Microsoft cautions developers to avoid curvy female characters

Stellar Blade

Microsoft urges developers not to create female characters with “exaggerated body proportions” on their official site to support game devs.

The site, titled “Product Inclusion Action: Help Customers Feel Seen” includes a bullet list of considerations they urge developers to make when working on their product. One Twitter user pointed out the language expressly condemning certain female characters as reinforcing “negative gender stereotypes”.

Are you reinforcing any negative gender stereotypes?

  • Are you unnecessarily introducing gender & gender barriers into your code or design?
  • Are you creating playable female characters that are equal in skill and ability to their male peers. Are your female characters equipped with clothing and armor that fits their tasks?  Do they have exaggerated body proportions?
  •  When the story allows, do you show male characters who display a full range of emotions, including joy, sadness, and vulnerability?

Recently, western game developers have been making a point to rally against “objectification” in games and are citing unrealistic beauty standards set by fictional characters. Most recently, Stellar Blade has been the subject of such criticism despite the game’s heroine being based off of a real life model.

Between Microsoft’s developer site and Stellar Blade it seems there’s been a reversal of roles. In recent years Sony has been criticized for it’s censorship policies after relocating its gaming business units to California.

Gamers have been more vigilant in recent weeks following an attempted harassment campaign initiated by an employee of Sweet Baby Inc against a Steam curator and his personal account. The controversy has spilled over from the employee’s actions to a wider conversation about narrative consultation in video games.

You can check out an archive of Microsoft’s developer page, including their comments about female characters here.



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