned into pornstar!Shepard... The female gamers I knew were livid. Not because blond, long-haired Shepard was an option, but because it was clear that fem!Shep had just been taken away from them
. Turned into a sex icon, instead of a strong, confident soldier (who, sure, could get some if she wanted it).
And I think that's the big point. They may want beauty in their models, but they want them to look capable first and beautiful second.
And they typically seem to want everyday beautiful, not red carpet beautiful.
One last thing I want to really stress is that capability is relative to what you're doing. Showing a little bit more skin when you're wearing a robe is WAY more acceptable than a teardrop in your plate armor for a tank. You're a caster? Immaculate make-up, red lipstick, careful bob. You make it look good. Warrior? No or light make-up, short hair, etc. Women are used to evaluating their looks by situation, and MANY female gamers actively do that with their characters. It's an aspect of male privilege that we, generally, don't have to do that by societal standards. We wear the same haircut on the red carpet as we do to go get coffee in the morning (and both look remarkably like bedhead). We go from flip flops and shorts to wearing tuxes with relative ease.
Women are forced to evaluate their looks by situation just because of the way our society is structured. And that has a BIG impact on the way they evaluate the appearance of female models in games. And it's one that is usually completely lost on male designers.
The fact that the ones making the lines and cuts of clothing/gear in the game are all male compounds that problem further.
I bolded the part I think is one of the most important parts missing in this discussion so far.
Male ideals of women are one-size-fits-all.
Female ideals of women are all relative to the situations women find themselves in. Women DON'T want to look like a red carpet actress at work. But they may want to look like what that actress looked like at work in the movie she's getting an award for.
And that's important. Edited, Jan 28th 2014 11:29am by idiggory