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How should breasts be portrayed in video games?

The way female characters’ breasts are depicted in video games has long been the subject of debate. With teenage boys being the main players of many games, it’s perhaps understandable that developers attempt to pander to their desires. But many women have reacted with everything from amusement to anger over how women’s bodies are shown in some games.

When Angelina Jolie took to the screen to play arguably the most famous female video game character, she famously spoke about having to wear padded bras to go up a cup-size in order to mimic Lara Croft’s physique.

And, more recently, the artist behind Dragon’s Crown found himself having to explain why his female characters were so voluptuous after the game came in for criticism about being sexist.

Dragon’s Crown, along with other similar games, have even led to a new term being coined of jiggle physics, to explain how video game breasts are designed to look as if they are moving. Dragon’s Crown designer George Kamitani said his characters had been deliberately exaggerated to ensure they stand out from other fantasy art.

“I exaggerated the silhouettes of all the masculine features in the male characters, the feminine features in female characters, and the monster-like features in the monsters from many different angles until each had a unique feel to them,” he said. “I apologise to those who were made uncomfortable by the art’s appearance, and did not see the same light-hearted fantasy in my designs.”

During a question-and-answer session for the Final Fantasy series, one tech writer was inspired to act after a fellow audience member asked whether the main character’s breasts were going to jiggle continuously.

In response, Jenn Frank went on to jokingly tweet: “I’m gonna make a game called Final Reality and it’s gonna be about how I just accidentally smeared tons of deodorant all over my left one”. She went on to come up with a more serious comment of: “What if you had to watch a sexy videogame character also buy bras, cry softly when she can’t find one that fits, and go in for mammograms.

Frank is now launching Boobjam, a weekend-long event dedicated to creating short, innovative games which portray the female form in a more realistic way.

“I myself had written about breasts before,” she explained, “more as a reaction to Dragon’s Crown. I was uncomfortable with the way the conversation kept looping about whether a fictional fantasy character’s breasts were appropriate.”

She says her problem about the ongoing discussions about breasts in video games is that the majority of those talking about them are men.

Frank is accepting games up until the end of September, with the only criteria being that developers have to “make a game that talks about boobs without resorting to the ‘straight male gaze’”.

She is hoping that she broadens the discussion about women in video games. “I will be pleased by anything anybody contributes,” she said, “and, in actuality, I’m really pleased already by it… Just the fact that this conversation exists right now is exactly what I hoped for.”

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