Friday, August 21, 2015

Video Games Still Have Growing Up To Do

Description: Cartoonish doodles of video game box art for fictional titles
"Night Vision Mode 4", "Lord of Armor","Tank Driver" & "Sword Thong"
Jeremy Parish recently wrote in US Gamer about how he was initially excited to get a promotional email about an upcoming import game. It hit all his interest buttons: It was

  • a rougelike dungeon-crawler RPG
  • for the Playstation Vita
  • by a developer that's released a number of well-made and critically well-received games for portable systems before
...but as he read on, he became a lot less enthused. Why, well as he read on, he saw that this new game was also labeled as...
"a breast-expanding RPG." Maybe that doesn't mean what I think it means, I thought to myself as I read through the email. But no: It means exactly what it sounds like. Omega Labyrinth features a team of female warriors who go venturing into random dungeons in search of treasure, and as they grow in skill and power, their breasts increase in size, eventually straining against and even tearing through their costumes. In proper roguelike style, the heroines lose their gear when defeated; I can only assume they lose their enhanced cup sizes as well. 
Omega Labyrinth also includes an unspeakably demeaning item appraisal system. As in most roguelikes, the heroines will encounter all sorts of unknown equipment in the course of their adventures, which must be identified before you can safely use them. Other roguelikes offer various mechanisms for accomplishing this: Paying a shopkeeper, using a special scroll or spell, or the classic desperation move of use-identification. Omega Labyrinth, however, allows you to identify items by... rubbing them between your heroines' breasts. So we have Matrix, a talented studio, creating a legitimate roguelike for Vita: All good things. Then, they've drenched it with a thoroughly repellant coating. What a waste. 
Parish doesn't have a problem with the existence of games like this per se-- free market and all that. But he points out Omega Labrynth and games of its ilk are emblematic of a wider problem with the medium:
They're all a symptom of a creative medium trapped in a state of stunted maturity. The fact that video gaming's most visible treatment of sexuality boils down to cartoon games revolving primarily around strategically torn clothing and overly enthusiastic jiggle physics speaks volumes about just how arrested gaming's development has become. If games would mature — if they were allowed to mature — games like Omega Labyrinth would undoubtedly still exist, but they'd be a single facet of how the medium treats sexuality rather than being very nearly the entirety of it. 

1 comment:

Bibliotropic said...

Kind of reminds me about the early talk for one of the Parasite Eve sequels, back in the day. About how the more damage the character takes, the more her clothes get ripped and ruined and fall off, so the devs wanted players to balance the gameplay between staying strong and seeing skin.

Kinda lost interest in the series around that point, amazingly enough.

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