Presented Without Commentary: Aeria’s Scarlet Blade Ad



I just, I don’t even know what to say about this advertisement for Aeria Games’ free to play game, Scarlet Blade. ┬áBut I’m sure you all have plenty of opinions, so the comments are below.

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Lead Editor and co-founder of The Border House, feminist, gamer, lover of social media, technology, and virtual worlds. Pansexual, equestrian, dog lover, social game studio director and producer. Email me here and follow me on Twitter!
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23 Responses to Presented Without Commentary: Aeria’s Scarlet Blade Ad

  1. I am stunned. “She has no safe word”? Really!?

  2. Matt says:

    Every thing I read about Scarlet Blade increases my conviction that it is a troll project by some entity with a lot of money and a lot of motivation to make the most deliberately horrible game ever.

    • Matt says:

      In more substantive, very likely unduly charitable reply: from the Let’s Play that I’m getting nearly all my gameplay information from (because really the less I know the better), there doesn’t seem to be any real playing up on any rape-fantasy aspect beyond those incidental to objectification. The underlying message seems to be, with that in mind, that this computer avatar is just a mindless lifeless doll that you can play with however you wish.

      As for “Who’s really in control?”, well… the only sense I can make of that is that the underlying assumption is the mindless dead doll thing, then a suggestion that the player is being controlled by the game like some hint-hint-wink-wink at a player who knows they’re being manipulated by flagrant pandering or something and that by being let in on their own manipulation they’re identifying with their own ~??oppressor??~-exploiter.

      I don’t know how that is supposed to be appealing to anyone, ever, besides a few people with some major sub kinks + serious boundary issues + too much time and money on their hands, but then I guess that goes back to my first comment.

  3. Joe R says:

    It’s difficult to be offended by Scarlet Blade, due mainly to how dumbfoundingly stupid the whole thing is. Everything from those godawful creepy advertisements to the fact that the character models look like barbies with their heads swapped with bratz dolls.

    It’s like that the makers of this overheard people pointing and laughing at pointlessly sexed-up MMOs like Tera and mistook the laughter as approval, then carried everything bad about those other games as far as they possibly could, all the while sincerely believing that they were doing a good job.

    The creators of Scarlet Blade need to be kept away from computers.

    With a spray bottle.

  4. luminum says:

    I’m not even sure how this is intended to read.

    “She has no safe-word” as in “you can do anything to her”, or as in “she’ll do whatever she wants to you”?

    “Who’s really in control” questions whether she’s controlling you, or whether you’re actually controlling her despite her fetishized power scenario?


    • Anna says:

      The linguistic convention is that the person who “has” a safe word is the submissive / bottom partner. So it is implying that you can do whatever you want to her, not the other way around.

    • Tom says:

      I know this thread is a little old, now, but having taken some time to examine the game, I thought I’d comment.

      The character class in the advert (the “Whipper”) has a ~cutesy~dominatrix~ theme, with catchphrases like “This will hurt you more than it hurts me.” and “Getting killed by me is a mercy! Who wouldn’t want ~me~ to be the last thing they see?” The game itself is centered around battlefield style PvP engagements, and being one of the major DPS classes, whippers tend to rack up a lot of kills.

      In context, it seems reasonable to assume the advertisers intended to imply that she was on top, rather then a helpless victim.

      There’s certainly a lot of roll-your-eyes worthy stuff in the game, though I kind of prefer it’s open, cheeky approach to games which show nearly as much skin, but that deny they’re playing to an audience. (It’s not really possible to show ~as~ much skin as a game where it’s possible to strip completely naked, and you do see players running around with their breasts hanging out from time to time.)

      Interestingly, despite having the most ridiculously outlandish combat outfits you can imagine, the female NPC villains in the higher level dungeon actually wear full StarCraft Marine style mechanized body armor — in a game where nearly everything is sexualized, the one group of NPCs that tends to be presented most sexually in the majority of RPGs gets the most realistic and utilitarian treatment. I’m not sure what to make of that, but there it is.

  5. Jargo says:

    The reason for this bizarre “who is in control” add is, that in SB the player is not the female sex robot avatar, but a male commander how controls her remotely.

    So this is a MMO with only visible female characters, where it is actually not possible to be female. This is just sad and disturbing.

    • Nezumi says:

      … As someone who’s played the game, I’d like to clarify that the commander is not explicitly male. (Indeed, one NPC raises the possibility of their being female) They’re a self-insert in the AFGNCAAP mold, although the game does make it obvious they’re attracted to women either way. And, as I’ve said, I’m torn on the game. It’s terrible in a lot of ways (objectification, etc.), but it has occasional moments of seemingly-unintentional brilliance. The game is based heavily around questions of female agency or lack thereof (indeed, lorewise, it’s the divide between the two playable factions, although this sadly doesn’t get proper play in the game itself, where the story and quests are identical between the two except for faction names being swapped and at least one NPC name), and it has a section with a sexually-harassing NPC who, unlike so many sexually-harassing characters — especially in Asian media — isn’t portrayed as likable or playful or justified. Another NPC tries to excuse him, but he’s clearly handled as being a misogynistic creep abusing his position of power to try to gain sexual favors, and going out of his way to punish your Arkana for not submitting to him. I’ve rarely seen sexual harassment portrayed realistically in anything, and never in a game.

      • Christina Nordlander says:

        While you’re right (I assume; haven’t played the game myself), I’m very bothered by the implication that the player (the actual player, not their avatar) is automatically attracted to women. The best ending of “Catherine” made the same assumption. It makes me feel like the developers don’t believe that straight female or gay male gamers exist.

        • Nezumi says:

          It’s an unpleasantly common assumption, and one that should probably stop. It’s a bit more justified here than other places, though — a game so fanservice-heavy is admittedly going to be a lot more likely to be played by someone who is interested in scantily-clad women.

  6. Christina Nordlander says:

    Those advertisements seem perfectly appropriate to everything I know about “Scarlet Blade”…

    • Nezumi says:

      Nah. The game at least is quite self-aware and even sometimes tongue-in-cheek about its fanservicey, softcore-porn nature, and can actually be genuinely engaging beyond that — I know, I was kind of surprised as well. This is just flat-out creepy without a hint of irony.

  7. Nefa says:

    Scarlet Blade is like a string bikini. We still refer to string bikinis as being a swimsuit of some kind, suggesting that they are to be used while swimming. Their design, however, suggests otherwise. However, since the article is swimming related advertisers can use various slogans relating sexual attraction to water related activities.

    Scarlet Blade, was created as a game but is obviously designed to be interactive fan-service. However, some would consider it poor taste to straight out say “Play with the bouncing breasts” as being an appropriate tag-line for a non-adult-rated game. They had to be more creative – in turn making the tag-lines worse.

    I’d almost consider the game to be part of the “pin-up” genre of video games; throwing Skullgirls in with it. By appearance these games are nothing but exaggerated figures of the female form posing awkwardly for their player audience.

    • Mazed says:

      Except Skullgirls actually features some extraordinarily weird, creative, and entertaining character designs. Some of them (definitely not all of them) are cheesecakey as it gets, but even some of those reflect some genuine inspiration on the part of the artists and animators that goes far, far beyond sex appeal.

      That really cannot be said of Scarlet Blade, at all.

      • Nezumi says:

        I am… still somewhat bewildered where the concept of Skullgirls as “wall-to-wall fanservice borderline porn game with nothing else to it” actually came from. There are some very fanservicey characters — Valentine particularly stands out. There’s also characters like Peacock, Painwheel, or Double that require some… very unusual fetishes to consider sexually attractive. And it has an engaging story, solid gameplay, and genuine artistry behind it.

  8. nini says:

    Pin-up genre? Man, maybe because of the success of the Skullgirls indiegogo, now there will be such a genre. After all, since guys seemed to like Skullgirls, now they’re planing on bringing Japan-only all-female games like Vanguard Princess to the west. What about that other game “Girl Fight” that was talked about last year? Wasn’t that basically the Sucker Punch of video games?

    • Cameron says:

      Skullgirls did have a lot of fanservice but that didn’t contribute that much to it’s success. Scarlet Blade on the other hand isn’t even selling itself as a game.

    • Nezumi says:

      Your provincialism is showing. There’s been such a genre in Japan for a while, varying from outright porn games to just excessively fanservicey stuff. Such games have rarely made it out of Japan for various reasons — including, ironically, sexism. Many such games have exclusively female casts, focus heavily on female characters, or star females, which is considered entirely unmarketable in the US.

      • Nezumi says:

        Ugh… I really should have said “star girls” or “star women” instead of “star females”, but I was using female in appropriate ways beforehand and just kept going with it. Sorry!

  9. What bothers me is that this almost seems to be playing on recent events as far as the safety of women…? To me the ad says: Darn it, now that all these real life women are calling jerks out on inappropriate behavior and *gasp* expecting accountability for that behavior… the least this game company can do is provide men with a sexy virtual girl who has no safe word and can be controlled (or will control you at your preference). It’s a public service, really. (/sarcasm)

    It’s no more offensive than ads have been in the past but in light of current events it seems much creepier.

  10. thomas says:

    I think the worst thing is that it becomes a lightning rod for gender criticism in the field- ALMOST EVERYONE agrees that this is sexist, and has gone too far. So, when discussing gender in videogames, THIS will come up, although it is an outlier, rather than, say, Assassin’s Creed, a game focus which would lead to a more fruitful discussion and the tropes and assumptions in more mainstream gaming.

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