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Wokeness wars find their way to gaming

I honestly thought the Stellar Blade drama was dead. But then I saw a Forbes article from May 1 highlighting the video game’s new record.

Apparently, it has become the ‘highest user-scored PS5 game ever,’ which may come as a surprise if you have seen the trailers. The article’s author was perplexed because Stellar Blade is a decent game. However, it isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, and it does not deserve its 9.2/10 score after 2,598 reviews.

The author (Paul Tassi) blames the cultural gamers waging war online for boosting the title’s popularity. Stellar Blade’s biggest fans have an anti-woke agenda. They think throwing high scores at a game that does not deserve it will hurt the critics who continue to attack Stellar Blade for its depiction of female characters.

To provide some context, Stellar Blade is an action-adventure game set in a post-apocalyptic future where monsters have ejected mankind from the planet. Eve and her squad have been tasked with liberating Earth, and if you have seen pictures of the heroine, you can probably guess where the controversy originates.

Critics have used the term ‘hypersexualized’ to describe her. Imagine a curvy body and the tightest outfits possible. Sensual designs are commonplace in video games. Why would Eve’s design elicit so much controversy? Because IGN France published a scathing review of the game in which the writer spent more time criticizing the director than actually explaining the demerits of the game.

She claimed that Stellar Blade’s depiction of female characters was unrealistic and creepy because the director had never seen a woman. Her arguments fell apart when two factors came to light. One, the game’s director was married to a beautiful woman. Two, Eve’s design was based on a scan of a real woman, and she’s every bit as curvy and attractive as Eve.

Therefore, nothing about Eve’s appearance is unrealistic. Eventually, IGN edited the article to remove the offensive lines and issued an apology. But that did little to quench the fire. Audiences and critics are still fighting over this game. One side is convinced that games like Stellar Blade are a threat to the moral fabric of society.

Rachel Ulatowski published in which she rebuked Stellar Blade’s director (Hyung-Tae Kim) for revealing in an interview that, even if Eve’s design was legitimately unrealistic, he prefers to play games with characters who look better than him.

He wants to see the ideal body, not the norm. Rachel took offense to Hyung’s suggestion that Eve’s body type is not only the ideal but also the only body type men want to see. She believes that Eve’s depiction is harmful, because it encourages men to judge women based on how well they adhere to the impossible standards characters like Eve have set.

Her opinions are not new. Many voices in the industry have spent years calling for gaming companies to depict female characters realistically. Hardcore gamers have pushed back against that suggestion.

Like Hyung, they don’t see the point of playing games that mimic real life. Gamers initially praised Shift Up, Stellar Blade’s developer, for sticking to its guns when IGN France’s review came out. The company refused to apologize for Eve’s appearance.

But now those same gamers have accused the developer of censorship because the full game debuted and Eve isn’t as scantily clad as the previews and trailers suggested.

One example is her bunny-style swimsuit, which added some lace to the character’s chest and bits of fabric to her hips. I think fans of Stellar Blade should take the win and move on. Eve is every bit as sensual as the developer promised. There is no need to stir the pot any further.

katmic200@gmail.com

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