Realistic Female Bodies in Video Games: Realistic to Who??
There has been a lot of clamoring about the representation of females in video games lately. From the lack of strong female leads in games, to their physical appearance, it seems like everyone has an opinion. So do I!
With regards to the physical appearance of women in video games, here are my thoughts:
Thought #1: One person's ideal is not representative of reality.
I am a woman. AND I'm real! Whoa! But according to a number of photoshopped images of iconic video game babes, "realistic" bodies are plus-size. All of them!
What? Hold up. I guess that means my body isn't "realistic"?
Hit the brakes.
Surely, by now, anyone with at least one functioning eyeball and a likewise functioning brain has noticed that are plenty of sizes and shapes of people. A sinewy, svelte slip of a woman is just as much a woman as one with a voluptuous figure. You prefer fuller figures? Cool. That doesn't make your preference the new "realistic". Nor does it make anyone's preference the new "realistic" (read "ideal"). Your opinions are yours.
The photoshopped images in question claim to represent these video game females as having bodies that represent the average American female's body. There might be just a few more Americans with voluptuous figures than in other countries, but for goodness' sake. I seriously doubt that any well-adjusted adult is going to self-combust if she sees a video game lady with a certain kind of figure.
Especially if that video game lady is a martial arts expert who spends her day beating people up. She's gonna look like someone who spends her day beating people up.
Thought #2: They're not real.
Let's just address this question: Who is going around telling video game designers what women should and shouldn't look like? A video game designer has the right to make their pixels look like anything they damn well want them to look like. It's their art. It's going to be stylized.
Some designers have taken efforts to make their characters look more photo-realistic, such as in Rise of the Tomb Raider. No matter the game, they're all man-made (or human-made, if you prefer). As humans, we're going to make our artwork in our style. If a designer wants to make some busty chick who has hair for clothes and legs a mile long, cool (lookin' at you, Bayonetta). If they want to make a character with more believable proportions and human imperfections, cool. Note: These proportions and imperfections are probably not going to be exactly like yours. Don't freak.
For those of us suffering from low self-esteem with regards to body image: These are not real bodies. They're pixels. Made by some dudes and dudettes whose jobs are to create concept art. Concept. Art. It's an idea represented by some pixels. Not a real person. Your body is the real one. Give yo'self a hug.
Thought #3: Guess what IS real? These people's jobs.
The people working in the video game industry are not just creating characters. They're building entire virtual worlds, designing gameplay, plot, writing dialogue, programming, de-bugging, recording motion sensors to understand how to animate movement. They're trying to meet a deadline and make money. They're trying to finish a game fast enough for this technology generation so they don't have to start from scratch for the next console.
I bet a lot of people want to make games where every single body is unique and imperfect, beautiful in its own way, and makes every single human gamer feel warm and fuzzy inside. I'm also betting that they have other priorities. Like maybe coming up with the next incredible feat of technological wonderment for our mass consumption so we can complain about it on the internets.
So those are my thoughts. I'm sure y'all have your own, so please weigh in!