Unlockables In Video Games

Sherry Birkin is a US government agent working with the Division of Security Operations. And here she’s wearing a schoolgirl outfit. Helena Harper is a Secret Service agent and a former member of the CIA. Her unlockable costumes include another “sexy” police woman complete with mini skirt and garter belt. Sheva Alomar is an agent for the Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance, operating in the West African branch. The tribal print bikini outfit is especially disconcerting, because it combines the sexualization of a female character with the racist tradition of exotifying women of color, particularly women of African ancestry. More on that topic in an upcoming video. As a reward for completing the main game under specific conditions, players gain the ability to shove these female police and special agents into the digital equivalent of those patronizing “sexy” Halloween costumes we see mass produced every year. These ensembles are not only completely inappropriate for the mission at hand, but also reduce otherwise capable characters to sexual objects for the voyeuristic enjoyment of players. “None of this makes any sense. What did we do?” “I wish I could tell ya.”

The latest game in the series, 2015’s Resident Evil: Revelations 2 continues this condescending tradition by offering DLC that puts Claire Redfield into a sexualized cowgirl outfit and forces Moira into whatever the hell that is supposed to be…? The developers call it an “urban ninja” costume? [Sigh.] Meanwhile, the male playable character Barry gets a gentleman’s Commandant alternative costume. Alternative costumes for men are rarely objectifying. They’re instead presented as “tough guy” power fantasies for other straight men to identify with. And when men are stripped down to their beachwear it’s most often meant as a lighthearted joke. Shifting to an example of a game that does alternative female costumes right, Alice: Madness Returns features a wide assortment of imaginative unlockable dresses. And if you must go the “bunnygirl” or “catgirl” route, this right here is definitely the way to do it. In many games experience points, or XP, are earned by completing tasks like defeating monsters or finishing quests.

Once enough experience points have been accumulated player characters can periodically level up, making them stronger or giving them access to new abilities. Unfortunately designers sometimes tie the awarding of experience points directly to sexual interactions with female characters, effectively transforming women into conduits which players can utilize to become more powerful warriors. In the 2007 game Conan, for example, dozens of half naked “maidens” are chained up throughout the game. “Take me and crush me with your love!” When rescued they essentially function as sexualized treasure chests rewarding the player with experience points which are then used to unlock more powerful fighting moves. “…just a bit longer” “We’ve reached Athens. Get your things and get out.” A number of other games tie experience points directly to sex. The God of War games, for instance, established a tradition of including mini-games that reward the player for successfully having sex with one or more women. Completing these little quick-time events earn players red orbs that are used to upgrade attacks and magic.