Bayonetta 2: Should Sex Appeal In Video Games Be Questioned?
With the recent release of Bayonetta 2, I found myself asking ‘why do people get so offended when a game including sexual content makes its way to stores?’ Since it is an area that does not personally offend me, for the most part I find it confusing. There are many titles out there which have a real heavy focus on sex within games, and use it as part of mass marketing. Bayonetta 2 is of course the most recent example, but most of us take a lot of the characters we see as they are. That is, of course, until someone tells us why we should not and how much they are affecting future generations.
Cereza, or Bayonetta as many of you will know her, is a very interesting character. One of the best things about Bayonetta is how she has been portrayed as a witch. When I think of a witch, I think brooms, black cats and noses covered in warts. Witches, as you may think of them, are in no way comparable to how Platinum Games has shown them to be. Gone are the hideous witch stereotypes; glamour and style are all that remain. The thing that makes Bayonetta stand out so much is her sex appeal, but without that she is merely a very flexible husk. Bayonetta as a character has many traits, but three main ones which define her. Her looks, her voice and her flamboyant attitude. Take even one of these away and the game would lose its charm almost instantaneously.
The first thing we should take a look at is her incredibly unique sense of style. Bayonetta has clothing, yet it is made from her hair. Let that sink in for a moment.
Got it? Good. It might not be the obvious choice for clothing, but she is a pretty powerful witch and so, why the hell not? What this allows for is Platinum Games to make any excuse they want involving how much hair covers her during play. To do this, hair plays a major role in the gameplay aspect of Bayonetta as well as the cosmetic one too. When fighting gets intense, Bayonetta will appear to lose clothing as her attacks all stem from her hair, it works well but definitely adds to an already risque game. To compliment her physical appearance, she will also come up with quotes that show off her extremely intimate attitude without ever pushing things too far. The vocal work plays a key role in Bayonetta as a character though, and goes well with Bayonetta’s whole look.
Finally, the other thing which completes Bayonetta is her movement throughout the game. If you have played any of the Devil May Cry titles you will be aware of how fast paced and skilled you have to be in order to achieve a high score. Bayonetta takes the Devil May Cry formula, replaces Dante/Nero with a female lead, and makes things a little more graceful. If you were to re-skin Dante as a female character, it would still be obvious that he were a male in disguise. Bayonetta, however, has her own distinct style of movement which truly makes her shine as a character. Movement is one thing, but style is another, and Bayonetta maxes both out all the way.
When you first played a Devil May Cry title, did you once consider that a female lead could would work out? Did you ever genuinely think about how sex appeal would come into play? Bayonetta does indeed have massive sex appeal, and it certainly makes her as a character stand out, but it is also entirely necessary. This is where the problem lies for a game such as Bayonetta 2, but also where the solution resides. In this case, Platinum has the perfect excuse in that her clothes play a massive role in the game. Knowing this, do things feel a little less uncomfortable? If it is in some way justified, does that make it okay?
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain features a character who we know only as Quiet. As is the Japanese form of doing things, Quiet is pretty much wearing no clothes in the gameplay we have seen her in. According to rumors, the reason behind Quiet wearing next to nothing is a logical one, and so should not be put down so rapidly. Even if Quiet needs a distinct lack of clothes for whatever technical wizardry that is going on with her to work, could Kojima and his team really not change things up? It would not be the first time a Metal Gear Game has explored sex within the game, and Quiet looks to be pushing the boat a little further than we may be used to. Do not take what I am saying the wrong way though, if Kojima is able to justify Quiet’s lack of clothing then by all means let him. I wonder though, why is it taking this long when controversy clearly surrounds the character?
It will be interesting to see how Quiet measures up to other supporting characters like her once The Phantom Pain releases, but for the most part she appears to be a way of gaining an audience for reasons based on sex. I highly doubt though that she will be the only character in the new Metal Gear that has a tiny top and ripped leggings. Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm now. I am completely fine with games aiming to be sexy, Bayonetta 2 was an amazing experience and I fully believe that if it were to change any of the aspects discussed, it would lose most of its personality. It was also a game that had its reasons, and as long as the reason is made clear, I can respect that.
How do you feel about sex within a video game? Or the portrayal of women in general? Is it something you find needs to be understood or should we just accept it? Regardless, the movement is very unlikely to change, and the next mature title you come across will no doubt in some way have some kind of sex appeal for the sake of marketing purposes.
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