When it comes to tactics in games, I like offense and speed. I like to throw a barrage of quick hits at my foes before they have time to retaliate. It’s a peculiar aspect of my personality (likely a feature of that Daredevil mentality I’ve talked about before) that bleeds into just about every game I play. My favorite class in Team Fortress 2 is the Scout. My favorite character in Smash Bros. Brawl is Sonic. My favorite race in Starcraft is the Zerg. I generally prefer to use red decks in Magic: the Gathering.
And it seems that in Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition (good lord, I still can’t get over how unnecessarily long that name is) the character who fits my play style most is Cammy. She’s a very aggressive character, prone to fast and powerful attacks with little to no defense to back her up. Which fits like a glove for me, since I generally forget about the existence of a block button in games like this.
Which is why it’s unfortunate that Cammy’s character design bothers me to no end.
I really hate to see this. Every single female character in Super Street Fighter IV is young, fit, and scantily clad. Let’s look at some of the males for sake of contrast.
I know, I know. This is a dead horse that’s already been savaged viciously by every other games journalist in the world. I don’t care. I’m beating it anyway. Whenever a woman is placed in a video game, 95% of the time she’s there for sex appeal first and any other reason second. This problem is by no means exclusive to video games, but the sexist undertones are still pretty rampant.
You could argue that since every other game is full of sexy women in their undies, this game’s got to do it or else it’ll be scorned. First of all, that brings to mind the “If everyone else jumped off a cliff” mantra. Secondly, it’s not even true. I know of at least one developer that doesn’t have to sexualize its characters, and by sheer coincidence it just happens to be my favorite developer, the one I can’t seem to stop mentioning every other post. How utterly predictable of me.
Valve is known for, among other things, creating Alyx Vance, who is often cited as a particularly good, well-written female video game character. I can see why; she’s the most prominent character in Half-Life 2 who actually has a voice, and she has some strong characterization. But my personal favorite Valve character is Zoey from Left 4 Dead. She is never used for sex appeal; instead they focused on making her relatable, quirky, interesting, emotional, and three-dimensional. Instead of making her as sexy as possible, they made her as sympathetic and likeable as possible.
So no, I don’t think female characters should have to dress in skin-tight outfits and show off their buttocks to the camera (I’m looking at you, Cammy, and not in the good sort of way) to be interesting. In fact, doing so sort of ruins the character in my eyes. When I think about how Cammy is written, she doesn’t seem like the kind of character who would dress like she does in Street Fighter.
She never shows any sexual attraction toward anyone. She’s a very formal, militaristic type. She begins every match by saying “Target acquired. Beginning mission.” She acts like an asexual robot, and yet she dresses like a stripper. Inconsistency, I think that’s the word I’m looking for. And if Capcom weren’t so obsessed with the sex appeal of every double-X-chromosomed character in their games, they wouldn’t have this problem.
Speaking of sex appeal, I don’t know about you, but I just don’t really find Cammy attractive. That’s what makes it even worse. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think every woman has to be attractive. I just got through saying that. But it’s especially irritating when a character is blatantly made to be a sex object, and then isn’t even attractive regardless.
Maybe there’s something wrong with my eyes, but her body just looks unnatural to me. Disproportionate. Inhuman. I think part of the problem is with the ridiculously large and buff legs, which I guess they must have thought made sense since most of her attacks are kick-based. But when I look at her I don’t think, “I’d like to hit that.” I think, “Has the concept artist for this game even seen a real woman before?”
JPH, why are you complaining so much about this one fighting game character? Fighting game characters aren’t meant to be taken seriously, just beat people up and have fun.
If I were saying “Street Fighter IV sucks because Cammy’s character design is bad,” then yeah, that counter-argument would be valid. This isn’t a review; it’s simply an analysis. And the game constantly subjects us to the character design and dialogue, so I think it’s a worthy topic of discussion.
As for why I’m so fed up with Cammy in particular, like I said in the beginning, she’s my favorite character to play as. So I’m obliged to constantly look at her while I learn how to play this damn game. So I would appreciate it if the character design was interesting in any way, but it isn’t.
Also, she sounds like Lara Croft doing a terrible Lara Croft impression. If that makes any sense.