Girl in the Machine
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I Love Girls with Big Swords. . . Waitaminute

Or, Advertisers make me crazy!

Here I was trying to enjoy some music, when all of the sudden—bam! I got hit by a massive advertisement for the recently released PS3 game Heavenly Sword.

I visited the game’s official website to learn more about it, hoping that my initial impressions about the game were incorrect—when I saw the sexy, long-haired woman with virtually no cloths and a gigantic sword spinning in circles ala Magical Girl style, I assumed the worst. I was immediately treated to an animated video that details the origins of the protagonist, Nariko, The video explains:

“So many were sacrificed, and even that fateful moment claimed one more treasured life. Our long awaited savior—the returning heavenly warrior—was born a worthless girl, a violation of the prophecy, the death of our hopes. How would this thing save us?”

As it turns out, her father chooses to keep his daughter alive (the video makes it clear that he considered infanticide), but she lives alone and receives the blame for all of her clan’s misfortunes. As her father hones her into a powerful warrior over the years, her clan seems to accept that she may be their only hope. After her father’s death, she goes on a journey for revenge, hoping not only to avenge him but also to redeem herself in the eyes of her people.

That’s some pretty heavy stuff. I’d consider the story much more substantial than the usual “pretty girl runs around with a big sword and kills stuff” games, and it seems to have plenty of RPG story elements mixed in with exciting action parts. I do have one major gripe, though.

The game’s catch phrase is, “Heavenly Sword. Vengeance has never been so beautiful.”

Once I’m done thrashing in place and screaming inside, I take a second look at the line. It’s a perfect example of the expectations marketers have for their consumers—it dismisses the majority of the female gaming population. A certain game with similar themes of revenge and courage would never have been advertised like that.

The ad simply doesn’t make sense to me. From my understanding of the game, beauty is the last thing on Nariko’s mind. I can understand making her attractive—even as a gay guy, I would vastly prefer playing a striking character like Nariko rather than a scabby, scarred, misshapen character. It’s part of the fantasy of gaming; however, I don’t like that Nariko is being objectified and that sexuality is being used to sell the game when it is completely irrelevant. Prettiness is unrelated to a blood hunt.

I haven’t played Heavenly Sword yet (and won’t for a long time—I don’t even have a TV right now, let alone a PS3! Make your donations to Girl in the Machine today!), so I can’t get into too much detail about the game—but I do think it has potential to bring out another strong female lead.

Any readers have this one yet? Can you tell us more?

(Images from Pandora Radio and the media page at the Heavenly Sword official website.)

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 Posted by Calabar
 4:45 PM + Link to this post

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