Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dear Namco . . .

Regarding SCIV's Character Creator:

If those two women's faces were, as I fear, an attempt on how any ethnic woman looks, I kindly ask that you never try such a thing again. Leave it alone; diversity has no purpose if it's mean spirited. I can make brown women out of white and asian faces just fine. Despite what some (probably not black) foreigners has told you, Dennis Rodman is not a good indicator on what brown/black women look like.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Brown(er) Women In Video Games: Talim- Soul Calibur

Hailing from the Soul Calibur series, Talim is also noted for being one of the few videogame females to have an A-cup -- it's true!

I picked up the SC series at the second installment, where Talim made her first appearance. I noted her but never really played her, mostly because I attached myself to Link as my main (yeah, I bought it for the guest character :P), and that my brother had already 'claimed' her as his, uncovering a curious unspoken tradition that we don't really play each other's characters.

As SC III was coming up I stalked the official websites for updates, and regained an interest in her via her new character design. I couldn't place my finger on it, but she came out more, well, ethnic looking. I could just be making it up (and I would) but that's what struck me with her SC III form.

(This image is currently back on my desktop to celebrate the coming of SC IV) Well, she sure looks different then her II image above, even if it is in just better graphics. But something about her face, I don't know, just seems . . .um, less anime/neutral and more something else. Via Wikipedia she is from the what is now the Philippines. My ignorance in knowing any filipino/as in my life prevents me in making any claims they tried to make her look like one. In any case, I mentally added her to my running 'ethnic women who managed to show up in fighters' list and became a fan.
I've seen her latest SCIV scans, and that 'something' may have gotten submerged into the 'anime' look again. Which is a shame, but unsurprising, since this game is apparently getting a lot more manga influenced this time around.
As for how others see her there's a smaller fanbase, but there's not quite as much negativity that doa's Lisa has, and as she's not 'offensively dark' to begin with, her fanarts doesn't have much tampering with the shading. Hn, she probably gets more flak for the A-cups than any issue with her race or ethnicity.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

RPGs, Black People, and the Black Elves Who Weren't

I love fantasy RPGs to death- I've attached myself to dungeon crawlers with many enchanted weapons and new spells to discover, killing everything in sight to get curiously placed loot and level up to do more neat tricks. But there are times in between my dork induced revelry where I re-realize that these games were not made for me in mind. *chuckle* Remotely.

My first experiences had me choose between a set of pre-made characters, the formula always coming down to- a balanced, good hearted adventurer presented with common "dashing" white male looks, a bullheaded slash and smasher normally given by another, bulkier and dimmer white male, a fragile magic caster via typical fey male elf, and another addition, maybe a dark elf battlemage, a hardy dwarf, or a smexy female . . .something or other, as long as she's smexy and doesn't take the classic white male character's place. I was fairly okay with this actually- I normally found myself picking up the woman for her speed or the fey elf if I was feeling magic intensive. I didn't start becoming a bit non-plussed until differing melanin contents began to show up.

My first contact was with Dark Elves. I liked them, and still do-they tend to specialize in offensive magic and aren't conplete failures with a sword, which is my favored way of playing. They were also an alternative to the pale, Tolkien-based elves that until then I had to deal with if I wanted to focus on magic. But I felt a bit put out- why were they going way out of their way to not make a dark brown elf? Those which needed special explanation on how they got blue in the first place, next to their perfectly caucasian-colored brethren. Which, by the by, is normally due to some fall of grace that damned them from be fair and blonde themselves.

I'm fond of dark elves and don't want them modified, but brown elves of some sort should be in the works.

Or not. My latest fantasy RPG craze, Oblivion, was based in the Elder Scrolls verse and went on to introduce brown men. They didn't have a suicide wish so they didn't make them stupid, but they are oxen of the men races, master of all thing physical and can run good too! Why they happily ensconced themselves in the common roles of black people (because they are representative of black people- with them having the only black male and female VOs) I don't know, but it sucked for me since I'm not a hack and slasher I couldn't get my automatic black template. And fenagling non-black people to look black (especially elves!) is quite a feat let me tell you.

Also I'm just thrilled to note that the black people there are fundamentally different from the other races of men! Different type of blood and everything. As it should be. @_@

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Brown Women In Video Games: La Mariposa (Lisa)- Dead or Alive

I've always had a casual interest in the Dead or Alive series, having caught my attention in the doa2/Ultimate era with its obscene amount of costumes and expansive environments. I eventually bought it and unlock-whored my way through +100 costumes while complaining about Hitomi's general existence.

My interests waned as the costumes did, but by chance I heard about DOA 4 coming out and I was like 'why not?'- I wanted to mess around with another fighting game and it was getting a lot of hype as the first fighter on the 360. I didn't rush out to get it, but I eventually pawed it, not knowing that I was going to be pleasantly surprised. I was curious about the cover but it wasn't until I started playing before I realized what I had.

I remember thinking "A dark(er) woman?? Here?!?" It floored me, and to be honest I still don't get it. I mean, let's face it, Dead or Alive isn't out to champion variance in the female form. They play into the Western stereotype of female beauty to a T- huge boobs, slender bodies, no butts to speak of, delicate features, tendency towards long flowing hair, and until now, tan or less. A white man's (and others) winter wonderland.

I have no clue what happened to get Lisa on the board for Tecmo. I would have guessed the first fighting game to have a ethnic girl darker than cinnamon would be Namco, if not some weird new bust-out company championing diversity. Or maybe Mortal Kombat. But Tecmo beat everyone to the punch- I just hope they don't take it back.

But of course Lisa isn't a complete overhaul of beauty norms- she still has the exact same body type as everyone else, and even though her skin is brown her face isn't- her lips are a tad fuller (tad) but God help her if she had a wider nose or non-straight hair (I'm kinda not joking- people dislike her enough as is). But somebody must have had some sort of non-stereotypical checklist, because they didn't get her once, they got her in a few areas- she's brown, she has very short hair, and she's excelling in the male-dominated field of science. They sexified a woman that is stereotyped to be masculine in a few areas. Someone in Team Ninja is curiously aware and open minded.

And you know she's pushing boundaries when the Common White Male (*sigh* and others) pooh-pooh on her. I just hope their "I'm not racist but _insert racist remark about markedly unwhite women here_" doesn't get her reneged. Because as much as I like her I'm fully aware I'm not Tecmo's target audience to land the big bucks. And I'm real hesitant to try to rely on the Japanese crowds being any better.
*sigh* They way I've seen her handled is not remotely surprising. Actually, things could have been a lot worse, but still, I wished she wasn't ignored so much and gained a bigger fanbase. Mainly because I'm always wanting for (non-whitewashed) Lisa fanart.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Freedom of Speech =/= Freedom from Judgment Speech

Yeah, it seems that some people get confused. It's very unfortunate, but on the bright side, I'm just glad that most of them can read.

Like most people, I am a pretty big fan of freedom of speech. Humans can not move foreword if different opinions, complaints, and ideas can't be heard due to legalized threatening and silencing of non-traditional thought.

But some (too many) people are mistaking this for something, well, a bit off-

That part of the First Amendment was towards the government, saying that a person can not become legally criminalized for (non-threateningly) running off their mouths, because historically governments have not been known to handle that very well: people start to magically disappear when someone says something negative about a regime or ruler. This was put in to stop governments from getting heavy handed and impeding social progress because they don't feel like changing it.

But in conversations where the free speech fallback is normally bandied about is when a defensive person asserts that they can say what they want and not have any negative repercussions for it, ever. Like their opinions became sacred and untouchable (more than others) and never reflect on them as a person. The Constitution does not cover that.

Yes, you are showing off a part of your character when you voice an opinion. If you have a sketchy opinion (that you apparently willingly shared) it is up to you and only you to save face if your character is called into question and you are not cool with it. Saving face, mind you, is fully optional (I've said many things without a slightest care what anyone thought of me), but it is no one's place to demand that others not think less of you just because you are legally safe to voice just about any opinion. Not to mention it's impossible for someone to not gain an impression of a person by their beliefs.

And also, free speech does not end with the sketchy opinion untouched. The people that called that person out, surprisingly enough, manages to have that same Constitutional right. Go figure. So their anti-you and your sketch beliefs are, unfortunately, equally valid in that sense. Their opinion that you should not say those things are valid, since virtually no one ever says that one should be legally prosecuted for saying anything. "Can" and "should" are not always the same thing.

The original reason of freedom of speech is to create an on-going dialogue to know when things are going wrong and when, why, and how things need to be changed. Too many times it's instead used as a tool to end conversations and to subdue non-traditional thought by shutting down the topic, and it warped so people can be heavy-handed and impede social progress because they don't feel like changing things.

I don't know if we went full circle or if we just never left the original point.