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Cammy

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.

Rufus:

Blanka:

E. Honda:

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.

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16 responses

  1. PinkPutty

    Honestly, SF is actually not that bad with female characters. Yeah C. Viper and Cammy aren’t really… tasteful. But Chun-Li is pretty well done. Same with Makoto, Karin, Rose, Ibuki, and even Sakura are all tastefully done.

    However, the reason the character model looks weird is because Capcom’s 3D models in SF4 (The first one, which Cammy was in) were pretty horrid. Ryu looks like a gorilla in that!

    August 20, 2011 at 2:46 AM

    • JPH

      Yes, those 3D models are absurd. E. Honda’s probably bothered me the most (beside Cammy of course) because they basically tried to make him super fat AND super buff, at the same time.

      And I do have to admit that most of the other female characters aren’t quite as ridiculous as Cammy. Ibuki surprised and impressed me in particular, because 1, most of her body is covered (and not by skin-tight superhero attire) and 2, she’s a NINJA.

      Also, MAKOTO IS A GIRL? Why was I unaware of this?!

      August 20, 2011 at 3:08 AM

      • E. Honda shows more definition than he should, but Sumo wrestlers really do have a lot of muscle under the fat. If they just made him fat, they wouldn’t convey the image of powerful Sumo to Western audiences (Japanese audiences would understand Sumo, but most Westerners would not).

        August 22, 2011 at 10:45 AM

        • JPH

          Fair enough. I worded that badly. But have you seen E. Honda in Street Fighter IV? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s like they decided to make him fat, and then stacked the muscle on top of the fat. It just looks really off.

          I forget how to use links in HTML, so http://oyster.ignimgs.com/ve3d/images/04/24/42404_orig.jpg

          August 22, 2011 at 11:12 AM

          • Yeah, that’s what I meant by more definition than he should. Ideally, I’d really leave him mostly alone except I’d remove the six-pack, because there’s really no need for that and it’s really what pushes the design into the “really looks off” zone.

            August 22, 2011 at 1:50 PM

  2. I think you could make an argument for Blanka being scantily clad and fit…

    August 20, 2011 at 6:26 AM

  3. ‘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.’

    Why would somebody who you describe as an asexual robot need to pay attention to what they wear, beyond functionality? And I think this costume has a lot of functionality in the sense that it leaves the arms and legs free and doesn’t hinder movement. That sounds like kind of clothing it would make sense to wear in a fight (much like Watchmen’s Nite Owl I costume).

    I’m not saying that Cammy doesn’t look hyper sexualised but it’s an idea that bears thinking about.

    August 20, 2011 at 6:32 AM

    • JPH

      “it’s an idea that bears thinking about.”

      I totally read that as “it’s an idea that bears think about.” That totally confused me. I didn’t know bears thought about much other than high-fiving.

      That is a fair point about the outfit being practical, although I’m not sure why somebody who doesn’t care about her appearance would wear such a ridiculously skin-tight outfit.

      August 20, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      • nybie

        Less wind resistance? I don’t know, I’m just bullshitting now.

        Also, everybody seems to see Bears. I see plucked and cooked Turkeys.

        August 20, 2011 at 5:39 PM

      • Oh dear. It appears I posted with the wrong account.

        >_<

        August 20, 2011 at 5:41 PM

        • JPH

          Happens to the best of us.

          I didn’t actually see bears until Mumbles pointed it out. Now it’s all I see.

          August 20, 2011 at 11:36 PM

  4. “But it’s especially irritating when a character is blatantly made to be a sex object, and then isn’t even attractive regardless.”

    Amusingly, this is a large part of what turned me off of Bayonetta.

    August 20, 2011 at 7:56 AM

  5. Necropost: Cammy’s supposed to be part of Bison’s cadre of sexy, young, brainwashed assassins, no?

    September 16, 2011 at 4:06 AM

    • JPH

      Hrm… Just read a bunch on that in the SF wiki. God, the Street Fighter story is such a convoluted mess.

      In any case, is she still taking orders from Bison? And if not, wouldn’t it make sense for her to dress a bit less stupidly since she’s self-aware now?

      Maybe I’m just demanding too much.

      September 16, 2011 at 12:55 PM

  6. Laura-Jane

    For me the major problem of sexism in games boils down to two basic issues. 1) Game developers are clearly ignoring their demographically varied and evolving audience. 2) Sexist character designs perpetuate harmful social prejudice and give everyone (boys and girls) unrealistic expectations of what “attractive” looks like.

    I have to agree that fighting games are not the best front to attack this issue because their character designs are ridiculous across the board. It’s simplistic of anyone to think that men don’t have an idealized image of masculinity they are told to live up to. As some of you pointed out, even the sumo wrestler has visible muscles, which does not make sense. Boys are told to be ultra muscled, and I’ve met enough men with body image issues to be as bothered by this as by hyper-sexualized women. True, men are not pressured into being eye-candy, but they are told they must be strong, muscular, and adept at seducing all the eye-candy.

    To some extent, video games are atrociously sexist no matter which gender you are. (Achem, space marines.)

    September 17, 2011 at 7:16 AM

  7. thatguy

    there is no block button in street fighter
    and cammy (along with the rest of the cast) looks weird cuz of the art style they thought the americans would like. Check out her alpha design

    February 28, 2012 at 7:18 PM

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