There has, of late, been some significant and necessary discussion here about the role of women characters in various, mass-market games and one issue that I have raised consistently- despite my pinko commie leanings- has been the importance of advertising in shaping people’s perceptions and their desires. Much as we often do with regards to characters on this website, I thought it would be a good idea to start showing the world what advertising copy done right looks like. As always, examples of what to do well can be very instructive.
So, today, I thought I would begin with my favourite of all time, a promotional picture that is actually hanging in my room right now, a metre to my right. I got it from a strategy guide for Obsidian’s Knights of the Old Republic 2. It was an image that was quite prominent as marketing material when KotOR2 was being advertised heavily; a beautifully done painting of Jedi Master, Councillor, and Archivist Atris going to battle with Darth Nihilus, by artist Francis Hsu:
The badassery is difficult to put into words and I always melt with admiration when I look at this picture, partially because it’s so awesome unto itself, but also because it is all too rare. A woman character, being courageous, heroic, active, and with the emphasis on what she is doing and not how large her boobs are. It is, unfortunately, all too rare that we see this. But we find Atris here, fully clothed, in robes that we might expect a Jedi hero to wear; fighting in a way that is realistic, a powerful lunge, a stirring yell; the story told by this picture is a story of a heroic battle between Jedi and Sith, not OMG Atris is so hawt. She is beautiful but this does not define her; her skill and courage do in this picture.
The art depicts her in media of one amazing res. The iconic image of Star Wars, lightsabre battles between good and evil, now stars a woman who is clearly holding her own and on the offensive. Active, not passive. Making things happen, not being objectified.
In short, I want to be that character.
The curious and somewhat ironic story of KotOR2, however, is that Atris ended up being a relatively small character in the final cut of the game. Not because that was what the writers wanted, but because as fans of this series may know, Lucasarts rushed the game to market before it was finished. KotOR2 is an unfinished symphony, which is deeply regrettable for a number of reasons- not the least of which is that it curbed the development of Atris as a character and somewhat hindered the development of another wonderful woman character, Kreia (who I will devote an article to another time).
But the marketing for KotOR2 nevertheless put powerful women characters in their place: front and centre. To me, it’s a prime example of doin’ it right.