Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fat Princess

I just read the following article on Yahoo!
Feminists cry foul over Fat Princess
Does Sony's cartoony castle game cross the line?

By Ben Silverman

She's plump, powerful and ready to cause more controversy than "SuperSize Me."

She's Fat Princess, the star of Sony's upcoming video game of the same name. Debuting at last week's E3 expo, the colorful Fat Princess is a capture-the-flag game with a twist: you can thwart capture attempts by locking the once-thin princess in a dungeon and stuffing her full of cake, thereby increasing her girth and making her harder for your enemies to haul back to home base.

According to popular gaming blog Joystiq, two feminist gaming sites have already voiced their displeasure with the weighty issue.

Feminist Gamer's "Mighty Ponygirl" rings in diplomatically, suggesting a new way to play the game altogether.

"Instead of running out into the forest to find cake to fatten up the princess with, why not go out and find gold (which is a lot heavier than cake) to stuff into a treasure chest. The more gold in the chest, the heavier it would be, and the harder it would be to carry," she said, before adding, "Oh, but that's not as "cute" as cake and fat chicks. Right."

Over at Shakesville, however, writer Melissa McEwan cuts to the chase, telling Sony she's "positively thrilled to see such unyielding dedication to creating a new generation of fat-hating, heteronormative ---holes."

Sony has yet to issue an official response, although Joystiq did receive a particularly informative update from James Green, Fat Princess' lead art director, who clued gamers in on the origins of the game:

"Does it make it better or worse that the concept artist (who designed the look, characters, everything) is a girl?"

Hmmm...hope the game's detractors don't mind eating a bit of crow.
Ya know, I wasn't all that compelled to lobby a thorough critique of the game. But I couldn't let that last line slide so I pushed back at author Ben Silverman. Here's what I sent.

I don't know, Ben... just because the artist for "Fat Princess" is a girl (or she actually a woman?) shouldn't make critiques of the game "eat crow." Women are quite capable of being sexist, and what's wrong is wrong. All this proves is that the girl (or woman) behind this game has brought into some very problematic ideas about her own sex, and that's very sad. What's worse, she has decided to perpetuate them for a new generation of girls and boys instead of, say, making a game that doesn't traffick in some antiquated and hurtful ideas. As the folks at Joystiq stated, they could have gone another route without losing anything in the process. Lastly, I don't think one has to be a feminist to take issue with this game. I think many people -- heavy and thin, male and female, feminist and non-feminist -- would take issue with many aspects of "Fat Princess." The label for such folks is decent.

Want to tell Ben Silverman what you think? Here's the link to the article.

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