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10/16/2003

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Mike Drucker

I somewhat disagree with you, Jane.

While it is an understatement to say that women are often sold to men in games as boobs,an ass, a few giggles and maybe a shotgun, not all women are that way. Nor are male characters all vapid/whiney musclemen.

I'll stick with RPGs for women. While women in RPGs are often beautiful, take someone like Aeris. Tifa, sure, she was the hotness. But Aeris was sweet girl, the one you could take home to mom. She was smart, pretty (not "HOT!", but more a subtle beauty), and wasn't a sexual character. However, when she died, there was an uproar from the gaming community. Obviously, a lot of people fell in love with her, and I say that it was for reasons a bit deeper than her bra size.

As far as men go, I submit Manny Calavera. Okay. Sure, he's a skeleton. However, look at his personality. Funny, reserved, sensitive, smart. He's not whiney (well, sometimes). In fact, as far as love interests go in a videogame, he's probably an ideal male. He completely goes against the form you presented. He may not be Darcy, but he is a gentleman. King Graham might also fit the bill. Or even the hero of Clive Barker's Undying, whose name I forget. All are tough, strong male characters in games that do not fall back on vast, angst filled monolouges, nor do they exactly just spit out one-liners and look tough.

I agree that there is a bit of an unbalance as far as characters go sexually, but at the same time, I believe that the female characters do not exclusively rely on their sexuality, and certain male characters do possess a charm that is undeniable.

Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man did not hook up on looks alone.

jane

well said, Mike!

Snowmit

I don't know if I'll be able to express this idea properly but I have this nagging feeling that as soon as you start asking the question "what do women want" you've started to miss the point. It seems to me to be a bad idea to lump all women together. Like you really haven't gotten much further in the quest to appeal to the female portion of the demographic if you assume that they'll all want the same thing at the same time.

I can't give any good evidence for this view except for annecdotal evidence from the male side of things. People go on and on about how DOA etc are designed to appeal to male gamrs blah, blah. I'm male, I'm a gamer but they don't appeal to me. I like my women to be more kickass and subtly sexy i.e. Samus from Metroid. But that's just me.

If we accept that the current output of the games industry is skewed towards what men want (whatever that means) then it quickly becomces clear, I think, that what men want convers a very wide range of presentations, levels and types of titillation and so on. It seems to me that any industry attempt to make things more appealing to women would need to assume a similarly broad range of female interest and attractions.

Does this make sense?

manpurse

actually, i appreciate the variety of men in games. women are usually pigeonholed into certain categories, and while men have the same thing done to them, there are far fewer distinctions in the types of women there are. :3 for example, the "slut," the "good girl," etc. i'd like to see a lot more variety in women characters. that's why samus is so freakin' cool. no t&a there. :D thankfully, it's getting a bit better since a couple of years ago!

haha, i love pouty rpg boys, but that's my thing. :3 i

manpurse

dude, the comment box deleted most of my second paragraph. :0 biotch.

here's what i had typed:

...

jane

(i also love pouty rpg boys; but i get a little tired of them after the twenty-seventh game!)

i totally agree with you, Snowmit; what you say makes sense. this piece is really just a playful attempt to head off some of the male gamers and game designers who've approached me with their own ideas of what women find sexy - to which i say, have you *asked* a woman?

also, i wanted to write about my love for Mr. Darcy. ^_^

i do think we'll start seeing some different games as different people start developing them, and not just along gender lines but also cultural and ethnic. it's an exciting future!

manpurse

>0 stupid postings! my general point: heroes with human flaws = good. i like ark from terranigma and hawk from seiken densetsu 3. alex and hiro from the lunar games rock. sinew-men bad.

bitchmaster

Well Jane,

It's good to base your opinions on current stats, but I think you would find that if women in the US took a similar poll, it would produce different results. Let's face it, Mr. Darcy's snobbish character is based on the stereotypical British male, so the British females are apt to be more tolerant of that. I don't think most American women, especially American gamegirls, would go for that. I personally would like to give Mr. Darcy a good punch in his raised chin ;) There's a fine line between arrogance and confidence and I have zero tolerance for superiority complexes.

If that poll were taken here, I think you would find that men like Indiana Jones, Jean-Luc Picard, Will Riker, Johnny Depp's character from Chocolate, Westley the Dread Pirate Roberts, the sweet geeks from Real Genius or Weird Science or John Cusak's characters from most of his movies would win out over snobby Darcy or Butler. (Although Picard might be one of those listed in that snob category as well, but there's that Brit-factor again).

Yes, there is a wide range of characteristics in men that appeal to women, which may even change with age. I for one used to go for the long-haired effeminate types when I was younger. However, since hitting my sexual prime, I much prefer manly men with hairy chests who are intelligent, thoughtful and considerate and even a little naughty. And I LOVE geeks. But honestly, the unimaginable wealth thing does nothing for me.

To me, the racing games are only so-so, the shooting games only come in handy when I'm PMSing or pissed off from rush-hour traffic, but what I really want are games that need to be solved like Zelda or Pandemonium. I like having kick-ass chick characters, but I would also like some sexy, intelligent men who can do more than grunt and kill.

This may be one of the most underrated facts about women, but for those of you who don't know, women are turned on by intelligence. Girls, remember the last time you crammed for an exam and found that you were uncontrollably horny? Or that time you were on a date with this guy whom you were having an explosively intelligent conversation with and you just felt this animal urge to jump on his lap and kiss him passionately? Physiologically, intellectual stimulation causes sexual stimulation through an increase in dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter, like the more popularized serotonin, the levels of which become higher when sexually aroused. The body associates these intellectually induced higher levels of dopamine with sexual excitement and thus becomes excited.

I'd like to see what game programmers will do with this information.

Phincus

In reguard to the looks vs brains issue, I think that they can be taken together or apart. For instance, I'm sure most of us could name these characters which we find attractive. We could probably then divide them into groups depending on weather we find them mentally, physically, or both, attractive.

The same thing could most likely be done for female characters too.

Infact, most media has these catagories of characters be it games, movies, or even stories. This can be both helpful and hindering, in that you can either determine right off the bat how you will feel about a character or if you will end up thinking 'not this again.'

However, I have been pleased to find that increasing characters are being written to be as real as possible. Some times it works, and some times it doesn't. It will frequently be heavily dependet on a large number of things, like the setting.

The thing is that there really is no accounting for taste and if you look hard enough, at this point in time, there's probably a character for anyone to swoon over.

drk

jane, I agree:

mr. darcy rules!

er, also, val kilmer's character in 'real genius'
witty, silly, flirty, and nerdy. yeah.

and han solo. heart of gold, scalliwag.

I hope your article inspires some great designs...

NeoShinobi

Okay, okay; so gaming guys are dark and moody (or too happy and young), and gaming girls are usually T&A with a body attached. Still, those who manage to not fall into those pigeonholes are all the more special no? What about Zelda? I mean, she didn't really do anything noteworthy in the series until Ocarina of Time, but then WHAM! - she replaced Link as defender of Hyrule for the 7 years he slumbered (as Shiek). She's a strong character who is definitely pretty which, I have to agree with Mr. Drucker (a la Aeris in FFVII), is better than just being hot (a la say, Tina in DOA3). Because of the fact that she can hang with the "big boys", she's a really sexy character. Other great females in games are...that chick in GunValkyrie (sorry - I only rented it, I can't remember her name). The girl in Sega's upcoming Kunoichi/NightShade (any girl who can out-move Hotsuma has to be great), and Monica in Dark Cloud 2. Monica is probably the best example of a strong female in a game I can think of actually...have you played it? She can totally take out Max (and probably Wind Waker Link:) My point is, I think it's more sexy if a girl has a personality, and can take care of business by herself. Aesthetics are important to a degree - no one wants to play as fat characters (try the levels in Eternal Darkness where you're an overweight guy), but it's alot more effective if a girl is "pretty" ("real-world beautiful") than "sexy" ("skanky"), a la Lara Croft.

As for guys, just look at enough eastern-developed games and you'll find a charming character. What about Joe (a.k.a. Viewtiful Joe). Even though it's done in Japanese SD mode, he's like 20 isn't he? Plus, he's just an average Joe, one who knows he's in a game and is having a blast. That's a charming and cool male character who isn't brooding in the least. Also, variations of Nintendo's Link are good characters. The "Adult" Link in Ocarina of Time and Soul Calibur 2 is a great character. He's just doing what needs to be done, but you get the feeling (via his fighting style, since he cannot speak) that he's enjoying the adventure - he bounces and hops alot while fighting. Other than a few fighting game characters (Kilik, Andy Bogard), I kind of run out of "sexy" male characters, but I'm a guy, so....I don't feel compelled to keep looking for nice, pretty boys that aren't really young (a la Sora from Kingdom Hearts)

Also, I noticed I pointed out nothing but eastern design choices thus far. That may be cuz I definitely favor japanese game design more (case in point: Madden pisses me off) Want something different, okay - what about Cortana in Halo? Master Chief is basically a robot (not literally; he'll talk more in Halo 2). The woman behind the man is cortana. Who does everyone always give orders too, or ask what's going on too? Not Chief, that's for sure. Plus, for a hologram, she's got a pretty sexy voice. Yea - she's a weird choice, but sexy all the same.

A western designed guy now eh? Well, there's always licensed games - I hear Indiana Jones, James Bond, Legolas and Aragorn seem to attract their fair share of lady fans. Outside of licenses however...it gets tougher now. Let's see...oh man, I really can't think of a soul. See, this is why I will infinitely prefer eastern game design till the day I die. Seriously can't think of a soul. Can anyone else? In my opinion, until something new, innnovative, and daring comes out along the lines of Rez, Samba de Amigo, or DDR from this country, America needs more diversification in it's game design. Everything's an FPS or a sports sim starring a muscle-bound, vengeance driven loser who lacks depth. I'd argue that Master Chief may be more than that, but I don't wanna go entirely on the trailer for Halo 2:)

...Seriously; can anyone think of a western male character that isn't stereotypical and is a really charming, cool character. Damn - that's a tough one...

tabodert

good

Neriana

As much as I love Jane Austen, as much as I adore Darcy, there is NO WAY I would even contemplate going out with him. He's stuck-up and has no sense of humor, even in the end. Also, that whole old money thing just isn't considered terribly attractive by American women. Mr. Knightley in Emma's more my speed - he seems to laugh a bit, and though he inherited his land he still has to work for his wealth. And frankly, I think Rhett Butler's an ass.

I actually really like Carth Onasi. Canderous is pretty sexy too.

For consoles, gotta go with Auron in FFX. When I first played FF8 I also found Squall incredibly sexy, but he's a bit young for me now. FF7's Sephiroth is still hot.

You need to look at RPGs to find attractive male characters. And though intelligence is attractive, so is the packaging. If I'm playing a game I don't want to romance someone who looks like a stereotypical computer geek or (shudder) philosophy major. This is supposed to be fantasy. And I must point out that Austen repeatedly mentions how handsome and tall Mr. Darcy is in Pride and Prejudice.

brides

For women, I think sexy legs

brides

Sexy hands :) Mail Order Brides

Harlequin

It may be slightly fanboyish, but i'm inclined to say that one of the sexier computer game characters that i've come across would have to be The Master Cheif (John117) from Halo. He doesn't conform to any particular mould. He's slightly protective, and certainly determined about what he belives in. He's witty and definetly intelligent. He's moral, and does think about what he has to do, but not mopey about it.

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