Everyone and their grandmother knows the simple truth that women’s bodies are used to sell games. Period. However you fall on this debate, no one can deny sex sells. But does this make sexuality in games wrong? No, absolutely not.
Let’s get one thing out of the way; I am not a woman. I never have been, and at this time I have no plans of becoming one (take a moment to appreciate how far the human race has come that that is a choice I can make!) So my opinion on how women think is as moot as a boy born into wealth’s idea of how the poor think. The subject of women’s sexuality should always be from a societal stand point, never from a “what makes her tick” perspective (unless you ARE a woman of course.)
Debate grows concerning sexuality in games. We’ve begun demonizing the prospect of an attractive woman in revealing clothing and pointing to more appropriately dressed and respected women as examples of representing women. Alyx Vance of Half Life or Faith Connors of Mirrors Edge are common examples. This is a good start. We NEED more women like this in our medium. But if Alyx was well endowed in the chest, or if Faith had shown more skin, would that diminish their respectability? Is there anything inherently wrong with a titillating character now and then? Even more so, can you actually HAVE respectable characters also be sexy?
You can absolutely have a female character that is both sexy and non-objectifying. They just tend to be rare because the creator tends to get a little out of hand when the time comes to show the character in a seductive manner. In fact this very idea of when seems to be almost nonexistent to creative artists. They seem to think either the character is sexy, or she isn’t sexy. And they stay that way the whole game. Ivy of Soul Caliber fame is ALWAYS provocatively dressed, while Beyond Good and Evil’s Jade in a club dress seems unthinkable.
But we both know that women (and men) in the real world are certainly not sexy every day, nor do they never have their moments to look good. One day your high school crush came into the classroom sick, and chose not to wear make up that day and complete the look with baggy sweatpants and a wrinkled t-shirt. Meanwhile, that quiet girl in your math class shows up to prom and she looks good!
Most peoples problem with a woman displaying her sexuality in a game is not that games have no place for such, or that sexuality is a shameful thing to be open about (because it most certainly is not). The general consensus is that the developers are paying little respect to women, and that the design is distracting and impractical.
It’s absolutely possible to have a character in any medium that displays her sexuality and be sensible.
Take Eva Green’s character in “300: Rise of an Empire”. Artimisia is a hard, violent, sociopathic witch who regularly murders and decimates whole crews of people. If this were a video game, she would mostly likely either be dressed skimpy 100% of he time, or be sensibly dressed the whole way through. Yet she only shows off her breasts and figure in one scene where the point was to seduce the main character, on her ship where she knew no real fighting would commence. In that scene it makes perfect sense for her to be dressed the way she is, and even then the dress she wears is nowhere near Xblades’ level of ridiculous soft-core porn.
Sexiness for a character is fine so long as it makes sense; just as characters engaging sex is perfectly fine so long as it makes sense in the story. Every one of us can recall a movie that has a sex scene come out of nowhere just so they could put clips of it in the trailer. This isn’t only insulting to women, whose sex is being used to buy tickets, but to viewers of any sex or gender who are being hat tricked by a faceless company to buy their product out of horniness.
I’ll be the first to say that nothing is off limits to art, and if an artist believes in his or her character the way they imagined them, hell, make them as hot as you want. But don’t start getting defensive when you’ve put a busty under clothed girl into a medieval battle and get upset that people are calling you out on how stupid that is. A character fighting in her underwear is like her having sex in full armor. It’s impractical, draws attention away from the story, and is just plain stupid.
At the end of the day this art form is heavily visual, and while any person of any profession or past can be sexy, when you are trying to display an endearing character, sexiness is one more part of that character being considered. The audience them must consider in turn why you’ve chosen to have it. If it doesn’t make sense, the character doesn’t make sense, and the message you’ve intended is lost.