Tropes in Gaming: The Fanservice Pack with Mod Aria!

Mod Aria’s Back! This week I’m taking the reigns on our popular Tropes in Gaming segment, and I’ve decided to talk about a trope that everyone knows, but didn’t exactly know the name of it. This trope is dubbed “The Fanservice Pack”, and it is quite common in the video game industry. Particularly, this trope is quite common among fighting games, as you can tell by the flagship image of Soul Calibur’s most recent rendition of Sophitia. But what is The Fanservice Pack? I’ll tell you, but get ready to say an audible “Ohhhhhhh!”.

The name of this trope is a bit strange, but oddly appropriate. The Fanservice Pack, in essense, is the idea of characters becoming more and more attractive as a game goes on. However, this trope mainly centers around the progression of female character measurements. As a game series follows this female character, her secondary sex characteristics will change to make her appear more desirable. Sometimes it’s a chance it clothing, sometimes it’s not. Typically, it is denoted by a drastic, yet steady, increase in chest size. But enough beating around the bush, right? Video game companies just want these girls boobs to be bigger than they were.

Where can you see this? I counter with: where can’t you? Let’s look at Sophitia. Compare her Soul Calibur 2 sprite to her Soul Calibur 5; can you honestly say that nothing has changed? Oh yeah, there’s change. A couple cup sizes worth of it. Mortal Kombat, BlazeBlue and Tekken are also perpetrators of The Fanservice Pack. Because of the regular installments of the series, the excuse “Time is passing, a woman’s body changes” is easy to use as an excuse to up the fanservice for these female characters.

But fighting games aren’t the only victims. The Fanservice Pack can be seen in JRPGs like Final Fantasy X-2 and the Final Fantasy XIII installments as well as The Neptunia series and even Pokemon. Western games, like Mass Effect and The Elder Scrolls series, don’t dodge the The Fanservice pack either. Now, male characters can also be affected by The Fanservice Pack, but the effect is nowhere near as drastic or frequent. As I said earlier, The Fanservice Pack is not necessarily a change in body, but also a change in clothing or hair design. Male video game characters often see new outfits as a series goes on, and they can sometimes be more revealing than before. Whether or not this is actually fanservice is debatable, but that’s a topic for another time.

So this trope can be a bit of a toxic one for gamers; there are some obvious and some not so obvious reasons. At the center, the reason why this trope is toxic is that it is blatant hypersexualization of female video game characters. There is a stigma in gaming that we are only just now starting to move away from: in order to be a strong fighter, a woman must be physically appealing.

This argument falls apart in so many areas; the definition of physically appealing is dynamic, the phrase “physically appealing” usually comes along with an addendum of straight, cis males, and the argument itself is nonsensical. A woman’s beauty and sex appeal does no way correlate with her athletic prowess. Breast size does not equal a stronger punch. An hourglass figure does not mean she can dead lift a car.

Nevertheless, it is the true heart of this trope that forces sexist notions on gamers: that the kind of transition these games are showcasing is a natural one. This goes for women and men too. Bodies come in all different shapes, sizes and skin tones. We should accept that our bodies are wonderful things, and that they are wonderful no matter what they look like. Having women grow three cup sizes in a matter of two games that take place within a few years of each other is absolutely unrealistic. And no excuse can justify it.

Take our poster girl today, Sophitia. It’s easy for people to say that her breasts have steadily enlarged because she had children. People know that having children can increase a woman’s breast size. But that argument is weak at best. Enlarged breasts is not the only sign of former pregnancy, nor would the increase in size be so dramatic. Everyone knows why Sophita was changed. The same goes with men’s bodies and their musculature. You don’t get ripped just by practicing martial arts. There’s way more to bodybuilding than just working out.

The first step to recovering from this idea that excuses can justify sexualization in the media is acknowledging what is happening. These fictional characters are being hypersexualized in order to appeal to their audience. Some people like curvy women with large breasts, some people like beefcake men. And what I’m about to say might blow your mind, but follow me on this: to an extent, I don’t have a problem with that.

Let me explain: there’s nothing wrong with catering to your fans. There’s nothing wrong with embracing your sexuality. You’re attracted to what you’re attracted to. You should embrace that. If fanservice is harmless, then there’s nothing wrong with sexy girls in bikini’s or cute boys in suits. Does that mean fanservice can’t be harmful? No. Fanservice can be harmful in numerous ways.

Forcing others to partake in sexual gratification via sexy fictional characters is wrong. Destroy the idea that everything must be sexual. Secondly, fanservice can be harmful because of unrealistic expectations it enforces on human bodies. Remember that these bodies are fictional for a reason. Do not hold others to standards that they will never be able to meet. Thirdly, justifying one type of fanservice while condemning another is not fair. Claiming that Sophitia’s huge chest is acceptable but a topless Kilik is not makes you no better than a child who didn’t go to a birthday party because they didn’t like the cake. The world does not revolve around you.

The Fanservice Pack isn’t necessarily a trope I think should be completely eradicated from the media. However, I think that we as gamers and creators need to take a step back from fiction and learn what we need to do to make this right. Stop making excuses for fanservice, don’t force others to consume types of fanservice they detest, and realize that fanservice can be okay if it’s not appealing to you. And, most importantly, separate fiction from reality. The sooner we can do that, the sooner we can all learn to love our own bodies. And appreciate fictional ones, too.


Thanks for reading this article and please continue to support NWG! Until we meet again!

Feminism in Gaming: Queer Baiting in Elder Scrolls with Mod Loser!

Hey there, Nasties! It’s Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me. And I’m going to discuss the Elder Scrolls franchise from a feminist perspective. Now, most people think of the Elder Scrolls series as being fairly feminist given that it has always had gender selection, the quests have never been blocked off for any identity and that the gameplay and story is rather unaffected by the choice of your race or gender identity.

Further still, many people reference same sex marriage in Skyrim as being amazing and inspirational at the time of release. That being said, while the Elder Scrolls franchise has a fairly good track record, there are some things that need to be discussed and understood. For starters, let’s tackle the approach to Gay Marriage in Skyrim.

To be honest, it is not at all as exciting or glamorous as anyone could imagine. This stems from the incredibly shallow marriage system that exists in the game. Any NPC that can be married can be married by either sex, yes; however, there is no real emotional connection to be made. You see, these characters are willing to marry you once you do specific, seemingly random quests that barely connect to their interests at all.

This means that rather than even trying for a more story driven approach to relationships and characters, like in games such as Fallout 3, this marriage system is used as a shallow attempt to draw in queer gamers. How do I know this? Well, that would be the Press on Skyrim when it released. There was a great deal of controversy and Bethesda supposedly defending the decision under a bastion of equal rights, but the mechanic instead of feeling as though it supported queer culture, was a simple marketing ploy about as deep as a puddle.

This is genuinely bad, because it set a precedent. Companies can now add in very shallow marriage or relationship options to allow for “Queer Couples,” and manipulate that in an effort to simply sell more games. Manipulating Queer People’s desires to feel welcomed and respected in shallow ways is a cruel, and shamelessly ridiculous insult to the community.

I bring this up because other games have followed in Skyrim’s footsteps. One such example is the Call of Duty Franchise, believe it or not. In Black Ops 3, you can choose to play as a woman, and there is a love interest in the story that is female. What matters though, is that the script was not altered whatsoever, the interactions are hollow, and it was an obvious attempt to say “look at this lesbian couple in our game!” Men tend to find gay female relationships sexy, and they “gave queer people representation.”

To the COD Team, that seemed like a win-win, but instead, they only baited the queer community into a cheap manipulation of our desire for basic rights and respect.

Thanks for reading today, Nasties. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! This has been Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me, signing off!

Top 5 Best: Elder Scrolls Legends Cards with Mod Knight!

Hey everyone! Mod Knight back with another top 5! This time I’ll be covering the topic of The Elder Scrolls: Legends. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, it’s a fast paced card game based on the Elder Scrolls universe! The game focuses around building a deck of cards containing creatures, actions, items, and powers with the goal of reducing your opponent’s HP to 0. If you haven’t played it, its a game I’d suggest as it’s a very fun little card game, and it’s free to play!

So then! For anyone who may be interested in jumping into the game, here’s some of my picks for some good cards to have in your deck if possible:

#5- Young Dragonborn

Not only does this card start out strong, but it has amazing growth potential! Every time you play a shout card, this card increases in both power and HP! Unfortunately, her growth requires a steady supply of shout cards; meaning that, in anything other than a shout focused deck, she wont be too powerful.

#4- Arrow Storm

When facing off against a deck that’s built for swarming you with a large number of enemy creatures, you’re likely to face a large horde of weaker monsters, usually with a power of 1-2. That’s where this card becomes invaluable; this card will allow you to clear away an entire lane’s worth of foes for only 3 magicka!

#3- Unrelenting Force

Shouts in the Elder Scrolls Legends are an interesting class of card! As you play more of them, they become more and more powerful. Each shout played, makes every incarnation of the same shout in your deck increase in level. And Unrelenting Force has a very strong progression, allowing you to instantly un-summon enemies; all the way up to completely clearing a lane!

#2- Tree Minder

While not an offensive card in the least, the Tree Minder in an extremely helpful card, especially early on in a match! When summoned, this card permanently increases your maximum magicka, the resource which allows you to play cards. Using this can earn you an early advantage by allowing you to break out strong cards quickly!

#1- OldGate Warden

When it comes to defense, look no further than cards with both the Guard and Regenerate traits, which allows them to recover from damage every turn. And it prevents foes from attacking anything else! When playing this card, I suggest to stock up on item cards and effects that can disable lethal enemies!

There are a lot more great cards in the game, with effects I haven’t even been able to touch on in this list! However, if you’d care to see for yourself, I’d advise checking out the game for free on Steam! As always, this is Mod Knight, and thanks for reading!

Character Spotlight: Futaba Sakura from Persona 5 with Mod Aria!

Hello all Nasties! Mod Aria is back today with another Character Spotlight. As Atlus has just announced a Persona 5 anime set to air in 2018, I decided to celebrate. So today, I’ll be talking about one of my favorite Persona 5 characters, Futaba. I feel as though Futaba is a character so many people can relate to (especially female gamers), so it’s no surprise that I find her absolutely wonderful. But there’s so much packed into Futaba’s character that I feel like goes unnoticed. So I’ve made it my mission today to discuss it with our dear readers! Warning: Spoilers Follow. Suicide discussion also appears.

Naturally, if you’ve played Persona 5, you know what’s up with Futaba. She suffers from a mental illness due to a horrific incident in her past. But before we get into her psyche, let’s just talk about some fun things. Futaba is a computer geek, a gamer and an otaku. She is also a genius; Futaba reveals at one point while bonding with her that she was so much smarter than the other children in her school that she faked failing tests just to fit in. Futaba may be young and immature, but she is leagues beyond all of the rest of the Persona 5 cast.

In regards to her Persona, she spends her time on the sidelines. Futaba maps the dungeons that you spelunk as well as offers support during combat. I think her support role fits her character very well; even though she is healing, that process takes time. Having her engage in combat would seem too unrealistic for her. Even her mannerisms as the game progresses symbolize her own nervousness: her hunched posture, her mumbling, her emotional range. What I’m trying to get at is that Futaba is a very well made character.

Futaba suffers from a very unique, yet very tragic situation. The death of her mother leaves her scarred and frightened, and her trauma is justified. Being blamed for the apparent suicide of her mother has given Futaba severe agoraphobia; she hardly even feels comfortable leaving her own bedroom, let alone her home. This interferes with Futaba’s life so heavily that even her existence is a rumor. What’s amazing about the situation is this: despite feeling there is nothing she can do, Futaba is (or was) on her way to recovery even though she didn’t realize it.

The fact that Futaba approached the Phantom Thieves at all means that she recognized how her PTSD had taken control of her life. She wanted to fix it; to be free of her fear. You know that saying “the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem”? There’s merit in that statement; you can’t fix what you don’t think is broken. Futaba wanted to take those steps. She just thought that the Phantom Thieves stealing her heart would be the only solution. But is that really the case?

Because Futaba is cognizant of her agoraphobia and wants to fix it, I personally don’t think that she wouldn’t have recovered without the Phantom Thieves. However, that’s just what I think. The game presents quite the opposite: if you miss the deadline to steal Futaba’s heart, she commits suicide because of her crumbling mental state. It’s quite a dark ending, but not an uncommon scenario. Many people who know they need help and want it can end up hurting themselves due to the melancholy over thinking there is no way out. Especially if the only way out they know ends in failure. She likely not only had agoraphobia, but severe depression as well.

This is just another reason why I think Futaba is a terrifically crafted character: her mental illness(es) is/are showcased in such an accurate way, and seeing her take the steps to heal is one of the best parts about bonding with her in the game. While it is a miraculously fast recovery, the game’s fantasy elements justifies the quickness. And while Futaba leaving her home is a strange move, I still think her full recovery showcased in her bonding scenes makes sense. She sets reasonable goals for herself. She doesn’t take on too much all at once. Futaba surrounds herself with a support system as she tries. It’s stunning how healthy it is.

All in all, Futaba Sakura is one of the most interesting characters to come from Persona 5. Her writers and creators knew what they wanted her to be and knew exactly how to portray the heavy topics of PTSD, agoraphobia and metal illness. I think that Futaba’s transitions from unhealthy to healthy are great examples others with mental illnesses should use as a template to help them understand what true recovery means. As long as they know that Phantom Thieves can’t make everything go away instantly.

It’s not an easy task living with a mental illness, but Futaba can help you understand that it doesn’t mean you cannot live. You can get better. You can be free.


Thanks to everyone for supporting NWG. Until we meet again!