I have been meaning to talk about “Feminism” and “Sexual Exploitation” in games for a long time ever since the controversy behind Gamergate, Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn have been going on but haven’t really found a way of approaching the topic without hitting a wall.
“How do we approach and talk about the topic of female characters and gender equality in games and how do we make them better”?
Everyone has an opinion on this and i promise this will be the ONLY post i will make on this topic because this isn’t what this blog is about.
This article isn’t going to favor a side or mention any of the topics i mentioned above, nor will i be bringing them up any further. That is not what this blog is about either.
This blog has been and always WILL BE a blog focused on Skullgirls and it’s community. Nothing more or less.
Which brings us back to the question we mentioned above while using Skullgirls as a frame of reference for each of these questions and topics in mind.
Lets go over the character design in Skullgirls, from their appearance to their stories. I will be covering a lot of different points so bare with me.
Skullgirls has an exclusively female cast, and no one can deny the over sexualization of a majority of their cast and have heard numerous criticism of it being an ‘otaku’s sex fantasy’ among similar replies. But while hearing these criticisms, they seem to be coming from a majority of people who have never played the game. Yes, a majority of the characters that are in the game do show the female form in an over sexualized, fantasy form.
But some aren’t.
Peacock is a minor, she was butchered and mutilated beyond repair and is now more machine then human.
Squigly is a zombie opera singer with a dragon worm parasite that breathes fire and does kung fu. She died very young (and brutally) as well.
Painwheel was a girl that was abducted, experimented on and made into a living weapon. If you find Painwheel’s design “sexual”. You have a unique taste in women (and won’t judge you either).
But what about the characters that ARE sexualized? Well, they’re not boring or 1 dimensional either.
Parasoul is the princess of an entire kingdom, she doesn’t sit on a throne either, she is on the front lines with her soldiers fighting against the Skullgirl’s minions while also having a deep consideration for her little sister, even becoming a monster so she would never have to be (Sorry, spoilers).
I would also like to thank everyone who participated in the Character Alignment post on the blog, it really helped show the depth of these characters without even NEEDING to go into their stories and character.
Every Character has this unique sense of depth that often isn’t addressed in the community. Mostly because it is a Fighting game so it’s really only about how the game plays.
Speaking of game-play. EVERY CHARACTER IN SKULLGIRLS LOOKS AND FEELS AWESOME TO PLAY. Whether you are not good at playing the game or even a certain character, every single character feels and plays amazingly and the amazing animation helps this too.
Ms. Fortune was mutilated by the mafia but a gem keeps her alive, even after all her scars and amputation, leading to some amazing game-play where she stretches and
Big Band was beaten up by his own police force to the verge of death, now he needs an iron lung to live, and has a multitude of musical based moves and attacks.
What’s great about how the characters are designed and how they play, is that you don’t really have to play their story mode just to construct an idea of who they are, you just have to play them. By playing each character you get a sense of who they are. That’s the mark of good game design.
Lastly is how good their design is from a simplistic perspective.
Most of you may have seen this picture i posted a little while ago;
I made this in under 2 hours just using Paint based off of the original Street Fighter picture and you ALL know who each of these little color blocks are. You know the the second from the left on the top row is Peacock, You can see the top right is Parasoul, you know the bottom left is Ms.Fortune. The design is THAT good. You know what each of these characters are from a basic standpoint.
What if you just made every character a silhouette in game? Try it for yourself, you would never mistake Painwheel for Cerebella or Valentine for Filia.
I think i covered everything there is to say on Skullgirls in terms of a design point of view, at least to a basic standpoint.
I also want to make a VERY important disclaimer. This article was not made to discredit the opinions of any individuals that have or may have used Skullgirls as a medium of discussion and is not meant to target anyone specifically.
This article is meant to be a perspective on the design of Skullgirls alone and not to comment or add to any of the topics i mentioned above. I’m not going to stand on either side as both sides of these debates are coming from good intentions and share strong points.
This isn’t to start a debate on these topics either. This is an article to just show how good of a game Skullgirls is.
All of the fighters in Skullgirls are great, but I can’t get enough of Filia and Fukua. I’m pretty good with Filia and it didn’t take me long to main Fukua when she came to consoles. I like their story modes, the fact that they’re based of the Futakuchi-Onna is nice, and they work great as a team. I hope Fukua becomes canon just so I can see what she and Filia will do later on.
Submitted by Anonymous
(And just a head’s up, anon, don’t brag about how good you are with a character.)