SoulCalibur again? Oh yes, the game is just too good for just one post. You can read Lesson 1 in this series to see how I was introduced to the game SoulCalibur and the first lesson it taught me. Now here’s the second lesson it taught me:
Portraying strong, attractive women in games is appealing to both sexes
OK, a lot of people working on serious games who don’t actually play usually think that players will only pick avatars that they identify with. They think that females will only pick female avatars and males will only pick male avatars. Wrong! Fighting games have had a long tradition of including kick *** females in their games. It turns out that males not only like looking at these attractive females move around the fighting stage, they also feel no shame in playing them. To be perfectly honest, I actually saw this when I watched a then-boyfriend play Chun-Li in the Streetfighter games back in the day. (Yes, you know who you are. You were playing it at the 7-11 with your best friend.) You can check out some of Chun-Li’s moves in this video and decide for yourself whether or not a guy would feel embarrassed playing as Chun-Li:
Now that I have you convinced that males would not be threatened by playing a strong female character in a game, you’re probably thinking that I should be talking about what SoulCalibur taught me and not Streetfighter. In my defense, I would like to say that I actually never played Streetfighter because that was before my video gaming days. Those started when I worked on Re-Mission (see previous post). But you would also be right because I did get insight into the fact that males don’t mind and actually enjoy playing female characters in games. So, back to SoulCalibur…
But the story doesn’t end there, I became a bit fickle in terms of my favorite character and I went to the other side….
Basically, playing Ivy, Siegfried, and the other characters in SoulCalibur helped me understand why people enjoy playing avatars of the same and opposite sex. It’s not about who you identify with, it’s about fantasy and having fun. This is entertainment and this is what makes us love a video game. Check out the rest of the characters in SoulCalibur in the official SoulCalibur iOS Trailer.
Fear not fantasy
If you want to engage people in your serious game, play on their fantasies. Let them be heroes! Let them be strong and capable of conquering enemies! It feels good to do that. And let’s face it, we are all human and we have sexual urges and we like looking at attractive people and imagining that we are powerful attractive people too!
Motivation researchers talk a lot about how fantasy is key to learning. I am of the opinion that a lot of simulations as educational approaches fail because they aren’t designed to be fun or to play on people’s fantasies. I am also of the opinion that many serious games are too dry because there is a force on the team that isn’t willing to embrace fantasy as an aspect of “play” that is critical to engagement in learning. They are afraid that fantasy will take away from learning. It doesn’t, it supports learning be engaging learning and helping them feel positive about what they are doing in your game.
Fear not the female
Don’t worry about the gender of your avatars. Just make them interesting and acknowledge that people like to look at characters that are interesting and attractive. And don’t assume that males won’t play as females or that females will be offended by scantily clad females. For some reason, we females don’t really care about how a woman is dressed or built if she is strong, smart and kicking ***. I know lots of you guys don’t believe
I hope that this helps inspire those of you working on serious games to play more commercial games that are popular to help you hone your craft. I also hope it gives you some things to strive for in making your next successful serious game.
I would really like to know what you think about this article. Feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below. And if you wanted to know how my love affair with SoulCalibur started, you can read all about it in Lesson 1.