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Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy: Appropriate Character Portrayals with Subliminal Gender Bias

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4 Responses

  1. Sputnik says:

    I was wondering what you think specifically about the vary death animations between Crash and Coco in the game. For example, the game shows Crash being sliced in half by a sword, but if the player is Coco then we receive the angel death animation. Do you think the willingness to show Crash’s body mutilated in cartoonish fashion while Coco receives a generic animation is rooted in subtle sexism?

    • Amanda Luginbuhl says:

      It very well could be. In interviews several of the developers show an immense amount of joy for being able to add Coco as a fully playable character in the remastered trilogy, which could imply that any decisions that would create sexist roots were unconsciously made more than anything, though that doesn’t excuse the fact that the undertones still exist. It could also be that because the original trilogy is from the 90’s and had more blatant sexist themes back then (1: Crash’s girlfriend in Crash 1; 2: Coco and Crash’s girlfriend being the only two female characters in all three games combined) that the underlying mentality was kept intact when remastering it for the current generation in their efforts to remain as faithful to the old games as possible.

      I see the disparity between the treatment of Crash and Coco as a double edged sword. On one hand, since Crash is the main character and having Coco as a fully playable character wasn’t introduced until later in the development cycle, it is unsurprising that more time would be spent on small details and extra animations for him. However, since Crash and Coco have a similar body size and shape in order to maintain proper platforming controls, it seems that Crash’s animations could have been copied over and tweaked to fit Coco with minimal effort. For specifically the death regarding being sliced in half, I can see how it would be more difficult to animate Coco that way seeing as her whole body is covered in overalls whereas Crash has a fairly clean split between his pants and his torso; however, for that particular instance they still could have made what is perhaps a simpler animation for Coco and to individualize her more, such as being thrown out of bounds from the weight of the impact. And there are other instances where Crash and Coco do share unique animations with their own twist, like when they are crushed by a pillar or electrocuted.

      Ultimately, I don’t know if it’s necessarily an unwillingness to give Coco similar gruesome deaths more than the allocation of developer time that lends itself to the sexist undertones of female under-representation. And whether it was intentional or not, it is disappointing to see the game take such a large misstep in their efforts of bringing more progressive character representation to the forefront.

      • Sputnik says:

        Thanks for the reply!
        That was my assumption as well, that Coco missing certain death animations was more due to a lack of time than an unwillingness to depict her a certain way, even though it does carry with it some unintended sexist undertones, as you said. Ultimately their willingness/excitement to include Coco when the game would’ve gone over fine without her leaves me more pleased with the devs than anything, but it’s always important to take a critical stance.

        • Amanda Luginbuhl says:

          I agree, and while their implementation of Coco wasn’t perfect, it’s far from a straight up bad or offensive representation. They still put a significant amount of effort into giving her a unique and fun personality through the animations she was given, and I was very happy that they expanded her as a nearly full playable character instead of sidelining her to the same four or so levels she was initially a part of back in the day. In the long run I still had a very fun time playing the games as Coco.

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