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!

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!

 

Free 2 Play: DBZ Dokkan Battle with Mod Loser!

Hey there, Nasties! It’s Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me! I thought that, given this past week was the Super Saiyan 4 event for Dokkan Battle, it would be the perfect opportunity to discuss one of my favorite gatcha games. A gatcha mobile game involves using items earned through a game in an attempt to obtain rare characters for which to play through the story! That being said, most games of this type are from large franchises: Final Fantasy, Tales Of, Dragon Ball, Fate Stay/Night, Fire Emblem, you get the picture.

However, I find one of my favorites (for the most part) is Dokkan Battle. The gameplay involves matching colored orbs with a character whose type matches the color to form better combos, with certain colors doing more damage to the others. This is very standard for a gatcha game, and is the core mechanic. The story of Dokkan involves Trunks making wishes to Shenron to summon heroes of various times to help him set the timeline straight, (Just like every other DBZ game lately.)

That being said, its very satisfying to utterly destroy Frieza using a team that consists of Ultimate Gohan, Kid Buu, Goku Black, and Broly. The story gets frequent expansions and given the depth of the Dragon Ball Universe; there are multiple versions of every character so that you have plenty of opportunities for customization. However, the amount of Dragon Stones (the items you need to summon characters) required can be ridiculous. You need 50 to summon ten characters with a guaranteed Super Rare (The Max being Super Super Rare or SSR) and you get one stone per completed quest.

A quest involves moving around a board after spending your energy points, then fighting a boss and or other smaller enemies.  The story is MASSIVE and after almost forty hours of play; I still haven’t completed it. Each mission has three difficulties, and completing it on one difficulty gets you a dragon stone. You can spend real money on dragon stones, which are not terribly priced, to summon more characters.

Like every other Gatcha, there are events and event characters which are nearly impossible to get during their event, but get high rate ups during the next event. For example, while spending all 240 of the free dragon stones I was given by Dokkan, I got Vegito, Vegito Super Saiyan Blue, Goku Black, and Goku Black Rose, but not a single Super Saiyan 4. That can be frustrating, knowing that you’ll have to wait for the next event for a good chance for the characters you want, but at least the game can be somewhat predictable in that regard.

All in all, Dokkan is a fun game and definitely a good time sink for Dragon Ball fans, but non fans won’t find anything here they can’t get somewhere else. Thanks for reading, nasties!

This has been Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me, signing off!

Character Spotlight: Kairi from Kingdom Hearts with Mod Loser!

Hey there, Nasties! It’s Mod Loser, Jackie, whatever you want to call me. And this Character Spotlight will be discussing a character that really grinds my gears! That character is Kairi from Kingdom Hearts. I’m certain that the initial backlash to this statement will be great, but allow me to explain why Kairi’s character irks me so badly.

We’ve said it about multiple characters, and it applies here as well: Kairi is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She has barely any personality whatsoever other than smiling and wanting to see Sora and Riku, everything she does simply acts as motivation for the two boys, and her very existence is only to act as a plot point for Sora and Riku to chase after in the majority of the games.

A stellar example is Kingdom Hearts 1 where, quite literally, there is a scene where Sora sees Kairi in front of a portal. She calls out “Sora!” in a very melancholic, monotonous manner, before quickly being sucked into the portal, making Sora angry.  There was no actual dialogue, no evident threat, Kairi only appeared there in that very moment to motivate Sora and move the plot along.

Similar situations, unfortunately, occur in Kingdom Hearts 2. Once again, Kairi exists as a method to move the plot forward even near the end of the game when Riku makes his appearance. She approaches Riku, currently in a black cloak, and asks if it really is him. The hood of the cloak comes down to reveal Ansem’s face, yet clearly being controlled by Riku. Any character could have made that reveal, but Kairi had already been shoe horned into the love interest slot, and as such was used to create an “emotional moment.”

Kairi has potential, but ultimately it has been wasted. What do you think, Nasties? How do you feel like Square Enix could have taken better advantage of Kairi’s character to make her something great? Tell us in the comments below!

This has been Mod Loser–Jackie, whatever you want to call me–signing off!

Character Spotlight: Chrom from Fire Emblem with Mod Aria!

Mod Aria’s back! For this Character Spotlight, I’ve decided to cave to temptation and write yet again about one of my many video game loves. This time around, I’m indulging my love for Fire Emblem. Particularly for my favorite Fire Emblem, Awakening. And as you may have guessed and noticed, I fall in line with many a gamer; there is no character in that game I love more than Prince Chrom. Light Spoilers follow!

Though I am certain everyone is absolutely tired of hearing about him. But can you really blame us? Why would we stop talking about Chrom when there is so much to love about him?

The first thing that made me love Chrom was his display of kindness and trust. Despite the fact that when Chrom first meets Robin/the player unit, he doesn’t consider even for a moment that they could be anything but a person in need. While this can be a flaw (especially according to Frederick), I have the opinion that approaching people with an open hand should be how we treat others. Praising altruism instead of blaming others for being wary is such a positive mindset, and I feel like Chrom embodies this. It’s easy to see why; his sister’s Lissa and Em are also as kindhearted as he. 

Not only is Chrom trusting, but he is also fiercely loyal. He makes it quite clear that he will fight and die for/with his Shepherds, and that makes Chrom an excellent leader and friend. People so often rally behind someone who is devoted to their people and a just cause, and Chrom is no exception. Respecting his cohorts is integral to him. And he respects them regardless of their gender or nationality. Acceptance is something he gives willingly, and that is a good trait. He is loved by his people because of his faith and fidelity. And for his dedication to repelling his enemies.

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I think that an underappreciated trait about Chrom that some people seem to forget is that he is witty and understands when he’s being made fun of. He can dish out clever retorts just like the rest of the cast. But I understand why that part of him might be overlooked, as his steadfast love for his country as well as his awkwardness in regards to romance are more prominent features. Especially if the player enters an S Rank support with Chrom. 

Speaking of Chrom’s S Rank, while I feel like it could have been a bit more emotionally charged, I still think I enjoyed it the most of all the available S Ranks for a Female Robin. In addition, I think that having Chrom marry Robin really helps tie in the plot together. Since Robin is kind of tossed to the wayside for most of the story of Awakening (other than the end and being Chrom’s tactician), I feel like tying Robin in with Chrom and Lucina helps make Robin really stand out from the rest of the crowd. But shipping aside, I think we can all agree that Chrom and Robin make a terrific partners (whether it be platonic or romantic; pick your poison). 

Regardless of your interpretation, I think Chrom is a character we can all (hopefully) agree is certainly beneficial to the Fire Emblem Awakening and a fan favorite of the series as a whole.

I’m thrilled to have Chrom in Fire Emblem Warriors, Heroes and the other titles in which he has appeared (except for Super Smash Bros. of course). I can only hope that he is included in even more Fire Emblem spinoffs and titles.


Thanks for reading this article, and please continue to support NWG. Until next time!

–Mod Aria/Sam