Virtual Voyeurism


Images from Dead or Alive: Dimensions, Nintendo 3DS, 2011

From Kill Screen:

Behold, the twin hallmarks of Tomonobu Itagaki’s creation: the undulating breasts of its ample female characters. If examined out of context, the display is close to breathtaking. Witness Kasumi during her post-victory swagger. When in movement, these two bulbous orbs rise as if weightless, against all natural laws; then fall, earthbound and heavy. Kasumi’s breasts, if they weren’t breasts, would rival images sent back from the Hubble in their extraterrestrial scope and beauty. But as containers of mammary glands, attached to a body not yet aged 18 years, they become black holes of indecency, dual leviathans emerging from the darkest pits of our selves for their sole purpose: to engorge us with their poisoned lactations of lust.

Or so the governments of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark would have us believe. Tecmo Koei’s Nordic distributor, Bergsala, decided not to release Dead or Alive: Dimensions in these territories due to an increasing concern over child pornography laws. This past January, a Swedish appeals court fined Simon Lundström 5,600 kroner for a collection of pictures on his computer of semi-nude underage girls. Lundström is an expert in manga translation; the pictures were stills from Japanese comics he was working on.

At first glance, the decision sounds silly. How can ogling anything in a game, whether it’s meant to convey a sexy underage ninja or not, be remotely considered pornographic? But then I clicked into Showcase mode.

In Dead or Alive: Dimensions, you win prizes by competing in tournaments or trying out new sections of the game. These prizes often take the form of a character figurine. You can even buy a prize package using Play Coins, a kind of 3DS currency you earn by using the system as a pedometer (100 steps equals 1 Coin). Once you accumulate said figurines, you can view them in Showcase mode. Select a character, and you immediately view it as if looking through a camera lens. Change the background, zoom in and out. You may take a picture, which can be viewed later in a special folder. The neatest feature (or most inappropriate, given your stance) is thanks to the 3DS’s integrated gyroscope: by tilting the system around you can shift your view of the chosen figurine, as if you really were holding a camera and walking around this warrior with alien-smooth skin, clad in spandex and striking a fierce pose.

“These Private Realms”, Jon Irwin, Kill Screen