It's no secret that the portrayal of women in gaming has a bit of a muddy past. Whether it's a princess that always needs rescuing, a fragile mage who needs someone to help her control her power, or even just the main character's love interest - gaming's biggest and brightest females have almost never been allowed to shine as much as their male counterparts.
However, one MMA franchise is seeking to change that: CVG interviewed Ricci Rukavina, the co-founder of indie developer Kung Fu Foundry about their upcoming game based on the Supremacy league, which includes female fighters in all their muscle-bound glory, with no more skimp or sass than their real-life counterparts show off.
Rukavina notes the contrast between their game and more traditional fighters: "I would say the main difference is women are typically represented in those games with an exaggerated sense of body proportion and are often times overtly sexualized." He cites the ridiculous size of certain characters' assets from Soul Calibur and Dead or Alive, which itself has a long history of giving some truly ridiculous angles on its fighting crowd.
Of course, as any market-focused executive should, KFF's co-founder also focuses on the competition. "THQ's UFC game doesn't feature women because Dana White has all but banned women from ever competing in the UFC. Strikeforce is definitely more ahead of the times than UFC as they promote female fighters on their fight cards, but EA chose to exclude them."
Also conspicuously absent are any images so far of a female fighting a male in Supremacy. Given that another one of the features they hope to draw attention to is the 'brutal, no-holds-barred combat,' it's almost worrying to think of the reaction to the first video or demo online where a muscle-bound champ is beating the hell out of a female muscle-bound champ.
In an ideal and perfect world, there wouldn't be any alarm or distress from such an image--they both signed their contracts and are ostensibly getting paid to hurt each other for our entertainment, so what does the gender matter? However, the world we live in is one where some women's experience with a bloodied face was far more real--and traumatic--than any game.
Personally, I'm not of the opinion that development studios should pull any punches (ha!) when it comes to including female fighters as good and proper equals in the arena of MMA combat. However, the specter looms for any game that gets published to end up spinning into controversy because a single M-rated image crosses the desk of a Fox News anchor.