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F*cking the Peach, and other stories.

Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital ConquistadorLondonRegistered User regular
edited October 2009 in Games and Technology
So you're on a pretty good first date. The dinner was excellent, conversation was free-flowing and so was the rather splendid sauvignon blanc. The candle has burnt down to a glowing stump that throws the shadows into sharp relief, and there she is, illuminated across the table from you. The atmosphere is thick and personal; most of the other diners left almost an hour ago. A waiter is quite clearly doing you a massive favour by letting you stay on, and something tells you that tonight is destined to get even better.

And then it happens: she leans forward and grabs your hand, and puts her perfect lips next to your ear. The hairs on the back of your neck rise up as she tells you:

"Baby, I want you to sequence break me tonight."

---


It's lame to think the women of videogames are beautiful. It's super-lame to be attracted to them, and if you are you better not say anything, because even the geekiest of geeks will laugh at you.

And my impulse reaction is to say: rightly so! I mean, come on, seriously? Are normal women that imperfect or inaccessible to you? You're probably just transferring romantic frustrations to videogame characters because you have a degree of interaction with them, unlike in real life. Loser.

And then I realise what a knee-jerk argument that is. It's intuitive and makes sense, but some things have got me thinking recently.

Firstly, there is this post and comic from PA themselves. Of course, the comic plays off the creep angle, but I hovered on the words of the post, particularly the phrase: "authentically beautiful." To save you time, this and this are what they're talking about. And there's all sorts of examples of what could quite reasonably be called "authentic beauty" in hundreds of other games.

That's obvious, you might say. And I suppose it is. But what is starting to become apparent to me is that we're soon going to have things better than this:
Spoiler:

Now here's the thing. At what point does it stop being okay to call something like, say, this...

approachingnoisebydavidjonkassan.jpg ladyagnewoflochnawbyjohnsingersargent1.jpg clipboard03mucha.png

beautiful, and yet this...

elika1.jpg

is not? I include the Mucha deliberately to pre-empt the 'it's realistic' argument.

Frequently you hear 'it's just pixels' or 'it's just polygons' or the like, but 2D art is surely just paint or graphite or pastels, and 3D just clay, metal, marble. There is a tactility there that is lacking in the videogame form, and perhaps that actualization of the beautiful concept is where the divide lies - the game will never be real in any way, but a sculpture or painting can be beheld in reality, even if it is not drawn from a real source. But we can fully appreciate something being beautiful when just a picture in a magazine or on the internet - we do not have to see it in person. So why not a game character? Is it just that knowledge of its immaterialism?

Not to branch into subjective idealism, but the point is, if you look back at that Kirsten Bell comparison picture, that is a videogame imitating real life. It's not perfect, but supposing it was (as it will inevitably be, very soon)? If the real life figure has a level of beauty, does it not stand to reason that a perfect copy would have exactly the same amount of beauty? And if that is true, is it not entirely understandable that it possesses the same allure? Where is it coming from, in that situation, that the left-hand picture (picture, not person) is beautiful and the right is not?

I suppose part of it is that you can concede beauty without sanctioning attraction. Just look at how many people will comment on members of their own sex being beautiful without (at least openly!) being attracted to them in a carnal manner. The problem therefore maybe lies not in that person A is finding character B beautiful, but that the purity of the aesthetic appreciation is sullied by a physical attraction.

Now, I can accept that, but if that is the case, then is it still okay to appreciate, for example, artistic nudes? There is an inherent titillation in the nude form; it is very hard to make the argument that the naked body can be viewed divorced of this. If that were so, if the body and its sexual message were seperate, then presumably the Tate Modern would not currently be fighting to keep LINK REMOVED BY RAMIUS.* (VERY VERY NOT SAFE FOR WORK or the easily disturbed - naked child) in its gallery, because it would just be another nude. The inextricable sexual connotations of the model are where the controversy lies. I use this example because it is a very, very good illustration of my point. You cannot ever fully remove sexuality from nudity, and physical attraction in art has always had a strong presence.

Now characters in games are very rarely, for now, shown naked, but I would argue that nudity in art is often (though not always) a matter of control. It is placing the power in the hands - or eye - of the observer. Videogames may not often bare flesh, but they do have a substitute for that sort of power in the control exerted by the player. The ability to direct or manipulate or even injure/kill a female character at will is a different type of power, but one as potent as that which exposes the models within art. You only have to look at how many people try and find ways to replicate sexual acts with female characters in games to see an obvious display of this. If we accept the commonly-accepted theory that rape is about power, not sex, then we can transfer that fundamental aspect of 'control' and its consequences freely between art and videogame. In short, physical control over the character in a game substitutes for the control of the naked observed by the observer in art.


To summarise:

- Physical attraction has demonstrably always been an element of depictions of human beauty in art.

- Beauty is not contingent on physicality or reality.

- Videogames will soon reach a point where graphically they are photo-realistic, and some games already have their own non-realistic art style that rivals non-realistic paintings.

- When this is reached, we will have videogame characters who are 'authentically beautiful'.

- Beauty may not neccessarily cause physical attraction, but it correlates. Therefore authentically beautiful videogame characters stand a higher chance of causing physical attraction.

- The highest erotic stimulus in art is in artistic nudes. I argue that a significant degree of this eroticism is due to the control of the observer.

- The control of the observer in the artistic nude is substituted with the control of the player in a videogame (in accordance with the theory that rape is about power, not sex).


---

I have yet to actually reach a conclusion on this. I personally don't find videogame characters physically attractive at the moment, but I do find many beautiful, and I am perfectly willing to concede that the elicitation of a (admittedly shallow) physical attraction as graphical technology progresses may be inevitable. In ten years time, is it going to be any weirder to find videogame characters erotic than it is to find it in art? Do we react so strongly against it at the moment because the possibility of its truth is unsettling? Is it acceptable, either conceptually or logically?

I await replies with interest.


*Flippy here. The picture in question is called 'American Spirituality', and features a naked ten-year-old Brooke Shields. It is currently being held by the Tate Modern.

Flippy_D on
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Posts

  • Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital Conquistador LondonRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    [strike]Dammit, I hit post accidentally before I was done.

    Just putting in my final points.[/strike]

    There we go, done.

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  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Nobody who has thought about it says that characters from computer games can't be attractive. :D

    Edit: Simple argument:

    A computer game can hypothetically generate any given set of pixels you care to name
    If you concede that a pixellated rendition of, say, marissa miller is goodlooking, then a game that generates the exact same set of pixels must also satisfy the same criteria.

    So the provenance of the image you are looking at is an irrelevance.

    It's nothing more than a form of disguised cultural snobbery that a lot of people like to hang on to, as it plays neatly into the "I have loads of sex with real women" smugness while at the same time distancing oneself from forms of entertainment that are looked down upon.

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  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    So begins the modern Paragone debates.

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  • RentRent I'm always right Fuckin' deal with itRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Man they hit Uncanny Valley fucking hard in that ACII shot

    Which is, I think, the main difference between 3D and 2D "beauty"

    It is so, so much easier to make 3D models look, instead of beautiful, really fucking creepy. The line is much finer

    Like, probably the closest 2D piece of artwork that hits Uncanny Valley I've seen is Mona Lisa. Still creeps me out a bit

    Anyways, yeah, I'm willing to admit I've found video game characters attractive. Beautiful, though? Faith from ME was the closest we'll get in a while

  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The thing is, even though it is a '3d Model' you are looking at it on a two dimensional plane, so the fact that it is modeled is irrelevent.

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  • The Sneak!The Sneak! Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I'm more or less confused why the shit you filtered the word 'fucking' in the title.

  • OlivawOlivaw good name, isn't it? peach treesRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The Sneak! wrote: »
    I'm more or less confused why the shit you filtered the word 'fucking' in the title.

    Likewise

    I think we're all old enough to read a swear, at this point

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  • Darkchampion3dDarkchampion3d Registered User
    edited October 2009
    Videogames can be an artistic platform just like a painting or movie can.

    Doesn't mean they all are, but human beauty (and specifically female beauty) can be easily found in many games.

    So yeah, i feel no guilt enjoying looking at my characters perfectly shaped female ass.

    Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence --Thomas Jefferson
  • Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Forbe! wrote: »
    The thing is, even though it is a '3d Model' you are looking at it on a two dimensional plane, so the fact that it is modeled is irrelevent.

    No it isn't. It produces a much different visual effect.

  • UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    A computer game can hypothetically generate any given set of pixels you care to name
    If you concede that a pixellated rendition of, say, marissa miller is goodlooking, then a game that generates the exact same set of pixels must also satisfy the same criteria.
    That's a very surface-oriented viewpoint, though. Beauty being skin-deep and all (pixel-deep?).

    I don't think anyone has a problem with thinking a picture is beautiful, it's when you imply something more than that that's the issue.

    When someone looks at this set of pixels and says "I'd hit that," there's an implied "...if she were real." If it turns out she is real then it is deemed socially appropriate. Otherwise it is not.

    Beauty, sure. Tapping that, a different situation altogether.

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  • chamberlainchamberlain Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    tldr: it's okay to fap to Cammy.

    what?

    Okay, I think the dismissal of video game characters as being beutiful or sexually attractive is part and parcel with the dismissal of the medium as a whole. Video games aren't art, if you listen to Ebert, so how can something that is not art (and without merit, if you follow that line of thinking) give you a stiffy that isn't "deviant"?

    Good call on including Jade in your examples.

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  • The_ScarabThe_Scarab Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Physical appearance is probably half of what makes someone attractive. Motion, voice and character comprise much of the rest. In these latter areas, most video games are sorely lacking.

    scarab you have mental problems
  • AdusAdus Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I adore my Saints Row 2 character. So pretty! Her personality helps though. Fiery and badass. I thought the voice actress was great, too.

    saintsrow2char2.jpg

    But yeah, nothing wrong with finding game characters attractive. Unless you're literally acting like Gabe in that comic, in which you probably have other issues. I did make some of my WoW characters female because I thought some of the models were attractive, though. That and the male models were often pretty terrible in comparison. You'd almost think they spent more time on the female models. What a shock that would be.

  • UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The_Scarab wrote: »
    Physical appearance is probably half of what makes someone attractive. Motion, voice and character comprise much of the rest. In these latter areas, most video games are sorely lacking.

    Yes!

    Like personality, and whether it's genuine or merely a script.

    I consider it pretty lame to desire a character on a TV show, live action or not. Xena is not real.

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  • ToasterToaster Registered User
    edited October 2009
    When someone looks at this set of pixels and says "I'd hit that," there's an implied "...if she were real." If it turns out she is real then it is deemed socially appropriate. Otherwise it is not.

    Seems more like it might have more to to with it being impossible to have sex with something that doesn't exist.

  • MelksterMelkster Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The heterosexism in this thread makes me sad, so allow me to inject some gay into this:

    Back when I played WoW, I had a shirtless Blood Elf Paladin with a big two handed sword and tight chain mail leggings on every server I played on, just so it could be there in my character list when I logged in.

    And no, I am not ashamed.

  • OlivawOlivaw good name, isn't it? peach treesRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Melkster wrote: »
    The heterosexism in this thread makes me sad, so allow me to inject some gay into this:

    Back when I played WoW, I had a shirtless Blood Elf Paladin with a big two handed sword and tight chain mail leggings on every server I played on, just so it could be there in my character list when I logged in.

    And no, I am not ashamed.

    You probably should be

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  • LewiePLewieP Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    darkmayo wrote: »
    I like pixel tits

    Yeah, if I wanted to look at real tits, I'd go look at my girlfriend, but since she's always around, I like to look at hentai.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    In some cases, videogame characters are trying to seduce the player. Cammy shows off her butt in all of her winning poses and Team Ninja mastered jiggle physics years ago. The artists and animators are trying to give gamers boners so they'll buy the sequel.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    LewieP wrote: »
    darkmayo wrote: »
    I like pixel tits

    Yeah, if I wanted to look at real tits, I'd go look at my girlfriend, but since she's always around, I like to look at hentai.

    LewieP's Mummy! Don't look in this thread!

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  • Darkchampion3dDarkchampion3d Registered User
    edited October 2009
    emnmnme wrote: »
    In some cases, videogame characters are trying to seduce the player. Cammy shows off her butt in all of her winning poses and Team Ninja mastered jiggle physics years ago. The artists and animators are trying to give gamers boners so they'll buy the sequel.

    Jiggle physics are great but I've noticed that they often go overboard with it. Jubblies don't move around like bowls full of jello at the slightest touch.

    Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence --Thomas Jefferson
  • thepizzaelementalthepizzaelemental Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    tldr: it's okay to fap to Cammy.

    Was there ever a point where we couldn't agree on this?

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  • Flippy_DFlippy_D Digital Conquistador LondonRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    The Sneak! wrote: »
    I'm more or less confused why the shit you filtered the word 'fucking' in the title.

    People behind work filters.

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  • LanglyLangly Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I think there's a difference between finding any sort of art or rendered image attractive, and actively pursuing a relationship with that image. (and that shit is real)

    It doesn't matter if you think Laura Croft is hot, and fantasizing about a fictional character is the same exercise as fantasizing about Angelina Jolie. They're both fictional encounters in your head, there's not really a distinction.

    But if you started telling people you were "dating" Angelina Jolie, and you proved this by carrying around a card board cut out of her, you'd be engaging in something much stranger and much more unhealthy than a simple fantasy.

    If you start having an actual relationship in your head with a rendered image, then you're in trouble. Thinking rendered images are attractive, or being stimulated by them, isn't weird, it's taking that a step further that I think is unhealthy.

  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Also, boobs and penises have been used in videogames in non-sexual context. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night had wangs exposed on the statues at every loading screen between sections and the harpies were topless.

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  • PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Flippy_D wrote: »
    The Sneak! wrote: »
    I'm more or less confused why the shit you filtered the word 'fucking' in the title.

    People behind work filters.

    Unnecessary measure IMO, we're far more interested in anything in image format than plaintext. The market for ASCII pr0n just isn't big enough for us to care. :P

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  • CaedereCaedere S'no regrets BIRDIESRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Fantastic and thought-provoking OP there, Flippy.

    Of course, I'm biased in this whole thing - I pay artists for 2D representations of 3D videogame characters that I find to be beautiful or appealing. Or even just funny, sometimes.




    :winky:

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  • El GuacoEl Guaco Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. I think most of us here would agree that there can be beauty in video games, even to the point of eroticism.

    I think if any controversy exists it is because video games are just now becoming mainstream enough that they are no longer relegated to nerds' bedrooms, BUT, the perception still exists that women in video games are exaggerated sexist stereotypes because, let's face it, they have been for far too long. Sex sells, but too often we'd get Lara Croft instead of Alyx Kleiner. Entire games have been built around boob jiggle. All you have to do is a google image search for "women in video games" and you have the worst examples.

    If you guys want realistic and beautiful women in games, you need to vote with your dollars. Stop buying games like "Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball".




  • CaedereCaedere S'no regrets BIRDIESRegistered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I think this is also part of why I almost exclusively play female characters whenever given the chance. I find them to be visually appealing and attractive most of the time, which increases my level of interest dramatically.

    And not even just in a sexual or pervy way - I just find the female form to overall be more appealing to look at.

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  • Skelly BSkelly B Registered User
    edited October 2009
    Melkster wrote: »
    The heterosexism in this thread makes me sad, so allow me to inject some gay into this:

    Back when I played WoW, I had a shirtless Blood Elf Paladin with a big two handed sword and tight chain mail leggings on every server I played on, just so it could be there in my character list when I logged in.

    And no, I am not ashamed.

    I'm certainly not complaining about the wealth of beefy men in video games.

    It's not lame to find artwork attractive when it was clearly engineered with that purpose. It is lame to substitute social interaction with simulation whether it is with a video game, real doll or whatever.

  • ToasterToaster Registered User
    edited October 2009
    Langly wrote: »
    I think there's a difference between finding any sort of art or rendered image attractive, and actively pursuing a relationship with that image. (and that shit is real)

    I would just like to point out that (aside from the rampant sensationalism in that article) the main subject of that article has been doing that for no reason but to gain attention for a while now.

  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    Forbe! wrote: »
    The thing is, even though it is a '3d Model' you are looking at it on a two dimensional plane, so the fact that it is modeled is irrelevent.

    No it isn't. It produces a much different visual effect.

    When it comes down to comparing characters in video games to two dimensional media, it is the same, especially when comparing screen captures. The visual effect achieved in a 3d model can be captured in two dimensional media, the same forms can be represented in a similar, if not identical way, just without a backlight and motion.

    Stemming away from the visual similarities:

    A key reason video game characters aren't considered beautiful, is because the intent usually isn't to depict something beautiful, it is instead to appeal to a demographic that wants to see unrealistically proportioned women in no clothing. Previously in the history of art, such forms were created to embody an ideal that is usually unachievable, perfect, lean bodies, proportions (for males), and women with the appearance of fertility and emotion. The interesting part is the dichotomy between the two. We consider classical sculpture, which represents the unattainable, as being beautiful, but when depicted in video entertainment, it is considered to be the opposite.

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  • emnmnmeemnmnme Heard about this on conservative radio:Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Caedere wrote: »
    Fantastic and thought-provoking OP there, Flippy.

    Of course, I'm biased in this whole thing - I pay artists for 2D representations of 3D videogame characters that I find to be beautiful or appealing. Or even just funny, sometimes.




    :winky:

    Nudity in games can only be seen positively when it's imitating some classical theme or sculpture or art thingie. You may have a representation of a nude statue in a videogame because that's classy. People won't give you weird looks. But having non-sexual nudity in a game that isn't based on a classic artwork? You're embarrassed to play it in public. The nude skin for Mona Sax in Max Payne 2, for example, or the character creator in BMX XXX - there's no hanky panky going on with these features but, well-rendered though they are, it's still not art for some reason. Craft a nude out of marble and it's art, craft it out of polygons and it's juvenile.

    And nude Mona was rendered really well. :winky:

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  • SueveSueve Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    I've never understood any of this art/videogame/beauty/etc nonsense.

    An artist makes.

    A videogame artist is an artist.

    and

    A photographer is an artist.

    See what i'm getting at?

  • El GuacoEl Guaco Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    emnmnme wrote: »
    Caedere wrote: »
    Fantastic and thought-provoking OP there, Flippy.

    Of course, I'm biased in this whole thing - I pay artists for 2D representations of 3D videogame characters that I find to be beautiful or appealing. Or even just funny, sometimes.




    :winky:

    Nudity in games can only be seen positively when it's imitating some classical theme or sculpture or art thingie. You may have a representation of a nude statue in a videogame because that's classy. People won't give you weird looks. But having non-sexual nudity in a game that isn't based on a classic artwork? You're embarrassed to play it in public. The nude skin for Mona Sax in Max Payne 2, for example, or the character creator in BMX XXX - there's no hanky panky going on with these features but, well-rendered though they are, it's still not art for some reason. Craft a nude out of marble and it's art, craft it out of polygons and it's juvenile.

    And nude Mona was rendered really well. :winky:

    It's a bit of a double-standard, because modern films depict nudity and sexuality all the time and it's not "weird". Yet put it in a video game and suddenly you're a social pariah. Teenagers can go buy "The Watchmen" which contains two very naked people simulating(?) sex, but they're considered freaks and weirdos to watch hints of the same thing in Mass Effect.




  • PreacherPreacher Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    My problem with sex scenes in games is they usually feel tacked on for some kind of "maturity" factor. The sex scene in mass effect while tastefully done was really unneccessary, then again I'm here to kick ass and save the galaxy not fuck broads.

  • Alfred J. KwakAlfred J. Kwak Registered User
    edited October 2009
    I wonder how many of us have ever created a 3D Avatar of opposite sex (or even their own gender) in video games who they didn't find at least somewhat attractive (joke characters not withstanding).

  • The WolfmanThe Wolfman Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Langly wrote: »
    (and that shit is real)

    Thanks a lot for that link. Now my soul is screaming.

    On the plus side, my life doesn't seem remotely as pathetic now. :)

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  • PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited October 2009
    Langly wrote: »
    I think there's a difference between finding any sort of art or rendered image attractive, and actively pursuing a relationship with that image. (and that shit is real)

    At least if he's fucking a pillow sham he can't procreate.

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