A fighting game famous for its sexualized characters has become embroiled in a controversy over sexualized costumes.
Members of the Dead or Alive community website Free Step Dodge recently posted a list of suggested rules for tournaments featuring the popular series of fighting games. Included among the suggestions for the latest edition in the series, Dead or Alive 5? Banning dozens of optional character costumes added to the game by developer Team Ninja.
Dead or Alive is famous as much for its gameplay as for its comically sexualized female characters and especially its so-called “boob physics”—the vaguely realistic rendering of female breasts that allows them to jiggle and bounce like pairs of water balloons.
The costume bans were classified as “soft bans,” or suggested bans that were optional for tournament organizers to implement. But the original posting strongly suggested that players stay away from costumes deemed overly sexual in nature, especially when competing during the top eight portion of the tournament when the matches would be most visible.
The justification? The series needs to shake its reputation for skimpy costumes and titillating character models if it’s to be taken seriously as a competitive platform. Team Ninjas is supporting the competitive scene with initiatives like Battle Royal 2015, which provides monetary bonuses for a series of Dead or Alive 5 tournaments hosted at various stops on the fighting game event calendar.
But plenty of people didn’t agree with that justification. The thread on Free Step Dodge quickly gave way to heated debate, with the majority of those disagreeing. Some thought that community members should own the aesthetics of the game rather than be ashamed of them, while others simply looked at it as a case of unnecessary censorship.
The organizer, a user at the forum going by the name “The HuBBs” declined to comment on this story. No changes have been made to the posted rulings in spite of the uproar.
Whether the furor changes anyone’s perspective or leads to the costume ban being enforced or not, one thing is clear: Costumes with intended sex appeal aren’t going away anytime soon. Team Ninja recently announced that new costumes would be introduced from the game which were inspired by the Senran Kagura series of games.
The costumes will be partially destructible, and if Senran Kagura is indeed the inspiration for them, it’s likely the destructible elements will be very carefully chosen in just how revealing they are. And should the proposed bans hold up, they will surely fall under it.
Just don’t expect Team Ninja to reverse course any time soon. In an interview with GameZone, creative director Tom Lee offered that the game takes place in a fantasy environment very much removed from the real world. He also made clear that while his team is aware of the criticism the Dead or Alive games sometimes receive, they have no plans to make stylistic changes.