Bigger Breasts?

Are you guys excited for the Dead or Alive 5 coming out soon? As background, DoA is a video game series with multiple platforms, including PlayStation and Xbox. It is a fighting game that’s pretty popular because of its innovative fighting mechanics.

The series is well known for casting top-heavy female characters with bouncing breasts, but the designers of the 5th game attempted to decrease the breast size of their female characters in the demo. This short article explains the considerable amount of fan feedback for the demo that requested, of all things, bigger breasts.

This raises a few concerns, and because it’s gender week, I’m going to talk about them!

Corporate Responsibility?

Notwithstanding the potential that there are many lesbian gamers or heterosexual females that just like to look at big boobs, it’s safe to say that the fan feedback suggests DoA supports a large male audience. Is it acceptable, then, for the designers to cater to their primary audience’s “needs,” since this is ultimately a company seeking profit? Or, as Cassell suggests in Wednesday’s reading (p.12), should this (and all other) games be expected to take on the responsibility of “underdetermined design” to avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes?

Valid Need?

The article quotes the Team Ninja director: “If you have a solid fighting game system there, there’s nothing wrong with having beautiful characters as a layer on top of that–that’s another layer of entertainment that there’s a need for.” However, this is strictly a fighting game. Can we really consider large breasts in the background a “need” that will enhance the game and its sales, or is this demand simply juvenile fantasy that should not be encouraged?


Are guys carrying out their stereotypical, age-old objectification of women, or is their demand acceptable? After all, though I haven’t played the game, I watched a clip of it and noticed that although the women have large breasts and are invariably attractive, they are also impressively realistic in their design: no Barbie-sized abdomens or ankles. Furthermore, the women’s primary purpose is the same as the men’s—fighting—and they seem to be just as independent and capable in combat. Furthermore, they present a variety of gender expressions, like feminine and masculine clothing, and long and short hair. Is it really a big deal, then, if they have large breasts?


Female gamers have sexual needs too.

Since DoA must also have a female audience with “needs”, should we then demand that the male characters have more prominent penises, in the name of fairness?

11 responses to “Bigger Breasts?

  1. Because I’m female, I think it’s completely stereotypical of me to object to some corporate gaming design company and their attempt to please their male audience. But let’s face it, if it weren’t for Dead or Alive 5, then some other video gaming company would have come out with busty female avatars and DoA would have missed their chance.

    I think this is all interesting after today’s class discussion. We talked a lot about males being the target audience of video games, and males truly having an attraction to the avatars in the games they play. And Cassell even points out that these aren’t so much stereotypes anymore as they are facts! So why not make female avatars sexy and busty? Let’s face it ladies, guys are attracted to big breasts. I don’t know what it is about them, but I can’t blame companies for targeting their sales toward what men want. Is it offensive to men that Ken (from Ken and Barbie) is strong and chiseled?

    Sure, this all goes back to feeding gender stereotypes, but I’m not sure that’s really an issue here. How many girls were even interested in DoA 1, 2, 3, or 4 (I don’t even know if those are things), before they enhanced the breasts on female avatars?

    • SPOILER ALERT: DoA have had enhanced breasts on their female characters since the beginning. My (female) cousins and I used to play DoA 2 & 3 a lot, and, call us pervs, but I’m sure my cousins liked oogling at this:

      just as much as I liked oogling at this:

      Plus, they like beating me up with those hot girls >.>

  2. One of the things that really bothers me is the way these games seem to negatively affect the sexual development of young men.
    Clearly, objectification exists which seems to lead boys to view women as objects with parts rather than as individual persons with intrinsic value.

    However, it seems that these types of games combined with easily accessible pornography create a distorted view of sexuality. As a result you have teens spending countless hours drooling over a scantily clad assortment of pixels on a screen, rather than cultivating relationships with real women in the real world.

    Thus a man may be unsatisfied or unattracted to women because they don’t live up to his fantasies of Lara Croft or worse, his favorite pornstar.

  3. I definitely believe this is a complex issue. On one hand, like Lauren said in her response, can you blame the video game company for simply catering to its audience? Even if they do not agree with what the companies are doing, people will still by the video games. And, on the other hand, I believe that the video games have an obligation to end the consistent portrayal of women as objects. But where do you draw the line? And how is it implemented? It’s not like a law could be created to put an end to it. As long as people continue buying the games, they are giving companies the power to create the games however they want. Overall, I think this is a really fascinating topic that I think needs to be addressed more in schools. Great article! I really liked reading about it.

  4. Yeah, this issue can definitely get complicated. One argument that could be made though, is that fighting games could have a fairly high barrier to entry — that these types of games don’t usually attract females, regardless of how the game portray women with disproportionate bodies, so you might as well cater to the average teenage boy. At the same time, the mere perception of the oversexualization of women in the game — after all, there is a news article about it, informing people who had never heard of the game about this — can make it worse.

    Personally, I’ve hardly bought into games that oversexual their characters (I have bought a portable version of Dead or Alive, but its sexualization of the characters wasn’t as big as DoA 5), as those kinds of games make me feel embarrassed about buying games in the first place. I don’t exactly blame the companies for doing this, especially since they just obeyed their market research, but it would be nice for companies to be proactive in making female characters that don’t need to be oversexualized to be popular — Metroid, I think, is a relatively good example of this. Recently, Samus (the main character) has been reduced to a skin-tight leotard in her ‘zero suit’ state, but as far as I know, she doesn’t have the ridiculous proportions of these DoA 5 characters and doesn’t show cleavage. Unfortunately, I’m not sure of a lot of other games that really have strong female characters without sexualization. I heard the game ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ had a good female protagonist. And Zelda from Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was a strong character, albeit being in the story for only like the middle portion and the ending.

    • There’s also Madison Paige from Heavy Rain, and Faith Connors in Mirror’s Edge, and I’m sure a couple others too. Unfortunately, they do not get covered in the media as much because they have nothing “controversial” to talk about. Is it possible, then, that following the big-breasted trend is just a scheme for certain games to get noticed?

  5. As a female, I feel like I am expected to “whoop and holler” about the objectification of the female body in video games, but honestly, I just do not think it is a big deal. Generally, women want to have bigger breasts and skinnier waists anyway, so why can’t men want women to have the same thing? Let’s be honest, don’t people want to look at attractive people? Don’t us women want hot guys to be in the things that we look at? The video game company is marketing to their target audience and are clearly doing a fantastic job of it. We cannot blame the company for increasing their sales and doing their job!

  6. What’s funny is that I read this article right after seeing this, haha:

    DoA have been known for their variety of outfits making their characters look good, and looking good is what sells. People want to get their money’s worth and have a good-looking game. I am sure a woman can look hot and beautiful without having large breasts, but honestly, men are like wild animals. “Looking good” to them, unfortunately, include having large breasts.

    Although I don’t necessarily see a “need” for them to include large breasts, I don’t see much reason for them not to either. The media has enforced gender stereotypes for a long time now, but I think they primarily do this for their demographics. Certain people like different things, and companies just aim to please their target market. Why please those who are just going to hate on their product? In the name of fairness, although the girls are overly sexualized in the DoA series, the guys are idealistically proportioned too…

    Personally, I would like to see more games focusing on the game itself rather than their image. Unfortunately, the image is what gets noticed with well-known games such as Mario, Sonic, Pokémon, etc. When people see an icon they’re familiar with, they become biased and go with what they like. The gameplay and story could be the best in the industry, but it won’t be noticed if looks horribly rendered and painful to look at.

  7. Personally, I think that the company should come up with a middle ground, or compromise to the issue. I am sure that there are multiple female characters, so why not make some with big and some with smaller breasts? I mean, in real life that’s how women are. Everyone is different and have different sizes. So, if the company created female characters with different sized breasts I think everyone would be happy.

    For me, I don’t really care. I grew up playing lots of games on my good ol’ Playstation one, and one of my favorite games was a series called Tekken. It was a fighting game with a large variety of characters. In the earlier games at least, all the characters, male and female, were different body shapes and types. Yes, for the most part they had idealistic body types, but the story line of the game said they were entering an ultimate fighting tournament so these people would have to be in top physical condition to enter a tournament like this anyways. Some women were scantily dressed, some were not. Some had huge boobs, some didn’t. Even for the males, some had shirts on some didn’t and some had bigger muscles than others. The point is that these games were very successful and they had a little of everything. This appeased many audiences including the typical teenage boy who wants to drool over fake girls, the male who doesn’t want to seem like a perv, the girl who is offended by the objectification of women, and the girl who wants to play a sexy looking female character and adapt that virtual persona.

    However, until the video game market begins to change, female characters are probably going to keep looking like that.

  8. I agree with Sydney, there should be a middle ground on this by including a range of bodies. I don’t think it is terrible that they portray the women in the game the way they do (obviously it must help with game sales) but I think that there should be some sort of reality in the game. The bodies of female fighters I think are similar to those in the game, but they probably don’t wear those kind of clothing. I think that the game doesn’t objectify woman any more than a ad in a magazine:

    An athlete/fighter:
    A female model:

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