Square Enix’s Lightning Returns Redesign Doesn’t Help Gaming’s Sexist Reputation
A pair of reports from Square Enix’s Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Premium Event say that the game’s design team were more than willing to talk about some of the redesign work on main character Lightning. Unfortunately, the work Square Enix has put into Lightning ahead of her big solo game wasn’t on character development but on her chest size.
Japanese publication Famitsu reported the following exchange from the Q&A portion of the LR:FFXIII Premium Event:
Q: Is it true you said you wanted Lightning-san’s size from a C cup to a D cup?
Nobuhiro Goto (Character Modeling Designer): Toriyama-san said “I want it bigger” so…
Motomu Toriyama (Director): [What a] cop-out! (laughs)
Goto: Yes, it was enlarged.
Q: Was it a C cup until now? Does it even jiggle this time?
Toriyama: It’s determined by clothing, like the so-called corrective underwear. (laughs)
Masaru Suzuki (Designer): There’s an unreleased costume that exposes the l’Cie scar on her chest. Please think [carefully], is there any other information that should be disclosed? (laughs)
Q: So there were costumes that were rejected?
Goto: I think there are a few designs that were rejected.
Suzuki: If reproducing the outfit proves to be difficult, then I’ll consult with the artwork designer as much as possible, but if the costume design slows down to a crawl, it gets scrapped.
And just to ensure that this wasn’t a misprint, Dengeki Online had a more detailed exchanged about LR:FFXIII’s- ahem- enhanced chest physics:
Q: I heard that the chest Jiggles?
Goto: Yes, her chest jiggles. Since everyone can decide what costume she’ll wear, you can make sure it does (laughs). By the way, since Lightning swings her arm when you change her weapon in the menu screen, that’s a recommended action for sure-fire jiggling! To see it even better it could be useful to equip a small shield. Look forward to it!
I really want to believe that this is all a big joke and that Square Enix’s idea of character work isn’t a breast enlargement and adding breast jiggling to character animation in the game’s engine. However, given the fact that gaming industry does have a reasonably well-earned reputation for being sexist and misogynistic, it wouldn’t surprise me if the LR:FFXIII design team is being serious.
My question is what this is going to accomplish. I managed to make through all of an hour of Final Fantasy XIII before becoming so disinterested in the game, its characters and the battle system that put combat on autopilot that I never picked it back up. One would think that Square Enix would go to work on character development rather than cosmetic appearance to improve the game but it would seem that I’d be wrong.
And it’s worse because it looked like Square Enix might have been turning a corner when it comes to the sexualization of female lead characters. In March’s Tomb Raider, Lara Croft wasn’t a polygon-based blow-up doll but a strong female lead with a character and character development. Final Fantasy XIII-2 was considered an improvement over FFXIII.
Now, it’s one step forward and two steps back. I’m not sure whether to jokingly refer to the title of the game as Lightning’s Chest Returns First: Final Fantasy XIII or DoA: Final Fantasy XIII, though the latter is definitely a bit more snappy.
The problem is that this character design change hasn’t really been justified by anything in the story (yet). It sounds like SqEnix just giving Lightning a bigger chest because they like women with bigger breasts that jiggle. There’s no real reason apart from the developers implying that big breasts look better than slightly smaller ones. It’s not going to help sales. It won’t make Lightning a better character. It’s utterly pointless.
Lightning’s chest size won’t affect how good of a game LR:FFXIII may or may not be. However, this will affect the conversation around the game for the immediate future because of how important and controversial an issue sexism in games has been over the last few months. Developers doing things like this sure isn’t helping matters.