Don’t like character designs? Vote with your wallet

Whether it be literature or electronic games, they are fiction. Realism is a genre for sure, and yet even in that it is make belief unless it is a documentary piece or similar. As such, any character we may meet within any entertainment media has very little to do with real life. Television, movies, radio and other industries with live people doing performances are of course another thing, but even then the characters these people act are simple fiction. Documentaries and such of course are exceptions.

Let’s cut the chase. Theme for some of the posts in near future is Video game characters are not real people.

When fictional characters are designed, majority of the time they have encompass some level of ideal physique in them. In comics most of our superhero characters are nearly perfect in physique and have almost flawless appearance. Those with rugged appearance on the other hand then to have skills and abilities far exceeding normal people. The same applies to game characters as well, where we have Shepard, Lara Croft and various others sharing the same idea myths of old had.

Some would argue that these ideal appearances give the wrong image of reality. That would apply, if the products would be about reality. If one would come up to me and tell that Duke Nukem is how an ideal man should be, I would laugh at his face. While they are indeed ideal archetypes, nothing actually says that this is how we should be. More often than not, it is almost impossible to be something that is unreal in physical terms when it comes to humans. Cosplay as much as you want, but you will never be a cute little girl wearing skimpy black outfit with gold rims.

Appearances have always been a thorn in certain groups’ eyes. While we are bombarded with people calling women being sexualised in comics because of their perfect physique, often the physique of men is completely pushed aside. Next to this, these characters are not women or men, they are merely presentations of ideas of characters. With fiction you have no reason to stick with reality unless that is your aim and goal. While Grant Morrison is a dividing personality, his quote on how children have the ability to see fiction as it really is hits the spot with this one; adults ask stupid questions. The children I have worked with don’t question how or why something is in cartoons or games they play because they know it’s just la-la land. However, they have always been extremely interested in how the real world functions, the hows and whys of sciences. These discussions are something I always look forwards when working with kids, because this shows how they make that clear cut separation between reality and fiction. Hell, once I drew a princess character as a birthday gift to a girl (she asked for one) and when she presented it to her mother, she commented how the character’s shapes were a bit too curved. The girl commented to this that it was just fairytale and in fairytales that’s OK.

It would be nice if we all could make that distinction as well.

Nevertheless, it must also be argued that certain degree character designs need to respect the overall accepted norms a society has. This of course translates regionally very differently as we have seen throughout the years. In addition to that, character designs more often than not represent the idea of a character or certain groups’ idea of a character, not the rest of the population. Archetypes are a thing of their own and most of the time characters are mostly transformations of these archetypes into the setting. Whether or not they are successful is dependant largely on how well they are realized by the producers and accepted by the consumers.

With the 3DS Langrisser we see certain archetypes represented for better or worse in a strong sub-cultural flavour. Langrisser has always been a series with a strong tone for fanservice, that can’t be denied. I’m not sure whether or not it is my own bias taking lead here, but I can’t shake the view that Urushihara’s character designs were less fanservice and more sexier. The two are of course dependant completely on opinion, so we’ll give a look at the updated 3DS Langrisser site.

One of the most revamped sections of the site is Characters, and now we actually have information and official English names for the characters. This is good, because now I can correct what I have been calling them otherwise, Ares being one of them. The two added characters are, without circling around it too much, two female characters that more or less look underdeveloped and underage. A loli archetype, to be straight about the issue.

One on hand the dress has a nice design, but on other hand we can argue whether or not the dress is fitting for this character
One on hand the dress has a nice design, but on other hand we can argue whether or not the dress is fitting for this character

First of the two new ones is Jessica, a character that has appeared in every mainline Langrisser game as the Priestess of Light. As an avatar of the Goddess Lushiris, Jessica has the power to reincarnate herself and thus her soul is old as hell. Her appearance across the games doesn’t change much, a thing that still applies to the 3DS Langrisser. Granted, now she looks like a small girl, but all the elements Jessica has carried before are there, including some elements from past Urushihara designs. While I personally may think this is more or less tasteless design for the bodybuild, within fiction it has its own merits to argue that it exists. On the other hand, there is no dress and there is no Jessica to wear a dress like this. There’s no reason to treat Jessica has a human being. It’s only a cartoon, after all.

I do like the costume. It's simple, has a royal flavour to it and lines are clearly defined. It may be bit too sexy, but you're reading a post from a guy who usually defends porn
I do like the costume. It’s simple, has a royal flavour to it with clear linework. It may be bit too sexy, but you’re reading a post from a guy who usually defends porn

Licorice is a new character on herself, being the sister of Ares rather than Elma. With the whole dark motif she has going on for her, we can wager this has something to do with her kidnapping. Then again her name is Licorice and licorice is often dark but tasty. However, we can argue the same points with her design as it was with Jessica’s design, but then again this isn’t porn or remotely anything similar.

Whether or not either Jessica’s or Licorice’s designs are of good taste or something else is up to you. One on hand it can be argued that both have good design that serve their purposes and represent the ideas well enough, but some would argue that these designs are inappropriate. I would try to choose the golden middle path, arguing that both characters do have good design, but could use some tweaking in order to meet certain global threshold of accepted matters. The last part of that argument is bullshit thou, as there never can be one.

Mankind is not one nation with shared ideals. We barely can share same ideals within the same country, not to mention with our neighbours and friends. Thus, it should be more applicable to say that designs like this are not made to attract everybody. The 3DS Langrisser from its visual standpoint is clearly making a stance to stand separate from the older series, both Langrisser and Langrisser Millennium. The developers are aiming the core gamer market with this game. In Japan this often crosses over with people who have the anime sub-culture as their largest hobby. The same can’t be said of the rest of the world, as anime has never been truly mainstream. There has been mainstream anime, but that’s another thing. Anime doesn’t sell in the West because of that, but also because the visual style largely puts some people off. The sub-culture doesn’t do much favours to positively promote itself either, and there recently there has been an idiotic movement that tried to give certain game a better image by a very limited group of people, but we’ll get back to that soon enough. Langrisser has always been anime, and with the 3DS Langrisser representing the modern accepted image of the characters that the sub-culture in that part of the world accepts, who are we to say anything to it?

Fictional designs, whatever they may be, can be attractive or off putting. They most likely will offend some people while others applaud them for whatever reason. That does not mean that we have any rights to say what should be allowed and would should not, unless laws are broken. If one doesn’t agree with the presented product, this person has all the rights to vote with his wallet. That is true power a customer has. However, they have no rights to say that this won’t do because of one’s own feelings or worldviews. As long as we live in the realms of legality, limiting someone’s freedom to express his ideas in any form is extremely stupid, borderline illegal in some cases. Often than not it’s better to shut up than complain and be on your way to do something more pleasant, a notion I should most likely put into action more often.

Of course, designs change with time and some will argue how things are or were better
Of course, designs change with time and some will argue how things are or were better

Customers can be stupid too

I’ve decided that every hundred posts or so I’ll dwell into countering matter that I usually discuss. Normally you’d read me ranting about the service providers sucking at what they’re doing (like what Sony &co. are doing) but I really want to tell you that the customer base they have can be just as stupid as well. This might be somewhat harsh text, but hey, even I need to vent these things out.

Let’s take an example of the “hardcore gamers.” Let’s be clear once more; hardcore gamers do not exist. And why? Because the self-entitled HC gamers are nothing more than remnants of PC gamers. Why? Because the HD twins, and even before that, are nothing more than dumbed down PCs running dumbed down PC games. Why? Just to give a simple example; the PS3 is marked as a computer to avoid higher tax as they did with PS2. And UK court said nope. And I want to quote Kutaragi himself;

Recently, SCE president Ken Kutaragi went into great detail about how the PlayStation 3 is “clearly a computer,” not a games console.

“Speaking about the PS3, we never said we will release a game console,” he claimed in a recent interview with PC Impress Watch. “It is radically different from the previous PlayStation. It is clearly a computer.”

So yeah, the same applies to X360 by all means. Honestly, I would be completely fine with this. Both HD twins do have some games I wish to play. However, the customer base on all three platforms are just insanely stupid when it comes to both ignorance and sheer stupidity. They either do not acknowledge realities that are in their faces or they simply will not seek knowledge outside their opinions. They’re like religious zealots who can’t see past their own noses.

The Wii was the first proper home console since the NES. Both MegaDrive and SNES were already more PCs than their predecessors and PlayStation sealed the deal. 3D has always been more PC element that console element, and always will be. This is why Nintendo always fails when they release a console that concentrates on 3D; they’re going away from their arcade roots that sells. People wish to play arcade and console like games on home consoles. PC games have not vanished or PC gamers have not vanished; they’ve just moved to consoles.

And the customers are stupid enough not to notice this.

This is part of the problem, as many industries listen to customers the wrong way, especially the game industry. Yes, the industries’ are having a crisis because the rampaging creativity and all the bad it brings with it. Remember, it’s not the creativity that creates a good product, but research and craftsmanship that have little to none to do with creativity. The customers are blind to certain aspects they do not like to think and are victims to to their own idolization. Certain comic writers have become like gods in the industry that are allowed to do anything they want at the cost of the quality of the product and sales. One person who is like this is Grant Morrison, who is a good writer but is currently undermining the Action Comic by his behaviour. Morrison does not tell DC what is his plans on Action Comic and on Superman, which undermines another writer’s job and is being rewritten on number basis because Morrison is an asshat diva who is treated as creative god. Same with Miyamoto; the guy can do good games when he is forced to, but when his creativity is allowed to shine we get games that do not sell and of low quality. And the only people we can blame is the customers who idolize them.

Same with designers, where certain names always pop up. These guys always gets the god status due to their creativity, but only of them actually have proper reason to be at that state, as they actually spend half of their work hours just researching what they could do better for the customers, y’know, like a craftsman should. A service provider should never be a creative artist like the customer sees, because customers are idiots who can’t do research and do not know the difference. The industry has to know the difference, but as people from the customer side enter the business side, the industry begins to lose its integrity and the creative artist view takes more control and the quality of everything just drops like a dead fly.

If we want to keep having quality products, we the customers have to become more strict and face the truth. Let’s stop this god bullshit altogether and let’s start demanding better games, movies and comics. I want to see a new 2D Mario, but with the same budget and work that 3D Mario sees. Nintendo doesn’t like to do them, but honestly, fuck them if they don’t want my money. Just like Capcom. But as long the customers are bullshitting themselves with these terms of “harcore gamer” and “casual gamer” and thinking that the creators are some kind of gods, we’re never going to see anything of high quality again.

What we, the service providers, need do to fix this? First of all, stop bullshitting ourselves and stop jacking ourselves off to the creativity crap we’re loving so much. Let’s stop making pandering crap people keep talking about but never purchasing, and straighten out all the misconceptions that lead to low quality products. In other words; let’s start making good products and tell people that we’re listening, but not only the vocal minority that keeps circle jerking themselves.