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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Theory of Relatibility

September 19, 2012
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On fantasy visuals in a visual world 

I'm just going warn you ahead of time, by the end of this article, you are probably going to think I'm a:

  1. prude
  2. chauvinist
  3. sexually-suppressed mouse of a man, or
  4. a psycho on a soapbox

Hopefully, it ends up as none of them, but I just wanted to give you a head start on which names to call me. I'd also like to say that everything I say is my own personal opinion, and you are more than welcome to take it and completely dismiss it and/or flood my email with all of the terrible words you learned from Xbox Live.

All I ask is that you hear me out.

This scenario starts with me happily working my way through the first couple of hours of "Batman: Arkham City," BIFF, THWACK and POWing my way through hordes of various thugs and ne'er-do-wells. As games are wont to do, there was a plot point where I lost control of the Dark Knight due to a loss of consciousness. I was half-expecting the stereotypical, first-person blurry-eyed shot of our hero waking up.

Instead, I found myself in the high heels of Catwoman, standing on top of one of Arkham City's skyscrapers. It was at this moment, in the tighter-than-skin leather bodysuit of the Catwoman (and I say that very metaphorically) that I fully started realizing just how sexually charged this industry has become. Maybe I'm a little late to the party, but it's starting to get ridiculous.

Many journalists before me have written of how developers need to grow up and display women in a less-fantastic way, but in all honesty, for me it goes much deeper than that. I feel that "empowering" women in the digital world by figuring out creative ways to frame their super-balloonified DD boobs in such a way that no imagination is necessary is degrading to both gaming genders.

I understand that this is a part of the world we live in, and that eye candy is everything to a generation that wants satisfaction without dealing with cute, boring love. This whole thing could stem from the fact that I'm old-fashioned and believe that there are so many other ways to respect women in video games other than creating a physical goddess and believing that such a creation is akin to respect. But it truly and deeply bothers me that teams of 50-200 people of different genders, creeds and personal backgrounds could all agree that, yes, this is the way they want to depict women in their game.

Maybe this white knight sentiment stems from the fact that I just got married. I have a lovely redheaded maelstrom of fury that I am more than overjoyed to call my own. I would never compare her with another woman, but if she wanders past me controlling a slinky, leather-clad femme fatale, she's subconsciously going to wonder if I expect her to look like that. It's not a self-respect issue on her part at this point, but an issue on my part. It's a question of, "Is the excellent overall quality of this game worth having the woman I love even toeing the line of doubting my attraction to her?"

There are some days where I am amazed at the progress our society, and then there are days like today where I wonder how many different ways we can take a step backwards. We live in such a visual, in-motion world, and anything and everything is judged only according to its looks, whether living or nonliving. I was sincerely hoping that one day, game developers would stop taking the route of the crap 'Cosmopolitan' puts out by displaying women in a perfected glass house, Photoshopped and airbrushed to utter perfection.

That's not my definition of a woman. My definition of a true woman is simply this: a beautiful mixture of imperfection and instinctive, natural grace. The sooner than game developers respect the actuality instead of their fantasy, their characters will come to life and be able to tell a relatable, incredible tale.

Thank you for your time. You'll find your pitchforks to the left of the door and your torches on the right.

Aaron Waite is in hour 24 of caffeine detox, and he hopes the hallucinations are a sign that it's working.

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