Not Sexy, but Deadly: The Case of B. Orchid
Lara Croft. Tifa Lockhart. Cammy White. These are just some examples of female video game characters, introduced in the 90’s, and designed in a way to be sexually attractive and, thus, marketable. Yeah, during those days women in games were quite often portrayed in such manner. In general, young males were the target audience for video games, and quite many companies used to think so. There is even an old PlayStation advertisement, in which a man is encouraged to lock his girlfriend away, so that he can enjoy playing uninterrupted.
A Rare kind of Orchid
One of the characters of that period, although a bit lesser known, was Black Orchid from Rare’s game, Killer Instinct.
Black Orchid, much like Chun-Li in Street Fighter II, was the only woman in the game (unless you count Riptor, a female dinosaur), and the developers made sure to exploit that feat. Her theme song in the first game included some sexual moans, her winning pose consisted of her slapping her buttocks, and she was also given a finishing move that had to do with her exposing her breasts to the opponent. Seriously.
Killer Instinct went on a long hiatus after its second installment, although Orchid’s finisher remained popular in lists about controversial content in games. That was until 2013; the year that the Killer Instint franchise resurfaced under a darker, more serious tone. Of course, Black Orchid was among the game’s initial roster, however she looked a bit changed…
In her new incarnation, Black Orchid has lost all her provocative mannerisms and attire. Now she is an agent of the forces of good, poised to bring down the evil corporation featured in the game. She is determined; in fact so much determined, she is at the brink of insanity. Also, this time, instead of moans, her theme song includes the line “Touch me and I’ll break your face”. Yeah, quite a makeover.
So, the example of Black Orchid shows that maybe video game companies are actually aware of the shift in the video game discourse of today. By making characters the non-sexist way, not only gender representation is more balanced, but fans can also identify with them more. As long as this is a genuine effort, and not a marketing trick, then all is fine. But that is a different story.
Header image: https://ngpatriotacademy.com/orchid-killer-instinct-xbox-one-wallpaper