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Reader Comments (151)

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:00AM Rihahn said

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I'd just like to point out that the art in an MMO is just that, art.

It's based off of every fantasy novel/poster/album cover you've ever seen; where the men are 'roid ragin' oiled up hunks of meat and the women wear chain mail bikinis that have less fabric than a band aid - all while clinging to the leg of the afore mentioned meat as it wields an axe the size of a compact car.

Welcome to fantasy art.

The game is not trying to portray a certain reality, it's portraying hyper-stylized fantasy tropes.

My girlfriend and I had a discussion about this the day it was brought up an Blizzcon; she was very on the bandwagon after that, but after the discussion she's not so sure...

For example, she's worried about the overly-sexy portrayal of her Draenei mage in a game, but spending an hour getting ready to go see a movie in a dark room where no one can see her is perfectly acceptable. If she was truly against being over sexualized, why did she buy those pumps when a pair of speakers would actually get more use? The closets full of clothing for *every* occasion, where a dozen pairs of jeans and t-shirts would be far more functional...

You get the point.

Sure, your character is wearing a thong in battle and that's not very realistic - but tossing around fireballs, controlling demons, armies of undead, talking bipedal cows, alien goat-squids, and a freaking extra-planar army bent on the total destruction of all life in the universe... Yeah, all that's perfectly realistic, happens to me all the time.

This smacks of the debacle over the 'wardrobe malfunction' some years ago... It's a breast, there are roughly 6 billion of them in the world, get over it.

If you're really worried about how much skin you're showing, play a Tauren - they're covered in fur... And, lets face it, if the player base in general were really offended there'd be a whole lot more Tauren and Dwarven females in the game as they have decidedly more 'gameresque' physiques.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:11AM (Unverified) said

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So essientally 'deal with it ladies, this is FANTASY'?

WoW devs, when asked if cata will have less females that look like they're from a victoria's secret mag, openly laughed and basically just said 'hur hur so which issue do you want us to use? We'll use many issues to make it unique!'

If someone asked 'will we see less black characters looking like they're from Amos and Andy' and the devs responded with 'hur hur which episode would you like us to use?', would that be in any way acceptable?

Also at all the guys going 'well MEN are objectified too', way to miss the point entirely guys, 'objectifying' men is basically making them look strong, powerful, fully covered in armor and wielding a giant weapon...for women it's giant titties and chain thongs wielding a phallic weapon because oh baby work that sword.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:15AM (Unverified) said

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We get the point. She had concerns and you told her to shut up and stop whining. Well done.

Because obviously, if she likes to dress up to go out on a date then she has no right at all to complain that characters in a game are dressed in a thong. That makes ... actually no sense at all. Just read what you wrote there?

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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:23AM (Unverified) said

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couldn't agree with you more. very well put
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:34AM Rihahn said

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@cb:

I would never tell her to 'shut up', never have in the six years we've known each other... I'll assume "discussion" is a word you aren't familiar with and leave it at that.

And yes, it's totally about dressing up to go on a date. Why does she feel the need to get dressed up at all? Self esteem? She has that in spades. To appease me? Nope, she knows I'm not one for 'putting on the ritz'.

It's because she wants to look good and the social pressure that she has to, always, in public.

This same social pressure is what drives the art design in games. The systems at work go much, much deeper than the amount of skin showing on a virtual character.

I guess to simplify my point; an MMO is art, getting bent out of shape over art is dumb. If you have to get bent out of shape, find a real cause to get behind like third-world starvation or something truly important.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:16AM (Unverified) said

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personally I think WOW is one of the least offending with regards to this aspect of MMO's I tried Aion and had difficulty creating a character that didn't resemble some hentai knockoff despite the plethora of customisation. the range of representation with regards to body type in wow in not just confined to cliched elven/human paradigms. the other races represent the female form in a wide variety of ways. Additionally most tier armor is now basically the same regardless of gender. there are some definitely some very questionable armor types while levelling but these can vary wildly your just as likely to end up looking like a circus clown as you are a sex kitten. One of the problems that has been previously touched on before is that most female characters are played by males, this is not to say that the female user base isn't large its just that the predominant options utilised for the representation of females in WoW and other similar MMO's is still male driven and unless you start restricting customisation, female night elves are always going to outnumber female dwarves by a substantial factor

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:26AM cic said

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You know, it's not just MMO's that should take the burden of responsibility when it comes to this issue... Just look at the image Massive chose to use for their latest post.

http://www.massively.com/2010/10/27/ncsoft-details-lineage-2-trick-or-treat-event/

It's pretty tasteless and just spreads the stereotype, no?

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:10PM Fakeassname said

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good point, but not all of the authors on here have the same opinions ...
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:29AM Teviko604 said

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This is what I tend to hear from female players.

If the talk is in generalities -- "Are female characters over sexualized?" -- female players tend to show disappointment, if not to outright complain, about the amount of skin shown. However . . .

When their game announces new armor they talk about how great it looks and how they can't wait to acquire/buy it. I don't believe I have ever hear a female player say they were going to pass on a specific armor set because it was too sexy.

I do agree with an earlier poster. Skimpy, impractical female armor is an integral part of the fantasy genre, at least the art side of it, so fantasy fans would expect to see it in their games, as well. But at the same time, the same fantasy art often shown scantily clad, or bare chested warriors. So maybe the direction developers should take is not to cover up the women, but to uncover the men.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:51AM happyfish said

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I think an important question to ask, is why is skimpy armor integral to the fantasy genre? Why does a heavy armor set for a male character look imposing and powerful, while a similar set of armor on a female looks submissive and sexy? I'm all for sexy, but I couldnt imagine having a chain mail banana hammock for my male dwarf paladin. It just seems ridiculous at time to have characters running around in what amounts to lingerie blasting things with fireballs.

Does it appeal to brain #2.. yes, does it make sense to brain #1... no
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:33AM (Unverified) said

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In regard to attire, I say give choices for female AND male. If I want a skimpy female or male outfit, so be it. If I want armor covering head to toe, let me choose that as well. That's the one element that bugs me the most is not having the option to choose and getting stuck with one design. Players like choices!

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:40AM (Unverified) said

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I just wanted to cover a couple missed possible arguments.
One that these are paid for games, leaving option for not purchasing them.
And two as for younger players and a false look at the way they should be, their going to find that else where much sooner then the age it will take to functionally play and understand most mmo's.

However, with the market for mmo's and video games in general being one of the most profitable at the moment, younger players should (if looking like future gamers) be inspired to get a college degree in computer animation and make changes to situations such as this one.

My final note would be that i can see how it really shouldn't matter, it is a game im paying for and it isn't real, but that doesn't mean I don't it as well. Something should be done for sheer support of the purchasing community not for the functionality.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:54AM Tizmah said

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Yes, I believe showing more skin is a very cheap way of making a clothing out fit look attractive on a lady or man. Their are plenty of other clothing options out there that look just as attractive. However, given the choice of freedom in armor styles, many will chose the skimpy route. Look for example, Second Life. Much more than half of the women, though some could be men but it still outnumbers, dress like a porn star.

It'll all comes down to having a choice in the end though. However, scantily clad women or buffed out men will definitely outnumber the rest. We will never see a day where dwarf women with beards will outnumber dark skinned elves. It just won't happen.

So don't blame designers. They are just appealing to the majority. That's why it sells. Blame yourself. They are just taking advantage of your desires.

But choices never hurt anything.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:49AM (Unverified) said

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It's all dependent on the art style of the game world. If that's the perceived norm of the game world why should we impose our own trends on it? Nothing wrong with artistic freedom. For example see The Old Republic or Lord of The Rings Online, I haven't seen any slutty female character art there yet. The characters just look like their classes.

I guess it comes down to speculated character art as opposed to the final product.

For instance, a player says, "I wanted my female knife dancer to look more bad ass."

Artist, producer and whoever judges art design of a character class says, "Knife dancer looks bad ass! Push it to the modeling team!"

What I think developers need to embrace, especially when they're hugely successful like Blizzard is with WoW, is that you may win even more fan loyalty if you open up and are more willing to first gauge and then indulge those who want a different look, if there's enough of them.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:52AM CitizenH said

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Three things.

First, not every MMO falls prey to this. City of Heroes allows you to dress as you please, costume options range from showing a lot of skin to baggy shirts and pants to head-to-toe armor and for the most part costume pieces are the same for either gender. But then again, there's the infamous Chest Scale slider that starts at a D cup for females and goes up from there.

Second, the picture depicts a Carnival of Shadows member. This is an enemy group from CoH who are essentially an army of evil psychic Paris Hiltons with a classical circus theme. They're /supposed/ to dress like cheap tramps.

Thrid, what's up with Massively always using City of Heroes screenshots for general/non-specific MMO articles every time there's a *negative* theme or subject? This was something that came out of BlizzCon and WoW, so why not use a WoW screenshot of a scantily clad female?

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:53AM Rihahn said

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@shotgunbadger:

Essentially, yes.

This is fantasy - it's not real, has no bearing on your life whatsoever, and getting in a tizzy over a texture in a game is really a waste of precious energy that could really be put to use on something that actually impacts a life in a positive fashion.

If you really want the brass tacks of how I feel about it. You may feel differently, that's fine, but it doesn't invalidate my opinion.

You mention Amos and Andy, I'll counter with 'comedy relief'... Brother, you've got a good point, but it's an ongoing issue, not something from the 30's.

It's a slippery slope because no one will ever be happy with how another sees them - objectified, vilified, whatever. How many Jamaicans are pissed about the Trolls in WoW? How about the Scottish and the Dwarves?

Basically, no matter what you do someone, somewhere, will get irate about it and the bigger the audience, the better than chances of having more than just one pissed off person.

You just have to pick your battles, and I think Blizz is doing that.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 10:58AM (Unverified) said

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Skimpy armor for females is one thing... but why oh why do male casters always have to wear that goddamn Big Blue Dress?

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 11:29AM Thac0 said

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Yeah thats a sexist stereotype that all male casters are cross dressers and are un "manly" I'm offended.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 11:03AM happyfish said

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This article just reminded of an interesting feature when Age of Conan came out. A wacky bug showed up early on where male characters were doing more upfront damage then female characters. It turns out that Funcom had coded seperate female attack animations and a male attack animations and the male animation was hitting harder for whatever reason. Funcom claimed it was unintentional, and I'm guessing has since fixed it... but it was certainly another "lol wut?" moment.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 11:39AM (Unverified) said

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Pretty sure the issue was animation speed - male animations were a tad shorter resulting in more damage.
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