Fanservice in video games: an example of doing it right and doing it wrong

OK so after I watched the April DmC trailer and an old preview for Bayonetta on The Angry Joe Show something occurred to me: I finally had an example I could point to to explain that fanservice is not a bad thing in and of itself.

So let me just give an explanation on that: Kari Byron from MythBusters is just an effective member of team as Tory Belleci and Grant Imahara and yet she still qualifies as fanservice for every fan of the show that likes women because she is serious about her job, does not start crying or running away from her work when something squicks her out and she is a capable and valuable member of the junior MythBuster team. For the same reasons I listed for Kari, Grant and Tory also qualify as fanservice, but for people who like men. So in other words the junior MythBuster team serve as fanservice for the viewers. Why does this work? Because it is unintended. They needed another team to expand the program and shoot more episodes in the same amount of time, an unexpected side effect was that they had given a piece of their viewers fanservice and had given another part of their viewers (the two parts are separate but they do most likely overlap) role models.

Now in video games when it comes to sexism the makers of the games get a lot of flak for having a lot of fanservice in the games because of the whole sex sells thing. Except that ,as the newest DmC trailer shows us sexy can be done in good taste. If instead of Dante there was a young woman, only a few thing would change: the sheets on the bed would cover the chest of the female character, the camera would be focused in on her face from the moment she exited the trailer, there would be another scenery censor for the woman’s chest before she would put on her shirt, the shirt would have a higher neckline and some of the lines spoken by characters would have to be changed to be gender appropriate. That is all that would change.

Now think about the changes I listed for the video and tell me would they make the video itself less awesome? In my opinion it would not.

Or would a woman doing the same things Dante does in this video make her less of a badass just because she is female? Again in my opinion no it would not, although it could make her more badass then Dante just because we have not seen a female character doing such awesome things, even Lara Croft uses a bed sheet cover and always gets a chance to put on her clothes. Why is it that badass men get to dress in the middle of a combat situation and show us their skills at the same time, but badass women are always either fully clothed or dress themselves off screen?

Which brings us to Bayonetta. Most people will tell you she is a female Dante. She is not. Her movements and powers all serve the same thing: ,,to make men ring their bells” as Joe put it. Also Bayonetta does not display the same attitude as Dante does: where Dante is laid back and calm and full of snark in every battle, Bayonetta is sensual and sexy and always strutting her stuff and of course the freaking gun stilettos. Why stilettos? Why not gun combat boots? For the same reasons she wears a spy catsuit made of her hair: for the sexy, the game even tells you that. Making an outfit out of hair does not mean it has to cling to you skin like spandex, you could make regular clothes out of your own hair, the skintight thing is (again) for the sexy. Also where Dante looks like a regular guy (with white hair in earlier installments) who does a lot of exercises and is in top form, Bayonetta looks like the ,,ideal” supermodel walking down the runway or doing a routine on the strip pole.

In the end it comes down to which is more intimidating: the Taught By Experience Badass Longcoat who shrugs off anything the enemy trows at him (why is there not a female version of such a character out there) or the Hot Librarian in a Spy Catsuit made of her hair with Gun Stilettos?

Also worth noting is that Dante is the owner of his powers, while Bayonetta is owned by hers and is more of a targeting system for them then a user.


About dmol8

I am a young Serbian gamer and a male (in that order), who lives in Belgrade with his brother and attends Belgrade university.
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One Response to Fanservice in video games: an example of doing it right and doing it wrong

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