As a game developer, I am frequently evaluating the narratives and portrayals that form the landscape of the gaming industry. A recent collaboration between Dove and Epic Games, however, gave me pause and prompted a number of reflections.
The video presents a fit, armored female protagonist defeating her foe. After the ‘scene’, she retreats to her dressing room, sheds her armor, and unveils her true self—an obese figure. She then strides back onto the set, without her armor, embracing her true form.
While this video undoubtedly aims to champion body positivity—a movement encouraging acceptance of all body types—it’s important to critically analyze some of its aspects.
The video seems to advocate boxing identities into fixed categories—physical appearance, obesity, and so forth. However, in reality, we can’t exclusively relate to a character based on appearance. Our identities are complex, encompassing a range of elements such as personality type, temperament, morals, and actions. These factors often create a deeper connection with characters than outward appearance alone. Check out my other blogs on how to make a relatable character.
Fictional protagonists often symbolize our aspirations. They encapsulate qualities we admire—strength, courage, intelligence, and various skills. Although they come in all shapes and sizes, their physical fitness frequently mirrors their extraordinary capabilities. They’re athletic, healthy, and proficient, reflecting not mediocrity, but the pinnacle of what we aspire to be.
The Normalization of Obesity
The potential normalization of obesity is another aspect that demands consideration. This is a topic that’s close to my heart.
For most of my adult life, I was obese. I made attempts to improve my health, but a herniated L5-S1 disc resulted in sciatic pain that left me limping and miserable. Even post-surgery, I was heavier than ever and still limping. Media messages made me believe that my only path to happiness was accepting myself as an obese and handicapped individual.
However, I ultimately decided to challenge this narrative and transform my life. In my book, “Level Yourself Up: Motivation, Weight Loss, Fitness!”, I share my journey of losing over 70 lbs and achieving the most athletic shape of my life. The normalization of obesity nearly held me back from aspiring to reach my potential.
While representation of diverse body types in media is important, it’s equally crucial to approach these portrayals with thoughtfulness, considering the nuanced implications they carry. We should all feel comfortable in our own skin, but comfort shouldn’t deter us from the aspiration to improve or change for better health and wellbeing.
As we navigate these complex issues together, let’s aspire to an inclusive gaming world that encourages not only acceptance but also growth and positive transformation.
Check out my full discussion on this topic in my latest reaction video [insert link]. Don’t hesitate to join the conversation and share your thoughts.
To support our development work and anticipate our next exploration of complex themes in the gaming world, add our upcoming game “Beware” to your Steam wishlist today. We appreciate your support and can’t wait to share our journey with you!