Saturday, April 18, 2009

Misogyny? In My Videogames? Continued...

You see, men are divided into two camps in videogames: the "pretty boy", and the "manly man". There is no in-between. Japan in particular is notorious for super-prettying its males in videogames. In many cases, the only way the untrained eye can tell if a character is male or female is breasts. If the pretty character in question has breasts as big as footballs, it's female. Anything less, and it's male. The "manly" male characters are usually massive, 7 foot tall monstrosities that eat muscle for breakfast, and have jaws so great and square you would think they've partially swallowed a brick.

Well, so they're exaggerated a bit. No big deal, right? Well, not quite. In both cases, the characters are objectified, though the females get the worst of it. The women characters typically are more valuable as a walking pair of titties than as an important aspect of the story. Myuria in Star Ocean could have been left out entirely and no one would be the wiser. The only people who would notice would be those familiar with the Anime genre, who would wonder where their giant tit archetype went. Women typically wear a lot less than the men do, even when it makes no sense. So you're a woman knight, huh? Well, you're hot and all, but... uh, why is your midriff exposed and un-armored? Won't that be the first place you're enemies target? Of course, it gets a lot sillier than that.

Men are objectified as well, though. There is huge appeal in the markets (I'm looking at you, Japan) for the pretty male character in games. There is always at least one. Final Fantasy XII, for instance, was originally designed with Balthier as it's main character (a rather stylish air pirate in a badass embroidered vest and slacks). However because of the "pretty boy" demand, the story was told through the eyes of Vaan, a scantly clad teen in armored pants and a tiny vest. (I'm talking 10 sizes too small). And no shirt either, just the vest. The reason for the change, I can only surmise, is because the developers knew the Japanese fangirls wouldn't stand for a non-pretty main character that be couldn't paired up in yaoi fanfiction and art. (Or maybe not, who knows?)

Manly men are designed to appeal as well, but not in a particularly sexual way. "Manlies" are essentially the idealized male. Massive muscles, big jaws, "I'm gonna kill you" attitude; (cookie cutter stuff, really), these are the dudes men wish they could be, but are too lazy to put the effort into becoming. So you get to live out your muscely murderous wet dreams through the character instead.

1 comment:

  1. I found this via googling 'final fantasy xii misogyny' because I'm curious to know if anyone else in/on the Internet share my thoughts. So far, no. Personally I think Ashe could be a great female lead were she not burdened with seeing her dead husband every five minutes (seriously, its getting kinda creepy) And she can't wield the big, heavy Sword of Kings, only the smaller thinner ones. Ahem, symbolic imagery, much?

    But I read through your article and found it a great read. Oh, and on the idea that Balthier isn't pretty enough for yaoi, I'm here to tell you, that's far from the case. And I only know that through...uh, research. Yeah.

    To me, Vaan isn't the main character at all. He's merely a way for the audience's questions to be answered.