‘If Games Don’t Offer Us Complex Heroines, Then We Apparently Stop Looking For Them’

‘If Games Don’t Offer Us Complex Heroines, Then We Apparently Stop Looking For Them’

Briefly: “If games don’t offer us complex heroines, then we apparently stop looking for them.” That’s critic Maddy Myers discussing kink, sex positivity, and female empowerment in Bayonetta in an excellent essay for Paste. Give the whole thing a read, and remember to check out our review of Bayonetta 2.


  • If the industry stops offering us complex games, we also stop looking for them as well. It’s called Call of Duty…^_^

    • I’m actually interested to see this new video. She deleted her old Bayonetta video because of how much wrong information was in it.

      • I can kind of see where she is coming from. Kotaku has attacked female character designs that revealed much less. However, a lot of reviewers don’t bring this up when it comes to Bayonetta.

        Personally, I couldn’t care less about the design and feminism etc. I was wondering if the creators of Bayonetta simply pull this kind of stuff better then other studios?

        • What line?

          You complain about one perspective, a conflicting perspective is presented, and you just keep on gnawing away at the first.
          Do you have anything to contribute to the conversation of traditional critical method for film vs video games? How about the call that instead of reducing complexity, we should look to elegant delineation to describe and discuss difficult constructs? Anything pertinent to the content of the article that isn’t snide aspersion?

          If you’re more than a one trick pony, show it.

          • To what end are you are repeatedly holding up one person’s opinions for scrutiny?
            Clearly you take issue with Kotaku publishing articles about certain topics.
            Do you dislike the topics, the authors, the discourse?
            Why do you engage with the articles that you dislike?
            What do you hope to achieve by engaging with the community by way of accusations, derision, and defensive bravado?

          • Repeatedly? I think about 3 times would be more accurate. In 2 topics.

            I was merely pointing that the apparent “go to” authority on gaming has deemed the game otherwise.

            Why do you disapprove of anything that queries?

          • Mainstream media, gaming journalists. Jack Thompson was equally aggressive in labelling all games as a violent training simulator for mass murderers… Kotaku fell over themselves to argue that it wasn’t the case.

            Not an ounce of scrutiny in that they make everybody a misogynistic woman hater and that we’re all white male basement dwelling virgin nerds.

            Anyway I’m bored. I must be a misogynist because I just don’t accept being stereotyped and I query a biased point of view of a woman.

    • I’m sure that I’ve said this before but anyone thats an enemy of boobs in games is an enemy of mine.

      • Wow, that was the shittiest review I think I’ve ever read. It barely touched on the game play mechanics at all, and instead read stuff into Juliet such as her ‘looking over her shoulder with shame-filled eyes’ and how her sensei must be a child molester. At least it does mention Juliet’s naivete but it falsely says she doesn’t respond when zombie students call her degrading names. News flash Maddy, the game is about chopping up zombies 🙂 If you as the player are going to sit there and let those insults go unanswered, you’re playing it wrong!

        • Does the character respond or does the player respond?

          A key difference between Bayonetta and Juliet is their script. Bayonetta is written to be confident, to respond verbally with dominance, her entire countenance is dominant provocateur. Juliet, however, is not written with the same qualities, she is still a complex character albeit one who exhibits the submissive behaviours we label naïveté; “The bulk of the game’s jokes happen at the expense of Juliet’s naïveté.” would not be applicable were Juliet a dominant character.

          The player has agency in the way they can control the character to respond to stimuli. The character has agency in the culmination of script, animation, and VO.

          • I think whenever you have a playable character the lines are going to be blurred as to how much the player inhabits the character and uses that character to effect player agency on the game’s world and its non-playable characters. My view is that even though Juliet is naive, she has the skill set and motivation (as does the player) to respond to the insults. Sure, we could make Juliet just run away from the zombies, or stand there and get eaten by them, but the game is not designed to reinforce that behaviour, should the player engage in it.

            I agree there is a difference between the apparent personalities of Bayonetta and Juliet, but the way the characters are designed is (a) to be ‘sexy’ and (b) to be physically and emotionally strong. I would argue that whilst there is a certain awkwardness or self-consciousness to Juliet’s persona this can be attributed to her being a teenager, whilst Bayonetta certainly has the self-assurance of a more mature woman.

            I don’t know. I guess all I am saying is that if you examine Juliet’s character, including the way the player is meant to inhabit and manipulate that character, I don’t think she comes across as submissive or docile. I thought some of the stuff she says as she is cutting up zombies is decidedly not submissive 🙂

          • Not to mention, it seems that nobody remembers that over the course of Lollipop Chainsaw, Juliet actually grows up and discards all the people who scornfully stereotyped her. By the end she learns to accept who she is as a person, rather than as a highschool caricature and discovers that her family, boyfriend and master are already the most truly valuable people in her life.

  • Good article to chew on a Friday morning. Interesting perspective and analysis of both games criticism and female characters.

  • “If games don’t offer us complex heroines, then we apparently stop looking for them.”It’s more or less a paraphrasing of Henry Ford’s “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” quote. The quote is true in a more general sense though as the majority of gamers do tend to become complacent with whatever they are given and rarely seek out something different, accepting it as “Just the way things are”. Thankfully there are a bunch of talented studios out there ready to show us that there’s more to games than dudebro shooters and man-stabathons.

    Really good article though. I just finished a refresher run of Bayonetta and was reminded just how much I enjoyed her “Sexually Positive” portrayal without devolving into an airheaded bimbo burger pandering to the audience.

  • Great article. Funny thing about the strain of militant feminism that some people follow is that it actually steps on the freedom of other women. In the same way that many males experience physical pleasure from watching, many women experience physical pleasure from showing. Those women are now being told to be ashamed of themselves for “catering to the male gaze” and other negatively charged buzzphrases.

  • Games never offered complex heroines until recently. Therefore games spontaneously started offering complex heroines, or realised the market was looking for them.

    Quite simply, Samus completely disproves the statement.

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