The Mary Sue’s Maddy Myers took aim at the modding community in an article published on May 2nd, 2016 title “The ‘Uncensored’ World of Street Fighter Mods”, covering the concept of people creatively doing what they do in their free time and the other people who enjoy embracing that creativity.
The piece mostly focuses on NSFW toggles within the modding community, noting that the lack of toggles in the Street Fighter V modding community makes it difficult to recommend mods for those who prefer safe work spaces. This paragraph seems to sum up the gist of the piece, where Myers writes…
“Within the Street Fighter threads that I frequent, modding spaces are undeniably sexual spaces, with an emphasis on the sexualization of women, as I’ve stated. There’s no division between “family-friendly” Street Fighter mods and nude mods. All of these mods get created within the same space and linked in the same community threads, with no tagging or system of demarcation. Therefore, any time I recommend to someone that they check out Street Fighter mods, I should probably include this caveat: “Get ready to scroll through a lot of pages of Chun-Li boob-jiggling mods!”
That’s all fine and whatever; most sites have NSFW tags when you go to check out mods. It was rare for me to scour through various popular games with supple modding communities that didn’t have the tags. The only times where tags weren’t present were in modding communities too small to bother with adding the tags.
But the real troublesome part is how the article paints a picture that sexy-time mods and risque alterations to the characters are reinforced societal structures put in place by the developers, where Myers writes…
“[…] the Street Fighter mod community simply serves as a representation of the larger problems in the rest of society, in terms of how the treatment of women differs—and that treatment gets reinforced by the game itself, in terms of the existing costume designs and the lack of body diversity. The game itself already presents the female characters as sex objects, and that attitude continues to pervade the mod community. Any exception to this norm is either rare, a joke, or both.”
You’ll find that even games like King of Fighters (just pick any of the non-HD ones) will have an ample supply of nude female mods within the MUGEN community, so it’s not the developers influencing anything. Not all of SNK’s female fighters are sexualized like Mai. But it doesn’t take anything but a quick Google search to find nude mods for non-sexualized characters like Leona, Whip, Blue Mary or King (just to name a few).
Heck, even when Team Ninja suggested to the PC modding community not to make nude mods for the PC version of Dead or Alive, they did it anyway, as noted by IBTimes. There’s also nothing inherently sexual about the females in Fallout 4, but that didn’t stop modders from making the CBBE mod (and similar mods) to make the female characters curvier and more voluptuous.
It’s disturbing to think that people are ignoring the simple fact that maybe… just maybe guys really enjoy female sexuality. Even if said female sexuality is stripped away from the game, leave it to modders to put it back in. The average guy doesn’t need reinforcement from anyone to want to ogle at hot women.
The developers completely de-sexualized Lara Croft in the two new Tomb Raider games, but you’ll find plenty of Source Filmmaker clips with the new Lara in various states of undress. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that guys like girls… and they like it when girls are sexy.
Myers has hopes that the modding community will separate the sexy from the non-sexy, writing…
“I would hope to see the mod community approach this topic with the realization that not everyone who visits modding boards wants to see Chun-Li’s boobs jiggling on every thread. (Seriously, do they know how painful that would be?) I’d like to see a more nuanced outlook when it comes to the differences between sexy mods and other kinds of mods, as opposed to just throwing all the mods in the same bucket and acting like all is equal.”
It’s a strange request because I’m not entirely sure where Myers goes to get her mods, but if you want the really cool Street Fighter mods (for any of the countless variations floating around out there) you’ll want to hit up DeviantArt. The thing is, there is no separation on the artists’ pages between SFW and NSFW mods unless you have mature content turned off. It’s just all there. Some of the more lewd mods are intertwined with non-lewd mods, and it’s up to the artist to determine how those are put on display. Even more than that, It’s up to viewers to actually click on the mods.
Myers chalks it up to the way things have been, and that suggesting these changes as an “outsider” is like wading into a swamp of murky water filled with modders that have the pressured snap of an alligator’s mouth jamming shut…
“To ask the mod community to make a separate thread for jiggling-boob gifs would be like asking them to make a fundamental change to how they operate and how they identify. For them, this is as much a part of Street Fighter as anything else, and to even ask such a thing, I would be an “outsider” (no matter how long I’ve been there).”
The reality is that once you’ve entered into a space that modders have retreated to, you’re in their space. They specifically made that space to get away from people telling them that they can’t have that space in other aspects of their life. This is a place where they’ve gone to express their own creative freedoms without worrying about judgments from those standing on the outside or “outsiders” asking them to not be who they are.
You have to understand that even if you’re someone who enjoys a game or hobby, it doesn’t necessarily make you on the “inside” of that hobby.
Heck, I love fighting games and even I’m not on the “inside” of the MUGEN community, or “inside” of the Street Fighter modding scene, or “inside” of the FGC.
I love a variety of games, and have created mods for PC and console alike, including but not limited to Halo, Garry’s Mod, DOOM, Quake, etc., etc., but I’m certainly not “in” those modding communities. Even as someone who has contributed to the culture of modding, I’m still an outsider in those communities. Why? Because those are spaces made for people to create what they want, and if you don’t like what they want then you can leave and create a space for the things that you do want.
It’s a matter of respecting the spaces that those people have created, and if you want to join those spaces, you have to blend in with what they’ve made, not the other way around.
Myers, however, posed the question of whether or not other modders enjoy the very sexual nature of some modding communities, and whether or not taking leave is what’s best for all parties…
“Whenever I complain about these spaces, people just tell me to leave and make my own. Sometimes I do. But I also wonder, at least in this case, whether there are other modders out there who don’t actually like the fact that these spaces are inherently sexual and that a lot of sexual content appears there without any tagging.“
The thing is, every hairstyle, every fetish, every kink, every clothing item, every moveset, stage and character alteration is made by people who want that, and they attract others who also want that. Modding is an insular fulfillment, not a consumer service.
I’ve only collaborated with a few modders over time, and usually at arm’s length, you have to respect their boundaries, respect when they will or won’t let you use certain tools, respect what they will or won’t let you distribute, and respect the rules of the community that they’ve established.
It’s a little like going into a David Cronenberg fandom circle and exclaiming “I just wish Cronenberg would focus a little less on grotesque imagery!” Those people aren’t fans of Cronenberg in spite of grotesque imagery, they’re fans because of grotesque imagery.
Near the end of the piece, Myers makes a comment that seems to point to the very thing that many gamers have grown tired of from gaming journalists: the attempt to dictate what gaming needs to become in order to be more “inclusive”. Myers writes…
“Street Fighter is realizing that many women don’t feel welcome in the fandom, but there still seems to be a lot of confusion as to why. Yet whenever I point out any of the reasons why, the community reacts with anger at the idea that their behavior would need to change. There’s a tension between wanting to share the pastime you love with other people, while also wanting it to remain an exclusive special artifact that only you understand. “
See here’s the thing, the mods only show up in the game for the people who install the mods. If you’re a female gamer and you don’t want to look at sexy-time mods, you don’t have to. You don’t have to install any mod you don’t want.
Now if the scenario being posed is that women are turned off from Street Fighter because they don’t want to wade through mods that may be NSFW, well then it’s just a matter of sticking with the artists and modders that cater to what those female gamers want.
The modding community is obviously going to react in anger about changes that they feel poses no benefit to them or detracts from the community that they helped build. Besides, it’s the modders’ work… having people who aren’t paying for it come in to tell them how to organize or filtrate their content is like coming in and telling Leonardo Davinci that having Leda and the Swan next to the Mona Lisa makes the Mona Lisa less inclusive.
Personally, whatever a modder puts on their personal page is their business. You either accept whatever they have to offer or you make your own community and attract/invite/advertise to the people you want in that community. It’s not hard to understand communities being angered when “outsiders” come in to disrupt the way they do things, because no one wants their “safe place” disrupted.
(Main image courtesy of xHECZx)