In October I was very pleased when Koei Tecmo announced that they were going to do a DoA Xtreme 3, the upbeat and cutesy (but also crazy sexist) spin-off franchise of the fighting franchise Dead or Alive has been away for almost a decade, and I hold dear memories to its predecessor, so I was secretly hoping for the day the announcement of the third DoA Xtreme game would come.
Unfortunately a month later disappointment kicked in, when we learned that the release would only be in Japan and Australia. No release for America or Europe due to the ‘current discussions’ that are going on in our regions. If that really is the reason or not, we will never know, but the news was a pretty big let-down for gamers (not just the heterosexual male ones 😉 ). The discussions about women in games are awesome by the way, I am totally not in favor of booth babes when it’s just naked women that do not even know how to hold a controller, let alone tell me something about the game they are promoting, and I know firsthand that being a female in the video game industry can be a very rocky road.
But it is a pity because the discussions are already very fruitful. I hardly see any skanky booth babes anymore and there are more triple-A video games being made with a female lead. When I saw how my guy gamer colleagues reacted to Guerrilla’s Horizon Zero Dawn, it was obvious to me that a female lead does not specifically has to mean a guy cannot relate and that there are a lot of guys that get that. I am pleased to see video games take women a bit more seriously now, but I am not a person that would stress that at least half of the video games should have a female lead. As long as women are portrayed more positively and realistic, that would mean a great deal to me and many female and male gamers with me.
And I also do not feel like all sexy women should be banned from video games, as everybody enjoys looking at a gorgeous person. As long as video game people act normal about it. Quiet from Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain would be a girl that is sexy, but not in a good or fun way. She looks good, she looks realistic, but she wears clothes that aren’t very handy in her line of work. I know there is a very ‘logical’ reason for her wearing bikini’s and other odd outfits, but those good intentions are hard to believe when you see how she stretches in the chopper.
Back to Dead or Alive, where women are cut from a different cloth. They look like manga figurines with big shaking melons and they squeek like they are sneezing panda bears. It is far from being realistic, and it is more funny cute than a weird kind of hot. They wear fun bikini’s and bathing suits, and in the games you get all these opportunities to make them wear different kinds of clothes. It’s just like Style Boutique, without the (way too easy) customers.
It kinda made me laugh that this game does not get released in EU because of the discussion around females. I think there are a lot more female gamers playing Dead or Alive than the business expects. The Xtreme games are very accessible and pretty casual; if you would take the Dead or Alive babes out of it, the only thing that is left is a mini game collection in which you are required to play volleyball, blackjack, pool games and assemble outfits. The setting is extremely colorful and upbeat: you are on an island with a nice tropical atmosphere and exotic music playing.
I have played a lot of DoA Xtreme 2, because it is a cool game. After half an hour of throwing ‘Nice-a Spiku’s’ in DoA I feel like I meditated. That relaxed holiday atmosphere is highly addictive, especially because there is a whole catalogue full of awesome gifts. And to be fair, just like real life you will have to make sure your friends stay your friends, by showing how well you know them and how much you care. Totally relatable.
DoA Xtreme 2 is a good game. The mechanics of playing volleyball work fine and the other smaller games ensure it does not get repetitive. It is not a Game of the Year-kind of title, but I did spend a crazy amount of hours in this game, together with a friend. Usually before or after we were going out, we would play it. We both had our favorites (Team Hitomi!) and we had such a blast with predicting the feedback of our virtual friends of the presents we bought them.
And even though I was very insecure at that time, we totally understood the comedy of the game. The way in which the ladies would crawl on the beach made us wonder about how their boobs did not go all these places they shouldn’t. The absurdity of it made us laugh, more than it could make us feel threatened. It is such a crazy idea that SOME men would see this as real, and totally get aroused by this game.
So, enjoying the DoA Xtreme 3 trailers, I conclude that there must be something that is really wrong with us all, if we think the very necessary and truly progressing discussions about women in video games are influenced by a few pleasant plastic cartoons in DoA.