Hot on the heals of my presumptuous negativity post, today I wanted to talk about a “controversy” that’s shaking around in the Dead Or Alive community that’s kind of linked to both presumptuous negativity and to the prevalence of the “SJWs are ruining everything” meme (which is a whole blog post in its own right if I’m ever daring enough to try writing it).
It’s a fascinatingly hilarious issue, and I’ll do my best to cover it in as grounded manner as possible after the jump.
Dead Or Alive has, in itself, always been a fairly controversial fighting game, not in the same sense as Mortal Kombat with its hyper-gore horror themes, but with its overt sexualisation of its starring cast.
Amongst other things, Dead or Alive is known for its Soft Engine, a physics engine specially designed to render dirt, sweat, and (for want of a better term) “jiggle physics”. The vast majority of the female cast are buxom, to say the least, and the Soft Engine animates these in ways no other engine ever really has (DoA5 had settings between Natural, Dead or Alive (exaggerated), and the hilariously over the top Chaotic). This, coupled with the prevalence of costume DLC has given the games a certain reputation.
Look, I’m not going to mince words here. Take big breasted women, put them in a bikini/BDSM catsuit, animate the breasts with excruciating detail and you’re essentially making a Dead or Alive game.
Thing is, underneath all of this has been one of the fastest paced, best made fighting franchises out there, in my personal opinion, but with such a niche following, and it’s not hard to see why that following is so niche compared with Tekken or Street Fighter. It’s hard to take a game seriously when it comes in such a risqué package – and that has always been a problem.
Many moons ago, when I was living in Blackpool, surrounded by a decent community of fighting game fans, I tried a few times to get a Dead or Alive tournament up and running at local gaming expos that were already running Tekken and Street Fighter. I eventually managed, but the Dead or Alive Tournament was the only one that wasn’t on the main screens. Ultra Street Fighter IV, Tekken 6, CS:GO, Halo, these were all on the big screen, but not DoA, and I’ll let you guess what the expo’s reasoning was.
That’s right, it was too sexual to have on a big screen in front of a convention where families and kids were walking around – so we were consigned to a dark corner where others were playing Pokémon Stadium and Quake 2.
I wrote a couple of articles for Senshudo.tv when Dead or Alive 5 Last Round came out, and I felt I had to apologise for my love of this series because I knew how people judged me when I told them that I really enjoyed “that fighting game with the boobs physics”, and I have genuinely received ridicule for it”
“You only play for the boobs!”
“Play a real fighting game and get your porn online!”
Thing is, DoA is a real fighting game, and mechanically better than either Tekken or Street Fighter, in my opinion. It’s just been held back by its outward appearance.
Enter Dead or Alive 6.
Koei Tecmo seem to be aware of the situation, and have announced that they’re shifting direction slightly. The characters are less sexualised – their costumes are toned down, the up-skirt camera angles less prevalent. Notice I say “less sexualised” – they are definitely still attractive, but it has definitely been toned down to more family safe levels.
The Soft Engine is still there, and on top of dirt and sweat, will now also include bruising. Yes, it’s weird that panty shots and barely contained breasts are less socially acceptable than the notion of animating bruises and blood onto women, but that’s another topic for another day.
Thing is, this has spiked a completely non-ironic outrage from certain units within the community who feel that “those darned social justice warriors are ruining everything by forcing feminism on us all”. Yes, grown men are getting salty because a developer is “taking away their digital boobs”.
I could throw a whole tonne of hilarious tweets into this blog, but it genuinely concerns me that these are people’s opinions. The above screenshot of Helena was referred to as “shapeless”, “dull”, and “that feminist every woman is attractive shit” (all direct quotes).
Now, look, this is a minor group with loud voices, I’m aware, but that these opinions are held at all troubles me.
At one of these conventions, I met a 16 year old girl who mained Chun-Li in USFIV (who took first place at both the Manchester and Blackpool expos, kicking me to fourth and third, respectively) and tried to convince her to try Dead or Alive. She enjoyed a couple of friendly matches with us – but I wonder what would happen if she went to a DoA tournament with one of these creeps in the audience.
Every FGC event I have ever attended has been super welcoming, friendly to all, and just excited to have new players, no matter age, sex, or skill level – the fact that you want to play the same game is enough – but admittedly the DoA FGC has always been niche and I’ve not met all that many of them.
I just cannot agree that Koei Tecmo looking to make the game more inclusive is a bad thing. In basic terms, it means more players, a larger community, more screen time at events and on Twitch, more opponents to face online…
It means that we’ll finally be able to say “Dead or Alive is one of the best fighters” and get a response like “Yeah, I really enjoyed the finals at Evo” rather than “You only play for the boobs!”
After writing this blog post and just before publishing it, this gem crossed my Twitter timeline.
Apparently, the world is falling apart because Claire Redfield, Lara Croft, and BlackCat aren’t showing enough boob anymore.
Also, “I swear if none of the outfits shows a bit more skin than that ugly default one, I’m going on a killing spree” seems like a very reasonable, calm response, and totally shouldn’t be reported to the police, especially so soon after the tragic Madden shooting…