The Uncanny Silicone Valley

I’ve always appreciated the amount of character customization that Cryptic provides in their games. There are so many options and choices available that creating a hero in their City is almost a mini game in itself.

Because of this precedent, I eagerly looked forward to the character creation portion of their new MMO, Star Trek Online. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. If I want to create an 8′ tall blue hermaphrodite alien named Tapioca, with antennae and fake boobs, I can do it.

What? Wait a minute… Why does Tapioca have fake boobs?

Or, a better question might be: Why do developers feel the need to provide an option for breast size in their games?

Ok, let’s for a moment try to pretend that we’re all adults, shall we? Breasts are certainly part of the human female anatomy. And I suppose the argument could be made that allowing for changes in breast size provides a greater degree of individuality for your avatar. But what I don’t understand is why the inevitable video game breast-slider ranges in sizes from ‘above average’ to ‘pontOOns’.

In every MMO that I’ve played, I attempt to create an avatar that looks as much like me as possible. I’m 5’9″ tall, weigh 150 lbs., and according to the friendly staff at Victoria’s Secret, I wear a size 36B bra. (Yes, I know – way more information that you could possible ever want about me, but there’s a point to this.) Rarely am I able to create an avatar that comes even close to resembling my real-life measurements. Surprisingly, Aion provided the widest range of sizes, with a slider that actually allowed for – gasp – small breasts!

The crotch slider.

At its core, I believe that the existence of the breast slider speaks more to the inherent sexism that still exists in gaming today, than to any desire to provide more customization options. You never see a ‘crotch slider’ to change the size of the male avatar’s bulge, do you? And if you really wanted to offer players a wider range of choices, why not provide the breast slider for avatars of either gender? After all, most of these games are about fantasy and fiction, aren’t they? Why should this fantasy potential only cater to adolescent boys?

Maybe someday in the future video games will be an equal opportunity playground, where the female form is not objectified to any greater degree than the male form.

And maybe someday the word ‘noob’ will be considered quaint and old-fashioned.


9 Responses to “The Uncanny Silicone Valley”

  1. henebry says:

    That’s a fine crotch slider image you’ve got there. Lovin’ it.

  2. Michael says:

    IIRC, CoH has a slider for Chest size on the Male and Huge character frames as well, which adjusts the size of the avatar’s pecs.

    What I’m waiting for is a character creator (not counting the 2nd Life one) that allows me to have a sunken chest with a small beer gut under.

  3. Vorpal says:

    When creating my character in STO I was annoyed that when you set the breast slider to the minimum they aren’t flat, they stick out about the same as otherwise except unnaturally pointy and cone shaped. Where’s the love for flat women or men who like flat chests?

  4. Leslee says:

    I agree completely, Vorpal.

    That was my point in the cartoon above. The screen shot in the middle is of a female avatar with the breast slider set to as small as possible.

    Even at its smallest setting the avatar’s breasts are STILL bigger than mine (as shown by the photo on the left).

  5. Husband Unit says:

    I would so use a crotch slider on my avatars.
    Or would it be called “Package Size”?

  6. HeadHunter says:

    While I think that the minimum setting on the slider could stand to be smaller, there’s nothing inherently unrealistic or sexist about allowing very large breasts- unless all those bras I see in Torrid are intended solely to cater to adolescent boys and are not actually sold to real women…

    The third picture reminded me of Seven of Nine… I’m pretty sure Jeri Ryan’s breasts are her own.

  7. Jethal EQ2 says:

    I’m all for the Crotch Slider feature

  8. Ace Calhoon says:

    I apologize for commenting on a two month old post. In my defense, you do have “video games are sexist” in bold type on your front page.

    First of all, it is at least as fair to compare muscle tone/mass to breast size as it is to compare breast size to the size of a man’s genitals. I’d say that it’s more fair: it’s comparing one secondary sexual characteristic to another.

    And most games that I’ve seen that offer body-shaping to the point of having a breast slider do indeed have a muscle slider as well. STO seems to fall into this camp, although I don’t have the game to find out what the various “bulk” sliders actually look like. As noted by Michael, City of Heroes takes this a step further by offering both a muscle slider AND an extra muscle male model. Is CoH sexist against men?

    Beyond those direct comparisons, there’s the simple matter of practicality. STO offers what, five non-breast torso shaping sliders? Given that you can apparently see a size difference between the real photo and the “space” photo (I can’t… Although “space” does have a shirt that’s more form-fitting around the abdomen), would you really find more customization value in a shoulder-width slider than a chest measurement one? Would you really say that there is more shoulder width variety in the world than breast size?

    “Maybe someday in the future video games will be an equal opportunity playground, where the female form is not objectified to any greater degree than the male form.”

    Yeah, totally. As a completely unrelated aside, here are some pictures of me and my friends:

    We totally look like this IRL.

  9. chasbanner says:

    saint row 3 has a “sex appeal” slider that increases bust size for the ladies (from flat to about say a g cup)
    and increases the guys’ crotch bulges

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