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Are women poorly represented in video games?

Interview: The creator of Supremacy MMA on depicting the fairer sex - fairly...

Teeny bikinis, minimal dialogue and curves from another planet. All standard fare when it comes to women in - particularly violent - video games.

Yet despite the modern software industry giving us plenty of girls who "kick ass" (minus the bubblegum), are in-game depictions of girls archaic and unjust?

Indie developer Kung Fu Factory certainly believes so. The US studio is readying its take on the MMA, Supremacy, which releases on 360 and PS3 via 505 games in June, and is promising a title that can stand up against the finest in the genre.

But what's grabbed all the headlines isn't the Supremacy's fast-and-furious gameplay, nor its vicious finishing moves; it's KFF's decision to include female fighters - a first amongst peers such as THQ's UFC and EA's MMA. The studio wants to avoid "putting women in the 'princess who need rescuing' role", or objectifying them.

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To be clear, these aren't your typical underwear-modelling, impossibly proportioned video game gals; there's little time to be coquettish when you're beating the stuffing out someone in a cage. Frankly, they're not exactly shy of smashing you in the face.

We caught up with KFF co-founder Ricci Rukavina to ask his thoughts on the use of women in games - and why his team decided to cut back on the titillation, and let the Supremacy's girls' fighting speak for itself...

Why did you decide to include female fighters in Supremacy?

It's interesting that it's taken so long actually, we've seen plenty of female MMA fights and it didn't make a lot of sense 'not' to include them. It is part of the sport after all. And it helped that 505 Games was really supportive and rallied around the idea.

Once that happened we were able to start working with fighters like Felice "Lil Bulldog" Herrig and Michele "Diablita" Gutierrez. They're super excited about it and they're just as determined, just as committed to their craft and just as bad-ass as any male fighters out there. They also love games - so that's cool too.

Would you say they are represented in Supremacy a little differently than most women in macho fighting games?

If by macho fighting games, you mean games like Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur or Tekken, I would say the main difference is women are typically represented in those games with an exaggerated sense of body proportion and are often times overtly sexualized.

For instance, look at the Dead or Alive series: Ivy Valentine from Soul Calibur, or even the nearly topless Catwoman from Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, and compare them to the real fighters in Supremacy MMA and you'll see what I mean.

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Also, there's no supernatural elements in our game, so you won't see any dragon-punching or six-armed women like Spiral from X-Men: Children of the Atom and MvC2. Not that there's anything wrong with that in those games - its bad ass, but it's just as bad-ass to have real females in a real MMA game. So we represent them as they are from their clothes to their stories to their fighting style.

Is this a real point of different between you and the likes of EA's MMA and THQ's UFC?

It's one of many differences between Supremacy MMA and the other MMA games on the market today. Obviously, THQ's UFC game doesn't feature women because Dana White has all but banned women from ever competing in the UFC.

Strikeforce is definitely more ahead of the times than UFC as they promote female fighters on their fight cards, but EA chose to exclude them from their MMA game, as many other games do. Bellator has them on their cards, and on and on - so we hope this is just the beginning for female MMA fighters in games.

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