Hairstyles In Video Games Really Need To Improve
11.02.2024 - 19:39
Creating a character is one of the most significant moments of any Elden Ring playthrough. Sure, your character will probably wear a helmet that’s going to cover their faces for 90% of the game, but still, customization matters. One thing I didn’t remember about Elden Ring, however, is how disappointing its selection of hairstyles can be. Both males and females – sorry, Type A and Type B – have access to the same hair options, and they still manage to be lackluster. All that said, this hairy conundrum extends well beyond Elden Ring. For a while, hairstyles have been lacking in video games. From the rugged buzzcuts of every space marine in existence to that borderline stereotypical dreadlock fade developers are now giving to every black character, it’s time for video games to pay a visit to a stylist. Because not everyone can be as stylish as Agent 47.
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It seems almost necessary for strong female leads to have a side buzz cut. For some developers, it seems as if long hair itself in women denotes weakness, and that’s pruned with a good old side shave.
This overused hairstyle trope does a disservice both to complex character writing and to real-world women. Implying feminine qualities are inherently weak, while a buzzcut imparts strength and feeds into dated stereotypes.
Yet titles like Overwatch and League of Legends lean heavily on the “tough girl side buzz” to signal their female fighters’ grit. As if Zarya or Vi would lose their muscle and battlefield prowess should they grow out a ponytail. It’s an absurd notion, not to mention artistically dull – as though creators lack innovation without this visual shorthand for “woman warrior.”
Reducing a female character to their hairstyle to communicate how strong they are is the polar opposite of empowering. Not every heroine needs a razor-shorn head to prove her steel. We already have male leads exhibiting depth and strength without resorting to universal buzzcuts. Remember the days of Infamous and GTA IV and how everyone had a buzzcut back then? We’re getting that for strong female characters now, and it’s every bit as boring as it ever was with men.
That said, a few games have incorporated side buzzcuts more organically into certain female characters. Cyberpunk 2077’s Judy Alvarez sports the shaved look to accommodate Braindance implants – the hairstyle serves a practical purpose for her technological work rather than acting as a superficial “tough girl” signifier. There’s nothing wrong with the hairdo, only with using it as a crutch.
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Hairstyles carry deep cultural meaning, yet many video games lean on locks primarily as racial signifiers rather