VIDEO game creators are constantly trying to offer gamers a more immersive, realistic experience. But there’s one area where their attention to detail is missing: the portrayal of female bodies.
Iconic female video game characters like Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft might kick some serious arse on screen, but in real life, their bodies would defy physics and appear disturbingly distorted.
That’s the message behind this series of Photoshopped images by eating disorder support website Bulimia.com. They’ve altered the bodies of 10 fan-favourite video game females so they accurately represent the average woman’s figure.
Instead of impossibly tiny waists and disproportionate busts, here we see bodies that actually make sense.
Gaming studios boast about their hyper-realistic lighting techniques, even touting “natural cloud movements” as a new feature.
“And with that kind of attention to detail, it makes us wonder, why can’t they accurately portray the female body?” Bulimia.com asks in a blog post.
“The difference between the original video game heroines and their more realistic interpretations is hardly subtle. In these images, unfeasible waistlines expand, and arms and legs grow wider.
“Perhaps the changes are especially noticeable since most of these characters are so scarcely dressed.
“Video game designers and their companies have complete control over the female bodies in their games. So why is it they so often opt to make these characters into unrealistically idealised versions of their human counterparts?
It is unrealistic portrayals of female bodes like those in video games which lead to eating disorders, Butterfly Foundation chief executive officer Christine Morgan told news.com.au.
“Video game characters are created to reflect unrealistic, digitised appearance ideals that are not achievable in real life,” she said.
“Individuals who are immersed in these appearance-oriented environments can be at risk of experiencing intense body dissatisfaction if they feel they don’t measure up in comparison to the characters on the screen.”
Ms Morgan said with the number of young people in Australia experiencing body dissatisfaction at record highs, it was important to promote positive body image and showcase “healthy, realistic bodies”.
Stephanie ‘Hex’ Bendixsen, co-host of Good Game on ABC2, says we should be more concerned about the oversexualisation of female characters, rather than their weight. Plus, they are often relegated to the role of the girlfriend or the damsel in distress who needs to be rescued.
“As a gamer who just wants to be fully immersed in that world, I want it to be believable and that’s hard when I see a female character getting around in a battle bikini,” she told news.com.au.
But Ms Bendixsen says the industry is changing. A large number of new games featuring lead female protagonists were previewed at the annual E3 gaming conference in Los Angeles last month. And some old favourites are getting a makeover.
“Lara Croft has recently undergone a redesign for the reboot [Rise of the Tomb Raider] where they completely change her look. She wears pants and a tank top that covers her stomach and a jacket. She’s still sexy, she’s just practically dressed for what she needs to do and people have responded really well to that.”