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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

“how Sony made sure everyone would see uncanny CGI nudes resembling Ellen Page”

ellenpagenude

Hollywood Hates Women, Part 544,654: Videogame Edition. From Rob Beschizza at Boing Boing:

Ellen Page recently starred in Sony’s video game Beyond: Two Souls, her likeness and performance captured and used for the CGI epic’s protagonist, Jodie Holmes. The game was a hit–popular enough for nude images of Jodie, generated by removing steam from a shower scene, to end up “leaked” online. As puerile as they were uncanny, however, no-one took much notice.

But then Sony did something really, really stupid: it threatened anyone publishing the images and ordered them to take them off the internet.

Boing Boing then links to FastCoDesign, where John Brownlee explains why it’s difficult to believe that getting these images out onto the Net isn’t precisely what Sony intended:

[I]f [game developer] Quantic Dream never meant for players to see Jodie Holmes naked, why did a Quantic Dream artist spend time painstakingly modeling her breasts, nipples, vagina, and pubic hair? A 3-D model is usually as sexless as a wax doll underneath its clothing, because designing games is expensive, and creating assets for things players aren’t going to see is a waste of time. That a Quantic Dream artist would unnecessarily create a sexually realistic body for a 3-D model, then task Ellen Page to bring it to life without her knowledge, seems creepy at best, and a violation at worst.

Brownlee is exaggerating a little: the nude images — which I won’t link to but which are easily found if you want to see them — do not appear to include a realistic vagina or pubic hair. But there’s still the matter of why there’s a shower scene in a video game for a female character, but not for a male one.

As an interesting side note, Brownlee goes on to speculate on the likelihood that Page’s contract included a non-nudity clause, and then to examine what exactly constitutes nudity in light of today’s cultural norms and technological capabilities, considering that these imagines are not actually of a nude Page but an artist’s rendering based on her non-nude performance capture. It’s startlingly reminiscent of some of the themes explored in the film The Congress.


  • I should point out that the game in question is a Playstation 3 exclusive, and therefore exists on the one of the least hackable of all commercial game platforms. In order to ‘remove the steam’ from a shower scene, whoever did this would probably need access to a Sony-licensed PS3 developer kit.

    But then again, plenty of those around I suppose. It doesn’t have to mean anything.

  • It does seem to be that some hacked the developer’s servers, not the consumer version of the game.

  • Ferric24

    In defense of the studio. There actually was a male shower see in the last game they released with male nudity.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I call bs on the headline. What is Sony (the publisher, not the designer) supposed to do? I’m not really buying the “it wasn’t a story until Sony spoke up” line of reasoning, now that everyone is making it a story. If it wasn’t a story when blogs were posting the images before, then it’s still not a story.
    Or do we expect Sony to ignore the non-story, just long enough for us to decide that Sony hates women since it wouldn’t do anything to protest the posting of the images?
    I’m also not impressed with the way Boing Boing and FastCoDesign are using the images with the blur bars over the naughty bits, rather than just screen-capping the PG-13-style cropping the game uses.
    I kinda feel like Brownlee is pulling a lot out of his ass, with respect to texture modeling and Ellen Page’s contract. Some designers note that modeling nipples is common practice as models become more photorealistic, that the skin textures (at least) might well be off the shelf, and don’t really involve that much in the way of people-hours anyway. And the “no nudity clause” thing is, as presented, at best an unsourced assertion.
    Regarding the very existence of the shower scene: one could chalk it up as a French thing. (Quanatic Dream is a Paris-based developer.) They might even have planned to have the nudity appear in the final game, but got overruled, possibly by Sony, in favor of not upsetting the ESRB. Quantic Dream’s games tend to feature long sequences of the player character engaged in mundane tasks. There is also an in-game thematic reason to justify it. The main character, who Ellen Page voiced and mo-capped, lives with an invisible entity following her at all times (the second of the titular Two Souls). She is quite literally never alone.

  • So there’s an in-game reason why she’s being watched in the shower?

    That doesn’t really help. :->

    What Sony should be doing is not treating women — or anyone, but it’s almost always women — like sex objects in the first place.

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