Hotness is often regarded as a highly subjective quality. However, in the realm of video games, there are certain objective traits that'll give a lady a leg up.
1. Unique Wardrobe
It's hard enough telling women apart in real life. Any two women within five pounds of each other are all but indistinguishable from each other; and if she's barefoot in the kitchen making us a sandwich, all bets are off. Therefore, it's wildly unreasonable to expect video game artists to create women that are physically distinct from each other. The next best thing is to give each one a distinct wardrobe.
A technique first mastered by Mortal Kombat
A major part of hotness is people knowing who the smeg you are. In a world rendered by middle-aged Asian men dating body pillows, this only going to happen if your clothes are one-of-a-kind. This is also requisite for later qualities. For example...
In video games, generally speaking, characters do stuff. The exception being video games targeted at female demographics. From the player's perspective, every video game boils down to pushing the right sequence of buttons at the correct speed; sometimes with your feet and sometimes while flailing your arms about like a Down Syndrome patient after eight cups of coffee.
The only things that actually separate two video games from one another are the speed at which the player must execute the button sequence and how quickly the player can master it. So, in order to convince pasty teenagers and adults not having sex to repeatedly shell-out $40 for the joy of pushing buttons for hours on end while staring blankly at their TV, video game makers have to dress up the button sequence as the steps in accomplishing something vaguely consequential. (Most often killing a bunch of stuff or mastering a different game that the player is too lazy to master in real life.)
Part of the illusion is, of course, how the characters are dressed. For male characters, this means wearing something iconically connected with the action at hand (i.e. fatigues in a military game, a team uniform in a sports game, or a $400 plain white t-shirt in something endorsed by a hip-hop artist). For female characters, practicality of wardrobe works against hotness at all times. Therefore, creating a truly hot character means putting her in the outfit least suited for the task she's about to undertake. The more absurd, the better.
Because nothing says zombie killing like a Cynthia Rowley
(Editor's note: No one who reads Cracked will get that reference. Think of something else.)
As awesome as a video game filled with hot girls is, the player does the vast majority of their time staring at the character they are vicariously living through. While some gamers do wildly over-identify with the character in question (see: Cosplayers), most are well aware that they are just looking at a glorified cartoon.
Delta-7, Roadrunner spotted
It is a simple fact that familiarity has an effect on the perception of beauty. While an exotic Brazilian bikini model (we'll give you a second to Google that and come back) is unquestionably hot, you're not nearly as likely to fantasize about her as you are blond-haired, blue-eyed (we assume), meat-and-potatoes Scarlett Johansson.
That is solely because you've seen Scarlett for longer periods of time than Aline Nakashima (and possibly racism). Therefore, the more time you spend staring at a video game character, the hotter said cartoon becomes. Thus, the most memorably hot characters are the ones you yourself get to finger (get it? It's ironic, a pun, and a motivation to end your own loveless existence). Of course, if you stare at anything for hours on end isolated from all human contact, you'll want to get squelchy with it eventually.
"You've been a bad girl haven't you?"
Serious gamers are, more than anything, avoiding having to use their higher brain functions.
This or Gears of War? ... Our point exactly.
However, their brains are not entirely dormant during gameplay. They need basic motor functions and short-term memory working to play the game, the language center to string together excessively obscene curses to shout at the screen, the "faggot" center to communicate with other players (online games only) and the auditory center to rock out to Rush. Yet, given the high degree of ADD in the average gamer, this is not quite enough to keep them from dropping the controller the moment a squirrel runs by carrying a shiny thing.
Some games fill this gap with a complex game mythology, so that the player avoids distraction by trying to wrap their mind around the zen of chocobo training (and also how much "chocobo" sounds like a euphemism for masturbation). Other games allow the player to perform completely useless (in gaming terms) stunts, such as stealing cars, playing with an improbably accurate "gravity gun", or the ability to kill anything that moves. Then again, you can just make your main character a hot girl so the gamer just keeps thinking about sweet, sweet digital lovin'.
So, in the age of rated-M best-sellers, why aren't more games focused on buxom heroines traversing terrains in the nude? Because nobody really wants to stare at the same naked chick longer than it takes to train your chocobo. Thus, the necessity of the tease factor. A girl you have to imagine naked is more interesting for a longer period of time than a naked girl whose Tifa you can't Cloud (or, in Swaim's case: Sephiroth). That's why the naked part of the lap dance is the shortest part of the lap dance.
But there's another reason that form-fitting trumps ho-bag scantiness: real girls are more likely to do it.
5. Cosplay frequency
There is much to say about Cosplayers in the vein of "pathetic", "sad", or "troubling". However, there is also much to be said the vein of "homina homina homina".
homina homina homina
Despite the crappiness of certain anime, there is a kind of respectability in getting the costume exactly right. After all, despite any assumptions we make about his personal life, you really do have to give it up for the guy with a perfect Klingon forehead. Anime, and the many video games which use its artistic sensibilities, is most respectable as a costume source by the complete ridiculousness of the outfits. Seriously, think how hard those things are to make. A convincing Guile costume is fifty bucks at any military surplus. An accurate Wakka? That's gonna require a few hours at the sewing machine. Yes, it's sort of sad that someone would put that much time and energy into making such a costume but it does count as being productive, whereas taking first in your fantasy football league, you know, doesn't.
Character sexiness is highly influenced by familiarity and fantasizing elements. But, you know what's even better than "controlling" a sexy girl is a scanty costume?
Being the guy taking this picture.
While in-game, certain characters may only rank as cute, they quickly become awesome when you see an actual girl in the same outfit. This is a character you like. A real girl likes that character. Holy shit! You have something in common with a real girl! Quite simply, the more and hotter girls you see cosplaying a character, the hotter that character becomes in your mind. Cosplay combines familiarity, fantasy and tease-factor (because there is no way that girl is giving you her number, unless you happen to show up in an equally accurate costume from the same game).
6. Game popularity (weighted factor)
This is a further extension of the familiarity factor. Quite simply, you are more likely to fantasize about a character from an awesome game than one that made you want to punch the production staff. This is a weighted factor a couple reasons. Firstly, it's the only factor the game designer really has no control over. Sure, they made the game, but they can't make it popular. Many completely awesome games slip through the cracks of popular praise (see: Chrono Trigger), while people keep buying skateboarding games for reasons that no one can adequately explain. Secondly, popularity shifts. A strong starter can be forgotten and a sleeper release can become iconic after being on shelves for a couple years.
In an odd way, game awesomeness reflects on character awesomeness. A sexy girl in a boring game is simply less hot than a girl of equal or lesser sexiness in a freaking amazing game.
Also, awesome games get more fan art.