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The all encompassing character looks discussion thread....


They/Them A-10 Warthog
Games are in a really weird place right now. There is a complete disconnect between the west, the east, gamers and developers about what is acceptable in a character's design. What makes this all the worse is that it seems that, in the west at least, games are being held at a different standard from movies, TV, fashion, and even reality. A lot of it doesn't makes sense, and even what does gets obfuscated by the polarization of social politics in this day and age. We get a lot of surface area threads about this topic, usually focusing on female characters. I though it might be time to take a real deep dive into the topic and really discuss this issue by looking at not just how women are portrayed, but the oft forgotten about men as well.

All of us are going to have our own opinions on this subject, and in this OP I am just going brush the surface of the topic by laying out some of my own beliefs. I am not a great technical writer, so please excuse what follows. I just want to start the discussion. Feel free to rip me apart.

First off I do not believe Sexualization is bad at all. In fact I love "sexy" well designed characters so long as they make sense. Now I can already hear some of yall starting to grumble, readying up your "Just go watch porn," lazy retorts, so let me head you off for a moment and discuss what I mean by sexy.


Sexy doesn't necessarily mean half naked, or otherwise showing a lot of skin, and like a lot of things sexiness comes in a spectrum that has centerfolds on one side and a mom who found a really good pair of jeans on the other. Sexiness also isn't just perceived externally, it also plays an important role in the average persons internal feelings. For the average woman or man wearing something that makes them feel sexy is empowering and boosts self confidence. What that something is can be completely different depending on your gender though.
The pictures above depict women wearing something sexy, or at least what I define as sexy. Two of those outfits (OG lara croft, and Jennifer Lawrence's dress) are seen as too sexualized for the modern day. There was even a social uproar over JLaw's dress because people were claiming she was forced to wear something so scandalous and degrading. "She is being OBJECTIFIED!!!!" they cried. JLaw later came out in support of the dress and went as far as to say not only did she love it but that she CHOSE to wear it. I am not going to claim to know JLaw's thoughts but if she is telling the truth, and is like other women, then she probably chose to wear the dress because it made her feel good, or powerful, or some positive emotion. Heaven forbid a woman wants to look sexy.

The truth is women wear sexy things all the time. I live in a college town and I am honestly astonished at how little 20 something women cover themselves in public. Its not a bad astonishment mind you, I mean I don't complain, but its definitely eye opening. My wife and I like to play a game at the grocery store called, "Who is trying way too hard", where we point out some of the ridiculous outfits. The winner almost always goes to some chick who showed up in basically her underwear, or some granola girl who is really proud of how her nipples look through her sheer top. I am not exaggerating here either. We have 70 thousand students here in a hot state. 40 thousand of which are women. Shit is insane. Those are the extreme examples though, the average look for a college aged woman seems something like this.


Add in the the running shorts with massive sorority/fraternity shirts and that is the average college aged woman's look in Texas during the summer, fall and spring. If you take a gander and the 30 and 40 something women around town they generally wear more conservative versions of those outfits that are slightly out of date fashion wise (basically more conservative versions of what THEY wore in college).

So, given that, at least in Texas, women are A) Not afraid of their figure, B) Not afraid of showing a lot of bare thigh, C) really really like athletic wear... Why the hell is OG Lara Croft deemed overly sexualized again? I mean she is literally wearing athletic clothing that makes sense both fashionably and for the type of "Athletic" things she does. To be honest NuLara's pants would get really uncomfortable after a while for Tomb Raiding, especially when wet. I honestly wonder the same thing about Nathan Drake. I've done a fair bit of hiking around and holy shit I would not want to do that in those cargo pants, in the heat...Give me athletic shorts any day. That said I don't really have a problem with NuLara, or Nathan Drake's designs. I simple don't understand what is wrong with Old Lara.

Ohh, her boobs you say? Well let me tell you something, my wife isn't fat and she has Fs....women with big boobs exist. I wouldn't exactly say she is prime for tomb raiding though as big boobs are actually a hindrance athletically (its uncomfortable for my wife to jog even with 2 sports bras on), but OG Lara's were never really that big anyways.

So what exactly is wrong with OG Lara? She was badass, had attitude, looked good, was super athletic, fit and hyper smart. Her underworld Character Design is Awesome IMO. What gives? (wink wink)

Now you probably already realized the problem with the images above. JLaw and JLove are both real women and have a say in how they look (I fully realize JLove was probably told to wear that for the movie but I chose that picture because its an example of what a normal college aged woman wore when I was in school, oh memories). Video game characters aren't real and thus their look is entirely designed to be perceived externally (cuz they have no internal lol) by a third party. This problem also arises when movie or TV shows force men and women into outfits that they wouldn't normally wear (still happens). At this point we really need to start talking about objectification but before we do lets talk about men for a bit.


Men and women are different in so many ways, including how sexiness is perceived in both gender. To start with men have a much wider spectrum on what is deemed sexy, and for the most part a sexy man doesn't seem to equate to skin showing or skin tight clothing. Age seems to be nearly meaningless as well. I included a picture of Tom Selleck because my wife (30s) and just about all of her friends think he is sexy as hell. And he isn't the only older actor that gets to them. The average definition of a sexy man is basically, Nathan Drake or, for a real life example, Chris Hemsworth in well fit suit. Do women like seeing Hemsworth's abs? Well yeah, and they would likely show up for a movie with him playing Kratos (even if horribly miscast lol), but that is more the exception than the norm. So why did I add Kratos to the images above? Well mostly to segue into the next topic, The Fallacy of the Male Power Fantasy.

So yeah, lets do this. For years we have been told by a certain population that the idea of a naked barbarian is male power fantasy. The only problem is Men don't feel more powerful when we wear less clothes. In fact its women who gain power both internally and externally when they dress down. A man's sense of sexiness, or power, isn't really tied as much into what we wear, and when it is, it tends to be how "Sharp" or "cool" we look. I mean, cis-guys, when was the last time you wore a low cut v neck and got a boost of good feelings for showing some chest hair? Nathan Drake, or a cool looking man with a gun/sword, is the closest thing to a real male power fantasy.

So why does Kratos look the way he does? Well, he is based on actual historical men mixed with somebody's love of Conan the Barbarian. He is muscular to make it believable that he could fight freaking massive monsters and win. All the other stuff is just to look cool. There is no power fantasy here (other than supernatural strength). He doesn't even top lists of hottest male characters, Nathan Drake, Geralt and...uhh...Link... top those lists. All that said I would consider what Kratos wears as sexy, in the same way that a shirtless Hemsworth is sexy. Speaking of shirtless men, have any of you notice how blatant Netflix and movies have gotten with their "Man takes shirt off or otherwise gets naked" scenes"? The way the camera leers at them is hilarious at times, and some of the scenes don't even makes sense! Have you also noticed how these same scenes don't really happen with women anymore. I mean, they used to back in the 80s and 90s, but now...those cheap ass scenes have gone the way of the dinosaur, and that's a good thing.

Why? Because ladies and gents those scenes serve no purpose other than to objectify. This is something that the frothing blue haired masses have gotten right. The only problem is they are all hypocrites that believe the "Fallacy of the Male Power Fantasy" which basically states "Men can't be objectified because its all a power fantasy to them". So yeah, lets finish by really getting into objectification.

The basic definition of objectification is the action of degrading someone, or a character, to the status of a mere object. In my opinion this definition is too broad and is ripe for abuse. Personally I believe the definition needs to take in account the setting and thematical elements of a work of art. So a better definition would be, objectification is the action of degrading someone, or a character, to the status of a mere object, or an other, relative to a piece of fictions setting and thematical elements. The best way I can explain my thoughts is that if you have a fantasy world were all of the men wear plate armor, and the women wear chainmail bikinis then you are indeed objectifying women because you are treating them as an other (Basically they are following different rules). On the flip side if you have a game were both women and men are scantly clad then there is no objectification because you are not creating an "Other", the rules are the same for everyone.


For example look at Conan's world (images above). Everyone is basically half naked, and when everyone is half naked then nobody is being objectified, nobody is an other. Basically what I am trying to get at is that objectification is bad, but Sexiness doesn't automatically mean objectification as the Authoritarian Left would have you believe. The two can be divorced so long as there is logical consistency in appearances across the genders. Want a modern day example?


Both Cap and BW are wearing skin tight costumes designed to both look cool, and make them look good. There is nothing wrong with this type of "sexiness". Neither is being objectified.

Another way to look at it is that we cannot compare a work of fiction to the real world and claim objectification. The world of fiction can only be compared to itself to find out if objectification is happening. If you have a game with only one human character then there is no way to claim the character is being objectified because there is nothing to compare it with. For this reason, and leering camera angles aside, Eve from Project Eve cannot be considered to be objectified unless we see the other humans in her world. You simply cannot compare the mores of a fictional world with that of the real world. Doing so destroys the point of art.

That said, modern day politics would argue that both women in those Comic Covers above are being objectified and the men are perfectly fine. That argument is fucking stupid, and destroys an artists ability to create interesting designs. Which brings me to the end of my rant.

I postulate that the idea that sexiness = objectification is one of the various things that is wrong with western entertainment. Creators either agree with the premise, or are afraid to go against it, and the result is boring, uninspired, character designs that all seem to blend together across all media. Even the east has been infected given the tired flannelled hipster motif Square is going with for Forspoken. I mean can you imagine an American Company making a real AAA Conan game? Too bad Funcom kinda sucks at games cuz they certainly have the balls to stand by the lore (in some aspects at least).

Anyways, lets do this.
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best option to make everyone happy is to have a character creator with boob, ass, dick, body fat and muscle sliders. there is no one size fits all and no perfect character that works for everyone.
You know, I would not actually complain about "woke" games if those who liked them would cease their bitching about fanservice in games. They should just stick their side of the street and I would stick to mine.


They/Them A-10 Warthog
Character design should be true to the artist vision not a board room run by twittidiots..
I agree, unfortunately artist vision is being hampered by real world politics and mores. Part of my argument is that should never happen with art. Though its not my belief one could go to the extreme and say that no art can objectify as A) its not real, and B) the artists vision is sacrosanct.
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Gold Member
Sexiness does not equal objectification.

I do not understand being sexually attracted to oversexualized video game and comic book characters.


They/Them A-10 Warthog
Sexiness does not equal objectification.

I do not understand being sexually attracted to oversexualized video game and comic book characters.
because attraction and titalization aren't exactly equal either.

A LOT of people enjoy being titalized with their entertainment. That's why most lead actors and actresses are good looking. That doesn't mean they are attracted to the fictional characters though. IMO, attraction can only happen between real world things.

I can be attracted to ScarJo but not Black Widow.

Only someone mentally deranged can be attracted to something that doesn't exist. A healthy mind can tell reality from fiction.

Its okay to be turned on by fiction, otherwise all those women (and men) who read romance novels should be institutionalized.
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I never cared about games having a wide spectrum of body types, etc, UNTIL it became this forced thing that almost seems designed to punish the "traditional" gamer. Thankfully, non-Western games seem to still be willing to go the distance but now I just have to force myself to look past the Aloy/Returnal/Zarya character designs in order to enjoy half the new games that come out because you just KNOW they were done on purpose in order to push an agenda (and that agenda is NOT to be honest and try to make everyone feel represented, that agenda is to ignore the main player base in order to make a political statement).
I can honestly say that I think the industry giving any type of credence to people like Anita, etc has done so much harm and I really hope we get to the point soon where we start to move away from that and back to rational design philosophy.
I'll be honest and say I didn't read the OP and simply clicked on the pictures and I feel the need to say that I don't find Jennifer Lawrence attractive at all *shrug*

I like having a balance in games. Give me ugly or realistic characters, but don't take away my attractive characters either. Real life has both.


I don't care at all how the main character of a game looks tbh... if the gameplay and the narrative is good... who cares... I can relate with any character they throw at me.


"First off I do not believe Sexualization is bad at all."

A few paragraphs later:
"I am honestly astonished at how little 20 something women cover themselves in public."
"Shit is insane"

lololol, of course it's bad.
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Fare thee well

My stance has always been: as long as artists/developers are freely allowed to create, let the gamers decide. No government, no shareholders, no PR teams. Just let the art flow. If you want realistic average looking people, fine. If you want fantasy, fine. If you want sexy, fine. If you want ugly people, fine. Thing is, I'm not going to give a damn what characters look like if a game is really engaging and fun. Hell, it should make you learn to love their appearance. Geralt is a big old ugly brute, but his actions make me fall into appreciating his character AND appearance.

I do think many do have an unhealthy obsession and very unrealistic expectations with this subject though. I always advise people to keep one big healthy foot in the door of reality. Go outside, meet people, and know the true baseline of humanity.
This one is problematic to no one, no woke puritan, nor horny mysogenist complain about its values and what it inspires in people:

Only disappointment and denial, the fodder of console wars.
"First off I do not believe Sexualization is bad at all."

A few paragraphs later:
"I am honestly astonished at how little 20 something women cover themselves in public."
"Shit is insane"

lololol, of course it's bad.

EVERY PROTAGONIST LOOKS THE SAME. And it's tiresome. and most of the female protagonists are remade as fuckmachines at 3D porn sites. And game companies somehow do not issue cease and desist letters to the creators and disseminators. Ridiculous. So young hormone monkeys could wank on them.

In Hollywood at least you have unique faces. Where are the equivalent unique looks of Gary Oldman, Sam Jackson, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, Cillian Murphy, Chris Walken, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, De Niro, Gyllenhaal / Thandie Newton, Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Kim Basinger, Natascha McElhone in gaming?
When you make an average looking character in games like Aloy...not a model but still not ugly...gamers go wild. I think we (gamers in general) want protagonist we want to be or want to smash...its weird to me cause I do like the diversity. Like playing Judgement now, the main character is still a stud despite not supposing to be super handsome in universe ans making fun of pretty boys. Hes still a "mans man".
I do think many do have an unhealthy obsession and very unrealistic expectations with this subject though. I always advise people to keep one big healthy foot in the door of reality. Go outside, meet people, and know the true baseline of humanity.
Nah, 99% of everything sucks, of the remaining balance of only about half is truly worth your time. This is why I retreated to VR and a life like doll, no need to decorate the place, go out our talk to people in the flesh, internet forums are for the elite.

People should do out of social networks at least a bit, I got much better at ignoring the noise and I only feel better for it... Also when I'm with the kids out someone I'm "there", it's important and it allows you to enjoy the world.


When you make an average looking character in games like Aloy...not a model but still not ugly...gamers go wild. I think we (gamers in general) want protagonist we want to be or want to smash...its weird to me cause I do like the diversity. Like playing Judgement now, the main character is still a stud despite not supposing to be super handsome in universe ans making fun of pretty boys. Hes still a "mans man".
You have research on this or just assuming based on your own experience?


- Get in line and make yourself ugly and hide your body like the rest of us you shameful thing!

That’s what western gaming is doing right now with the uglify trend. Taliban thinking. A beautiful character is seen as a negative, needs to be tweaked to fit the ”modern audience”, who apparently want women without any curves and preferrably with a manly face and lots of muscles…

It’s all just fiction. We shoot people in the head and cut their throat without blinking but for some reason we need to stop and really reflect on what clothes a female character should be allowed to wear?

As for sexualization, I see more skin and bouncier flesh in real life so it doesn’t bother me.


The problem with the games industry in the West when it comes to this is that there always only seem to be a place for one thing.
I think that the West is too constrained by trends.

Japan is way better at actual diversity when it comes to this, even singular companies like Capcom has a far more diverse portfolio in terms of sexuality both with male and female characters than basically the entire Western industry.
The issue in the West isn't whether '' characters should or shouldn't be sexualized '', the issue is that they're essentially seemingly only allowed to be one thing at any given time depending on what the trend is.
And I often feel that whenever they do tap into sexuality nowadays they don't do it far enough it still feels extremely restrained and too tame.

Actual diversity includes sexualized characters, to varying degrees.
Just erasing them or making them very tame isn't actually diverse.
But it became a trend to be against it, even with remasters and remakes they remove it.

If every single character was sexualized that'd be a problem too, but sexualized characters essentially not being allowed to exist is also a problem.
And they should be allowed to exist too without people throwing a fit about it.

Edit: In regards to the whole '' growing up '' argument people often make.
I do think it's true but not in the way people mean it.
I do think that to a large extent what happened was that the same guys who used to make the old games grew up and became fathers and now they're in the concerned dad phase of their life.
And I do think that a lot of these dudes were genuinely misogynistic and they're looking back and sorta projecting that unto everyone else.
A lot of the characters they created literally only did exist to be '' the hot girl '' and nothing else and because they created characters like those they think that any character that looks like that is one of them too.

But controlling women and covering them up because you're a '' concerned dad '' is pretty fucking misogynistic and cringe too.
The truth is that some men just gotta learn to respect women regardless.
You can create a sexualized characters and still respect women and I think that a lot of the same guys in the industry in this concerned dad phase who are so against it are against it because they still don't respect women unless they're modest.
They think they're the good guys doing a good thing but in reality they're just really backwards and misogynistic still.
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