There’s a scene in Judd Apatow’s 2005 romantic comedy The 40-Year-Old-Virgin in which Steve Carrell, the titular virgin, tries to bluff his friends about his lack of sexual experience by describing breasts as feeling like “bags of sand.”
Apparently, a similar conversation recently happened at the offices of video game developer Crytek as they designed their new Xbox One game, Ryse: Son Of Rome, except there was no one in the room who knew what breasts were actually like to set the record straight. “Breasts are just bags of water, right?” some designer must have said. “So just make them move like water balloons?” And then everyone nodded and Microsoft wrote Crytek a big check.
How else to explain this awful cutscene from the equally awful Ryse?
In it, the character, Marius Titus, is offered a chance at avenging the deaths of his family by an unnamed goddess. Like many women in video games, the goddess favors a neckline that plunges roughly past her knees. This is barely worth commenting upon: the oculoplania of many game developers is so acute that they live their lives like Tex Avery cartoon characters, which is why they design their female characters as if they photosynthesized sunlight through their sternums.
But have you ever seen breasts that move like that? You can’t blame technology for this. The Xbox One is a brand new video game console packing some decidedly next-gen silicon. Crytek, meanwhile, is a company primarily known for its ability to make powerful game engines with realistic graphics, advanced lighting and lifelike physics.
So yes, both Crytek and the Xbox One can render the female bosom accurately. Yet despite this, Crytek has apparently made the conscious decision to model the game’s breasts after a couple of water balloons floating in zero gravity.
Artless nudity and gratuitous sexuality isn’t anything new in gaming, of course. In the 1980s, a developer called Mystique released a universally offensive rape and genocide simulator for the Atari 2600 called Custer’s Revenge featuring one of the first depictions of nudity in a video game: a naked 8-bit squaw tied to a pole. And in the 1990s, the popular Tomb Raider series featured a heroine, Lara Croft, whose breasts were literally bigger than her head. So it’s depressing, but oh-so-typical, that the only reason Ryse‘s casually misogynistic approach to female sexuality is worthy of comment at all is because the guys behind it were so inexplicably inept in rendering the same.
But that’s also what is so funny about it. Ryse is the most technologically advanced game available right now. Crytek spent thousands of man-hours and millions of dollars in an attempt to create a perfectly immersive virtual world to captivate players. Despite this, all it took for the illusion to come crashing down was a plunging neckline and a farcical pair of undulating boobs. Maybe the most pressing reason for game developers to abandon the pre-pubescent notions of female sexuality so prevalent in the industry is so they all stop accidentally revealing their sexual inexperience in general?