Wait, wait, wait! So, let me get this straight. Tecmo’s overseas offices all demanded that Team Ninja tone down the infamous sexuality of their premiere fighting franchise, and Team Ninja complied? Actually, they only complied for a while until fans got a hold of an early Dead or Alive 5 build and demanded the old character models back.
Yohei Shimbori recently sat down with Gamasutra and discussed the ideas of giving fans what they want.
“We were getting feedback from the overseas offices to tone down the sexuality — to tone down the sexiness of the game, and of the characters. We actually got a lot of feedback from people who were playing it, saying, ‘We want bigger breasts. Make the characters more like that.’ That was kind of surprising.”
It was surprising that a bunch of dudes playing Dead or Alive actually wanted a game with bigger breasts and sexier women? I mean, go figure, right?
As video games mature, the sexualization of women has been slowly dissipating with heroines like Half-Life 2‘s Alyx Vance and Beyond Good and Evil‘s Jade taking center stage as tough strong independent characters beyond the mystery of what their clothing shrouds. Even gaming’s original mega babe, Lara Croft, has been greatly toned down in the most recent Tomb Raider game.
I shouldn’t say all of gaming has been following this trend because Japanese tournament fighters have been fighting this change kicking and screaming the whole way, and it’s not only Team Ninja’s Dead or Alive series and its world famous breast physics. Namco has been stretching the laws of gravity with the constantly shrinking outfits Ivy wears in each subsequent Soul Calibur release as well.
Team Ninja also found itself in hot water over the portrayal of Samus in Metroid: Other M after turning one of gaming’s most iconic, strong females into a useless inept heroine with serious dependency issues with her commanding officer and crippling motherly instincts, but that was a serious case of gender roles more so than just gorgeous women who enjoy pummeling each other.
But, Shimbori is unapologetic in the face all the criticisms his character models get.
“If you have a solid fighting game system there, there’s nothing wrong with having beautiful characters as a layer on top of that — that’s another layer of entertainment that there’s a need for. If there wasn’t a need for it, people wouldn’t have responded to the alpha demo like they did, and send us feedback.”
Indeed, at the end of the day, these are just graphics out to meet the demand of a particular demographic of gamers, the kind who sit in sweaty cramped arcades, chain smoking, drinking energy drinks, and playing fighting games deep into the night. Dead or Alive has been doing its thing for years now, and it’s to be expected that each game released be blessed with heavenly curves. If it were to all of a sudden stop and cave into the demand of a totally different culture, somebody else would just rise up to fill that gap. We might as well get a product from those who know how to make a decent fighting game.
How about it? With the shifting towards mature realistic video games, should all series be forced to fall in line with a standard level of acceptable sexiness, or are fans entitled to the sexy traditions of the games they love regardless of it they offend others?
Dead or Alive 5 is available now for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.