When I first saw Ana, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Publisher Krafton’s attempt to put a face on his artificial “virtual human” technology, I was disappointed to see that this supposed Web 3.0 innovation was really just another beautiful, pale girl. She is airbrushed, but still noticeable. She bites her tongue and looks at you. And I’m afraid she’s just there to be seen, and not much else.
Krafton released his first pics of Ana on June 15. We got two close-ups of a vaguely East Asian woman with all the expected egirl equipment, colored hair and adventurous ear piercings. Ana, created with Unreal Engine, has one lightning bolt tattooed on her finger. It is clearly visible when she puts her pinky up against her lips to stare at you with clear, amorous intentions.
Krafton unveiled its “virtual human” technology in February with a technical demonstration shows “motion-capture-based lively movements, pupil movements made possible by rig technology, colorful facial expressions and even the soft and baby hairs on the skin.” The publisher announced his intention to use carefully designed virtual people, not only in his games but in his Esports demonstrations, and in the hope of creating more virtual influencers and singers who “robot” Instagrammer Miquela.
They’s influencers and singers, plural, so Ana’s probably just the beginning of what I can only imagine being a circus troupe of PUBG robot brudar. Robot brides are especially trendy right now, because we have not grown at all since we watched the film Her 2013. Before that, we got used to the idea that robots would be malleable, emotionless women. In other words, “perfect” women.
As early as 2011, reverent, female-coded virtual assistants such as Siri and Alexa began living in our devices, confirming the popular image of a loving, supportive electronic woman most recently informed by future-focused Y2K media – think Cortana in Halo 2001, or the virtual pop star in the 2004 Disney movie Pixel Perfect. In 2016, a man in Hong Kong spent $ 50,000 to build a robot that looked like Scarlett Johanssonwho by chance expresses the virtual assistant in the movie Her. We really have not learned anything from that movie.
Nor have we learned much from real experts in artificial intelligence, who over the years have emphasized that women-coded robots alienate human female technology users and reward harmful stereotypes about women to be servile and devoted through whatever abuse they are subjected to. 2019, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) released a publication arguing that “Siri’s ‘female’ unpredictability – and the servility expressed by so many other digital assistants projected as young women – provides a powerful illustration of gender biases encoded in technology products, pervasive in the technology sector and evident in digital skills training.” But technology companies like Krafton continue to create within these gender prejudices and sew them firmer and deeper into our social fabric.
In part, it depends games are conflicting but addictive the relationship to sex and the evil eye of the ruthless, always judgmental male gaze. Mainstream developers have sometimes tried to go beyond the archetypal video game woman to embrace more realistic depictions (to Reddit’s big disappointment), but character designs of women in video games largely remain recursive: rough and flexible. I love to embrace my inner bimbo as much as everyone else, but when stiletto heels with plucked waists is the only representation we have in video games, it reduces an entire gender to a repressive stereotype.
But even more than they are for compliant women, technology and video game companies are horny for the poorly defined terms “Web 3.0” and “Metaverse”. Both are intended to invoke the idea of an empowered online individual, but in practice they are usually just ways to rehabilitate and market outdated virtues (prioritization labor productivity, individual ownership) for a fresh audience. Maybe to take protection from rapidly disintegrating blockchain “innovations” who pay to win video gamesnew Web3 advocates cling to comforting images of technological advancement, including the ethereal, rude digital women who may be capable of a roundhouse kick in Deadly battle, but would never bother about your stupid NFT investment. Criticism is not in their source code.
Krafton invoked all the right buzzwords for its Ana news and wrote in a press release that “ANA is designed to engage a global audience and help establish KRAFTON’s Web 3.0 ecosystem” which will “attract Gen Z’s interest and popularity” by music and a dip in the influencer verdict.
The company declined to answer any of my questions (“Do you think Ana’s design will alienate female players?” Is Krafton doing anything to prevent Ana from relying on stereotypes? “” Can you describe how Ana’s design and capabilities appeal to Gen Z specifically? “), And said in an email to me that” there will be more messages / details in the coming weeks! “
Ideally, in the coming weeks, we will be lucky enough to get another close-up of Ana that gives the camera meaningful eyes in the bedroom, except with a little more forehead. On behalf of my generation, we can not get enough of a poreless forehead.
Sorry, I do not mean to be completely pessimistic about Krafton’s intentions. It is possible that Ana, under her neck, will contain messages indicating that she is not another repeat of male developers conquering the technology by shaping it into her preferred future – a slim, pale, obedient woman. Which, by the way, also wants to sing with “advanced voice synthesis” and become a social media phenomenon, which you would be forgiven for thinking are the only two career paths that are open to a beautiful woman.
Okay, so maybe I mean being pessimistic. It’s eternally frustrating to be a woman who’s excited about video games and the internet only to have her potential routinely diluted into the same boring tropics that a straight man depends on to get by. To make AI women who represent the same qualities into Victorians found in the restrained angel in the house is not “Web 3.0”, it is ant standard, traditionally sexist. An AI-assisted voice can be represented by any image, clump or creature, but the best Krafton can think of is a woman I’ve seen on ads and thinspiration Tumblr since I could go online.
But I should put up with it, right? This is how we live, evoke the same images and write about the same opinions that no one listens to and yet have time to disagree with. I just do not want Krafton to act like this is the future. Sometimes I feel like we’ve been stuck in the story as long as we’ve recorded it.
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