Fashion in games: why it matters (Topic)

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Fashion in games: why it matters


Video games are visual products. Oddly enough, there have been quite a few discussions on the role of fashion in games, whether it's content or just fun game mechanics. It might seem like taking care of clothes in the context of creating a game is superficial, and I understand why they think so.

After all, there are quite a few cool games out there without characters dressed up in style. And not all game designers have to be great connoisseurs of fashion [even though games are already difficult to create]. But at the same time, why not consider this issue in terms of possibilities? This topic is posed by Victoria Trans, Communications Director of Kitfox Games, in her talk “Why fashion in games sucks and why you should care about it” at GDC 2019. Gamasutra chose the main thing from her words.

Fashion matters in games

As Victoria says, by "fashion" she does not mean high fashion from the catwalks. She even puts into this concept a simple style of a T-shirt and sweatpants - after all, they are also part of her.

We are all familiar with such a thing as a "first impression", when in the first 2 seconds of meeting someone, you are obliged to form some kind of opinion about him. Age, gender, socioeconomic status, occupation, personality, etc. Usually comes out very incorrectly, but nevertheless, it is inevitable, because ... brains.


Often in games, we come across clothing designs that lack information or context. This information is very poor and doesn't make your character meaningful in design or feel.

As an example, Victoria cites Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles and Jill Valentine from Resident Evil 3. Rex is a diver, but it's hard to understand without context, and Jill is no different from any other character, and you can't tell that she is YG, not to mention the fact that she is also a police officer.


Well-implemented clothing in a game can immerse you in a particular era that you want to draw attention to, describe the environment in which it is located, reinforce or destroy the image of the fantastic lands that you have created. Where is your character from? What happened to him in the past that influenced today? How can you identify a villain or a hero?


Fashion is a complex language that can help improve our understanding of the game's environment, and for game designers it can help build a world without walls and text. You can certainly love the way Jill Valentine is dressed, but fashion in games has to say something to the player, whatever.

Incorrect usage

Research by the Quantic Foundry found that for women and non-binary people, fantasy was one of the two main motivations for play [it defines fantasy as being able to be someone or somewhere else]. The ability to feel connected to the character you are playing is possibly closely related to fashion.

And this does not depend on the specific game: Halo, Monster Hunter, The Sims, whatever - you want to feel “cool”, “powerful” or otherwise, depending on the title you choose. Clothes connect you to your character.

However, due to the fact that style and fashion can be influenced by personal preferences or different cultures, it can be spoiled. Fashion is often overused and the most famous example of this is the sexualization of a character.


Victoria refers to Kotaku's article “The Unexplained Sexuality of Ivy Valentine,” where the author describes the revealing women’s clothing as follows: “These outfits tell us nothing about the characters wearing them. Sometimes they directly contradict the stories and personalities of the women in them. " But at the same time, the author emphasizes that even in this case, it is not necessary to remove sexuality.

As Trance writes:

“To be clear, sexuality is inherently not bad, but that does not mean that it should be used constantly. This does not mean that a sexy outfit should be the only way to show a female character. "

Another abuse of fashion is the constant reference to a particular culture. For example, to the American patriotism that we see so often. Now imagine a world where any American character will always wear things with the American flag, and will always be loud and aggressive. Everywhere - in any game or movie. It will be a very boring and monotonous world, besides, it will also be furious over time.


On the other hand, the Geeky Baju Project, which explores the suppression of popular culture and traditional clothing, is a cool example of the use of culture of a particular nationality. Its essence is that the creator of the project depicts the costumes of characters from films, games and books as they would look in a traditional South Asian style. She does this not for fun, from the category: "How would the clothes of the characters in the game look if they were from South Asia," but to show how textiles can express ideas and the inner world of characters.


Fashion & Gameplay

Not many games use mod as part of their gameplay. For the most part, it is just another way to introduce microtransactions or costemization. However, there are other examples as well. In the mobile game Love Nikki, the gameplay revolves around clothing and depending on it, it will be easier / harder for you to fight or complete quests. AAA projects are lagging behind this, however, in the same Hitman or Yakuza 0, dressing up a character is a gameplay feature [in Yakuza 0, the character's appearance does not change, however, in the inventory you can put on your character different shirts, scarves or other items of clothing that will give him different boosts - WorldOfTopics].

At the end

Fashion is a very diverse field for experimentation and full of inspiration, it occupies a huge layer of information flow today, and it can always be introduced into the game in a special way to show the character from different angles.

The Topic of Article: Fashion in games: why it matters.
Author: Jake Pinkman