It's Time for New Female Character Designs in Street Fighter

Posted by | February 23, 2016 | Opinion, PC, PlayStation 4 | 9 Comments
street fighter v

The release of Street Fighter V brought hype that comes around once a generation. Capcom got to wipe the slate clean. It gave current fans a fresh start and provided a jump-on point for potential new fans. That means balancing a mix of returning characters with all-new ones to appeal to as many players as possible. Street Fighter V features one of the most diverse launch lineup of characters in the mainline series. But there’s one issue I have with the cast I can’t ignore: the continued over-sexualization of female characters. In this current generation of gaming, it’s awkward, unnecessary, and bordering on gross.

For example, Laura is an all-new Street Fighter grappler. Her Brazilian jiu-jitsu style looks great and her Street Fighter lore has connections going back to Street Fighter III. But she fights in a very revealing top that looks like it barely holds all of her moving parts in place.

street fighter v laura

Laura, a new female character in Street Fighter V

What’s more, images popped up soon after her announcement, comparing Laura to adult film actress Christy Mack. I’m all for making attractive characters, male or female. But these two bear remarkable similarities when viewed side by side.

The designs of some of the returning female characters aren’t any better. Cammy heads into battle wearing the most awkward outfit imaginable in hand-to-hand combat – a leotard accented by camouflage painting on her legs. Another example is Rainbow Mika. We see quite a bit of her gluteus maximus in her animations, as well as the ensuing sandwiching of the opponent’s head between her butt cheeks.

We’ve known what color Japanese schoolgirl Sakura’s underwear is since Street Fighter Alpha 2. Elena is from Africa so that means the Capoeira fighter should wear a loincloth into a fight. Poison is Street Fighter IV’s most provocative character, and someone you don’t want your 3-year-old watching as she poses after winning.

When you’ve gone down this road in your character design, something needs to be reevaluated.

street fighter v r. mika cammy

Two of Street Fighter’s returning characters, R. Mika and Cammy.

That said, having a unique and off-beat character design isn’t a problem. After all, it is a series about a bunch of people who duke it out for reasons ranging from showing one’s strength in battle to a guy wanting to win back his car. (That’s a real storyline from Street Fighter III.)

In fact, take a look at some of the other newcomers in Street Fighter V. They’re arguably some of the weirdest character designs seen in the series. F.A.N.G. is a riff on kung fu comedy flicks, and Necalli usurps Akuma as the most evil looking Street Fighter character, with fiery hair that matches his personality. Dhalsim and Birdie have been revamped from their previous incarnations. Dhalsim has aged and added facial hair that makes him look pretty cool, while Birdie has put on a lot of weight.

street fighter v necalli

Necalli is one of the new characters in Street Fighter V.

We get to see a lot of the male characters run around with chiseled frames, battle scars, and big bellies. So, why don’t they undergo the same scrutiny? Because men haven’t experienced the level of objectification women have, not only in Street Fighter, but in other games as well.

With the influx of female gamers and even more interested in testing the Street Fighter waters with a new sequel, why not ditch the cheesecake? Why not show Laura’s and the other female characters’ strengths beyond their voluptuous bodies? Capcom could have used any number of real-world examples of legitimate women fighters as source material.

As a company working so hard to invite as many new players as it can, they missed the mark on Laura, R. Mika, and Cammy. I’d like to see Capcom learn from the mistakes made in Street Fighter V’s development and make improvements for any future DLC costumes and returning characters. Don’t let this image define Laura, Cammy and R. Mika. They deserve better, and so do the Street Fighter fans.

About Michael Martin

Michael Martin is a Seattle-based freelance writer who has far too many pop culture mash-up shirts than he'd care to admit. He writes news and features for IGN, contributes to TechnologyTell's Gaming Channel, and has written for Kill Screen. He's a father of kids ranging from newborn to 19 years old, and they've never needed to worry about not having video games, which might make him a cool dad.

  • Aziz Peregrino-Brimah

    Well done.

  • Kyamī

    “Why not show Laura’s and the other female characters’ strengths beyond their voluptuous bodies?”

    Right, if only there was some way these female characters could show off their abilities, perhaps some sort of “fighting” gameplay feature where they could use a variety of moves and special abilities to defeat opponents?

    • Smokey

      Perfect sarcasm for a stupid article

  • http://www.Twitch.tv/GamerLCD CrazyLCD

    I’m offended by that shirtless Ryu Costume. It’s offensive to all men and makes it look like only thing people care about is our bodies. Should be fixed immediately.

  • http://www.dinafarmer.com Dina Farmer

    Well done. Yet again another disappointing fighting game that objectifies women.

    • Smokey

      So you’ve played the game then?

      • http://www.dinafarmer.com Dina Farmer

        I have.

        • Smokey

          So just to be clear… Is it the game itself you find disappointing or merely the fact that it (In your opinion) objectifies women?
          Funny thing about that… objectification is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t see these women as objects, to me they’re characters who are just as important as the male characters. If people see a woman as an object because of the fact that she shows a lot of skin then perhaps THAT is the real issue. Then there’s the fact that other male characters in Street Fighter also show lots of skin: Vega, Dhalsim, E Honda, Zangief, shirtless Ryu, etc.

  • Smokey

    These games are mostly popular with male gamers, it’s not sexism it’s simply knowing your audience. Are you telling me that no female Street Fighter fans have ever got aroused from looking at ripped shirtless guys? If so then you’re brainwashed. This may come as a shock to some people but it isn’t actually degrading for a woman to be sexually attractive.