During the past month, a lot of attention has been directed towards the design of a character from Vanillaware’s upcoming game, Dragon’s Crown. Female characters in video games are often given copious sexual appeal, but the Sorceress from Dragon’s Crown has an especially exaggerated body. This has prompted several gaming news websites to mock the Sorceress, claiming that she looks like she was “designed by a 14-year-old boy” or that her design is “insulting”.
All of this controversy poses a question – what is wrong with giving a female character a slim waist and large breasts?
Is it sexist to make a female character look attractive? If so, why are women allowed to be sexy and attractive in other mediums, such as films – yet video game characters always draw criticism for having sex appeal?
If the sorceress looks attractive, does this mean that Vanillaware is attempting to enforce gender roles? If so, then why would Vanillaware also include other female characters (the Amazon and the Elf) who do not conform to gender roles at all?
Why is no-one complaining about the Warrior and Dwarf, who also have cartoonish proportions that are designed to emphasize their masculinity?
If there are people who feel uncomfortable looking at characters with exaggerated sex appeal, why must they call for game developers to design more realistic characters? That’s the equivalent of asking all restaurants to stop serving meat just because some people are vegetarians. If you don’t like a character’s design, then pick another character, or don’t play the game – but don’t attempt to condemn the game’s developers for it.
And, as always, one more elephant-in-the-room persists – why are big bosoms considered offensive, while brutally dismembering people is par for the course?
It may be worth noting that, in previous Vanillaware titles, almost all female characters associated with bringing the dead back to life were given large busts. The Queen of the Dead from Odin Sphere, and the two professors of Necromancy in Grim Grimoire were all busty women. The Sorceress from Dragon’s Crown summons skeletons, and also has large breasts; this is most likely not a coincidence. It’s not a stretch to say that the character designer in charge of illustrating these women decided to give them large breasts to emphasize the fact that they give life to the dead.
The design of the Sorceress simply does not warrant the “controversy” that so many gaming news sites have attempted to provoke. Rather, the topics of sexism and feminism always garner lots of page-views and click-throughs, therefore it is profitable to run articles criticizing large-breasted video game characters. There are some people who believe that this artificial “controversy” only exists so that video game journalists can attempt to make themselves look intellectual by mocking anyone that would dare to give a large bust to a video game character.
A gaming industry where all characters are required to have realistic proportions would be a boring industry, indeed. All video game developers should have freedom of expression, and should be allowed to design whatever kind of characters they want to.
One can only hope that all of the publicity that is currently being given to Dragon’s Crown makes more people aware of the game, and will contribute positively towards its sales. The game will be available on August 6 for the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Vita.