On the art of Dragon’s Crown

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I’m sure everyone’s sick and tired of hearing about this crap by now, but I’d like to inevitably review the game after I’m done with it so I figured I may as well say my piece and be done with it so that I don’t have to later.

Yes. It’s clearly sexist. But it’s sexist on purpose. Both ways. Believe it or not, every character can be assigned to a pair with a character of the opposite sex. Just follow me, here.

Team Normal – Wizard (M) & Elf (F): This is the normal pair. They fall under standard definitions of beauty and have realistic proportions. The Wizard is a young-looking man with long hair and soft but masculine features. He has a normal body type. Likewise, the Elf is also young-looking with long hair and soft, feminine features. She has an “average” (for what that term is worth) body type.

Team Ideal – Fighter (M) & Sorceress (F): This is the idealized team. They, too, fit the standard definitions of beauty, but they have unrealistic body proportions defined by secondary sex characteristics. The poster child for this is the Sorceress, the source of the majority of the controversy around this game. She has a narrow waist, wide hips, and large breasts. However, the Fighter is the male equivalent. He has broad shoulders, a wide, muscular chest, and large, muscular arms. Like Team Normal, they’re both what would be considered “beautiful people,” with long hair and soft features.

Team Muscle – Dwarf (M) & Amazon (F): This is the over-idealized team. They represent perfection of the human body, but do not conform to the usual standards of beauty. The Dwarf has broad shoulders, a wide chest, and huge muscles literally everywhere on his body. He is the definition of raw masculinity. The Amazon is also defined by her incredible muscular structure, but also by the size of her secondary sex characteristics, with large breasts and a large butt. Neither one wears much of anything in the way of clothing, making them the most exploitative of the characters for each sex, despite not being the ones anyone would really consider attractive in the eye of the masses.

So as you can see, for every female, there’s a male equivalent fitting the same general description, just applied to the opposite sex. So why is everyone up in arms about this game? Because half of the cast is women. And it’s not okay to exploit women. But it’s totally cool to exploit men. I mean, let’s look at Roland, shall we?

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This man is basically the male equivalent of the Amazon or the Sorceress, depending on how you look at it. Amazon in that he’s reasonably attractive yet covered in more muscles than anyone could build in their lifetime. Sorceress in that he’s the idealized form of the masculine male. He’s also pretty much naked. It’s a complete exploitation a male character. But no one cares because he doesn’t have lady parts. That makes it okay.

The art in Dragon’s Crown is meant to both reference and parody the art of existing popular media regarding fantasy worlds, exaggerating everything to unrealistic proportions. Even the dead orcs over there behind Roland probably couldn’t realistically stand up if they existed. In fact, that’s kind of the point. The only characters that could probably get around with these bodies without knee, hip, or back problems would be the Wizard and the Elf. The designs aren’t supposed to be realistic.

The thing is that if you took someone who didn’t know this was a game and wasn’t familiar with Japanese pop art and threw them in a museum filled with art from this game as an exhibit, they would treat it completely differently. Instead of taking a knee-jerk reaction and claiming that it’s demeaning or whatever because it’s game art, they would be looking at the artistic merits, trying to derive the meaning behind the artist’s decisions and what they were trying to convey. People simply aren’t able to look at Dragon’s Crown from an artistic point of view. It’s a game, so most people just throw creative purpose out the window. This is unfortunate, as I believe most gamers want games to be accepted as a valid artistic medium, but they themselves refuse to treat it like one. Take this entire paragraph from someone who majored in game design at an art school. In fact, take the whole post that way. I’m not saying I’m right, but I’m definitely more qualified than most people to discuss artistic freedom and integrity as it relates to this game. Or maybe it’s because I have that background that I simply see it from a different perspective than those who aim to criminalize George Kamitani for his work here.

Art, as it goes, is completely dependent on the perspective of the person it’s presented to. Artist intent can mean everything or nothing depending on the viewer. I understand that some people can be and are offended by this game. I simply don’t understand why. Remember that games as a medium have aged along with those who both play and make them. Keep an open mind and remember that most of us are adults here. We should know better than to put too much stock in the opinions and views of others if they upset us. We’re mature enough to ignore those things (even if I typically dislike the use of the word “mature” and the implications it brings). I don’t blame those who ignorantly dislike this game’s art (as in those who dislike it from some misplaced sense of morality, unlike those who simply don’t find it within their usual tastes), but I can and do blame them for not being mature enough to not start little internet schoolyard fights about it.

If it’s not for you, grow up and move on. Choose to be an adult about it.

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