Damnation: Fashion Advice

By John Walker on July 7th, 2008 at 11:50 am.

Heavens lady.

You may remember when Codemasters put out their press release for the Damnation announcement, we felt inclined to mock it everso slightly. Codies responded in generous good humour, leading to this madness. Well now some more screenshots have appeared, and as excellent fun as this game looks like it could be, there’s some more mocking to come.

Specifically about the above.

Damnation is to be a large-scale action shooter, set in levels that boast their vertical as much as their horizontal, bursting with physics-defying stunts. Such as driving along walls on a motorbike. Now, we’re not Tim Gunn or anything, but it would seem that for flinging yourself from rooftop to rooftop, performing daredevil feats, and having shoot-outs in mid-air, this isn’t possible the most sensibly designed outfit for the task.

HELLO CODEMASTERS! IS IT 1972 IN YOUR OFFICES?

Do you see how you’re really rather enforcing the reputation we wish this industry didn’t deserve? Do you not want to offer female characters some dignity?

Er, okay, so that was ranting. But come on.

A rather more respectable collection of screenshots, all of them enormous, here.

, .

267 Comments »

  1. Flubb says:

    So whose ‘assets’ are we talking about exactly? :)

  2. phuzz says:

    “…and that’s why you should always check what temperature you’ve put your jacket into the washing machine on.”

    (and why do we not get half dressed men eh? Come on codies, you’re missing a demographic here…)

  3. Noc says:

    Another relevant question: How do those fellows’ hats stay on?

  4. Jaxtrasi says:

    Surely, given that this is the sort of young lady who is going to be driving a motorbike up and/or along a vertical wall, gravity is far from her enemy?

    Given the distinction between verisimilitude and realism, wouldn’t it would be *less* plausible in this case for someone so obviously unrestrained by fundamental physical laws to worry about wearing a sports bra?

  5. Ross B says:

    I’ve heard from places that the studio is actually people who came close to the top on the Make Something Unreal Contest. I hope that it isn’t the Air Bucaneers guys, if so, put a shirt on Her and remove the goggles, you’re making us all cringe.

  6. Dinger says:

    1972? Is there a scene with Charlotte Rampling and a giant flying head that yells “The Penis is Evil”? ‘cos I’d buy THAT.

    (Now let’s see how long ’till someone points out that was 1974)

  7. Ian says:

    @Noc: Clear plastic chinstraps.

  8. Del Boy says:

    I’m just wondering whether a digital female body would like ‘strange’ without huge breasts?!

  9. martin says:

    Dear Codies, just make the female character a person and not a masturbation template for some minors.

    Make the outfits modable, leave a complete nude mesh in the code and all desires are satisfied.

    Just take a look at the Tomb Raider or Oblivion mods.

  10. ape says:

    Remember Alyx? She was realistically proportioned plus she had a personality that avoided the cliché of cyberpunk tom-boy or retarded damsel in distress. So, I’m guessing Valve isn’t staffed with teenagers?

  11. derFeef says:

    @ Del Boy
    Just look at Alyx Vance

    edit: argh ape, you beat me to it ;)

  12. Wallace says:

    I like under-boob as much as the next man, but jesus christ.

  13. martin says:

    yes, Alyx is a good example for a good designed, female character

  14. Al3xand3r says:

    “I’ve heard from places that the studio is actually people who came close to the top on the Make Something Unreal Contest. I hope that it isn’t the Air Bucaneers guys”

    Well, no, it’s the Damnation guys. It was a steam punk western post apocalyptic single player third person (with first person shooting) modification. Very creative setting, design and weapons marred by mediocre execution and gameplay that seemd to come from the early days of the 3D platformer genre. It looks much improved here in terms of design and possibly gameplay but the visual style has lost quite a bit of its charm and steam punk flair.

    Anyway, not every game has to offer characters with depth and personality. Think of this as a Hollywood blockbuster action movie. It’s not like men are represented any better in those (movies or games) where their only redeeming quality is their masculinity and overall badassness. They’re used in the same way, they don’t have to be half naked for that. Women aren’t treated worse. They use a silly but apparently fun (?) demographic to the extreme for both genders.

    You’re all just sexists for only seeing how women are apparently mistreated when the men are just so, except you find that cool. Well, other people find half naked chicks cool also so, just chill and either critique both or none at all really…

  15. James G says:

    What is most disapointing is how rare it is for the majority of the gaming press to call them on it, indeed a large segment of it not only fails to see the issue, but trys to perpetuate it. (PC Format’s covers are embarassing quite frankly, and thats nothing compared to some of the comments seen online) A friend in the industry was genuinely shocked when I mentioned that PCG UK will highlight particularly bad cases of misogyny in games, such as in Alec’s review for ‘The Witcher.’ (She was also genuinely pleased, being both a games developer and a feminist)

  16. Dinger says:

    You have to admit, it’s effective. Your eyes have been fixated on the shoulderpads for six months, and you haven’t even noticed that these screenshots bring in a new female character, with smaller boobs, and only a bare back.

    I won’t be satisfied until all the women are in peasant dresses!

    What do you mean, “We did that already back in 1982″?

  17. Al3xand3r says:

    There was nothing wrong with The Witcher, it was faithful to the original stories and it was done in good taste considering the source material. It was certainly no hot coffee mod. But really, is it so bad to present women in such sexual situations? Maybe most youngsters will be surprised but women can really be much wilder than what’s displayed in such titles. Do you find that kind of woman as less of a person? Why shouldn’t she be represented in video games? I’m sure you will agree many WOULD go for someone like Geralt in such situations.

    The men are also misrepresented in such games, but I guess it’s fine by all of us to think of guys like Geralt as people who just slay monsters and fuck women and find that’s a happy go lucky life but it’s not okay for the women he does that with? Whatever, really, people should grow up, not everything that gets released is meant to display the reality as it is for EVERYONE, and yet everyone runs off to judge them for doing just that.

    There are some pretty strong willed women in The Witcher also, are they somehow worse because they also get it on with Geralt at some point (IF THE PLAYER CHOSES TO AND SUCCEEDS, if you find it offensive, just DON’T TRY)?

    Does it really make them worse, that they appear to have sexual desires and needs that go beyond settling down with a nice farmer or whatever, getting married and having kids? Again, you will notice much wilder situations are very common in the real world as well, while I can’t say the same about the representation of men in these games.

    And no, I’m not boasting, I’m quite traditional, loyal and I have to be in love before doing more. I’m not saying I’m wild like that at all, I’m just old enough (being 25 years young) to see games really don’t present anything over the top that comes anywhere near close to what you can commonly meet in real life. At least not the games mentioned here as examples of mistreating genders.

  18. Meat Circus says:

    Perhaps it’s simply time to accept that, like it or no, emotionally-stunted under-sexed geekboys are the lifeblood of the games industry, and we should embrace — no — celebrate it!

    Damnation: the first step on the John Walker’s difficult road to self-acceptance.

  19. Kieron Gillen says:

    Al3xand3r: I’m not even getting into the Witcher again – please, stop building straw men – but in your first post you’re making the mistake of assuming because people are stereotyped according to their gender – blokes well hard, women well sexy – they’re equivalent sexist treatments.

    They’re not. If a man was dressed in an outfit solely designed to show off his male sexual characteristics it’ll be equivalent. Men are stereotyped as *competent*. Women are stereotyped as *sex objects*.

    Or, in short, her costume appears to have been designed by an eleven years old.

    KG

  20. Albides says:

    Or, in short, her costume appears to have been designed by an eleven years old.

    Which isn’t only insulting to women, but insult to us (to a lesser extent), as the target audience.

    “Conan, what is best in life?”

    “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and ogle the boobies of their women!”

  21. Al3xand3r says:

    Competent? Yeah, I’m sure every man can slay 150 mutants (or other men) and fuck 5 women in a single night and we should feel we’re not worthy if we can’t do that because it’s being competent. Everyone should be a killing fuck machine with biceps and a sixpack like arnie’s or not be at all.

    As for my The Witcher comments, they weren’t aimed at you, someone else mentioned it so I responded. If I can’t comment on The Witcher in this topic then others shouldn’t either.

    That guy with the skin tight shirt shows almost as much as the women here. Or would you consider the woman fine if she wore a skin tight costume that showed her curves just as much as her current?

    If games adhered to the boring reality and dismiss any other kind of reality that shows things the majority or the vocal majority do not do or like it when others do it, then all we’d get is The Sims games.

  22. Rob Merritt says:

    Most women that I know that played Half Life 2, including my Mom, hate Alyx Vance. She feels Alyx is needy and manipulative.

  23. Meat Circus says:

    @KG:

    But women are not being stereotyped here as *in*competent.

    So, it’s men being stereotyped as competent.
    Women being stereotyped as competent with nice tits. She hasn’t lost anything, she’s just gained a cracking pair ‘o norks. She should be happy.

    I mean, she doesn’t look like some helpless damsel-in-distress to me. She looks like a fully-empowered woman, who knows enough about using sex as a weapon against feeble-minded men that she can ride roughshod over the conventions of adequate shielding during gunplay.

  24. gulag says:

    I enjoy my escapism with big breasts. In a game with people driving nonsensical bikes up walls, why moderate?

  25. Meat Circus says:

    @Rob Meritt:

    It’s not so much that Alyx is clingy, more that she’s suicidal, and determined to drag Gordon to hell with her, when he’d probably prefer a nice cup of tea and a sit down.

    Former employee of Black Mesa: “No, Alyx! It’s too dangerous. I won’t let you take this risk. The mission has a 99.7% chance of you being vaporised in a nuclear explosion powerful enough to rip a hole in reality!”

    Alyx: “WOO! Let’s go! And, Gordon’s coming with me, whether he likes it or not, so we gots ourselves some QUICKSAVE.”

    Freeman: “Pissbiscuits.”

  26. Okami says:

    @Al3x: I remember defending The Witcher quite vigourously here a few months ago and I’m with you on this one, but let’s not start the whole topic again.

    And just because I love breaking my own rules, I want to add, that the portrayal of Geralt’s sex partners sometimes just reeks of adolescent wishfull thinking (strong, wild women with swords who take sex from whomever they want – in this case the player’s virtual representation – is such a 16-year-old-boy-who-jerks-off-to-louis-royo fantasy..) and in some cases it’s just plain sexist and exploitative (you give a starving elf girl food in order to have sex with her..).

    Slightly more on topic:

    Anybody else noticed, that these screenshots show nothing of their “vertical design”? Those levels all look pretty horizontal to me…

  27. Simon says:

    Have these people, this industry almost, been informed yet that all those 90′s superhero comics they liked are actually shit?

  28. Meat Circus says:

    @gulag:

    Agree 100%. Do trivial concerns about the dignity of some polygons have any place in escapism? Especially one aimed so clearly at the aforementioned demographic with which Walker deeply wishes he weren’t associated?

    I suspect the above rant says more about Walker than it does about the industry.

  29. fluffy bunny says:

    Ok, I’m pre-ordering this game now. Say what you want, but that woman looks _nice_.

  30. Rayna says:

    Good grief, I can’t believe that’s real! It looks like something you’d see in some softcore tittie mag like Maxim! What a shame Codemasters haven’t joined the 21st century yet.

  31. Sax says:

    Well the Graphics aren’t that stunning, especially the non-character-textures.

    “Her assets” try to distract from that.

  32. Kieron Gillen says:

    No, Al3xand3r – I’m saying that *I’m* not going into the Witcher again. Talk about what you want. However, I also said that stereotyping people you’re arguing against as anti-sex is terribly mislead. Me? I’d just like better sex in games.

    Regarding your macho stuff – Christ, man, buying into that fantasy is what the videogame’s all about. It’s not a threat – it’s a promise. Conversely, the fantasy of the female character isn’t anything to do with the game – it’s about looking at it, for the male gaze and all that jazz. Hell, even look at the pose of the characters in the screenshot – this links neatly to Superhero stuff. A regular fanboy argument is “Men are well macho in superhero comics too!”. The difference being, while both are in ridiculous costumes – i) the female ones are almost always cut in a sexualised way ii) they’re regularly drawn in sexualised poses. When you’ve got artists who tear their photo-ref out of Porn mags, you can’t really fucking treat any idea they’re not actually sexist, objectifying trash seriously.

    (Which is an important issue when we’re talking sex, y’know. There’s all sorts of really iconic female sex symbols which are awesome and adored. But what they have is *class*. This has no class.)

    Or, in short again, it looks like it’s been designed by an eleven year old.

    Rob: Actually, I’ve got a bit more time for the Alyx haters. She’s a terribly obvious idea of what a non-sexist girl should be.

    KG

  33. Kieron Gillen says:

    Meat: Trust me. She looks incompetent. If someone’s in a firefight, they don’t wear a top which their tits fall out of when they move and high heels.

    (This is another superhero fangirl one – noting that while men may not even think of this stuff, if you have tits, you tend to be aware what your tits would be doing in such a costume.)

    EDIT: I admit, I’m presuming with the heels. But I’d put money on it.

    KG

  34. fluffy bunny says:

    “What a shame Codemasters haven’t joined the 21st century yet.”

    The 21st century sucks. I am sick and tired of the political correctness that pollutes the gaming world these days, from Duke Nukem-bashing to complaints about Laras breast size. And when people even start complaining about fantasy RPGs… sheesh. It’s gone too effing far.

  35. The Hammer says:

    Dayum! They’re still using that horrific excuse for an outfit? Have they not worked out that the original sex symbol of the games industry was sensibly clothed, and not -just- a symbol of waving your meat and two veg about?

    http://purenintendo.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/05/lara-croft-tomb-raider-anniversary1.jpg

    Or, if you want to get really retro…

    http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/9/95/Tomb_Raider_1_Box.jpg

    This, on the other hand, is just blatant, ugly sexism.

    (Oh, and speaking of Alyx, I always thought the fact that she seemed attracted to you despite having not uttered a word in the game was kinda worrying, especially when it was you achieving all the tasks, and not her. She was ever so thankful, because apart from a few unlocked doors, she accomplished little.

    Kudos for the model, anyway)

    Oh, and telling censorship it’s gone too far? CENSOR!

  36. ape says:

    Is it me or are most of those defending this objectifying crap truly not aware of an actual social context outside of the escapism?

    Games represent a powerful possibility for expression in many forms, and it just so happens that there are these intelligent and equal human beings called women. Now these women are just as complex as men and they also happen to represent roughly half the population of humans on the earth, more if I’m not mistaken. They also contribute heavily to society and have done so for the length of our evolution.

    Many of them play games, many of them are aware that the plight for equality seems to be a pretty rough road. Maybe they would like to play a game where the only characters representing their gender aren’t relegated to traditional roles or simply cliché roles.

  37. Ian says:

    “It’s not so much that Alyx is clingy, more that she’s suicidal, and determined to drag Gordon to hell with her, when he’d probably prefer a nice cup of tea and a sit down”

    Is this what Gordon’s home page would be? :D

  38. Okami says:

    The funny thing is: You can create sexy female characters without making them look like whores. There’s nothing wrong with wearing outrageously revealing clothing, as long as they’re comfortable outrageously revealing clothes, that are actually suited to the job at hand.

    (insert pun about hands, jobs and scantily clad ladies here)

    When designing the appeareance of the character and her gear, you should allways aks yourself: Is she wearing revealing clothing in order to just show off her bodily assets? Or is she wearing something that fits the character and that a sane person would wear when going into combat and that just happens to look sexy and revealing in some places?

    The problem with the girl in the screenshot is not that she looks sexy. It’s that no sane person would ever go into combat dressed like this! That outfit is neither very comfortable (look at those boots!) nor is it in any way protecting her from harm.

    Ok, so she might not sweat to much with most of her torso bare, but the whole effect is kinda defeated by the long sleeves. If she really doesn’t like to wear too much clothing, why the hell does she have long sleeves?

    EDIT: Talking about believable female action characters: Sarah O’ Connor from T2 comes to mind. She looks like she could hold her own in a fight, she’s not wearing to much clothing, but it seems like a sensible choice when fighting liquid killer androids from the future.

    http://tinyurl.com/rnfeu

  39. Kieron Gillen says:

    I actually like the shrunk-in-the-wash explanation.

    KG

  40. ape says:

    Don’t forget that a knee to the tits probably hurts as much as one to the balls.

  41. Al3xand3r says:

    If you don’t like it, don’t play it really. Play games with female characters that don’t offend you. Again, does EVERYTHING have to be politically correct? Can’t we present whores, sluts, hoes, in video games when there are worse women in reality? I’m sure she’s not even that bad as a character, even if she looks that bad.

    Too bad for guys it’s much harder to find a game where the male lead is not an arnie knock off with the endurance and bloodlust he had in Predator and perhaps at the same time the kindness and sensitivity of Hamlet’s Romeo.

    I guess the Silent Hill games are one series with an average joe looking guy. Yay.

    Also, is the outfit really the main issue? As someone mentioned already, it’s as if it’s cut out from a magazine cover. If we have it in magazines, why can’t we have it in video games? Is an outfit more important than the actions of a character? If it’s accepted in society (really, how many girls are getting photographed, and how many more WISH they did?) then why not video games? And if society accepts it, why do you think you’re right in not accepting it? You’re obviously the minority.

    I’m sure we can all agree it’s a ridiculous outfit for a combat situation, and very few people here expressed finding it attractive in the least, but then again most of the game’s setting is ridiculous. Steam punk zombie post apoc? Whatever. If you can accept that kind of things, I think gravity defying boobs are plausable also. She WILL fight in that outfit and I’m sure her boobs won’t fall out of it anyway, even if they look like they should.

    Would it be better if they fell out and she started screaming and covering herself? Would that be good because it’s more “real”? I’m sure you wouldn’t like it so let’s not stray off topic with silly remarks about what real boobs would or wouldn’t do if that outfit was real. Keep it to the point to have a sensible argument at least.

  42. ape says:

    You don’t have to be offended to think something is stupid or backwards.

  43. Alex says:

    Anyway, not every game has to offer characters with depth and personality.

    Your idea of depth and personality is a pair of big tits?

  44. Klaus says:

    “I mean, she doesn’t look like some helpless damsel-in-distress to me. She looks like a fully-empowered woman, who knows enough about using sex as a weapon against feeble-minded men…”

    I don’t like agreeing with feminazi’s but I have to say this is flawed. A scantily clad female who ‘knows how to use sex as a weapon’ is a cheap excuse just to have a scantily clad, sometimes whorish, female present. It can be used to explain why any female is ever scantily clad. Let’s be honest she’s just dressed like that just so people can see her boobies, I doubt there’s a feasible excuse for it. There rarely ever is.

    However…
    I don’t care if she’s riding two motorcycles at same time while dual wielding rifles, I’m still too busy lol’ing at her outfit to care.

  45. Okami says:

    @Al3xand3r: If you don’t like it, don’t play it is such a lame argument. It’s like saying, don’t read “Mein Kampf” if you don’t like the antisemitic passages in it.

    If you like your game heroins looking like hoes: No problem, nobody stopping you from doing it. But don’t get offended if other people think that it would be nice to have, you know, really sexy female leads for a change. Believable characters and all that stuff.

    Believe it or not: Some of us really are more attracted to the personality of other human beeings than to their secondary sexual attributes. Of course personality is something that can be expressed through looks.

    Also: It’s rather cheap to be offended by other people taking offence at the sexist portrayal of women in games.

    EDIT: Ohhh.. I just noticed a few other things in your post, that I take issues with. Here we go..

    Concerning mal3 leads: Yup, they suck too most of the time. But just because male leads are stereotypical macho killing machines doesn’t mean all female leads need to be whores. That’s not really an argument, you know.

    But now we come to my favorite part of your post:

    If it’s accepted in society (really, how many girls are getting photographed, and how many more WISH they did?) then why not video games? And if society accepts it, why do you think you’re right in not accepting it? You’re obviously the minority.

    I could write a whole article about that statement. A series of articles.

    1) Just because young girls are taught by the media, that it’s okay to sell their bodies and that they need to conform to some kind of ideal beauty standard, doesn’t mean, that it’s ok. America’s Next Top Model and other shows like it aren’t a sign that our society has grown more open minded, it’s just shows that in a capitalist society everything, even your body, has become a commodity.

    2)In Nazi germany it was accepted that Jews have nor right to live. In ancient (and not so ancient) societies, slavery was accepted by society. In medieval europe burning witches was accepted by society, as was torture, the fact that the earth is a disc and that the sun orbits the earth.

    Just because the majority of society accepts something, doesn’t make it right.

  46. Al3xand3r says:

    “Your idea of depth and personality is a pair of big tits?”
    Try reading properly next time.

    Okami I’m offended they’re being pretentious and are only offended to what suits them and think the rest things are fine and not worthy of any comments in the same vein.

    As for telling me what I find attractive, well, I haven’t expressed what I like or dislike sexually or in video games here in any way so don’t assume because it makes you look like [you have a different opinion]. Thanks.

    Way to go for ignoring most my post and just arguing the parts which are arguable on their own but not so easy to argue in the full content which is co related and intertwined and shouldn’t be taken random piece by piece.

    Also:
    “No problem, nobody stopping you from doing it.”
    I’m sorry but these discussions about what SHOULD or SHOULDN’T be in video games do attempt to stop things from happening. They don’t just present an opinion and one’s personal likes and dislikes, they present one’s opinion as a FACT and the ONLY decent choice on what SHOULD happen in games or whatever else as a whole.

  47. ape says:

    Klaus: I agree, that way of defining female empowerment is in itself boyish fantasy.

  48. John Walker says:

    Mr Circus is playing his doublethink game. Pay him no heed.

    Mr bunny, you don’t seem to have quite got a grip on what “political correctness” means. It means not being a foul, racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise prejudice person. Which I’ve always assumed as being quite a reasonable position.

    Just out of interest, how has this “pollution” affected your gaming?

    Al3xand3r – It isn’t a problem with prostitutes, or skanky women being presented in games. It’s a problem with ALL WOMEN in a game being presented that way.

  49. Meat Circus says:

    Mr Circus is playing his doublethink game. Pay him no heed.

    I’ll get you next time, Walker. NEXT TIME.

  50. Faust says:

    I think the main problem here is not that in this particular instance we have a barely clothed woman in a videogame. It’s that in pretty much EVERY videogame there is a barely clothed woman is there is a woman at all. That’s what Walker is commenting on I feel.

    Damnation is just adhereing to the stereotypes of the genre that are basically going to self perpetuate. People are mentioning Alyx here because she’s pretty much a singular exception in the portrayal of women. I mean look back to the Mirror’s Edge previews and look at the quite surprised comments about how the character wasn’t i) a man, ii) big breasted iii) scantily clad. She looks practical and athletic, and the problem here is that the character in the screenshot is utterly impractical, more suited to men’s magazines than a warzone…. I think that’s the main problem being placed here..

    On the flipside, the men in games usually look like they belong, to a degree… even something as preposterous as Gears of War had characters that looked like they fit in, even if they were obscenely macho.