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Yes, Mortal Kombat Gives Gamers "Empowered Females"

It may be supremely violent but it's not sexist.

In fact, Mortal Kombat X creative director Ed Boon believes the controversial franchise actually empowers women in ways other video games don't.

During a recent GamesMaster magazine interview (as cited by GamerHeadlines), Boon addressed female representation in the industry and said:

I feel like MK represents empowered females more than almost any game out there. You know, Mileena, Kitana, Sonya, now Cassie Cage — she’s going to one of the stars of this thing [Mortal Kombat X]. So I don’t think anybody can associate Mortal Kombat with any kind of...

Our female characters are treated exactly like our male characters, and we have a higher percentage of female characters than almost any fighting game, so I really believe that Mortal Kombat represents empowered women more than almost any game. I hold that up against almost any franchise at all."

All of that is true, of course, and there's no doubt that the game is universally violent. It's not more violent when it comes to women and yeah, there are plenty of females on the MK roster that totally kick ass. So, technically speaking, Boon isn't wrong...right? I guess we'll never get away from the violence issue in general, though.

Tags: mortal kombat, mortal kombat women, females in gaming

1/2/2015 10:22:30 PM John Shepard

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Legacy Comment System (17 posts)

Friday, January 02, 2015 @ 10:37:33 PM

Mortal Kombat objectifies and hypersexualizes women the same way most other fighting games, and games in general, do. To say they are empowered because you give them similar fighting capabilities to the male characters is bogus. That's not empowerment, it's necessary combat balance. The near topless, thong-clad, nipples-you-could-dial-a-phone-with women would be unplayable otherwise.

Ed Boon is full of shit and/or he doesn't understand what the word empowerment means when discussing gender equality in gaming.

Last edited by Bio on 1/2/2015 10:38:32 PM

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Lone Wanderer
Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 1:41:14 AM

@Bio YOU obviously haven't a remote clue what your talking about or you think just cause women arent clad in as much clothes as the men that its sexist. You want women to be dressed like men? Ask yourself that for a second."Women should be dressed in mens clothes or its sexist!- your logic.
Before you even say "No thats not what I mean, I just mean not so scantly dressed as they are." What are they supposed to be dressed in? A dress,corset? How in gods name are they supposed to fight in clothes like that?!
Go look at womens MMA for a minute. Your logic is greatly flawed. (points finger towards the door) Get..the..f**k..out!

Last edited by Lone Wanderer on 1/3/2015 1:42:15 AM

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 2:26:29 AM

" The near topless, thong-clad, nipples-you-could-dial-a-phone-with women"

Would them wearing Hijabs and nun outfits please you then?

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 2:32:10 AM

So, Lone Wanderer, our options for women in games is either dresses and corsets or GGG-sized boobs falling out of bikini tops and thongs? If the women of MMA dressed like the females in Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur, they may as well fight nude after the first few seconds of grappling, so I'm not sure why you're bringing them up as an example of anything.

It's always funny to see how hyper defensive some 'gamers' get when you suggest that maybe we should stop objectifying women in games so much.

Last edited by Bio on 1/3/2015 2:33:31 AM

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 2:36:40 AM

Hexen - Something even remotely realistic or at least plausible would be nice. People who play games should be ashamed at the way the industry makes 99% of females sexpots first and characters second. That the sexpots in Mortal Kombat can 'kick ass' is completely irrelevant to the problem. That Ed Boon thinks his comments justify anything is laughable.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 3:18:14 AM

Well the 'objectification' will never end, because there's a simple thing here. It's not real. Sure you may want things to be 'realistic' in video games, but the majority of people don't. That's why they're games. They're not real. Most people are looking to get exaggeration. I know if I play a D&D game and I play as a female, I'm not going to play as some average 150lb semi-attractive person. If I played as a female I want an attractive (subjective) body, which includes big ol' tits for me.

Sure there are games that have realistic settings and guess what, people get them because that's what THEY want. Do they want that for every game? No idea, I'm not them. But I know for sure I definitely don't want realism in every single game I play.

And on the topic of empowering women, I mean...isn't sex empowerment? Isn't the ability for a female to make us just drop cash on them or do things just because they're attractive empowerment in some way?
(These are all just my opinions.)

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 5:02:33 AM

Yes, the industry does have plenty of sexualized female characters but there's plenty of non-sexualized characters too. Lets look at games released on Sony consoles this month and see how often female characters are "sexpots":

-Chivalry: Medieval Warfare - No female characters present but to be expected from the setting.

-Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy - Ashta is a fun character who I wouldn't consider sexualized at all and is decently explored over the course of the game, not a deep meaningful character by any means but on par with the rest of the cast.

-Final Horizon - Just sci-fi tower defense.

-Game of Thrones - I haven't played it but assuming it follows the book, I wouldn't say that the female characters are there for fanservice only. Most of the main female characters are powerful, independent, and with their own agendas. Arya for example does a good job defying the princess trope and later (not sure how far into the series the game goes) Brienne is a good example of an interesting female character with no fanservice attached.

-Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix - Wouldn't consider any original female character here as just fanservice (hard to sexualize young teenagers) and if I remember correctly, most were interesting characters (haven't played in ages). You could arguably get into some of the final fantasy or disney characters but thats a different debate.

-Secret Panchos - One female character who is a matador. Can't honestly judge the merit of characters, I haven't played it and it appears to be mainly an arena shooter. Costume is not overtly sexualized, its trim and fitted but all matador costumes are.

-The Crew - A racing game.

-Tales from the Borderlands - Haven't played it so I can't judge. Fiona's costume seems to fit into the noir style detective, so I won't say it's impractical and sexualized, bu I'll leave that open to debate.

-Flyhunters Origins - Nonhuman characters.

-Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams - Haven't played it but it appears to put her personality first, quite literally as a gameplay aspec. Does not appear to be sexualized.

-Juju - It's a panda

-Lara Croft - You can debate over if she is an example of female empowerment or sexualization.

-Guilty Gear Xrd - Haven't played through the story mode yet, so I can't really judge, but I'll assume that the female cast is generally going to be shallow and sexualized (but in a more stylized way than sexual).

-Loudout - Helga would like to have a word with you about fanservice.

-Tetris Ultimate - They're blocks. If you want to be extremely pedantic (I'm sure someone has) you could say its pure male empowerment because you're trying to fit phallic objects into holes.

-Trine - I find Zoya a generally balanced character, not particularly deep but no one really is in the game and she rather fun as a character. I personally find her design elegant, I'd completely understand if you say it is sexualized but I find it matching to her rogue character and leave its overall practicalities up to debate.

-Fieldrunners 2 - Tower defense.

-Resogun - No real human character to note, just a female announcer.

That was December, not exactly brimming with strong female character but it should be noted there was a general lack of strong characters and few case of sexualized female characters. Looking at November you had well developed female characters in most AAA games such as Dragon Age and with the only notable cases of objectification in Japanese niche games like Akiba Trip and Senran Kagura Bon App├ętit. Glancing at the rest of the year, I'd say it follows the same trend of mainstream games with a proper story having a strong cast (male and/or female) and the most common source of objectification being niche Japanese games. I honestly can't remember the last major character in a AAA game hat I'd consider there as just a sexpot. Now I'm not saying that there aren't many cases of female characters being there for decoration, it's common in some genres and sectors, but there's also plenty of solid female characters that aren't just window dressing and plot devices. In addition, for the sake of fairness to the other sex, you should examine the same niche Japanese market that produces the majority of sexualized female characters and realize that it produces a lot, though not necessarily equal amount, of material that sexualizes men. The BL video game market alone was producing about 1.6 million dollars a month back in 2006 and has undoubtedly grown since then. Fujos spend a lot more than otaku on merch in my findings but I digress.

You also have to take into account that Ed is correct to some degree. You can have powerful female characters who are also sexualized. The best example in gaming is Lara Croft, though she does have massive boobs (the story behind them is amusing) and wears skimpy clothes, she is undoubtedly one of the most revered and powerful female characters in gaming simply because she kicks ass. Sexualizaton itself isn't objectification, the femme fatale character type of film noir is a perfect example, they are dangerous and powerful character because of their sexiness and craftiness. I will concede that the mortal kombat girls don't exactly fall into this group but they do kick ass in every way, Mileena being my personal favorite, and their character is just as developed and stylized as the male characters.

Speaking of stylization, you also have to consider artistic representation. From a design standpoint, you have to take into consideration how designers stylize characters. In games that are non-realistic like MK and Guilty Gear which without much of a story, how a character comes across is mostly dependent on their art design, as a result character traits crafted by how they look, resulting in gender related traits being emphasized, so in women waist are thinner and hips and busts are larger and in men torsos are larger and arms are more muscular, it helps to give them a well defined silhouette. This is a gross oversimplification of character design but it demonstrates my point.

I'll stop here. I apologize for any spelling errors, typing on a broken keyboard sucks. I'm not necessarily saying Ed Boon is right, I'm just debating your points for the sake of argument.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 7:40:08 AM

If a man draws some boobs and nobody is around to see it, do women still feel the patriarchal oppression?

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 10:00:01 AM

JonnyR - Hilarious!

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 3:07:08 PM

I suppose if all the woman were sporting boy haircuts and pants suits Bio wouldn't be upset about this?

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Lone Wanderer
Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 3:17:20 PM

You've been called out by everyone here.realize you are can't even give one example of what in your mind would be good for women to wear.also sexpots? I don't know anyone who plays mk or soul calibur for perverted intentions. Don't know where you are getting that analysis from.I brought up women's mma because they wear shorts and a slightly heavier clothed tank top pointing out that its somewhat scanty but what women would really wear in a fight.that was my point.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 3:49:08 PM

@Lone Wanderer
How about loose and comfy martial arts clothing like you see at any real competition?

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 4:35:14 PM

No kidding Lone Wanderer. The woman in MK aren't exactly attractive. They're a little on the manish side like female body builders. So I'm not sure what people are so upset about.

I do find it interesting though that the same people who talk about real woman empowerment are now getting into the habit of deciding what they should and shouldn't wear. That's patronizing.

Of all the real world crimes against woman like being forced to cover from head to toe with a garbage bag in the middle of the desert or being kid napped and sold into sex slavery or child marriages, western feminists and their beta male enablers have turned their sites on the video game industry. B*tching about what digital woman wear in digital worlds.

Unbelievable....maybe they should demand Cammy coverup next.

Last edited by Jawknee on 1/3/2015 4:35:49 PM

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 9:10:00 PM

Just curious, Bio, but were you even around for the last 25 years in gaming? Seems to me I've been playing as stereotypical, cliched, totally oversexed MALE protagonists for decades. Lantern-jawed, absurdly muscular, stupidly powerful, and portrayed every inch as such.

I fail to see the difference between Duke Nukem and Lara Croft, is my point. These days, I see far more normal depictions of both men and women, anyway.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 9:58:22 AM

He's not really seeing the complaint most would allege. But those people are stupid anyway, games are fantasy and you want your women to be ideals just as much as your male heroes. If the fighter was about women with beer guts and sagboobs being empowered then it's not a fantasy anymore.

The product has what people call sexism built into it, that's what the customers in this capitalist society want. So they should be allowed to give it.

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Saturday, January 03, 2015 @ 4:31:43 PM

People get riled about this sort of thing.

Women don't wear too much because it allows them to move faster. The same reason why male characters wear spandex or no shirts etc. MMA fighters should start wearing battle armor and women in all sports should start wearing Eskimo outfits.

Fighting games = fighting games. Leave the genre alone and go fight cancer or real sexism in the real world. Leave video games alone.

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Sunday, January 04, 2015 @ 5:35:30 AM

yeah its not sexcist at all you got about 50/50 male female correct me if i'm wrong that was an educated guess from what i can remeber from last time i played a MK which was 9 i think with a friend few months ago i think

happy gaming

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