Given that this article is about boobs and something called The Boob Jam, it is assumed to be NSFW.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a straight man and liking boobs, and wanting your characters to have nice ones, this inevitably causes some issues with the people who actually have to deal with having breasts attached to them on a day-to-day basis.
To solve this, games journalist Jenn Frank has proposed The Boob Jam, a game jam dedicated to breasts, real or fake, big or small, trans or cis, female or male, with just one design criterion:
“Make a game that talks about boobs without resorting to the ‘straight male gaze.’”
Tits or GTFO?
To people who fancy breasts, they’re just fun sacks of fat on a person’s chest, but to the person who owns those things, there are mounds (sorry) of stories behind them that are not being told. Some people have to deal with the unwanted and unfounded social stigma that having large breasts means you are a more sexual person than someone who has smaller breasts. Some people have to deal with the embarrassment of having breasts so large that they distract others when you’re talking to them, so invasive and burdensome that the person has to wear stuffy turtlenecks or sweatshirts every day because if they wore something comfortable like a tank top, they’d be called a slut for letting their cleavage show. Maybe they want a reduction, but they’re scared of surgery. Or they’re scared people will notice and judge them for it. They have to decide what’s worse – what other people think or the crippling back pain.
Some people have to deal with having breasts too small, wondering if others will value them as much as someone with a full, “womanly” chest. Some people’s breasts give them dysphoria. Some people (sorry, I mean everyone with boobs) have trouble finding the right bra size. Wearing bras can hurt. They’re uncomfortable. Remember when you had to start wearing them? It sucked. Did you cry? You can’t wear that new dress you got, because your bra straps show through, and you’re too flat to wear a strapless one. Shirts look baggy on you because you have no tits to hold them up.
Your baby is hungry, but you can’t breastfeed in public, because breasts are still seen as inherently sexual, and someone might accuse you of indecent exposure. You have to go in for your first mammogram, and you’re terrified. You felt a lump during your monthly self-exam, but you’re too scared to tell anyone about it. You don’t even know what cancer is supposed to feel like. Has that bump always been there? Maybe. Maybe you don’t have breasts. Maybe you want them. How much will they cost? Should you go through with the procedure? How big should you go? Is there even such thing as a “tasteful” breast size?
A Boob, By Any Other Name…
These are just some of the experiences that can come with having breasts, and they are precisely what The Boob Jam is meant to embrace.
What if you had to watch a sexy videogame character also buy bras, cry softly when she can't find one that fits, and go in for mammograms
— Jenn Frank (@jennatar) July 30, 2013
But wait! Women are always complaining about big-boobed broads in video games, aren’t they? How is having a game jam that revolves around boobs not sexist? The Boob Jam is meant as an opportunity to take boobs back. It’s about giving people the chance to see them as not exclusively sexual, for once, to view them through a lens that is female, or queer, rather than the straight male gaze we are used to.
A boob, in any given context, is still just a boob.
It’s about demystifying boobs, reappropriating boobs and appreciating or deprecating boobs in a way that is not male-centric. If you’re a cis or transwoman, a lesbian, a gay man, a transman, someone who doesn’t identify anywhere on the gender binary, or even a cis guy who’s down with challenging his own perceptions, this game jam is for you.
I don’t know if I’ll be participating in the jam myself, but I would love it if someone made a QWOP-like game about taking your bra off without taking your shirt off (a skill worth mastering) or an FPS where a breastfeeding mother gets harassed to the point of blasting her foes with breastmilk. Please. Please someone make this.
For the rest of the who, what, when, why and how, visit the Tumblr page created specifically for the jam. There’s no information yet on when it will take place, but we’ll be sure to let you know, and we’ll definitely be sure to gather up the results.
Remember, in the words of Jenn Frank, “You, too, can be a boob ally.”