Video Game Characters and the Socialization of Gender Roles: Young People’s Perceptions Mirror Sexist Media Depictions authors and scholars Karen E. Dill Kathryn P. Thill ‘aka’ Dill Thill have noticed that “female video game characters are represented as either: (1) sexualised, (2) scantily clad, and (3) a vision of beauty.” Their study has revealed that over 80 per cent of women in video games represented one of these depictions.
Video games and in-game characters influence us in a way that we subconsciously end up comparing our body with the character’s and sometimes try to aim to pursue the same figure. When expectation doesn’t match the reality, it can lead to insecurities and can have psychological impact on people regarding body shape.
To address this issue, Online Gambling has launched redesigned illustrations of an array of popular female protagonists from video games in the body of more realistic women to promote body positivity irrespective of body size and shape.
To tap on body positivity and create the illustrations, the company conducted a poll with a group of 70 video gamers regarding which female protagonists they felt were problematic in design in representing real life women’s body sizes and standards. 30 characters were shortlisted and was further narrowed down to 10 fan favorites; each character had appeared in a recent game or franchise edition from the last two years.
The illustrations come with an official disclaimer from Online Gambling C.A which states, “The edited images shown are parody. The brands featured in this article are for illustrative and commentary purposes only. Trademark rights and copyrights relating to the video game characters featured on this page belong to their respective owner(s), which are not associated or affiliated with OnlineGambling.ca in any way and did not license rights or authorize or sponsor this article.”
For redesigning and sculpting the female game protagonist, the process began after a bunch of women were questioned about the areas of their bodies that they felt self-conscious or concerned about. The female video game characters were redesigned based on the answers received from those women to reflect the average American female body, plus elements from the issues raised from the panel discussion. The entire process not only reflected body positivity, but also tapped on the self-realization of diversity of beauty that every woman holds today.
London based artist and illustrator Saffron Cann has redesigned these female protagonists for Online Gambling. In conversation with AnimationXpress, Cann shared, “As a female gamer, It’s tiring seeing the same ‘image’ of a woman portrayed over and over again. Most of us don’t have tiny waists, legs up to our eyeballs and massive breasts.” This thought has pushed her to redesign these popular female protagonists with a more realistic woman body.
Although a lot of gaming companies are creating characters beyond race, colour, shape, and so on however according to Cann it seems not enough. She said, “It’s good the industry is gradually diversifying its pool of character profiles and I hope this continues to be the case, as there is still so much more to be done, and so much more can be created once we embrace how diverse the world and its inhabitants are.”
As per the official post, unrealistic body representations for women is nothing new in the world of video gaming. But what would some fan-favourite female leads look like if they were more realistic, or existed in the real world? Here are the illustrations and the changes list as per the blog post:
Rayne from Bloodrayne
“Her uncanny resemblance to Milla Jovovich leaves some thought that her character could be realistic, but again her tiny figure, large breasts and the strength to simultaneously carry twin arm blades, isn’t really standard.
While we admire her stamina and desire to avenge her murdered family, we thought a bit of extra weight wouldn’t go amiss – something that would especially be highlighted in such a skin-tight dress. Perky breasts are something every female video game character seems to be blessed with, but we’re here to make things real – so we’ve altered her breast shape.”
Sylvanas from World of Warcraft
“You might not notice an immediate difference in the before and after pictures here, but more weight around her middle has been added, revealing a more lifelike body shape. Additionally, we’ve rounded her face slightly to diminish the chiselled look she has.”
Ivy from Soulcalibur
“Let’s get one thing straight, a high-leg one piece isn’t comfortable at the best of times, LET ALONE if you’re busy being one of Soulcalibur’s most bad-ass, advanced characters.
So let’s be real – her outfit would obviously create some unfortunate wedgies, and we’ve given Ivy some extra pounds around the hips and enlarged her legs, cause let’s face it, some extra strength behind her whip sword can’t be a bad thing.”
Widowmaker from Overwatch
“Our target though, is Widowmaker. Like all the other female characters in the game, she has a slender figure wrapped in a shiny, revealing suit.
We thought it would be beneficial for the game continue on their path of diversity, and include some variation in body size and character image. So here’s what Widowmaker would look like with a more realistic figure, featuring back rolls and some subtle skin blemishes We’ve also rounded her face slightly, thus dialling down her overly-chiselled face.”
Mileena from Mortal Kombat
“Not wanting to get in the way of Mileena’s lust for human flesh, her masked face and terrifying gnashers have stayed as they are – but we’ve given her a much more common, and attainable, body shape. Overtime Mileena has taken a similar journey to that of Jade; like Jade, Mileena spent a fair share of her time scantily clad and with her ripped body very much on show, until recently where she was dressed in a more dialled down, and realistic bodysuit.”
Jade from Mortal Kombat
“Jade’s character is admittedly more dialled back and down to earth in terms of representation, but over the years she has seen quite the transformation. Always donning the iconic green, some of her previous outfits have resembled something you’d find in an Ann Summers store.
Although her outfit is a bit more authentic, we thought we’d add a few blemishes here and there and flesh out her arms slightly to take her that step further to being relatable.
We’ve added some rogue grey hairs to her locks, too.”
Miss Fortune from League of Legends
“The Bounty Hunter is a character ‘famed for her looks’ but should also be revered for her resilience and vengeful spirit.
Her physical appearance is the epitome of an unrealistic body image, so in this rendition she’s given a more realistic stomach, along with a snail trail (yes, women get them too!). We’ve tousled her hair and also given her some stretch marks.”
Leona from League of Legends
“This is possibly the WORST angle for a photo or image no matter how majestic you may be, so naturally we’ve given Leona a very real, and very relatable double chin.
Real-world Leona also entails bulking out her armour slightly to represent a more realistic body shape, and adding some skin scarring (‘cause she probably has horrific sun damage, let’s face it).”
Sorceress from Dragon Crown
“Aside from the poor lass clearly needing better support, her body has been fleshed out to be more in proportion. Adding some cellulite to her legs, too, she has been transformed into a slightly more relatable-looking woman.
The Sorceress is somewhat of a controversial character due to her over the top appearance, but her provocative demeanour isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and hey – we’re not here to be prudish!”
Morrigan from Dark Stalkers
“Figured that being in between the demon realm of Makai and Scotland, she probably doesn’t have the time – or desire – to shave, therefore her armpits are au natural, as nature intended.
Along with a more voluptuousness, we think Morrigan suits a pear shape, and looks great.”