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WTF Is Going On With Female Character Designs From Western Developers

The landscape of video game character design has undergone significant transformations, particularly in how female protagonists are depicted. A notable trend among Western developers is their approach to character aesthetics, often opting for designs that emphasize realism and relatability over traditional notions of attractiveness.

This shift has sparked discussions within the gaming community, particularly in light of the character design choices in the newly revealed Star Wars: Outlaws, where the lead female character exhibits physical traits, such as a prominently wide chin, which, let's be honest, is more commonly associated with male characters.

This choice represents a broader pattern among Western games, which contrasts sharply with character designs from other parts of the world, particularly those from South Korean studios.

Strange enough, this phenomenon doesn't seem to happen when it comes to depicting men... only women.


For example (Thx Grummz):


But that seems limited to Western Developers . A contrasting example to this is Stellar Blade, a title that has garnered attention for its visually striking characters, notably Eve and Tachy. The game showcases a level of aesthetic polish and an embrace of beauty that is less commonly found in Western AAA titles. While not limited to just this game, it serves as a prime example for the point being made.

Eve, the protagonist, is characterized by a blend of strength and elegance, which has resonated with a wide audience, demonstrating that the appeal of well-crafted, attractive characters transcends cultural boundaries.

However, the reception of Stellar Blade by Western media has sparked its own controversy. Some journalists have critiqued the game for what they perceive as the over-sexualization of its characters, arguing that such designs are outdated or diminish the characters' agency. This stance is part of a larger narrative that champions more "natural" and "realistic" designs, as seen in Western games, suggesting that these choices are inherently more progressive or empowering.

The heart of this debate touches on deeper issues within the gaming industry and its community. Video games have long served as a form of escapism, offering worlds and characters that diverge from reality in many respects, including the idealized beauty of characters.

The injection of politics into character design and the broader discourse around video games has blurred these lines. The insistence on adhering to specific aesthetic standards—whether under the guise of realism, political correctness, or cultural sensitivity—raises questions about the space for creativity and fantasy in modern gaming.

This evolution in character design philosophy reflects broader societal shifts and the diverse expectations of a global gaming audience. While it is vital for games to evolve and reflect a wider range of experiences and perspectives, it is equally important to recognize that the appeal of video games lies in their diversity and ability to offer different things to different people. Whether it's the rugged, realistic protagonists of Western titles or the idealized beauty of characters from games like Stellar Blade, there is room for all expressions of creativity... But it just seems strange that every chance a Western developer has to make a woman-led character attractive, they actively choose to NOT.

The discussions around these design choices underscore a larger conversation about what video games should represent and who they are for. As the industry continues to navigate these waters, it will be crucial to find a balance that respects artistic vision, cultural sensibilities, and the diverse tastes of a global audience. In doing so, the hope is that games can remain a source of escapism, inspiration, and, most importantly, fun for everyone.

~Smash

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