Well this is interesting. Mortal Kombat is just over twenty days away and having played the online beta over the weekend, I can tell you that I am so happy that (arguably) the best fighting game franchise is making a return to home consoles.
But of course, this close to release, a small controversy has arisen and people are making a mountain out of a silly mole hill. In an extensive interview with Polygon, Netherrealm Studios art director Steve Beran praised the team’s lead character designer, Brendan George, and his position to redesign the sex appeal of the female characters found within Mortal Kombat’s roster of fighters.
Beran told Polygon: “Our character lead, Brendan George, has been a breath of fresh air of just introducing new ideas,” He then followed that up with, “Our design is just getting more mature and respectful. You’re not going to wear a bikini to a fight. You’re not going to be showing so much skin. I think it’s just what the game is about: You’re going in to fight for your life, and you’re not going to be wearing such scantily clad items. I’m sure that will disappoint some fans. We don’t have bathing suit fighters, and I think that’s fine. If people are disappointed, I don’t regret making that change by any means.”
This quote has seemingly rubbed some fans the wrong way, and from the outside looking in, I can understand. Really, since the very beginning of the Mortal Kombat franchise, women in the games have been portrayed as strong, independent, intelligent and iron-willed, but they’ve always looked kind of semi-ridiculous.Sure, the women were scantily clad, but in some cases, it fit their personality (Mileena) or even their culture (Sheeva). While some of it is fan service (honestly, Sonya is so out of regs, it’s not even funny), the same treatment has been given to the male side of the roster to the point that I’m wasn’t even sure if Johnny Cage owned a shirt until the tenth game in the series.
But something about the above statement from Steve Beran has not gone over well. There are fans reacting the way you would expect, some calling out Netherrealm Studios, and others even vowing not to buy the game because of this one-sided depiction of the human body. I can kind of understand why. Yeah, it is a little silly that Netherrealm’s creative team was so concerned with how covered or revealing their female fighters were as opposed to their male fighters, but it’s also silly to just write off a game because Jade is wearing a shirt.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is that Netherrealm Studios is being kind of dumb here. All of a sudden they’re worried about how their fighters are being depicted, but you can still shove a spear through someones mouth. I think a huge deal is being made out of nothing. Netherrealm shot themselves in the foot by taking a stand that doesn’t need to be made and players/customers are overreacting by overreacting to a game that isn’t even out yet.
If you want to see scantily clad Mortal Kombat characters, use Google and turn the safe search off. But don’t take too much offense over how fake characters look in a video game. And developers, don’t worry about how your product will be viewed before it’s even out. If your game is good, I’m willing to bet that it’ll be a success. Or maybe I’m wrong and this game won’t sell because no one fights in a bikini and the art team at Netherrealm Studios is taking themselves way too seriously.