Team Ninja, makers of the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive series, are in the news again today after an interview with technology news site VentureBeat. The Dead or Alive series in particular is known for the extreme emphasis it puts on sexy female characters, many of whom wear revealing outfits or fetish clothing. Since we live in a time where no one is allowed to enjoy anything without a prudish relic from the Victorian age rising up from a musty tomb to shout “Misogyny!”, there has been a great deal of hand-wringing about this.
One gamer I spoke to on Twitter said that Team Ninja were “terrible” because of their female characters, and that they had “blood on their hands” because of the games they made. While his remarks can perhaps be chalked up to an overactive sense of hyperbole (and indeed, we were able to agree to disagree at the end of the conversation), the sentiment is a common one. To these sorts there can be only one answer, and it’s an answer that can’t be repeated often enough: “If you don’t like this game, don’t play it.”
Not Every Game Is Made For You
One woman, for example, commented, “Women play these games as well! Why not give us some eye candy?” This is a very common refrain that I’ve seen from dozens of people since the franchise first came out. I’m sure many of you have heard it too. The answer to this is simple: because it is not a game about eye candy for girls—it is a game about eye candy for boys. There are games with eye candy for girls. They’re called “Otome” games, and there are a massive amount of them. (And don’t tell me girls don’t want to play them. Someone’s buying enough to support an entire industry and it sure as hell ain’t us guys.) Dead or Alive is not an Otome game, it has never pretended to be an Otome game, and if that’s what you want you need to go elsewhere.
The lunacy of this argument becomes immediately apparent when you transplant it to any other genre. For example, I do not like football video games. I’ve never understood the point of playing any kind of game that can be played in real life on a console. Isn’t the real life version better? With better graphics and everything? I much prefer RPGs and strategy games like Final Fantasy and Fire Emblem. But if I were to demand that this year’s Madden included a boss fight with a fire-breathing dragon at half-time, everyone would look at me like I was a lunatic, and rightfully so. So why does this argument suddenly become valid when applied to sexy female characters?
Not every game is made with you as its target audience. This doesn’t just go for genres or art styles, even individual games in the same genre will often be targeted at very different people. The audience for a hyper-technical fighting game like BlazBlu, with its split-second combos and layers upon layers of advanced systems, is completely different than the audience for a game like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter. And everyone accepts this as fine: nobody’s asking BlazBlu to cut back on its absurd difficulty, or demanding that the fatalities in Mortal Kombat take twice as many buttons to execute. If a game doesn’t appeal to you, don’t buy it, don’t play it, and don’t think about it. You’ll be amazed how much easier your life becomes.
“But I’m A Customer, And They Have To Do What The Customer Wants!”
Another common line of reasoning when complaining about large breasts in video games is that the customer is always right. Because the complainer is a (potential) purchaser, their needs must be catered to. “I would buy this game if only there weren’t so many half-naked girls.” “As a woman, I don’t want to play a game where the characters are dressed like that.” But there’s a big problem with this: what about the actual customers, the ones who’ve purchased many copies of a large, well-established franchise?
Oddly enough, Team Ninja asked their customers what they wanted when they were making Ninja Gaiden 3. When they sent out a demo, the Japanese Team Ninja began getting feedback from their overseas office, feedback that probably came from the same sort of SJW reporters that #Gamergate is fighting. “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,” Director Yohei Shinbori said. But the player feedback was the exact opposite: “”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.” The Dead or Alive franchise is the way it is because its fans love it, and have been making it a success for almost 20 years. It doesn’t need to change.
In many cases the people making these complaint are disingenuous. They’re not upset because they can’t enjoy a fighting game without scantily-clad characters. They’re upset because you’re enjoying a fighting game with scantily-clad characters. There’s nothing to be done with these types except tell them to screw off. But for the rest, there’s an easy answer: if you don’t like Dead or Alive, don’t play it. And leave the rest of us who do like it alone.