Crystal’s Corner: Am I Sexist?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

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Crystal's Corner: Am I Sexist? | oprainfall

WARNING: I am a girl. If this offends you, stop reading now. I am guessing most, if not all of you, are still here. I think that our audience are enlightened, intelligent people who realize that men and woman are both capable of intelligent thoughts. At times, we are capable of not so intelligent thoughts as well and I suspect this article will be full of both.

With the recent release of games like Dragons Crown, Valhalla Knights 3 and many more, I have found myself wondering… am I sexist? While I can certainly empathize with the many people bitching about the over-sexualization of female characters in certain video games, I am not one of the ones complaining. In my humble opinion, the guys are just as sexualized and not every woman who shows off some cleavage is being abused or taken advantage of! I show off my cleavage from time to time and I don’t think that makes me appear weak, used or any other horrible thing we think of when we see women being displayed as sex objects. I think it means I want to show off the girls and I have no reason other than vanity!

Dragon's Crown - Sorceress Palette | Crystal's Corner: Am I Sexist?

My question(s) to my fellow girls is this: Do you play games where women are “objectified”? Why or why not? – No judgment on my part either way! I am generally curious for the reasons behind your answers.

I do, and I won’t act like I don’t. I won’t act ashamed of myself and I won’t stand here and say that I will stop this behavior. Now, before anyone starts throwing stones at me and telling me how terrible I am, let me give you a bit of history. Those that know me, know that I don’t tolerate sexism. I am and always have been an advocate of/for women. If you follow my Twitter you have seen me say how great certain companies are (oprainfall for one) for their total lack of sexism. I promote people/companies who have a nice balance and value opinions regardless of which sex you happened to have been born as.

Wonder Woman | Crystal's Corner: Am I Sexist?

I am a co-creator of our Building Character series and I try to focus on girl characters when I write an article for that series. I enjoy strong women characters and I think there should be more of them. I encourage the girls in my life to achieve everything they want to, whether that means becoming the first woman President or being a stay at home mom. I am all about girl power! Girls are great, m’kay!?

I do think we need more girls in positions of power. We need more positive women role models in video games and in real life. I just don’t think that every girl character who shows off her sexuality is in some way harming every woman. This is why I wont stop playing things like DOA.

Kasumi - Dead or Alive 5 | Crystal's Corner: Am I Sexist?

I would say that I’m sorry, but I’m not. Maybe it’s a contradiction that I like games like Dead or Alive. Maybe I am one of those evil women who accepts the status quo and gives us all a bad name. Or am I? I certainly don’t think I am! I think of myself as a semi-reasonable, able to see the bottom line type of person. I am able to see that men are objectified in video games, too. They are almost always buff and sensitive… but not too sensitive. They take care of everyone around them no matter what is going on. They do whatever it takes no matter what is asked of them. Obviously, this isn’t true of every male character. I am generalizing here.

Is any of that real? Having been married for forever (OK not forever but 13 years) and growing up with 3 brothers, I can tell you that those things are not always true. Don’t worry, I am not about to go off on a tirade about how horrible men are. I don’t think either sex has a monopoly on being good or bad! Men are no different than women in some ways. One such way is that we all falter. We all fall and we all freak the hell out from time to time. In video games though, the guys almost always rescue the damsel in distress and then they ride off on a white horse into the sunset. Why? Because it’s a video game and it’s supposed to be about entertainment. It is supposed to take you to a fantasy land where anything is possible.

Fantasy | Crystal's Corner: Am I Sexist?

These days, there are enough women making video games that if every one of us thought each character with breasts was being over sexualized, it would have stopped. Women are everywhere in the gaming industry. We are developing and publishing games. We are writing about and playing games. If we were all pre-programed to think a sexy girl character meant sexism, things would have changed by now. I know people spout out that this is a male driven world but that, to me, is a sexist thought. That says that the women who are in positions of authority aren’t strong enough to make any valid changes where they see fit. Wrong!

So, maybe I’m not alone in my thinking. Maybe there are other girls out there who enjoy certain games that might get us thrown out of our local bra burning society. I certainly hope that I am not alone in my thinking. We can push for some more strong, nicely dressed girl characters who don’t have to have sex on the brain all the time, or be a sex object, while still enjoying some of the half-naked girl characters out there. There are obviously always going to be games that take it too far, but not every game deserves to be hated on!

Sexism | Crystal's Corner: Am I Sexist?

My question(s) to the guys is this: Would you play a video game with a strong girl character who wasn’t being sexualized in some way? Would the game still hold your interest? Does it matter that much to you in general or could you care less? I really want answers here, by the way. I am curious to see how you guys feel. I think most of you would play–and probably have played–this type of game, but I could be wrong. Though, I hope I’m not!

So, in closing… I still don’t know if I would be considered sexist by the masses or not. Although I do think that we have a long way to go, I just can’t justify hating on every game that has a girl who shows off her curves! It’s a good thing I don’t really care since I know who I am and that I have nothing to be ashamed of. I do think that we could do well with a few more fully clothed girls in our games but I also think the guys could be a little less buff and perfect. Let’s take these games for what they are: a fantasy! After all, if we start making video games about girls with cramps running around in their PJ’s with no makeup on and guys who scream like 12 year old girls when a spider is on them and can’t defend their girl from a scary-ass monster, would anyone play them?

Photo credit and thanks for sexism meme go to http://diylol.com/

About Crystal Colwell

What's up everyone? Crystal here! I spend my time writing up the news for you all and keeping us all up to date with incoming game info from Japan. I do a little bit of everything else around here, too. 🙂 Happy Reading!




  • Wildcardcorsair

    Plenty of good points! I think the idea of women being helpless in games is far more damaging than simply women being over sexualized, so games like Dragon’s Crown and DOA where women are every bit as strong as the men are empowering in a lot of ways. I think expanding the amount of strong female protagonists in games is a great way to start, and yes, hopefully they won’t be added simply because they look good in underwear or a bikini.

    • Crystal Baltimore

      Thanks! I absolutely agree with you! 🙂 I think that has a lot to do with why I am OK with a lot of games where the girls are over sexualized. If they are strong, independent characters, I [usually] don’t really care how they are dressed or if they are oozing sex appeal. I am far more likely to get annoyed when I have to deal with a girl character who can’t put one foot in front of the other without a guy standing beside her.

  • Soaring Kite

    “In my humble opinion, the guys are just as sexualized”

    I mean… that’s fine if that’s your opinion. You’re allowed to be wrong.

    • Crystal Baltimore

      You don’t think that guys are ever sexualized in video games? I am quite good at being wrong but it usually leads to some great discussions, so I am OK with it. 🙂

    • Firefox

      Soul Calibur V character creator. Male characters are super buff. Could not make them smaller to appear as characters as other games (marth, chrom, ike, master yi, yu narukami) because they are simply too buff. That’s the first thing that came to mind, although just look at gear of war.

  • multibottler0cket

    Honestly, I have difficulty taking any character seriously who isn’t wearing enough clothes, or who had exaggerated ‘features’, whether it be Gears of War 450 pounds of muscle or Dragon’s Crown 90 pound boobs. I also find women who dress classy to be exponentially more attractive than women who dress trashy or whatever you want to call it.

    I also often find certain female characters to be more interesting than a lot of male characters, since they tend to have more personality/flaws/relate-ability rather than just being a tough guy like some of the flagship male characters out there.

    So, yeah, I would be likely to play a game that has a strong, non-objectified, female main character.

    • Crystal Baltimore

      I can understand that. 🙂 I think you bring up a great point. I am glad to see that I am not the only one who thinks that guy characters are also over sexualized and exaggerated.

    • multibottler0cket

      Sometimes I play as the female character just because her proportions are plausible.

    • Thanatos2k

      So put your money where your mouth is and go buy Beyond; Two Souls.

    • multibottler0cket

      It’s not really my kind of game though.

    • Thanatos2k

      I thought your type of game was one with a “strong, non-objectified, female main character”

    • multibottler0cket

      Stop being a smart-ass.

      I said I’d be likely to play a game with a strong, non-objectified, female main character, but I’m obviously not going to play it if it isn’t the type of game I would want to play in the first place.

    • Xx_Kares_xX

      I agree, I REALLY want Beyond two souls… but it’s certainly not for everyone and definitely not the type of thing you can say, “Oh! Go buy this or your sexist!’ x.x

  • smacd

    Ok. I know there will be a lot of people who disagree with me this.

    First, I am a man. I fully support legal equality- we’re all equal under God and the law. We’re also different. There are basic differences like being male or female, and more complex differences like strong/weak, smart/dumb, attractive/ugly – all of which have virtually nothing to do with race/gender/etc. I consider myself a “feminist” in some respects, at least when it comes to equal rights. And I believe that outside of fundamental differences, everyone is capable of anything.

    What really gets me is that too many people take it too far, and do not want to acknowledge that there are differences. In this effort, I feel that the “Political Correctness” crowd has taken long strides over the years to make masculinity a Bad Thing. Boys these days have no idea what it means to be a real man anymore. Men are demeaned and vilified in all forms of media as racist, sexist, oversexualized stupid dolts.

    Meanwhile, modern feminism has told women to flaunt themselves, give the sex away for free to whomever wants it – if men can do it, women should too. And then we sit back and wonder why there are so many single mothers, and ask where honor and chivalry went, why there are so many absent fathers.

    Now, to bring it back to the specific topic of gaming. I personally enjoy sexy women in my games. I’m a man, I like sexy women. It’s not objectifying, its normal for men to appreciate the form of women. It’s also my choice to play those games, or not. There are plenty of games I choose not to play for moral reasons. And I have no problem playing female protagonists – If I’m going to stare at the rear-end of a game character, I’d rather it be a nice lady-butt than some bulky dude-butt. People who do not like the “objectification” of women are welcome to not play it. But in reality, I feel that if people (generally women) who are against the “objectification” of women in video games were serious, there are far more productive and important things to go after. There are a lot of women that intentionally objectify themselves – models, pornstars, ‘booth babes’, Jessica Nigri – you want to solve the perceived problem, you should be trying to convince real women to not objectify themselves. There is far less harm in a digital woman with generous assets meant to appeal to what the average male likes, than there is in real women who intentionally objectify themselves for their own personal gain.

    I don’t believe it is a solveable problem. I actually don’t feel there is a problem at all. The real problem is that people can’t accept that men and women are different, and there is some elements of our society that want to eliminate masculinity, rather than to make educated decisions and take responsibility for themselves about the media they consume.

    • Crystal Baltimore

      Hmm. First of all, thank you for your honest answer. I do think that there is a problem in some games with women being objectified or portrayed to be the weaker sex though. I don’t think all games do this, but it does happen. There will always be something that can be thought of as “more important” so (imo) we can’t really say – do nothing b/c this, this and this are more important. I do get what you are saying though. 🙂

      I couldn’t agree more with you about avoiding things you don’t like! I am always telling people that they don’t have to play/watch or whatever anything that they don’t want to. Some people seem to forget that! Just because a game (movie-book-ect) is available to you, it doesn’t mean you are being forced to view it. There are plenty of things that I don’t enjoy or that annoy me for some reason.. so, I simply stay away from them!

      I totally agree with you that we have gotten to a point where we think there are no differences in men and women. There are! I think we should embrace those differences instead of acting like they don’t exist. They don’t make one sex any weaker, they just make us who we are.

    • smacd

      Exactly, we’re different, but that’s neither a bad thing nor does it mean either gender are inferior. Everyone is an individual with strengths and weaknesses, but there are definitely some common traits for men, and common traits for women. We should celebrate the differences rather than pretend they don’t exist or try to eliminate them.

      Thank you for not misinterpreting what I was trying to say. I know the topic has some strong opinions, and I know I’m less than eloquent and what I have to say can easily be read wrong.

      I mean, when it all boils down, all I’m saying is that we should celebrate both femininity and masculinity, and there is no reason to force censorship any of it, whether its exaggerated or not. If someone finds it distasteful, that’s their prerogative and they are welcome to find other media that they like better. I just dislike the militant political correctness attacks on masculinity, and the rampant hypocrisy on these types of topics.

  • appleseed

    I totally agree with you. I really love the Umihara Kawase series and playing as a female character doesn’t bother me at all.

  • taekk

    I totally agree with you! I think America’s culture has always been very conservative when it comes to sex. That’s why we somehow equate being “sexy” to be “objectifying” and “demeaning”. For example, Bayonetta is a strong female character with confidence in her physical appearance and yet she’s seen as a negative image for women. Feminism is traditionally about having equal rights and freedom to dress however you like but lately it seems like it’s all about removing any hint of sexual attractiveness. Would you say cultures where women are required to cover every inch of their bodies including their face are “better off” then other cultures that make games that depict women in sexy clothing?

    • Crystal Baltimore

      I think this fits right in with what someone else said about not wanting to acknowledge the difference in men and woman. We have gotten so PC that anything that shows off our sexuality, or our differences, is looked down upon. Its crazy to me. In an age where we are supposed to be all about expressing ourselves, we have actually went backwards in a few of these areas.

      You are dead on about feminism. It is supposed to be (and used to be) about equality. I’ve spoken to people who thought that the choice to be a housewife meant that a woman was being treated like she would have been 100 years ago. NO! It’s about the right to make that (and many other) choice(s)!

  • KaBuTo

    Don’t care what anyone wears (or isn’t), what they look like, who they love, or what species that happen to be or be dating. Gimme a good story or an entertaining gameplay (better yet, both) and the rest might as well be tasteless, odorless gravy: not necessarily bad or good because it’s just sitting there being little more than visual appeal for whatever reasoning. There’d better be some good food beneath it – the story and/or gameplay.
    Of course, an explanation behind the gravy would be nice, too. Something more than just showing off or covering up the– screw the metaphors, okay?!
    Telling me why the scantily-dressed, heavy-chested, bulk-dating, does-it-have-to-be-another-magic-instead-of-melee female is a nice touch of character.

    • Crystal Baltimore

      Exactly! Most games ( I say most because I do play some casual stuff that has no story) are about the story! What is going on with the characters?! Give me that and I am happy. Non annoying gameplay is a must with me regardless of the story. Give me horrid battle mechanics or something and I wil likely bail, wait for someone else to play and ask them what the story was about. (sad but true!) I will complain if it’s a terrible story where a girl is just so.. omg! can’t do anything on her own.. because I think that’s ridiculous – if the only reason for this is her gender!

  • Skie Dragoon

    In my Honest Opinion, I play games to have fun wether it be a strong willed woman(Samus Aran anyone?) or a overly anime pretty boy male(Luke Tales of the abyss). A game is a game no matter who you play as its still a game and it still fun, i play DOA for the fun and interesting characters not for the eye candy, sometmes i prefer playing as a female than a male(I am a male btw) because i like the idea of being a female lead in games(Dark Souls). Either way my point is i like both gender characters and if i have the choice(like customization in Soul Calibur) i tend to choose female over male just because its fun to do something thats not as common in games and i enjoy it.

  • What makes me uncomfortable isn’t when a character is acting sexy or showing off, they are a person with their own personality and behavior. I don’t care for it, but I don’t have a problem with it either.

    My problem is when a character is sexualized in a way that is outside of who they are or, even worse, is counter to their personality, A strong and confident character who is wearing revealing clothing is fine, they have confidence in themselves, like our author here. On the other hand, a shy character or one lacking confidence is unlikely to show off in such a way and would probably want to avoid attention. In fiction, clothing also seems to exist on another plane, and no one takes notice of the fact all the women seem to have lost 60+% of their clothing (though it’s really satisfying for me when impractical clothing is addressed in universe, see Milla Maxwell’s outfit in Tales of Xillia).

    This is part of why I dislike impractical armor, something a person wouldn’t actually wear (except when it exists as a reference in fiction). When wearing armor, any skin showing is a place you can be stabbed, and “boob-plate” will deflect an attack DIRECTLY INTO THE CENTER OF YOUR CHEST. I don’t notice this if no one is wearing practical clothing, but frequently men wear actual armor and women wear a metal bikini.

    What I dislike the most though is when the creators/authors are TRYING to sexualize the characters: Camera angles, aforementioned practical male/impractical female clothing dichotomy, loss of clothing (see Senran Kagura).

    tl;dr: A character ACTING sexy isn’t a problem. A character BEING sexualized is a problem for me.

    As for Dragon’s Crown, most of the character designs are over the top so it doesn’t really bother me.

    • Crystal Baltimore

      That was pretty much exactly what I said when I first saw Dragons Crown! They are all drawn in an overly exaggerated way.

      I agree with everything else you said as well. If it fits the characters personality it’s one thing. If its a character that is being animated this way JUST for sex appeal, I have a problem. Like making a characters breasts bigger in a sequel. :/ Why? If she was OK in the first game with a small chest, what changed that she now needs to be stacked?!

      The armor thing has annoyed me on occasion, too. Not because I care if they are showing skin.. but, it’s like.. WHY? Would you really wear something like that in battle? Hell no!

    • Perfect example, Lightning Returns:

      http://www.dualshockers.com/2013/07/27/more-information-on-lightnings-boob-job-in-lightning-returns-ffxiii-emerge-yes-theyll-jiggle/

      Ugh… This is a perfect demonstration of exactly what I don’t like and find very wrong. This is disrespectful to her character and an example of reducing her to an object of sex-appeal.

      ib4: what character?
      Even if you find her bland she still has a personality, and what they are doing does not fit with that personality.

    • Xx_Kares_xX

      I agree with most of what you said.. but it’s not like Lightning had much character to disrepsect.. she was pretty terribly written. I’ve got to give credit where it’s due though.. XIII-2 was playable and at times enjoyable.

    • Even if (you think*) she is poorly written and bland, she still has a definite personality. She is a soldier first, valuing practicality and getting her mission done as efficiently as possible. She is also very serious and not very sociable, the only person she cares about is her sister. (this is before any character development that may have occured. IDK?) Whatever you can say about Lightning, “inconsistent character” isn’t one of them, and I defy you to tell me at least this much didn’t come across.

      My point is that she choose clothing based on practicality (in 13 she wore lots of pockets, and PANTS! *GASP*), and would probably be unlikely to make the poses square-enix have been showing off in their screenshots and trailers.

      *I have not played 13 in a while and so am specifically avoiding commenting on the writing quality.

    • Xx_Kares_xX

      It’s not like this is the first time it’s happened… They did the same thing with Yuna in X-2. I wouldn’t call Lightning’s original short, shorts outfit all that ‘practical’ even it was meant to show off her thighs and it hugged so tightly it was still meant for sex appeal, anyone who says otherwise is deluding themselves. Yeah they are pushing it further but they need to do SOMETHING to make the game interesting… At this point giving her bigger breasts and letting her dress up as far better Final Fantasy characters from the past is probably the only way Square is going to get any old fans back anyway because of nostalgia.

    • First, I would like to note that I have no argument with what you are saying about the quality of 13, your enjoyment of 13-2, and your hopes that 13-3 will be good. I have yet to finish 13 and have not played it in a while, so I don’t remember if I thought the writing was any good (note: this has more to do with me than the game, I don’t have a good memory in General). I also do not begrudge anyone for enjoying 13-2/3 despite or because of the fanservice. What I am discussing here has nothing to do with quality, it has to do with my ability to enjoy it. Example: Senran Kagura, the gameplay looks like a lot of fun, but the presentation makes me extremely uncomfortable and I would not be able to enjoy it. (p.s. can anyone direct me to a game like Senran Kagura without the excessive sexualization?)

      As for Lightning’s short-shorts, sex-appeal could definitely be the reason why, but that actually isn’t the problem for me and it doesn’t change my point (I also happened to not really take notice, which emphasizes the point I am about to make). The short-shorts weren’t impractical*, or even emphasized, they were just there. The designer wasn’t drawing attention to them, camera angles weren’t giving it close-ups, I didn’t get the feeling that the designer was expecting me to be excited and start drooling over her. That last one is a feeling I am definitely getting from 13-3. I guess to elaborate on my original post, it’s less about how the character is dressed and acts than how their clothing and behavior are presented. Being done for sex appeal is one thing, being done for sex appeal and subsequently shoving it in my face and telling me to take a long sniff is another.

      Second, you seem to be taking my statements regarding Lightning’s character to mean she was well written, but that is not what I am arguing. I am stating that she has a personality, not that she is interesting, sympathetic, or believable. A bad character doesn’t necessarily lack a personality, they may just lack an interesting or believable one.

      On one final note, you say that giving her bigger breasts is the only way to get people interested, but that is a terrible, lazy, and cynical way to try and make money. If you are doing this because you think it is the only way to get people interested, it denote a lack of confidence and care for the product you are working with (which was originally story and character focused. Books are story focused, not all of them are good.), as well as respect for your audience, who you apparently only see as a big, perverted, drooling, wallet. Taking this route without a reason other than “we don’t care to find out why people didn’t like our previous work, so let’s put breasts in it and make money”, is bad for everyone long-term. To the people who do like fanservice or don’t care, I ask you: would you rather have a game/story with fanservice, or a GOOD game/story with fanservice? So no, this isn’t the only way to get people interested, they could learn from the past and do better. See Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

      *In fact, as far as I can tell, cocoon seems to be very warm (most non-military characters are not dressed heavily), and is in fact located near a beach as seen in 13-2. As such, warm clothes would be uncomfortable, meaning Snow is the most impractically dressed character if he isn’t going to wear actual armor. 🙂 This doesn’t mean it wasn’t done so everyone could be dressed really light, but it fits and doesn’t contradict anything.

    • Xx_Kares_xX

      I understand where you are coming from now and I can’t argue with any of that whatsoever. As far as your ‘Third Part’ of your comment that’s exactly the point I was trying to make but it must not have come about. All those reasons you pointed out for it being a BAD idea is actually what IS happening. Though I am less offended by the sexualization than you are, we have the same basic opinion, it’s not needed. The point I was trying to make was they are so far in the hole and desperate that they are falling back on this method. Honestly as far as the sexualization thing goes, my line of what’s appropriate… is pretty close to non-existant because I don’t believe in censorship, but if I had to give an example of where I think it went too far, Duke Nukem Forever is a good example (I don’t think I have to say anything else about that @.@) Not saying that the way I see things in this sense is right since it’s such a personal thing, just figured I’d put my feelings out there on what level I accept so you know where I’m coming from like you displayed where you are coming from.

    • Yes, you have made yourself much more clear, and thank you, both for the stimulating discussion and the respect you have shown for my feelings on the matter. I hope that I have shown you the same respect and that you have not gotten the impression that I have something against people who do not mind fanservice. I am glad we agree regarding what Square is doing with Final Fantasy, and I hope 13-3 turns out good so you can enjoy it.

      Here’s to hoping they can get their act together by the time Versus-13 [15] comes out. (At this rate, it should be done in time to be announced as a PS6 launch title and subsequently delayed a week before launch)

    • Xx_Kares_xX

      I agree, I enjoyed the conversation as well, I was going to say something similar but didn’t want it to accidently sound condescending.. cause.. you know.. the internet.. and speech through text… so yeah misinterpretation ^^’. Just looked up Senran Kagura…. yeaah okay that’s pretty blatant. It doesn’t bother me perse but it is OBVIOUSLY meant as a way to get hormone ridden boys to play the game. In that since I guess I agree with you more than I previously stated actually. It takes me out of the experience a bit when characters are impracticaly dressed but it really depends on the scenario. If a game is meant to be over the top and silly then it doesn’t really bother me, and most of the time whether it’s silly or not I can kind of just enjoy the game for what it is. But when games are trying to be serious and there’s just… breasts pressed against the screen it’s pretty hilarious. I’m highly interested in that game now though I’ve got to say @.@ the gameplay looks great and I know I will be able to ignore the skimpy clothing because it doesn’t really seem like the game is taking itself too seriously. The only game I can think of off the top of my head that’s kind of similar is Code of Princess on 3DS if you haven’t heard of that one. I’ve played it and beat it, it was pretty okay, I had some mindless fun but it was nothing revolutionary or spectacular. It does have skimpy clothing but that’s kind of the point as the game is basically a parody of RPGs and Beat-Em-Up games as a whole. The main Princess/Warrior is in very revealing armor but only so they can constantly make fun of the fact that it makes no sense, and the other characters are actually pretty well covered. I’d suggest trying that one out if you haven’t already.

    • I had looked into Code of Princess and have been waiting for a chance to get it, if the game points out how silly her outfit is all the better. 🙂 It’s also not that I won’t or can’t play games that are inappropriate (this also includes excessive blood and gore), it’s a sliding scale, detracting from the experience for me, but I can tolerate or ignore it if everything else is good enough.(being silly or over the top, like Dragon’s Crown, helps)

      One reason is that I am paranoid about someone looking over my shoulder and, seeing something like Senran Kagura, making assumptions about who I am based on that. I don’t care that much what people think about me, so long as their information is accurate.

    • Xx_Kares_xX

      Ah, yeah I understand. If you’ve already played Dragon’s Crown you may be a bit disapointed with Code of Princess… I played Code of Princess first and it’s fun, but Dragon’s Crown blows it out of the water in every respect but comedy. Honestly I like both and they have a lot of similarities, but it’s hard to deny that Dragon’s Crown is the much more polished game. If you find it for 20 or so bucks I’d say it’s still a worthy investement.

    • I actually haven’t played Dragon’s Crown yet, as it came out at the same time as Tales of Xillia (why ATLUS?!?) and I am a massive Tales fan. I was annoyed they came out at the same time as I also love Vanillaware’s work and I love what ATLUS does in general, but I wasn’t willing to miss a Tales game.

    • Xx_Kares_xX

      I had the same problem but decided to go for Dragon’s Crown instead ^^’ I’m pretty ocd about playing my games in order and since I still don’t have a 360 to play Vesperia (despite owning every other English Tales game and a few imports) I decided to try Dragon’s Crown instead. Both Code of Princessand Dragon’s Crown are good games, I’d suggest playing Code of Princess first though so you aren’t too spoiled by Dragon’s Crown

    • I’m also OCD about playing games in order, except when there is absolutely no connection between them, as is the case with most Tales games and Final Fantasy.

      I will take your suggestion and try to play Code of Princess first.

      ps. Vesperia is my favorite game ever. I’m not so full of myself that favorite = best, because it’s not. I love it and it means a lot to me, but it is not the best game ever.

    • Xx_Kares_xX

      Even when they aren’t related I prefer to play them in order ^^’ I like to see how the series evolves. Tales is a series for me that is VERY hit or miss, the good games are usually VERY good, but the bad games are usually terrible (for Example.. Tales of Legendia is one of the worst RPGs I’ve ever played… I do know the history of it and that it wasn’t made by the original Tales team but still, the game was pretty inexcusable x.x) While games like Symphonia, Abyss, and my favorite Eternia were all REALLY good. I’ve heard nothing but good things about Vesperia, which just makes it more painful that I haven’t gotten to play it yet x.@

    • If you can read Japanese, there is an updated port of Vesperia for PS3 in Japan, and if you can’t read Japanese, there is a fan translation [http://talesofvesperia.net/], which is done and should be released sometime after armageddon. *sigh*

      So, Tales series. Graces wasn’t a hit for me, but it was still entirely enjoyable. As for Legendia, I could enjoy it if it wasn’t for the combat (which for a Tales game is inexcusable!). Worst RPG though?, not for me, that “honor” (along with worst game) goes to Lunar: Dragon Song. *shiver…* To anyone who complains about the lack of control in FF13, Lunar: Dragon Song is several orders of magnitude worse.

      ps. I think we have pretty firmly moved off topic. I would love to continue this conversation though.

  • Josh S.

    Well said, Mistress Baltimore! Very good points. Honestly, the question for me is this – is a sexy female character the same as a weak female character? Take DOA, for example. All of those ladies are full of sex appeal, and they could all kick my ass without trying. Far as I’m concerned, they are strong women. It only counts as objectification to me when they are weak or helpless or are ONLY sex objects. I think we all just need to calm down in the industry, frankly 🙂

  • Otaku-Kyrie

    I might as well post something since I’m here.

    Question for girls: I guess I do, but since I’m not objectifying them, I don’t think I do. As for why I play them… Probably because the game as a whole is a good game. I do find it annoying when the focus is T&A and I’m not playing a hentai.
    Question for guys: Of course I would. No reason not to so long as the game is fun and/or has a really compelling story. It would be bothersome to play as a “Weak”, “Bratty”, or “Annoying” character.

    As far as I’m concerned Objectification is a social thing. If you don’t believe it’s there then it’s not there. As far as the characters themselves are concerned I don’t think they feel Sexualized or Objectified… unless other Characters or Themselves are making them feel that way.

    I suppose I’ll leave it at this.

  • Thanatos2k

    You’re not sexist for enjoying these games *if* you recognize these elements for what they are. You are if you defend them, pretending they’re not there.

    Also, Valhalla Knights 3 and Dragon’s Crown aren’t even on the same page – Valhalla Knights is 20 times worse.

  • Xx_Kares_xX

    I enjoyed the article, though I don’t feel many of the points made at all have to do with you being ‘sexist’, I kind of felt that was a cheap grab for views of your material, but the quality of the content within made me not really care that I felt cheated into reading it in the first place. (I hope that makes sense, I mean it purely as constructive criticism, not at all in an insulting way).

    I have a similarly interesting question for the author or anyone else in the comments. A huge arguement right now in the gaming industry is that it needs to try harder to appeal to women who play video games. In one sense, I agree full heartedly. I am a 21 year old male but I often enjoy playing female characters. In fact, I’m playing the Mass Effect Trilogy right now and decided to make a female lead because I was sick of playing yet another military type buff male. My question however is this… girls whoalready consider themselves gamers… like gaming for what it is NOW correct? Wouldn’t changing TOO much to try to appeal to them really actually hurt the audience as a whole? I’m all for more games with ‘powerful, female leads’ and frankly I’d enjoy games with more female characters just because all the male leads are getting Boring, not for any ‘sexist’ reason. I guess my question is, where is the line that determines the difference? I hope that this made sense.

    Also, I would like it explained to me (and no I’m not being sarcastic or a troll, I genuinely don’t understand and would like it explained to me because I’m a stupid adult male) Why is it insulting to see all of these ‘beautiful female characters’? I kind of understand the whole objectification and sex appeal arguement, I get where you are coming from there in a sense, but that’s a problem with our culture over all, not just games. What I mean to ask is… when most guys play games they want to feel powerful and take on the role of someone who is arguably good looking, strong, where’s clothes to reflect it… why is it offensive to women to want to play a girl who’s good looking, and strong who happens to where clothes that show off these attributes? I want to know what the difference is, and I need it explained to me like I’m a child… something other than the usual, “It’s objectifying women’ Explain to me HOW it is… I really want to know…

  • Ryan McConnell

    sexism in video games is an interesting phenomenon, and it’s a really hard gray area, because a whole bunch of things depend on the type of game.
    Now, I’m at a huge disadvantage here since i’m a gay male, but here’s how I see things.
    I play RPGs either solely for the story or solely to make my own world like Dragon Age, where i can go through an alright written story but really be that fantasy character that can do a whole bunch of fun medieval things that YOU created or effected in some way. When I go for a game like dragon age, i’ll be honest, i love creating and playing sexy characters! It’s a useless fantasy that has no meanings or problems, i can do whatever i want! and if i wanna marry a hot chick/dude, then i should be able to! If they’re all the same exact body build, that may get boring, but other than that who cares?
    Games that i play for the story however get slightly more skewed, because the focus can shift whether you want it to or not. The first thing that can come to mind is using an attractive character that probably won’t work within a certain strategy. you get so exciting seeing that character, you HAVE to use that mage 24/7! is the enemy immune to magic? WHO CARES I HAVE EYE CANDY! So that can cause problems. And sometimes the character can even distract from the story in general, because you may be staring at them when you should be listening and paying attention to something else, causing you to care less about the story.
    So, all in all, there’s a time and place for everything, and having eye candy is always helpful, but it can be distracting sometimes. Like you said, this is fantasy and art we’re dealing with, so the problem really shouldn’t be is there objectification, but are the velumptuous breasts detracting from gameplay strategy and the story within the game? (and on a personal note, things that are too disproportionate or just flat out bizarre can be just as distracting. Ashe’s breasts from final fantasy 12 in real time rendering drove me insane because i thought they were bulging triangles. Seriously, they look like melted crayons inside a herring’s mouth.)

  • Nester

    The argument against the claim that both the men AND women are being sexualized is that they’re sexualized from a male point of view. That is, the exaggerated female body is meant to be appealing to heterosexual men, while the exaggerated male body is an idealization of how men would want to picture themselves. In other words, if a woman designed hyper-sexualized male and female bodies, it would supposedly be different.

    I’m not claiming whether it’s true or not, but I thought it was worth mentioning because I don’t see it discussed as much.

  • ZigTheHunter

    I don’t think you’re sexist at all; I also think the notion that any character that shows off their body is sexist is ridiculous. People in real life do show off their body, and whether the game developers were trying to make their game realistic or incorporate realistic elements into their game by having these sort of characters. Not every character should be like this, and some games are guilty of doing just that, but there are reasons for those kind of games existing and there shouldn’t be anything wrong with enjoying them, as long as that doesn’t effect how you view the world or expect form it.

  • Kat

    Firstly, sorry that this post is so long ^^;

    I think you should read this article: http://www.socialjusticeleague.net/2011/09/how-to-be-a-fan-of-problematic-things/ It pretty much addresses everything you seem concerned about, in that yes, you can like games like DOA and Valhalla Knights 3 and that doesn’t make you a terrible person. The important thing is to acknowledge that other people can find these games uncomfortable, even hurtful and offensive, and not to shut them down and criticise them for being too sensitive for example.

    I would also like to point out that sexism is an acknowledged problem in gaming culture; we have people like Anita Sarkeesian questioning sexist tropes and getting horribly bullied over it (lowdown here http://kotaku.com/5917623/awful-things-happen-when-you-try-to-make-a-video-about-video-game-stereotypes), we have stuff like that casual ‘just lie back and take it’ rape joke at the Xbox One E3 presentation to scratch the surface, and on top of that women only make up around 12% of developers and programmers, as seen here http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolpinchefsky/2012/11/27/twitter-hashtag-explains/ Even Siobhan Reddy from Media Molecule mentions that the gaming industry *really* needs more women, yo: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2013-07-17-media-molecules-reddy-it-takes-women-working-on-games-for-games-to-change. Bottom line, things are not fine and dandy for women in gaming, and even a lot of those in the upper echelons of the industry and the community, such as female journalists, developers, programmers etc are saying that it’s not. It’s important to listen to them, I’d say.

    Also, it would be helpful to learn about the male gaze – this would clarify why games such as Gears of War and DOA don’t objectify men even though they might be very attractive – being attractive and being objectified are two different things. And it depends on who the media is being catered to; in most cases in gaming, sadly, it’s assumed that straight men are the ones that will be playing and buying games. Male gaze can be learned about here: http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/08/26/faq-what-is-the-%E2%80%9Cmale-gaze%E2%80%9D/

    In short, I myself like Dragon’s Crown a lot and I love gaming; it’s my number one hobby and most of the time and money I spend on myself goes towards it. But I won’t pretend gaming culture doesn’t have a problem when it comes to sexism, as well as a lot of other things. I also acknowledge that things I find offensive won’t bother other people, just as some people may find things I like offensive or problematic. That’s fine; we’re all different people and we can enjoy different things and think differently about the same thing. Dragon’s Crown, for example, had it’s sexism as window-dressing, so it was easier for me to ignore. I could still play the game as a female which is a plus. And it’s fun. But I acknowledge it deserves every single bit of scrutiny as a fan-service-y game that doesn’t seem clued in to the fact that hey, women are playing this game too.

    At the end, I think having lots of conversations about male gaze, objectification, strong female characters etc. can only be a good thing. The important thing is not to identify with a game or hobby so much that you think an attack on them is an attack on you. You have to remember that the people who worry about the state of sexism in games love games themselves for the most part and they want everyone to love them too, without having to feel excluded and unwelcome, which is what objectification of women and sexism in gaming culture does. Anything looking to change that is a good thing in my book.

  • Iyamtebist

    I must say, I am really glad you posted this. The sexism in gaming debate is almost up there with “can games be art” as some of the topics I am getting the most tired of in gaming. Exactly what is the plan most people would have to solve these issues. Are they going to boycott games that “objectify” female characters? Newsflash, that is never going to happen unless gaming gets to the point where it is a female dominated industry and then it will just be the same situation except in reverse. Do not even get me started on Anita Sarkesian

    Also I have always hated the concept of “objectification” in general. Yes I do believe it exists, but I do not believe it is sexist. The reason for this is quite simply that everyone is guilty of objectifying someone of the opposite, or in some cases the same, sex. Also the act of objectifying falls on the half of the beholder. There is never a situation in real life where a person is objectified without any involvement of others. Yes strippers are women that are objectified by men, but that is the point. One can only be objectified by that of another human being, and if you can only see a character as a sexist stereotype, then you are just as guilty as the people who see them as only a sex object.

    So no, I do not believe you are sexist. In fact, I think it is the people who would accuse you of being sexist are sexist themselves because they are unable to see a women, fictional or not, for who they are and can only see them for how they represent the female race.

  • Lamesy Watercorn

    Great article, Crystal.

  • ZORK

    I hope it’s okay if I comment here even though this article is already 2 years old by now.

    First of all, I’m a guy in the late 20s. The first games I played were on the NES and the SNES, and among my favourite games for the latter console is Super Metroid. Even though I found it kinda weird to play a female character back then (please bear with me, I was a kid, I was in my “girls are weird/gross/whatever” phase), I still enjoyed this game, and as I got older, I learned that a character doesn’t need to be exactly like me to identify or sympathy with her/him/it.

    I found both this article and the one about the (removed) bust slider in Xenoblade Chronicles X very interesting to read. It gives me quite some food for thoughts, and I may have to comment later again, but nonetheless, I wanted to share a few thoughts that popped in my head right after reading this:

    I generally agree with you on the notion that female characters should be allowed to be as revealing or as modest as their creators seem fitting, as long as they are not just used as shallow eye candy or featureless Mcguffin.

    Maybe my view on this is clouded due to my POV on this, but I don’t get the impression that men get as much sexualized as women. Sure, some male characters can be easily seen as fanservice for the ladies (or dudes that are into dudes), but to me it often seems that they are supposed to be power fantasies for the guys first. Of course, being sexy and being a powerful and bad ass character isn’t exclusive, but given that video games in particular are plastered with curvy women in highly impractical outfits or poses just for the sake of titilation, it seems to me that it’s the opposite for female characters – the key priority in designing them seems to be fan service for guys (or girls that are into girls), with being power fantasy either secondary or optional. As I already said, maybe I’m wrong here, but I have at least the impression that there’s still some unfortunate double standard going on.

    As for games I played which feature extremely fanservice-y female characters: I’ve played a good chunk of the Soul Calibur games, and while there are women that I find attractive (I think Seong Mi-na is my favourite, but I also like Hilde and Taki), I’m rather put off by some others, be it for their design (Ivy goes back and forth between “Fantasy Dominatrix” and “Completely absurd Dominatrix”) or a noticeable contrast between characterization and behaviour (Sophitia is the prime example, as her motifs and design are aimed to present her as a lawful good and kinda pure character, yet her outfit is almost as skimpy as Ivy’s, and she has a noticeable amount of moves where she weaponizes her butt or even her crotch).

    As for the question of “Would I play a game with a heroine that is not overtly sexualized?”: Given that I grew up with Metroid, I think I already did that. But that doesn’t mean that a heroine has to be in an androgynous armour for me. I think it mostly depends on the general design and the personality of a character if I like her or not (this applies to characters of either gender).

    I think that’s all for now.