That might be a bit drastic, this is one slip. Have you considered that Bioware is the only company ever to go through…
I personally don’t consider it one slip. The Mass Effect – Team has continually treated their female characters in a very sexist way. Mass Effect 1 was pretty tolerable in that regard. But then they really went down a slippery road. Mass Effect 2 was practically throwing us the sexuality of female characters in our faces. And no, I don’t have anything against female characters showing their sexual assets, but when it gets just ridiculous regarding their environment and occupations, then I’m getting critical. (And seriously, how exactly does the low cut cleavage of Samara and the catsuit of Miranda and their high heels benefit them in a combat situation?) I’m exlcuding Jack here, because her characterdesign makes a lot of sense when you take her character in consideration.
Then there is the first Mass Effect comic that focuses on Liara. Butt and Breast-shots all over the place. In the most ridiculous poses.
Then we get this weird oversexualized Liara-statue in anime style.
Until ME3 Bioware never really promoted that in their game it was possible to play both a female and male character, most people who first played ME1 only found out as soon as they hit the character-creator. They knowingly exluded FemShep from any promo-material because they wagered that promoting her would not be worthwhile and effective marketing-wise. I personally think that is simply a weird strategy, because essentially they are promoting something their game is NOT. (You know, a game with a fixed protagonist and fixed choices, like say… RDR or the AC-series), but that is a whole different story. Important is, that in their eyes, promoting a female main character would harm their sales instead of increasing their fanbase.
Then Bioware decides to promote FemShep for ME3 with something of a “Who’s the hottest babe in the universe” – contest in which each of the choices look like a 17 years old supermodel instead of an experienced soldier. On facebook, of all the places.
Oh, and after THAT voting they threw around a voting that decided her haircolour. The FANS of all the people get to decide a character-design choice. Which is a very bad idea in itself. We are speaking about those people who create mods to make Miranda’s face hotter, or say that Jack is ugly because her head is shaved or that she is too manly and brutal for their tastes. Who claim Ashley is a bigoted xenophobic asshole because she is – understandably – wary of aliens and believes in god. They let decide those people how default FemShep will look. People who probably know next to nothing about good characterdesign.
Then they feel the need to sexify a character that was beautiful and sexy to begin with. They literally said so. They wanted Ashley to be sexier.
Ashley is by no means an unattractive person, but apparently she wasn’t sexy enough so down goes her practical hairbun and she gets a catsuit for casual wear. (Thank god at least she gets a heavy combat armor as well), and apparently a skirt that is so short you can actually see her butt. I sincerly hope she got pants under there, but I’m not too optimistic.
Plus I am a little concerned for her character writing as well because her original writer (and Thane’s, for that matter) left Bioware some time ago, and I fear that his replacement might not do their characters justice.
I’m not going to spoiler too much, but EDI is getting a sexy – treatment in ME3 as well.
I’m still not so sure what to think about Jack’s new outfit, but in the moment I kinda feel like she actually is a bit more sexualized in ME3 than in ME2. But we’ll see which one of her concept-outfits made the cut for the final game.
Then there’s the interesting stance on female aliens that goes around on the ME – team. All aliens that look remotely alien and foreign are male and have no female counterparts. Hanar, volus, elcor, turian, krogan, salarian, batarian, vorcha (did I forget one?) all races are only represented by males. Because apparently, it is too much of an effort for the team to come up with a design for female aliens that is not attractive by human standards. I quote “What do you do with them? (female aliens) Put lipstick on them, give them breasts? What do you do?” So anything that is not attractive for humans is not worth designing or too difficult. Which I don’t buy, because the ME-artteam got some incredibly talented people on board (Matt Rhodes, formerly Joy Ang, just to name two) who are more than capable of providing amazing designs.
And furthermore, all aliens that ARE female, are incredibly attractive by human standards. Asari were initially designed to be “hot blue spacebabes”, the A.I.s in ME1 were all based on human women. The quarians, while being somewhat alien, also share attractive human traits with their broad hips, breasts and thin waist.
The only way a female alien is getting into the game is when she is hot for humans, apparently. And as it seems, we’ll not get any female counterparts for the “male races” in ME3 either.
Also it’s about the controversy regarding their character-designs.
The default MaleShep is a weathered, experienced soldier design-wise. The design for the new default FemShep is more a twenty year old supersmooth model, as far as I’ve seen the leaked material and when looking at this beauty-contest from which she was initially chosen from.
The female characters are made sexier and more appealing, the male characters are redesigned to show a growth in experience and to illustrate the grimness of the situation that lays ahead of them (See Kaidan’s new design, or James Vega) See the difference?
Again, I don’t have anything against characters who are designed to be attractive. Hating on women who like their body and want to show it is misogynistic in itself.
But the thing is, those are not mainly choices that are made because it makes sense for the characters. (Like for example Jack or Isabela, their designs are underlining their personality. But Samara’s cleavage or Miranda’s catsuit are not really underlining their characters. Just like Ash’s new look does not enforce her character that was established in ME1). These are choices that were made to appeal to ONE demographic of young adult men, these are choices to cater eyecandy to the male players. It is not about the female characters wanting to be sexy, but the developers deciding that despite practicality and personality they need to be sexualized, because otherwise nobody would give a damn about them.
THAT is wrong, and that’s why I’ve become more and more inclined to not buy ME3 and just say NO to it. Because I’ve had enough of the blatant sexism of the ME-team regarding their female characters.
Yes, they might finally include same-sex romances, and as a homosexual woman I welcome that, and they give us a great trilogy that I’ve considered one of my favourite gaming-series so far, and wonderful characters, but I just cannot overlook and shrug over the fact that the misogyny is growing with each ME game they produce. And I personally would not feel comfortable with myself if I played ME3 while having all that in mind.
I’m not bashing anybody who loves the series, and eagerly awaits ME3, I really hope you all have the best of fun and enjoyment playing it. And maybe all my concerns with the ME-team’s policy towards female characters are based on nothing but speculations, but before I don’t know, I’m not going to give them my money.
And I personally don’t think it is a bit harsh or going too far. I, as a consumer don’t have to buy everything a big company produces only because I happen to like some of their products. I am NOT a Bioware-fangirl and I’m not required to buy their games by default. And I’m very critical of the products I am spending my money on. That is my right as a consumer, and I’m just using it.
Some might be a bit more tolerant regarding the sexism or don’t feel the same way about it as I, and that’s okay too! Some probably are aware of it and decide to buy it anyway, because they know about the faults but can enjoy the series nonetheless. – Which is great! I’m not forcing anybody to follow my example. 🙂
But I, for myself decided that for now, before nobody can confirm the contrary about my concerns, I am not going to buy ME3.
Oookay, sorry for the long ramble, but I hope I could illustrate that it is not only because of “one slip” and some butt-cleavage, but because I have followed ME’s everygrowing sexism over the years and just think it is enough that I won’t buy their product. Which is a personal choice, and not out of a sudden burst of frustration about butt-shots or some cleavage. Hope I could articulate myself somewhat. 🙂
This is especially disheartening because I don’t usually look too much at the game scene but thought Bioware worth praising before. (Not that they still aren’t, of course; they’ve done a lot of good. But a valid critique is valid.)