Boob Physics: The Only Science That Matters When You’re Beating People Up

I was hanging out and watching some friends play Portal (and resisting the urge to grab the controller and do the puzzle for them). They were positioned between two portals so you could see Chell when one of their roommates walked in. He immediately said “Wow, she’s ugly” and wondered why someone would make a female character unattractive. He also said that if she doesn’t have nice tits she doesn’t belong in a game. Well then.

Thinking on that then segued into me thinking about when my sister and I would play Dead or Alive 3 together, a totally appropriate game for an eleven and eight year old to be playing mind  you, which then morphed into me wondering if game developers knew how breasts worked.

Whenever I play fighting games with female characters I’m always amazed at how these girls fight with their boobs bouncing around the entire time. Even in less revealing outfits, where the fighter’s chest is covered, you can watch as her breasts bounce wildly with each attack.

Here are some fun facts about breasts:

  1. It hurts when they’re just bouncing around. That’s why girls wear sports bras or some type of support when they’re doing anything athletic like running, playing volleyball, or beating the tar out of someone.
  2. If they’re too big, boobs can become painful and stressful on the back. Especially without adequate support.
  3. Rarely do they sit as perky as they do on video game characters with no apparent support. They are affected by gravity just like everything else.

So when I play female fighters in games like Dead or Alive or Soul Caliber I know that very little female input went into the design because someone would say “actually guys, that wouldn’t be comfortable and they’d just get in the way.”

Though practicality clearly isn’t the goal since the head developer of Team Ninja, Tomonobu Itagaki, stated that “If [breast physics] is realistic but not beautiful, what’s the point?”

[youtube][/youtube] What in the world?

[youtube][/youtube] Getting Closer…

Excuse me? The point is that that’s not how real breasts work.

There are plenty of videos like this and now my Youtube history looks like that of thirteen year old boy. Those aren’t breasts; those are creepy, autonomous flesh blobs that have attached themselves to those poor women. Some of the other boob physics videos show breasts twitching one a time or bouncing ridiculously. If my chest started doing that, I’d get to a doctor right away because that’s not normal and I really don’t think it’s that ‘beautiful’ either Mr. Itagaki.

I appreciate breasts as much as the next person. Boobs are great. And I know that sex sells. But I also know how impractical trying to fight with your breasts just jiggling everywhere would be. I know that it’s marketing but I also know that it’s pure objectification. The women in the games have the illusion of power and strength because they’re fighters. They punch and kick and beat people up and become champions or whatnot. But there’s nothing empowering about these women because they’re reduced to sex objects, a pair of breasts coded to achieve maximum movement with each attack for enjoyment by the male majority in the gaming community. Dead or Alive 5’s latest patch actually allows for gamer manipulation of the character’s breasts. You can sit there for hours and make barely covered breasts move in unnatural ways that I don’t know how someone could find attractive.

The fact that ‘Boob Physics’ exists bothers me too. Often a female character’s breasts have the most expressive motion while other her hair still flows clunkily in the breeze. Developers devote so much time just so people could watch women’s breasts move about as they fight as or against them. Even in games where you’re walking around as a female character your boobs bounce up and down with each step. (You’d think that armor would be supportive or that these women would have heard of bras.) And with Boob Physics came increased size in character’s breasts so there would be more to have fun with. Bigger breasts came with less realistic expectations for real women and more objectification in games. Awesome.

If you’re going to call something ‘Boob Physics’ I’d really like if that meant breasts were made to move like real breasts do. Not “we modeled these things to move a lot and act nothing like the real thing.” Because that’s now how physics works. Physics deals with how things react to the forces around them, not how they defy them. And even if you code breasts realistically, please make them more practical to fight with. Meaning I don’t really care of they move realistically because if they’re moving too much it’s not realistic to be fighting or running around like that.

And here you thought this might have been a post about Portal judging by the first paragraph. Instead you got a rant about boobs.

Didi Cardoso for Gamer’s Intution talks about it more here.

As does Stephanie Duchenne on GameZone.

Image sources: http://i1008.


  7 comments for “Boob Physics: The Only Science That Matters When You’re Beating People Up

  1. Haley
    February 28, 2013 at 2:36 am

    What you’re tapping into here is the objectification of women. While I completely agree with all of your points about the ridiculousness of “jiggle physics,” the realism of video game graphics or concepts isn’t the overall concern here, it’s objectification. At the end of the day, even saying “sex sells” isn’t entirely accurate: if that were true, then why aren’t masculine bodies just as sexually objectified as feminine bodies (it does happen, of course, but not to the same extent)? Heterosexual women make up a large percentage of the population, but they aren’t being “sold” sex in the same way that heterosexual men are. Instead, it is their bodies that are BEING sold. Think about the kinds of advertisements that are used to sell video games: a great many of them depict a masculine figure who is heavily muscled and powerful (male power fantasy) or a feminine figure who is being overtly sexualized (sexual objectification).

    According to the best explanation I’ve ever seen on the subject, sexual objectification is “the process of representing… a person as a sex object, one that serves another’s sexual pleasure.” If that isn’t what’s going on with the emphasis on massive breasts in video game characters, I’ll eat my hat. Of course, this type of objectification doesn’t ONLY occur in video games, but one of the results of the objectification of the female body is that men feel empowered to act upon women, and women feel disempowered and like they should be acted upon. If a women is represented as an object (or, in the case of “jiggle physics” characters, if her sexualized body is her defining characteristic), then the message to men is, “This is a thing I can act on,” and to women, “I am a subject to be acted upon.” I would argue that this message is perhaps more damaging when depicted in video games because of the interactive nature of a game. Someone playing through Soul Caliber as Ivy may not feel an emotive connection to the character, but they are certainly in control of said character. This adds yet another level of objectification by giving the player complete control over the character’s body, allowing them to manipulate a character that was designed to be highly sexualized in any way they choose.

    And yes, it’s absolutely true that you can take control of a masculine character as well, but there are very different dynamics at play there. Again, the types of characters most often contrasted with sexually objectified feminine characters represent male power fantasies, not sexual objectification.

  2. peterguerber
    February 28, 2013 at 3:15 am

    First of all I just want to say that the target audience for these games is most likely prepubescent boys who have no idea how breasts work. I still remember going over to my friend’s house in middle school to play Soul Caliber 2, where he would constantly cycle through the female characters to show me which one had the best boobs. I think this is what the developers had in mind. They weren’t necessarily trying to be sexist (though I won’t deny that they did a horrible job in that respect), but rather they were trying to add something to make people pay attention to their game. That’s what boob physics really are, a cry for attention. This is clearly the case when you think about how Dead or Alive went from fighting to beach volleyball. However, when the boob physics are the selling point of a game, that just tells me that the developers were too lazy to put anything substantial, which honestly just makes the game less appealing.

    • March 10, 2013 at 2:26 pm
      They weren’t necessarily trying to be sexist …

      I don’t think that makes it OK to be sexist, FYI.

      That’s what boob physics really are, a cry for attention.

      Right — at the expense of women’s bodies.

  3. Obligatory
    February 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm


  4. patcrosmun
    February 28, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    My biggest issue with this whole situation is that although things such as “boob physics” undoubtedly objectify women, most gamers don’t sit down to a game thinking “let me objectify the shit out of this chick” when they play a game. Yes, there are guys that will play with or against female characters because “hey female characters are designed to be attractive I might as well enjoy.” They [Male gamers] are not really proceeding into a game for cheap thrills there are other objectives that need to be achieved after all T&A are just perks. Lets face it if one wants to objectify women, how can we forget “the internet is for porn.” I’m not trying to say that misogyny is ok, its not, but I am saying that many gamers don’t seek to objectify women by playing games, it is often simply a consequence of the form. Although I suppose there is the whole teens staring at characters breasts issue. the exploration of sexuality and sexual curiosity is natural we can’t really fault them for taking advantage of what is available to them. We need to change the form to do that we need to make developers understand that we as players are not ok with ridiculousness such as “boob physics.” Side note a guy who knows a good number of female martial artists, they don’t wear bikini-mail or latex cat-suits when they are going to fight they bind their breasts with ace wrap and then wear a sports bra because breasts are sensitive and leaving them exposed to unnecessary stimulation is a “distraction” can be “painful’ and is as my friend Kelsey put it “a royal pain in the ass.”

  5. March 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm
    My biggest issue with this whole situation is that although things such as “boob physics” undoubtedly objectify women, most gamers don’t sit down to a game thinking “let me objectify the shit out of this chick” when they play a game.

    … but this is a big part of the problem being identified here: the gamers in your example don’t choose to objectify women, but rather participate in objectification simply because they perceive that to be normal. Isn’t that a lot worse? And relegating it to a “consequence of the form” is a pretty major cop out.

    • cristina
      March 16, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      I agree with the above comment, the fact that gamers participate in the clear objectification of women simply because its the norm, is far worse then them choosing to objectify women. The fact that the images in this blog post are considered normal is the objectification. The majority of the characters are barely clothed, and simply portrayed an unrealistic idealized version of women simply to satisfy the ideal of the male gamers seeing as most of the games are targeted towards them.

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