Sex in DOA, or “How to be Put Off Boobs Forever”

Sex in DOA, or How to be Put Off Boobs Forever Banner

Originally, I posted this on my blog (which hasn’t been updated since I started writing here) around March, just to note down my current feelings at the time. Of course, this was before I had my Twitter account, and before I started writing on here, so the only people who read it were my friends. I wanted to post it to JoypadAndMe so that I could convey this opinion to a wider audience. Sure, DOA 5: Last Round is no longer a new release, but the issues of female representation in gaming always seem to be relevant, regardless of whether you choose to engage with the debate or not. This is just my attempt at opening up some discourse on that issue, and that of children in gaming. Confused? Read on…

Two weeks ago, I got paid. No, that isn’t bragging, but it’s a good place to start this piece. Anyway, I had money to burn, games to play, and I saw Dead or Alive 5: Last Round on the shop shelves. Having enjoyed the original DOA 5 and Ultimate, and always being down for playing some fighting games, I made my purchase.

DOA

Now, I’ve known that DOA has “made the most” of its female cast for a long time now. Tina has always had the America bikini that struggles to either cover or contain, Kasumi has always worn ninja garb that seems to separate incomprehensibly at the chest, and DOA is set in a world where girls seem to get martial arts training and boob jobs merely by the virtue of existing. My point being, I had some idea of what I was getting into, but I still came away feeling disgusted.

This game feels like a dinosaur of gaming ideology, as it seems to pride itself on the sheer objectification of women. Not to say that the women here are submissive or lack power; far from it in fact. In a fight, the women more than hold their own against the guys, often being considered as some of the strongest characters on the roster. Woohoo, girl power! It just so happens that most of the cast are wearing practically nothing as they do it.

DOAI say most, as DOA does offer some brief respite between the boobs and bikinis, and I don’t just mean the men. Mila is perhaps the most interesting woman on the roster, by virtue of the fact that she actually looks normal…ish. Who can say no to the red hair, check shirt, and badass MMA skills? A winning combo, to be sure.

But now, not content with being prideful about objectifying women, DOA5: Last Round now seems to regard sexualising women as a main selling point for not only the game, but also additional DLC. Currently, the Xbox Store has been flooded with “Ultimate Sexy” packs for the various female characters. On top of that, the DLC catalogue offers a Private Paradise video series, where the girls lounge around on the beach wearing next to nothing. And that’s it. No added gameplay, no new arena or character, just the video that you could easily just look up on YouTube.

I have two problems with this.

Number 1) it’s voyeuristic, not-even-softcore garbage that seeks to drag the representation of women in videogames through the mud; some would argue further than it already has been.

Number 2) it’s a shameless attempt to pry additional money away from gamers with one hand on the controller and one hand down their pants. I genuinely can’t tell if the women here are being sexualised because Team Ninja are misogynistic or because they know that sex sells, but in either case, boo on you, Team Ninja.

This flagrant sexualisation has been the M.O. for Team Ninja for a while now. If a girl character in Ninja Gaiden doesn’t arrive into a room breast first, they’re not integral to the main plot and you can disregard them immediately. But if we’re using representation as a guide for punishing past games, that alone isn’t enough to start reading the riot act.

Rumble RosesDoes anybody remember Rumble Roses? A wrestling game from the late PS2 era, it focused on women’s “wrestling”, and I use that term in the loosest possible sense. Sure, there were wrestling moves, but there was also a cowgirl wearing a bikini and ass-less chaps. Imagine which of these features got enhanced in the Xbox 360 sequel? I’ll give you a clue, it wasn’t the gameplay. Rumble Roses even had its own Private Paradise of sorts, allowing you to take pictures of the girls in provocative positions, presumably for use later. Keep the tissues handy. Hell, even DOA had the Xtreme series, which stripped the game down to the bare essentials: bikinis, with the occasional jet skiing and volleyball if you really insist.

Sex in videogames has been around for years, with DOA and Team Ninja as a whole being the primary source of that for the majority of those years, and admittedly, I’ve been okay with that. I tend to play as Zack or Rig, so as far I was concerned, it didn’t affect me. So what’s the problem now?

doa marie roseLadies and gentlespoons, allow me to introduce you to Marie Rose, a character introduced in DOA5 Ultimate as DLC. Marie is a Swedish fighter, is dedicated to beginning players, and let’s not beat around the bush here, looks like a small child… Fine, sure. Ling Xiaoyu from Tekken is meant to be a schoolgirl, and she’s fun to play as. And who can forget Talim for Soul Calibur? How about Rachel for BlazBlue? All of these characters are adolescents, and still capable of laying the smack down when needed to.

My issue with Marie Rose isn’t the character, but Team Ninja’s handling of that character. Marie is treated with almost the same level of sexualisation as the rest of the female roster. All of these “Ultimate Sexy” costume packs or “Sexy Maid” packs, Marie has one too. Swimsuits? Sure. Barely reserved Halloween and Santa costumes? You betcha. Even if the bio says she is 18, and that there are 18 year old girls out there now who look like her, it doesn’t change the fact that she looks, talks, and acts like a child. Age means nothing for digitised polygons, all you can rely on is how it looks, and from my point of view, it looks severely wrong. Think about it from the perspective of an outsider looking in, seeing what they believe to be an underage girl treated like some kind of sex object. They’d understandably be disgusted.

Bringing this piece around to somewhat of a point and not just a ramble, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to be a fan of Dead or Alive, and that’s a real shame. Like I said, I’ve been fully aware that DOA and sexual content walk hand in hand, or hand on breast, but I feel like a line has been crossed. The sex via DLC is the gaming marketplace equivalent of prostitution, and the “possibly underage but no, we totally swear she’s 18” Marie Rose have ruined for me what was a really fun fighting game.

I’m interested to hear what others think, leave a comment or tweet me @donovan_ryder. It’s quite possible that I’ve become a social justice warrior without realising it, but in any event, what do you think?

New Staff Member Ashley Bates Banner Beveled

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