Fewer Tifas, or More Sephiroths?
Male sexualization in games
Michelle Clough
Freelance
Introduction
We’re bringing sexy… uh… back?
Dating sims are doing it…
“Everlove” by Silicon Sisters “Shall we Date? Ninja Love”
by NTT Solmare
But core games?
A missed opportunity…
●For more diverse male characters
●For creating a sex-positive industry
●To reach out to a “new” aud...
The presentation
1. Why it’s important
2. Why we’re failing to do it
3. Who’s doing it “right”?
4. How to write sexy male ...
Why is it important?
Like I was saying…
●For more diverse male characters
●For creating a sex-positive industry
●To reach out to a “new” audien...
Sexualization = bad?
Sexualization = bad?
●Sexualization – character intentionally
designed to evoke sexual or romantic
interest
Sexualization = bad?
●Sexualization – character intentionally
designed to evoke sexual or romantic
interest
● Objectificat...
Objectification = bad!
●Sexualization – character intentionally
designed to evoke sexual or romantic
interest
● Objectific...
Sexualization is okay(ish)
●Sexual desire and interest is
part of life!
●As writers, let’s
● Explore
● Evoke
● Satisfy
Some statistics to consider…
●45% of gamers are women (ESA)
●College age women think of sex 10 times a day (Journal of
Sex...
“Sex? Yes please!”
Message of inclusivity
●“We know you’re playing.”
●“We like that you’re playing.”
●“We acknowledge your desires.”
●“Here’s...
ImagecourtesyofiAmbro@
freedigitalphotos.com
The takeaway?
●Goddamn, that man is hot
●And that was deliberate
● Writing and art
● Assumed there were
straight women/gay...
Why are we failing?
Male Gaze
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Male Gaze
Lusts after / Desires
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Male Gaze
Lusts after / Desires
Identifies / Admires
Desires
Does stuff
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Lusts after / Desires
Identifies / Admires
Desires
Does stuff
Male Gaze
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Emphasis on “manly” traits
Alexander Nels Elofson
Winner of the “Art of Manliness”
Put Up Your Dukes Contest
Emphasis on “manly” traits
“No sex, please, we’re men.”
● “The male figure
cannot bear the
burden of sexual
objectification. Man
is reluctant to gaze...
“No sex, please, we’re men.”
Player agency
●Male characters
● “the man’s role as the active
one of forwarding the
story, making things
happen.”
● “the ...
Player agency
Male Gaze
Lusts after / Desires
Identifies / Admires
Desires
Does stuff
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Male Gaze
Lusts after / Desires
Identifies / Admires
Desires
Does stuff
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.co...
Hooray for agency!
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Hooray for desire!
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
Who’s getting it right?
Games from East Asia
ImagecourtesyofTeraWikia
ImagecourtesyofGamersroute
Games from East Asia
The bishonen archetype
●Translation: “beautiful boy”
●A man or boy whose beauty and
sexual appeal transcends gender
and se...
Anime and manga
Anime and manga
Asian courtly narratives
●Example: Tale of Genji
●Environment where
beauty, elegance, etc
prized for all genders
●Male her...
European courtly narratives
European courtly narratives
European courtly narratives
North American frontier narratives
Imagescourtesywerner22brigitteviapixabay
North American frontier narratives
East vs West?
Example: Crisis Core
●Approx 2.5 million sales
● 830,000 in Japan
● 710,000 in North America
● 270,000 in Europe
Example: Crisis Core
Skilled fighter
Team Mom
Seeks revenge
Hesitant
Optimistic
Etc.
Confident
Eloquent
Isolated
Seeks maternal
approval/affect...
Any western developers?
Bioware
●Diverse array of attractive
character types
● Romancable!
Bioware
●Diverse array of attractive
character types
● Romancable!
●Sex scenes which showcase
male body / pleasure / nudity
Bioware
●Diverse array of attractive
character types
● Romancable!
●Sex scenes which showcase
male body / pleasure / nudit...
Bioware
●Diverse array of attractive
character types
● Romancable!
●Sex scenes which showcase
male body / pleasure / nudit...
How to write sexy male characters
No single recipe
Let’s see, that’s one
shirtless scene, two
smouldering gazes,
five paragraphs of
angsty backstory,
and th...
The golden rule…
Duh.
Two halves
●Get into the mindset – a general toolbox
Write the hotness…
Be the hotness…
Two halves
●Get into the mindset – a general toolbox
●Traits and scenarios – a character toolbox
General toolbox
●Is it appropriate for your game?
General toolbox
●Is it appropriate for your game?
ImagefromGoCommandocalendar
2014Edition
General toolbox
●Is it appropriate for your game?
General toolbox
●Consult your audience
Our list of Hot Men
Demands
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
General toolbox
●Consult your audience
● If you already like
guys…
●Own it!
General toolbox
●Consult your audience
● If you already like
guys…
●Own it!
● If you don’t…
●Talk to those that do
Imageco...
General toolbox
●Consult your audience
● If you already like
guys…
●Own it!
● If you don’t…
●Talk to those that do
●HIRE t...
General toolbox
●See what works
● Traditional games
General toolbox
●See what works
● Traditional games
● Dating sims
General toolbox
●See what works
● Traditional games
● Dating sims
● Anime / manga
General toolbox
●See what works
● Traditional games
● Dating sims
● Anime / manga
● Geek movies
General toolbox
●See what works
● Traditional games
● Dating sims
● Anime / manga
● Geek movies
● Geek TV shows
General toolbox
●See what works
● Traditional games
● Dating sims
● Anime / manga
● Geek movies
● Geek TV shows
● Fandom
I...
General toolbox
●See what works
● Non-geeky media
General toolbox
●See what works
● Non-geeky media
●Advertisements
General toolbox
●See what works
● Non-geeky media
●Advertisements
●Romance novels / erotica
General toolbox
●See what works
● Non-geeky media
●Advertisements
●Romance novels / erotica
●Romantic movies
General toolbox
●See what works
● Non-geeky media
●Advertisements
●Romance novels / erotica
●Romantic movies
●Twilight / 5...
General toolbox
●Restrain your inner eye roll
General toolbox
●Restrain your inner eye roll
● “Ugh, teenage girls!”
● “Ugh, anime!”
● “Ugh, emo pretty boys!”
● “Ugh, fa...
General toolbox
●If the men are desired… who’s desiring?
General toolbox
●If the men are desired… who’s desiring?
● Character gaze
General toolbox
●If the men are desired… who’s desiring?
● Player gaze
Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@
freedigitalphotos.com
General toolbox
●If the men are desired… who’s desiring?
● Player gaze
General toolbox
●If the men are desired… who’s desiring?
● Player gaze
General toolbox
●If the men are desired… who’s desiring?
● Player gaze
General toolbox
●Diversify Heroic
beard!
Adorkable!
Sex on legs!
Hulking and
mysterious!
Manliness
distilled!
Also picture...
General toolbox
●Diversify
General toolbox
●Don’t be hamstrung by MANLINESS
General toolbox
●Get good voice actors
General toolbox
NEED
General toolbox
NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED
NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED
NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED
N...
General toolbox
● NEED to get your art team onboard
What do you mean,
“make him naked too?”
General toolbox
● NEED to get your art team onboard
What you wrote
General toolbox
● NEED to get your art team onboard
What you wrote What they drew
Character toolbox
Character toolbox
●“A ______ in the eyes”
Character toolbox
●“A twinkle in the eyes”
Character toolbox
●“A tenderness in the eyes”
Character toolbox
●“A sadness in the eyes”
Character toolbox
●“A predatory gleam in the eyes”
Character toolbox
●Charisma
● “Charisma is a by
product of confidence,
energy, creativity, and
self-assurance.”
Mark Tyrel...
Character toolbox
●Charisma●Charisma
● “Charisma is a by
product of confidence,
energy, creativity, and
self-assurance.”
●...
Character toolbox
●Confidence
●Swagger
Character toolbox
●Confidence
●Swagger
●Honesty
Gifs from salikawood.tumblr.com
Character toolbox
●Emotional vulnerability
Character toolbox
●Intrigue and mystery
Character toolbox
●An “edge”
Character toolbox
●Sense of Humor
You don’t
always
wear
robes, do
you?
Not
when
I’m
naked,
I don’t.
Dialogue from Dragon
A...
Character toolbox
●Intelligence and
eloquence
Character toolbox
●Brooding
Character toolbox
●Brooding
Character toolbox
●Beauty
Character toolbox
●Sensuality
Character toolbox
●Nudity
Statue installation at the Square Enix
Store in Tokyo
Character toolbox
●Shirtless scenes
Mesphit from Loren
Amazon Princess
Character toolbox
●Heidi McDonald
● Attractive traits in
romanceable NPCs
● Great ideas for
attractive male
characters
Conclusion
Conclusion
●Male sexualization rarely dealt
with or portrayed…
●Yet appeals to large segments
of population and offers
dif...
Conclusion
Contact info
●Email: michelle.clough@gmail.com
●Twitter: @michelle_clough
●Website: www.michelle-clough.com
● www.8bitbeef...
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games
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GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games

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This is the slide deck for my presentation at the GDC 2014 Game Narrative Summit, where I talked about the use of attractive, sexy, and sexualized men (or lack thereof!) in video games.

Please note that some slides may appear strange due to original animations not appearing (e.g. photos overlapping each other originally appeared in order)

A rough summary:

- While objectification is bad, sexualization - presenting a character as explicitly attractive - has its place, but should be diversified
- Plenty of gamers - straight women, gay men, bisexuals, etc - are interested in men in a sexual way, and by appealing to that, we can be more inclusive
- Currently, most male characters are written and designed more to appeal to straight men (as role models etc) than to straight women/gay men/etc
- Asia adopts a different model and uses a more gender fluid archetype known in Japan as the "bishonen" that appeals to a broad audience
- Some Western developers also present men sexually; best example is Bioware

Presentation notes will be up on my website as well.

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  • My name is Michelle Clough
    I’m a closed caption editor, anime localization editor, QA tester, freelance writer, editor, and narrative designer
  • …and I’m a fangirl.
  • -In that capacity I’m here today, because not just a fangirl for consoles, franchises, or genres
  • -fangirl for this guy, this guy, this guy, etc
  • -and especially this guy
    -So I’m here to talk about sexy, sexualized, and attractive male characters in games
  • But get used to seeing the same characters up here because most male characters are not sexualized at all
  • some exceptions like dating sims
  • but core games? Not so much.
  • Missed opportunity
    greater diversity of male characters
    create a more sex-positive atmosphere
    reach out to other audiences like straight women and gay men by acknowledging, celebrating, and fulfilling their desires
  • Good news! We can help
    Sex appeal not only about looks, so not just on the art department
    By making small but meaningful changes to the way we write male characters, can heighten their attractiveness and sexual appeal
  • Well, uh, those previous points seem like a good start?
  • aren’t we supposed to be moving away from sexualization?
  • Bit more complicated
    for this talk, sexualization = character is intentionally designed to evoke a sexual or romantic response – attraction, lust, arousal, whatever
  • objectification = when that’s all there is to a character, only a hot body to ogle
  • this, I think we can agree, is bad regardless of gender
    It conveys very negative, problematic ideas about people as objects rather than individuals
    Bad writing!
  • But sexualization, even titillation, has its place when done well
    Sex and sexual desire is an important part of the human condition
    we’re writers, why wouldn’t we want to explore, evoke, and satisfy them?
  • Kinda stuck on just one kind of desire
    Before we toss out the Tifas with the bathwater, why not diversify?
  • Votes are in: women like sex
    Not all women are interested in men, but significant number are
    Add gay men, bisexuals, and other genders and sexualities who dig men…
    There’s a market out there that’s interested in this stuff!
  • By appealing to that market, very powerful message
    “We know you play games. We LIKE that you play games. We acknowledge your desires. Here’s something to appeal to those desires.”
    Know it’s powerful because I heard this message as teenager
  • noticed all my gamer peers were male, marketing was designed for men – began to think that gaming was for men and that I was a freak despite playing games all my life
  • Then I played this game…
  • Saw this character…
  • Saw this scene…
  • And, well… (boom)
  • Took away two things:
    “That man is the hottest thing on two legs!”
    “They made him that way on purpose,” – his design, backstory, behavior, all enhanced the mood and attractiveness
    why would they have done that if they didn’t expect there to be an audience for it?
    Knowing that people like me were welcome at the table and encouraged to squee gave me confidence – part of the reason I’m here today!
  • If it’s so powerful, why are we failing to do it? Two words…
  • roughly summarized, we assume the perspective of a straight male audience and write/design accordingly
  • female characters become objects of the audience’s lust and desire – what straight men want to BONE
  • male characters are role models, points of identification, active agents – what straight men want to BE
  • It’s that part that we want to talk about, because it is harshing our Sexy Men buzz
    Consciously or unconsciously, making a male character FOR men will affect our writing
  • First: we emphasize and idealize traits that are “what men want,” or what society says they should want
  • this includes toughness, ruggednes, lack of vulnerability, giant musculature, , violent anger, the ability to grow hair on one’s chin
    Some find this attractive – awesome, but also accidental. These traits aren’t added to make hearts (or other bits) go pitter patter
  • Partly because next point: we avoid eroticizing men
    male gaze theory suggests men are not comfortable seeing themselves through the eyes of desire
    at best, disinterest; at worst, homophobic panic
  • We don’t have many naked men in games, and when we do, it’s either awkward or comedic rather than sensual or earthy
  • Third, unique to games: concept of agency/player agency, particularly with male PCs
    under male gaze, man’s role in the story is to do and act
    even moreso for games: the male character literally IS the male player’s representative –have it hammered into us as writers that the PC by design must always do and act and drive story
  • the more passive role of being lusted over
    this can be true even if woman initiates because it’s less about HER desire or HIS desirability – just extension of the PC/player’s lust
    But to be desired and lusted after is a more passive experience – and narrative designers are often told to avoid passiveness in favor of player agency
  • So male gaze has many problems, particularly if you’re not male, not straight, or just not interested in the model it offers. How to fix?
  • So male gaze has many problems, particularly if you’re not male, not straight, or just not interested in the model it offers. How to fix?
  • Great steps made on the “identification” and “agency” front, making female characters identifiable agents in their own right
  • Time to start incorporating desire as well
    that means rethinking our approach to male characters and consciously using sexual allure as part of our writing toolbox.
  • Critique focused on Western developed games
  • Asian developed games approach differently, particularly in Japan but Korean and Chinese games as well
  • Asian developed games approach differently, particularly in Japan but Korean and Chinese games as well
    one popular type: Leaner, refined features, elegant, sensual posing, and certain amount of androgyny
  • Japan has term for this: bishonen
    Translation: “beautiful boy,” but often used for beautiful men
    Wikipedia describes as, “a young man whose beauty and sexual appeal transcends the boundaries of gender and sexual orientation.”
    identify as male but display certain traits traditionally coded as feminine such as long hair and affinity with flowers, grace, elegant costumes, etc
    have elegant, refined personalities and often intensely emotional narratives and relationships with both men and women
  • Aside from JRPGs, bishonen appear frequently in anime and manga
  • NOT just in titles marketed to women, but in all genres, even those traditionally “coded” for boys like giant mechs and robots
    artists and writers encourage and expect a straight female or gay male audience
    These character do NOT alienate the straight male fanbase!
  • Origin of the bishounen archetype is complicated and constitutes a separate talk on its own, but one major thread is the popularity of stories and legends of courtly life in Japan, Korea, and China – e.g. Tale of Genji
    in the world of the court, beauty, refinement, and sensual appeal were highly prized traits for men as well as women
    Heroes like Genji are described in terms of their “peerless beauty,” their deep emotions, and their courtly elegance – all making them devastatingly attractive to men AND women
    these narratives inform the larger culture in these countries, and bishonen are a modern interpretation and evolution of the archetype
  • Worth noting that there is also a tradition of courtly narrative in Europe
  • sure enough, there is a similar thread of elegant, refined gentlemen who are explicitly attractive role models – this continues to this day.
  • sure enough, there is a similar thread of elegant, refined gentlemen who are explicitly attractive role models – this continues to this day.
  • In contrast, North America elevates the frontier narrative
    Our history is about harsh landscapes being slowly tamed by natives, explorers, colonists, etc.
  • Our heroes are cowboys, frontiersmen, lumberjacks leaping from tree to tree in the forests of British Colum- you get the idea
    In this environment, “manliness” was a positive – being strong, burly, and taciturn helps when you’re building a cabin and surviving winter
    Environment has changed, but these traits are still prized as artifacts
  • So if one culture prizes rugged manliness, and another prizes elegance and beauty, does that mean there’s no crossover? That there’s no place for bishonen in our gaming culture?
  • Let’s ask Square Enix! They seem to be making a go of it
  • Square Enix have made a career out of cramming in as many beautiful men as they can into their games
  • Western success: Latest iteration of FFVII, Crisis Core, sold almost as many units in North America as Japan
  • And its male cast were all on different levels of the bishonen spectrum; not maybe a selling point, but not a turnoff
  • Speaking of Final Fantasy – Final Fantasy VII
    arguably one of the best examples of “fanservice for all”
    a variety of characters, body types, personalities, genders
    physically attractive, but the writing enhanced and informed it – looks only one part of the package
    Tifa is way more than just boobs and short skirt
    Sephiroth is more than bare chest and bondage leather
    they might be hot, but we wouldn’t still be writing fanfic about them over 15 years later if they didn’t have personalities
  • So, surely some Western developers are getting it right?
    Surprise surprise… Bioware
    Built a reputation for making core games that appeal to all genders and sexualities – on a sexy level as well
    Won’t go into too much detail – been covered at length, often by the writers themselves – but a few key points:
  • again, wide variety of male characters designed for a variety of tastes
    and they’re romanceable! You can actively pursue them in sexual and romantic ways
  • in most sex scenes, the male body is presented just as sensual and attractive as the female body
  • Lastly they use the desirable nature of male characters to show us more of straight female characters!
  • for example, during Jacob’s love scene in ME2, Jacob takes off his shirt and shows off some Olympian level abs
    Shepard’s expression is this lovely little smirk of desire, playful and a little predatory
  • It shows her sexual agency, her playfulness, her relationship with Jacob – and this is from my LEAST favorite love scene in the game!
    So there are a few examples of some companies, cultures, and games that do it right
    There are some others; come see me after the talk
  • Bad news: as much as I wish there was some universal recipe for how to write the Most Attractive Man in the Universe, not that simple
    tastes are different, people like different things
  • To be honest, the best advice I can give is the Golden Rule: Write Good Characters First
    But there are still some traits that are attractive to many people if not all
    moreover, it does involve a certain mindset and approach to writing
  • So to start, I’ll give some advice about getting into that mindset
  • then move into more specifics like character traits and scenarios that offer a bit of sexiness
  • First, ask question: is it appropriate for your game?
  • No one wants Call of Duty: Beefcake Stripper Edition
    …okay, I would TOTALLY play that game, but not the point!
    Not every man should be an idealized Adonis – in fact, desperately need more non-idealized bodies of all genders
  • BUT! If you decide against sexualizing male characters, be honest with yourself about sexualizing female characters
    don’t make it the “default” or shrug it off, honestly confront and think about it
    and yes, sometimes it’s the art team, but we’ll get to that
  • Second, consult your audience
    If you are wanting to make desirable men, you need the perspective of those who desire men
  • Now, if you already desire men, Good News! You’re already in a perfect position to consult your own preferences and interests
    that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get second opinions – tastes differ after all – but own your appetites and use them as creative fuel
  • If men don’t interest you sexually, will help to talk to those that ARE interested
    cultivate a circle of straight female, gay male peers; discuss with them – ask what they like, what turns them on, what turns them OFF
  • better yet, HIRE some of those people! Make sure your writing team (or dev team) has a diverse approach to sexuality and attraction
  • Third, look at media that already has men in a sexual, attractive context
    already provided some game suggestions
  • Check out dating sims from North America and Asia
  • Look into anime and manga for the bishonen archetype
  • Geek movies. These have actually been KILLING it as of late; this should be the model we are aiming for
    the Marvel movie franchise and the Lord of the Rings franchise have both embraced the sexual appeal of their male characters while still making them AWESOME for people that aren’t attracted to men.
  • Geek TV shows are also a good source
    Some may argue they provided the original geek girl heartthrob back in 1966…
  • FANDOM FANDOM FANDOM!
    Fanart, fanfiction, cosplay, roleplay, fan communities, Tumblr… there’s tons of stuff out there celebrating the hotness of male characters.
    these are master classes in identifying what appeals to your audience because it’s WRITTEN AND CREATED by your audience!
  • DO NOT RESTRAIN YOURSELF TO GEEKY MEDIA; look further afield, particularly to media designed for straight women and gay men
  • For example, advertising–two recent examples that offer good comedic explorations of sexy personalities as well
  • And… yeah… Twilight and 50 Shades
    Not saying that these (or any of them) are good and that you have to like them
    but they resonate with their audience
    Analyze the work, find out what it is that resonates, then DO IT BETTER
  • This leads in nicely to my next point: Restrain your inner eye roll
  • a lot of the louder elements of the gamer community devalue these things, and heck, some of you might be internally groaning! We should be careful about these kneejerk reactions
    worst one: “Oh, it’s some stupid teen girl crap” as if anything for teen girl = objectively horrible, and moreover, as if teen girls themselves are stupid
    other common reactions with loaded implications:
    “Ugh, anime is dumb and people who like it are dumb!”
    “Ugh, emo pretty boys!”
    “Ugh, fanfic!” particularly, “Ugh, people are turning my characters gay and writing smut!” – I take this as a GREAT sign because it means your male characters are appealing to an audience!
    “Ugh, Sephiroth, he’s SO overrated and flat, only idiots like him.”
    Again, the point is NOT that you must like any of this
    but must move away from the idea of, “This is stupid, and people who like it are stupid too.”
    Respect the tastes of others, and respect what this material offers, even if it’s not perfect or to your tastes
    also encourage your fanbase to show same respect if they complain
  • Characters – either PC or NPCs
    use this as an opportunity to explore both characters, their dynamic, the nature of the “luster” and their feelings
    also be willing to explore what it’s like for men to experience the gaze and desire of others, to BE desired
    does NOT mean a passive unresponsive doll – sexual agency and consent is still important - but you can explore what it is like to be the one who receives that lust
  • And what about the (straight female/gay male etc) player’s desire and gaze?
    In an ideal world where we wanted to use the medium of games to its fullest, we would give players agency over the gaze, over how desirable their character is and how much of an eyeful they want
    How do we as writers do that?
  • I have absolutely NO idea.
    this is really an area we haven’t really explored or considered yet
    May not even be writing as much as other disciplines
    It’s a huge topic, and worth its own talk, but it’s something we should be thinking about
  • the player’s gaze and give them opportunities to desire men
    For example, optional and interactive romances allow the players the choice of whether to explore a male character in a sexual way
  • Also, there’s camera work in cutscenes. By working with your cinematic director, can use the camera to frame the male body in a sensual, attractive way
    remember there’s a contextual difference between using the camera to say, “Shepard is checking out Kaidan’s butt,” and using it to say, “Hey, players! Check out Miranda’s butt!”
  • Make your hot men diverse
    The more different kinds of men you have, the chances are higher that your audience will find at least one of them that tickles their fancy
  • Also, be diverse in representation. your hot men
    don’t have to be white
    don’t have to be cisgender
    DEFINITELY don’t have to be straight
    don’t have to be able bodied or have conventionally attractive proportions
    Let’s not just trade one set of white dudes for another
  • Don’t be straight-jacketed with having to be “manly”
    success of bishonen shows there’s interest in male characters who move away from rigid gender norms , so feel free to play across the spectrum
  • Never underestimate the power of a good voice
    a textured, interesting voice can bump it up to 11.
    so get involved with the casting
  • Last, you NEED…
  • You can write the most elegant bishonen-inspired character in the world, but if your art team just makes him another scruffy white dude…
    still be interesting
    but effect will be diluted
  • You can write the most elegant bishonen-inspired character in the world, but if your art team just makes him another scruffy white dude…
    still be interesting
    but effect will be diluted
    If you are deliberately playing up sexual appeal of your male characters, must work with the artists and other team members to make sure this is expressed correctly
    with clothing, posing, body type, etc
    Show your art team this presentation – heck, show it to your whole dev team – so they understand why it’s important and what you’re going for
  • So, going to do a really quick overview of character traits and scenarios for male characters you may want to consider
    Some of these are widely popular, some are a little more subjective or reflect my tastes a bit, but they’re all meant just as a starting point to get you thinking
  • Very common and useful phrase that comes up often: a (BLANK) in the eye
  • Twinkle etc
  • At first glance, this is a visual thing for the artists to worry about, but it’s very useful to keep in mind when conceiving a character’s personality – think of it in terms of the character expressing themselves through eye contact
  • Charisma
    absolute must have for a sexy male character, more important than appearance.
  • Don’t believe me? Ask the Garrus and Varric fangirls.
  • Confidence
    both the swaggering sexy I own the room kind
  • and the “I am out of my depth but not ashamed to admit it” kind
  • Emotional vulnerability
    more than one way for a character to be naked
    Sometimes less is more, and conflict between keeping cool and showing their pain can be sexy as heck
  • Intrigue and mystery
    keep the audience wanting to know more of who he is, not just what his backstory is
  • A bit of an “edge”
    again, less can be more – don’t have to be all darkness and snarling, can be gentle and sweet but also a badass at combat
  • Sense of humor
    think we’re all familiar with the notion that a sense of humor can be sexy
  • Intelligence and eloquence
    let the meme speak for itself
  • Brooding… no, no, not that, too male gazey
  • There we go. Sexy brood.
  • we don’t usually use that word to refer to men, so gives new spin on how to think of a character
    opens up new adjectives and traits to explore – refined, elegant, delicate, graceful, etc
  • sensuality
    expressed through body language, pose, clothing choice, etc
  • Nudity
    treat male body with as much respect and sexual interest as female body
  • Shirtless scenes!
    sometimes is just another male power fantasy, sometimes highlights the erotic appeal of the male body… and sometimes can do both!
  • This is just a small handful of ideas to get you started
    if you want a more indepth study, check out Heidi MacDonald’s presentation from GDC Austin in 2012
    exploring attractive personality traits in video game love interests
    fantastic resource for people interested in writing sexy men
  • issue of sexy, attractive, sexualized men in games may seem to be a small one at first glance, especially compared to the treatment of women and other minorities
    But maybe the answer to making our medium more inclusive isn’t to have fewer Tifas, but more Sephiroths, and more Kaidans, and more Zevrans.
  • This is an aspect of human sexuality that is relatively unexplored in our medium, which means we can be pioneers, just with less tromping the wilderness and more cute butts
    We have the opportunity to broaden our appeal and offer new perspectives on desire and on men
    By making small steps and being more thoughtful in the way we write male characters, we as writers can make our games just a little more enticing to straight women, gay men, and other minority audiences, as well as explore different kinds of male characters in our games
  • So go forth and write more hot men!
    because THIS fangirl is looking for a little bit more.
  • GDC 2014: Fewer Tifas or More Sephiroths - Male Sexualization in Games

    1. 1. Fewer Tifas, or More Sephiroths? Male sexualization in games Michelle Clough Freelance
    2. 2. Introduction
    3. 3. We’re bringing sexy… uh… back?
    4. 4. Dating sims are doing it… “Everlove” by Silicon Sisters “Shall we Date? Ninja Love” by NTT Solmare
    5. 5. But core games?
    6. 6. A missed opportunity… ●For more diverse male characters ●For creating a sex-positive industry ●To reach out to a “new” audience
    7. 7. The presentation 1. Why it’s important 2. Why we’re failing to do it 3. Who’s doing it “right”? 4. How to write sexy male characters?
    8. 8. Why is it important?
    9. 9. Like I was saying… ●For more diverse male characters ●For creating a sex-positive industry ●To reach out to a “new” audience
    10. 10. Sexualization = bad?
    11. 11. Sexualization = bad? ●Sexualization – character intentionally designed to evoke sexual or romantic interest
    12. 12. Sexualization = bad? ●Sexualization – character intentionally designed to evoke sexual or romantic interest ● Objectification – when that’s all there is to them Artwork from Spirit Stones
    13. 13. Objectification = bad! ●Sexualization – character intentionally designed to evoke sexual or romantic interest ● Objectification – when that’s all there is to them ●Extremely problematic ●Bad writing Artwork from Spirit Stones
    14. 14. Sexualization is okay(ish) ●Sexual desire and interest is part of life! ●As writers, let’s ● Explore ● Evoke ● Satisfy
    15. 15. Some statistics to consider… ●45% of gamers are women (ESA) ●College age women think of sex 10 times a day (Journal of Sex Research) ●Erotic imagery causes women’s neurons to fire 20% faster than any other imagery (Brain Research)
    16. 16. “Sex? Yes please!”
    17. 17. Message of inclusivity ●“We know you’re playing.” ●“We like that you’re playing.” ●“We acknowledge your desires.” ●“Here’s something to fulfill those desires.”
    18. 18. ImagecourtesyofiAmbro@ freedigitalphotos.com
    19. 19. The takeaway? ●Goddamn, that man is hot ●And that was deliberate ● Writing and art ● Assumed there were straight women/gay men playing!
    20. 20. Why are we failing?
    21. 21. Male Gaze Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    22. 22. Male Gaze Lusts after / Desires Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    23. 23. Male Gaze Lusts after / Desires Identifies / Admires Desires Does stuff Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    24. 24. Lusts after / Desires Identifies / Admires Desires Does stuff Male Gaze Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    25. 25. Emphasis on “manly” traits Alexander Nels Elofson Winner of the “Art of Manliness” Put Up Your Dukes Contest
    26. 26. Emphasis on “manly” traits
    27. 27. “No sex, please, we’re men.” ● “The male figure cannot bear the burden of sexual objectification. Man is reluctant to gaze at his exhibitionist like.” ●Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    28. 28. “No sex, please, we’re men.”
    29. 29. Player agency ●Male characters ● “the man’s role as the active one of forwarding the story, making things happen.” ● “the bearer of the look of the spectator” ●Applies doubly to male player characters ● The PC must act and do
    30. 30. Player agency
    31. 31. Male Gaze Lusts after / Desires Identifies / Admires Desires Does stuff Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    32. 32. Male Gaze Lusts after / Desires Identifies / Admires Desires Does stuff Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com Imagescourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    33. 33. Hooray for agency! Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    34. 34. Hooray for desire! Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    35. 35. Who’s getting it right?
    36. 36. Games from East Asia ImagecourtesyofTeraWikia ImagecourtesyofGamersroute
    37. 37. Games from East Asia
    38. 38. The bishonen archetype ●Translation: “beautiful boy” ●A man or boy whose beauty and sexual appeal transcends gender and sexuality ●Identify as male but with “feminine” or ”androgynous” elements ● Long hair ● Affinity with flowers ● Elegant costuming / body language
    39. 39. Anime and manga
    40. 40. Anime and manga
    41. 41. Asian courtly narratives ●Example: Tale of Genji ●Environment where beauty, elegance, etc prized for all genders ●Male heroes = noblemen with “peerless” beauty and deep emotions ● Informs the larger culture
    42. 42. European courtly narratives
    43. 43. European courtly narratives
    44. 44. European courtly narratives
    45. 45. North American frontier narratives Imagescourtesywerner22brigitteviapixabay
    46. 46. North American frontier narratives
    47. 47. East vs West?
    48. 48. Example: Crisis Core ●Approx 2.5 million sales ● 830,000 in Japan ● 710,000 in North America ● 270,000 in Europe
    49. 49. Example: Crisis Core
    50. 50. Skilled fighter Team Mom Seeks revenge Hesitant Optimistic Etc. Confident Eloquent Isolated Seeks maternal approval/affection Etc.
    51. 51. Any western developers?
    52. 52. Bioware ●Diverse array of attractive character types ● Romancable!
    53. 53. Bioware ●Diverse array of attractive character types ● Romancable! ●Sex scenes which showcase male body / pleasure / nudity
    54. 54. Bioware ●Diverse array of attractive character types ● Romancable! ●Sex scenes which showcase male body / pleasure / nudity ●Using sexualization to inform other characters Dat ass…
    55. 55. Bioware ●Diverse array of attractive character types ● Romancable! ●Sex scenes which showcase male body / pleasure / nudity ●Using sexualization to inform other characters
    56. 56. How to write sexy male characters
    57. 57. No single recipe Let’s see, that’s one shirtless scene, two smouldering gazes, five paragraphs of angsty backstory, and three leather jackets… Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    58. 58. The golden rule… Duh.
    59. 59. Two halves ●Get into the mindset – a general toolbox Write the hotness… Be the hotness…
    60. 60. Two halves ●Get into the mindset – a general toolbox ●Traits and scenarios – a character toolbox
    61. 61. General toolbox ●Is it appropriate for your game?
    62. 62. General toolbox ●Is it appropriate for your game? ImagefromGoCommandocalendar 2014Edition
    63. 63. General toolbox ●Is it appropriate for your game?
    64. 64. General toolbox ●Consult your audience Our list of Hot Men Demands Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    65. 65. General toolbox ●Consult your audience ● If you already like guys… ●Own it!
    66. 66. General toolbox ●Consult your audience ● If you already like guys… ●Own it! ● If you don’t… ●Talk to those that do ImagecourtesyofiGGVogue@ Flickr.com–NYCGirlGamersMeetup
    67. 67. General toolbox ●Consult your audience ● If you already like guys… ●Own it! ● If you don’t… ●Talk to those that do ●HIRE those that do!
    68. 68. General toolbox ●See what works ● Traditional games
    69. 69. General toolbox ●See what works ● Traditional games ● Dating sims
    70. 70. General toolbox ●See what works ● Traditional games ● Dating sims ● Anime / manga
    71. 71. General toolbox ●See what works ● Traditional games ● Dating sims ● Anime / manga ● Geek movies
    72. 72. General toolbox ●See what works ● Traditional games ● Dating sims ● Anime / manga ● Geek movies ● Geek TV shows
    73. 73. General toolbox ●See what works ● Traditional games ● Dating sims ● Anime / manga ● Geek movies ● Geek TV shows ● Fandom ImagecourtesyofikellywoeshxD@ defiantart
    74. 74. General toolbox ●See what works ● Non-geeky media
    75. 75. General toolbox ●See what works ● Non-geeky media ●Advertisements
    76. 76. General toolbox ●See what works ● Non-geeky media ●Advertisements ●Romance novels / erotica
    77. 77. General toolbox ●See what works ● Non-geeky media ●Advertisements ●Romance novels / erotica ●Romantic movies
    78. 78. General toolbox ●See what works ● Non-geeky media ●Advertisements ●Romance novels / erotica ●Romantic movies ●Twilight / 50 Shades of Grey
    79. 79. General toolbox ●Restrain your inner eye roll
    80. 80. General toolbox ●Restrain your inner eye roll ● “Ugh, teenage girls!” ● “Ugh, anime!” ● “Ugh, emo pretty boys!” ● “Ugh, fanfic!” ● “Ugh, Sephiroth!”
    81. 81. General toolbox ●If the men are desired… who’s desiring?
    82. 82. General toolbox ●If the men are desired… who’s desiring? ● Character gaze
    83. 83. General toolbox ●If the men are desired… who’s desiring? ● Player gaze Imagecourtesyofimagemajestic@ freedigitalphotos.com
    84. 84. General toolbox ●If the men are desired… who’s desiring? ● Player gaze
    85. 85. General toolbox ●If the men are desired… who’s desiring? ● Player gaze
    86. 86. General toolbox ●If the men are desired… who’s desiring? ● Player gaze
    87. 87. General toolbox ●Diversify Heroic beard! Adorkable! Sex on legs! Hulking and mysterious! Manliness distilled! Also pictured: Equally AWESOME women Not pictured: Duncan, Loghain, their swoonworthy voices
    88. 88. General toolbox ●Diversify
    89. 89. General toolbox ●Don’t be hamstrung by MANLINESS
    90. 90. General toolbox ●Get good voice actors
    91. 91. General toolbox NEED
    92. 92. General toolbox NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED NEED
    93. 93. General toolbox ● NEED to get your art team onboard What do you mean, “make him naked too?”
    94. 94. General toolbox ● NEED to get your art team onboard What you wrote
    95. 95. General toolbox ● NEED to get your art team onboard What you wrote What they drew
    96. 96. Character toolbox
    97. 97. Character toolbox ●“A ______ in the eyes”
    98. 98. Character toolbox ●“A twinkle in the eyes”
    99. 99. Character toolbox ●“A tenderness in the eyes”
    100. 100. Character toolbox ●“A sadness in the eyes”
    101. 101. Character toolbox ●“A predatory gleam in the eyes”
    102. 102. Character toolbox ●Charisma ● “Charisma is a by product of confidence, energy, creativity, and self-assurance.” Mark Tyrell, Uncommon Help
    103. 103. Character toolbox ●Charisma●Charisma ● “Charisma is a by product of confidence, energy, creativity, and self-assurance.” ● Mark Tyrell, Uncommon Help
    104. 104. Character toolbox ●Confidence ●Swagger
    105. 105. Character toolbox ●Confidence ●Swagger ●Honesty Gifs from salikawood.tumblr.com
    106. 106. Character toolbox ●Emotional vulnerability
    107. 107. Character toolbox ●Intrigue and mystery
    108. 108. Character toolbox ●An “edge”
    109. 109. Character toolbox ●Sense of Humor You don’t always wear robes, do you? Not when I’m naked, I don’t. Dialogue from Dragon Age Awakening
    110. 110. Character toolbox ●Intelligence and eloquence
    111. 111. Character toolbox ●Brooding
    112. 112. Character toolbox ●Brooding
    113. 113. Character toolbox ●Beauty
    114. 114. Character toolbox ●Sensuality
    115. 115. Character toolbox ●Nudity Statue installation at the Square Enix Store in Tokyo
    116. 116. Character toolbox ●Shirtless scenes Mesphit from Loren Amazon Princess
    117. 117. Character toolbox ●Heidi McDonald ● Attractive traits in romanceable NPCs ● Great ideas for attractive male characters
    118. 118. Conclusion
    119. 119. Conclusion ●Male sexualization rarely dealt with or portrayed… ●Yet appeals to large segments of population and offers different approach to character ●As writers, we can – and should – explore this
    120. 120. Conclusion
    121. 121. Contact info ●Email: michelle.clough@gmail.com ●Twitter: @michelle_clough ●Website: www.michelle-clough.com ● www.8bitbeefcake.com launching soon! Awesome sources ● Laura Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema ●Mattie Brice, On Men’s Sexualization in Video Games ●Malin Lövenberg, Male Sexualization in Video Games ●Kate Cox, The Gamer’s Gaze ●Paul Tassi, The One-Sided Problem of Oversexualization in Games ●TV Tropes articles: Eating the Eye Candy, Female Gaze, Bishonen

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