King of Fighters XIII, and what it says about SNK’s views on women and minorities.

10 03 2012

So, I’m updating for the first time in ages. Is it the much-needed dealing-with-DLA post? Is it a protest update?

No, it’s rambling about videogames. Which, fuck, may not seem that important on the surface, but the way that people are portrayed in media shapes the audience’s ideas and behavior. If you disagree with that statement, I’m not going to spend pages arguing the point. There’s a wealth of information out there on how bigotted representations in media affect people’s ideas and behavior. I highly recommend you Google it before you form a response.

Anyway. There’s recently been a fair amount of controversy over sexism in the Fighting Game community. Looking at the most popular fighting games around right now (Street Fighter, Tekken, King of Fighters, Blazblue) it’s fairly easy to form an idea of how this would come about. But to say it’s a problem in fighting game fans is missing the point; it’s a problem in videogames in general. Women and minorities are treated like shit in the majority of mainstream games, regardless of genre. Resident Evil 5. Bayonetta. Batman: Arkham City. World of Warcraft. There are multiple examples in any genre. I’m not here to say fighting games are the worst, I think that’s a fairly pointless conversation. But King of Fighters XIII? Yeah, it’s one of the worst I’ve ever seen.

First off, I have really, really wanted to like this game. SNK have been lagging behind Capcom for a while now, and I have little love for the latter. I got into King of Fighters on the recommendation of a friend after having played Street Fighter on and off for years, and the more fleshed out characters (Street Fighter’s roster are cardboard cut-outs, participating in a plot you’d expect to find on the back of a cereal box) and deeper gameplay system drew me in. So, I was eager to see XIII get a release date, and when it came out I quickly went out and bought it. I’d heard there was racism in XII, but I shared the hope that this (amid XII’s various other problems; not a loved game by the community) would be fixed.

Oh boy. What a treat I got.

Two of the strong, independant female characters (Yuri & King) had been given ‘special’ animations upon their defeat. If you beat either one with a special move, their tops get ripped off, exposing their breasts and underwear. Oh, joy. While blatantly wheeled out for the male gaze, they had precedent within the series, leading to many defending them as a callback to their early days as characters.

The character King from Art of Fighting, showing her breasts and tattered clothing.

Truly a golden time. I can see why any company would want to bring back such memories for their fans. Beaten foes are depicted in many ways in videogames. Angry, hurt, despairing, defiant, disbelieving; What’s creepy is when this is used with female characters to make them sexy.  Because heck, when’s a better time to oggle a woman’s titties than when you’ve literally beaten the clothes off of her, right?

Stills from King and Yuri's special defeat animations.

You would have hoped that during the 20 years since Art of Fighting, SNK might want to show how far their characters have progressed. But, no. Under the paper-thin guise of reminesence (seriously, you’d want to reminesce over misogyny in your old games by adding new, similar misogyny to your new ones?), characters who’ve gained depth and meaning over the past two decades are reduced to delicious female objects for the ‘loving’ gaze of the fanboys.

Then there’s Mai. Mai.. Has always been a fanservice character. I’m really not sure what to make of her. Words fail me, so hopefully a picture will do.

The character Mai Shiranui from The King of Fighters XIII, showing her oversized, bouncing breasts.

Yep. Those are breasts.

Honestly, in a game where there was more equal graphical ‘love’ given to the men, I wouldn’t mind Mai so much. Obviously in contemporary society male and female representation and objectification are hugely unequal, but it would have been easier for me to swallow if, say, Ash Crimson or Benimaru were given similar levels of fanservice. It would have been at least a nod to SNK knowing that women are people, and that they have fans outside of stereotypical male gamers; Drooling virgin post-adolescent straight men. I know plenty of guys who find this kind of thing uncomfortable, not to mention embarressing to play. But apparently the fanbase that SNK seek to cater for are those who enjoy this kind of fanservice, and would feel strange and uncomfortable emotions if they were presented with the possibility that a male could be portrayed similarly. To compound the problem, many of the male members of the cast spend their time slut-shaming Mai for how she acts. So; let’s dress our character up to be a slut, then shame and demean her for it through the voice of our male cast. Women should only be sexy when they’ve been beaten up, right? The image SNK holds of their fanbase is looking to be a pretty fucking unpleasant one.

When I started playing, the first thing that leapt out at me in XIII was the jungle stage. Instead of improving and getting rid of the racism in XII (Chinese people are given all the dignity of a yellow menace propoganda poster), they’ve taken it to even worse extremes. I mean, wow. A jungle full of squat, half-human black people in loincloths, skirts and tribal paint, with pot bellies, puffy lips, blank, unintelligent eyes and.. Fuck. You get the idea. This left me floored when I first saw it, as to how any developer in 2011 could take that design and go “Yeah, this is a really good idea for our game”.

A screencap of King of Fighters XIII, showing the jungle tribe in the background.

Brazil Stage from KoF XIII; Zoomed to show an example background character.

Classy.

There’s some debate over whether these people are even supposed to be human or not. Some of them seem to have tails, whereas from their use of clothing and tools, they seem pretty obviously meant as having human cognitive abilities. If this is meant as a screen to defend against allegations of racism, it’s a piss-poor one. It doesn’t matter whether they’re meant as human or not; they’re a mess of some of the worst stereotypes of people of colour, and making them inhuman if anything makes that worse.  The confusing part of this being, King of Fighters has a rich history of characters of various ethnicities, who are usually treated as fairly as any others. So it seems like here SNK have specifically created a species to encapsulate their perception of ethnic minorities. People have tried this approach before. It doesn’t work.

So, yeah. I’m not sure how much I can say on this point; I’m not a member of an ethnic minority group, so I can’t speak about how this directly affects me. While it makes me uncomfortable to see such demeaning portrayals, I can only percieve it from a white perspective, and call such instances when I see them. Which is probably why I was able to ignore this aspect for a while and still play the game.
Don’t worry though, everyone! King of Fighters XIII has enough fail for all of us to enjoy!

An audience clapping.

How about some transphobia? The 5 o’clock shadow ugly transwoman is a comedy classic, after all! C’mon, let’s wheel that one out.

Stage from KoF XIII, showing two female-presenting people with shadowing around the beard area.

It’s fairly hard to see here, but those two at the leftmost side of the girls group have been given beard-shadowing. As we all know, trans women are all ultra-feminine, but we always leave our faces covered in shadow for comic effect. Looking closer, they’ve been put at a distance from the other female bystanders, and are the only ones who’ve not been given the ‘classic’ female facial features exhibited in the ones to the right.

The power of zoom compells you!

Stage from KoF XIII, zoomed in, showing two stereotype trans women alongside a group of presumably cisgendered women.

Again, people might argue this one. But then, why would SNK make the colouring on these two’s faces markedly different in the beard area, then seperate them off from the other girls, then give them more masculine facial features (brow, jawline)? I think anyone who argues that they’re still not meant to be trans at this point is looking  more than a little desperate. But hey, let’s look at how SNK treats overtly-trans people! That’ll give us a bead on how to read this, right?

The ending for the Fatal Fury Team in KoF XIII, showing a stereotyped trans woman going to kiss a horrified Joe..

Oh.

Ending of Fatal Fury Team from KoF XIII, showing a trans woman chasing Joe.

Oh god.

Joe, now kissed and embraced by the trans woman, is visibly emaciated, and his spirit drifts out of his body. His teammates look amused and horrified.

Excuse me while I go headdesk a bottle of whiskey.

So; The same portrayal of trans people. Feminine clothing, overtly male build (compare the two in the stage screenshot to their companions to the right; one looks similar to this example, the other fat enough to be androgynous), masculine features, 5 o’clock shadow. In this scene, Andy and Terry are both embraced by female members of the King of Fighters cast. Joe is instead embraced by this trans woman, who chases him down and kisses him, which apparently horrifies Joe enough to leave him an emaciated husk, with his ghost drifting up out of his body as he tries to pretend this hasn’t happened. His teammates look either disgusted/concerned or amused.

Yes, we do devote our lives to forcing ourselves onto poor, innocent cisgendered men, either through ‘trickery’ or brute force. In fact, our whole aim in life is to evoke disgust and revulsion in others. Our only redeeming trait is that we, by inflicting this horrible fate on others, may induce some humour through schaudenfraude. Laugh at us. It’s all we’re good for.

Or, that’s a sickening stereotype that should have been taken out and shot long, long ago, but is kept alive by shitty writers who can’t be arsed to come up with fresh material, and so trot us out as a cheap and easy shot because they’re bigotted fucks,  and instead we’re actual human beings. Along with other women. And ethnic minorities.

Yeah, SNK can go fuck themselves. I’ve tried to like them, as they’re one of the few alternatives to Capcom in the 2D fighting market, but they’ve gone out of their way to alienate, objectify and ridicule anyone who strays from their target audience, taking the cheapest, most outdated stereotypes and portrayals and making it seem as if the past 20 years in videogame progression had never happened. The ‘ideal’ fans they seem to be catering for are apparently a group of sexually-repressed straight white cisgendered guys, who see ethnic minorities as subhuman, women as objects and trans people as beings of scorn and disgust. Anyone who isn’t a member of this elite crowd is going to be left feeling very uncomfortable by many of the aspects in this game.

Fuck you, SNK. Fuck you.


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29 responses

10 03 2012
Jean-Paul

Thanks loads for writing this! I am honestly surprised by the lack of coverage to do with this on the internet, which sort of left me feeling like I was being irrational by pointing all the racism/transphobia/misogyny out…

I hadn’t noticed the beard-shadowing on the Japan stage, I was genuinely pleased they had featured a woman that wasn’t super-thin. But, ocht, SNK! They’ve spoiled even that!

The ‘Joe gets ‘hassle’ from a trans woman” thing happens in, I think, the 2003 ending, as well? So not only is it a shitty ‘joke’, it’s a shitty RUNNING ‘joke’.

Along with all his pre-fight quotes, as well, this game has completely killed Joe for me – I used to think he was fun and stuff, but now, he’s just vile.

Why don’t SNK realise all this stuff is not on? Well, a cursory look at gaming sites across the internet is enough to make them think the only people that play their games are bigoted and insular man-children, so why shouldn’t they cater to them? Aaaaargh.

I hate having to read all sorts of slurs about gender/sexuality etc just so I can find out the latest gaming news. Sigh.

Great blog, by the way! Lots of interesting reading here.

11 03 2012
ratbagqueer

I’ve not played Joe yet. I’ll probably avoid him like the plague (and honestly, the rest of the game is looking to get that treatment). Thanks for the heads up. I didn’t know about his ending until I read your article, in fact. I was just poking around the internet seeing if anyone else had noticed it in the Osaka 96 background.

I feel the same. There are very few gaming blogs and the like where you won’t find a constant stream of privileged bullshit. I used to read GayGamer until they pulled the exact same thing. RockPaperShotgun has been good so far, but they only cover PC content, and seem to be fairly UK focused.

I wish SNK would realise this kind of content wasn’t on too, because I really love their retro library, and want to keep supporting them. But I can’t while they pull shit like this.

Thanks!

12 03 2012
Jean-Paul

Wow, the “it’s just a game, some things are worse!!!” crowd are out in full force, aren’t they? It’s annoying how people act like you actually played the new King of fighters WANTING to be offended. I know myself that I’d much rather KoF XIII wasn’t full of absolute bullshit, then I would have quite happily posted stuff about how great it is.

I’ve not checked Gaygamer for aaages, it never really covers anything I play, so I’ve not noticed any objectionable stuff, but I’ll keep an eye out, should I return to it…

Cheers for the RockPaperShotgun suggestion – I’ll check it out.

Good luck with the commenters!

12 03 2012
Jean-Paul

PS that article about ‘how to be a fan of problematic things’ that you linked in another comment is ace! Thanks for that!

11 03 2012
Yo Momma

Really?

… Really?

Get a life.

11 03 2012
ratbagqueer

..Said the man posting troll comments on random strangers blogs.

11 03 2012
Hatchi

Oh brother, what a way to overact. Sounds like somebody has no sense of humor. It’s all just a joke, if you can’t handle it, then you’re not fit for gaming, because these kind of sterotypes are present in a ton of games, even today, and what SNK does is tame compared to some other games out there.

Hell, look at any of Capcom’s recent fighting games, female fighters constantly have the low stamina compared to male fighters. Is the fanservice on King and Yuri any worse than Mortal Kombat where you beaten females until they are bloody and bruised, with almost bare naked breasts exposed? Plus don’t forget the brutal fatalities.

These are classic characters here, King and Yuri’s “Cheese K.O” animations are throwbacks to the old AOF and early KOF days, it’s just fanservice, big deal. Mai is also a classic character in her own right, argue all you want she’s just fanservice, or dresses like a slut, she’s a classic and traditional character that has been with the series since the beginning, that’s how she’s always been, why make any changes to her now? It’s about 20 years too late to have any problems regarding Mai, and honestly her portal in KOFXIII is modest compared to some KOF installments where her ass jiggled while kicking, her boobs were ridiculous sizes in official artwork, and even appeared almost nude in a few animations.

If you want something to complain about, then look no further than Poison in Street Fighter X Tekken, or you know what, take a good look at Arcana Heart, a pedophiles game. Those are a million times worse.

11 03 2012
ratbagqueer

“Oh brother, what a way to overact”

I’m guessing you mean “overreact” there, so I’ll answer that. How am I overreacting? By pointing out problems in a game you like? By calling them on shit treatment of minorities, because they don’t happen to affect you?

“Sounds like somebody has no sense of humor.”

Thankyou. I’m collecting those comments. I prize their originality and depth of discourse, and keep them in a little glass cabinet.

“It’s all just a joke”

So that makes it okay! Fuck that whole ‘videogames are a valid art form’ argument when it’s not convenient, right? We only pull that out when a journalist walks past.

“Hell, look at any of Capcom’s recent fighting games, female fighters constantly have the low stamina compared to male fighters. Is the fanservice on King and Yuri any worse than Mortal Kombat where you beaten females until they are bloody and bruised, with almost bare naked breasts exposed? Plus don’t forget the brutal fatalities.”

I’m not familiar with Mortal Kombat. Which fatalities are there soley to look sexy?

“These are classic characters here, King and Yuri’s “Cheese K.O” animations are throwbacks to the old AOF and early KOF days, it’s just fanservice, big deal.”

Reading articles before commenting often helps cure this confusion you seem to be having. I already addressed these points. Please bring something new to the table, or explain why my counterarguments were inconclusive.

The rest of your comment appears to be “Other stuff is worse/bad too, so shut up!” so excuse me if I don’t bother replying to that. Thanks for stopping by.

11 03 2012
Kyokugenryu

You know this is a JAPANESE game right? So why so surprised? Maybe you never heard of Hardgay? Hell, black face is still seen over in Japan. There is even a fetish in Japan known as “ryona” aka women beating beaten up and there are animation and video games where women and raped.

However, it’s just all fun and fictional nonsense over there, they don’t take that stuff seriously, it’s just entertainment. I mean really, USA reacts harshly to this kind of shit, but they are just as bad with racism and sexism in the media, including video games. KOFXIII is a terrible example of it, and it’s a fine game. Maybe you should try digging deeper.

11 03 2012
ratbagqueer

I’m aware that there are worse examples of sexism, racism and other such shit in other Japanese games. I chose to focus on KoFXIII because I had such high hopes for it, and it failed so catastrophically to meet them.

12 03 2012
hadoukenchips

KOFXIII is a good game, it plays very well, it’s a beautifully drawn 2D fighting game, with great music, and classic characters, it’s a straight up honest fighting game and is way better than Capcom’s recent attempts.

Why all the hate? Quit being stuck up.

11 03 2012
wut

lol I guess you haven’t played Arcana Heart, you wanna see a sexist game? Look no further than that.

Also, look at Capcom, giving low health to every female fighter. Racism? Look no further than Balrog, Dee Jay and Dhalsim. Don’t forget Zangief, he is so blatantly soviet Russian

These sexiest and racist sterotypes that exist in games are a part of the worlds culture, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

11 03 2012
ratbagqueer

Looked at Arcana Heart, decided not to buy for obvious reasons.

Again, more “Other stuff is bad too!”. You guys (and I would be very surprised if any of you weren’t) seem to be under the illusion that that’s an excuse.

13 04 2012
Fiks

Shame. Arcana heart is a fantastic game, and once you turn off the console-exclusive sidebars(lol ASW) it has almost no sexual animations, probably less than SF4.

11 03 2012
RagingStorm

This article is shallow as hell. Get a sense of humor. American TV is about a hundred times worse, what’s the harm of an innocent little Japanese fighting game?

Other video game developers are even worse.

11 03 2012
ratbagqueer

“This article is shallow as hell.”

Thankyou for commenting. Please could you explain further? The rest of your comment, as with your cohorts, seems to be “Other stuff is bad too, so that makes it okay!”. Could you please explain as to why the acts of others make SNK above any criticism? This point seems to elude my meagre cognitive abilities.

11 03 2012
mashingbutans

You don’t seem to be in the SNK scene for that long, I’ll try to be as nice and informative as possible.

King and Yuri shirt rips: Even though they were the only characters with special KO animations like these back in KoF ’94 and ’95, I do agree that they should have done something similar for the Art of Fighting males (Ryo, Robert, Takuma.) Small fun tidbit is that SNK likes to re-use a distinct echo-ish hitsound for the AOF characters. If I remember correctly, they left them out of KoFXII and the early versions of XIII. Hell, even Capcom used it in Capcom vs SNK 2 for Todoh and Dan in SFIV has a mockery of it during his super attack. Their traditions can be a bit inconsistent. I agree that it should have been a bit more subtle if King and Yuri are the only ones with an animation like that. It’s a bit cringeworthy sometimes. Maybe we are both the oversensitive ones, haha.

Mai: Yeah, she’s fanservice. No, I don’t think SNKP hates women as much as you think they are because they do have female designs that don’t have their tits and asses sticking out. Mature and Vice show a tad cleavage but are otherwise decent. Athena, even though she looks like an LSD-addicted alien, also doesn’t show naughty parts, same for Elizabeth in he default costume and Leona. Some characters also make fun of Mai because she had an image change years ago (more covered up) and it wasn’t well received according to them. As for her place in the roster, she’s worthy because she’s a classic and the point of the recent KoFs was to reboot everything and include more old and forgotten characters along with fan favorites. She’s also one of the fastest characters in the game, so she’s definitely unique gameplay-wise.

Forest creatures: I’ll be blunt here; they aren’t humans (tails,) you said so yourself. For your information, there is a London stage that is FULL of black people (it’s one of the first stages shown when the game was revealed) and they don’t have red lips, bananas, soot faces or whatever racist thing one can come up with. I don’t know why you left it out, but if it was by accident, then you should have done a bit more research to make a fair point. If you left it out on purpose to tilt the argument towards your favor, well, shame on you.

China stage racism: Most look a tad… out there, I’ll give you that. I guess because their animations are hilarious and over the top that it didn’t have such a negative effect.

Crossdressers: We don’t know the intentions of SNKP, we can’t read their minds. We can only judge what we see in the game. Joe’s crazy fanboy is indeed obnoxious, but I do think you’re taking the Osaka stage argument a bit too far with the distance between the bearded crossdressers and the 3 girls. They could be amateur crossdressers or maybe they lost a bet, who knows. Just because they add a couple of hairy crossdressers doesn’t necessarily mean that they hate all of them. More fun tid-bits;

http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Yaci_Izanagi The article doesn’t state it, but he is indeed a gay character who has an interest in the white haired guy you see below.
http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Yumeji_Kurokouchi Gender is never revealed, and afaik, characters don’t make fun of him/her.
And last but not least: http://snk.wikia.com/wiki/Shion Article has enough info.

SNK/P can create inoffensive LGBT characters if they want.

If you want to be angry at SNKP, that’s fine. They’ve pissed off their fans plenty of times in the past with horrid games and business practices, KoFXII being the worst offender in recent history. We all have our reasons to dislike how they treat our favorite characters and games. However, some arguments of yours are too farfetched and poorly researched, I addressed those earlier.

Here’s how I interpret the stereotypes; they are merely there to make backgrounds unique and something hilarious/strange to look at. For example, the fat ladies in the France stage (XII dev interview revealed that they are tourists) are having the time of their life; flailing their arms like mad, fist pumping, head banging and all sorts of strange body swaying. They are all excited to watch the fight and it adds to the atmosphere. Their wild animations all create emotions, discussions and reactions of the players watching the game (she looks kinda cute, she’s clapping for me because I’m awesome, I bet she’s a freak in the sack etc.) One could interpret it as something negative, saying that SNKP thinks fat women go all Jersey Shore when they see a fight, or one could interpret it like I did above.

Fwiw; I’m part Indian and absolutely nothing in the India stage offends me, it’s all unique and hilarious. The guy eating the grapes and drinking wine like a boss (he’s center of attention, no less) is fantastic. It might just be me because racist talk/messages/imagery never affected me, unless they were personally threatening.

KoFXIII may have been one of the worst cases you have ever seen and while I agree that SNKP is obnoxious in some areas, you admitted yourself that you haven’t looked much into other games. That’s fair enough. One thing is for sure, it’s not THE worst. ;)

P.S. Personally, I wouldn’t touch that Arcana Heart trash with a mile long stick. It could have amazing gameplay, but aesthetics also matter to me and I see nothing appealing in little girls.

12 03 2012
ratbagqueer

Lots to address here, so I’ll quote bits and respond as I go;

“Mai: Yeah, she’s fanservice. No, I don’t think SNKP hates women as much as you think they are because they do have female designs that don’t have their tits and asses sticking out. Mature and Vice show a tad cleavage but are otherwise decent. Athena, even though she looks like an LSD-addicted alien, also doesn’t show naughty parts, same for Elizabeth in he default costume and Leona. Some characters also make fun of Mai because she had an image change years ago (more covered up) and it wasn’t well received according to them. As for her place in the roster, she’s worthy because she’s a classic and the point of the recent KoFs was to reboot everything and include more old and forgotten characters along with fan favorites. She’s also one of the fastest characters in the game, so she’s definitely unique gameplay-wise.”

There’s a lot I agree with here. She is a core part of the roster now, and I agree that she’s an interesting character gameplay-wise. But she is representative of the kind of casual, leering voyeurism in games that I loathe. It doesn’t make me hate the game itself (God Hand and Ninja Gaiden Black are two of my favourite games of all time, and both feature this exact problem), but it’s a part of the overall trend I was addressing in the article, so I judged it as worth putting in.

“Here’s how I interpret the stereotypes; they are merely there to make backgrounds unique and something hilarious/strange to look at. For example, the fat ladies in the France stage (XII dev interview revealed that they are tourists) are having the time of their life; flailing their arms like mad, fist pumping, head banging and all sorts of strange body swaying. They are all excited to watch the fight and it adds to the atmosphere. Their wild animations all create emotions, discussions and reactions of the players watching the game (she looks kinda cute, she’s clapping for me because I’m awesome, I bet she’s a freak in the sack etc.) One could interpret it as something negative, saying that SNKP thinks fat women go all Jersey Shore when they see a fight, or one could interpret it like I did above.”

I agree that SNK go over the top in their backgrounds, but I don’t think that excuses the further spreading of stereotypes that actively damage people’s lives. What a lot of people seem to misunderstand is that they assume that I’m offended by all this, and that’s the core reason for writing the article. The fact of the matter is, that I know a lot of people who get verbal and physical abuse (not to mention job discrimination, etc) because these exact stereotypes are so commonly used in the media. The decision to use a lazy, inaccurate and ultimately damaging stereotype in a videogame (or any other medium) is one that I think people should be called on. You can be over the top and wacky without being racist, transphobic or the like.

To put things in perspective, God Hand utterly failed at this. I still like it for it’s other traits, and I don’t begrudge other people liking KoFXIII. But the combination in the latter put me off, and the design in both is problematic. http://www.socialjusticeleague.net/2011/09/how-to-be-a-fan-of-problematic-things/ is a good intro to the issues surrounding this, and the general mindset is one that I tend to take as read rather than writing out a lengthy intro each time. Probably a link I should be more generous with in my articles.

“Fwiw; I’m part Indian and absolutely nothing in the India stage offends me, it’s all unique and hilarious. The guy eating the grapes and drinking wine like a boss (he’s center of attention, no less) is fantastic. It might just be me because racist talk/messages/imagery never affected me, unless they were personally threatening.”

Yeah, that’s a totally understandable perspective. Sometimes I can shrug these things off and still enjoy a game, and sometimes they just sour the whole experience for me, because they remind me of the kind of ideas of myself and others people have in mind while they’re kicking our heads in (“trans women being sexual predators who victimise poor, unsuspecting straight/cis guys” is a stereotype so entrenched in society it’s often used as a defense in murder cases, for example).

20 03 2012
Fiks

Uh, you do realize arcana has several characters in it who arent underage girls, right? Plus, mai alone is more fanservice than all of the sprites in AH combined.

12 03 2012
ratbagqueer

Heads up; If you use slurs (tranny, nigger, fag, et cetera) and can’t see your comment published, that would be the reason why. If you want to throw that kind of hateful bile around, go somewhere else.

14 03 2012
Aenthin

That’s the thing about Japanese people though. They’re not really all too sensitive about sexual slurs or whatnot, as compared to people in the west. However, I don’t think they mean any harm in any of their works, or at least not SNKP. As mashingbutan said, there are actually quite a number of depictions of women and minorities that are inoffensive.

Yes, King and Yuri were given special KO animations. I also think that it’s for fanservice, both for nostalgia reasons and…well, not so innocent ones. Yes, Mai has always been a fanservice character. Aesthetics aside, they’re all fun to use gameplay wise. In all honesty, while Mai has been wearing a little less than before (she wasn’t wearing backless afaik), her attack animations have been less fanservice-y as of late. Before, you would see her showing her butt more blatantly. SNKP even said so themselves in one of their blog posts.

Let’s also look at their actual characters. King was portrayed as the woman who had to disguise herself as a man in a man’s world, to get the prize money in a Muay Thai competition for her brother’s medicine. Ultimately, it failed and she has been bitter about sexism ever since. Yuri was also depicted as a helpless character in the first AoF game. She has since taken the basics of Kyokugen fighting to prove that she is not anymore the helpless little sister she once was. And Mai, if you look past her obsession for Andy and her “traditional fighting garments,” she was actually trained to be the ideal wife in Japan. She even held a tea ceremony for Kyo and Yuki in the RPG, KoF:Kyo.

Also funny how you didn’t even mention the other girls of XIII. Elisabeth used to have a boob window in KoF XI, but she has since gotten a more respectable and dignified look in this game. She’s also depicted as a very head-strong and serious yet tragic character who keeps moving forward despite her past, a portrayal I think is actually quite positive.

Mature and Vice have really provoking poses but they have always been a particularly vicious pair, considering their heritage. They were designed as ruthless and cruel respectively, with the possible implications of them using their bodies to lure and kill people. Meanwhile, Leona is of the same clan as they are, but she keeps her emotions to herself to fight back the urge to kill mindlessly.

Kula is the spoiled girl you see now and seems like a negative portrayal at first, then you realize she was an artificial human designed as a weapon to take out the renegade K’. Her only outlet of actual human emotions prior to joining K’ were through her surrogate mothers, Diana, Foxy and Candy (a robot).

Then there’s Athena, the most normal girl out there if you look past her being pop idol, reincarnation of a goddess, and hero of justice.

And what of background characters? Well to be honest, I’m not sure why Botan wears her revealing outfit so I guess that’s SNK’s fault. However, her personality of being a manipulative bitch is due to Saiki’s empty promise of their clan ruling the world. Being part of a clan hunted down by the Branctorche family for generations, naturally, she’d want a world where she’ll come out on top. Rose, on the other hand, is manipulated by Botan. She is not even aware of her actions at all. However, she has a strong love for her brother, Adelheid.

And what of the other background characters? Well, I’m not really sure why the obese women in the France stage are doing what they are, but they sure are having a fun time. It’s not like any of them would suddenly have their mouths foam and faint in the middle of the match, though. It’s all just over-the-top cartoon animations.

As far as I can tell, there really hasn’t been an attack against women through these depictions. Had there really been an attack, then all of the women should have had negative portrayals like giving every single one of them revealing outfits, do sexual poses or whatnot. The fact that they do have redeeming factors mean that SNKP doesn’t really attack the female sex in general. It’s just that there has been unfortunate implications and people who assume that there are.

20 03 2012
Fiks

I dont really see why you can assume SNK hates trans people when they have several gender ambiguous characters. Shion, Ash, etc.

Also, Marco stands out as a normal black person among the tribe stage, and someone else pointed out the normal black people in the british stage. I dont think the pygmy stage can be so easily used to accuse racism.

There are a lot of shirtless etc men/color alts in KOF, like for Benimaru and IIRC terry. It is strange to me that you ignore that and also ignore the several women who are displayed without sexual emphasis in the game. Of course, you could say “The male fanservice doesnt compare to bouncing boobs” but that is because people dont see male secondary sexual characteristics as “intense” as female secondary sexual characteristics. The top 4 sexually viewed body parts, in no order, are breasts, butt, penis, and feet, and so “outdoing” that fanservice with a male would take exposure of primary sexual characteristics, which isnt really allowed in games.

So, I think your conclusions are largely unfair and incomplete.

24 03 2012
ratbagqueer

You can have racist and non-racist content in the same game. The same goes for transphobia. The same goes for sexism. Having pretty androgynous boys in a game does not exempt it from criticism of its transphobic content. Having black characters who aren’t one-dimensional charactures does not exempt it from criticism of it’s racist content. Et cetera.

Benimaru is probably the most fanservicey male in the game, and even he’s a stretch. None of the men compare to the obviously-fanservice female sprites, animation, dialogue, etc. There doesn’t seem to be any sexualisation on that level for any of the male characters. I would welcome examples if you know of any, but “that guy has a bare stomach” (Benimaru) isn’t really up to par. Some of Ash’s unlockable art is cute, but never really goes into ‘sexy’.

13 04 2012
Fiks

“You can have racist and non-racist content in the same game.”
What? But how can something be simultaneously be saying negative things about black people as a race and then also say them as not being that? This is absolutely the same as not differentiating between “There are many black people in this game. They are all evil. This is offensive.” and “There are many black people in this game. Some are evil. You can have both racist and non-racist content in the same game.” Racism is not just about being “Yeah, I sometimes depict characters of a certain sort negatively.” It is about actually treating black people poorly and thinking of them a certain.

You didnt even establish the transphobic thing at all. Joe was did not want someone he didnt find attractive acting a certain way with him. Ok? If it was an ugly asian woman, would that have been racist?
Also, “fat enough to be androgynous”? Really? Fat women arent feminine? How do we know who is post-op and who is born female?

Uh, as a Bi person, i disagree with what you said about Benimaru. Benimaru’s shirtless(not just “bare stomach” as you describe them) colors are almost as stimulating as Mai. Men are visually sexually attractive in different ways than women. Do I wish he/others was more like Urien or Algol? Sure. Ultimately, what counts as sexualized is loose as hell. If one was not aware with how some people viewed legs, one might not view chun-li as sexualized. What does that word even mean, really? Being sexualized is not on or not, everyone can easily be viewed sexually or be thought of as being sexually invoking upon creation, even primitive shapes of male/female invoke such thoughts. But being sexualized isnt even a consistent gradient, as what is the most sexualized? What is the least? Are heavily clothed people the most sexualized, or is their clothing suggesting that which they hide, like the attractive naughty taboo? Are sex-innocent nude people the most sexualized, or is their open nudity desexualizing their bodies? Whether someone is “sexualized” is cultural, even individual.
I dont think Mai etc are significantly far off from Benimaru, Terry, etc, and you apparently disagree. You view male sex appeal differently than I do. The fact that they’re pandering with mai is more obvious because that sexual image is more common, that’s about it. Even if they pander “one way” more, so what? What does this establish? Nothing. Even the fact that the sex appeal of women is overemphasized in so much media doesnt mean that SNK is guilty of something other than not explicitly setting out to not join in on displaying typical images of the sex appeal of women. This is not like the american music video industry, where there are countless hordes of popular music videos that display women *exclusively* as ravenous, unhappy when not with men, and constantly seeking sexual attention. THAT is sexism and objectification. This is not.

Also, regarding the accusation of slut-shaming: What says that the reactions of characters means that SNK views sluts negatively? Do you think most characters, coming across someone in battle, wouldnt have that sort of reaction? Considering that Mai points out that Joe/Hwa Jai are in their boxers, how can we even conclude that SNK means to slut-shame Mai and not point out double standards or laugh at how fighting game characters value appearances that seem to be out-of-battle instead of in-battle, or some other *interpretation*?

Ultimately, you are working way too hard to turn loose material into absolute meaning of thoughts. This isnt a book saying racist things. These are vague aspects of a game that are probably there for mediocre humor and such. You have established nothing. I mean, really, your whole thing of “this is obviously saying that transngender people are only for x” is simply you reaching desperately.
They’re not displaying black/female/trans people as bad, or all one way, or anything like that. They utilized sexuailty as references, depictiosn of some sort of creatures that could be seen as offensive depictions of pygmys, and they displayed joe as not wanting lusting attention from some trans person he didnt find attractive.
You’re thinking fast and loose with your accusations of racism/sexism. Could I understand that someone might feel uncomfortable? Sure. Is the mai stuff etc “pandering” to one sexuality and not another? Probably. But actually sexist, racist, and anti-trans? Those are large claims that are simply not substantiated here.

14 05 2012
ratbagqueer

““You can have racist and non-racist content in the same game.”
What? But how can something be simultaneously be saying negative things about black people as a race and then also say them as not being that? This is absolutely the same as not differentiating between “There are many black people in this game. They are all evil. This is offensive.” and “There are many black people in this game”

Yeah, and this is why I’m not going to engage you anymore. I had to reread this a few times to fully check that you are in fact saying something so ridiculously childish. If you can’t grasp the fact that you can have problematic and non-problematic content in the same piece of media, that in fact things are not carefully segregated between good media and bad media, that there is in fact such a thing as complexity, subtlety, nuance, and that, and this is important, creators can make good things and still fuck up, then there’s not any worth in me continuing this painfully awkward stream of dialogue any further.

14 05 2012
Fiks

Regarding your reply below.

Shame that you are so dismissive of any nuance or complexity in my post and simply dismiss me because of your hard line opinion about what is “meant” by the africa stage in KOF 13. Yes, an author can have cognitive dissonance, can think awful things about a race and then act like they have certain ideals about equality etc. But I think that sort of thing is different from equating questionable imagery with actual racism, especially when there is already an explanation for this imagery.(Not actually the same species)

I never said that media can only be good or bad and that there is no mixture of good and bad. I can see these choices made by SNK as being poor ones. I realize that someone can make something very progressive and then have it bogged down by something. You are the one IMPOSING simplicity on my views. I just dont think that calling SNK racist/sexist/transphobic is accurate.

I even began to touch on the issue of: When is an author speaking through their characters in terms of opinion? (the slut shaming thing) When is it just the character themself? When is it all a large joke/satire? When are they being critical of characters/attitudes in a way that didnt cross translation? But apparently I have appreciation of nuance, as you have accused for no significantly grounded reason.

Shame that you arent confident enough in your opinions, your ability to debunk faulty logic, etc to actually face the rest of my post, either.

1 04 2012
RandomKOFfan

Pretty much Shion and Ash prove to me that SNKP doesn’t view transgendered people in a negative light.

Also, King was originally more masculine in the earlier SNK games.

I honestly think you’re nitpicking here.

Just because something is added for the sake of humor doesn’t mean it is the only thing an entire culture or videogame company thinks about in a specific type of person.

1 04 2012
RandomKOFfan

Lastly, as another commentor pointed out before, this is a Japanese game.

They aren’t exactly considered the most progressive people in the world.

They have panty vendors.

http://static8.businessinsider.com/image/4afb53a2000000000094203b-590/the-infamous-japanese-panty-vending-machines-probably-not-pre-worn-however.jpg

13 04 2012
Fiks

Panty vending machines are supremely rare in japan. It is rather pointless to point them out. Plus, whether or not they are progressive overall doesnt matter here. Additionally, I find your analysis lackluster. While japan has bigotry issues, so do america(see: black people, gays) and europe(see: gypsies, and, yes, antisemitism is still a giant problem, and I am not talking about anti-zionism)
You need more of a point and a more substantial comparison.

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