Batman Arkham Knight – No Mesh Swapping
Video games don’t have the best of reputations when it comes to the way different genders, and women in particular, are represented. Games have been accused of sexual objectification of female characters (think Lara Croft) and that portrayal of women is just one element in a wider discussion of sexism in the video game industry. It’s a topic that has generated fierce debate since a part of the gaming community is notoriously bellicose and vehemently disputes such claims of sexism.
This video however finds an ingenious way to demonstrate just to what extent the behaviour of female video game characters is sexualized. It takes snippets of gameplay from the 2015 bestselling game Batman: Arkham Knight. Then, using a technique called “no mesh swapping”, it has given the Batman character Catwoman’s look and vice versa. (If the concept of mesh swapping is alien to you, as it is to me, this site gives a somewhat comprehensible explanation for the layperson). This technique only switches the characters’ look, not their voices or animation. This means that we get to see the bulky Batman move around like Catwoman does, and the result is revealing. The overly and overtly sexualized animation becomes apparent and laughable – just have a look at the cutscene around 09:30 in the video embedded above.
This swapping of skins by YouTuber sn0wsh00 is a brilliant yet elegant strategy to lay bare the objectification of female characters. (For film buffs, there’s an added element of interest to this video. Throughout the video, three different versions of the batsuit are used. It starts off with the game’s default batsuit, changes into Michael Keaton’s 1989 costume three minutes into the video and then changes into the Dark Knight’s attire around the six minute mark).