Beyonetta, character design, fan service, fanservice, female character, Gamers, games, Gaming, Hideo Kojima, Kojima, Metal Gear, Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 5, MGS, MGS 5, MGS V, opinion, Quiet, Quiet controversy, sex appeal, The Phantom Pain, video games, visual design, women in games
Oh, the Quiet controversy, or more accurately the ongoing debate about female visual representation in games. I’ve been on both side of this one. I’m so pro Bayonetta that I’d vote for her for god damned president, leering camera angles and all. I think Shantae’s character design, while certainly pretty revealing, is right on the money with her character. And I’m cool with most of 7’s armor in Xenoblade showing literally more cleavage than I thought clothing could show, because it illustrates both the human and inhuman sides of her character.
But then we have Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V, and Hideo Kojima’s certainty that I would feel “ashamed” of criticizing the design once the super clever, super necessary secret reason she’s dressed the way she is got revealed.1 Well, we’ve learned the supposed reason, and I’ll just say I’m less than impressed.
But I understand where Mr. Kojima is coming from; I was thirteen once, and I love to write, and I was a pervy little bugger who came up with all sorts of ridiculous situations and reasons why my characters would be virtually naked. Wrote fanfiction and did it with other people’s characters too. And just like Kojima, I eventually realized how ludicrous it was to have characters walking through snow in bikini’s, and came up with bullshit explanations like, “She’s allergic to everything except very small amounts of spandex,” or, oh I don’t know, “She breaths through her fucking skin.”
Here’s the thing; I’m not ashamed for critiquing those kinds of characters, what I would be ashamed of is publishing one of those stories and asking people to give me money for a copy of my personal wank material.
As I said, I’m not against some sexy guys and gals in gaming. I love Bayonetta. What I am against is using bullshit to justify it. If Hideo just put Quiet in, as is, with no dumb excuses, would I have thought it was stupid pandering? Well, yeah. But it wouldn’t been nearly as stupid as trying to say, “No, this totally isn’t just to get off to. There’s this totally real reason why it had to be this way, and everyone criticizing me should be ashamed!” Get that shit out of here; we all know why you did it, and if you had just owned up to it, as least I’d have some respect for it.
This is why I think Bayonetta is genius. Because unlike Quiet, Bayonetta’s reason for her sex appeal actually is a fundamental part of the character. With Quiet it’s just something tacked on, which adds nothing but negative 1 set of clothes. Hell, I respect DoA Beach Volleyball more than this, because it can actually admit to what it is, and doesn’t come up with some ridiculous pretense then say everyone else should be ashamed.
Bayonetta and Quiet are both complex and interesting characters. The difference between them is that if you take away Bayonetta’s sex appeal she falls apart, because that character was carefully and artistically built with that in mind, making it truly part of her character. If you take away Quiet’s sex appeal and the nonsense reason behind it nothing else changes, because it’s not part of her character, it’s not part of who she is, it was just slapped on like an open palm to the ass. And Hideo Kojima desperately wants us to believe it was anything more than that.
Don’t Lose Your Way