Sexy men also appear in video game worlds. Duke Nukem™ (Figure 1.4), a popular video game character and star of his own game series, is the classic, sexy action hero. His one-liners, his love of women, and his bravado proved a hit with gamers. More recently, Kratos from God of War has taken a top spot as one of the sexiest guys in a game.
FIGURE 1.4 3D Realm’s Duke Nukem.
© 2005 3D Realms, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
Although Duke didn’t make the list, Gameinatrix.com, a Web site for female gamers, featured the following top 10 list of video game hunks on its Web site [Trix01]:
10. Jin Kazama—Tekken™
9. Carth—Star Wars® Knights of the Old Republic™
8. Jubei Yagyu—Onimusha™ 2
7. Master Chief—Halo®
6. Ryu Hayabusa—Ninja Gaiden
5. Yungsung—Soul Calibur II
4. Snake—Metal Gear Solid®
3. Sam Fischer—Splinter Cell™
2. Auron—Final Fantasy® X
1. Dante—Devil May Cry™
The use of such sexy characters in games is not without controversy, however. Critics point to the continued unrealistic portrayal and objectification of women as sex objects. Some female players in MMORPGs say their dress provokes sexual harassment from male players, particularly if the game does not allow for or pro vide less provocative choices. In her book, Graner Ray cautions developers about the consequences such hypersexualized content can have. In a nutshell, if you choose to design games and avatars that are hypersexualized and attractive to a particular gender, don’t be surprised if the opposite gender is turned off of your game for the exact same reasons [GRay03].
Not all players feel this way, however, and if the popularity and mimicking of super sexualized women like Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Christina Aguilera is any indication, the market may not either. Some women like the option of choosing more racy clothing. “In many games, or at least the games I play, the character is a ‘hero’ of sorts, and is someone who I hope would be bigger and better than I am in my real, nonfantasy life,” says Linda Currie. Currie is both a veteran gamer and developer having been in the industry more than 20 years. “Given a choice, I’d rather play a female character that had some sex appeal vs. one that was homely or otherwise portrayed in a less than ideal fashion. Playing scantily clad women does n’t concern me much since I can accept that characters in games are often portrayed in a stereotypical and fantastical fashion. And this ‘over-the-top’, unrealistic portrayal is just as often applied to the male characters as the females.”
What would Currie choose if she could design her character from the ground up? “It’s probable I’d choose a little differently,” Currie notes. “I’d probably still choose to have her portrayed in an athletic and sexy fashion with attire that was somewhat less than realistic compared to what you might get on a real battlefield, but still more realistic than what you get in some games. Some of the chain mail bikinis that you see in games are really too ridiculous for words. That said, I would not put her in head-to-toe ‘realistic’ solid plate armor either. I don’t want an androgynous figure.”
Ultimately, Currie notes that it comes down to a person’s degree of tolerance. “Mine might be a little higher than many women because of my background and number of years in this industry,” says Currie. “Ultimately, there’s a balance between sexy and sexual and some games just don’t get it. But then again, if you watch 100 people wandering around your local shopping mall you’ll see some percentage of them who just don’t get it, either. Sometimes, as the saying goes, there’s just no accounting for taste” [Currie02].