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  • Well, that was bound to happen

    When I read the announcement of Fat Princess a week ago, I saw the events described in this post unfolding in my minds’ eye, and the whole thing was so annoying that my jaw fell slack and I had to go read something else to avoid thinking about it. But now I feel like I have to report on it, since I’m a feminist blogger who also designs video games for a living. Fat Princess, published by Sony and developed by fledgling Titan Studios in Seattle, has been getting a lot of word-of-mouth buzz in the last week. Is it because of the cute, cell-shaded animations? Hmmm, people certainly like the artwork, but that’s not exactly it. Is it the fact that you and 31 of your friends can run around a little medieval landscape, bonking each other with swords, building fortifications, and capturing territory? No, that’s not it either!

    Oh wait, that’s right. It’s because of the fat chick! Because you know, fat women are hilarious! Mighty Ponygirl over at Feminist Gamers and Melissa at Shakesville have both posted reactions. And then it began, of course: a flood of predictably idiotic trolls streaming in from gaming communities.

    The prototypical online gamer (at least the kind that burn their free time posting on message boards and blogs) is not only used to screaming offensive inanities at each other, but is crouched in a perpetual defensive posture, waiting to lash out if anyone dares slight their console of choice, claim that video games brainwash teens into shooting up high schools, or suggest that any game they like might be worth a political critique. I blame Jack Thompson for this. It only took a post on Neogaf followed by dismissive snorts from Joystiq and Kotaku for the usual suspects to whip out their concern trolling (“but being fat is unhealthy! we should be making fun of it!”) and completely unconvincing hand-waving (“you’re trying to SAVE the princess, it’s PRO-fat!”). My own reactions, after the cut.

    Look, the humor here is not that hard to understand, especially if you look at the last few decades of gaming. There’s a classic fairy-tale trope in video games going back to Donkey Kong where a male protagonist must rescue the damsel in distress. “Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!” Sound familiar? You don’t need to be a brilliant feminist scholar to realize that this kind of story, with a male hero rescuing a helpless girl, is not only a cliche but a sexist cliche that long predates the invention of Pong. That’s why it’s a Good Thing that Nintendo let Princess Zelda and Princess Peach kick as much ass as everyone else in the Super Smash Brothers series and other games. Even though they’re still wearing cheesy princess dresses, making them playable characters who can hold their own has gone a long way towards redeeming their origins as passive prizes to be collected.

    Fat Princess is a send-up of that tired old cliche. Believe me, there are a lot of ways you could send up that cliche, but of all the possibilities, Titan chose to make the princess FAT. The joke here is also obvious: LOL who would want to rescue a fat chick? It’s a shtick that’s been used in animation and film plenty of times; the dashing hero thinks he’s rescuing a beautiful damsel in distress, but the “joke” is on him because it turns out she’s larger than acceptable! And therefore unattractive and a horrible burden for him to rescue, of course.


    The origin of the universe has not as yet been shown to be a conspiracy theory

  • the average age of those player on the PSN and posting on the message boards is around 12 and male. 12 yr old boys are not known for their progressive stances on values or bravery in the face of peers bashing sexual equality. I’m not saying Fat Princess is a peachy game (never played it), but expecting adolescent boys to exhibit sensitivity and taste? Sony didn’t invent that problem.

    It would have been nice if Titan had included the option to turn it to a Fat Prince, but I don’t think they meant offense. I really don’t know, never played this game. Gamers don’t seem given to sexism any more than another group, powerful female characters are perfectly acceptable. Look up Seamus in the Metroid series, incredibly popular games with a badass female lead and nary a hint of leg or breast (she spends 98% of the game in power armor.)

  • I posted it because I found it funny and frankly I have known women like that princess. lol Anyone that knows me well knows I have kind of a warped sense of humor that at times tends not to be too politically correct. It could be worse the little guy could have blown the tower up. 😀 Instead he played matchmaker.

  • or I wouldn’t have posted the commentary!

    But I thought it was also interesting what a woman who creates games had to say about a chapter in the “Princess” saga, though a different one (couldn’t find on the same one).

    The origin of the universe has not as yet been shown to be a conspiracy theory

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