Fighting Game Friday: Filipinos Represent!

Today, I want to talk about the impact that fighting games has had here in the Philippines and the representation we have as a result of that love for fighting games.

Fighting games are one of the most popular genres in my country. There isn’t a single PS2 that doesn’t have Tekken 5, and not a single millennial who hasn’t at least played it once with cousins. In a country that didn’t have the best internet for the longest time, couch versus was the way to play multiplayer.

In fact, we love fighting games so much that we have had several high level players on the international stage. Most notable of which, is the infamous Fchamp who dominated the Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 scene for a while.

So it’s only natural that the devs start to notice and finally give us the representation we want!

Josie Rizal

I love Josie, though I am biased because us Filipinos are so rarely represented as characters in famous titles.

Her design is excessively Filipino. Her outfit is loose as befitting a tropical country. The color of her clothes are also the primary colors of our national flag! I also love how the sun design is incorporated seamlessly into her sandals, earrings, belt and necklace. Even the flower on her wrist is a sampaguita, our national flower.

Some complain about her crybaby tendencies, but her personality is an exaggerated version of the Filipino athlete. A lot of competitive Filipino athletes cry when they win, so it ends up being pretty accurate. Plus, EVERYONE in Tekken is exaggerated. Paul Phoenix is an American stereotype just as much as Bob. Claudio is a suave Italian gentleman to the nth degree. Miguel is a rude and boisterous macho man.

Why is this a problem?

*eagle screech in the background*

To her, it means her training has paid off, she didn’t get her ass beat, and she actually beat an opponent she was nervous fighting. I think she’s a nice contrast to all the confident asian genki fighters that Tekken has had. If she was bubbly, she would have just been another Xiaoyu. Hell, she’s also supposed to be just a supermodel who happens to have kickboxing as a very good hobby. She’s not a real fighter yet, and she’s up against experienced veterans, or people from organizations.

That makes her great in my book.

Talim

The first Filipina fighting game character. Her name literally means sharp in my language, and I can’t say that doesn’t fit her fighting style of sharp stick strikes, elbows and knees.

Her design is inspired by more ancient forms of Filipino attire. In fact, it’s from a time when we weren’t even called Filipinos yet. The outfit harkons back to the Polynesian-esque roots of our country before the colonization of Spain. Her attunement to the winds is a reference to our formerly pagan heritage. Old tradition believed that all things, wether animate or inanimate, held life. So, it was only natural the indigenous people worshipped nature itself.

Her outfit,like Josie, is very light. A tropical country calls for light clothing, and even moreso if you want to use your wind powers to the best of your ability.

Her elbow blades are also a direct homage to the Filipino weapon martial arts, Eskrima and Arnis, which both incorporate sticks into their combat. Of course, her fighting style isn’t at all close to actual Eskrima, which is a lot more brutal and practical than the wind dancer’s moves.

Out of all the characters we’ll be talking about today, Talim is the best representation of our old culture.

Nicole (DOA4)

Okay, so I’m not talking about what she looks like just yet. I want you to picture how Dead Or Alive, a franchise popular for its celebration of the female form, is going to portray a copper skinned woman from a tropical country.

Pretty sexy, right?

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Well, there she is.

That’s not a mod.

The 2nd Filipina to ever appear in a fighting game, is a Spartan from HALO. In a Dead or Alive game. Wearing the complete opposite of what most all the women usually wear in this series.

I love it.

Her entire existence is amazing. She’s canon IN THE HALO UNIVERSE, but not canon in the DOA4 universe. We only know she’s Filipina because of some background fluff in her bio, where it mentions she is a Filipina born in Mars.

If you’re wondering why she’s even Filipino, I have a theory.

One of the most popular Filipino characters in science fiction is a character from the popular novel/movie Starship Troopers named Juan “Johnny” Rico.

A Filipino born in Mars who becomes a space soldier!

Her existence may SEEM random, but I like to think it’s just a very obscure reference on Koei Tecmo’s part, and the dozens of us who got the reference appreciate that reference very much.

To conclude this post, I want to share with you the culmination of my country’s love for fighting games. This is a Filipino-made fighting game successfully funded by Kickstarter called Bayani, and the demo is out right now!

Try it here, it’s a bit rough around edges,but the mechanics are fantastic.

So, that’s it for today. I hope you guys enjoyed, and let me know what fighting game characters originated from your country!

In particular, I wanna hear resident MoeGamer Pete Davison has to say about representation in fighting games!

7 thoughts on “Fighting Game Friday: Filipinos Represent!

  1. I didn’t even know Talim was Filipina? That was certainly an informative post. I can see where you’re coming from with wanting good representation and characterization. From my perspective, I rarely see that many Black/African fighting game characters who aren’t insulting stereotypes or are low-tier characters. Yes, I can name a few exceptions, but that’s not the point. Positive representation matters.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m not familiar with Gears of War, but I see what you’re saying. Most characters are either generic Black best friend types to the main (mostly Caucasian) character, some generic powerhouse, comic relief character, or some gangster-type character especially if they’re a villain. Have you ever been concerned when it came to a Filipino/a character being represented assuming if they were represented at all in media?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was wondering about that. It’s certainly true in America with the Latino community being stereotyped. I have to facepalm when people confuse or conflate Filipinos with those in Central and South America. Colonialism sucks.

        This is a subject I’m passionate about. Since mainstream media isn’t going to move forward with representation, I felt compelled to do so with my multi-ethnic casts in my stories. I’ve made my Black characters the furthest thing from stereotypical as an obvious one. If it’s of any interest, I’m working on creating some Filipino characters for my two main fiction series.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. No problem, Lumi. I always want to make sure I’m representing ethnic groups the right way. I’ve personally asked my friends of difference races if something was good or not when I created characters. Thank you.

        Liked by 1 person

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