It appears that gaming has entered the phase where it has to do an uneasy and painful split where it comes to depicting women of strength and character. Its not that long ago that strong women were put out to look like well groomed and well manicured pornstars at such levels of perfection that no girl growing up would ever hope to achieve naturally if they even would hit the ballpark that way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but no one can deny that at the height of the reign of pornstar quality female protagonists it was getting ridiculous. It came to the point where they pointed at Bayonetta and said 'She's normal, she wears glasses!'. Nevermind that Bayonetta has body-measurements that would starve your daughter to death if she tried to conform to Bayonetta. I'm serious. Bayonetta is biologically impossible, much like the Barbie-dolls of last century. And then we're not even considering Bayonetta's perfect, ticking all the teenage boner boxes one by one, face.
Enter Sara Ryder. According to all the blue balled autists out there, she's fugly and I.., disagree. True beauty is in imperfection, as any art-critic will tell you first thing. (It goes back to a rule about art-appraisal; 'All art is valued by it's imperfections and any alteration in those imperfections renders art worthless'. Meaning that beautifying, to name one aspect of it, achieves the opposite. It renders art strained and more often than not overwrought. If you live in a newer suburb, look outside. Are you seeing the artificiality? Good!) Sara Ryder is recognizable as a person that one can meet in the street, but that doesn't mean that she's ugly. To my eyes, Sara is instantly likable and if she were a real person, I would go out of my way to get introduced to her.
Specifically and based on the artwork, I gauged Sara to be a likable goofball, someone one would like to be around. Grounded, but slightly awkward, human enough to be bothered and smart enough to put herself past it. When I recently saw it come together with voice-acting done by Fryda Wolff, it was all that I thought that it would be. Fryda Wolff nailed the Sara Ryder persona perfectly. A performance on par with Jennifer Hale's vision of Jane Shepard.
So while the industry is trying to find the perfect normal girl for female leads in video-games, and hopefully not making the mistake that Crystal Dynamics made with the normalized Lara Croft, the public is lagging behind still wanting their boners gratified. I'm just reminding of my earlier blog about this. I for one am glad I don't have to spend hours in a character-creator to tone down the adult-industry worker vibe from the presets.
And the inability to change any aspect of Sara Ryder in the character creator? Genious. Bioware's message here is loud and clear. This is Sara Ryder, deal with it. You want a pornstar? Make your own porn then. Normalized depiction of the female form and visage not only deserves to be protected, it has to be and it needs to be, protected. Sara Ryder portrays a woman in a videogame and she does so with flying colors. No need to change anything. I'll happily spend many hours at Sara Ryder's side while colonizing Andromeda.
It'll be an honor.
Aliens beware. All you're base belong to Sara Ryder.