Above is an image that over the course of the past few days has been posted to multiple subreddits, along with 19 others, all under the title “Have you heard about how social justice activists/warriors are planning to kill gaming? Well, it turns out that’s wrong. They’re not planning. They’ve already been working at it for years.” This photoset has caused monumental drama in reddit’s gaming communities, with some lauding it and some criticizing it.
The image above shows a promotional screenshot from Bioshock: Infinite, where a character, Elizabeth, is shown wearing a rather low cut outfit by the standards of 1912, the game’s setting. Below that are screencaps of two articles discussing the outfit and a tweet from controversial game critic Anita Sarkeesian criticizing Irrational Games’ choice in Elizabeth’s dress. The bottom portion of the image shows another screenshot from Infinite, showing Elizabeth now wearing a white blouse with all of the buttons done up.
The implication is supposed to be that Irrational caved to the demands of critics and changed Elizabeth’s outfit to something much more conservative, supposedly proving something or other about the continuing dastardly plot to destroy video games because… for shits and giggles I suppose.
The funny reality is that anybody who has actually played Bioshock: Infinite will know that both outfits are present in the game and [spoiler alert!] Elizabeth changes from the more conservative one into the low cut corset about halfway through the game and both outfits get just about equal screen time in the game. Not to mention that the second outfit is the one featured on most of the Infinite merchandise. Take the poster on my wall, for instance.
For someone supposedly extremely passionate about the state of the video game industry, and considering Infinite’s popularity and the time it spent in the headlines, this seems like a rather bizarre mistake to make. Rather ironic, really, considering how many of the rebuttals leveraged at people who critique video games for their diversity insist that they do not care at all about the industry, but instead are only interested in pushing some sort of agenda. Absolutely fascinating.
And for the kicker, it is worth noting that Irrational did, in fact, change the model for Elizabeth’s second dress at some point during development. It is unknown whether or not they did so in response to the controversy about how low cut it was for the era, or if it was just one of the many small changes that get made during the development and design process.
Both of these models are present in the game’s files and the one used in the game is on the right. Although the colouring in the first picture more accurately matches that of the used model, the neckline of the dress and shape of Elizabeth’s waist resemble that the old model much, much more. As you can see the corset of the dress in the newer model is much less sexualized than the (mostly) unused model, with a more natural looking waist, a higher neckline of the corset and less noticeable cleavage. There is also a lace trim at the top of the corset that is not present in neither the unused model nor the one in the screenshot at the top of this article.
This change was exactly what the creator of the graphic was looking for to complain about, yet somehow neglected to mention at all. Perhaps because making a neckline ever so marginally higher and adding a lace trim to a character design is not nearly as sensational as implying a complete redesign.
The conclusion? They did change Elizabeth’s outfit, just not to the one that the person behind this infographic claims, and not nearly by as much as would constitute an actual change to the character’s design.
And even then, would the entire gaming industry really be dismantled by the absence of a single pair of breasts?