Opinion The Diversion

Photoshopper decides female video game characters look more realistic as typical overweight Americans

A post on Bulimia.com has created waves across the internet, modifying familiar female video game characters to look more “realistic”.

The site shaped those characters’ “bodies into images that represent the average American woman’s measurements”.

Setting aside the fact that studies have shown that two-thirds of the United States of America is overweight, most of the characters used as examples simply don’t fit the agenda that the site is trying to push. After all, Tekken’s Christie Monteiro, Dead or Alive‘s Helena Douglas and Mortal Kombat‘s Jade & Sonya Blade are all MMA-comparable fighters. Moreover, the Grand Theft Auto V Bikini Girl, seen above, is meant to be a parody of the current fame-seeking inhabitants of LA.

The site also uses Lara Croft as an example of “character design that perpetuates an unrealistic and impossible ideal for the female body distorts cultural perception of the female body, and in turn hurts all women”, Project Manager Sam Deford said in conversation with Polygon, though he admits that “Lara Croft [is] more realistic in most recent iterations”.

“While the newest Lara is far from average, her form looks healthy and fierce; much how she might look if she were real,” Deford said. “More realistic forms would almost certainly have an impact on cultural perceptions of, and respect for the female body.”

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While Deford admits that male video game characters don’t reflect today’s ever-widening society, he doesn’t find a problem with characters like Nathan Drake.

“There are plenty of exceptional examples of men in games that look completely unrealistic and unlike any man you’d see on the street,” Deford said. “I’d argue it hurts male body image, as well. The difference here is that the majority of women in gaming are hyper-sexualized and objectified. The same cannot be said of most male characters in games.”

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We’d like to correct that a reminder of the fictionalised Nate Thomas, male Tomb Raider, seen above.

Actually, we can’t seem to think of a male lead who doesn’t have bigger muscles, or a more defined jawline than anyone on our staff. That’s a problem too then, isn’t it?

What do you think about this photoshopping effort? Is it needed, as characters are too sexualised? Or is it irresponsible in that it’s encouraging gamers that it’s okay to be overweight or obese?

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.