character design


Virgins and Whores in "Rayman: Origins"

Posted by Cha

Rayman: Origins has many unlockable characters, but they are all re-skins of three basic body types: Rayman himself, the large toad Globox, and the Teensies.

These are all male characters, at least to begin with. In case I was in danger of forgetting it the game soon sets about aggressively gendering its female characters.

First up we have the nymphs, representing the sexy-damsel-in-distress contingent. And when I say sexy I mean extreme sexualisation, especially by the standards of kids' games. They have heavily exaggerated features and revealing clothing. After rescuing the nymphs from cramped cages they pose to seductive music and grant new powers.


Non-Sexual Nudity

Posted by Cha

What makes character design sexualised?

I've been thinking about this question a lot recently. I've encountered a few game characters lately who show a lot of skin, but don't imply (to me) that sex was objective of their design. I find this quite encouraging, but of course not everyone sees these particular examples in the same way.

It's possible that being a straight female makes it easier for me to see female nudity (or semi-nudity) as something other than sexual, but I suspect that's being unfair. It's also quite possible I'm just horribly naïve, but even if my examples turn out to be poor the idea remains interesting.

Some people do continue to complain about nudity in painting and sculpture, but there's mainstream acceptance of the artistic merits. I don't see any reason games shouldn't also be capable of meaningful exploration of the human form.


Character Design in Nier

Posted by Cha

Nier brings up some interesting thoughts about character design. I imagine game designers are in a slightly difficult position in this regard. If they keep to the standard formulas they may be accused of being generic and promoting inappropriate gender stereotypes. But as soon as they try something different the "weirdness" of a game's characters may reduce its popularity. I happen to like weirdness, but my opinion doesn't have much relevance to financial success or failure.

Nier actually manages to fall into both of these categories at once, with an odd mixture of original and generic. It is not exactly an achievement I admire, but I do find it fascinating.