I don't know about you guys, but I'm not too bothered who the protagonist is in a game, as long as it's written well. I'm as happy playing a character like James Earl Cash in Manhunt, as I am Chell in Portal. It doesn't matter to me as long as the setting is good, or the story, or the mechanics and preferably a mixture of all of that. Likewise, how the character looks doesn't bother me, as long as it fits. If I'm playing a skinny nerd, or a super hero or a mindless zombie, it has no bearing on my ability to enjoy a game. Likewise, if I'm playing a female character, I really don't need to see her cleavage as she runs around. That's not what Russian fans of Warface think though, they want to see all of that.
Crytek made a choice recently to allow its players from around the world to specify how they'd like a model in the free to play shooter to look, but not just any model: the female one. The male one was designed by Crytek in-house, which calls in to question why they would pick the female one for outsourcing? The obvious answer is that that's the one some fans will care about and clearly they do, as the response from much of the developer's Russian fan base led to this:
I know it's not Dragon's Crown gratuitous, but it just looks silly. According to the Wired interview, this was the toned down version as well. There were apparently calls for high heels and even skimpier clothing too, so Crytek obviously feels it knows better than its fans in some ways, but why not in the entire design of the model itself?
It's not just in Russia that it's doing this, but in other countries too. China has its own specific female skin that Crytek executive producer, Joshua Howard, describes as more “Chinese,” but also disproportionate and unrealistic. Nobody is suggesting that his company make a game that's ultra realistic, that's fine, but then why not go all in like Saint's Row and have naked dudes wandering around with dildo weaponry? If not, if you're making a shooter about war, how about just make a female model that's armoured the same as the dudes?
It's just silly and juvenile, like anime fan-service. What are we all 14 here? The average gamer is well into their 30s and yet developers (and clearly some fans) still think the world needs all female characters to wear immersion breaking, tit revealing attire. Nobody is saying that sort of stuff isn't just wonderful to look at in real life, or on a website, but in a game, it's so unneeded. I don't need to be turned on while playing a shooter and if anything, seeing female characters without any body armour or with some leg skin showing in a war zone, is just immersion breaking.
Designing different characters for different regions of the world would make sense if you were simply doing it so that local players played with characters that look more like themselves, but doing it specifically for the female models seems gratuitous and objectifying.
That doesn't mean I don't think there could and possibly should be differences between male and female characters in a game (thought that would potentially be problematic in a competitive shooter) as there are probably some interesting gameplay mechanics to be found there – in fact, Mount and Blade Warband makes certain aspects of the game harder if you're female due to the time period – but throwing in female skins that are designed to titillate rather than focus on gameplay, seems so ridiculous when that isn't the focus of the game.
KitGuru Says: Seriously guys, we have to get past this. We've seen how the media portrays us a bunch of frat-house killers waiting to hit the streets, but this is part of the problem. Stuff like this makes gamers out to be so immature, as if we won't play a game as a female character unless we can pretend we're staring at her half-naked body for some other purpose. Even if you do get turned on by digital avatars, that's not the point of this game, so why do we need it?