Category Archives: Gender

Women of Overwatch: A Closer Look at Character Diversity

I keep creating more tags for my blogposts which is a real problem. I have SO many tags by now!

Anyway, Overwatch! Blizzard have finally revealed the last of their 21 heroes (funny number?) this Blizzcon, several of which were female characters hooray! And not just your standard fare either – looking at the final 8 heroines, you can tell that Blizzard have actually made an effort in the right direction and are listening to some of that criticism related to representation in character-driven gaming. For their newer games, anyway.

Zarya and Mei

Zarya and Mei

Of course there is no pleasing some people which is one of my biggest gripes with extreme internet culture. You can browse that Kotaku link above to find commenters faulting Zarya’s design for being “too stereotype”. Now look, yes the characters are still stereotypes – for one, the entire game is based on hefty cultural/ethnic stereotypes for both its male and female candidates. Overwatch is doing what most oldschool beat’em ups used to: featuring folk from “around the world” representing a specific country. Their looks are stereotypes, their accents are stereotypes (although I think they should have hired me to voice for Mercy!) and there will be gender-related stereotypes. Also this being a Blizzard title, everything is highly stylized rather than nuanced.

Presence of such stereotypes need not mean absence of diversity however. I am pleased with the variety Overwatch is bringing in terms of female character design and role combos! I’m already loving some of them, so let’s have a closer look at what we actually got, shall we?

Overwatch heroine overview

First off, I did a quick breakdown of role-age-flavor for all 8 female characters, to get a very basic idea:


– The average age of Overwatch’s women is 28.8. For men it is 36.9. Two of the 13 male characters are non-human.
– While role spread is even for the ladies, there are only two male supports (plus 3 tanks, 4 def, 4 off).
– 25% of female body types fall into a skinny/sporty category, 37% into curvy/sexy (with heels, no bare midriffs tho!) and 37% into heavier/muscled types. About half of them can be considered classic “pretty or cute characters”, the other half ranging from tomboy geeky to strong athletic types (no less attractive but obviously not exactly standard, either). Gear choice and role correspond to these flavor differences (healers…) which makes more or less sense.
– For male character design, about 23% can be considered attractive/hot in a western culture mainstream sense (Hanzo, Lucio, McCree). Generally, with the exception of Hanzo, male characters wear non-sexy gear with little to no notable skin bared (bare bellies also for Junkrat and Roadhog…not hot).

Naturally, these are my subjective impressions of the 21 playable characters, your mileage may vary here and there. I’ve intentionally used simplified, superficial characteristics which serve the purpose of this overview. Body types, armor and role spread (sometimes even gender-locked roles) are an often discussed subject in online games and players are quick to write off characters as the “hot or ugly ones”.

In action and depending on additional gear to come, things may yet change. To me it seemed useful to analyze actual numbers behind Blizzard’s approach to the Overwatch roster. There’s some refreshing stuff going on just like there are still differences between male and female representation. The most significant differences are age range and what I personally wanna call rugged/scarred/crazy characters which remain firmly the province of men. All the female champions seem neat enough and aware of body hygiene.

With all that in mind, there is more character diversity in Overwatch than I am personally used to from MOBA/TF-types and the 8:11 gender split (not counting non-humans) is very nice. So for that I give kudos to the Overwatch crew! Progress happens one step at a time – I’ll take whatever I can.

The Year of Un-Deception: A 2014 Pre-Recap

As the articles on “2014 – the worst year for videogames” are piling up (gotta love sensationalist headlines), I am contemplating my personal year of gaming. I usually start preparing my best games of the year-post around this time, as well as a round-up of the greatest videogame soundtracks. I have no plans to deviate from this course at present and when it comes to the actual games at least, my 2014 really wasn’t half as bad as apparently some people’s. But more on that another time.

Of course it’s gamergate that has marked 2014 as a black year for gaming and on a more personal note, it has impacted on bloggers, podcasters and people I call friends from this here MMO blogosphere. This is something I eye with much concern because if there’s something that gaming needs more of, it’s the type of diverse and welcoming community that has been established within the micro-cosmos of my blogroll. I am down when my friends are down and especially when one of them is taking their leave. However on a very personal and direct level, I am still evaluating my own feelings in regards to how gamergate has affected me. And it’s almost chilling to admit that I don’t feel particularly anything over all the ugliness that has come to light since August 2014. It’s too familiar – so unlike this tiny blogging niche that I inhabit and which is special in so many ways.

Is this really the darkest year for gaming or is it not much rather the year where some rotten dams broke and a lot of taboos were finally (and in some places aggressively) challenged and put on the spot? Did parts of the gaming community get toxic all of a sudden or were they not much rather always a hostile place for anyone not bowing to the established, unspoken norm? What gamergate stands for is that greater societal issues which are very much alive in gaming too, have finally been given a prominent voice and are receiving mainstream attention (time they caught up). That is threatening and it’s only when a status quo is truly challenged when things get ugly. But this also means that things are finally in motion.

While speakers don’t realize it anymore in everyday language, the German word for “disappointed” has a rather intriguing, literal meaning: it’s to be “un-deceived”. If we feel disappointment, it is generally because we were let down on our expectations – our hopes, dreams, illusions maybe. In any case, there was a deception of some kind involved and quite often it’s a self-created one as much as the other way around. [source]

We keep reading about or preaching how change hurts but when we find ourselves in the middle, we can’t stand the heat. Societal change of any magnitude is tough and no eye will be left dry – no, not the advocate’s either. Yet, gamergate and all the disappointment and pain it has caused is preferable to illusions we may have allowed ourselves to live in and which lulled us in treacherous passivity. There is nothing worse than a false sense of security while the years go by with nothing truly improving.

So, this year we’ve established that gaming and gamers aren’t a better society than any other – tadaa? What is there to be had other than working with and from within our very own, tiny and handpicked communities anyway?

It always gets worse before it gets better

International media have recently exploded over police violence in the US against black citizens. It’s easy to get involved and upset over cases like Eric Garner’s because for once, they are getting attention and are being widely reported on. That doesn’t change the fact that this reality has been many people’s reality always – or that black men are disproportionally more often ending up in jail or getting killed resisting an arrest compared to white men, on any given day. This isn’t news, yet right now everyone is up in arms about it. The fact that there’s been demos and in some places not-so peaceful riots, well…you don’t get to choose the face of change. If riots seem ugly to you, think of the ugly reality some people deal with every day of their lives that drives them to such extreme and dangerous (for them as well) measures. I don’t condone violence but it’s hypocritical to shake your head over Ferguson when you probably never even knew about the place beforehand and about everything that pushed so many marginalized people to a breaking point. Condemning riots is the tone argument of the privileged. It is also a tool of maintaining the establishment when ironically, violence has so many way more harmful and insidious faces.

"Whatever you do, don't swear."

Whatever you do, don’t swear.

Social change isn’t about making you feel comfortable, it’s about changing things. This brings me back to gamergate and all the ways it’s been uncomfortable but also, all the ways it heralds progress if we manage to perceive it that way. I’ve said it on a related CMP podcast before, the fact that so many people have started to talk about gaming culture or in support of women in gaming this year, is bewildering in a fantastical way. And yes, it also brings the most toxic of our non-community to the table but they have always been there, driving individuals out of this hobby. Did we believe they would welcome more and more diverse forces claiming games for themselves with open arms?
Thankfully, gamegate has brought new allies to the table too and like Liore started vetting her twitter community more closely, mine has not just seen people removed over gamergate but many join as well. Things have been moving and becoming clearer.

On an recount of my gaming background on Gameskinny a while ago, I talked about how I was driven out of a male-dominated gaming forum I had been active in for a decade. The type of treatment and in some cases harassment (not detailed in the article) I’ve received over the years cannot be compared to what some female developers and journalists targeted by the 4chan gamergate crowd went through, but there are all too familiar parallels. I know perfectly well how it feels not to be accepted as a legit member of a community you are contributing to because of your gender. I know how it feels to be scared because the usual rules of online life versus offline don’t apply in your case. This has been my reality and many other female gamers’ always, just as it’s been the reality of women professionally involved in the games industry. It’s just that nobody ever talked (much) about it and the topic certainly didn’t make it into the Colbert Report.

Only when I discovered this small community of MMO bloggers I barely dare call myself a part of, for fear of finding this fragile butterfly shatter too, did I realize there is still a place for people like me – women like me, gamers like me.

You gave me hope and hope was a change. Now change gives me hope. So no, for me personally 2014 is far from the worst year in gaming; a tough year for sure but also a year of more discussion, critical debate and alliances than ever before. And if the “community” has gotten more polarized over it in the long run, that too is part of the process that leads to inevitable change. I live in a country whose relatively consensual and pragmatic way of handling a rare form of representative democracy is in fact not grounded in consensus but on polarities so far removed and so established, that they cannot deal with each other in any other way but with compromise. If radicalization is how it’s gonna be, best get it over with.

I believe in inevitable, bumpy progress. Most of all, I hope to see everyone who is, with an open heart and mind contributing to gaming culture, back in 2015! To my fellow bloggers, podcasters, streamers, commenters and twitterers: your voice matters, more than ever. The only way this 2014 could be the worst year in gaming is if niche communities like ours went quieter and lost faith in their power to reach kindred spirits and change the face of gaming for somebody out there. Somebody like me.

A good Friday to all of you – the un-deceived who are struggling, the un-altered set to alter and all those who will find their strength renewed. Thank you for being my company.

Where all the Hate comes from

This is a very personal post. If you’re unaware of the events around gamergate or lack feminism’s 101, you won’t be educated by me here. 

After an intense discussion of the events around gamergate for an upcoming CMP round-table, I got talking some more about the internet mob and general hostility directed at women like Anita Sarkeesian with the excellent Roger and Sean. The comment that really kicked this off was Roger pointing out how Sarkeesian never actually condemns anyone for enjoying the games she’s covering; neither does she claim you’re a horrible person nor does she ask developers to stop creating violent content full stop. What she does for the most part, is pointing out how carelessly most of the violence against women is included in games and how it differs from violent imagery in general.

So why is this woman met, no stalked with such extreme aggression? Why can we observe similar irrational, emotional responses all the time when the topic is representation in games or a feminist concern? Some gaming press articles lately have identified a sub-group of “socially inept male gamers with female resentments” that are panicking at the prospect of the industry changing, as the main driving force behind the attacks on Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn. While I have known few such individuals myself firsthand, it doesn’t explain why so many gamers from much more diverse backgrounds and areas of life are allying themselves with the gamergate or notyourshield tags. I’ve witnessed similar hostility to reasonable feminist concerns from some of the best people I know, so it’s clearly not just a few left-overs from 80ies gaming culture that like to sneer and spit when confronted with uncomfortable questions.

Everyone wants to be a good guy

I grew up in a very sexist family. Like most in similar situations, I didn’t realize this until much later in my life. My family was what I knew, what was normal. I knew my mother wasn’t in any way on equal footing with my father but I had never heard of the term feminism, only of emancipation in more negative terms every now and then. There was much that I hated about my past when I finally moved out at 20 but I had no name yet for the natural oppression of the women in our family context. I only felt acutely that we didn’t deserve to be treated like second class citizens.

I was also for a large portion of my life what I liked to call a tomboy. I preferred the company of boys – they shared my interests, they were easier to get along. I kinda deluded myself that I was part of certain clubs when I really wasn’t. Much worse however, is that I actively perpetuated my state of “not getting along with women”. I didn’t know why I had no female friends and in my book none of that was my fault. It was cool too, who needs women, right? Oh god.

The moment that first bubble burst was really painful; when I realized how I never really had a voice in my own family, how I didn’t stand up for myself or other women, how society treated me differently from men in many areas of life. The system is rigged against me. And men too in some ways. I had felt it hundreds of times like Neo in the Matrix but I hadn’t grasped the overwhelming picture up to the point when I started educating myself. I was angry, I was defensive. There was no way all of it could be true. But once you’ve become sensitive to these matters and you start going back, analyzing situations and becoming more aware of how people are treated around you on a daily basis, you can’t deny sexism any longer. Not the one targeted at you and not the one perpetuated by yourself. It’s a horrible feeling and difficult to face.

My second bubble burst a lot later, the question of why I don’t have female friends. I should probably add that I do have a very close female friend since childhood, but in many ways she’s a copy of me and I never managed to connect to another woman until I was 30, internet buddies aside (you are all awesome and I do owe you). The truth is I did want to have women as friends but I wouldn’t admit my own inadequacy. How can you not get along with 50% of all people? Around 30, things changed when I met a co-worker from Vancouver who I really connected with. It was scary as hell but it got me taking a hard look at myself and how I still treat women differently from men when by now, I should know better. And I’m not alone – I keep watching my female co-workers cheer on guys for being assertive while attacking women for the same traits, I witness jealousy, unsupportiveness and double standards that don’t apply to male colleagues and it makes me sick to my stomach. I don’t want to be like this.

It’s so hard to disconnect yourself from the culture you are taught by your parents and society around you, the one that is never questioned. It’s hard to accept that you’re part of a system and part of the problem. It’s much easier to get defensive and spiteful, to blame others or deny the truth. Growing pains.

Everyone likes to think of themselves as the good guy. [R.D. Precht, German Philosopher]

Nobody likes to hear that they’re part of an unjust system or that they’ve got privileges they do not deserve. Men and women struggle with the idea of sexism because they’re both complicit one way or another, before making conscious effort to question the status quo. Some take great offense at being called profiteers of the system, others take equal offense at the suggestion they might be systematically slighted, because they consider themselves strong enough and not part of “those other, weak women”.

Now, Anita Sarkeesian’s videos might not be condemning games or gamers but they constantly rattle the matrix. They force you to question what’s given and consider your own role and motivations. That path inevitably leads to bursting bubbles. It’s uncomfortable and painful – so much easier to unleash wrath upon the source of all that discomfort. The irrational hate directed at Sarkeesian is fueled by kicking and screaming fear. There’s no denying it: once you’ve opened that door, it truly is the end of the world as you knew it.

The Crusade against the SJWs

There is a waxing resentment being nurtured by gamergate and notyourshield exponents against so-called “social justice warriors” (and white knights). If you consider this briefly, it is a pretty horrible state to be in, to fight against social progress or those that speak for more inclusion and equality. How can anyone be against that?

This too, begs for a brief digression. I was for a period of my life a vegetarian for several reasons. I am not any more although meat is still a rare commodity in my diet. Anyone who thinks we eat animals for any better reason than because we can, is likely to get my eyebrow together with a link to Eating Animals. However, I was never a confrontational or preachy vegetarian. It was a personal choice and I wanted to be left alone just as much as I ignored others. I wasn’t complicated either, I’d eat whatever was left minus the meat when invited to friends. Despite all of that, my vegetarianism became the most unexpected and eye-opening social experiment for all the unprovoked hostility it exposed me to. I had people mock me, question my motives and trying to drag me into discussions of explaining myself. Some became instantly apologetic or embarrassed. My mere presence at some social gatherings was an issue, I was a spoilsport for no better reason than ordering ‘without the meat’.

I had never been aware of the deeply rooted, sacred ritual of eating meat/food together in our culture until I disturbed said ritual. I had become a point of vexation to some, like a silent reminder of all the questions they did not want to ask about their own consumerism. I didn’t mean to hold a mirror to anyone but it happened anyway. Genuine disdain was directed at me simply because I refused to be “complicit in eating meat”. I don’t know how many times I had someone tell me “you know, you’re not better than me” or “it doesn’t change a thing anyway”.

And that’s what “social justice warriors”, aka people who give a shit, do: inadvertently or not, they hold a mirror to anyone that chooses lazy complacency. They remind others that there are injustices yet to be fought right under their nose. Defensiveness and aggression are a typical reaction to feeling blame or guilt. Mocking those that care more than you do is a fine diversionary tactic.

No hatred more passionate than the hatred for a truth that hurts.

Truth hurts

Change isn’t comfortable. You can hide behind tone arguments but at the end of the day, if you’re at all committed to matters of social progress or equality, you have to accept that bubbles will burst. You have to accept pain and confusion on an existential level. And you will need to be brave.

The moments when you feel like screaming and kicking those who have caused your discomfort, are most likely the ones where you get to learn the most about yourself.

Off the Chest – Rant Edition: Ballroom MMOs, The Emperor’s new Indie and Fantasy Games


Am I gonna rant. I can’t say I’ve been particularly amused where some recent developments in the game industry are concerned. In fact, I detect a backward trend – of faux values or faulty conclusions, especially where game journalism is concerned, a celebration of pretentiousness and a hype of the trivial that makes me wonder when we stopped asking games for everything in order to receive something, preferably better.

Ever, Jane – Bringing Women’s Fantasies to Video Games

If there’s one thing I personally like to do less than having to read one more Jane Austen novel in my life, it’s playing a Jane Austen MMO. To be perfectly clear here: I’ve no issue with players excited for new, non-combative MMO concepts nor the developers of EJ for that matter. I am incredulous that kickstarter was funded but whatever floats your boat. If ballroom dances replace “epic raids” for you and gossip is a preferable form of combat, why not knock yourself out in a romanticized historical period setting where women were worth less than silver cutlery – yes why not? That prospect is about as exciting and empowering to me as root canal treatment but what has really kicked off this whole EJ-rant is the subtle assumption that this particular game is somehow for women. Or as was stated so wonderfully in a recent interview title on Ever, Jane – Bringing Women’s Fantasies to Video Games!


Whoever is responsible for that wording on one of the most popular MMO gaming sites today, needs to seriously check themselves. I gotta say, it’s a depressing time for female gamers when the MMO worlds we are seeking out ignore us completely or make us a mere afterthought – and the ones we don’t wish to be part of are supposedly MADE for us! Oh the lofty art of gossip, such a womanly skill indeed!

Indiemania – Because nostalgia fills in all the gaps! NOT.

In April 2012 Jim Sterling of Gamefront asked the provocative but very reasonable question of whether we are being too generous to indie games. One year and a half later, after having had some of the best times with stellar titles such as Don’t Starve and Dust: AET this 2013, as well as some of the most incredulous laughs since Atari multigame packs (ou…ya), I echo his sentiment. The unabashed praise that some indie games have received of late by game journos for doing one thing right (thank god for commenters) as opposed to the top level criticism received by full-package, all-around polished titles such as Bioshock Infinite or Assassin’s Creed IV BF, is nothing short of a baffling double standard – not to mention unjust towards anyone involved in creating latter games. For some reason it’s become a very personal, almost unacceptable matter to sternly criticize indie developers. Yet, with big labels it’s still “anything goes” because no real people and livelihoods are involved there.

As Rampant Coyote recently pointed out, what makes the indie “revolution” so great is the liberation, the literal independence from investors, publishers and distributors due to the chance for smaller venues to get noticed in a sea of big fish –

The whole “revolution” and term “indie” was really about a back-door way to set ourselves apart from the guys spending millions of dollars on TV ads, so that gamers *might* take look off the beaten path once in a while and see what we were doing. To the people (especially the press) who weren’t really paying attention, sure – it’s a revolution. Or maybe just a revelation. They turn the corner from their thoroughfare and say, “Holy crap, when did all THIS stuff get built?” and don’t realize it’s all been there forever. [Rampant Coyote]

What indie absolutely isn’t, is a commendation of any kind; an assurance of quality or innovation or worse, an excuse for laziness and mediocrity. Naturally, the successes of titles such as Braid have created a bubble, encouraged an unmanageable flood of cheap copies and lazy attempts at retro homage to a point where ugly pixel graphics and 8bit bleeps are associated with being subversive, deviant or new wave. As someone who actually doesn’t consider retro new wave because I‘ve been to original retro, I’ve endured original retro, let me say this: there is no inherent virtue in pixel graphics. None.


Superbrothers Sword & Sorcery

Now, some games make the retro look their own; they take it a step further, creating something beautiful or unique. These games are rare. They stand out from the crowd and justify simplicity. They don’t look retro because they “were rushed” or “didn’t have the manpower” or “funds”. They still deliver a package. One of my favorite games this year was created by one guy – it features the most polished 12-hours gameplay experience, retro and contemporary indie homages alike, a deep story with loveable characters, secrets to discover and an off-the-charts soundtrack. You’ll hear no one-man indie excuses from Dean Dodrill.

I have no indie love for indie’s sake. I’ve no love for games that get slack for reason XY when others don’t – that’s not how I perceive my role as a gamer. I’ve no love for game journalists celebrating the emperor’s new clothes in a rush of undifferentiated or artsy hype, at no one’s service but their own. I’ve no love for developers trying to get a free pass for pushing my nostalgia buttons –

We should all strive to look past the smoke and mirrors of modern indie developers, to see which ones are passing off shitty games as indie darlings by pulling on our nostalgic heartstrings. We ought to tell an emotionally engaging art game from one that’s just making indirect references to the “human condition” in order to look smarter than it is. [source]

I am not interested in asking less of games. I still want games to get better in every way possible. And I hope this has something outrageously good going for it, because it sure as hell doesn’t look that way. We can have the morals and the story, as well as the package? Sorry I even asked! (GOTY of 2014: PONG!)

Seriously, there’s no such thing as enough (good) fantasy MMOs

This last argument isn’t so much a rant as a disagreement really and an evergreen at that. The lovely Mike Foster over at Massively recently ventured forth to state that we have had enough fantasy MMOs already – to which I had to respectfully disagree on twitter:


Now I do get the genre fatigue, I really do but let’s remember correlation. If players are tired of dead horses such as ever being the hero, the holy trinity, traditional questing and foreseeable ends, then that’s an issue of gameplay first and foremost: of mechanics, of writing, of balance and overall lack of imagination. Which is rather ironic given the setting. We should absolutely ask for more.

However, kill ten rats is still kill ten rats in a zombie or space shooter MMO. Personally, I can’t wait to play more fantasy MMOs in the future with dragons and shameless magic of which there can’t ever be enough. I also hope they’ll do new things, show us new twists while playing differently, daring to use their unique fantasy on the fantasy. If you got the setting down, surely you can start focusing elsewhere?

And if everything fails, I can still go ballroom dancing in Ever, Jane. I wonder if I can bring my retro flamethrower.

Badass is the new Sexy! That Female Armor Blargh

In context of the dinosaur-debate that is female armor and character representation in videogames, there have been several tumblrs I’ve been wanting to share with you for a while now. However, as these things go, something always came up and so I didn’t – so in case all these links are old news to you, I apologize. They’re really good though!

It’s no secret that I enjoy armor in MMOs and playing around with cosmetics. I’m a sucker for immersion in games and when it comes to my avatars, I treat them as virtual representations of myself. I also have a very clear idea of what’s proper armor in combat-centric games and MMOs are that. I’m happy to suspend disbelief where dragons and fireballs are concerned, but if you were to try convince me that my female fighter is fine with bare stomach and thighs (while her male counterparts are not), you’re going to have a very hard time.

Alas, that is my personal view. I realize that some people (women included) are quite happy with the way things are and never mind the boob and ass flaunting that is often part of the ‘female aesthetic’ in videogames. That’s good for you. Me, I like some serious armor on my chars that serves my personal escapism and power fantasies (as it usually does for male characters) rather than to delight others, usually male gamers. All I ask for is variety, especially in genres with customization sliders. That said, I draw a big line between what’s attractive and what is blunt objectification/sexualization of female characters. I too, like my characters to look good. I just don’t like them to be all about their nekidness and sexual availability – that perpetual stereotype.

“Badass is the new sexy” – Three links that make it visual so you can’t claim otherwise

 1) The Hawkeye Initiative
Quite often when you try to make the point about how female and male character representation in video games differ, you’ll face issues explaining the concept of skewed gender equivalence or “why male body proportions and gear serve power fantasies and female ones do not” – not seldomly when talking to men uneducated on the subject. This is also popularly known as the “…but what about the menz??”- debate. Lucky for us, The Hawkeye Initiative has taken this exact subject to heart not too long ago, showing audiences just how exactly male characters in game and comic culture would have to look and be presented like (body language, oh my) in order to create “sexy equilibrium” between genders. I know a fair amount of men gamers; I can say for certain none of them would be thrilled if all their male character choices in games looked like a doe-eyed batman in transparent thighs. Do I need say more?

2) Repair her Armor
I would very much like to believe that if you were to browse all the amazing female armor over at Repair her Armor, such as illustrated on this Guild Wars 2 concept art sheet, you would nod in agreement that this is some good-looking and adequate gear you’d have your female toons wear in a heartbeat. Page after page does this newly started project illustrate just how easily and effectively female armor could be adjusted and brought on par with male models, while looking every inch as shiny and aesthetically pleasing as before.

Of course, none of the “amended” armor on this website is the real one – just like that concept art sheet wasn’t. So, here I raise my question: who does truly think the fixed armor versions are worse / less attractive than their originals while being a lot less skimpy? Who indeed?


3) Badass Lady Armor
The Badass Lady Armor gallery is a project I started myself and that simply collects various game-related (mostly MMOs with some fantasy card- and boardgames in the mix) female armor I think looks fabulous. Criteria to be met are similar to the well-known Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor tumblr, although that one serves much wider a focus and also includes real life shots. I’ve always had an extensive videogame concept and fan art database on my personal PC, so this is an attempt at bringing together women’s armor I’d love to wear in MMOs.

And yes, boob plate is still represented in an overwhelming majority of all these pictures (as opposed to this); but I’d say this is a pretty stellar array of high quality images that was quite a journey to collect. Believe me when I say these picks are a stark minority among all MMO fan and concept art out there. However, I was still able to beat my goal of getting a 100 pictures to pass the test (also in terms of body language which spoils at least two thirds of all otherwise passable images), so yay for more badass armor in videogames! Let nobody claim more realistic female armor can’t also be good-looking or similar nonsense. Now if only developers / designers caught up with this soon!

Videogames, Repetition and the Subconscious Mind

Anita Sarkeesian published her second part of the Damsel in Distress trope on youtube last night and after initial hiccups (as in a bunch of her haters getting the video auto-banned thanks to spamming report buttons), I was able to watch what turns out to be the grimmest of her documentaries so far. I recommend watching it not just for the general insight however but to experience the intended repetition in this video, the repeated descriptions of tropes such as “…the X is brutally murdered and you then have to rescue your daughter” (starting at 07:40) which incidentally aren’t only a powerful tool in conveying the inherent absurdity, but touch on a greater subject so central to this discussion: repetition.

Repetition and the subconscious mind

Sarkeesian, by now used to the violent opposition and ruthless nitpicking her videos provoke on a regular basis, is including more and more clarifying (and in places toning down) final words in her recent documentaries, forestalling no doubt many of the incoming exclamations of “..but not all games/men/women are like that!” or “…just because lots of X doesn’t mean I am Y!” and erm, yeah.  I doubt it helps much but I appreciate her attempt at balancing where there is not much balance to find. Of course she grants that just because gamers keep seeing certain power constellations or violent problem solving in games over and over, that doesn’t mean we go out on a killing spree the next weekend.

What all those who think they remain unaffected by common videogame tropes and imagery should know however, is that it’s not up to them but their brain to make that call – and the brain happens to be an utterly impressionable organ when it comes to the power of repetition. There is a reason why when googling the search terms “mind control and repetition”, you will not only be presented with educational sites about effective studying methods, but surveys about psychological brain washing, scientifically researched mind conditioning and manipulation techniques employed in interrogation and warfare scenarios. For hundreds of years, repetition has been one of the simplest and yet most effective ways to influence and control human minds ever so slowly and subtly. Methods such as the well-known “drill” employed in the military but also intense sessions of repeated prayer in institutionalized religion, aka “litany”, are based on the same principles.

Our mind is highly susceptible and vulnerable to repetition on a subconscious level. This is most commonly seen in children/people who are bullied over longer periods of time, to a point where they adopt the negative image of themselves, communicated over and over by their peers. They are brainwashed. It is then the daily challenge of educators, social workers and psychologists to try and untie the harmful knots. More often than not, they do not succeed. We simply cannot unhear what we have heard a hundred times – just like we cannot unsee what has been seen too often. It leaves a powerful mental print and shapes our notion of what we are, how we look and what we should be and look like. Rationalization proves to be surprisingly ineffective here even for grownups, although one common therapy of the damaged self-image is also based on repeated, positive affirmation (“over-writing”).


Accepting knowledge about how the human mind works has a sobering effect on the (videogame) tropes debate. No media that are consumed on a very regular basis and which require dedicated levels of attention, can distance themselves from shaping thoughts and behavior of their audiences. This in itself is still trivial unless we are talking about recurring and repeated scenarios, representations of reality and normality. Movies, commercials and print media have a lion’s share here but so do videogames increasingly.

Contextual chunks and you

Physical violence is an integral part of many video game genres, even more “peaceful” ones at first glance and probably always will be. While there are those who would ban shooters from the market yesterday, the overwhelming number of “peaceful gamers” out there (and observations towards the relaxing effect of shooters) speak a pretty clear language in that debate. I don’t think it should ever be silenced but I don’t believe that depictions of “just violence” in media cause the likeliest harm; violence in and out of itself isn’t a motivation and it doesn’t create content in videogames. Much rather, it is fully fleshed out, repeated stories, the finely woven and complex relationships, stereotypes and tropes that we are continuously presented with. That’s why “but we’re also not shooting everybody” doesn’t really apply as counter-argument to Sarkeesian’s points. It’s the repeated subtle messages and subtext in our daily lives that deserve the most attention and that are mirrored in the games we play.

One of the most interesting lessons I’ve taken away from a speed reading seminar few years back, is that there’s a common misconception among readers and also educators that slow reading improves contextual understanding. In truth the contrary is the case: there’s such a thing as reading too slowly (the way your teacher might have asked for back in school). The reason for this is that our brain processes and stores information best in chunks or groups of words and alternatively through images. Only in context do we understand and memorize the most, so it’s easy to see why reading text word by word rather than word chains isn’t exactly helpful. Speed reading isn’t primarily just about being faster but understanding the most in regards to time spent. It’s a skill that can be obtained.

Complex social, contextual relationships, role models, power mechanics and tropes repeatedly shown in media, especially those that combine messages with graphical elements, are the likeliest to get memorized and hence to influence us subconsciously. Personally, I believe that a big part of what our society regards as masculine and feminine traits and behavior for instance is based on the returning “stories shown and told all around us” from an early age. The same goes for our notion of beauty which has drastically changed over time. It isn’t just fashion posters but much rather fairy tales, picture books, movies and daily chatter that teach us what’s desirable or unattractive.

The tropes Sarkeesian is analyzing in her video are complex, crude as their examples might look like. The “girlfriend in the fridge” in all its portrayed variations is built on deep psychological and emotional triggers that are as socially meaningful as they appear to be accepted without question. Yet, it’s the things we are just so used to that require our critical attention. Why is there not more variety in videogame victims and heroes? And why does “flipping the script” (as mentioned towards the end of the video) seem so silly?

tropfI don’t think that videogames need to be highlighted more than any other, in the case of film or literature even more widespread media when it comes to violent, sexist tropes and questioning all their implications for a society. But videogames are a powerful tool for storytelling and therefore they too deserve scrutiny. Whether we like it or not, we are subject to harmful thematic repetitions in games (not just in regards to gender roles) that we are not naturally equipped to ignore. This isn’t some psycho-babble; valuing iteration is just what our brain is really good at. And it happens in spite of us.

That’s why this debate can’t be trivialized and it can’t be shrugged off. It isn’t just about what gamers think they can rationalize or distance themselves from because “umm fiction”; the critical analyzis of repeated violent tropes or gender roles in games and other media is one we need to take seriously because our mind cannot escape repetition. And that, to me, bears repeating.

The unsavoury Case of Tera’s regional Morals

With more and more armor and boob complaints on the female character models in Guild Wars 2 popping up, it struck me how quiet the blogosphere has been in regards to Tera – and what has been going on there in terms of character representation and “censorship” over the last couple of months. I wonder: is it a sign of the more western oriented blogosphere’s disinterest in this MMO, or have players just given up on discussing delicate issues where Asian games are concerned? Well, here’s some background:

Act I) In April 2012, Tera’s publisher announces the removal of ingame blood splatter effects for the EU version to meet the legislated 12+rating requisites of the EU market. The blood effects remain in the Asian and US versions of the game as Tera is rated mature in the USA anyway. Of course, European fans are in uproar after this, petitioning the publisher to remove this evil censorship from hell. Frogster reacts by promising a “gore slider” for a later patch.

Act II) Accompanying the necessary adaption of Tera for the European market, the appearance and armor of the controversial Elin race gets changed to meet “western standards”. These changes are exclusive for the NA and EU market and unlike to the blood censorship case, they are no direct reaction to legal concerns. To cite Frogster’s explanation:

“[It was] not to comply with a demand from any official board, but because those characters in particular could have attracted to the game a population of unsavoury users, and it is part of our responsibility to protect our younger audiences from them,” he explained. 

“All partners involved in the project decided to ask Bluehole Studios for a solution, so they created new textures and designs for Elin wear. We are sure you all agree that this effort for child protection was the right thing to do. We all did, here, at Frogster.”[source]

The rationale behind this official statement is so cringe-worthy that unsurprisingly, the critique following it was as numerous and diverse as can be, burying completely what might be a good and valid concern at the core. But before I get to the different facets of this issue, judge for yourself just how effective the Elin changes are between the NA/EU and Korean version: Youtube documentary

While the more obvious sexual innuendo was toned down where open cleavage (particularly odd as they have no noticeable breasts), belly buttons and mini-panties are concerned, the adapted Elin armor still features many pieces that western society (and I am sure Asian society too) considers sexually alluring: high boots over naked legs, short dresses or skirts showing underwear and our favorite high-heels. While I certainly agree with some of the commenters that the censored armor DOES look better (for various reasons), there are still pieces that make it hard to grasp the systematic behind the armor changes.
Furthermore, taking Frogster by their own words, if you truly mean to remove sexual appeal of game characters, you should also consider secondary attributes such as stance, movement or voice. 

…But that’s not really the point, of course. It is just a half-assed solution of a hard-pressed publisher fearing financial backlash. Whether you agree that the Elin are children/infantilized characters or not, whether you agree or disagree if sexualization is a concern in video games – what bugged me the most about this whole charade is the way it got handled.

Layers of cringe

I’m not going to address the main problematic of this topic which has been discussed to death elsewhere, because I am frankly not up for the usual, derailing discourse we already know so well from female characterization topics. I think nobody wants to explain why “it’s not just a game” or why it’s not just “a matter of artistic integrity”, especially not for a topic as delicate as this one. There are of course thematic differences; we are not talking about social privilege and marginalization (although there are in fact no male Elin) or the differences between sexy/attractive and sexualized characters. What so many like to cloud in heavy semantics is that Tera’s Elin raise the question of sexualized children in the media and pedophilia on the internet. There’s not much room for abstraction and layers in opinion here. The topic is a very legal concern in most countries.

Ironically enough, Frogster acknowledge this themselves: they say that Tera does not wish to “attract unsavoury users” and that it’s a matter of child protection. But oddly, children need only be protected in the western world. The threat is very real, but erm regional!
If the topic at hand wasn’t such a dark one, I’d go ahahahahah at this point. Not just because of the pretentious, baloney explanation but the underlying message that pedophiles only exist in Europe or the USA! Unintentional quintessence maybe, big ouch nonetheless.

So let’s get this straight: Because pedophilia only exists in the USA/Europe and those children should be protected from potential online harassment, the armor of the Elin race in Tera got changed. Slightly. Everyone else in the world is just fine! Also, everyone knows that western society is just overly sensitive (and prude).

That’s me translating Frogster’s statement for you. I wish every publisher did take their self-appointed social responsibility this seriously!

Reception, Perception

As mentioned before, there were plenty of negative reactions to the Elin changes; some justified in my eyes, others not so much. Misguided fandom gets particularly bizarre when design features such as bare midriffs or high-heels suddenly become the epitome of one’s personal freedom and how DARE YOU take my panties away from the Elin!!! Miraculously players surface as spokesmen of artistic freedom who never before cared much about what the Elin wore prior to the changes. But then, the internet has always been an overly tolerant home to stupid. I wish there were spaces where one could discuss such matters in peace, with calm rationale but yeah nevermind.

Personally, I don’t care much for the hairsplitting that is being done for the Elin’s obvious childlike appearance and their “alien-ness” (you know – they look, walk and sound like kids but they are not!). If you play the escapism card, then vote for characters that do not copy real-world stereotypes. If I glue a tail and furry ears on a child and say it’s not a child it still looks like a child. If I go on and dress that alien in sexy outfits, it still looks like a child with furry ears and tail in a sexy outfit. Do I think MMOs are flooded with pedophiles? – No. That doesn’t change that it still looks like a child with furry ears and tail in a sexy outfit.

I think it’s important to highlight a few things in general and in regards to this article:
– This is not a question of whether you believe the Elin in Tera are (like) children
– This is not a question of whether you believe the Elin armor is/was sexy or not
– This is not a question of whether you believe sexy children are part of artistic integrity / escapism
– This is not a question of whether you believe pedophiles in MMOs to be an issue
– This is not a question of whether you believe that video games have moral obligations
– This is not a question of whether you believe all censorship is from hell

…..these are questions too, some of them very good ones, leading deep into the realm of social and cultural values and morals. Topics for another time and place.

What drove me to this article was the way Tera’s publisher handled a serious issue. Their statement was clumsy, their reasoning flawed with double standards. If you go and acknowledge the issue of pedophilia as a game publisher, you don’t present it as a “cultural difference”. If it’s about your morality, then that morality should be absolute (why design the Elin that way in the first place?). But hey, I get it – it’s hard to wiggle your way out of this one: that you’re in deep shit for trying to market an Asian style MMO with a sexy, childlike race on top of the usual upskirt action. Convincing the silly west to embrace the naked ladies is one thing, but when it comes to children they’re not up for joking around. Much. We could of course now engage in a discussion on why the Elin raise no same debate in Asian countries – or whether a fantasy MMO really needs to feature a blatantly sexualized race of kids with bunny ears?

You dwell on that.

Few essential reads – For everybody

I had a special weekend challenge ready for today, but I decided otherwise and pushed the post back to draft. It’s been a rather hectic week for me and in the blogosphere too, there were many ups and downs where the ever-returning topic of feminism was concerned. And return it must – as has become very obvious from some of the voices and comment sections I’ve read through (yes Matt, every drop counts!).

I’m not going to write my own personal article here though, on why I think sexism and systematic discrimination are still rampant in our society; how tired I am of derailing discourse; or how I came to hold my current beliefs and outgrew the stereotype of a judgmental geek girl who was only ever friends with boys. Maybe I will one day, but today is not that day.

Today, I want you to do me a favor – whoever you are, wherever, woman or man reading the MMO Gypsy: I want you to go through a shortlist of links to blog articles I consider most valuable, essential reads on the topic of feminism, covering a large ground of recurring questions and potential misunderstandings. I know that every smart and intelligent person is on a private search for wisdom and most of us are honest in their wish to learn and understand each other. I won’t tell you what to think of any of the articles or what you should do with them. All I wish is that they become a consideration, a part of whatever personal outlook and tone you settle for in the future. I promise that they will be worth your time, no matter where you go from here.

Many of these posts have been linked on various blogs this week and they cannot be re-posted often enough. They’re the kind of reads that I send forward to friends and return to when my own words fail me. I often feel that my words fall short and don’t do these matters enough justice, for several personal reasons. However, I’ve been immensely grateful for the strong voices on feminism and gender equality in the blogosphere and many invaluable insights offered over the past years. I have been able to perceive the kind of blind spots within myself I never knew existed. Some of these revelations have made me sad and most have made me very humble. All of them however, have freed me one way or another. Free to make my own choices, more informed choices. I will keep making mistakes but at least more of them will feel like my own.

The following links are me saying thanks to all the thoughtful and relentless bloggers out there, gracefully sharing their insights on complex issues, never backing down in the face of adversity and near-paralyzing amounts of “unpack”. I raise my hat to you.

Essential reads on the topic of gender, social equality and feminism

I’ve taken the liberty to add a few selective “teasers” to what each article may answer and for whom it might be first stop. You should of course absolutely read all of them.

What is feminism? Why are all feminists so angry? What about the men? Please educate me!
Finally, a Feminism 101 blog – A basic introduction and FAQ.
Derailing for Dummies – Tactics to avoid when discussing feminism or anything else for that matter.

What is male privilege and why are you all so negative? I’m new, can you help a guy out?
Feminism for dudes (from a dude) – Indispensable advice for subject rookies.
Dear Apple Cider – An open letter from a male reader. 

Does our society still need feminism? I’m a woman and I don’t see the problem!
FYI, you’re a Feminist 
Oh, we haven’t had a feminist post for at least a month
Feminists all the way down

A restful weekend to all of you – the bold who dare to speak and the wise who know when to listen.

On GW2 character creation, supermodels and boob sliders

It’s no secret that I enjoy customizing my toons in MMOs, despite the fact that I’m the kind of player who always sticks to the same character. Truth be told, many players spend large amounts of time adjusting their future online avatars, depending on the options and their personal approach to the game. And the rules are really simple there: the more options, the more details available, the better. Being able to make choices is king – and yet, CC (character creation) is still a neglected area in many MMOs which always struck me as somewhat bizarre considering the genre. Which other games rely so heavily on long-term play, character progression, immersion?

With the exception of Aion maybe (which I haven’t played), I’ve never seen particularly satisfying CC in any of the MMOs I’ve played. If I had to choose though, I would roll with Age of Conan which did offer a lot of sliders not just for facial features but body proportions and height. I really believe the latter is one of the gravest oversights in most MMORPGs, the option to make taller and shorter folk. Instantly, there is so much more variety standing in a busy town square where not everyone is of same height or body size.

From what ArenaNet has presented of GW2’s CC this far, I think it’s safe to say that we can expect an unparalleled amount of customization options, not just for hairstyles, faces and skintones but even things like deciding on your type of starting armor or preferred head gear. Dyes are a particularly big deal in GW2 and come with their own interface (if the guys from Yogscast can be believed, there are several hundred dyes available ingame).

So far, so good. Only when a friend asked me what race I was going to play in GW2 the other night, I realized that I apparently hadn’t checked out the CC options well enough before. I was actually rather enamored with the Norns from the very beginning; I often play human characters in MMOs, but that in itself isn’t such an interesting choice. With the Norns, we get a second human faction of barbarians next to the classic humans – a tall, muscular and rough-looking, fur-wearing tribal people, obviously inspired by northern European stereotypes (there be vikings). This is how ArenaNet introduced them, anyway –

“The norn are a race of valiant, shape-changing barbarians. Boisterous, strong-willed, and passionate, the norn are an independent people that swear fealty to no single being. They thrive in their mountain stronghold by the sharpness of their senses, the quickness of their wits, and the strength of their massive forearms. They are guided in this world by their Spirits of the Wild, who embody the virtues of the mightiest beasts. As a people, they are quick to anger, even quicker to smile, and treat each new day as a personal challenge

Wahey, sounds alright with me! There’s even a female character on display for the Norns, instead of Conan the Barbarian and she doesn’t look like a ballerina. But back to my friend now –

“A Norn, seriously? Did you check youtube? The humans all look like barbie dolls”, he said. But surely, he was wrong. Maybe the humans looked like that, but I was talking NORNS and also GW2 has awesome character creation so we can fix that, right?


The whole cast of the Bold and the Beautiful

So, I started youtubing. Norns, humans, female CC, beta state. Almost instantly, that selection will take you to Yogscast where I picked this video first, and was immediately met with the male commenters swooing about how “dazzlingly hot and beautiful” all the human female characters were and how “90% of them look like Megan Foxx which isn’t a bad thing”. I had half a mind of stopping the video right there, but there’s not an awful lot of other beta videos currently up in such quality and detail.

Unfortunately, they were right in that all the faces they chose to switch through in the video, were the same type of bland, supermodel pretty with mascara and lipstick. The presets basically go from one doll face to the next and while I’m not opposed to attractive characters myself, I found them extremely boring. Where’s the variety? Where’s the normal options without make-up? How much “uglier” can people go from there if they like to?

I don’t get alarmed that easily, so I kept checking more videos, bravely ignoring the usual mass of beyond stupid youtube troll commenters asking the “replygirls” to shut up (is there any place worse than YT?). Even if the human models should look like painted dolls mostly, the Norn would have to look much different!

How wrong can you be? Perfect skin and faces, make-up, pouty lips. Pretty much the same look as the humans. Seriously? Last time I checked the male Norns, they actually looked like the battle-hardened, muscular race from the North they’re supposed to be and less like their human brothers. Granted, the Norn body types look more muscular for both sexes (overdone too for the males), at least. Anyway, I kept watching the female Norn video and…..whoa, boobs!


Now, I had just assumed the Yogscast guy chose to go with the massive boobs for his Mesmer which is his choice, the outfit included. But then, enter the first female NPC whose even bigger rack would make the curviest bartenders of the Oktoberfest pale in comparison! Another warrior from the cold North – so battle-hardened and muscular, her boobs grew instead of getting smaller! /sarcasm off
The bare midriff almost gets lost among that much bullshit. For the record: huge breasts with no sense for gravity would bother me less if they weren’t also presented like this and so completely out of the initially built-up racial context.

At this point, I went a little desperate. You see, I can try ignore other players wearing silly armor ingame or even creating anatomically laughable characters for themselves somewhat (if not completely), but I am really not looking forward to get it in my face from NPCs too, let alone on my own character model. Especially not if this is supposed to be the race of athletic fighters. Is this really it for the Norns?

Weighing the good and the bad

Well, from all I was able to gather yet, not quite. The make-up apparently is fixed to the faces at this point, but might become a slider of its own in the final CC versions of GW2. Oddly enough, for all their other options ArenaNet have also not introduced eye color this far (right now eye color is linked to the face). The facial similarities between Norn and human females are however a fact, sad but true. On the bright side, the face options aren’t as one-sided as most videos show: as can be seen in this longer video, if you manage to make it through all the “princess territory”, “damsel in distress” and “Disney” comments (/puke), there are in fact ways to mess with the facial presets (see 05:20 onwards) and make them more unique or less nauseatingly attractive, if preferred. On second thought, you might really want to turn the sound off completely on this clip…

As for body types, it appears that players will get to choose between several set models. There are definitely a few leaner and more muscular ones for Norn females too, but if you’re looking to deviate much in terms of skinny or fat, you won’t find that in GW2. As far as breasts go, even the “smaller” Norn breasts are fairly big and a perfect, round shape. I don’t necessarily expect MMOs to feature “boob sliders”, as this forum discussion goes to debate, but considering the vastness of GW2’s CC I was expecting them to at least give the same proportion choices as we’ve seen in AoC or Rift. Flat chests do not seem to exist or else they’re very well hidden (?)


I guess this all sounds a little sobering for anyone looking to create more normal looking, badass human females in GW2, but I’d like to point out that I’ve deliberately focused on the negatives for a change, not the positives. It goes without saying that the polish of GW2’s CC is brilliant – never have there been so many great choices in hairstyles, colors or skins, so many unique features nor that many extra details to configure for the player. The graphics style and textures are beautiful and a lot more realistic than for most MMOs. For the most part, I am extremely pleased.

There are also of course, the non-human races. I’ve left out Sylvari (yeah I know, Syl needs to play Sylvari…not), Asura or Charr. In the latter’s case, I actually applaud ArenaNet’s choices for the female models very much: instead of going for round breasts in a bikini, making the beastly race a goofy parody of itself and giving females additional human traits like long eye-lashes or god forbid make-up (hello Worgen!), they stuck to a much more realistic approach, giving female Charr six mammal glands subtly hidden behind a piece of cloth. Their faces look ferocious just like their male counterparts, so cheers to ArenaNet on this one.

As for the “what about the menz”-question; I don’t like the male humans in GW2 either. They’re perfect Ken analogies to Barbie, although there too you can amend a few things via individual sliders. The Norn on the other hand come with slightly more physical variety and clearly set themselves apart from the humans, with much more savage, mean looking faces and scrubby hair to reflect their culture and origins.

Overall, I don’t expect much change in GW2’s character customization until launch. This late into development and with more betas incoming, the focus will lie on other aspects of gameplay that are ultimately more important. I will reserve my final judgement of GW2’s “bare midriffs quota” until I’ve seen more and firsthand. I guess it’s fair to say though that in terms of gender clichés, its otherwise illustrious customization sadly falls behind games such as Skyrim or Age of Conan and does not quite manage to offer as much variety as it offers choices at a first glance. I expect to meet a lot of awfully beautiful, bodacious people online this year.

The Future is Panty-free

Yeah, it’s an old story – and you don’t wanna hear it anymore. I don’t want to either, heck for most of the time I act as if the topic was water under the bridge. We’re way past that, the genre is, videogames are. This is almost 2012 after all!

You wish.

I get it: panties are exciting! To a few men, mind not many grown-up men but a few, seeing virtual panty (Japanese; pantsu) in a videogame is a bit like omg-christmas, outrageous and cheeky and *tehee* *blush* *chuckle* – add your random IRC emote…I guess we all have to accept that. I don’t even want to ask the reasons why, although I have a sound theory or two, about being stuck in infantile phases of boyhood, of over-sexed media or for the opposite case, cultures where social corset and conformity are so strict that everyone must turn into drooling lechers in front of their PCs at night, to restore at least some balance and mental sanity.

I don’t know. You dwell on that.

This is the important part: In MMOs I do not care to see panties. Let’s repeat this: In MMOs I do not care to see panties. I don’t think they do anything much for a female character’s credibility. Or for a “heroine” battling vicious fiends, for that matter. Still, they are out there and never quite out of fashion: plate bikinis, swinging hips, breasts the size of a small country. It’s not just the omni-present fake portrayal of the female form; nothing feels quite as unimmersive as having to play a combat class that looks as if she was on her way to a lolita dress-up party. Any player, male or female, looking for serious consistency in setting and atmosphere in their MMOs want to see proper armor in sync with their class and the world they are playing it in.

Yet, they keep coming. Lineage and TERA are my all-time favorite examples, but the bare midriffs can be found in plenty of more recent places, even in a perfect world. How cynical.

And I wonder: can we get over this yet? How many female online players worldwide will it take until a Blizzcon panel deems a large portion of their player base worthy of more than a flippant answer? Worse yet, if a company with a few million female players won’t care – who will?

I guess Dwism had it right all along:

Whatever you think of their response to this (and mine is in the comments on both posts), there is one thing painfully obvious for me, about these panel talks.

Every single employee with anything worth saying at Blizzard, is: 35+, white, a little overweight (some more than a little), balding and likes metal. And they only ever talk to other people like that.

It’s not about players, male or female. It’s about the men who make these games. If nothing changes up there, nothing will change down here. For now, enough devs don’t seem to care, not even for the underlying message of their indifference, which can only ever inevitably bring me to the following two conclusions:

A) MMO(RPG) developers are emotionally immature lechers in desperate need to get laid.
B) MMO(RPG) developers consider the majority of their male playerbase emotionally immature lechers in desperate need to get laid.

I don’t know about you, but as a male player I’d feel offended.

P.S. With all that in mind, I am officially and exclusively launching MMO Gypsy’s “No-Panties MMO seal of quality”, for a better and hopefully more serious online gaming future! You may spread and copy at will!