Is “Sexy” DLC Bad?

Serah from Final Fantasy XIII-2
Serah from Final Fantasy XIII-2

Downloadable Content, or DLC as we’ve come to know it has been a huge part of the video game industry really since the previous generation of games with the PS3 and Xbox 360. Granted there have been many games before them with “DLC” that were more like expansion packs (take The Sims for example), but it was really this generation that kickstarted the trend of almost every game coming with a ton of extra (possibly locked) content for consumers to throw more money at if they so choose.

One of the more controversial ones though, aside from DLC that’s either overpriced or should have been an integral part of the game, are costume-based DLC. The majority of the time, these cosmetic upgrades are things like re-colourings, retro outfits and silly additions, like the many cheesy Dead Rising outfits.

But some fall into a category that seems to trigger a lot of people out there, particularly feminists and SJWs: Sexy-themed costume DLC.

Trip from Enslaved: Odyssey to the West
Trip from Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

Generally speaking this DLC is purely cosmetic and offers nothing more to the story or the mechanics of the game. This content is meant only for the purposes of being used as a method for players to make the already gorgeous (primarily female) characters look even hotter. This could range from a variety of outfits such as swimwear, sleepwear, or outfits that are cut up a bit to reveal a little more skin.

Of course, because we’re making a female character show more skin, we’re objectifying her, we’re dehumanizing her. Yes, by making a fictional character dress in something sexier than their normal outfit, we’re dehumanizing them. A NOT-REAL human female is being dehumanized. She doesn’t exist, people! If you want to get triggered at this stuff, do it for real-life pieces of media. Go all-in on swimsuit issues of magazines, episodes of TV shows where women are in various states of undress or fully nude. I certainly don’t hear a lot of feminist talk having to do with Game of Thrones, but I’ll sure as hell hear about something far less known like Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

Kasumi from Dead or Alive 5
Kasumi from Dead or Alive 5

The most famous game to contain such content is of course the legendary Dead or Alive series. Well known for a ton of swimsuits, schoolgirl outfits and a ton of other sexy outfits, the series is at the top of the metaphorical totem pole when it comes to downloadable content of a sexual nature. While there are a couple outfits that might be looked at as sexy for some of the male characters, generally speaking the focus is on the women.

In this specific case, it makes a little bit of sense for these characters to have such outfits and I’ll go further into why in a moment. But when it comes to the characters themselves, it’s no surprise that within a game where one selling point of the entire series has been the “jiggle physics” that the female characters are given, of course there would be costumes, whether the default ones or DLC that would reflect that particular design choice.

Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw
Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw

So when should these types of costumes be acceptable? It’s actually quite simple. As long as it fits within the universe the content is being used for, who cares what they wear? Take all the pictures I’ve put up for example. Serah from Final Fantasy XIII-2, a fantasy world. Trip from Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, a fantasy world. Kasumi from Dead or Alive, an exaggerated modern day world. Juliet from Lollipop Chainsaw, an exaggerated modern day world. Notice the keywords I gave to these four examples, “fantasy” and using the word “exaggerated” when describing a modern day universe. None of these games I’ve listed are meant to be realistic representations of our own world.

It’s one thing to have sexy costumes in games that take place in a fantasy world or a modern day world that is greatly exaggerated or turned upside down. It would be completely understandable however if in a game like say Call of Duty if there were costume packs that you could buy that would make your female soldier look more like Quiet from Metal Gear Solid. But generally speaking that doesn’t happen, if there are extra outfits as DLC in games that are of a sexual nature, they’re usually given to games that do not fall under the realism banner.

from Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water

One case I can think of that you can make an argument for this kind of content being used in a game it should be, is Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water. In this game there are outfits that are pretty much skimpy underwear that are worn by teenage girls in a horror game. And that’s the key thing here, this is in a horror game. You may be thinking “Hey Adam, but this game falls a bit into the exaggerated modern day world, doesn’t it?” and you’d be right to think that. The difference however is while the world should be able to adapt to the costumes, the gameplay however does not, which supersedes everything else at all times.

The idea of a horror game is to immerse you in the world, keep you constantly on the edge of losing your mind. It’s not exactly easy to commit to that when you’re busy staring at an ass in a tight pair of panties. Now the intent I imagine for these outfits is to be used after completing the game, which is totally understandable if that’s the case. But honestly, when it comes down to it, unless you’re a game like Until Dawn which is a homage to the cheesy 80s and 90s slasher movies where it was common place for girls to be running around in their underwear, it doesn’t work in horror. For Fatal Frame in particular, it’s a homage to the very dark and fucked up Japanese horror movies. I don’t recall a lot of teenage girls running around in thongs. Not that I researched heavily into Japanese horror films, they scare the shit out of me.

from Samurai Warriors 4 II
from Samurai Warriors 4 II

So in closing, I don’t think there’s a problem with the vast majority of sexual DLC, or sexual costumes in games at all for that matter. Generally speaking, I’d say over 90% of the games that do it, are using them in worlds that can accommodate them. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to have fantasy girls in sexy outfits, the worlds are non-existent, they’re not real, so they can wear whatever they want. The only times where sexy outfits shouldn’t exist is when you’re making a game that is hellbent on a realistic design. Armed forces soldiers do not wear bikinis into battle and regular girls in our own world don’t wear nothing but their underwear on when in public. So if it wouldn’t happen in real life, don’t apply it into a game where it’s meant to be an accurate representation of real life.

Once again, I think people are just getting a little too triggered about all this stuff. They’re fictional characters in fictional worlds, relax a little bit!

I’d go into more detail, but how many times do I gotta sound like a broken record when it comes to this issue, eh?

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