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  • 11May

    Dragon’s Crown: Two Big Bouncing Problems for Gaming?

    About a month ago, Atlus confirmed the localization of Vanillaware’s Dragons’ Crown for North America. Many gamers like myself, who loved Odin Sphere for the Playstation 2, and Muramasa: The Demon Blade for the Wii were absolutely thrilled. Vanillaware’s character designer, George Kamitani has always had a very distinct style, which I have personally loved since as far back as Princess Crown for the Sega Saturn. Dragon’s Crown most noticeably features an evolution of his usual art style; The characters are more dramatically proportioned, with ridiculously mythologized body types. Rather than the daintier frames of Gwendolyn and Oswald, we now have the obscenely muscled Dwarf, and the notoriously buxomed Sorceress. And this has caused quite a bit of controversy amongst gamers with very vocal opinions.

    It all started with Kotaku’s Jason Schrierer stating Kamitani’s work embodied the “drawings of a fourteen-year-old-boy.”

    Kamitani fired back on his Facebook, with this image;


    Kamitani drawing inspiration from the locker rooms of the WWE.

    Having tracked Dragon Crown‘s development since it’s release in Japan, I looked up quite a bit of footage for it in anticipation of the combat system, and the multiplayer aspects of it as well. (A first for Vanillaware games.) I immediately noticed the Sorceress’ rather ridiculous proportions, and it didn’t impact me all that much, as a woman or a gamer. And that’s not to say that I’m a woman in favor of seeing my gender “poorly represented” or objectified in my favorite form of media. Plain and simple, I just didn’t think it was a very big deal, pun intended.


    “Sculpted by a fourteen-year-old-boy?”

    What you are looking at pictured above is the “Venus of Willendorf.” This lovely piece of art is one of the, if not the oldest sculptures in the history of humanity. Through carbon dating, it’s been deduced the small figure dates back to at least c. 22,000 BCE. Discovered by Austrian archeologist, Josef Szombathy, the figure features highly exaggerated breasts, abdomen and thighs. Considering fertility and survival was likely all that mattered to people in that time period, art historians don’t consider it offensive or degrading to women. Further, many art historians state that the figure is possibly a self portrait; the facial features aren’t depicted and the angle and proportion of the amplified features heavily supports this theory.

    I can’t speak for every other women who’s ever picked up a video game controller, and while I do think gaming has always been in dire need of stronger, less sexualized female protagonists, I don’t consider the Sorceress wildly offensive or degrading to my gender as much as some seem to. Is Vanillaware employing the age old marketing tactic, “sex sells?” Yes. Is the Sorceress from Dragon’s Crown so terribly different than the “Venus of Willendorf” pictured above? Not really. I don’t think a big pair of bouncing boobs in a deeply stylized artistic context is worth getting offended over at the expense of playing a fantastic game. Both are exaggerated depictions that celebrate the female form. The only real difference is that one is being utilized to sell a game. There are plenty of other portrayals and elements/aspects of women in gaming I find far more offensive than anything George Kamitani has drawn;


    Finally, a Premium Edition for those who idolize Ed Gein.

    Featured above is the European Collector’s Edition of Deep Silver’s Dead Island: Riptide. This is something I genuinely find not only offensive, but rather creepy as well. I have a lot of male friends I play video games with, and if I went to visit one of them and saw the Dead Island “bust” on their shelves, I would find it deeply unnerving. However, when I play Dragon’s Crown with them, if they choose the Sorceress [who I actually intend to play, along with the Elf and the Amazon] I’ll likely just laugh, shake my head, and move on with my day.

    And it’s not to say that there isn’t an issue with women and objectification in the media, especially within gaming culture. Recently, at PAX East, a group of Lara Croft cosplayers were asked a very lewd question by a “journalist.” Behavior like this is deeply offensive, and seems to be a reoccurring problem for women who actively participate in the gaming community. Many people make the argument that things like this occur because of women’s objectification in games. I don’t see the correlation in this specific instance because the Tomb Raider reboot is not only a fantastic game, but features a very realistically proportioned, strong female character who survives overwhelming odds. But as the point still stands, I feel it’s more a matter of picking and choosing your battles and really assessing what’s worth getting upset over, and what isn’t. Some of my favorite characters in gaming are Agrias Oaks from Final Fantasy Tactics, Maya and Lilith of Borderlands and Rose from Legend of Dragoon. Will the Sorceress ever impact and inspire girls the way Samus Aran or Jennifer Hale’s Commander Shepard has? (Excluding Metroid: Other M, ahem.) Probably not. Is that going to stop me from enjoying Vanillaware’s latest work this August? Definitely not. If you find the Sorceress so offensive, don’t support the game. It’s that simple.

18 comments
burekftw
burekftw

Objectification is not bad,

only sex negative feminists cry and whine about "sexualization",

sexualization is not a bad thing,

sex negative feminists are so vocal they indirectly give a bad name to other women who may not be oversensitive easily offended and influenced individuals unlike sex negative feminists,

opinions are opinions.

The majority of sex negative feminists come from the 1st world countries where they are given welfare and babysat by the countries and most of them have never experienced real life hardships or life in worlds beyond theirs where they have to actually work and can't depend on free money from governments so their "problems" are reduced to irrelevant and insignificant things like entertainment. They are spoiled babies that have formed a radical "organization" where they invent their own moral values and principles and force them as "facts" to feed their superiority complexes and egos, further helped by making massive logical fallacies (inventing Ad Hominems upon the whole male gender and generalizing thus at the same time). They have thus defined their enemies (men) and now have a system for self nurturing a victim complex.

 

The most destructive and stupid idea to be birthed from all of this is the idea that the industry should focus all its attention to this social warrior movement and pander to it.

At the same time this is wrong (developers should ideally make games how THEY want to make them without outer influence or pandering, in other words they should ideally pander only to those who share their interests or WANT their games and not some wider audience crap) and at the same time you see the superiority complex of this social warrior brigade who are constantly seeking a fix of converting someone or something.

"I CONVERTED THEM/YOU, OBSERVE MY SUPERIORITY, THEY LISTENED TO ME AND TO MY JUSTICE, THIS VALIDATES MY EXISTENCE AND SUPERIORITY UPON ALL OF YOU."

 

I swear, if anything is bigoted and immature it is those whole oversensationalized, hyped and fallacious situation in regards to sexualization

That's my 2 cents. And last but not least, thank you my parents for existing, thank you my mother for instantly emphasizing how foolish you think this feminism is, thank you nature for having my mother be my mother and for the fact that one of these online modern feminist warriors didn't birth me because i would hate them to the point of turning criminal.

 

Great article overall.

Anon
Anon

Comon now, do people still get surprised when girls get looks at Cons? Like when people wear that white/red Power Girl outfit with the breast window, and come home with a story about how they were "eye-raped". What do you think it's for exactly? It's not a compartment to whip out ninja stars in case of trouble....

VesVespaa
VesVespaa

My issue with it goes beyond looks, though. I will never agree that women should be subjected to rude questioning because they chose to cosplay something men find sexy. In this case, Lara Croft isn't even that revealing of a costume. (She's wearing cargo pants.)  I don't think it's really the looks or glances that any of those Lara Croft cosplayers had issue with, but the self entitlement  of the "journalist" who posed the question, and who obviously hasn't had an attractive woman anywhere near him in a very long time. It's not an excuse to be disrespectful to a group of girls. FYI, I fully sympathize with male cosplayers in this context as well.  My b/f and a lot of my male friends who cosplay have had weird, awkward experiences with rabid female fangirls who doesn't know how to be polite and composed.

 

TL;DR version: When you're at a convention, there's no excuse to not carry yourself with a respectful demeanor towards your fellow con goers--male or female. Have some class and composure toward either gender, essentially.

Anon
Anon

 @VesVespaa Are you aware of Lara Croft's origins, by chance? 3D games were fairly new, and so by accident, the breasts were increased several times the intended size. Finding the unrealistic proportions appealing, the look was kept. Lara Croft may as well be a sex symbol.

 

In this light, I may as well dress as Ron Jeremy and let it hang out at a convention. Should someone pose a "lewd" question, say, comment on how it accidentally swung and hit them. The most appropriate response would be to trade one attention-seeking behavior for another, leave in a huff, attracting maximum media attention if possible.

 

In the war for people's attention, sex is just a blunt weapon. This goes both ways, the same people that decided to release that Riptide bonus item are the exact same type of people who dress like a sci-fi Sasha Grey and then achieve entitlement to rally the mobs.

Anon
Anon

 @VesVespaa Ok, so Ron Jeremy was a stretch. Alternatively, Mido Miko the sex ninja may have been a better example. My point was that Lara Croft is based around the objectivity of the human body.

 

Now, I wasn't able to find the exact comments you reference, but if I went to a con dressed as a La Blue Girl character with "Sex Gargoyle" written on my forehead; I expect some positive(mostly negative) reactions. You can be sure though that I won't be treated with the neutrality of a vegetable.

VesVespaa
VesVespaa

I'm very aware of Lara's origins, and I've played all the older Tomb Raider games when they were first released on Playstation 1. But just because a team of video game developer's ramped up the breast size on their character model, it doesn't give anyone the right to walk up to a group of women at a convention and say lewd things.(And again, like I state in the article, I really don't have issues with oversized boobs. Whatever floats your boat, literally!)

 

You're comparing apples to oranges. Cosplaying Ron Jeremy =/= Cosplaying Lara Croft.  Cosplaying Ron Jeremy = Cosplaying Jenna Jameson. Ron Jeremy has no place at a convention intended for Gaming, Comic or Anime Culture. There are conventions designed for Ron Jeremy enthusiasts, (Adult Entertainment Expos) so your comparison doesn't make any sense, no offense.

 

And yes, there are women out there who do these kind of things solely for the attention, then cry foul when it comes in a format they don't approve of. I don't agree with that either.  The group of Lara Crofts at PAX East likely didn't complain if anyone was staring or photographing them. It's again, about having respect for your fellow convention attendees. If you go to the beach, where the majority of women wear swimsuits, does that give anyone the right to approach random women and say inappropriate things? Stares are one thing. Conversation is another. A beach and a convention are both public places where people, including attractive women, go to enjoy themselves.  Keep your internal monologue in your mind, please!

shiggy diggy
shiggy diggy

Women expect to wear practically nothing and then expect men to not look. 

 

http://imgur.com/pKCNw50

 

Why do you dress so provocatively when you have a problem with "male gaze" , that is beyond me

Tingly Mr Tickles
Tingly Mr Tickles like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Not a bad article. I felt it wandered a fair bit and didn't tie it all together as well as it could have, but not bad. It's always nice to see a different opinion. But I do have something to add to what you've said. http://i.imgur.com/DIGHQYk.jpg Just in case you think the above is a link to some nigerian bank loot, it's a painting by classic artist Frank Frazetta, who inspired a generation of artists (and, unfortunately, clones). It's been pointed out several times that the art of Dragon's Crown is as much a homage to that as it is selling purely on sex appeal. In fact I'd argue that it's more a homage to Frazetta's ideals of sexuality. I've yet to find anyone who actually finds the Sorcerer sexually attractive -  as much as a grotesque mockery of Sports Illustrated standards. I'd like to think it was intentional, because screw it I like satire, but unfortunately Kamitami proved otherwise (the most disappointing aspect of this two-bit controversy is that he didn't label the dwarf sandwich "a bunch of big-titted, topless characters groping each other inappropriately", instead of the dumb gay joke). Most of the actual criticism towards her tits (outside of vague "objectification!" mud-flinging, which doesn't matter to me because I have like 3 porn tabs up at the moment) is around "not being able to play it in front of your kids", as if it's someone else's responsibility to censor their products and creations to appeal to your delicate sensibilities. It's not their responsibility, and you're not owed anything by them  -  they're not obligated to appeal to you. You stated that you wouldn't judge a guy for having the game in their collection in the article, and I can respect that. But I wouldn't leave this game laying about any more then I would Dead Space, or soft-core pornography. And I certainly wouldn't play either in front of a kid, let alone demand that they be turned into a homogenised, child-friendly paste so I COULD play them in front of a child. Is there a point to this? There's three. A) Frank Frazetta was a grown man, and his work was bought primarily by other grown men. It wasn't see as juvenile (no more then any other fantasy illustration was), it was seen as a glorious homage to low fantasy. Dragon's Crown being called the work of a 14-year old is only because it's in a videogame. It's a damned double standard. B) Re-iterating the fantasy point. It's a fantasy, and not even a pornographic one at that. Mostly it's about laying the beatdown on orcs and kobolds and stuff. Any objectification in it would be dispersed in milliseconds upon contact with a living, breathing woman, most of whom don't wear chainmail bikinis and go on socially-sanctioned slaughters. C) Saying that a girl can't be both sexual and a strong character is exactly the sort of tripe I'd expect from a publication like Kotaku. Nothing more needs to be said. Claiming that women are being oppressed, and saying they should repress themselves all in the same article is par for course. Here's a new message for girls in videogames and out: you don't owe anyone shit. You don't owe it to the kids to be sexless, you don't owe it to the guys to be busty, and you don't owe it to other girls to be strong. I've always thought that these feminist trains of thought were about freeing up these arbitrary restrictions. Instead, they've traded one set of constricting social standards for another. It doesn't matter whether or not Kamitami tried to pay tribute to a classic painter, create a strong lead with large melons, or just act out his fantasies - it should be none of your fucking concern.

Anon Good Nurse
Anon Good Nurse

"I've yet to find anyone who actually finds the Sorcerer sexually attractive"

Well, I'll be the first then!

However I do like that there are different interpretations of her look, from satire (as you mentioned) to the fertility/necromancy link mentioned elsewhere.

Kamitami designed these characters to stand out, taking heed to create distinct silhouettes as most good designers do, and the characters of this game have certainly garnered more than their share of attention - perhaps in a large part due to those complaining of sexualisation.

Those people should perhaps consider that this rather niche game would likely have sold less but for the furore raised over it (something akin to a Streisand effect). Then if they are indeed afficionados of 2D scrolling beat-em-ups, they can then go and play Scott Pilgrim, Guardian Heroes or any number of others that do not feature saucy characters.

Tingly Mr Tickles
Tingly Mr Tickles

Wow, I spent ages formatting that, and it didn't show any of.

 

Well, fuck me. That's a lot of effort that just went to complete waste.

VesVespaa
VesVespaa

You make a lot of great points, thanks for reading. Your post is more cohesive than my article! (And that's not sarcasm.) And I really agree with what you have to say. It's what I meant when I said it's about picking and choosing your battles. I kind of grew up on that style of fantasy art, which is likely why I enjoy it. When I was very little, I'd pick out video games in Toys R Us based on the cover and what it said about the game on the back paragraph(s.) I wound up bringing home games like Golden Axe and Sword of Sodan. (Both of which have cover art very similar to Frank Frazetta's work.) And I could have reiterated this better, but I don't think Kamitani drew the Sorceress the way he did simply because sex sells. I think it's just something that peppers the subconscious, more or less. He could have made a Sorceress that resembled the hag in Snow White, and perhaps a few less people would have looked at the cover art and been like "Hot dayam." If that makes sense.

Anonymous23489
Anonymous23489

"Considering fertility and survival was likely all that mattered to people in that time period, art historians don’t consider it offensive or degrading to women."

 

They just don't realize their misogyny.

VesVespaa
VesVespaa

 @Anonymous23489 I know you're being sarcastic, but I just wanted to make sure you were aware that when I made that statement, I meant it as in I agree with them in NOT finding it misogynistic. Because it's not. Just to clarify.

Disrespected
Disrespected

Large breasts are a symbol of fertility and life in many cultures. One of the Sorceress' special abilities is the art of necromancy, an act that bestows life upon things. So I would say her having large breasts is simply a statement that Kamitani knows his stuff, as evidenced by all of his previous games (ESPECIALLY Muramasa, as it drew heavily from Japanese mythology). I mean c'mon, if they were really using her because "sex sells," Then why is she not featured predominately on the front cover of the game?

 

When I play videogames with other people, it matters not what their gender, race, or even age are. What matters is that they're playing videogames. I wish everyone could have the same mindset, but that would only happen in a perfect world which will never exist. Instead of shouting an pitching a fit at everything (which by the way is further distancing you away from other gamers) that looks somewhat sexist, I think it would be best to stop treating them as objects against you, and instead treat them as someone as an actual person. After all, that's what the feminist movement constantly asks everyone else to do.

 

and by the way, I find it really hard to get behind a movement that cries out for equality and then degrades men, often in the same breath

hermod715
hermod715

I'm starting to get the ideal that Jason Schrierer only did this to get some attention  he refuses to notice the Elf character (the closest to a normal proportion) lies about what she's wearing going form "next to nothing" and them claiming she's wearing a mini shirt (she's not  on both accounts)  he shows a gif of the Sorceress boobs moving but its taken form a video were she's 

 

1 in combalt with a boss so you wouldn't be paying attention to she tits

2 taking less than 5% of the screen due to the boss' size

 

this is just making controversy for the sake of it and I for one thing its taking about form real problem  wend a real sexism in gaming is happing people are going to use this of women in gaming are just over reacting to anything and ignore it

HeckHoundHarry
HeckHoundHarry

 @hermod715 

Schrierer is completely deluded.  He actually went on NeoGAF and called the Sorceress a lolicon fantasy. 

Abe07
Abe07

I wonder if video games came with a porn label would we still have this problem. Few complains about either gender being objectified in porn. Maybe then duchebags would not be actively persecuting people who express their sexual identity. Neither DC nor DI are leapfrog viedogames meant to educate young girls about society. They are mature rated games for mature peoples entertainment with no obligation to social norms, if you don't like either, it was not meant for you. Kind of like gay pron is not meant for straight males. 

gaz
gaz

Suddenly, the gaming industry is evil for using tits to make a product sell better.

What's the matter, is the movie industry laughing at the feminist order whenever you try to make these observations, so you fled to the videogames' industry?

Every single profitable industry has been doing this, some for more than 50 years, and it does this because it sells. See, you cannot argue sales numbers. Investors aren't actually willing to lose millions of profit to fullfil their own sexist masterplans or bigotry. They do this because it makes a tangible profit.

 

So please, you and those worse than you that go on a rampage every time a female character shows a tiny bit of sex appeal, just drop this shit. You aren't going to change a market through bitching. No matter how hard you try and nitpick at every single game there is. If a game offends enough people, they will not buy it and the thing wont make a profit, and fail. That's how you decide if a product is good or not. If people buy it despite you finding it extremely offensive, it means IT'S NOT FOR YOU, move the fuck on. Not everything is done for you, despite what your parents may have led you to believe when you grew up.

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