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Reader Comments (87)

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 9:45AM kobeathris said

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Seconding Tizmah... Racism and Homophobia are right up there with Sexism, although typically not as top down.

Just one comment about the Guild Wars 2 article and the response. While I think the wording was somewhat indelicate at the end of the article, I think the image right above it does a better job of expressing what they are trying to say, and the response is somewhat unfair. While I agree that women should be represented better in games, and that sensible armor should always be an option (with no stat bias), I'm not sure that ridiculous fantasy armor shouldn't be an option as well. Look at Greek statuary or the art of Boris Vallejo. A fit human body conveys a great deal of power without having to be sexual, and some people, particularly in a fantasy setting, are interested in that power, rather than the man made expression that shows up in heavy armor.

Now, as a culture, we largely ARE prudes, and we view showing too much skin as overly sexual, and that culture, that objectifies women based on the amount of skin they show, does need to change. That doesn't mean that saying "All female armor should cover everything" isn't sexist as well though. I think it is fairly safe to say that the fact that a woman will be arrested in most communities in the US for going topless, while no one will bother a man is, you know, sexist.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 9:45AM TheElvenAssassin said

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I agree that female characters should be covered up more. Even though I'm a guy, it gets kind of irritating to see all these women running around in glorified bikinis. I know it's been said before, but it's not realistic. Sure, dresses can show a little cleavage (that's what some period dresses looked like) but a lot of armor is over-the-top. And we've been doing this for how long? I think it's time we grew up and stopped acting like 15-year-olds.

When I play female characters, I play them because of how they look - I'm not against a rogue in "slim" armor - but I usually go out of my way to not wear "that" kind of armor.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 9:47AM TheElvenAssassin said

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@TheElvenAssassin

*"a lot of THE armor"
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 9:59AM (Unverified) said

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Generalizations hurt everyone and that's what this article is as well, unfortunately. Not to mention the stereotypes it continues such as women being interested only in fashion and how their character looks. I don't turn to Hollywood for my morality, why would I turn to the gaming industry?

I also won't point out the ridiculousness of focusing on objectifying women and what they do/do not wear as a means of pushing morality and change in games, where we take a battle axe and fireballs to explode in blood and gore other creatures.

The stereotype of basement-dwellers is also a false message that has no merit in regards to the topic. The car/motorcycle industry has long been known to use bikini babes to market, advertise and promote. This demographic is hardly seen as a group that is lacking for a date, in need of change and quite frankly glorifies their objectification of women.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:44AM oneraindrop said

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@(Unverified) This article isn't a generalization, it's an analysis. Do you think analysis hurts everyone? Because if you do, there's no point in continuing. I'm going to presume you see the value of analyzing things, however and go on.

The difference between gender objectification in games (and other media) and the fact that you kill things in games when it's obviously not okay to kill people in real life is simple. The gender objectification is in the game because the on some level the developers' attitude is that it IS okay in real life. The killing is there precisely because it's NOT okay in real life. One is a real life attitude seeping into the game, while the other is a fantasy outlet for something that's not acceptable in reality. There is a real difference there.

And finally, you're missing the big comparison between car/motorcycle enthusiasts and gaming culture: Those outside the hobbies see both groups as man-boys. The fascination with "biker babes" doesn't help erase the popular perception that both are concerned with playing with toys, escapism, and irresponsibility. It's not about "being able to get a date" it's about maturity, or lack thereof, and that's demonstrated equally well by the stereotypical harley guy as it is by the stereotypical "basement dwelling gamer." Now I don't think that either stereotype is true BUT we perpetuate it from within our subculture partially by refusing to clean up our act when it comes to treatment of women.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 12:18PM (Unverified) said

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@(Unverified)
Just replying here to give your post more visibility. Agreed with your points.

@The writer of this post
How can you write an opinion piece like this (which you are, of course, fully entitled to do) and not see how it comes across as someone who is either unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality (your arguments, when taken to further extremes, are the same arguments that support banning videogames that are mildly violent...in fact I think Massively had an opinion piece on that being bad, at some point) OR as someone who is unsure-of/afraid-of/jealous-of/insecure-about sex and sexuality. Sex exists. Lots of people like sex, attractive bodies, fantasy bodies. These things sell, not because of some evil corporate ploy, but because people LIKE them. Sex sells because people like sex. Why are all the models I see attractive? Why are 90% of actresses women who make my pulse quicken?

The holy crusaders against violence, sex, alcohol and drugs in videogames, music, and movies would probably be well-served by some solid introspection. Are their own minds so infirm that, upon seeing some skin, they are instantly aroused into a mindless, bigoted, sex-addict? Or are they perhaps insecure or jealous of some part of a fantasy? If the first - seek help. If the second - deal with reality, appreciate fantasy, and don't confuse the two.

And if you can't appreciate the idea of a sexy fantasy, that doesn't cater to realistic armour models and body-shapes, perhaps videogames, movies, music, and most modern novels are not suitable entertainment mediums for you. (Though there are heavy levels of snark in that comment, it is made in all seriousness).
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 3:51PM (Unverified) said

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@oneraindrop

Your response makes no sense at all. So it's a double-standard then? Violence is okay to portray because it's fantasy, but immodest clothing is not because THIS element ties to real life? You must live in a very confusing world. A game is all fantasy. Trying to cherry pick out certain elements that you have a problem with, while ignoring others and making justifications, just seems silly.

And it is not an analysis. It's an opinion piece. Read the last 2 paragraphs again, sweeping generalizations.
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Posted: Mar 25th 2011 7:20PM faralorn said

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@(Unverified)

Generalizations hurt everyone? Hurt? What sort of nonsense is that?
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:06AM elaphros said

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Just make it an option on all the female outfits, you can choose in your preferences whether you want to see, or be seen as "sexy" in game.

I call it, "The Modesty Slider".

Choose your own slut-venture? I'll stop now.

FWIW, I think Rift has done an excellent job at breaking the trend, with all their ankle length Amish dresses, I mean hauberks...

Maybe we should just provide the full Sharia and let all women opt in Burqas too, just so they can feel comfortably androgynous and oppressed if they want too, it's all about the user experience after all. Oh, wait, then if some women are showing some calf, they might be tempted... better to put ALL of the women in full full mummy mode, just to make everyone comfortable.

If you're going to use the "personal comfort" issue to grand-stand on, then you've got to go the full monty, after all.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:17AM Fakeassname said

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@elaphros

wow, your quite the piece of "ass"
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:16AM (Unverified) said

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@elaphros
You obviously haven't played a plate wearing class in RIFT then. I haven't found anything that doesn't show off my elfs midrift and sometimes the thighs too.

Regardless, I don't think the armor thing is that big a deal. At least not in any games I've played. There's basically no good answer because you have such a wide variety of people who want different things from it. You have people who want their gear to look somewhat realistic for the setting, people who just want to look as cool as possible, people who want their characters to look sexy, people who want to flaunt their achievements, etc. It's hard to dismiss any of these people because often times in MMOs, and hell other games too, your only options for self expression are your character name and the stuff you wear. And I think the overwhelming popularity of stuff like facebook and such should easily show you how much people enjoy self expression. The only really reasonable solution I can think of is to stop tying stats and such to equipment models.

But of course, Eliot also brought up how women are characterized in game plots too which is a whole other ball game. I think the main gulf here is that it's just plain harder to write a woman character who'll appeal to a wide audience than a man. With a man all you really need to do is certify his badass credentials for everyone to see and the vast majority of men and women will like the character. If you're trying to write a woman however you have to deal with the fact that people are a lot more fractious about what they want out of her. If you make her exactly the same as the dude above you run the risk of making her too masculine and most people won't like her. And if you try to hew towards more traditionally feminine roles then there's a not insignificant amount of people who will FREAK RIGHT THE **** OUT and start babbling about barefoot, pregnant, kitchens, the whole nine yards.

If you want a good example of this you can just go watch Star Trek: Voyager, a show that can lay a lot of it's problems at the feet of the writers waffling back and forth about if Captain Janeway should be a strict, formal military officer or a more warm maternal type.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:09AM Dumac said

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Im not really bothered by that stuff ingame, it's not like men are depicted realistically either, they are usually muscular and stereotypical too. And why not be an important character and sexy at the same time? It can be another display of power, im important, and i reveal skin just because i can, and there is nothing you can do. Look at me. Thats probably not behind the intent of the designers but you can certainly interpret it like that.

I don't pay it much attention to be honest. But what really bugs me is forcing sexiness into promotional material. You know that screenshots and trailers are not released out of the goodness of the devs hearts, they are supposed to manipulate you into parting with your money. And thats ok. And they put various stuff in there to showcase their games, and you look at graphics, the art style, the plot , the features... Oh and theres breasts. At most, they are a bonus. You buy the game because something else about it is interesting.

But somewhere out there, in a marketing department, there is a bunch of people undermining the efforts of the developers and the intelligence of the buyers with a conversation that goes like this:

-The game is selling really well. Can you imagine the socially awkward idiot of a game designer wanted those breasts to be normal sized?
-Yeah, lol!
-Hahahaha
-A toast, to our saving the day!

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:10AM paterah said

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Personally, I couldn't care less. I'd appreciate a good looking world and enviroments much more than character clothing. In the end, I'm the guy who would whine about content and pvp balance rather than this kind of stuff.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:16AM sauceofmagic said

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I think AoC did a good job of undressing both sexes ;)

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:24AM Krayzjoel said

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I dont play games for realism, political awareness, sensitivity or insensitivity issues. I can find that in REAL LIFE. If people are all choked up and boo-hoo about how games treat gender issues then go after the 1 billion porn sites that do far worse than games do.

Give me my busty bikini armored elven hotties with a 2 handed sword anyday.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:28AM Fakeassname said

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@Krayzjoel

and what about the players who don't give a shit what you like to play and would prefer that their own characters not look like a well maintained crack whore?
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:32AM Krayzjoel said

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@Fakeassname

You play and create your toons the way you want. I never stated in my comments that you had to.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:59AM Fakeassname said

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@Krayzjoel

lol, but thats the whole point of this article: players don't have a choice when it comes to the modesty of female characters, it's whore out or get out in virtually all mmo's.

sure there are a few out there that don't have stats attached to physical appearance so players are not locked into dressing like slut-zilla for the best stats for their character (I'll give props to Hi-Rez on this design element of Global Agenda), but more often than not in the games that do offer cosmetic options not tied to stats the optional outfits are worse than the base gear.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:47AM Krayzjoel said

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@Fakeassname
If your so "hurt" or "offended" by the games then dont play them! Simple. There are several games such as Aion, COH/COV, and Perfect World, that do offer good customizations so you can have your bean pole plain janes or overweight women.
Given that there are games that dont let me make my busty hot Elf chick such as WOW and EQ2 so Im now offended.......LOL

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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 4:24PM Zyrusticae said

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@Fakeassname

"lol, but thats the whole point of this article: players don't have a choice when it comes to the modesty of female characters, it's whore out or get out in virtually all mmo's."

I just feel like pointing out that this is *patently untrue*.

Everquest 2, Vanguard, Aion, Champions Online, Star Wars Galaxies, hell, even Age of Conan have plenty of (or, in the case of EQ2, TOO MUCH) armor that's pretty damn modest and functional.

In fact, MMOs that have slutty armor designs are more of the exception rather than the norm. Strange that so many people are convinced the opposite is true.
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