Street Fighter V‘s Yoshinori Ono Changed Butt-Focused Camera Angles Due To “Feedback”
The last time Street Fighter V developer Yoshinori Ono spoke about the decision to change several butt-focused camera angles in the beta version of the game, he described the change as an artistic one rather than one motivated by player feedback. Last December, Ono put it this way:
We didn’t make any change because of external influence. Those changes came up internally. We decided to remove that because we want the biggest possible number of people to play, and we don’t want to have something in the game that might make someone uncomfortable.
In a recent interview with Gamespot, however, Ono clarified that “feedback” from players did end up playing a role in Capcom’s decision to change the camera angles. Here’s the applicable question and answer:
Input from hardcore fans is really important, but there’s more to Street Fighter than just the hardcore; it exists in a larger industry that has concerns that go beyond frame-data and character balancing. One of the criticisms has been that some characters are unnecessarily sexualized, and I’m wondering what your stance is regarding such feedback?
You may have seen sometime ago, for R. Mika’s Critical Art cutscene, the camera angle was changed a bit, and we made some other changes with how the camera angles worked with the characters, and that was one of our answers to some of this feedback. On the flip side, the hardcore fans attack my Twitter account with lots of f-bombs.
We want everyone to be able to enjoy playing this game. We don’t want anything offensive in there; we want everyone to be able to enjoy the game as much as possible. So we’re working to be able to provide a friendly environment for everyone. The message we want to provide for our hardcore fans is that we are cognizant of the series’ identity, and we are going to make sure that the Street Fighter identity is in place. We may be making more adjustments moving forward, but the fighting experience, the battle, is the same.
The change to R. Mika’s butt-slapping cut-scene, illustrated in before-and-after form by the gif embedded above, has caused the most pushback — at least, that change is the one that I’ve seen the most discussion about online. As you can see in the gif, the “Original” version shows R. Mika slapping her butt, with her backside centered in the frame. In the allegedly “Censored” version, the camera pulls upward slightly during the butt slap, but it does keep R. Mika’s face in the frame throughout the entire animation.
R. Mika’s butt is still featured prominently throughout any match in which she appears due to the nature of the costume she wears and the moves she performs. However, I personally think that the decision to focus the camera slightly more often on R. Mika’s playful facial expressions — as opposed to centering her butt in the frame — humanizes her and encourages the player to relate to her more, even if only slightly.
These attack animations play out in a matter of seconds, but in fighting games, there’s so little time to characterize and humanize each fighter that these brief cut-scenes and special move representations end up going a long way towards influencing character portrayals. By focusing the camera more on the rest of R. Mika’s posturing — her winking, her finger-wagging, and her other hilarious mannerisms — we’re encouraged to see her as a goofy-but-lovable champion, as opposed to a sex object held up for lust and ridicule. I want to laugh with R. Mika, not at her!
I’d also argue that these changes don’t make R. Mika any less attractive. If anything, they make her more attractive as a fighter who’s a character, not just a flying butt. Flying butts are funny, to be sure, and R. Mika’s “Flying Peach” move is literally a flying butt, and it’s great fun (it’s a lot like Princess Peach’s “hot-cha” move in Super Smash). But focusing the camera on R. Mika’s butt so often doesn’t necessarily do her any favors character-wise. She gets good one-liners, she has great voice acting, and she’s got cool moves. There’s a lot to work with in terms of where to point the camera. She’s more than just a butt, and reducing her to just that one joke feels like a missed opportunity to me.
More importantly, though — and this is something that I noted in much more detail the first time these changes came to light — new players will notice changes like this significantly more than a “hardcore player” like me. I’ve been playing fighting games for so long that I’m desensitized to how sexual they can come across to non-FG fans. I barely even notice anymore when a camera crawls slowly up the back legs of a female character during an opening fight cut-scene. But new players do notice, and in a lot of cases, that can turn people off of playing these games. That’s a big shame, because it doesn’t take that much work to alter these camera angles.
I don’t think it’s great that the camera treats the female characters like a collection of objectified pieces as opposed to a fully-realized fighter. I’ve already gone into great detail on this when it comes to the presentation of R. Mika, Cammy, and Karin in comparison to male characters like Ryu, who even in their most skin-baring costumes don’t get the same camera angles. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who’s been writing in detail about the Street Fighter V camera angles. I don’t want to flatter myself, here, but I think there is a dim shadow of a possibility that my “feedback” has been part of the reason why these camera angles have changed — although I doubt I’ll ever know for certain.
With that in mind, I’d like to address the sentiment that I’ve seen all over comments sections and forums and social media from other fighting game fans about this “feedback.” I keep seeing people saying that the “feedback” must come from players who don’t care about Street Fighter and who won’t buy the game regardless — that it’s just “SJWs” who complain for complaining’s sake, who don’t have any personal stake in the game, and so on. So, let me just reiterate: I’ve already given Street Fighter V my money. I pre-ordered this game ages ago so that I could play the beta releases, and the game, as soon as possible. They already have my $60. I’ve already purchased multiple Street Fighter games on multiple platforms over the course of my life, so they’ve been getting my money for a long time now.
That said, I do have a personal stake in getting more people to check out Street Fighter V because I have a lot of trouble convincing my friends — especially my female friends — to play it with me! They see it as intimidating, and they also see it as something that is inherently not “for” them — and those objectifying camera angles are a complaint that I hear again and again. People wonder why there are no women in the fighting game community, and they act like it’s a big mystery or something. It’s just not that tricky to crack that one.
As someone who already is personally invested in making this game more accessible to more people, yeah, I would like to see some small changes, such as camera angles (which, to me, have always been a bigger problem than the costumes, although I’d love to see Cammy put on a pair of pants someday). None of this means that I think it’s “bad” for the characters to be sexy. There’s a difference between “sexy” and “objectified.” What’s more, the fundamentals of Street Fighter aren’t going to change — well, I mean, the mechanics are going to change, and I’m happy to participant in the slew of arguments about which V-triggers got nerfed and the fact that light attack chaining isn’t going to work the same way and [list goes on]. But the fundamental spirit of the game isn’t going to change, which is what Ono said in his interview response.
I do get that humanizing the female fighters — as opposed to treating them as sexy novelty acts — must feel like a big, terrifying change to players who are used to not taking women seriously. But at their core, these games are already pretty radical, since they exist in a magical universe in which men and women of planet-spanning backgrounds fight equally on the battlefield, each with their own techniques, each equally able to bring those varied skills to the table, each with an equal chance to win, each in their own style. That radical concept is sadly undermined by the fact that the female characters don’t get treated like people, and something as small as a camera angle can be part of what changes that perception. Obviously, the camera angles aren’t that small of a change, because even though they only last a second or two, the changes got noticed immediately and caused a huge uproar. For example, almost all of the comments on Ono’s Gamespot interview are about the camera angles, as opposed to the entire rest of the interview!
I expect players will continue to send f-bombs to Ono’s Twitter mentions column, and I expect people who don’t actually read my articles will continue to blame me for “ruining” a game that they think I don’t care about. In the meantime, though, I will continue to play Street Fighter every day and enjoy it, and I’ll continue to count off the days until Street Fighter V‘s official release. I’m excited about R. Mika’s moves, I’ve been spiffing up my Cammy and Chun-Li, and I can’t wait for February.
I also hope that perhaps I’ve even convinced a couple of you to check out this game — there’s going to be a story mode this time, which is yet another example of how Street Fighter V is hoping to re-introduce these characters for a completely new audience and tell their stories over again. They haven’t had a story mode in a Street Fighter game for a long time, and it’ll be interesting to see the narrative that they build. Based on what they’ve shown us so far, I’m pretty psyched to see where it ends up.
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