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Reader Comments (87)

Posted: Mar 25th 2011 8:29PM faralorn said

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@Fakeassname

When you use words like "slut" and "whore" when talking about game costume design you are revealing far more about yourself than the games you criticize. Being that I am a tolerant sort, the words bigot and prude come to my mind with disordered and unwholesome following shortly thereafter. I suspect that you are no fun at all in the sack.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:26AM Fakeassname said

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I want a crotch slider for the male characters in vindictus, they put a boob slider in for the girls because it's that important to people be able to express their desire that every breast be the perfect size with the optimum amount of jiggle even when stuffed into a solid plate steel shirt: why can't I have my male character run around with a throbbing erection that wiggles for 1-3 seconds after I stop moving?

ok, in a way I can actually appreciate the breast slider in Vindicitus. it allows me to scale down the massive fun-bags that the Korean developers actually modeled the characters to have.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:02AM yehoo said

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@Fakeassname i want the peinis slider it would be 6000 guys running round a wow server with tree trunks bouncing around inbetween theri legs soooooo lool
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 10:46AM j1083 said

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The fact that every single MMORPG box I have ever seen suggests these games don't think they can sell without displaying a woman's midriff makes me question my faith in humanity.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:07AM Fakeassname said

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@j1083

shit like people posting "Japan deserved it for pearl harbor" in response to the recent earthquake obliterated my faith in humanity long before box art bimbos ever got a chance to.

as a slightly more related response: I've got the box to FFXIV sitting in front of me, half burred in the massive pile of crap cluttering up my computer desk: no bimbo on the box, just a stern looking and fully dressed human male that in a freaky kinda way resembles my older brother when he was in high school.

and on closer inspection (aka flipping it over) there isn't a skank to be found on either the front OR the back of the box. props to SE on that, I guess, in fact you gotta search pretty hard in game as well if you want to find any examples of what I like to term "Twat-mail."
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:03AM elaphros said

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@j1083
That's the problem with having faith in humanity.... Especially in the 13-25 male gamer market, which still dominates the industry.

@fakeassname
If you didn't see the snark and irony laced in that comment, I pity you. However, I was admittedly +1 troll mode there, so I guess you validated my intention of heightening this farce of a controversy

This issue, as with most issues, is 1% actual concern, and 99% hype to keep us reading. :P

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:08AM soltic said

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You seem to be bothered by objectifying when I think you are really bothered by a culture that has taught us to think the human body and sex is evil and because of that we see others who flaunt their sexuality as being wrong or evil. How is this different than the taliban who say women are evil if they try to act like a man or look like a man by wearing the same clothes? Or when our culture calls a woman a whore because she sleeps around but salutes the man who does the same? ( as a counterpoint to my two points one could say that they act that way BECAUSE they are objectifying women)

You do make some good points about depiction of women needing men in games though however this seems to be a problem in all forms of media be it movies, novels, or games.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:46AM Irem said

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@soltic
No, it has nothing to do with "sex is evil." At all. It has to do with not creating a gaming atmosphere in which women are uncomfortable because someone else decided that their character is perfectly okay with running around half dressed. If I want to play a female character who looks dignified, practical, and somewhat androgynous, it's impossible in most games. I can usually give her a short haircut, or even a less than perfectly attractive face, but at some point, I'm probably going to have to ignore that she's wearing a midriff top because it had the best stats.

There's nothing wrong with the portrayal of sexuality in games. What's wrong is when female characters are being presented as basically being a "sexy" skin for your avatar, instead of as strong adventurers who happen to be women. And the tired old "sex sells, deal with it" argument is getting more and more ridiculous as the number of women and older professionals who play MMOs grows larger.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:13AM KDolo said

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There is a simple reason for this inequity. The conventional aesthetic for males, at least in Western society, is that they are strong. For women, it's that they are sexy. That this carries over to MMOs is perhaps absurd since you want to feel empowered by your avatar and most of the female models are not very empowering to women. Instead, they usually just make women feel bad about themselves.

The amount of time spent on one or the other I imagine is equal, though. In the case of Tera, these aesthetics are taken to extremes, but I dont see the quality of one or the other any greater or less than.

This other type of inequity is VERY apparent in RIFT. A quick comparison between every male character model and every female model would indicate that they spent much more time on the latter than on the former. Just one look at the Dwarves clearly shows they spent more time on them. Human males look awful and their heads are too small for their bodies.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:35AM Irem said

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@KDolo
Yup. It's not about "Oh my god, you can't show skin in a video game! My delicate sensibilities!" It's the fact that female characters in MMOs are still apparently mostly being designed under the assumption that they're going to be played by men (and that those men would only want a female character because she looks sexy).

And you're spot on about the quality disparity. There are a bunch of games in which the developers don't really even bother to try to make the male characters look attractive at -all-. Animations are usually lacking in male characters, too; often I'll want to make a male character and end up making a female one because men in fantasy worlds are somehow restricted to stomping along hunched over like they're trying to muscle their way headfirst through a brick wall, or loping clumsily like an adolescent Jack Russell terrier.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:24AM Irem said

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I have nothing to add to this, Eliot, except to thank you profusely for writing it.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:33AM Nibbana said

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Different games do differently on this for both men and women. For example, LOTRO covers up more and allows one to create fat little hobbits and heralds. The sliders in Champions gave a lot of flexibility too, for both men and women, including how much muscle was shown and how in shape they looked.

A bad and recent example of female models can be found in DCUO. I mean really, those boobs are gigantic and embarrassing. I play characters based on what best fits my theme, and how much I like the models. I just could not play a female character in DCUO at all given the lack of a boob slider (I just couldn't play the game because it lacked community).

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 11:46AM Daemodand said

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Ginger Rogers did all the same dance steps as Fred Astaire while wearing high heels.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 12:28PM Controlled Chaos said

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Good article, I feel much the same way, really. To me, sexy is more than just showing off as much skin as possible. I also have to wonder, though, because while sex sells, there is also a matter of laziness.

See, it's been known in the industry for a while that women can be dressed up all covered, just like the men, and still end up being a sex symbol for a lot of gamers playing what she's in. The possibility of a strong, central female is entirely possible without making her look like she should be walking down the sidewalk in fish nets. But why would they do otherwise? While it is obviously well known that sex indeed sells, why would they bother to do any real looking into other options when that one is so easy for their people? After all, a detailed body covering takes that much more time for the artists and what not involved with its creation. Sexy clothing? Pfft, the more skin they show, the less time they have to work on that. So it works in a few ways, really.

When it comes down to it, why bother doing anything else than tarting women up when its going to sell either way, especially when it takes less time for the artists to have to deal with that particular costume that way as well? It's just like Hollywood now. How many carbon copy crap movies are we seeing this year? 2011 is the largest number of sequels and prequels coming out ever in the movie industry. How many Inceptions or other unique movies are we going to see? It's the same thing for gaming. The safe route just happens to coincide with under dressed women who take half the time to draw the coverings of.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 12:37PM SkuzBukit said

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Nicely written article.

Now for me there is a simple solution, already mentioned it in previous articles on the topic & that is a "modesty" slider, this would allow any outfit to be adjusted between various parameters, to suit the tastes of the individual.

Also a view filter, this would allow YOUR client to have a slider in effect for all models, then your view of others is as modest as you like, though you couldn't lower an individual below their personal setting, i.e you couldn't view a player that is in a high modesty setting at a very low modesty setting.

The view filter would be of use to game companies too, to release in arabic/islamic countries or any other with related dress/culture restrictions perhaps.

Dress-code isn't the be all end all of women getting a raw deal in games though, and them being given bigger roles in storylines & more influence in game lore should go hand in hand with better depictions of women in games, women can be tough - take Sigourney Weaver's character in the "Alien" movies for 1, and look how well that movie franchise did, choice.....some women want to be tough no-bs warriors others rather enjoy the risque looks, and there are thousands of choices inbetween women would want.

The same choices should be there for men too, after all not all men want to look like steroid abusing man-mountains & to give an example Bruce Lee was a average height Chinaman with a athletic though not super-muscled body & he kicked ass......hard, then there is the gay male gameplayers whose tastes should be considered too.

Ultimately it's down to choice, everyone should get better choices, male, female, straight, gay, trans, black, yellow, brown, white etc etc

I mean in nature there are plenty of species where the females are in fact a lot more physically imposing than their male counterparts (spiders), species where there is almost no difference in physicality (dogs) and where males are bigger than females (Gorillas), there are also species where the female is dull to look at while the males are flamboyant (birds).....if you have a fantasy world why should all male/female of any given race follow the human tropes?

Both males & females are stereotyped, but the females do get a rougher deal on balance.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 12:43PM N620AA said

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You can't win when it comes to this issue. Make females unattractive to the mainstream, and they barely get played (see Orc females in WoW). Make them attractive, and people whine that they're objectified.

Hey, guess what? So are males. If I don't get a slider to not look muscle-bound, you don't get a slider to not look sexy. I think I'll take your malady over mine. What if I want to play an unwashed, fat dude? Oh, I can't. Then again, I also don't want to, because if I wanted to see ugly people, there are plenty of them in real life.

I'd prefer for them to use up development time adding an appearance tab, then you can use one of the handful of suits of armor that doesn't look offensive to you.

The whole modesty slider thing that's gotten popular in suggestion forums lately is absolutely unrealistic. You're asking them to reskin (and remodel, in the case of games with up-to-date graphics) every piece of armor in the game to have a modest and not-modest model, in both genders (at least such was the suggestion on RIFT). Frankly, the handful of prudes out there don't justify the development time.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 12:49PM Lenn said

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Alright, let's all have completely realistic armour in games. Then watch as our characters won't be able to swim, jump, run for miles, mount their horse without help, swing a longsword without toppling or even just fight because of the limited scope of vision they'd have in those totally realistic helmets. Not to mention the fact that they'd more than likely smell worse than a dog caught in a skunk den on a hot summer's day.

Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 1:04PM Budukahn said

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@Lenn

Except male characters already do have "realistic" armour, or at least armour that isn't inviting the first monster you walk into to disembowel you with a quick slice to your prominently displayed naked midriff.

.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 5:13PM Utakata said

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@Lenn

We're talking about a fantasy, where chracters already have the presumed stamina and physical know how to overcome most of those encumbance issues. This is more a discussion on the sexual dimorphism of fan service that favors striaght male players. This is an issue, and a very annoying issue. Not to mention...my toon being forced to wear humiliating gear she wouldn't get caught dead in, because she happens to be female.
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Posted: Mar 22nd 2011 12:51PM (Unverified) said

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I look forward to the advances in character creation and customization in video games. I'd imagine it like the following. If you personally want your character to look attractive to you and unrealistic, so be it. If you want a practical and realistic setup, by all means. Maybe even go for a mix, really there'd be so many options and combinations available to us by then. Giving us the freedom to portray our avatars rather than being restricted to one style is the way to go.

Until then, we're often stuck with the objectifying designs of men and women. It'd be nice and dandy to say not to buy a game if you disagree with the character designs, but that's a damn well unrealistic argument. Things aren't so black and white.

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