Xavier Profile picture
11 May, 39 tweets, 12 min read
I posted this as a joke yesterday, but I do have a lot of feelings about how Lady Dimitrescu is one of the more important game characters of the past couple decades.

This is going to be a long thread, and it's going to be very gamedev-centric rather than pop culture-centric.
First, what got me thinking about this was Lady D in the context of games which have come out in the past decade. If you’ve been paying attention to a lot of prestige game releases like the Last of Us series, you’ll probably have heard of the “dadification” of games, or similar.
If you aren't familiar, it's basically the idea that the median aged man in gamedev has finally hit the age where he's having kids, and it's reflected in the games that get made and published.

Last of Us is the biggest, shiniest example.
A few years back, there was a flood of game content with dads doing dad stuff viewed through the lens of very western, very macho ideas of what manhood and a "dad" is. Lots of games with lost wives and children, and dudes getting revenge.
I have a LOT of thoughts about the dadification of games and how it's representative of some incredibly toxic masculinity tropes, but that's a separate topic.
Anyway.

Before I get into this, I don't think Lady D represents the "momification" of games.

Absolutely not.

100% no.
However, I do think she represents a sea change in how women are being thought of as characters in games. Lady D isn't a complex or particularly interestingly written character. She's a cartoon villain.

But her simple visual presentation is a sign of bigger (heh) things.
So, more context:

For the first 30-40 years of gaming, women characters were largely represented as victims, sex toys, and objects for little boys to think about during jerkoff sessions.
They still are, largely.

All you have to do is look at recent games and their marketing to see that.
Lady Dimitrescu is also heavily sexualized. The low cut of her dress and the way it's incredibly form fitting, the use of specific poses in cutscenes as well as framing of things like her ass?

There's no way this shot of her wasn't meant to put focus on her tig ol bitties.
However, what sets her apart from other female game characters is why you could mistake her for a "momification" of games:

1. She's portrayed as being in her late 30s to mid 40s
2. She's huge and imposing, like many mother figures
3. She's a literal mother
The main reason I think she's so important is her overt sexualization as a woman approaching middle age.

This simply doesn't happen in video games.
Sexualized characters in other games are generally designed to look like they're in their late teens to early 20s.

Hell, even Mia from the same game looks very young. You could mistake her for a teenager, especially given her face shape.
So Lady D is overtly sexualized, but there's also subtlety to it which gets glossed over with goofy big mommy milkers memes:
Lady D has visible facial wrinkles even in her neutral pose, and a distinct nasolabial fold

These are things you simply don't see on most female game characters... even when they're supposed to be quite old

From my personal experience making AAA characters, this is significant
Most 3D characters in general, and women specifically, are art directed to not have facial folds or wrinkles.

That's how you get weird, wrinkle-free extreme expressions like this one of Anna from Frozen:
Lady D's facial model, and whatever post work they did on her, retains natural smile lines and cheek dimples which you don't see on most characters.

There's a tendency to smooth these things out, which I've experienced firsthand.
Even in the fairly neutral lighting of the scanning stage, you can see that Stefanie Joosten's very slight nasolabial fold has been smoothed out for Quiet's model.

This is common practice, and meant to make female characters look more youthful and beautiful.
It's not restricted to female models. I've personally done this on male models after being art directed to do so. I can't show that work because of copyright restrictions, but I don't exactly have any reason to lie.

It was also the right choice for the given thing, so *shrug*
But back to Lady D.

There are three other aspects which I think make her important, in context of game character sexualization:

1. Her breasts (humor me)
2. Her overall size
3. Her outfit
If you've ever seen large breasts, like, natural ones that aren't the result of augmentation, you'd know that they have a specific type of weight and sag to them

This is something you don't typically see in game characters

These, for example, look pretty clearly like implants:
While Lady D certainly has comparatively perky breasts for how large they are, they look far more like they're in a push up bra than having implants or being unnaturally gravity defying:
Note that the flesh of the breast in the third image clearly connects far up her chest near the collarbone. This isn't characteristic of implants/augmentation.
Her overall size is another important aspect which sets her apart from other female game characters. Most women in games are noticeably smaller in stature than their male counterparts.

Fighting games are great for showing the general disparity.
Being almost twice the size of some other well known characters means the people developing her weren't afraid of eschewing the typical representation of what a feminine woman in a video game can be

This is vastly different from the representation of other women in games
Devs tend to shy away from trying to make women imposing in games, sometimes because they're afraid of player pushback, and sometimes because they don't think a woman *can* be imposing.

Even Fortune from MGS2, a character who carries an IMMENSE railgun, has a very slight frame.
Lady Dimitrescu isn't typical of any aspects of female game character design aside from being sexy.

She's huge, imposing, has a big ass, and they emphasize all these aspects of her design through animation and camera placement.
Finally, her outfit.

It's fucking stunning.

Sure, the dress looks comfortable and flattering on her figure, but it's also phenomenally well tailored and its construction on a technical level is a masterpiece of game character art.
The folds and seam placement are 100% believable and highly functional, the use of properly shaped paneling shows a deep understanding of how garments are constructed, and the accessories such as the necklace and hat are perfectly executed.
She isn't JUST a fancy boss character. Her outfit was designed and made by people who cared deeply about her presentation, and by people who knew the dress and accessories needed to be plausible, flattering, and coordinated.

There's deeper care here beyond SHE BIG SEXY.
The level of care which went into her design speaks to what the people making felt mattered.

This is why I think Lady Dimitrescu is an important character in games, even if she's still part of the still-pretty-narrow spectrum of Sexy Video Game Ladies.
She's a woman approaching middle age who bucks every trend regarding what people think of when you say "sexy video game character"

She's well dressed, carefully designed, and retains things that make her believable and human.
Anyway, I know it's been a long thread, but this image sums up why I think Lady Dimitrescu is one of the most important video game characters of the past two decades.

Thanks for sticking with me through it.
Now, an addendum:

Women's representation in games is still DEEPLY fucked up

Lady D isn't going to solve any of the problems with that. But (and this is a very small but) given my experience with characters in the AAA space, I think she's a meaningful step in a *good* direction
Sexualizing someone new or different isn't going to solve the problems with, for example, REV fridging its female characters, women being treated as sex objects, or women simply being written as braindead morons

There are HUGE STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS in games that this doesn't solve
But (and once again, *very* small but) it's deeply refreshing for me to see a woman in a game who has things like facial wrinkles that aren't airbrushed out

Now, continue with your day

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