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Reader Comments (151)

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 12:43PM (Unverified) said

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I recently went back to City of Heroes/Villains, and my girlfriend became interested and we've been playing together. She's generally a fairly reserved girl, but her characters seem to be an outlet for a side of her that I didn't really know she had....not that I mind, of course.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 12:44PM ktastic said

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I see a lot of "If you don't like it don't play it" and "It's a *fantasy game*" and "But it's like that irl" popping up as defenses. First, let me say I want skimpy and conservative options for all characters, male and female. And to bring in another aspect of gameplay: If my female Ele can have her tatas shaking all over the place when she goes to /dance, then a dude character can have his junk swinging visibly, too. It's only fair (I'm looking at you, Guild Wars). And if female toons get giant breasts, why should men not have giant protruding bulges? Large genitals all around! Or we could just, you know, have some diversity in the matter.

I think it's really narrow sighted to say that these things exist in a bubble. Of course game developers are reacting to things in real life. I saw a commenter talk about his girlfriend getting ready to go out. "If she was truly against being over sexualized, why did she buy those pumps when a pair of speakers would actually get more use?" Because she liked the shoes? Because she was given the OPTION? Because these are the gender roles that women are given from birth onward? I'm sure any and all of these work. It reminds me a lot of victim blaming ("She was wearing a short skirt! She was asking for it! Why else would she wear that?"). The point is, women having shoes and wearing makeup and liking pretty clothes of the various, non-jean-and-shirt kind does not mean that they are asking to be sexualized by everyone around them. People like to LOOK nice and looking "nice" (whether it involves a short skirt or not) is dependent on society's standards AND an individual's.

These standards... Where do they come from? The world around us, mostly. We see it in magazines, on television, in movies, in our families, in our friends, in our mentors. The games we invest our time in. The media! of course. Considering that we're now studying and seeing the results from these things (and it's not good. Kids as young as 5 are psychologically effected), I think it's for sure important to apply the knowledge to the games we put our time and energy into.

It's about how the genders see themselves and one another. It's important. So saying that it's "like this outside the game" is silly - people also don't lob arrows into one another outside the game. The game is a fantasy? Okay, well then let's imagine some women get to have agency over their own wardrobe, some say in when, where, and with whom they'd like to reveal skin.

Of course this is a big deal. You play a game for a few hours a day every day, or every other day, or even once a week and that play time adds up. The images in front of your eyes add up. Back when I was 13/14 and started playing Everquest I started making male characters because I could not take the harassment from people commenting on my AVATAR's appearance.

Again, I don't think skimpy clothes should be totally gone or that breasts always need to be covered by a turtle neck. But we should for SURE be discussing this and working on some sort of medium, including men avatars who are as varied and potentially sexy as women. If I think it ruins a game, sure I won't play it... or maybe it's a part of a really fantastic game, like Guild Wars (my personal favorite), where it's one of the few detractions. The problem is that if I chose to add that in to my list of 'things that make/brake in an mmo for me', I'd be left with few MMOs that I'd actually want to play. You're really suggesting I give up a game that I otherwise LOVE TO PIECES (and have been playing since release day) because of this one thing? This is the argumentative equivalent of shoving your fingers in your ears and talking gibberish. You may not like the critique, but that doesn't mean that by telling us to go away the critique is somehow negated.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 12:47PM (Unverified) said

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You'll have to forgive me because I don't play all these games regularly, but there are plenty of games that you can have beer bellies or acne scars or old woman face or so-on and so-forth. In general, you can make an 'ugly' woman.

AoC
STO
CO
FFXIV
WoW
EQ2
EVE
GA

You get the point. The fact is that people are claiming the hyper-feminine characters portraying females in games is wrong, while portraying hyper-masculine men in games is fine. This is a double standard and, as far as I'm concerned, invalidates their whole argument.

In fact, I would say the whole point is that the characters we're playing are /supposed/ to be unrealistic/unattainable representations of ourselves.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:09PM Fakeassname said

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your right, EVE is a game that you can make an ugly chick in ... then again, it's kinda hard to make a character in that game who isn't ugly! lol

of course you never see you character (changing soon?) except for on your stats screen, and the rest of the time your in a completely inhuman spaceship.

as for the rest of them ... your a damned lier! the best (err worst) you can get with any of them is a sexy alien! "tehehehe, I'm an "alien"! my head has got some strange tattoos, don't mind that my body looks like Jeri Ryan's."
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:25PM Irem said

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It's not really realistic for my character to be swinging around a giant sword made of crystals like she's handling a tree branch, either, but I don't have a problem with that. The argument is not really about realism, here. The point IS to play unrealistic/unattainable versions of ourselves, but for female players it stops being about what we would like to have in our perfect world where we're the heroes and save the day, and starts being about what dudes would like us to wear while we do it.

And no, it doesn't invalidate the argument, because there are plenty of reasons to be pissed about men only being portrayed as hyper-masculine. I don't think it's "fine," and if you have a problem with it, you should speak up about it, sort of the way we speak up about the stuff that ticks us off.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 12:46PM Irem said

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It's really simple.

Many female gamers have the same fantasies about being the awesome hero and wandering around looking badass and covered in spikes as men do. When developers make a point of dressing up the female characters in unrealistically sexy armor, in situations where no sane combatant would be showing that much skin, it says to us, "Yeah, we don't really care about how YOU view your character. We want the female characters to look good for the straight males playing."

That makes us feel kind of shitty, like hey, we're just sort of the dregs of the customer base and they think it's kind of cute that we want to tag along with the boys to play hero. It's not important for female characters in MMOs to aspire to even the same level of realism as the male characters, because the female characters are usually not designed with the intent of giving female players a point of identification. They're made for eye candy, and for every guy who repeats the "I play a female toon because I don't want to look at a guy's ass for hours" line as though he was the first one to come up with it. Most male players don't understand how important it is to HAVE a point of identification, because more often than not every damn thing in a given game is designed to reflect their interests and fantasies, so they never lack for something to identify with.

The point is not that showing skin is offensive, the point is that some of us would like developers to at least pretend that they care what we think and feel, and acknowledge that women are a growing part of the group of people that are handing them money. We're not asking for anything that's going to destroy games or anything that would be outrageously difficult to implement; the world doesn't come to a screeching halt when people ask for new druid forms, so why does it when women request that the +5 Vest of Can't-Replace-For-20-Levels not have drastically less actual vest for their female character than the version for male characters? It's insulting to men, too, implying that they're too shallow to care about a female character unless she's sexually appealing in some way.

Back in the late 90's I used to read a certain game magazine, and over time they got more and more ridiculous with the sexist jokes every issue. Finally a woman wrote a letter to the editor, and got a condescending response about how women are only %15 percent of their readerbase and so they had to appeal to their larger customer group. It's a pretty damn sad state of affairs when that kind of crap is defended as a conscious effort to appeal to men, and I can't tell you how happy I was to stop being part of that apparently useless and unwanted %15 that day. Someday most companies will start to figure out that appealing to both female and male players--instead of just tolerating the female players as some kind of weird fluke--will make them more money, but in the meantime, those who are ahead of the curve will be cashing in and gaining loyal customers.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 12:51PM (Unverified) said

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How about this?

Study shows men who stare at boobs live longer:
http://www.themedguru.com/20091206/newsfeature/stare-boobs-longer-life-study-86131320.html

They're just trying to help keep us healthy! They have to do something to offset all the time we spend sitting in front of the computer! They're just looking out for their customers, it's nice to know they care.

:P

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 3:11PM Solp said

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Hahaha!
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:10PM (Unverified) said

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" NO company will ever do something they don't think they will make more money from. "

Remarkably, yes, as Sony and Turbine did with some of their games, by adding an appearance tab, which solved the issue for them.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:14PM Ozewa said

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You know, I tried seven times to try to elaborate on how much I respect the women that I play with. I had to stop and erase it each time because I'm not exactly sure if it is politically correct to say that women are some of the best healers I've come across and that they always have a fish feast for me.
Its true that they are great healers and always have a fish feast for me, but is it chauvinistic to say that out loud?

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:14PM VioletArrows said

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This conversation never goes anywhere. I'm seeing all the same stupid, defensive boy's club bullshit, covert only stupid ugly fat girls would care, why aren't you feeding orphans in Africa where we don't have to hear or see you ever again, fuck you for even thinking of interrupting my boner, look we're being oppressed too even though it's not even remotely similar or prevalent, this is why I hate real girls, half-assed non-excuses that make up every thread like this.

I'm gonna go have a drink and play my games. Tired of trying to reason with that shit.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:15PM VioletArrows said

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And what in god's name are those two sticks coming out of her back?
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:27PM Irem said

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Word.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 6:10PM Irem said

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@Tempes Magus

How male players act around female players is a completely different issue. I can handle myself when a male player is hassling me. It IS a problem of how the characters look, because I'm the one who has to look at my character. I'm the one who has to choose whether or not, upon entering Outland on a cloth wearer, to take the panty-and-garterbelt leg item with great stats as a quest reward, or spend a lot of gold at the AH in order to not look ridiculous. Once again, the problem is that the time I spend living with my character and how she looks, and my desire to have her look a certain way, is secondary to how the developers think a male player would like her to look. She is not designed for me, as a female player; she is designed for men to look at, and my interest in playing her is incidental.

Removing everything but the male models is not in any way a good solution. One of the major issues here is that female players want to be recognized as valued customers and members of the community in our own right, and throwing up our hands and going, "Well, we'll just make the default male!" is even worse than, "Well, you can have your female heroes, but they've got to be fap material!" We're moving backwards here from women wearing too little to women not fucking existing at all, when the issue is female players feeling disenfranchised and devalued.

And frankly, I don't think so little of men that I honestly believe they have huge issues controlling their behavior. I like men and I know better. But you know what? Maybe some of the less emotionally mature ones would have an easier time getting the picture if the media they spend most of their time consuming didn't constantly telegraph the idea that women are mainly here for their personal sexual gratification.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:15PM Syesta said

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You'll get my platemail booty shorts when you pry them from my cold, dead...well...you get the idea.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 2:56PM Fakeassname said

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I'm not going to touch, much less try to take something your clutching, with THOSE hands ... especially not from your dominant one.
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Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:25PM (Unverified) said

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I think you can make characters attractive without going the soft-core porn route. As stated above, Guild Wars does a great job striking this balance, especially with offering armor options that cross the spectrum. For example, with a mesmer you can have pants, cover up, or even sport what amounts to a negligee; it is your choice to do so. Maybe it's because, compared to other games, they have proportionately more women on the dev team. LotrO is another game that treats the opposite sex with attractiveness and taste. The armor shows functionality while letting you know there is a woman under there, and there are other outfit choices you can make. Heck, even AoC, the game based on what started Boris Vallejo's career, leaves most of the pr0n to the npc's.

With more women entering the gaming market, it would be smart for the games to not think only of the horny 20-30-something males sitting in their skivvies in front of the 24 inch flat screen.

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:43PM bate said

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I love slutty looking female avatars. :D (*Please note I also do not mind the extreme six-pack-alpha-male looking characters either.)

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 1:58PM (Unverified) said

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Check out this game and remember it's from Japan. This stuff is 100% normal to them. It's called Gal Gun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ds5kGxBMz1Q

Posted: Oct 27th 2010 2:04PM (Unverified) said

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I play male and female characters, based on which model looks the best to me. I think it's amusing the heavier the armor, the less needed to cover a female form. Sure, clothies have tunics but I don't see many female mages running around with belly shirts and cleavage racks. It's all about the plate.

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