Not long after the ESRB retracted their online ratings summary of PSP game Dead or Alive: Paradise, the "creepy" and "voyeuristic" game is in the spotlight once again, with director Yoshinori Ueda claiming the game is not "soft-core porn".
In an interview with Eurogamer, Ueda fired back at critics claiming the game is sexist, saying "We’re certainly not trying to degrade women. They have beautiful bodies. We’re trying to show off the beauty of their bodies but we’re not trying to be degrading about it – we’re trying to show that they are beautiful characters."
Ueda counters accusations that DoA:P’s excessive mammaries have nothing to do with game play by asserting that DoA:P isn’t really a game anyway, at least not in "the traditional sense". "What we offer is a selection of things to play and activities to have fun with. The players have the freedom to play Paradise however they want," Ueda said. "For us, the goal was really to offer a little bit of paradise to the users, and we hope that people playing the game will be able to come away with the feeling that they’ve visited paradise."
GP: So it is a game, it’s not a game, it’s about the characters, it’s about whatever the players want… Ueda’s point unfortunately gets lost amidst the contradictions. It’s a bit disingenuous to suggest that his game actually attempts to honor women, while dismissing that some may feel degraded. And while various branches of modern feminism offer competing arguments about whether women should or shouldn’t to take pride in having an attractive body, the characters Ueda features in DoA:P aren’t real — they’re not human. Of course, this isn’t a new issue, as the Dead or Alive series has been controversial for the sexualization of its characters since Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. But does anyone else see something inherently chauvinistic about having a male director assert that all he wants to do is show off women’s beautiful bodies for other people’s pleasure?
Dan Rosenthal is a legal analyst for the games industry.