Male soldiers in Crytek's huge free-to-play online shooter Warface are depicted realistically but, comparatively, female soldiers are not. Their proportions are exaggerated, their clothing is revealing - they're sexualised.
They're that way because a male-dominated audience asked for them to be. And while Crytek recoiled at the "considerably more extreme" requests, applying an authenticity filter to rule out things such as high heels, impractical open-chested combat fatigues exposing plenty of cleavage were kept in.
"They were very comfortable with the fact we have these very realistic-looking men," said Joshua Howard of the massive 7.5 million Russian audience, talking to Wired, "but they wanted the women to be not what we would think of as realistic at all, up to and including running round in high heels, which is just silly, right?"
Pictured in this article are the female skins the West will get - whenever the PC game finally comes out of beta - which are "basically" the Russian skins as they are now. But there are other communities now asking for their own tailored female characters, too.
"We're doing another set of characters for our Chinese market," Howard said, "and those are leaning in a different direction. It's interesting to see they are also somewhat unrealistic as compared to the males but differently than the Russians.
"[...] You look at the Chinese models and they're also disproportionate but in a way that's more... Chinese? I don't even know what language to use for that but they're different."
Should Crytek allow it - shouldn't misogynistic suggestions be blocked, ignored, regardless of regional and cultural differences?
"There's a tension both ways," Howard responded, but side-stepped the issue to talk about about how Coca Cola was a global brand yet chemically it's different the world over - and about how recoil differs due to regional wants.
To not include female characters from the outset, and then to implement them in a way that's not only unrealistic but sexualised because a male-dominated audience wanted it that way, is a mistake. But it's not too late for Crytek to do something about it before Warface hits Xbox 360 in early 2014.
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