From the mailbag: things I wouldn’t have caught on my own.

[Before I get started, a brief personal note: So I’m unemployed again (long story, don’t want to go into it) and I’ve been moping. Yes, childish, whatever. Now that I’ve had a good mope, I’ll get back to updating. I’m incredibly embarassed that this is only my fourth post this month. To whit, I’ll make sure that I get up another post this weekend, despite my usual policy of not posting on weekends. And I will post more frequently afterwards, though I can’t say that I’d manage a return to three posts a week.

Also, I have been reading comments. I just don’t feel like I have a lot to say in response right now. That is all.]

So I’ve been getting a lot of email lately from people who have been forwarding me stuff that I would have missed otherwise. I tagged these emails but hadn’t really found an opportunity to use them, so I thought I’d go through more recent emails and pull out the best (worst?) things people have sent me lately.

The bad

Using female body parts to sell games. Literally.

First up, this link to a feature on the Top 10 Embarrassingly Bad Moments in Video Games. And of course, what roundup of video gaming’s most embarrassing moments would be complete without sexist advertising? Specifically, check out numbers 10 and 4:

Okay, let me just burst some bubbles. As a woman who games, I have never, ever wanted to have sex with a video game. Sorry, guys, that’s just the way it is. Also, I’m pretty sure that even if I was a heterosexual man, a woman in a bikini top with a price painted on her stomach would not induce me to spend money on any product. Ever.

Of course, sometimes getting real women to show off their bits in order to make you money gets inconvenient. Which is why game companies often just get their digital women to do that for them. After all, digital women won’t complain about being stereotyped or mistreated, right? Free-to-play MMOs are all about this, since they don’t really make much money up front. (It’s all about the micro-transactions, people. Think about how many Hello Kitty outfits you could buy for your custom avatar with the fee for a professional model!)

My brother sent this to me, saying that he thought I could “rage about it amusingly”.

Alas, I hate to disappoint but I find my rage is somewhat tired these days. Okay sure she’s mostly naked. And yes we have a great case of crotch-centric logo-placement that is about as subtle as a brick. And okay, she’s pretty anorexic and might be missing part of her ribcage. But I have to say, TERA has really lowered the bar for me. I mean, her boobs are covered, even if it’s only with a tube of fabric. And while she might not be wearing any clothes, she is at least not contorted into anatomically impossible positions designed to show off both tits and ass. Also, there aren’t any other mostly-naked women nearby that look about to initiate some kind of pirate lesbian sex, which is also a huge improvement over TERA.

So all in all, I’ll give it a 6.5 out of 10. Is it sexist? Yes. But come on people. Vanilla sexism just doesn’t cut it anymore! We have to move with the times.


Which brings us to our next goody from the mail bag… I guess game companies are getting jealous of how Hollywood is systematically murdering all of our best childhood memories (I’m looking at YOU, X-Men: The Last Stand!), because that’s the only way I can explain this:

So what we have here are new designs for Harley Quinn in the upcoming Arkham City game, as compared to Harley Quinn from the excellent cartoon series. And, man. I’m mad on Harley’s behalf here. The animated Harley was an awesome character, but the Arkham City Harley? She just looks like a wannabe bad girl with a goth fetish, too much plastic surgery, and industrial-strength corsets. (Seriously? How does she get cinched in that far? I want to pass out just looking at her!)

And this kills me! Animated Harley wears full-body spandex for crying out loud. How insane are game developers when they look at a woman wearing nothing but spandex and think “you know, she’s just wearing too much clothing”. Only in the gaming world, I swear.

Casual sexism… is still sexism (but I guess not as bad as that other stuff)

Next up… okay I’ll admit I’m sort of cheating since this isn’t directly gaming related. But it’s irksome enough that I figured I’d cheat, since this is (after all) my blog:

(Link with photo here.)

Thanks, Microsoft. Please do continue to perpetuate the stereotype that the only people who care about technical things are men. (Straight men of course.) Because the tech/gaming world doesn’t have enough casual sexism floating around. So thanks for reinforcing my decision to never use Internet Explorer for anything ever.

I mean, okay. They’re not putting an IE CD case in front of a naked vajayjay, but… still. Grow up, guys.

The good?

I wanted to finish up with something not crappy, or at least something I think is not crappy. But then, I might be biased since it features a very brief interview with yours truly. Recently I got emailed about being interviewed for a podcast about the portrayal of women in video games that was being done as a project for a university game design course. Once I stopped laughing at the idea of anything I say having a bearing on someone’s grades, I was quite happy to do the interview, and I think the end result is pretty cool. I was especially amused at how they compensated for my lack of a webcam, since it is a video podcast.

Anywhoo, the link is here. It’s only about 6 minutes, so I suggest giving it a listen.

M:TG – Part Two, Pretty Pretty Pictures

All right. It’s one thing to talk numbers. It’s another thing entirely to actually see some of the pictures represented by all those numbers. And it’s especially important given that my criteria are intentionally engineered to under-count suggestive female depictions and over-count suggestive male depictions (just so nobody can claim I’m being biased in my counting.)

(I’m just looking at art from the 2011 core set for this post, as I’m more concerned with criticizing stuff that Wizards is doing right now rather than ranting about art from fifteen year old cards.)

So, let’s get started…

All suggestive depictions are not created equal

So, case in point – let’s look at Magic’s vampires. Here are two vampires from the M11 set that were both counted as suggestive:

The male vampire was counted as suggestive because of the amount of chest that he’s showing; any character of either gender showing that much chest was automatically counted as suggestive. But looking at the two, it seems a little ridiculous to put both pictures in the same category. I mean, the male vampire just has his shirt unbuttoned a little, while the female vampire is wearing a bikini and a sarong. Talk about your double-standards.

That’s not to say that there aren’t images from the M11 set that I would say really are suggestive. Take, for example, the Frost Titan:

Mr. Frost Titan is pretty clearly designed to be sexy. He’s ripped, is wearing a minimal amount of clothing, and is posed in such a way as to put his… *ahem* attributes on display. Which, honestly, is pretty great. I get so tired of “boob perspective” (camera angles designed to best display boobs from below) that it’s actually pretty refreshing to see “junk perspective”.

Still, as awesome as the Frost Titan is, there are a lot of male figures who were counted as suggestive that, like our male vampire, really don’t belong in the category. Now some of them, I’ll admit, you could at least make an argument for, like these:

It’s my opinion that images like these probably don’t deserve to be counted as suggestive. I know we had this argument before about tauren, but I’m really skeptical that the top two images are intended to be viewed as sexy. The whole lack of pants thing really seems more about making a statement about their “primitive” culture than about making bipedal cats seem sexually appealing. (I know furries would tend to disagree with me, but I am so not having that argument here.)

The bottom two are ones that I would also say probably shouldn’t be called suggestive. Sure they’re both super-buff shirtless men, but they’re also being engulfed in some pretty nasty spell effects. Condemn almost looks like the guy is on fire, and Unholy Strength looks… well… unholy. And also kinda gross. Again, I’m willing to acknowledge that an argument could be made against my position. But looking at these images, it just feels like there’s a huge difference in how these figures are being presented from, say, Barony Vampire.

So let’s call those edge cases. These, however, are really, really not edge cases:

On the left we have a pretty gruesome looking corpse, and the other two are shirtless old men. I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s pretty ridiculous to count a corpse as suggestive. And with Flash Freeze and Pacifism, neither of the figures depicted have what we could call an appealing physique. And you know what? That’s cool – it’s great to have non-idealized body types represented. Unfortunately, it’s only male figures who are ever depicted as non-idealized or otherwise unappealing. All of the women in the Magic universe are young, nubile, and attractive. (Which is really kind of creepy, upon reflection. Does the Magic universe have some kind of female eugenics program?)

Anyway. Moving on…

Suggestive women are always just that – suggestive

The problem with female suggestive figures is that, unlike their male counterparts, you couldn’t really make a case for any of them not being suggestive the way you could with a subset of the male suggestive figures. Even female figures who are blatantly not human still have their feminine attributes emphasized in ridiculous ways:

Okay, so maybe it’s cheating to include the Siren. I mean, they are “supposed” to be sexy, after all – at least according to modern interpretation. But what about the Merfolk Sovereign? If she’s a sovereign, then what exactly is she ruling? I have to say, if my sovereign was doing bikini shoots on some weird seashell set piece, it would make me question her judgment. The worst, though, is the Conundrum Sphinx. They slapped boobs on a lion and covered them with a ridiculous plate-mail bikini top. Just how exactly did she get that thing on? I’m pretty sure body-glue doesn’t stick to fur, and she wouldn’t exactly be able to work a bra clasp with paws. (I mean, hell – those are tricky enough for those of us with opposable thumbs…) And then the cherry on the cake is that they drew her with “boob perspective” to boot.

Which reinforces my opinion, actually, that Ajani Goldmane and Ajani’s Pridemate really shouldn’t be called suggestive, because Wizards doesn’t really seem to be able to grasp subtlety. It seems like they think that either something is not sexy, or it’s REALLY SEXY and WE NEED TO CALL ATTENTION TO IT OMG. And because everyone knows that the sphinx is female SHE NEEDS BOOBZ AND A BIKINI.


But let’s not forget that suggestiveness isn’t the only problematic tendency that hounds female figures. There’s also the issue of active versus neutral poses – something that Magic is actually pretty good about. Still, active figures are not always preferable to neutral figures:

Aether Adept was counted as active because her pose shows movement while Reverberate was counted as neutral because the figure is planted and static. However, if I had to choose which of these two was more awesome, it would be Reverberate – hands down. Here’s the thing, Aether Adept’s expression is so passive it’s almost vapid. And Reverberate? She looks about five seconds from feeding you your own spleen.

(Also, as a side note, whoever invented the halter-top with a slit down to the belly button, long skirt with slits everywhere to shot lots of leg thing that so many women in fantasy art wear… I would really love to punch them in the nose. That would be awesome.)

Speaking of awesome, fully armored female fighters don’t get to have it

This is a big part of my pet peeve with the under-representation of women as fighters in Magic. Sadly, I have yet to figure out a numerical way to represent “AWESOME” – but, man. When I look at the fully-armored fighters from the M11 set, there are some seriously awesome figures doing seriously awesome stuff. Check this out:

Dude! He’s riding a lion with wings! That’s awesome! And the Palace Guards are fighting off hordes of zombie orc things with just the two of them. Also incredibly awesome! Seems like the heavy fighters get to do all the cool shit, right?

…or not.

So, here’s the thing. I don’t want to seem ungrateful or anything. Knight Exemplar here is pretty cool. She’s got plate mail that doesn’t have the ridiculous breast cones you see all too often and she’s strong. Moreover, she’s even shown as a leader. All of these are super-great, because they’re all super-rare. But it makes me a little sad that all she gets to do is sit around and look tough instead of fighting hordes of zombie orcs or riding winged lions. She is strong, yes, but is she AWESOME? I’d have to say no. Which is disappointing.

Magic the Gathering: Part 1.5 – male versus female mages

Preamble: This is a bit of a tangent, but not really

All right. It’s been too long in coming, but after the debate that erupted in the comments after my first post about M:TG my husband suggested comparing male mages and female mages so that I could compare apples to apples and see if mages really are more passive and to see if there was a difference between gender depictions just among mages. There was just one problem: I had to go through and count all over again.

See, when I initially did the counts I only tallied totals. What he suggested, while a great idea, required going back and recording variables for each figure individually – a much bigger task! While I was at it, I also added a variable called “no class” for figures with no discernable hero archetype; FIgures without a class comprised a large percentage of all figures and I wanted to see if there were any interesting trends to be observed by looking at classless figures. All of this has been a lot of work, what with the re-counting and the fiddling with Excel formulas and the interpretation. Add to this the previously-mentioned decrease in time I have in which to work on research for this blog and that is the result of the radio silence. I apologize folks, but the posts that involve math always take the longest. (Hey, I majored in Fine Arts.)

The numbers I’m looking at today only involve cards from my husband’s collection of cards from the mid-90’s, which is why this is Part 1.5, since this is not quite a tangent but also doesn’t compare the old with the new. As long as it took to put these numbers together, the thought of going back and counting the new M11 set all over again makes me want to gouge my eyes out with a spork. So I’m not going to.


[note: the charts didn’t compress too well, so if the numbers are hard to read on your screen, click through to the larger version that will be much easier to read.]

As with looking at the set as a whole, the comparison of male and female figures who are mages displays clear sexist trends:

Women comprise only slightly more than 30% of all mages in the set. Interestingly, female mages are very slightly more active than their male counterparts by a small margin (4%). However, male mages are still more likely to be fully covered. And, unsurprisingly, the majority of suggestive depictions are female – 43% of female mages in this set are depicted as suggestive, accounting for a little more than 60% of suggestive mages overall. (Although, it still deserves mention that this is far better than other areas of gaming where around 80-95% of suggestive depictions are female.)

What is interesting is when the numbers for figures depicted as mages are compared with averages for the entire set regardless of class:

In the overall set, women actually account for a smaller percentage of figures than with the mages. Also, in the overall set the average woman is slightly less active than female mages and slightly more passive (or neutral), which would seem to disprove my hypothesis that female mages would be more passive than other non-mage females in the set.

Now there was something else I hadn’t thought to examine in the old set initially – figures with no discernible class archetype, which account for a large portion of all counted figures:

The proportion of female figures is roughly the same as with mages – again women make up a bit more than 30% of all figures with no class. However, while male and female mages displayed very similar rates of active and neutral poses, female figures with no class are significantly less active than their male counterparts, with less than 30% of all active figures with no class being female. Female classless figures are also less covered than the males with less that 40% of all fully covered classless figures. (Though, interestingly, female classless figures are very slightly less suggestive than female mages.)

What is most striking though when you look at the class archetype (or lack thereof) as a percentage of total representation by gender. The mage archetype accounts for a larger percentage of females than males, though the difference is pretty small with 23% of all male figurs counting as mages as compared to 29% of females. That’s not terribly exciting, I know. But consider the difference in depictions of figures with no class. Not only are female figures with no class less active and less covered than their male counterparts, they also comprise a much larger percentage of all figures; male classless figures accounted for only 31% of all male figures while female classless figures weighed in at a whopping 44% of all female figures! That’s almost half of all female figures!

This is important, because in the majority of instances, hero characters in M:TG and in fantasy art in general will fall into a discernible class archetype. The have such a large number of female figures, who are already vastly in the minority, be depicted as peasants, victims, seductresses, townsfolk, or other non-heroic roles sends a very clear message about the unimportance of women.

Something else I found bothersome is what happens when you look at figures with no class and mages together. These two categories combined account for only 54% of all male figues. Considering that the thief archetype represents a tiny proportion of figures for both genders, the lion’s share of the remaining 46% will be fighters. Contrast this will female figures where the two categories combined make up 73% of all female figures, leaving a little less than 27% of all female figures to be fighters once you take out the handful of female thieves.

And here’s where I reach the end of my ability to point at numbers and venture out into Opinion Land. To me, that difference feels significant, and I really, really don’t buy the argument that the difference in numbers of representations of male and female fighters is due to “historical” or “biological” accuracy. In a universe where dragons, elementals, gods, angels, and magicians exist, the “accuracy” argument doesn’t hold much water.

Also, women don’t have to be kitted out in full plate male to be fighters (though I always do love good images of non-boobular female plate mail.) The fact that women are not as strong as men doesn’t make them any less in their potential to be fighters; there is no law that says in order to be proficient in fighting that one has to be heavily armored and rely on brute strength. And, frankly, in a fantasy universe it’s easy to wave your hands and say ‘well in THIS universe there is no social stigma against women pursuing a career as a fighter’. It seems ridiculous to rely on the “accuracy” argument to back up the under-representation of women in any kind of fantasy art when fantasy as a genre is based on being not realistic.

Anyhow. That’s my rant for today. Since I’ve had my fill of graphs and numbers for quite a while, I’ll be going back to looking at actual images from both sets as originally planned, which should take much less time to finish since it won’t involve numbers.

A few changes prompted by real life

Okay, folks. As mentioned at the beginning of my last post, a few things are going to be changing around here:


First and foremost – posting frequency. After a few months of painful unemployment, I am again gainfully employed. However, my new job is going to leave me with a lot less time to do the research needed to put together quality posts. Rather than let this blog devolve into nothing but WTF roundups of miscellaneous crap, I’d prefer to keep a higher standard with a lower frequency of posts. By all means, I’m not going to slow down to one or two posts a month, but it’s hard for me to pin down how frequently I will be able to post until I’ve gotten accustomed to my new job.

From the outset, I didn’t want this blog to come at the expense of real-life concerns – which is why I mostly ignore things here on the weekends and have trouble keeping up with conversations that explode the way the DNF conversation has. I realize this will probably cost me traffic, and I know this might disappoint some of my more dedicated readers. However, I’m only one person and I do hope you can understand the amount of work that goes into posts like the one I just wrote. Those of you who feel like sticking around, thanks for your patience.


I have very much tried to take a “moral high road” approach when it comes to commenters here on my blog. I don’t want to be the sort of person who deletes comments from anybody who appears to disagree with them, because I think that ultimately harms what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to reach out to gamers, mostly (but not all) men, who don’t identify with feminism but who are open re-thinking attitudes that they hadn’t thought to question. Another important consideration is the fact that I, too, am far from perfect. Both are factors that initially made me decide not to delete posts by humans and instead tell people to ignore them. My change in employment status as well as a few emails from older commenters has made me re-think this of late.

The problem is that as much as I can ignore persistent trolls, they will always have someone to give them attention and I just don’t have the time to keep up with the inflated comment counts that result from this. It has also gotten to the point where I’m spending more energy ignoring persistent trolls than I am actually participating in discussions, which is tiring. I am not willing to stick to my ideals at the expense of my real life, because I’ve been down that road on the internet and I know where it leads. It leads to anger, frustration, and burnout and ultimately achieves nothing other than wasting time that could have been spent in more productive pursuits. So I’ve decided to come to a compromise.

I will continue to leave comment moderation turned off; comments will not have to sit in queue to be approved. Nor will I ban comments from commenters that have frequently disagreed with me and caused arguments in comment threads – as long as I judge that they are attempting to engage in genuine discussion. I don’t want to reinforce stereotypes about the feminist “hive mind”, and I certainly know that in plenty of cases on other sites that I have been “that jackass on the internet”.

Please know that I believe in reading charitably and that I will be extremely lenient in deciding if I think that people are trying to have a real conversation. Discussion on the internet is hampered by a lack of non-verbal social cues and often what seems like a disagreement is really just people talking past each other. I would rather have a very forgiving policy and have some aggravation than be very strict and have lots of drama. I used to do drama in the past; I’m done with it now.

Persistent trolls will be blocked from commenting on this blog.

For anyone wondering what qualifies as a troll, I will use this definition from Urban Dictionary as a guideline:

One who purposely and deliberately (that purpose usually being self-amusement) starts an argument in a manner which attacks others on a forum without in any way listening to the arguments proposed by his or her peers. He will spark of such an argument via the use of ad hominem attacks (i.e. ‘you’re nothing but a fanboy’ is a popular phrase) with no substance or relevence to back them up as well as straw man arguments, which he uses to simply avoid addressing the essence of the issue.

As stated previously, I will be extremely lenient in judging whether I think people meet this criteria. Everyone has an Internet Crazy Button, even me, and some subjects just make people irrational. It’s cool. I get it. The most relevant factor in this determination is time. If over a period of weeks your comments read entirely out of Derailing for Dummies or the misogynist wing of the Men’s Rights movement and display absolutely no variation in rhetoric or attempt to engage in genuine discussion with other commenters, then I will judge you to fit this criteria and you will be blocked from commenting. (That said, I absolutely do not want to get requests from other commenters to the effect that I designate someone as a troll and block them from commenting. I mean it.)

In the end, my peace of mind has to come first if this blog is going to survive. If that makes me a freedom hating feminazi bitch, well, best of luck to you in your internet travels. God knows that there is no shortage of feminist gaming blogs for you to troll.

A copy of this will be added to the sidebar under the heading “comment policy”, with a link to this post in the “about” section.


Updates will be of lower and unpredictable frequency for the forseeable future. To those of you who have stuck with me this far, thanks for your forbearance. If you want more frequent feminist gaming blog stuff, I suggest checking out any of the links in my blogroll, especially the Border House (full disclosure: I sometimes cross-post there as a guest) and

Persistent trolls will be banned, however it will take dedication and perseverance to earn this designation. I am the final arbiter of who is and is not a troll. This is not a democracy; it is a benevolent dictatorship.

Magic the Gathering: Looking at sexist trends over time (Part One)

[Brief note: Hi, folks. This was a bit longer in coming than I’d like, but I’ll address that shortly in a separate post.]

So the project that got this blog started in the first place was an article that I wrote for See Page XX, a webzine published by Pelgrane Press, examining sexist trends in official game art across all areas of gaming. In the original article, I analyzed a set of images taken from the official Wizards of the Coast promo kit available for download on the official M:TG site because I didn’t know of a good way at the time to obtain a representative sample of the vast library of M:TG cards, since distribution is randomized. Since then, with help, I’ve worked out what I think is a pretty decent way of comparing current Magic cards to Magic cards of the past, which I’ll go more in to after the methods section.

Since writing the original article, I’ve done a few posts using the same methodology. However, I’ve gotten a lot of new readers since then, so I’ll start off this blog with a brief explanation of just what it was that I’ve been doing, including a description of my methodology and criteria. Those of you familiar with this part can skip on to the following section.

Methods and Criteria

In each set of images I examine, I look at four sets of variables: numbers of male and female figures, active versus neutral poses, fully clothed and suggestively attired figures, and class archetype:

Ratio of male to female figures: In each set of images I examined, I recorded the number of male figures and the number of female figures. Since I wasn’t sure how to easily differentiate between focal and non-focal figures in a way that wasn’t entirely subjective, I simply counted each figure that had an easily discernable gender and did not count those figures where gender was ambiguous.

Active poses versus neutral poses: All poses are classified either as neutral, static poses that lack movement, or active, poses that are dynamic and convey action. For an example of these criteria, you can see this image here.

Fully clothed and suggestively attired: Fully-clothed and suggestively attired are not opposite ends on a spectrum. Some figures that were not fully clothed were not counted as suggestively attired while some figures that were fully clothed were also counted as suggestively attired. (For examples, please see the original article.)

Class Archetype: It was not always applicable, but when possible I looked at what class archetype a figure was depicted as: fighter, rogue, or mage. I counted all archers as rogues, as well as thieves. I counted anyone casting a spell as a mage, even if they had a sword. Fighters were any characters wielding only melee weapons and not casting spells.

Selection of Sources

In looking at current Magic cards, I was able to find pages that list all of the cards in the current 2011 core set (often referred to as M11) along with thumbnails of each card. Since these core cards are expected to form the base of most decks, rather than examine every card that is still legal in tournament play – a list that is exhaustive and constantly changing – I confined my examination to the M11 set which contains a mere 248 cards (including lands and artifacts.)

I also have access to a source of older cards in that my husband was (in the mid-90’s) an avid Magic collector and player. I didn’t count the number of cards total, but he possesses 348 unique Magic cards (not including lands) of all colors. The actual total is much higher since there are multiple copies of the commons and such, but because the collection was amassed over a few years and is taken from all colors, I felt that it comprised an adequately randomized sample of mid-90’s magic cards.

I applied the same criteria to both the M11 set and to my husband’s collection, and here’s what I came up with:

Results: M11 Core Set

Looking at the numbers, it’s pretty clear that the M11 core set of cards displays clear sexist trends across all variables. Women are consistently under-represented, with only 20% of all figures being female. Surprisingly, this is lower than the figures that were tabulated for the Magic press kit by a substantial margin, as the figures found in the Magic press kit were roughly 37% female – a difference of 17%! Furthermore, this under-representation is by far the lowest of all sources examined in the original article, with the exception of Warhammer Online. The D&D 4th Edition core books contain roughly 40% female figures. When looking at the top five North American MMOs, the official artwork found on all of their sites averages out to around 32% female figures. And even Xbox 360, the console with the lowest representation of females on its game covers examined in this period, had roughly 25% female figures.

Looking at other variables, women are more likely than men to be depicted as neutral. They are also significantly more likely to be depicted as mages and significantly less likely to be depicted as fighters; a clear example of the classic female = mage = not involved in direct combat stereotype that female characters in game art are often shoehorned into.

The only variables that are demonstrably superior to other areas of gaming are fully clothed figures and suggestively attired figures. Women are significantly more likely to be depicted as suggestively attired than men, with 60% of all suggestive figures being female. They are also less likely to be fully covered, comprising only 40% of all fully covered figures. However, while these numbers display clear sexist trends, they stand out in stark contrast to the numbers from other areas of gaming, especially MMOs. The top five MMOs averaged had almost 85% of all suggestively attired figures as female. Guild Wars in particular had 95% of all suggestively attired figures as female. So while suggestive depictions are still unequal, they are markedly less sexist than some other gaming sources.

Comparing M11 Core Set with Older Randomized Sample

Okay, I know this looks cluttered, but I wanted to be able to clearly show the changes in these trends over time. Pale columns represent old figures, saturated columns represent new figures.

What is interesting from looking at this comparison is noting which trends haven’t changed. Most variable sets have remained roughly the same over time. Active and neutral poses, suggestively attired figures, and class archetypes have all remained largely unchanged between the two sets of images. (The thief variable I was reluctant to include; the numbers for each are so small as to be very easily skewed.) The trends that have changed significantly are the ratio of male to female figures and the percentage of fully-clothed figures.

Women are actually less represented in the M11 core set of cards than they are in the randomized sample of mid-90’s cards, making up only a fifth of all figures where they accounted for a quarter of all figures in the older sample. Also of note is the fact that in the older set, women accounted for a majority of all fully-covered figures at 60%. In the new M11 set, however, they now account for only a 40% minority. So while the percentage of suggestive depictions is mostly unchanged, women are less represented in the new set and are wearing less clothing overall. This is an interesting result when one considers that D&D – a product also owned by Wizards – has been been growing less sexist in its game art over time. (Though the 4E art still displays noticeable sexist trends.)

What’s next

As with my look at the re-launched WoW art galleries, I intend to look at comparisons of images that were counted as suggestive for both male and female figures, but that will have to wait until I can finish pulling images together.