>Cosplay galleries on major gaming sites

>There is a horde of gaming news/columns sites out there, some more notable than others, and pretty much all of them operate under the assumption that their readership is young, male, and horny. One of the things that makes this abundantly clear is the fact that on most of these sites, you can find cosplay galleries quite easily that are full of female cosplayers dressed as various “sexy” video game characters that are pretty much collections of wank material.

Now I’ll take a moment to say that I have mixed feelings about cosplay. I get why people do it – I’ve even done a little myself (though, amusingly, as male characters). So lets be clear that I’m not out to demonize cosplayers. They make some seriously amazing costumes that I always enjoy seeing every year at GenCon. It’s the creepy fetishizing of female cosplayers that I have a lot of problems with. It’s bad enough when you see hordes of male nerds photographing female cosplayers at GenCon, and on the internet it gets even creepier.

For the most part I’m not going to post pictures because even just scratching the surface of what’s out there, I found hundreds of photos. Instead, you’ll mostly get links that are, of course, mostly nsfw. Youtube rules apply for comments (ie: don’t read them) as well.

On to the awful!

Kotaku actually doesn’t post regular cosplay pics, but they can’t be left out of the fun, as evidenced by “The Top 50 Cosplay Cleavage Shots“. The indicator that this is less than classy? (Okay, other than the title.) The first sentence of the feature is:

Well it’s noon, and that means we can break out the porn.

Right, because there’s nothing gamer men like better than whipping it out and wanking to cosplay cleavage shots over their lunch break. *eyeroll*

Destructoid, however, has tons of cosplay features – so many that it even has its own feature category. Now, granted, some of the posts under this category are really awesome and not creepy cosplay, like the most amazing Samus I’ve ever seen. But then you see some of the other featured galleries that just have so… much… cleavage. *sigh*

GamesRadar has, in addition to regular cosplay features, a “Sexy Cosplay Gallery” full of fanservice-y shots of female cosplayers.

RipTen, too, has its own cosplay feature category. Scrolling down the page you see boobs… boobs… and more boobs. What’s really great, though, is this one: “Jennifer Nigri loses Xbox and game collection in fire – booty goes unharmed”. There’s some cleavagey shots of Jennifer in a few costumes before the article mentions that she has been selling stickers to raise money to replace her game collection. The feature goes on to quote these as actual responses (emphasis mine, bracketed comments mine as well):

I wanna put my stickers on your naked body. Whoa my feet smell … [WTF???]

I would love to help out but I don’t think my fiancee would approve 😦 [That bitch!]

I’ll buy you both a PS3 AND a new XBox ($500) but I’m going to want more than the stickers… >;D [Right. Because really what’s the difference between cosplay and prostitution, really? /sarcasm]

Srsly. Yuck.

GossipGamers has its own cosplay category, which is of course full of wank-worthy cosplay pics. However, there are some pretty wtf-worthy features like: Hot R2D2 Girl with Taco Bell Dog and Samus Zero Bunny Suit (curse you, Nintendo! Curse yooooouuuuuuu!!!) – which interestingly is another feature of Jennifer Nigri.

1up.com actually doesn’t have a cosplay category, but it still has plenty of cosplay articles like this one: “BlizzCon 2010 Cosplay Gallery: elves, swords, and a lot of body paint.

GameWad
doesn’t seem like a terribly active site (their last post was in September), but there are three cosplay galleries just on the front page. I just can’t believe that they named their site “GameWad”. However you think about it, it just sounds… unappealing.

GoFanBoy.com (another entry in the “why did they pick that name?” category) takes the cake for sheer volume of pornular cosplay pics with a staggering 42 feature cosplay galleries in 2010 alone. But perhaps the creepiest thing is this gem in the navigation sidebar:

That button there sends you directly to the list of cosplay galleries. And, since you wouldn’t want to get tired of the same pair of breasts, the image that comes up is random each time. Right above that we also have a super-creepy cosplay poll. “Make my girlfriend dress like Tifa” gives me the heebie jeebies for reasons I can’t quite put into words.

Last, but certainly not least, we have SlobsOfGaming.com, which I think deserves some kind of “Smoking Crack While Picking a Domain” prize. SlobsOfGaming has the most porn I have ever seen on any gaming site on its front page, including: “11 Hot and Awesome TGS Cosplays“. In this feature, SlobsOfGaming really goes for the gold in creeptasticness with gems like:

These ladies give me a big Level Up. In my pants. Sexually.

With a little imagination, the picture on the right almost looks like a lesbian ninja make-out battle just WAITING to happen. Hmm. Lesbian ninjas.

Man, I wish I could show this picture to every fat, ugly cosplayer out there who’s tried to ruin my Tifa fetishes and shame them into wearing burlap sacks for the rest of their lives.

Okay, please crawl into a hole and don’t come out, like, ever. kthxbai

>Another daily dose of WTF

>Hi, folks. Things are going to slow down a bit as we approach Christmas, and I apologize for that. To make up for not getting three posts in this week, I thought I’d post a couple of links to tide you over.

1up.com isn’t as huge a bucket of fail as places like Kotaku and Destructoid, but it’s user-generated content can still be… problematic. As witness by the Club o’ Cleavage hosted on their site. Because heaven forbid these guys should leave the house and talk with real girls.

And then we have this picture of a Games For Girls display at a GameStop in California. Seriously? It’s almost enough to make me want to stop shopping there, but it’ll never happen because I’m cheap and I hate paying $60 for games.

Lastly we have Pillow Fight for the iPhone, in which buxom bikini-clad women engage in a pillow fight. Classy.

>Fanart Hall of Shame: Reiq

>Okay, folks. Things have kind of blown up around here the last week or so and I’ll admit that I’m pretty drained from arguing with people on the internet – even though I said I wouldn’t. Rather than being lazy and posting some links, though, I figured it was about time to induct a second member into the Fanart Hall of Shame.

So first of all – legal boilerplate. All images you see here are the property of Reinaldo Quintero (Reiq). I don’t own a thing. The artist’s website can be found here and his GFX Artist profile can be found here. If you want to see his hentai (read: Actual porn, NSFWer) site, you can find it at jigglygirls.com. (Real URL, I swear!)

With that said, on to the shaming!

I first stumbled across Reiq while I was doing Image searches for my original post about the ridiculous Soul Calibur women, and the link went straight into my bookmark folder for future shaming. It was impressive to me that with the wide variety of disgusting Ivy fanart out there, this was by far the worst I’ve yet seen:

The sad thing is that even as I’m repulsed by the image, I have to admire the technique that went in to creating these textures. This guy has serious artistic chops, and I’ll freely admit that skill-wise he’s probably better than me. But talk about an artist abusing his powers for evil. I think even Wayne Reynolds would be embarassed to draw something like this!

I shouldn’t need to point out all the things that are wrong with this image. Boobs, check. Nipples, check. Ass, check. Overall proportions, check. I’ll just add that boobs are NOT like balloons. If you squeeze the top, the bottom does NOT expand. Contrary to popular belief, boobs are actually just bags of flesh. (OMGWTFBBQ!)

Thankfully that’s the worst of them, but there’s still some heart-breakers – like TWO different renditions of Samus:

Oh, Samus! What has he done to you? The Samus I know and love would never passively flaunt her sexuality with a come-hither look! The Samus I know would be kicking ass and taking names! What evil did Nintendo unleash upon the world when they created the Zero Suit? Is this how you’re destined to be remembered? As a busty blonde in blue spandex, completely stripped of any power or consequence? Honestly, this bothers me so much more than the big fake boobs and distorted anatomy.

Although, Christ, people. If you’re going to draw chicks in spandex, don’t give them cleavage that could rival the grand canyon. That just doesn’t happen. Unless she has a separate spandex compartment for each boob, which seems unlikely.

THIS is why I immediately tune out whenever anyone starts talking about how Cortana is a “strong female character”. I’ve never played Halo. (I’m not a huge fan of shooters, I just made an exception for Mass Effect because it’s Bioware.) But looking at crap like this just makes me completely lose interest.

Is there anything more ridiculous than ass cleavage? I mean, I’m pretty shocked to see Reiq take on Crimson Viper considering that she’s almost completely covered and then pose her so that her boobs are not visible. But clearly the lack of cleavage was getting to him, so he gave her ass cleavage instead.

Honestly, I don’t know how she’d fight like that. I mean, her pants are so far up her ass that they must be lodged in her colon, which has GOT to be uncomfortable. Personally, I really don’t think I could fight like that.

I’m ending with this one because I wanted to go from worst to best for once. Aside from the big fake boobs, I actually like this rendition of Wonder Woman. She doesn’t have massive camel toe, she’s not passively on display, and she looks like she’s daring you try something so that she can use that lasso to choke the life out of you. And that’s the sad part. If this was the rule rather than the exception, I’d sigh about comic character design and big fake boobs and move on with my life.
Clearly Reiq has it in him to draw only minimally distorted women with some sense of agency – he just chooses not to.

I suppose it shouldn’t be too surprising, since the profile on his says that he is male (surprise surprise) and 27 – which puts him firmly in the “young and pervy” segment of artists. But considering that he is now working as an artist full-time with the income from these illustrations, that also puts him in the “perpetrating sexist stereotypes for fun and profit” camp.

>The echo chamber (or yet another reason I f*cking hate the internet)

>Okay, folks. Today’s post is extra disgusting, so I’ll start off with a few side notes before I get into things. Consider yourself warned.

First of all, things kind of exploded over the weekend thanks to my original post about Paizo, then my response to LPJ’s comment on that post. I was angry and my response was pretty vitriolic, so I was pretty surprised when Paizo’s Erik Mona posted a thoughtful and not bile-filled response to what was admittedly some pretty inflammatory stuff. There’s some good stuff that has happened in the comments, so I recommend taking a look if you haven’t already.

With that said, on to the awfulness!

So one of the things that I’ve found very discouraging since starting this blog is the fact that internet culture is saturated with downright hatred of women. I know that I’ve hyperbolized quite a bit here, but I don’t use this term lightly. There is so much stuff on the internet that displays a level of disregard for women that is quite frightening, and unfortunately internet culture tends to dovetail with geek culture and gaming culture quite a bit.

Case in point – demotivational posters. It got started with despair.com and quickly became an internet meme to make your own. I have a friend who has a demotivational poster screensaver slide show, and I noticed while watching it that it had so… many… boobs. So I got curious and did a little digging.

VeryDemotivational.com (affiliated with the Cheezburger Network) has a lot of egregious ones, but for the most part they don’t get beyond fanservicey boob pictures. But Motifake.com… brr. There is some frightening, frightening stuff there!

First of all, just looking through the tag cloud is an… educational experience. But man, it seems like every tag leads to porn. (Case in point: the first three results for Pokemon are hot chicks in various states of undress. I’m not sure what to make of this…)

If you look at images tagged geek, fully half of the results are variations on a theme – large chested ostensibly available women who like geeks that mostly look like this:

Of course, the first image actually spells out what the other posters only imply. REAL geeks are never women. If a woman says that she’s a geek, clearly she’s just trying to have sex with male geeks. All in all, offensive, but pretty mainstream – at least for the internet.

Of course, the a subset of the geek tagged posters are tagged with sammich, which ups the distastefulness to a whole new level. Most of these, excepting the ones that are literally about sandwiches, are variations on the theme of “stfu bitch and go make me a sammich”. And of course sometimes “a woman’s domain is the kitchen” is stated outright:

The sign on the right says “iron my shirt bitch”. Charming. Also – both of these were tagged “feminism”. Wow. I have such respect for the mind that can conceive of such irony. (/sarcasm)

The LEAST distasteful images you’ll find (besides the ones actually about sandwiches) are the ones about women being too stupid to do anything properly besides making sandwiches. There are lots of those, so I picked the two worst from the first few pages:

So with the one on the left, you get “go make me a sammich” bukkake. (I’m not going to link to bukkake. If you don’t know what it is, please don’t Google it at work.) Which, you know, is just charming. And on the left you get the added message that the only thing women have to offer in the workplace is their fuckability. Ugly chicks need not apply. Both of these display a level of misogyny that is honestly pretty shocking.

But wait! It gets worse! Check these out!

Awesome! So these not only imply that women are subhuman creatures with intelligence only barely sufficient to breathe, spread our legs, and pile condiments between two pieces of bread – they also imply that violence against women is, yanno, funny. If they fail to give you the sexual and gustatory satisfaction you desire, then clearly they are not performing their function.

I guess I’m being a humorless sexist here, but I fail to conceive of a universe in which the caption “LIPSTICK: looks better on my cock now go make me a sandwich” is anywhere even approaching appropriate, let alone funny. And as for jokes about murdering women, well, who doesn’t love those – huh?

And oh look! Two more tagged “feminism”!

So on the left we have yet another example of how Xbox Live is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. If your girlfriend interferes with your gaming, then LOGICALLY the proper response is torture. I mean, duh. But then, us wimmenz are pretty silly for not wanting our partners to smack us around. It’s good for us, right? And I know they only do it because they love us!

Ugh. It’s shit like this that makes me f*cking hate the internet. Sites like Motifake just exacerbate the problem of sexism because men with misogynistic views get to surround themselves in an echo chamber of like-minded people until they think that shit like this is funny.

>This just in: women actually aren’t stupid

>Dude, I was going to take a long weekend off from this shit. But then Louis Porter Jr came and posted this comment on my last post, and I’m almost constitutionally incapable of not responding, let alone responding concisely to this nonsense. (It’s a failing.) Hence the new post.

Anyway, before I start off, thanks to the fine folks on Story-Games who helped me refine my arguments. Much appreciated.

So here’s the comment in question (emphasis mine):

This is going to be a two part answer.

First on the racial diversity of Paizo character design: Always a good thing. Being one of the few (if only) African-American (or Black if you like) RPG publishers I think it is a GOOD thing to show ethnic and racial diversity in the artwork. Paizo always kicks ass for that and I hope they continue to!

So, yes, thumbs up to Paizo for not being full of race fail. That’s great. Good for them. It’s so great that they are making efforts not to marginalize men of color. And if women of color feel marginalized, well, they should be used to much worse by now, right? None of this is going to change, so us wimmenz should just learn to suck it up and deal.

Yeah, I call bullshit. As a person of color, I would assume that you have some experience with feeling marginalized. Why then are you excited that Paizo is fighting one type of discrimination (racism) even as they simultaneously embrace another (sexism)? Doesn’t that seem a little hypocritical and more than a little privileged to you?

Second, women and sex appeal. Sorry but you lost me on that one. Paizo knows it market: majority male. And males (and some females) like scantily dressed women (which I am one).

Okay, aside from the issue of your grammar sucking (you just implied you were a scantily dressed woman), your argument sucks too. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

When doing my artwork for many of the females in my products, I over sexualize what they physically look like or what they are wearing. Why? Because it will cause males (my main base of customers) to stop and look and in the gaming of marketing that would be considered a WIN! Now would I over sexualize males and place them on the cover a product I created? ABSOLUTELY if it helped draw interest which in turn would equal additional sales. For me this is an issue of helping me generate sales. Sad but true.

But I do understand where you are coming from and I do support you so saying what you think is right.

Oh, thank you. I’m glad that you support my right to express an opinion on my own blog. That’s very gracious of you. I mean, I’ve been pretty nervous about criticizing large game publishers, so it’s very good to know that I have your permission. It’s quite gracious of you.

So, basically you’re saying I “lost you” with my complaints about Paizo’s sexist Pathfinder art because I’m not a man and therefore not part of Paizo’s target market. Does that mean that only men have the right to complain about Paizo’s art? I call bullshit on that too.

It’s clear that Paizo has made the marketing decision to pursue their “safe” market – horny conservative males – and to not really try to reach out to anyone outside that market. But the lack of success of these “experiments” that Paizo has done with non-sexist representations of women doesn’t prove a damn thing. I know TONS of women who were completely, COMPLETELY geeked about Seela’s design. But then you pick up a Pathfinder book and go, wow, that’s just the exception to the rule. Look at all this cheesecake! Which leads back to ‘meh, this is just like all the rest, I’m going back to FarmVille’.

Do you honestly have so little regard for our intelligence? Why should one character make us satisfied enough to flock to Paizo’s products? Sure it’s better than most other mainstream RPGs out there, but that’s like saying that Justin Bieber is better than Britney Spears. They both suck – it’s just a matter of degree.

But in the long run it’s a short-sighted publishing strategy when you consider that more and more women are getting into gaming. There are somewhere around 62 million active Farmville users, and 69 percent of them are women. That’s a whopping 42,780,000 women all devoted to one game!

Now let’s hypothesize that Paizo actually pulls its head out of its ass and creates a product line completely devoid of sexist representations of women, and let’s say that they somehow managed to find a successful way to advertise to the “women who play FarmVille” market. If only five percent – around 2.1 million – of women who play FarmVille wind up being interested in this new product line that they spend an average of $10 a year on products from this line, that’s a whopping $21,390,000 per year in sales. And if you attract only 2.5 of the women who play Farmville , that’s still $10,695,000 per year in sales.

I’m not sure if you realized this, but women constitute roughly half the population. And these days, they even let us have jobs, which means we have our own money! But given a choice between spending it on roleplaying books splattered with ridiculous cheesecake porn and, say, a new copy of Beautiful Katamari, where do you think my dollars are going? (Hint: Not the cheesecake-laden RPG)

Lastly, as much as I know you find this hard to comprehend, there are men for whom cheesecake art is off-putting and actually creates negative associations with your products. This insistence that splashing breasts on the cover will make a sale is pretty demeaning toward men as well. Do you as a publisher honestly have such a low opinion of your own customers that you think their purchasing decisions are made with their dicks?

Now I’m sure at this point you will have dismissed me as 1) not a customer 2) an over-emotional female or 3) a humorless feminist. And that’s fine. In case you need more reasons to dismiss me, I suggest checking out Derailing for Dummies for more reasons why what I’m saying doesn’t matter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make a sandwich.

>Paizo: Thanks for not being full of race fail, but…

>do you think you could maybe be a little less full of gender fail?

[Hi, kids! Just a little pre-amble. I wrote this when I hadn’t been blogging for very long, and parts of it are super slut-shamey. And that’s awful! Unfortunately, this being the internet, I can’t take it back. It’s out there forever, so there’s really no point in trying to pretend I never said it.

I have since regretted the slut shaming I did in this and a few other early posts and have made a point not to do it in my current work. So please consider this post in context. Thanks.]

[Preamble and Disclaimer: All of these can be seen at much higher resolution if you click the images. I recommend doing this. And as always, none of this is mine. All Pathfinder material is copyright Paizo. I don’t own a thing.]

So the first time I heard anything about Pathfinder was actually in a forum thread about positive female characters. Someone linked to pictures of Seela – Pathfinder’s iconic paladin, and Seoni – Pathfinder’s iconic sorceress:

These pictures blew my mind, especially the picture of the paladin. Two completely kick-ass, non-white female characters! And okay, sure, the sorceress is a total slut-bag, whatever. But oh my god I loved the paladin so, so very much. This is what I wanted and never saw in my fantasy art! It made me so very happy to know that there was an RPG publisher out there whose head wasn’t completely up its ass when it came to gender/race issues.Now that’s not to say that Paizo gets a total pass on the race front. Paizo is still guilty of race fail on occasion, like with the official photo promoting their 2010 GenCon costume contest. For the contest, they had a photo of someone costumed as Seoni, the aforementioned sorceress:

Sing it with me kids! One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong… I mean, come on guys. I’m sure it couldn’t have been too hard to find a racially appropriate model to pose for this photo. It’s not like white women have a monopoly on big fake breasts! And oh yeah, thanks for promoting your products at GenCon by encouraging women to dress up like cleavagey skanks. I mean, please. Wayne Reynolds really doesn’t need more encouragement to draw shit like this.Then again, as this photo taken by Sean K Reynolds shows, it’s not like this is the first time that Paizo has used boobs at GenCon to sell their products:

And the thing is, if it was Wizards or Blizzard or the like, I’d roll my eyes and call it par for the course. But it’s doubly disappointing coming from you, Paizo considering your obvious attempts to not completely whitewash your settings. Why take so much time to balance your depictions of non-white characters if you’re just going to make all of your female characters standard fantasy cheesecake?When you go through the portraits that are posted on the official Paizo blog, you do see a very diverse mix of ethnicities. But for the most part the portraits of women are at least mildly problematic. To illustrate my point, I’ve compiled a bunch of their portraits – which I’ve rated on a scale of WTF to awesome:WTF:

/facepalm

Okay. So first of all, mummies are not that hot. There’s this thing that happens where all of the moisture is removed from their bodies, which is what makes them mummies in the first place. There is absolutely no way that a mummy would have breasts that perky, or such a curvaceous backside. Also, real mummies are wrapped in so many layers of cloth that there’s no way they’re just going to start walking around.

Then we have Naked Dinosaur Chick. And again, seriously, what are you thinking? We’ll leave aside the question of why the dinosaur isn’t trying to eat her and consider the problem of her nudity. There’s a reason why women’s bike shorts have a lot of crotchal padding. (Yes I’m inventing words. Shut up.) It’s because bicycle seats can be painful for extended periods of time. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that having your crotch pretty much in direct contact with a dinosaur’s spine has got to be way worse.

And flying chick… So many anatomical problems. Like her shoulder connecting directly to her ribs. Or her lack of a neck. Or an ass. If you’re going to publish ridiculous cheesecake, at least get the basic anatomy right.

Bad

Hey look! Big fake boobs! At least the drow looks somewhat badass, which is more than can be said for the other two. I do have to give Wayne Reynolds props for that. His cheesecake women are at least never passive princesses waiting to be rescued. But it would be great if he could do NON-cheesecake badass women too. [Note: apparently the drow is by Steve Prescott, whoops! I’ll stand by my comments about the art, and my comments about Wayne, but he didn’t actually perpetrate this particular cheesecake indignity.]

Yawn. Cleavagey noble, check. Woman with cleavagey/disintegrated clothing, check. The “Persian Princess” on the right is actually disappointing because she comes SO CLOSE to being completely awesome. I love the costume, love the sword, love the jewelry, and love the fact that she actually looks Persian. So why, oh WHY the random cleavage? It’s like running 4.75k in a 5k race, then deciding to quit and go to Tim Hortons for doughnuts.Meh

No surprise here, numbers one and two are Wayne again. Come on, Wayne! It’s like he gets art direction asking for fully covered women and says to himself, “well, no one will notice if I stick in some cleavage”. It’s especially ridiculous on the woman in plate mail. Why go to all the effort of getting plate mail made if it doesn’t protect from heart-stabs?? The woman on the right I included despite being fully covered because she’s just… so… insipid. But that’s a judgement call on my part, I guess. [Note: Number one was also miscredited and is actually by Steve Prescott. Though, again, I stand by my commentary on the art and my commentary on Wayne’s art in general.]
Awesome

THIS! Oh my god, this! More of it! More of it, I say! THESE are the women I want to see in my roleplaying products. The cleric on the left is everything that the Persian Princess should have been! The duelist in the middle, I heart her so much! And Seela the paladin remains one of the best pieces of fantasy art I have seen ever! Yes I need this many exclamation points!See, it’s stuff like this that makes me delighted, makes me think that someone out there is listening to us! We’re finally getting the strong, non-sexualized female avatars we’ve been asking for! But then you turn around and do shit like this for the holidays:


(from 2009 and 2008 respectively)

And that just makes me disappointed, because these are supposedly a “thank you” to your customers. I’m not a customer, but even if I was I wouldn’t want to be thanked this way.So I guess how I feel about Paizo is kind of like how I feel about Enterprise. There’s just so much raw potential for awesomeness, but the reality just fails to deliver.

>Anatomy: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG (or: Body customization in Perfect World)o

>Perfect World is yet another Asian free-to-play MMO with a freemium subscription model, published by a Chinese game publisher. And the advertising is pretty much what you’d expect from a freemium MMO:

Wow. Passively posed female spellcaster chick in cheesecakey outfit. Yawn. But then you have things like this promotional wallpaper:

Okay, so you have the mascot, who is practically a fetish checklist. Girls with wings, check. Short skirt, check. Boobage, check. Thigh high stockings, check. Whatever, that’s pretty standard. What kind of blows my mind is the stuff they cram into the background. The catgirl with the “come hither” look is pretty standard until you consider the fact that right next to her is Chick With Random O-Face. I mean, what? Random cleavage is one thing, but random orgasms are something else entirely.And then just to make things even more confusing there’s Random Upskirt Tiger in the lower corner. Why is the tiger checking out Fetish Wing Girl’s ass? Why??

Hey, look! Seasonally appropriate cheesecake! They obviously didn’t spend a whole lot of effort on this, since the outfit is mainly just a color swap with some fur trim added, though I’m a bit distrubed by the reindeer antlers. I mean, catgirls are pretty standard, but reindeer girls? Brr.The thing is, none of this really seems at all out of the ordinary. Random orgasms aside, it’s pretty middle-of-the-road as far as cheesecake goes. No, Perfect World earns a special place on my shit list for its body customization options that can result in characters like this:

Holy shit! Not even ridiculous Ivy fanart can compete with those knockers! How is she even standing upright? Are those things full of helium? Surely this has to be some kind of disturbing hack…

Oh god! There’s more of them! I mean, these are so horrific that the bunny girl looks almost normal in comparison, and she’s really, really not. Even better if you click for the larger version you can see that the chick on the left is named “WhoreNi”. Um. Wow. So, evidence points to these characters being played by men…

So what the hell is going on here?

Well, it appears that in Perfect World there are body customization sliders, including – obviously – for breast size and waist size. What’s disturbing about this is that it results in characters that no longer even resemble humans:

The guy who created this character even posted on the official PW forums asking other users to rate his character for attractiveness. When called on the fact that she, uh, kind of looks like a freak show, he responded:

Good point, I think I got carried away with the boob bar. 😀

Um. Yeah. Just a bit, dude.

Perhaps an even more disturbing feature is the ability to customize your characters based on a picture, utilized here to creepy effect:

This is all very disturbing and creepy on so many levels. Body customization is not necessarily an evil thing in and of itself. It has the potential to be quite a positive feature, if used to allow for non-idealized body types. The problem here is that Perfect World uses its powers for evil, allowing its users to take it to such extremes that you can generate offensively freakish parodies of humanity, waifish women who resemble nothing so much as poles with two zeppelins tied to them. How any of these women would function in daily life, much less kill things with swords, is beyond me. I mean, just tying your shoes would be a challenge with those titanic ta-tas.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting all of the onus on the publishers. Clearly the men creating these characters deserve a fair helping of blame. Any man who would create one of these characters just because they COULD clearly has some pretty skewed views of women. But the publishers of Perfect World are the ones programming the slider in the first place. They’re the ones deciding where to code the limits on breast size, which has equally off-putting implications.

>Ridiculous? (Or: I agree with you, right up until where I don’t)

>So I want to take a moment to say hello to those of you who found their way here from the Lamentations of the Flame Princess blog. (Holy traffic spike batman!) I also want to take a moment to respond to some comments made in the post that linked to the blog.

REQUISITE DISCLAIMER: But before I begin, let me make clear that I don’t secretly hate LotFP, or think that Jim is a horrible awful person who hates women, or anything like that. Honestly, LotFP isn’t really my cup of tea, but that’s cool. Some people do like it, and that’s cool too. Honest.

/DISCLAIMING

Okay, so in this post, Jim talks about how in the last edition of LotFP he wound up with a contextless naked chick that he wasn’t thrilled about:

But there is a naked lady in there, suddenly with no context. At the time of layout I was aware that this was not necessarily a good thing. I hate cheesecake art that comes across as being out of context. And the way the layout was going, Ollam Onga’s swingin’ doodaddle wasn’t making it in the final product. To solve this imbalance, I was actually putting together an art montage, punk rock album style, to include in all the little art bits that got chopped by layout. And then I realized I was spending several hours on this for the sole purpose of having a cock in the game as a balance against showing a snatch.

I stopped immediately as it was quite obviously stupid and ridiculous, and just had to suffer that there was an out of context nude woman in there.

And I was like, hey – it happens. I’m lucky enough that in the one small game I published I was able to illustrate it myself – but it was a tiny project. For something as big as LotFP, that probably wouldn’t be feasible. It’s not terribly reasonable for me to sit on a high horse and decry contextless naked chick in this circumstance, and really it’s just nice to know that there was some thought about the situation. Cool. So far, no complains sir.

But then he goes on to say:

So here I am counting instances of “female in power, female not in power, female scantily clad, female not scantily clad…” in the art that I’m commissioning because I feel I have to be aware of such things because people are watching and there’s always talk of such things. And then I realize it’s ridiculous. So I stop. And I think about a few things.

And I’m like… wait. Go back. Ridiculous? Really? And here’s the part where I say to myself, wow. I was totally in agreement with you, right up until now when I stop agreeing. And from there he goes on to say some other things which I partially agree with and partially don’t, but mostly can be summarized as a defense of traditional fantasy cheesecake tropes as RPG art and really you should go read the post if you haven’t yet. Please, go read.

Okay. Now don’t mistake me, not all of the things that he says are things that I disagree with. His explanation of why he’s not going to shy away from violence against women in his art because of how the art fits into the setting makes sense to me. Ditto for his comments on the ridiculousness of bloodless violence in fantasy art. Once again, I’m not accusing Jim of being an eeeeeevil anti-feminist publisher. That’s honestly not my intent.

But I just keep coming back to the word “ridiculous”. Is it ridiculous to ask that publishers think about these things when commissioning and laying out art in their books? I don’t think so. Yes there are women who like that sort of thing – I’m not going to claim that I speak for all women here. But there are women for whom the boobtacular cheesecake that dominates fantasy art is troublesome.

So, okay, Jim mentions a personal story of how the model for his topless snake demon was disappointed that she wouldn’t be able to cos-play the character because of said toplessness. And I know she’s not alone – at any geekery convention you see women cos-played in skimpy costumes. Jim’s argument is that beauty is power, and again I agree except for where I don’t.

Let me counter with a personal story of my own. So the first time I went to GenCon back in 2005? (maybe 2006?), I have a vivid memory of walking into the Dealer’s Room for the first time and experiencing it as almost a tangible wall of chainmail bikini porn. And my very first thought was – wow, if I had known that this is what roleplaying was like, I’m not sure that I would have been okay with picking this up as a hobby. My first exposure to roleplaying was through LARP and D&D with friends. Perhaps it was naive, but I honestly was not expecting the vast quantities of fantasy porn.

My second thought, hot on the heels of the first, was IS THIS HOW THEY SEE ME? It was a very demoralizing and saddening realization, the idea that – outside of my insulated bubble of people that I was good friends with that I also happened to game with – that my worth as a gamer was probably judged (by some) more by my larger-than-average breasts than anything else.

And all of this was before I had done any real reading about feminism or gotten involved with trying to get more women into gaming. Looking back, I can see that part of the shock was realizing that roleplaying, which I had previously assumed to be a gender-neutral space, was actually an intensely gendered space that was actively unwelcoming to women. I didn’t have the words to articulate it then, though, and I remember being frustrated when I tried to talk about it later. But I have the words now, so let me say this.

Wanting to consider how women are depicted in game art is not ridiculous. There are women who enjoy cheesecake representations of women, true. But there are women for whom the overwhelming prevalence of cheesecake is a source of personal pain and doubt. I’ve come to love this hobby too much to give it up now, and I realize that my preferences are not universal. But I am a female gamer who often feels marginalized by the legions of cheesecake women adorning fantasy products and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in my views either.

All of this is not to say that Jim is wrong and that LotFP is a bad product and you shouldn’t buy it. Honestly, I’m thrilled that Jim is aware enough of these issues to take these things into consideration when working with his artists. I’m just trying to assert that standing up for more balanced portrayals of women is an equally valid viewpoint. So, you know, please don’t flame me.