Gamer Mondays: A Halo of Hypocrisy

September 16, 2013 | By | 34 Comments

Hello one and all! Welcome to this week’s edition of Gamer Mondays, the editorial where one of our contributors gets to rant about, as that great philosopher Peter Griffin phrased it, grinding their gears. Last week, Dave talked about retailer exclusives, something I know many of us loathe with a burning passion. This week, I’m going to discuss some gold ol’ fashioned hypocrisy.

A couple of weeks ago, you may recall that the legendary Hideo Kojima Tweeted about how he asked one of his character designers to intentionally create more “erotic” characters for the purpose of cosplay and figurine sales (If you have forgotten, you can see the Tweets here). Kojima later said that his true meaning was lost in translation, and that he simply meant sexier, especially regarding the new female sniper in Metal Gear Solid V known as Quiet (See below for a “scandalous” pic). While this clarification may have been enough to pacify some critics, others felt the need to make their voice heard.

Quietcharactermodel

David Ellis, a designer for 343 Industries, said the following on Twitter in regards to Quiet’s character model: “Don’t care if this gets me in trouble. This character design is disgusting.” He also added that he felt “Our [the gaming] industry should be better than this.” Mr. Ellis would finish his tirade with the cheerful thought that the “[Gaming] Industry [is] full of man babies. Ugh.” For those who are unaware, 343 Industries is the company now in charge of the Halo franchise, and has been since Bungie left Microsoft to begin work on Destiny. This means 343 Industries is entirely responsible for the fourth numerically numbered entry in the Halo franchise, creatively called Halo 4. Why am I making a point of such an obvious detail? Maybe this picture can explain my point:

cortanaevolution

As you can see, this a progression of the character Cortana from her introduction in the original Halo: Combat Evolved to how she appeared during the events of the recent Halo 4. Let’s really look at Cortana’s new character model. I’m assuming that Cortana needed those big, fuller “red” (implied, although she is completely blue) lips to make herself feel pretty. When asked about the curvier appearance of her body, I’m sure 343 would like us to believe that it was to make her appear more like a real woman and an empowerment for female gamers everywhere. Let’s not even begin to discuss the obvious digital breast augmentation surgery Cortana has undergone while Chief has been sleeping. None of these new features could have been in the name of creating more Cortana cosplayers and to sell sexy Cortana figurines to collectors could they? 343 Industries would never stoop to such a…

halo4cortanasidebyside

Oh. Well, that’s a pickle. It seems that cosplay and figurine sales may have been exactly the kind of thing that 343 Industries intended to happen when they gave Cortana such a drastic redesign for Halo 4. So, that would mean 343 Industries, the very company that Mr. Ellis works for as a designer, did something that he termed in his Tweets as “disgusting.” If only there was a word to describe a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.

I’m not here to argue whether these kind of character designs are or are not “disgusting.” Honestly, it would be easier for me if all female game characters were dressed as nuns. While this may make me less of a “guy,” have you ever had to explain to your wife why you are playing alongside of a character that is dressed like she was ripped from the scenes of a late night Cinemax movie?

The point of my rant is to call out the hypocrisy that is rampant in statements such as these. As a consumer, I completely support your right to not purchase Metal Gear Solid V if you think there is no justifiable reason for Quiet to have the appearance she does and it offends you. However, in the case of Mr. Ellis, do not claim outrage and indignation over something that you yourself (through your employer) are condoning and perpetuating. This does nothing but make you a hypocrite and less of a human being.

  • Kamille

    you’re comparing a freaking blue AI character to a main character wearing a bikini and stoking as her main outfit! Have you seen how women in Halo look like?

    They look like this: http://i5.minus.com/jx8gpEBS1bgXw.PNG

    • Velox

      Are you kidding me? Cortana is the second most recognized character in the Halo franchise. If I showed people a picture of Cortana and Quiet, they’d know who Cortana is first and foremost 95% of the time. What does Cortana being a hologram have to do with anything? If Quiet was a holographic soldier in MGS:V, then you’re saying this wouldn’t matter at all, right?

      Have you seen a real woman in Metal Gear Solid? They look like this: http://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20080620064717/metalgear/images/a/a8/MerrylMGS4-2.jpg

      Get a grip on the situation, please.

      • Raeliron

        Replying to Travis really, but honestly, Quiet doesn’t need to be that sexual. Leave it to the Japanese to make mostly everything they make sexual. It really doesn’t matter what 343 does. It’s their game. They wanted to make a character more visually appealing. I personally like the new Cortana look, it gives it a more human touch. And that was also the basis of Halo 4, of finding who was human and who was machine.

        Cortana, if you noticed has a different look in each, due to better graphics. If you noticed in Halo 3, her breasts had gotten bigger and more erotic looking due to the darker blue data strips over her nipple. Bungie did it first, but 343 did it better with the look. 343 not only made her look breasts better, but her entire frame.

        As for Quiet, she seems more like an attention seeker that 13 year old kids would have a wet dream over.

        • Velox

          Big breasts were available in the PlayStation/N64 generation. Look at Tomb Raider.

          Bungie didn’t give Cortana big breasts in the original Halo and that was a design decision, not a hardware limitation. You’re kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

          • Raeliron

            You’re right. I didn’t think about the design decision. But I did say Bungie made her breasts more perky in Halo 3. I just think 343 added on to it to give her more appeal. Though they may have added a bit more than they should, it still fits quite nicely.

            There is a time and place to have sexual appeal. Meryl had sexual appeal with the clothing. This Quiet chick looks more like she is a makeshift soldier whose really a stripper.

            Cortana has always been naked in the game, but the data lines and things make it seem like its clothing. Cortana is Artificial Construct, so she has some right to have sexual appeal. That’s just me I guess.

          • Velox

            Why would an Artificial Construct need to have sexual appeal to begin with? She’s not real and it serves no real purpose. 343 added something that didn’t need to be added.

            I think the point here is very valid. You don’t have to agree, but it’s definitely a valid point.

          • Turo

            Well… Quiet and Cortana are both just polygons in a video game. So neither of them are real (even if they are based on real women). Which begs the question, is Cortana less real because her character is that of an artificial construct? I think not. It’s really simple, sex sells. This isn’t really new.

          • http://www.theloadscreen.com/ Travis Tucker

            I agree wholeheartedly, Turo. Everyone knows that sex sells. We see it on a daily basis outside of gaming. I’m not debating whether using sex appeal to sell is or isn’t a bad thing. My problem lies with a representative of a company that obviously used sex appeal to sell figurines, generate more cosplayers, and (to a limited extent) sell a few extra copies of Halo 4 criticizing another game developer for doing the same thing.

            He is not necessarily a bad person for being involved with a game that uses sex to sell, but he is a hypocrite for blasting someone else for it.

          • Turo

            Yes, and I agree. The guy is definitely a hypocrite, I said exactly the same thing when the comments were made.

            Honestly, I see no reason for anyone to be offended by any of this.

          • V

            The only point to this article seems to be that hypocrites are bad and that someone from 343 tweeted a personal opinion without consulting the handbook.

            Cortana was tastefully done(wider hips, slightly larger but flatter boobs.Realism), in my opinion of course,while that other thing looks like it’s on its way to a photo-shoot for playboy. Can you imagine what would happen if they tried to put something like this Quiet into the next Halo game.

            And for the record, David Ellis isn’t saying that sex doesn’t sell, he’s saying that the image before him is completely tactless and frankly pathetic. Just like the rest of us.

          • http://www.theloadscreen.com/ Travis Tucker

            Thank you for your well stated opinion, V (You don’t happen to be Hugo Weaving in a Guy Fawkes mask, do you? LOL).

            I will agree that Cortana’s “adjustments” were more realistic than Quiet’s proportions. However, I also find her’s more unnecessary. She was already an established character, and they specifically changed her for a reason, and I doubt it was because of better graphics. Quiet, on the other hand, is an original character and thus can be designed anyway Kojima sees fit.

            I wouldn’t say the only point to my article was that “hypocrites are bad.” I feel that Mr. Ellis made the statement he made for attention, plain and simple. Maybe I’m just cynical, but that is just me. I feel it was a free way to draw attention to 343 Industries, and it partially succeeded. Although there were people calling him a hypocrite, he also had a fair share of supporters who rallied to his defense.

            I’m not saying I dislike either Quiet’s or Cortana’s design/re-design. I think those are choices left up to the individual developers. It doesn’t bother me if they are specifically made to look “sexy” because (a) sex sells and (b) there are people who will look/dress similar to these characters and their proportions (although, I imagine those who look like Cortana will be much less blue and digital). I was just saying in the case of Mr. Ellis that, to use an old phrase, “those who live in glass houses should not cast stones.”

          • Velox

            Turo, the argument is that Cortana isn’t a real person in her virtual environment, not that she isn’t a real person in real life. You know that.

          • Turo

            Like I said, she’s not less real for being fake in her fake world. They’re both characters in a video game. My argument here is, that sex sells as opposed to your “she’s not real and it serves no real purpose.”

    • http://www.theloadscreen.com/ Travis Tucker

      Thanks for your response, Kamille. As to your point, Cortana is indeed an AI holorgram, while Quiet is meant to be flesh and blood. However, if we are making the point of Cortana being a hologram, I find 343 increasing her voluptuousness that much more disturbing. If she is indeed just a “freaking blue AI hologram,” and therefore not to be seen in a sexual manner, than why did 343 need to increase her curves, breast size, and lip volume?

      The point is not comparing whether Cortana or Quiet is more disgusting than the other (or whether they are at all), but rather that anyone from 343 calling Kojima disgusting for creating a sexually overt character is hypocritical.

  • joee

    Both halo4 and (hopefully) MGS5 are great games. Guess who mot of their customers are? Males! and in most importantly in kojima’s case: jappanese males. Seriously what’s with the Japanese and sexualizing everything. I’m not stereotyping(well kind of) but its true

  • Mrteapot

    Lemme get this straight your claiming hypocrisy due to one mans anti sexism comment holding him on behalf of all 343 studios, who inherited a character from another company?
    Why don’t you go argue about God of war pointless sex mini games instead of good character that’s a hologram lol

    • Velox

      An employee is a direct representation of his employer. That’s why people get fired for Facebook comments often. Just because you have your own opinions, doesn’t mean they don’t reflect on other people as well.

      • Mrteapot

        You then have to look at it as art or entertainment, Cortana a blue holographic A.I. With a huge history great voice actor or a typical Japanese over sexualized sniper in a bikini torn fishnets compared to a half naked hologram…then it is a video game the man made a respectable point plus I believe mgs point for having the character was mainly for sales and cosplay which is a tastless reasons

    • http://www.theloadscreen.com/ Travis Tucker

      Thanks for posting Mrteapot. The reason I didn’t criticize God of War for its sex mini-games is because I didn’t see David Jaffe or Corey Balrog or anyone else who had been involved with the God of War franchise criticizing Kojima. I did, however, see someone from 343 Industries make those statements. Once again, I’m not debating the morality of using sex appeal to sell games, merchandise, and to create recognition through cosplay. I’m discussing the fact that this man was hypocritical in this one statement.

      The fact of the matter is that his statements DO reflect on 343 Industries. If I attend next year’s E3 and pass out business cards with the Stealthy Box logo and my name on them, while wearing a Stealthy Box shirt or other paraphernalia, people will recognize me (rightly) as a representative of Stealthy Box. If I then spew prejudicial remarks, or just something that makes a game developer angry, it is going to reflect poorly on Stealthy Box as a whole.This is just how the world works.

      • HellsBells

        1. He didn’t say “as a representative of 343 industries” he also wasn’t passing out 343 industries business cards nor wearing one of their t-shirts. In fact, he acknowledges he may get into trouble which implies it’s his own personal opinion.

        2. Cortana’s backstory explains why she looks like that, and there’s no good reason (in the game) why she shouldn’t look like that. However, “Quiet” is a sniper, meant for the battlefield. Her refusal to wear sensible attire defies logic.

        The problem here is that they did it, not to create a sexually appealing female, nor a character that finds her body and sexuality “empowering”, but to boost sales; to manipulate the male gender while reducing the female gender to nothing but a woman who doesn’t/cannot speak whilst defying reason to look sexy.

        Welcome to Japan, and indeed gaming itself.

  • 7thGuest

    Everytime I see a somewhat “mature” discussion like this envolving games, I can’t help but laugh. Seriously, there’s so much worse in this fucked up world that is worse, that really influences peoples minds, and now, this speech of today about sexism in videogames. Really? I Thought that we (gamers) are better than that…

    • Velox

      Are we not allowed to discuss more than one topic at a time?

    • Pablo Sanchez

      and why are you here then again?

      • 7thGuest

        Well, I came to read an article, about a thing that I like (gaming in general). Then I’ve scrolled down to the comments section because, well, I like to read opinions. So I took the liberty to express my opinion and somewhat, disconfort about the topic being discussed. Didn’t mean to be agressive or ignorant (I’m sorry if thats the impression that came).

        • Velox

          You’re fine, 7th. Feel free to share your opinion any time. We’ll be opening up a community forum in the coming weeks, so feel free to join in there as well if you’d like.

        • http://www.theloadscreen.com/ Travis Tucker

          No, please feel free to share your opinion, not matter what it is. If we all shared the same opinion, every game would be a 10/10 and there would be no debate and therefore no innovation and new ideas.

  • Sanctilux

    Way to go “Golad” miss you!!!! (and I hope you know who this is….!!!!((hint))cheetos)

    • http://www.theloadscreen.com/ Travis Tucker

      That was “Galad,” E ;)

  • Reneid Klein

    Am I the only one that thinks Quiet looks like Holly Summers? I mean, I love Kojima but he straight up ripped Quiet’s design from Holly.

    http://edgecast.lvlup-files.buscafs.com/uploads/gallery/pics/gallery_pic_5456_0_49931.jpg?ver=1

  • Barbara Gibson

    As a female gamer who cut my RPG teeth on tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons I can honestly say that this is nothing new. It is actually a running joke with my husband and I. Just mentioning that my female character is wearing “leather armor” evinces a chorus of adolescent giggling from all and sundry (me included). Chainmail bikinis abound on miniatures as well.

    At least my female Spartan has on full armor. My whole family loves to play Halo together. That includes my 14 year old son, 12 year old daughter, my husband, my brother, and I. Yes, Cortana is every adolescent boys fantasy, I understand that, but, really, she is an NPC. I have never heard my 12 year old daughter identify with Cortana. (she actually was quite upset in 3 when Cortana kept obscuring our screens with messages)

    Her Spartan, on the other hand, is wearing painstakingly chosen armor in emerald green and she looks forward to unlocking new armor.

    What a lot of the people who complain about female characters and their outfits fail to notice is the male PCs. Thanks to the adolescent male need to be the biggest, baddest, coolest mo-fo in the room I get my eye candy too. Dante from Devil May Cry, Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy from the most recent numbered Resident Evil games (5 and 6), even Jason Brody from Far Cry 3. Soulcalibur 4 is a popular game in our house because it has something for everyone costume-wise. In one of my less proud moments a female friend and I got drunk, popped in Soulcalibur 4, chose of characters and. . .proceeded to tie every game. Yes, we stared at the scantily clad male characters long enough to let time run out – more than once. So, after that I just climbed right on down from my soap box before I fell on my head. And most of my female friends who are true gamers agree with my sentiment.

    All I can say is this – I stopped complaining about the costumes on the female characters right about the time I unlocked the shirtless Dante costume in DMC 3.

    • http://www.theloadscreen.com/ Travis Tucker

      Thank you for your comment Barbara. It was a very honest (and humorous) comment that addresses something many gamers, male or female, would not be willing to admit about themselves.

      However, the depiction of women in gaming is not my issue here. If I’m being completely honest, the depiction of women in these outfits neither “thrills” me or bothers me. Sex sells, and I understand that. Ultimately, these “sexy” designs will generate at least a little more interest and/or sales. I honestly do not buy games based on how an NPC or PC looks, but my wife and I both know people who have. In my mind, at least Kojima-san had the honesty to come out and say “I wanted this character designed to look sexy because of money.”

      343 Industries completed their redesign of Cortana with the same thought in mind. She was, realistically speaking, the only female character they could accomplish this kind of redesign with because (a) all the other female characters (other than Dr. Halsey) are Spartans in full armor and (b) she is easily the second most recognized character from the franchise, just after Master Chief. The redesign of Cortana was designed with the same thought of “cosplay, figures, talk, money” dancing in their heads. They just chose to hide behind buzz words and the fact that she is an AI construct and not a “real” woman when questioned about the new look.

      For a designer at 343 to call Kojima out for being disgusting for there being no justifiable reason to design Quiet in the manner she was designed was like, to use an old phrase, “the pot calling the kettle black.” The company he works for did the exact same thing with Cortana for the exact same reasons, except Kojima was willing to be honest and not hide behind “You know… cause reasons…”

      • Barbara Gibson

        Sorry my post was responding to the responses to the article not the article itself. I get tired of hearing the same old things from males and females alike and sometimes feel the need to point out that escapist entertainment is just that.
        As to the actual article. . . I agree that the hypocrisy is wrong and would be interested to hear what Halo 4 executive producer Kiki Wolfkill and 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross have to say about the hypocrisy of those statements by this top designer. These women are top of their field in the gaming industry and enforce lifetime bans for any sort of sexism on the Halo servers. 343 and Ms. Ross have consistently shown intelligence and sensitivity in their dealings with the press. And that includes when asked about Cortana and her “costume”. I have a feeling that this is a small minded person using the anonymity of being an “inside source” in much the same way many adolescent boys use the anonymity of the internet to put down a rival at another company and say things they would not normally say. And when he got called out for his hypocrisy he fell back to playground politics – “because”. Or doing what my husband and son are fond of doing when I beat them at, well, anything – my husband calls it chest pounding and I call it male pattern arrogance.
        As to this Quiet chick – seriously, I hope she is one hell of a sniper bc if ONE bullet finds that chick it is all over. She don’t even get a CHAINMAIL bikini. Poor thing must be freezing

  • Blackbelt_Jones

    yeah,cuz Dante is so ugly and fat,and Snake is horrible looking and no woman finds the character rugged and sexy ,neither do they think Nathan Drake is sexy…..

  • HellsBells

    343 industries inherited Cortana from Bungie, they aren’t responsible for her appearance. Sure she’s been given a touch up but she has always been described in the books as beautiful, and as a younger version of her creator, Dr Catherine Halsey. The fact of it is we do, to an extent, expect the lead female roles to be beautiful. Cortana, Spartan Sarah Palmer, Miranda Keyes etc. etc. The problem with the sniper’s design from MGS is she has been over sexualised to a point of ridiculousness. I could make peace with a skin-tight light armor, or indeed a low cut number, but this is ridiculous. No trained killer would enter a firefight with no protection. Cortana’s design works because she might as well look naked, but the snipers design defies logic. Plus quiet’s backstory is that she’s mute, hence her name – so she’s a woman that’s completely silent and good to look at; Japan’s idea of the ideal woman.

    This entire report is a joke.