Samus: Is she intended as a reward?

Moderator: е и ժ е я

Post Reply
User avatar
е и ժ е я
Supermod
Posts: 41083
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Enough. My tilde has tired and shall take its leave of you.
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 8 times
Contact:

Samus: Is she intended as a reward?

#1

Post by е и ժ е я » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:39 pm

Image

Many people, myself included, will proudly hail Samus as one of the first solid female protagonists in video games. Slapping a bow and a beauty mark on Pac Man just didn't catch gamers' imaginations in the same way. Was that because nobody wants to identify with a sentient orb whose sole purpose is to eat and terrorise the dead, and look good while doing so? As on point as her Marilyn-esque lipstick may have been, for some reason, we the people tend to favor humanoids.

Image

The accomplishments of Samus as a character notwithstanding, I am here to talk about the conception of the fictitious heroine rather than her motivations. We've heard before that Samus might have been intended as a trans-woman, which in itself causes a huge mire of sticky social issues. The quandary being that the designer responsible may have been thinking along less accepting lines and may have covertly inserting his own sexist disposition wherein he believes a woman born as a man to be inherently more capable as a hero.

Image

Let's all leave that in the attic for the time being, and talk about what we can know about the character, though. First of all, there is no disagreeing that Samus appears at the end of the game as the lady in the metal husk, the Ghost in the Shell, if you'll indulge me. This has been much discussed, but there are two ways to read the actions of the designers. They had believed that others would be surprised that Samus was actually a woman, and they've said as much. Naturally then, the question must be asked, did they really think that was so surprising? Is that intended as surprising because they themselves believed it infeasible, or did they simply believe the mainstream would find it surprising?

There is no question that the role may have been influenced by the iconic and brusk Ellen Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, as that is a matter of record.

Image

The stumbling point with that narrative, however, is the arguably likely scenario that the developers simply wanted to reward their presumed, hetero, male audience with a vivacious woman in a bikini for having completed the game in minimal time. Does the reveal at the end then deserve description as a strip-tease?

It is probable that these questions will rightly go on unanswered, left to be wondered at by fans for the ages. Much of Samus's character has been handled in secrecy, and stating with clarity may hurt the character's reputation. If the developers had originally intended to dangle a bit of cleavage in front of a young male audience as a means of motivation, it would serve them rightly to have it backfire as being considered a laudible and celebrated landmark in gaming equality.
I muttered 'light as a board, stiff as a feather' for 2 days straight and now I've ascended, ;aughing at olympus and zeus is crying

User avatar
Random User
Posts: 12977
Joined: Sat Jun 06, 2009 11:54 am
Location: SECRET BASE INSIDE SNAKE MOUNTAIN
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 3 times
Contact:

#2

Post by Random User » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:59 pm

Idk if this is a serious topic or not but either way I was interested/bored enough to Google it.
Yoshi Sakamoto wrote:It is true that in developing the original Metroid, we were partway through the development processes when one of the staff members said, "Hey, wouldn't that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?" So that's how we decided on that. We've tried to express her femininity a little more without trying to turn her into a sex object. There's actually a part in Zero Mission where you'll see Samus operating outside of her suit in the latter stages of the game.
http://www.ign.com/articles/2004/01/30/ ... ble?page=3

User avatar
е и ժ е я
Supermod
Posts: 41083
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Enough. My tilde has tired and shall take its leave of you.
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 8 times
Contact:

#3

Post by е и ժ е я » Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:35 pm

[QUOTE="Random User, post: 1599255, member: 35827"]Idk if this is a serious topic or not but either way I was interested/bored enough to Google it.


http://www.ign.com/articles/2004/01/30/ ... ble?page=3[/QUOTE]
It's serious in that it is exclusively speculative. That's Sakamoto repeating the party line, essentially, and his fatherhood of the series is also not necessarily exclusive. Samus is understated for modern Japan, as I've been to Tokyo and seen panty-clad anime girls plastered massive across skyscrapers there myself.

Image

From a design perspective, removing the helmet and eventually the entire suit for faster and better times clearly implies that more can be removed for faster performance. Having lived through the time when the original games were current, the idea that Samus, nearly nude, appeared at the end of the game as a reward was not exactly unconventional.

Image
I muttered 'light as a board, stiff as a feather' for 2 days straight and now I've ascended, ;aughing at olympus and zeus is crying

User avatar
I REALLY HATE POKEMON!
Posts: 28106
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2000 1:00 am
Location: California, U.S.A
Been thanked: 2 times

#4

Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:07 am

To answer one of the questions you pose, I think that it's clear that Nintendo thought most people would find it surprising that Samus was female. I also think that the reason Samus has a bikini reveal at the end is to both drive home the fact that she was a woman and also reward players with eye candy. I don't think either of these things are inherently bad, but possibly unnecessary.

User avatar
Inferno Dragon
Posts: 6088
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2001 1:00 am
Location: Planet Draco

#5

Post by Inferno Dragon » Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:29 am

Hey AI, look, for one I didn''t know the thread was so old because it was pretty high on the front page and two, I didn't realize Loot left for good, thought she was still lurking around here like I do sometimes. Thought you could have left that thread open long enough to explain myself, I had to go out and help my friend with his parental visitation time today, then we went to dark hour and I ended up falling and busting my ass pretty hard. I just got home and I'm in unbelievable pain. Posting this from my phone because I have to lay down atm.

Anyway, to explain my arguement from the other thread, for those quotes I came up with were from the perspective of the average person who probably wasn't aware of her chozo upbringing or her being infused with chozo DNA to be compatible with her suit and such that you, me, and everyone else here treats as common knowledge. The slippery slope bit was just exaggeration for dramatic effect, and the bit at the end was me being a sarcastic smart ass. I know you wouldn't mind if she were made trans in cannon because you know the lore behind Samus so well but you also need to look at the issue from an outsider's perspective, the average cis woman, the average cis man, the average gamer, etc. to understand why it would cause issues. And it's because I look at issues from all angles that s**t like suddenly changing an established character's race, gender, etc. purely for "muh diversity" pisses me off to no end.
beware the power of Bahamut\'s eldest son.

User avatar
Jere
Moderator
Posts: 5542
Joined: Wed May 28, 2008 2:25 pm
Location: South Lapland
Contact:

#6

Post by Jere » Sat Jun 18, 2016 4:23 am

It might have started out that way but i think it is still in the coin op and rental age where they wanted you to play the game over and over or put more money into it.

and if rumors would start where they say you get people nude if you beat the game properly damn it would sell well.

My favorite example here is Strikers 1945: http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/strike ... ndinga.png
Warning though people in varius amounts of undress
Beep Boop absolutely not a bot!

User avatar
Marilink
Supermod
Posts: 41170
Joined: Sun Aug 26, 2001 1:00 am
Location: MY TOE! MY TOE!
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 28 times
Contact:

#7

Post by Marilink » Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:57 am

That's an interesting point, AI. When I was a kid, I won't lie, I wanted to play Super Metroid fast because I thought seeing bikini Samus would be cool (because I was just a pervy teenager like most people). However, at the same time, I would always defend Samus's gender when my friends would play Smash Bros with me. They'd always default to "he" when referring to Samus, and I'd be the first to go "Actually, it's 'she.'" I always thought it was awesome that the ass-kicking space bounty hunter was a woman.

Perhaps the designers' thought process was a bit like "What if we made the main character a woman and surprised people at the end?" And then that evolved into "Now what if we revealed more of her body as you do better in the game?" The striptease aspect of the win screen may have been entirely secondary. In fact, I'm not sure how the designers would have gone that route first without having already decided she'd be a woman.

Another thing is that sexualization is not necessarily an anti-feminist notion. Characters can certainly be sexual in nature but still be considered strong female characters in fiction. If their sexuality is the only trait they exhibit and is merely a vehicle to pander to men or be expressed as a tool of men, then that is where the problem arises. This is why the Femme Fatale characters of Film Noir are not exactly laudible, while characters such as Marjerie Tyrell or Black Widow are much more well-thought-out. They're 3-Dimensional, they're strong, they're not just one-trick ponies that rely purely on their sexuality. [side note: I feel like this nuance is lost in a lot of "SWM vs. SJW" debates, even on both sides of the argument. Sexualization of a male or a female character does not have to be an anti-masculine or anti-feminine concept. It just has to be handled correctly.]

Now I bring up that point to say that Samus has a lot of virtue as a protagonist that lies completely outside the realm of the fact that she is a woman. However, I realize that itself is a completely debatable point. I'd argue, though, that the very fact that you play as Samus for every Metroid game is enough to give her character intrinsic merit, even if she is, most of the time, a blank slate on which to project your own thoughts and feelings. But the fact that the blank slate is a woman is, I think, still significant.

I once heard someone say about a non-Metroid franchise, "[The designers] heard us say that we wanted 'strong female characters.' What they heard was 'strong FEMALE characters.' What we meant was 'strong characters; female.'" If you ask me, I still think Samus falls into the latter category, even with the win screens being the way they are.
Carthago delendum est

User avatar
е и ժ е я
Supermod
Posts: 41083
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2002 1:00 am
Location: Enough. My tilde has tired and shall take its leave of you.
Has thanked: 22 times
Been thanked: 8 times
Contact:

#8

Post by е и ժ е я » Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:41 pm

That's an interesting point, AI. When I was a kid, I won't lie, I wanted to play Super Metroid fast because I thought seeing bikini Samus would be cool (because I was just a pervy teenager like most people). However, at the same time, I would always defend Samus's gender when my friends would play Smash Bros with me. They'd always default to "he" when referring to Samus, and I'd be the first to go "Actually, it's 'she.'" I always thought it was awesome that the ass-kicking space bounty hunter was a woman.

Perhaps the designers' thought process was a bit like "What if we made the main character a woman and surprised people at the end?" And then that evolved into "Now what if we revealed more of her body as you do better in the game?" The striptease aspect of the win screen may have been entirely secondary. In fact, I'm not sure how the designers would have gone that route first without having already decided she'd be a woman.

Another thing is that sexualization is not necessarily an anti-feminist notion. Characters can certainly be sexual in nature but still be considered strong female characters in fiction. If their sexuality is the only trait they exhibit and is merely a vehicle to pander to men or be expressed as a tool of men, then that is where the problem arises. This is why the Femme Fatale characters of Film Noir are not exactly laudible, while characters such as Marjerie Tyrell or Black Widow are much more well-thought-out. They're 3-Dimensional, they're strong, they're not just one-trick ponies that rely purely on their sexuality. [side note: I feel like this nuance is lost in a lot of "SWM vs. SJW" debates, even on both sides of the argument. Sexualization of a male or a female character does not have to be an anti-masculine or anti-feminine concept. It just has to be handled correctly.]

Now I bring up that point to say that Samus has a lot of virtue as a protagonist that lies completely outside the realm of the fact that she is a woman. However, I realize that itself is a completely debatable point. I'd argue, though, that the very fact that you play as Samus for every Metroid game is enough to give her character intrinsic merit, even if she is, most of the time, a blank slate on which to project your own thoughts and feelings. But the fact that the blank slate is a woman is, I think, still significant.

I once heard someone say about a non-Metroid franchise, "[The designers] heard us say that we wanted 'strong female characters.' What they heard was 'strong FEMALE characters.' What we meant was 'strong characters; female.'" If you ask me, I still think Samus falls into the latter category, even with the win screens being the way they are.
That was a thoughtful response. One of the things that I find a bit frustrating is not that the character was suggested to have a sexual identity, but that it is clearly not for the sake of character or story but the viewer's indulgence. I don't think there is anything shameful about desire or accepted sexual expression, but in most cases where sex would be considered acceptable and also benefit the player, it would be as the player is given a choice to guide the character toward their preference for the character's actions - as we often see in RPGs which stumble across that theme. The relationship here is solely to the audience, beyond any question of choice.

In that sense, I do not think unnecessary sexualisation damages the character, but it certainly is a means to call into question the developer's motivation. I think it is easy to say that they may have decided the character was a woman first and then decided to sexualise her, but the obvious response then would be that of course they did - the default purpose of many characters in such scenarios is to be portrayed as a sex object.

I respect the character and her own agency, especially as she has virtually no interaction with other humans in every game except the worst of the series, and her being female is not - at the height of the series - made into some clumsy narrative point when much more vital motives are at play. The odd part being how the rest of the games normally stands in contrast to this objectification. It is fair to point out that the moment Samus is originally revealed to be a woman, it is to show her in underwear as a reward for the player. In contrast to the rest of the game which treats this with little fanfare, that moment sticks out as a sore thumb.

It is worth noting, however, the time at which the original games where made. It's possible that, lacking a decent artist, memory storage, and palette, they originally felt that they could only express gender by showing that she had breasts in the most obvious way short of actually making her topless. Certainly, the resolution is low enough that it is worth wondering how they might have visually done that. It's not as though long-haired men were in short supply in the 80s.
I muttered 'light as a board, stiff as a feather' for 2 days straight and now I've ascended, ;aughing at olympus and zeus is crying

Post Reply

Return to “Metroid: Self-Destruct Sequence Activated”