Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
 
Are virtual worlds representations of the real world?

Spinks is upset about the demon huntress in Diablo 3 wearing stiletto heels. And Korean game TERA goes somewhat further than games made in the West in depicting women as objects of male sexual fantasies. But of course the discussion about that isn't a new one, sexualized fantasy art like that of Boris Vallejo has been around since the 60's, and the infamous chainmail bikini has been discussed quite often on various game forums and blogs.

What I find somewhat curious about that is that it is always nearly exclusively the depiction of women which is criticized. Judging from the photos one sees from game conventions, I am pretty certain that male players don't exactly look like the muscular hunks they are depicted as in the game either. Isn't that sexualized fantasy too? And, albeit for the most people without sexual context, most wolves, bears, or other animals in a game also look a lot fitter than in real life.

Not only do virtual avatars don't look like the players behind the screen, they don't even necessarily have the same gender. A survey on Everquest at the time revealed that of any female avatar you saw in game, half were played by men. People jokingly suggested that MMORPG stands for Mostly Men Online Role-Playing Girls. If there is no link between the player and the avatar, then how can the look of the avatar be construed as being discrimination?

Of course hunting demons in stiletto heels isn't realistic, and a chainmal bikini has obvious flaws as a piece of armor. But while I am hurling fireballs at a dragon, should I really be worried about how realistic anything in these games is? The notion that something shown in a virtual world in any way is a representation of the real world is a dangerous one. You end up with people complaining about the "occult" elements of these games depicting devils and demons. Or the endless discussion on whether or not a game which depicts some form of romance should allow that to happen between members of the same sex.

Fact is that there is no reproduction in virtual worlds. Avatars never have sex, and female avatars never get pregnant and have babies. As it says somewhere on the label, the whole virtual world is a fantasy. People usually enter these virtual worlds because they want a temporary break from their real-world issues. Projecting those real-world issues onto the virtual world isn't exactly helpful there. It ends up criticizing people for the fantasies they have, and that is an extreme form of attempted mind control. You can't punish people for their dreams and fantasies not being politically correct.

Comments:
You are going to get hammered on this anyway, so I will keep it simple.

Male Avatars are power fantasies designed for men.

Female Avatars are porn fantasies designed for men.

See the problem?
 
I don't want to punish anyone. I just want game makers to pander to MY preferences when designing female characters as opposed to soft porn for men.

As a bonus, they will likely attract a wider market if they don't focus in so hard on people who want to play characters who look like underwear models. I was happy with the other D3 characters, incidentally.
 
"It ends up criticizing people for the fantasies they have, and that is an extreme form of attempted mind control."

That's what happens right now to people who want to play badass female characters who aren't all T+A, btw. And you're criticizing me for exactly that in this post :P

I'd rather feel that it would be possible to find a middle way, to have characters who are acceptable to a wider range of players and are still perceived as hot. But devs have to be encouraged to do it.
 
"You can't punish people for their dreams and fantasies not being politically correct."

I think you'll find that the relevant authorities in many jurisdictions both can and will do exactly that should you be foolish enough to articulate some of those fantasies in a public space.

Which isn't to say that these issues in commercially available video games are actionable. They are in extremely poor taste, however. The potential socio-cultural impact of the endless iteration of these images has been the subject of academic analysis forever. You pick your interpretation and act accordingly.

There are a number of reasons why I'm not going to play Tera. The underlying sexualization of the design blueprint is certainly one of them. I'm not 15 any more and I don't especially want to be marketed to as though I were. Although come to that, it wouldn't have worked on me when I was 15 either.
 
I have several characters across a few games, about half are male, half are female, but the 'mains' do tend to be female. Some of my guildies question this, I always have the same reply 'if I'm going to be staring at an arse for hours at a time, its damn sure going to be a girls arse'

I've yet to have anyone disagree with that.
 
I'm quite definitely male and I frequently play female chars. Still.. I won't play a female Demonhunter. Something about those stilettos just feels wrong. And I'm actually absolutely fine with my female characters being fully covered in armor, without any parts looking out, thank you. Its nice that developers are trying to cater to fantasies, but it might actually be time to cater to a wider array of tastes, including the tastes of those who have to explain their character choice to their spouses ;)
 
It's true that the male character is also unrealistically healthy and muscular, similarly to the perfect body of the female avatar.

However male avatars are not sexualized. They are not dressed as Chippendale boys, not performing erotic moves or dances and the armor or clothing cover their bodies.

The real problem isn't that itself. You are right that men can enjoy their softporn fantasies in a video game. The problem is that it doesn't give an alternative model set for females to identify with a "proper" character or enjoy the same fantasies watching a Chippendale boy. This is disrespectful for female (and homosexual male) customers and stupidly so: it surely wouldn't be hard to make another 3-4 models where everyone could find a likable one.
 
Sorry for double post, I got the following idea later about

"It ends up criticizing people for the fantasies they have, and that is an extreme form of attempted mind control. You can't punish people for their dreams and fantasies not being politically correct."

Would you approve a WW2 fantasy game where the player take the avatar of an SS officer and would hunt down Jews?
 
As above, but add to that the simple fact that the user isn't allowed to make that choice for themselves, and instead has that force shoved on them by designers.

Look at SWTOR for a nice middle ground, where the players of female avatars can /choose/ how they want to portray themselves - from 'dancer' outfits to serious Sith and Republic body armor (and the trooper armor is as 'unisex' as it gets).

Bluntly, I really hate purile male power fantasies getting in the way of gameplay. We aren't Conan-all-men-are-rippling-all-women-are-sex-objects people anymore. It is both incredibly juvenile and demeaning.
 
Oh my, imagine the outrage if a game allowed you to choose a Chippendale-like avatar ;)
On the other hand: I also refuse to play male human mages in WoW. A mage who is muscular like a bodybuilder just doesn't ring right.
 
If you don't like the way a particular game is designed, whether it be cosmetics or mechanics, don't play the game. You have have a choice.
 
Comic books, clothing ads (think abercrombie), movies, etc... They all have muscular men and girls with itty bitty waists and big boobs. Why would anyone expect a video game to be any different??

I understand the catch 22 here though. Game designers will not design games that are female friendly because the market is so small. On the other hand, that market won't grow unless they design female friendly games.
 
Male characters being ridiculous isn't sexualization, its a nod to the power fantasy for a certain part of the male audience.

Female characters being ridiculous is just sexualization for a certain part of the male audience.

There is a difference.
 
What's really funny though is that more often than not the same people that complain about the chainmail bikinis because it is not realistic have no problem hurling magic fireballs with their mages five minutes after writing their complaint. :)
 
Muscular guys are not an analogue for how female fantasy and superhero characters look like to women.

This is.
 
@MagrothJ: Thats easy to explain. I expect games to be realistic inside their own parameters. If there is a system of magic then of course magic works. However I expect spells to behave consistently, the fireball that flies straight at the enemy one time shouldn't head skywards the next time, because that would be not realistic inside of that world. At places where we can't perceive any system that alters reality as we know it I assume that the normal laws of physics still work, making it impractical to wear armor that can't stop a swordstrike.
 
"What's really funny though is that more often than not the same people that complain about the chainmail bikinis because it is not realistic have no problem hurling magic fireballs with their mages five minutes after writing their complaint."

Thats not funny, its just you not understanding what people mean when they say that.

They dont mean "its not realistic compared with the real world".
They mean "its not realistic given the rules, mechanics and settings of the game".

Which is why people can accept a firebal being hurled by a mage, but not a female warrior taking hits while wearing a G-string chainmail suit.

Your welcome.
 
The stereotyping of male characters is nowhere on par with the one of female characters in terms of sexualization - but then, I am only echoing now what most commenters above me already have said.
most games cater to a young, male audience and that goes for their depiction of both sexes. it's no wonder therefore that many female gamers, but also male gamers looking for proper, badass female characters (or simply armor that makes sense inside the setting), complain about this one-sidedness in design. and that is not yet touching the greater social picture and huge issue of perpetuating unrealistic and unhealthy body images in popular media.

I could live with free choices in MMOs, but the truth is a big part of the playerbase is NOT free to play what they consider normal looking or agreeable characters. this is reflected in the character customization of most games and also the armor choices, often very dissimilar between male and female chars.
to me as a more oldschool player, this is as much a gender issue as it is also one of impacting on my immersion within the virtual world setting.
 
These are fantasy worlds so I am happy to allow players create sexy characters if they want. I do think that if we have chainmail bikinis though that we shoudl also have Chippendale wariors. Plus I would like to see the option to cover up for those that want to as well. Basically everything goes as long as some basic level of decency is enforced (no genitals probably).

What about the option to make ugly or disfigured avatars? I have seen posts on EVE's forums complaining about not being able to make overweight avatars.

In an ideal world shouldn't we be allowed to make disabled and disfigured avatars (and I don't just mean a sexy scar)? There are lots of games where these types of avatars could be justified from a role plaign perspective.

Sadly such a facility if allowed would probably be horribly abused. People would start modifying character's for shock value.
 
I know Spinks wants game designers to pander to her wants and wishes. Basically we all do. But its all about money and dollars. If your market share is large enough you will have designers pander to you. Plain and simple.

Otherwise if you are only a very small market then economic sense says those development dollars should be spent where the return on investment is greatest.

I can't understand why this simple concept is so hard to understand.
 
@Goodmongo

Is there not a potential market in Females buying games? The potential market is HUGE and more importantly "mostly" untapped. From a strictly "dollars and sense" point of view it would benefit the gaming industry greatly to invest in developing the female market.

It seems more like companies don't want to make huge investments to try to develop such an uncertain market for fear that competitors will capitalize on their investment without having to spend a dime. Which I would agree is very likely to happen.
 
@Degrin: Yeah, but game companies seem to think they've done their job catering to women if it involves cooking or the box is pink.
 
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They are not dressed as Chippendale boys, not performing erotic moves or dances

Did you never see a naked male elf dance on a mailbox in WoW?

But I totally agree that women have the right to demand more of their sexual fantasies in these games, and that this would increase sales.

Would you approve a WW2 fantasy game where the player take the avatar of an SS officer and would hunt down Jews?

Ah, Gevlon goes Goodwin. If all reasonable arguments fail, pull out the Nazis and the holocaust, because that argument beats all.

But look at the games we currently have in which the player take the avatar of a US soldier and would hunt down Arabs. I know that Arab programmers have made games in which the roles are the other way around, but obviously those games don't sell on a Western market. I'm sure some neo-nazis have made a game like the one you described. There is also a shooter in which you can assassinate JFK.

While all of these games are distasteful to some or many people, they are actually often legal as a form of free speech in many jurisdictions. Of course in some jurisdictions some subjects are considered to be so offensive as to be censored, and your game would be illegal in several European countries including Germany. But then the same is true for a hypothetical game in which you play a Tibetan freedom fighter if you'd try to publish that in China.
 
@Goodmongo
I dont believe it is necessary for market share at all. There are plenty of games that have some semblance of realism on female armour, and go on to do quite well.
I would cite Skyrim as a recent example of that.

Yes, that massive solo RPG that sold so many units, didnt cater to the G-string armor bikini crew.

Another obvious recent example is SWTOR. Yet another is ME3.

MMO designers might BELIEVE that they need the bikini armor to maximise market share, but evidence suggest that they are completely wrong.
Typically only the lower budget MMOs go with this "bikini market share" argument these days. Which would be the design crews with the most chance of completely miss-reading the target audience based on limited market analysis resource.
What does that tell you?
 
"Did you never see a naked male elf dance on a mailbox in WoW?

But I totally agree that women have the right to demand more of their sexual fantasies in these games, and that this would increase sales."


...uhh Tobold. :) I can't believe you're trying to equate the male nightelf stripped by a player (!) with all the systematic representation and design dissimilarities between male and female characters in all the online games out there. I am tempted to link this: http://derailingfordummies.com/entitlement.html

otherwise one must assume you don't really understand the issue players have with the standard depictions of women in games.
also I must ask why you see the solution in equally sexist presentations for both genders? personally, I don't play male characters and I couldn't care less for skimpy male armor. :)

I will second Remi; the whole "successful games need sexy" claim is a fallacy. nobody pays WoW subs for years because of boobs - if you are that type of player, there are a ton of free, asian MMOs out there with more opportunities. both SWTOR and Skyrim are examples too, or is anyone not playing SWTOR right now because of the missing hot chicks and boob plate?

For that matter, is anyone playing D3 because of the stilettos? Hardly. great games don't need this for success; and if they are, they're successful DESPITE it.
women are a big audience for online and browser games and continue to be. so big even CCP started thinking about strategies to involve them.

how hard is it to implement equal opportunities and freedom in a character customization or armor design (which happen to be major gripes)? hardly a matter of "huge investments". ;)
 
Gevlon's argument demonstrates that there is an obvious limit to your apparent assertion that living out fantasies should have no limits.

Honestly, sometimes it seems like you purposely post with crayon hues, when you know your readers have much more sophisticated palettes.

So, if one of your D&D players wanted to wear leather stilettos and panties a la the demon hunter, would you raise their armor class? Raise their charisma? Have insults hurled at them by NPC's? What if they were male? Would they be run out of most towns?

Player characters need to have some consistent social cues and structure since they are role playing. Part of hanging on to the R of RPG requires adhering to gender equality, at least with player characters.
 
But where does it end? If you allow feminists to stop Diablo 3 from having stiletto heels, then why would religious fundamentalist not be allowed to stop Diablo 3 from showing demons and devils? Everything is offensive to somebody, so if we remove everything offensive, we are left with nothing.
 
Tobold, you're too smart to use slippery slope arguments.

Now give me a good reason why I should not speak up if I see a character design I dislike.
 
I'll be honest here, I play Human and Draenei males almost exclusively in WoW because, well, despite their low polygon counts they are almost the equivalent of Chippendales. Now if only Blizzard would update the models...

I find the Diablo III argument fascinating, because they actually do have diversity of females and males in their classes. Yeah, Demon Hunter has stilettos, but the barbarian female is appropriately built for her job. Honestly I think the stilettos are definitely unrealistic (one push, really, and whee), but on the other hand I also think they've headed in the right direction overall.
 
If we remove everything offensive, we are left with nothing? How so? This is a strawman more than solid argument.
Why assume in general that things are being taken away from you, when games start to appeal to a wider, more mixed audience? That makes no sense to me. Virtual worlds are full of cooperative content we all love.
 
These are FANTASY games. They portray non-realistic environments, situations, and people. The fantasy is created in the minds of people who looks nothing like the creations they make, and they are sold to buyers who want to play in a world they themselves can only fantasize about.

All of you guys in this thread who are complaining about the sexualization of the women in these games are fooling yourselves at a minimum, and are outright hypocrites at worst.

You all are seriously saying that when you are at the bar with your buddies you're all staring and slavering over the unattractive girls? You talk about all the unattractive girls you see on TV? You dream about being with unattractive women? Hot women showing lots of skin don't turn you on? I don't think so.

Humans ARE sexual creatures, we HAVE to be - it is necessary to perpetuate our species. But for whatever reason we are constantly trying to deny that fact. We sexualize each other ALL THE TIME, so why not just admit it?

From what I have seen in real life, in general, unattractive guys have NO chance at hot girls, and unattractive girls have NO chance at hot guys. That is the way of our species. That is sexualization at work. There is reason why sex sells - you may not like it, but it's true. It's human instinct.

If nothing else these games are being true to our fantasies. We dream about being prettier, or more handsome, or stronger, or richer, or more famous than we are in real life. Because those things, like it or not, are important in real life. They increase our chances of survival, and our instincts know that.

I also agree with Spinks, a Demon Hunter in thigh-high stilettos is just plain stupid - no matter how hot she is.
 
Why assume in general that things are being taken away from you, when games start to appeal to a wider, more mixed audience?

Would you want to play a game in which all female characters are unattractive? How is that not taking away from things? A fantasy game in which people look exactly like the players at an average game convention would be too ugly to play for me.

And why should games be singled out for this treatment? If you go to the next newsstand, take a random magazine and flip through it, will you not find tons of advertising with sexualized images of women?
 
Nobody is arguing for games where all women are unattractive here? and where does it say attractive equals boob plate or stilettos? ...
I must say, you ARE painting with a very rough stroke today. I don't see how anything said in this comment section is so threatening to your personal gaming experience or anyone's.
 
But you say a character wearing high heels is threatening your game experience, and that is NOT painting with a very rough stroke?
 
Also, I am not singling out games - we just so happen to talk about them now, in your topic. ;)
 
Now give me a good reason why I should not speak up if I see a character design I dislike.

And why should I not speak up if I see a character design I don't think is so bad?

Ultimately it all comes down to the question of freedom of expression, free speech. Why should a game designer not have the right to depict characters as he likes them? He just needs to be prepared to live with the consequences, e.g. losing you as a customer. But then, on something so harmless as high heels he'll probably lose more customers by caving in and changing them to flat shoes.
 
What I say is that good games can dare appeal to more than one assumed audience. And that character design should include more and equal choices for both genders, reflecting a variety of people. My personal enjoyment is not based on the exclusion, objectification or in fact discrimination of entire player groups, I think fictional worlds especially have more room than that.
And I am still playing the same games as you, Tobold. It doesnt mean some things cannot change for the better.

Your viewpoint sounds an awful lot like you are feeling threatened by players asking for more choice and diversity for the games you happen to enjoy.
 
But you say a character wearing high heels is threatening your game experience, and that is NOT painting with a very rough stroke?

Tobold, does a woman wearing sensible shoes offend you? Do sensible shoes threaten your game experience? If the demon hunter had been designed with sensible shoes from the outset, would you be protesting that she needed high heels?

Why should YOU get to decide when SPINKS or anyone else is offended?
 
What offends me if game designers under pressure from spinks and company remove all high heels from their games and only flat shoes are left. Because how is that "more choice and diversity" if YOU get to decide what gets removed from the games I play?
 
@Remi and Kiseran:

Well you have fun arguing about that. Personally in a fantasy world where you can hurl fireballs I'm fine with chainmail bikinis and wearing stilettos while hunting demons. I really can't be bothered.
 
@Kobe
I haven't argued for that, but more overall choices. If you fail to grasp that concept, am afraid no fruitful debate can take place. Nobody has so far been able to explain how more and equal choices in character design are a bad thing for virtual worlds - and don't make this a case about D3 stilettos please. It is a general question aimed at all online games, especially those that feature player customization.

So, any answer to this at all?
but then, if anyone seriously believes that games have no more content "once all thats offensive gets removed", I should probably call it a lost cause, anyway.
 
What offends me if game designers under pressure from spinks and company remove all high heels from their games and only flat shoes are left. Because how is that "more choice and diversity" if YOU get to decide what gets removed from the games I play?

So based on reading other comenters here and what they are suggesting, would having the option to have either high heels or sensible shoes be an acceptable compromise?
 
I don't think anyone wants to remove a type of footwear option from the game. They just don't want to be pigeon holed into one option.

The other thing to look at though, is that maybe this look is what Blizzard was shooting for in its demon hunter female. They are the ones telling the story here, we are just experiencing it. To be honest, as a customer too much customizability in a game turns me off. Often times it turns the game into a circus.
 
would having the option to have either high heels or sensible shoes be an acceptable compromise?

Yes, and in fact this option is already IN the game. If you want to play a female character with sensible boots, you can do so, by choosing the female barbarian for example. If I want to play a female character with high heels, I can do so, by choosing the female demon hunter. If you want to play a demon hunter without high heels, you can play the male version. (I played the female version of the blood elf in WoW because I didn't like the look of the male one).

That is maximum choice, already there! Removing the high heels from the demon huntress would *diminish* everybody's choice, because there would be no high heels version left.

Of course even better would be a version in which you could choose your outfit individually, but not every RPG has that.
 
This isn't about one female avatar in heels. This is about the entirety of gaming culture, where women in games are scantily clad and using their sexuality as a weapon. It gets really really old after awhile to know that your gender is completely represented to appeal to the male gaze.

Tobold, your privilege is showing.
 
Well it isn't only in games...Look any Hollywood movie with a woman hero fighter...Aren't they objects of male sexual fantasies??with hot uniforms and the likes?

Also look the Male heroes on the movies. Aren't they all muscular bad-asses?

Personally I like the men to be muscular and the women hot in games. When I play a virtual world I want to escape from the real world. I want epic muscular Knights and hot princess to my virtual world. I leave the fat guys and the ugly women for my real one :P
 
"Of course even better would be a version in which you could choose your outfit individually"

I agree, that would be much better. The issue is, across the vast majority of games, when this option does not exist, the default avatar and styling for female characters is not designed in a way that appeals to women, nor in a way that appeals to both men and women, but in a way that appeals to male sexual fantasy. That offends many people and sends the message that they are not welcome in this hobby.
 
This is about the entirety of gaming culture, where women in games are scantily clad and using their sexuality as a weapon.

Really, I must have missed that option in Diablo 3. Or are you saying that you protest against game A because game B offends you?
 
"And why should I not speak up if I see a character design I don't think is so bad?"

Go right ahead, explain why you like it. But don't tell me that I'm committing some kind of thought crime against you by just saying what I think.
 
"That offends many people and sends the message that they are not welcome in this hobby"

It comes down to a simple question for a game company. Lets say X represents the number of people that they feel will buy the game with scantily clad women and y represents without.

If X>Y then you put it in. If Y>X then you don't, unless you feel it is worth it despite the loss in revenue.
 
Go right ahead, explain why you like it.

You make it sound as if high heels or a naked midriff is something which is very offensive to women. Have you been to any nightclub lately? Lots of women dress up like that voluntarily, because they know it looks good on them. Why would you want to deny them the option to look like that in a game?
 
"You make it sound as if high heels or a naked midriff is something which is very offensive to women."


Really? Do I? I never mentioned the word offensive at all. You made that up. I even said I didn't have any issues with the other character designs, all of which feature naked midriffs for the women.

I said I don't want my character to look like a stripper. I don't recall you clamouring for high heels in WoW or other games which didn't have them, whereas I've always been clear that I don't like the hotpants + thigh high stiletto look on korean games, or in this one (and it's tacky iRL also). Why is this such a big deal to you now?
 
I would prefer if footwear and character gender, controlling for class choice, did not have a mandatory correlation.
 
A reference was made to Skyrim. But have you checked out the mods for that game? There are tons of female armor mods that are bikini in nature. So there is a strong demand and given the option moddlers make them.

Bottom line is as long as deve dollars are limited they will make what sells. And contray to your beliefs unsexly femals don't sell well. You may not like it but thats a reality right now.
 
I feel weird that I am going to agree with Gevlon, but I think the primary issue is not entirely that the sexualization in fantasy EXISTS, but that it only goes one way.

Dozens have already pointed out the "buff man is male fantasy, sexy woman is male fantasy" point...so actually "Adding diversity" would be to allow people to play female characters that are not necessarily sexualized and men that are. It would probably offend some men (just look at the reaction to the old blood elves...I'd expect to hear "gay" thrown around).

Anyways, sum up, the issue is not entirely that the women are sexualized, but that the men aren't and the women have no other choice.
 
You did not mention what I perhaps incorrectly assumed was the motivation of this.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/4366248083
http://www.thedailyblink.com/2012/04/wake-up-sheeple/

I have no experience with Korean MMOs but the game "reporting" I read says that Terra is normative for those markets.

re "Avatars never have sex" - although I suspect that most of the people who buy companion gifts to raise affection with Mako or Vette in SWTOR are motivated more by the fade to black moments. And Second Life tried really hard.

I think your wolves hit on something: unless I am playing some dystopian downer, I expect *everything* to look and behave better. No pollution, litter, garbage stikes, broken plumbing, cancer, aging, Alzheimers, STDs or ED. I would prefer no "road closed due to flooding/snow" (looking at you zombie invasion)

I do think that male and females should have equivalent levels; although the game sets the bounds - e.g. SWTOR being pretty constrained by canon and CoH being very open. And there are a few things e.g. Incubus/sucubus/fertility gods that perhaps constrain.

I would also say "objects of typically-male sexual fantasies" to reflect the ten percent.
 
"That offends many people and sends the message that they are not welcome in this hobby."

A new player that is so easily offended wouldn't be sorely missed anyway...

Tera appears to cater to both males and females looking for sexy avatars.
 
What everyone is forgetting here, is that todays games are being made as a representation of our current culture. Right now, the thin, curvy, buxom female is the preferred body type in western culture. This wasnt so just a few hundred years ago when the rubenesque female was the preferred female body type. Just imagine how poorly a game would sell today if all the female characters represented the rubenesque body type from that time frame...high heels, or not.

[sarcasm
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a 6-pack of virtual beer to drink as I build myself into a trailer park tycoon - and hopefully before the aliens come and inseminate all the pretty women.
[/sarcasm]
 
Do female DHs always have boots with heels?

I only ask as I think Blizzard should be giving choices to customers rather than inferring one way or the other.
 
Tera is normative for the Asian market because it's a male-dominated society. Like ALL human societies were until fairly recently, like the past 100 years or so - a blink of the eye in terms of the length of human existence. The Asians KNOW it's male dominated. They don't try to pretend it's anything but, like we do.

Men sexualize women, and vice versa, and that's the way it's always been. It's impossible to change hundreds of thousands of years of a specie's behavior in a mere 100 years.

And regarding the 'rubenesque' body type. Don't be fooled by what you see. Rubens painted for rich folk. Rich women getting large eating lots of rich food. Don't assume the women he was commissioned to paint were typical, or even 'preferred' - except for their money. And also don't forget that the painters always tried to make their subjects look better than they really were - or else they wouldn't get paid. No pay - the painter doesn't eat. He will make them look like anything they wanted. The women in his paintings were probably cows in real life.
 
Would you want to play a game that is a virtual Saudi-Arabia in which all women are always modestly dressed and do not have the freedom to wear what they like? Right now Diablo 3 has the option to either play a female character with high heels or other other female characters without. Isn't that a great choice?
 
Would you want to play a game that is a virtual Saudi-Arabia in which all women are always modestly dressed and do not have the freedom to wear what they like?
Is that what you perceive people criticizing you would prefer?

But to answer your question.. maybe. One of the games in my play queue is Analog: A Hate Story, which reportedly examines Korean society in the Middle Ages. A stealth-based game about being female in Saudi Arabia could have rather interesting mechanics where just getting from A to B could be challenging due to clothing restrictions.

Right now Diablo 3 has the option to either play a female character with high heels or other other female characters without. Isn't that a great choice?
It's better than have all female characters in heels, but I wouldn't call it great.
 
It's better than have all female characters in heels, but I wouldn't call it great.

So you think all women and all men playing female characters would be better off if there was no option to play any female character in heels? Why? That would feel horribly restrictive to me, far more restrictive than the real world.
 
So you think all women and all men playing female characters would be better off if there was no option to play any female character in heels?
No. Saying that some choice is better than lack of choice doesn't imply lack of choice is better. I hope that helps!
 
"So you think all women and all men playing female characters would be better off if there was no option to play any female character in heels?"

Yes. Or rather, I think all players would be better off if none of the characters looked comically ridiculous and out of place in the game to the extent that the demon hunter does. I call it 'being thematic'.
 
I think all players would be better off if none of the characters looked comically ridiculous and out of place in the game to the extent that the demon hunter does.

There are two problems with that statement. First of all comically ridiculous and out of place are not the same thing. The male barbarian is comically ridiculous and very much in place.

Second, what is in or out of place depends on your personal vision and taste. I find the female demon hunter to be looking kickass, and thus very much in place. Even if of course she is as comically ridiculous as the male barbarian.
 
Quoting Gevlon for truth:

"it surely wouldn't be hard to make another 3-4 models where everyone could find a likable one"

Considering this game has been in development for 6 years (or longer with D2 out in 2000) and based on their experiences with WoW, it's pretty surprising that Blizz have restricted customisation to clothing dyes.

Character models are a personal thing and you are never going to please everyone 100% of the time. So give them some choices.
 
"I find the female demon hunter to be looking kickass, and thus very much in place."

Well your fanservice is in the game so you must be pleased that the designers share your view. So why are you so angry that I don't like it and dared say so?

For sure we don't have to agree, but why did it make you so angry that you felt the need to post about it in terms of me trying to exert mind control (which you must see is daft.)
 
Huh? Where do I say that I am angry? Does my post really strike you as an angry rant?

My blogging in general works like this: I see something talked about in the news, on other blogs, in some game forum. I think about the issue. I write what I think about the issue, including a link to the post that made me think about it. That is all there is to it.

My opinion that games are just games, and fantasy isn't real, is a very general one which I have written about in hundreds of blog posts. I sincerely believe that lots of people take games *far* too seriously.

For me protesting against high heels in Diablo 3 is in the same category as protesting against the ending of Mass Effect 3, protesting against inclusion of / lack of homosexuality in games, and protesting against the inclusion of devils and demons in Dungeon & Dragons. It is at best futile, and more often counterproductive, as developers end up having to compromise their artistic vision with political correctness.
 
"For me protesting against high heels in Diablo 3 is in the same category as protesting against the ending of Mass Effect 3..."

Good point. Removing high heels would be a clear violation of artistic integrity.
 
Tobolod,

If that is the case, then why do you claim that the person Syncaine really is evil based on what he says about in game events in one case, but Spinks is taking things too seriously in another case? You are just taking your personal preferences and values, and basically saying that anyone who doesn't agree with you is wrong. I get that this is blogging and you want to express your opinion, that's fine, but if blogging is going to be a conversation, listening to the other party is part of the deal.

You believe, so far as I can tell, that a person in the real world can be harmed by in game actions and speech by other players that are directed at the out of game person. Spinks, again, so far as I can tell, believes that developer actions in the form of character design cause harm to a segment of the players. What you are arguing at this point is that something that is a matter of taste for you, "I think high heels look cool," is more important than the harm caused to Spinks, who looks at them and concludes that Blizzard has very little respect for women. AND you are then dismissing her as taking things too seriously when she says so.
 
If anybody who creates anything, be that a game or a blog post or a painting or a book, tries to absolutely make sure that not a single person in the world could possibly be offended by his creation, his work is already dead before he started. It is simply an impossible task.

The only viable thing to do is to judge every creation in its cultural context. Thus in this case, if you would not be shocked and surprised by seeing somebody dressed like the demon huntress at a party, or on the pages of a magazine, I would say it is conform with the cultural norm of today. Now you might not be happy with the cultural norm of today, but that shouldn't be the problem of the game developer.

I never said spinks is "wrong" or that her opinion is less valid than mine. She said her piece, I am saying mine, and we disagree. It is clearly a matter of opinion with no scientific right or wrong. And if we lived in Saudi-Arabia, her point of view would be closer to the cultural norm than mine. But as we live in countries where women have the right to wear stiletto heels, and some do so voluntarily, it is very hard to argue that me not minding seeing those heels in a game is morally wrong.
 
I can hardly believe that it was the Demon Hunters stilettos that brought this up and not the fact that every single female version of the 5 classes starts off scantly clad. Admittedly, so does the male barbarian an witch doctor, but it seems like the heels would be a minor gripe compared to that.
 
If Spinks or anyone female lived in Saudi-Arabia you couldn't have a female demon hunter. I doubt if you could even have a demon hunter unless the demon represented a different religion.
 
Exactly!
 
I thought it was escapist fantasy. If it is escapist fantasy, then what do the cultural norms of today have to do with the design? The design should fit in the game world. If it's NOT escapist fantasy, then why are characters idealized? They should be realistic. I happen to think that it is escapist fantasy, and that high heels on an adventurer don't make sense in that context of Diablo. I do, however, think high heels make sense for the Guildwars Mesmer, for example, because the design of both the male and female characters and the class description depicts them as nobility/performers.

And yeah, you are never going to not offend everyone, but women are what, slightly over 50% of the population? I don't think thats a terribly difficult mark to hit.
 
I don't think thats a terribly difficult mark to hit.

Are you saying that high heels on a demon huntress are considered to be offensive by all women, and if Blizzard would make a survey among all female players 100% of them would vote to have them removed?

I believe you are wrong there. It *is* a terribly difficult mark to hit. Which is exactly why I mentioned cultural norms. Whether something is offensive to somebody depends on cultural norms as well as individual preferences. As long as a female game character is dressed in a way which could easily be imagined in the real world outside of a strip club, you will not get 100% of all women to agree that this is offensive.

Don't you think there is a possibility that a woman sees the Diablo 3 demon huntress and says: "Wow! Cool outfit! Where can I get one like that?" instead of being offended?
 
Sure there could be someone who isn't offended. Turn the whole thing around though. Imagine a world where Blizzard created the Demon Hunter without high heels, can you imagine anyone saying "You know, I really like the Demon hunter female, but I just don't understand why she isn't wearing high heels." In that context, does that statement make any sense at all?
 
I suppose we could make the same comments about movies, where the actors are all good looking, and strong, and lucky and capable of performing amazing stunts.

Designers know that cool sells, but so does drama.

Games are far less offensive than the real world. At least things like death and pollution and taxes aren't permanent!
 
@Kobe

That is a terrible argument. If they left out a scar on the barbarian's face that would have otherwise been there, do you think there would be a huge clamour to put a scar in that location because it made the barb "look cooler"? Every little bit adds to the design and vision of the creator. Just because something was not added and no one asked for it, that doesn't mean it wouldn't "enhance" the design.

In the case of the high heels, many of those opposed seem more concerned with the possible sinister motives behind the character design than say whether or not it actually fits with the rest of the character's overall "Look".
 
Imagine a world where Blizzard created the Demon Hunter without high heels, can you imagine anyone saying "You know, I really like the Demon hunter female, but I just don't understand why she isn't wearing high heels." In that context, does that statement make any sense at all?

I can imagine a world where Blizzard created the Demon Huntress without high heels and got a review back complaining about the bland-looking unattractive characters.

I can also imagine a world where Blizzard first publishes a Demon Huntress with high heels, gets some complaints, and changes the character to not have high heels. It is because I am afraid of that world that I wrote my post.
 
Tobold:


"It is because I am afraid of that world that I wrote my post" is really telling - you're saying that YOUR choices and what YOU consider attractive is the criteria that matters. Because obviously it would be game-breaking if the Demon Huntress did not have high heels!

Why is it that when Spink's objects to a cosmetic feature, it's meaningless and unimportant and 'harmless' and she should just play something else and when YOU object to it, it's an assault on free speech that will lead to the downfall of the game?

And saying it's because Blizzard shouldn't 'cave' to their customer base is particularly meaningless since you feel like they SHOULD cave in the case of 'I can imagine a world where Blizzard created the Demon Huntress without high heels and got a review back complaining about the bland-looking unattractive characters.'

What about their freedom of speech to have bland-looking, unattractive characters as part of their vision?

[Not that I think that no highheels = bland looking, unattractive but just to point out that your logic isn't even internally consistent]

Why do you think it's more important for you to have the choice to play a character with a cosmetic difference than for Spink's to have the choice to play a character with a game-playing/mechanical difference? Why is protecting your choice (over something 'harmless') more important than protecting the choice of others? Those are the questions you should be seriously asking yourself.
 
I just watched an hour of Dancing with the Stars. Having seen the racy outfits worn on prime time TV I find it difficult to indict any game developers for copying the same sort of sexualization widely prevalent in our society.
 
you're saying that YOUR choices and what YOU consider attractive is the criteria that matters

No, I'm saying that the criteria that matter are the artistic vision of the game developers, free from external pressure. If Blizzard WANTED to make bland characters, that would be okay with me. If they got pressured into it, I object.
 
I've just reveiwed every female race in every class of transmog gear and there does not seem to be any over-sexualization of a Horde Orc Shaman or other combinations in plate, cloth, leather or mail gear.
I admit that players can choose to dress Elves, Dranei or Human females to make them look "hotter". However, that is the player choosing to add the sexualizing content to their character. It is not a choice they are forced to make by the game developer.
I would take the Warlock Succubus as something more tongue in cheek humorous.
 
"No, I'm saying that the criteria that matter are the artistic vision of the game developers, free from external pressure. If Blizzard WANTED to make bland characters, that would be okay with me. If they got pressured into it, I object."

Except that doesn't follow from your comments before, in which you say "And why should I not speak up if I see a character design I don't think is so bad?"

IE, external pressure is external pressure, whether it's approval or disapproval.

[It's also ridiculous to view video games from the lens of sacrosant art rather than what they are, which is a consumer driven product]
 
You are just splitting hairs. Fact is that I am *not* asking Blizzard to add high heels to the other female characters, but you *are* asking Blizzard to remove them, resulting in a game with less choice and conform to the narrowminded wishes of a prudish minority.
 
Wow Tobold, you really kicked the hornet's nest this time.

I'll just leave this here and be quiet. Sexualization of gaming clearly has a business impact, most probably increasing game sales; if not, it wouldn't be so incredibly rampant. I'm sure we can all think of a gaming website or box cover that sells sensational imagery instead of actually advertising a product.

As for the morality of sexualizing the game imagery ... yeah, I ain't touching that with a 10 foot pole. All of you are entitled to your opinions and I will happily keep mine to myself.
 
personally I'd be just fine if both sexes would get a range of outfits/body builds - from super slender to hefty, from very skimpy to full out heavy armor. give us a bit of variety. Demon hunter's heels bother me, because as someone who actually likes wearing heels? you will not be able to fight effectively, wearing those.

@Remi - other then female Shepard (and even her is questionable as she seems to have gotten some.. work done in a chest and butt area)- Mass Effect 3 is not a good example of female to male equality when it comes to sexualization (ME2 started down on that path, but ME3 took it overboard)

female characters tend to wear skimpier outfits, they outright came out and said that they wanted to make Ashley look sexier, don't even get me started on Miranda and interesting camera angles, or EDI's body, complete with cameltoe. or romance scenes in general

ME1 however, got it mostly right, since everyone regardless of gender wore the same looking armors, or off duty clothes. there was matriarch Benezia, but that's pretty minor, all things considered.
 
"I can also imagine a world where Blizzard first publishes a Demon Huntress with high heels, gets some complaints, and changes the character to not have high heels. It is because I am afraid of that world that I wrote my post."


Well, that world is already here. (It's also the world of the beta test where testers give feedback and make suggestions and developers consider them and take action if they agree, by the way.) Remember when Blizzard changed the male blood elf model because male testers thought they were too feminine? Remember recently when Blizzard changed some of the dialogue on one of the panda NPCs because people complained about it being sexist?

It happens. And it's legit. And it's perfectly legit to give feedback during beta. Get over yourself.
 
Its an interesting topic, I'll do a plus and a minus point:

Plus: The Female Demon Hunter reminded me of Anna (Kate Beckinsale's character) in the Van Helsing movie.

If you look carefully at the poster, that character is wearing stiletto boots. I cant tell if the character wore that in the movie though.

Minus: Gear changes dependant on the gender AND class of the character using them. So if a Male Demon Hunter picks up a tunic, it will become a Jerkin for him, but if a Female Monk picks it up, it will become a halter - why cant gear just stay the same no matter who is using them?
 
Man I got to laugh at a lot of this. I play Age of Conan...yup total Frank Frazzetta sexualization there. Also with the advent of thier vanity armor males and females can have the pwoer upgrades of X armor and run around naked if they want.

Funny thing is, my wife also plays the game. She has no objections save that even when you use the slider bars for breast size to minimum...well it's still a C cup. But you don't have to always look like a sex kitten in that game. Matter of fact you can create your toon female or male to look ugly, fat, out of shape if thats what you wish.

I do think they should have made a better effort on thier muscle scaling because even at minimum, males still look pretty athletic.

Anyways, people in that game have the optioin to dress as they please. Yes, fem armors are still pretty scanty. Ok, and?

It's a fantasy. Most of the female players that play female toons make thier toons look sexy. I've raided with more than a few females in the game, knwoing them on vent. Not one of them has purposely made a non sexy toon. Most still opt to wear revealing or very feminine outfits. Why does this have to be demonized?

I do think it's kinda silly to have a woman sprinting and killing in spike heels, especially in a fantasy setting.
 
LOL at chainmail bikini.. I've never heard of that! I'm curious and must now Google for a screen shot! When I read the title of the blog post, "Are virtual worlds representations of the real world," I didn't think it would be a discussion about avatar looks. I thought it might have been about a person's real world personality/actions vs. their avatar's personality/actions, etc. I would like the designers to give us more customization options for our avatars to look unique. I don't like it when there are a lot of other avatars running around that look exactly like mine.
 
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