From the mail bag: Mostly fail, with a little win on the side

Okay, I’ll admit that I’ve been lazy this week. After my fast-and-furious post-GenCon posting spree, I needed a bit of a rest. And sure, posts like this are a bit of a cop-out, but I promise I’ll make it up to you next week with a new gender swap.

Anyhow, during the last week people have been sending me a lot of stuff to look at, and much of it was stuff I thought deserved attention and/or ridicule. So let the mocking commence!

In which entitled gamers put their privilege on display

Now it may have escaped your notice – as it did mine – that there is a video game in development called Lollipop Chainsaw that features a scantily-clad chainsaw-wielding cheerleader named Juliet who kills zombies:

Oh, hey look. It’s a scantily clad nubile young woman who will kill lots of stuff while wearing next to nothing. A thinly veiled platform for a combination of fanservice and violence – how original! Unsurprisingly, some people have taken exception to such a ridiculous character and pointed out that this game concept just might be a little sexist. Which is where gamer entitlement comes in.

Sure, Juliet isn’t exactly the most tasteful portrayal of a woman, but who cares? She’s a character in a video game that boasts an absolutely ridiculous premise. Are the actions of a fictitious girl truly detrimental to the image of females everywhere?

Ah, right. The “it’s just fantasy” argument. Yes, because really – everyone knows that humans are completely independent creatures and are never influenced by any of the media they consume ever. EVAR. End of story.

Perhaps we should focus our attention not on a video game character, but on real men and women that are sending the wrong messages, or even parents that let their children leave the house dressed like Paris Hilton. Turn on the MTV, or just about any channel these days, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Video games are the least of our worries.

Yes, because sexism in video games is such a trivial concern and don’t we have more important things to worry about? There are starving children in Africa, people. Since it is inherently true that people are incapable of caring about more than one kind of injustice simultaneously, being bothered by sexism in gaming reveals what a petty and shallow person I am for taking time away from being sad about starving children, war refugees, and sad puppies. Clearly, I am a terrible person.

Moving on…

Exhibit B begins with this article over on IGN by Emma Boyes asking whether LA Noire is sexist. It’s a pretty thoughtful and objective piece, definitely free of the vitriol and hyperbole that I like to fling around over here. She makes some pretty good points, and if anything understates how sexist the game industry itself is. Overall, it’s a pretty solid piece that is only minimally controversial, in that a woman dared to accuse teh awesome menz at RockStar of being sexist.

But you’d never guess that from the comments, which are a veritable tidal wave of scorn and entitlement:

They should have had a main, woman character in LA Noire. Her duty: to better LA from HQ, the kitchen, one sandwich at a time. LOL

its supposed to be a 50s cop show procedural as a videogame. they were sexist back then so YES… is ign writing articles sheerly for the sake of asking stupid questions?

IGN gets more and more retarded every day

who wrote this article? – a women . . .

…and so on and so forth.

But then, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since this is IGN, the website that has a dedicated “Babeology” section of their site:

Charming.

Stupid visuals

I’ve raged plenty of times here about the stupidity of “play now” advertisements for free MMOs. Well, this one takes that stupidity to an impressive level.

Nothing too unusual here. We’ve got gravity-defying sphere-boobs the size of her head. Her “corset” must also be made of some very hard metal to contain those titanic breasts of hers, because there’s no way that a construction of mere cloth and leather could contain breasts that large and that gravity-defying. Now I will admit that her anatomy (aside from the ridiculous breasts) looks like it might be physically attainable… by a vanishingly small percentage of the human population. However, the ridiculous bikini is… well… ridiculous. And let’s not overlook that the key phrase of the ad describing the game is RIGHT OVER HER CROTCH.

And now for the win

So first up, a bit of visual win to counter the visual fail:

These are character class designs from the upcoming Namco/Bandai title – Dark Souls. And I feel like I literally cannot express how much I love these designs and want this game to be a good game. I mean, holy shit, people! The women are wearing exactly the same outfits as the men. THE SAME. When does that happen? Never. Or almost never. I’m over the moon.

For that matter, I’m delighted that the one class that does run around naked has the male iteration just as naked as the female. Equal opportunity nudity. I love it! So please, Namco/Bandai, for the love of god – I’m begging you! Don’t fuck this up!

Lastly, I’m going to link to my new favorite thing on the internet since Boobs Don’t Work That Way – a new tumblr devoted entirely to pictures of women fighters in reasonable armor. It’s a delightful collection of images of female fighters in totally badass and not sexualized armor. I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

[And that's enough of that. Next time - gender swap!]

League of Legends: SO MUCH character design fail

This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for quite a while, ever since a previous post in which my brother and I performed a silly experiment to see if a pose depicted in a LoL wallpaper was possible. (It is, but only if you have double-jointed shoulders.)

Anyway, I got curious about the design of other female characters and went looking to see how the awful design of Soraka compared to other female LoL characters since there have been repeated comments on this blog that LoL is not “as bad” as a lot of the other stuff I lampoon here. And the results… let’s just say that yes. Yes it really is “as bad”.

The fail

(Disclaimer: I got all of these from a list of LoL characters found on GiantBomb, so if any of my information is wrong I blame them. My only exposure to LoL is having watched my brother play a match one time, so I can’t say I’m too conversant with the game.)

First of all, the most important bit of fail worth mentioning is that out of the 79 champions that you can choose to play, less than a third are humanoid females. (I’m not including champions like Anivia, btw. Being a giant bird doesn’t count in my books.) Now that ratio, while disappointing, isn’t out of line with the typical representation that women can expect in most other video games, so I might not be so annoyed if there were at least a good variety of designs. Only, there’s really not. Female LoL champions tend to come in one flavor: breastacular. In fact, there were so many fail-worthy characters that I had to split them into two images:

CLICK FOR LARGE VIEW

So… many… sphere boobs… I mean, pretty much any one of these images wouldn’t be out of place on Boobs Don’t Work That Way, but some of them are especially egregious. Katarina and Morgana are pretty good examples of basketball-pinned-to-the-chest syndrome, Evelynn is a prime example of anti-gravity breasts, and Ashe… I don’t know what the fuck is going on there. Not only are they impossibly huge and gravity defying, but they’re also kind of pointy, which is just baffling.

The other thing that really stands out to me when I look at these character designs is how incredibly unoriginal they are. Soraka is just a boobular draenai with a horn, Nidalee is a rip-off of Pathfinder’s iconic sorceress Seoni, Leona looks like female warriors from just about every kMMO ever, and Evelynn is a total Starfire knockoff. She even has red hair!

I have to say that the lack of originality is another mark against the character designs. I mean, come on guys. If you’re going to have ridiculously fanservice-y designs, can you at least manage not to completely phone it in on the design process? Then again, when you ask LoL players what they think about boobs, these are some of the thought-provoking responses you get:

We need moar boobs. (comment here)

Too many boobs? I dont see why anyone would say that. There are only 2 boobs per female champ (comment here)

Complaining about boobs? Lol community is full of homos? (comment here)

…so really, maybe they don’t need to try all that hard. After all, it doesn’t sound like they have a particularly high-brow audience.

The meh

Thankfully, not all of the characters are as eye-searingly awful as the above. Some of them only cause mild aggravation rather than mouth-foaming rage and the desire to hit things:

Yes, Vayne is wearing almost nothing but spandex, but at least her skin is mostly covered. And yes Orianna has kind of freakily pointy boobs and an absurdly short “robo skirt”, but at least they’re mildly less sexualized than some of their compatriots. Still, putting these on the “meh” list makes me feel a little dirty since Vayne is wearing stilettos for gods sake and with Orianna we’re getting ROBOT UPSKIRT which is about fifteen different kinds of stupid.

I mean, give me a fucking break

Mixed bags: awesome characters, except for how they’re not

Some of the female champions are interesting in that they manage to have one good skin and one (or more) really awful one. Case in point, Irelia:

Now granted, even Irelia’s cleavagey outfits are still much, much better than other female champions. Unlike Leona, another “heavily armored” female champion, Irelia is at least wearing pants in all of her various looks! Still, two of these three outfits have inexplicable cleavage windows, which is – in my books – about the worst sin that can be committed in female character design for heavily armored characters. Honestly, it’s better to lose the armor altogether than to have armor that is only meant to accentuate the boobage.

Now the design in the middle would still be better if her waist wasn’t so impossibly tiny. Unless she’s got some kind of freaky chest-TARDIS, there’s no way she’s got room for organs in there. But compared to the vast amounts of fail the rest of the female champions display, I’m more than happy to give the middle Irelia a thumbs up, albeit with a small eye-roll for bad anatomy.

Lux is another great example of a character where one of the skins is so very, very good and the other is… not. Both of the designs on the left feature stupid poses, weird color choices, and yet more terrible anatomy. Guys, please. If you’re going to draw fanservicey outfits, please make sure you have the basics of female anatomy down, okay? Because when I put the two designs on the left next to the one on the right, they just plain suck.

Now, yes, the design on the right does have problems – the armor does accentuate the boobs at the cost of actual structural integrity. But she’s actually fully covered, and more importantly – has an actual waist. Her figure in this one reads as “athletic” and not “weirdly inhuman”. Even better, her pose looks more like an action pose and less like a “sexy pinup pose” like the other two designs. So, thumbs up. This is even better than the non-sexy Irelia.

I have mixed feelings about comparing these two designs for Karma, another magic-wielding character. On the one hand we have yet another mage with lots of skin. On the other hand, it looks like they were trying to model her costume after some specific cultural roots. Considering the sorts of outfits one often sees at Caribana in Toronto, I half think that the design on the right might not be quite as bad as some of the others.

Then again, context is important. If there was a decent mix of sexualized and non-sexualized women, I might be inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt. However, considering that boobular has been the overwhelming choice for the design of female LoL champions, I’m going to say that this has less to do with “cultural costume” and more with the artists wanting a “different flavor” of sexy.

Annie has come up in the comments before on this blog, but I thought I’d post her two designs side by side. The design on the right is fine. Evil little girls are the stuff horror films are made of. The Annie on the left? Is wrong, wrong, WRONG. Don’t put boobs on little girls ever. Ever. EVAR.

Yes some girls develop early, but she’s, like, 8 or 9. That’s just gross.

The win

It shouldn’t be too surprising that two out of the three totally awesome characters I found are gnome-types. I almost didn’t include Tristana and Poppy because they do look less human than even the WoW gnomes, but I did finally decide that they made the cut, if only because they look totally confident and totally badass. Also, it’s a relief not to see cleavagey armor like you see on WoW gnomes all the time; given that gnomish proportions are pretty much identical to human toddlers, I don’t want to see cleavage on a gnome EVER. So thanks for not inflicting that on us, at least.

That leaves us with Kayle who is, oh my god, one of my new favorite character designs EVAR EVAR EVAR. Can I talk about how much I love her breastplate? It allows room for breasts without having structurally unsound boob compartments like Lux’s armor. Plus it’s super bulky, much like the armor you see male WoW characters wearing. The fact that it hasn’t been slimmed down or de-bulked to suit a female character is completely awesome. And best of all, Kayle’s alternate design is also completely badass.

THIS. OH MY GOD THIS.

Seeing Kayle next to all of these other wannabes makes me so sad, because if characters like Kayle were the norm in gaming, you’d definitely see a lot more women joining the hobby. Kayle gets to be awesome, confident, badass, and female without being on display for anyone’s benefit. It makes my heart happy that LoL broke with the trend when they made her, and I hope that they’ll consider at the very least creating alternate looks for their older characters that emulate this non-sexualized mode of design. Until that happens, though, while I’m happy to say that Kayle is full of win, she doesn’t obviate the fact that LoL has so much gender fail that it practically has its own gravitational pull.

Short post: a bit of League of Legends silliness

[Aside: This is not a terrible serious, hard-hitting, thought-provoking, or otherwise important post. However, it amuses me. So there.]

On a recent trip home, my brother and I were laughing about a ridiculous piece of official League of Legends artwork that he’d emailed to me:

Soraka the Star Child (I believe?)

The costume is terrible; large portions of that outfit must be secured with industrial quantities of body glue, because I can’t conceive how we’re not seeing even a hit of nipple with the construction of those garments. She also has ridiculous sphere-boob going on, which is par for the course for a free MMO. But the worst aspect of the picture is that ridiculous pose. Look at how far her spine is arched, and how far back the arm farthest from the “camera” is. I’m not sure that’s even possible without double-jointed shoulders.

Anyway, we were feeling silly and decided to see if real humans could replicate the impossible spine arch of this pose. …okay, actually I bullied my brother into seeing if he could replicate the impossible spine arch of this pose – that is on the condition that turnabout was fair play. One thing we both agreed on, however, is that we were not under any circumstances going to attempt to replicate the outfit. No way, no how.

As you can see, the results were… well… amusing:

CLICK FOR LARGER VIEW (& MORE LEGIBLE CAPTIONS)

We didn’t get the angle quite right, and we mis-remembered the tilt of the head. But we did manage to prove that yes, real human beings can achieve that level of spine arch. However, holding that pose for even the ten seconds needed to take the picture was excruciating for both of us. I used to do (CLOTHED!) portrait modeling back in university and I can pronounce with some authority that if this character were sitting for a traditional portrait, there’s no effing way she’d be able to hold that pose long enough for her portrait to be painted.

I’d also like to point out that my brother’s upper arm is thrown back at the correct angle while mine is not. I attribute this to the fact that he has double-jointed shoulders and I do not, so I’m going to flag that back arm as “implausible” but not “impossible”.

So much for League of Legends not being “as bad” as other MMOs, however. Man. I’ll probably do a future post about the design of Champion characters. They’re just awful.

GMMaS returns with a look at Forsaken World

The hiatus

Hi, folks. It’s been about two weeks since you heard from me. I was off dealing with a death in the family. Now that I’m home again, I can get back to blogging – though the schedule might be a bit unpredictable while I’m catching up on all the real-life stuff I’ve been ignoring since dropping everything to deal with other stuff.

On to the mocking: Clothing disparity

Forsaken World is a new offering from Perfect World Entertainment that is either in closed beta or newly released (the few sites I bothered checking out disagreed and I don’t really care enough to spend time verifying that particular detail). Some of you may remember that I posted previously about Perfect World and its freakish body customization. Thankfully, Forsaken World does seem to be free of that particular feature, although it’s chock full of other problems.

The first and most obvious of these problems is the classic fully-covered male versus wearing-almost-nothing female that plagues so many free Chinese and Korean MMOs. Forsaken World doesn’t disappoint in that department:

The top left image is disappointing in particular because the armor is so great from the waist up. It has the same coverage (again, from the waist up), has a lot of visual interest, and her boobs aren’t humungous. It’s almost like she’s a completely different person from the waist down, what with the spread legs, plate mail stripper boots, and Inexplicable Codpiece. (What purpose do codpieces serve on women? To call attention to the fact that they’re not wearing pants?)

On the bottom we also have a classic example of how female vampire = SEXAY while male vampire = modestly attired, which is another stereotype that I wish would die in a fire. What is it about vampirism that makes women dress in as little clothing as possible? I mean, I get tired of men staring at my boobs when I go to conventions and I’m dressed normally. You’d think that after a few centuries the lady vampires would be about ready to kill anyone who stares at their tits when talking to them, but maybe they’re newly undead and playing around with the stereotypes. Who knows.

Anyway.

The worst comparison is this official wallpaper here:

Seriously? What the hell is this? Okay, sure, the guy on the right isn’t wearing pants. And he’s even showing some nipple, that is, if I could FIND the nipple. (Srlsy, where is it? Does everyone have weird Barbie/Ken-doll anatomy in Forsaken World? And if so, how do they reproduce?) But you know what, that’s a far sight from the chick on the right who’s got a thong and some art-deco nipple pasties. Wtf.

Then again, I’d have trouble taking any game seriously that had this character as a quest-giver:

Additional fail: creepy sexless breasts

Something else I found irksome is the prevalence of creepy sexless breasts like one would find on a Barbie doll. Now a lot of artists do try to ride that fine line of just barely covering up the nipple with some cleverly placed hair or a strap or some such, but there’s something else you asshats are forgetting about. THE F*CKING AREOLA.

In both of these outfits, there should be partially visible areola on at least ONE tit. So please, for the love of god male artists out there, learn how breasts work, okay? And don’t use porn as reference because, guess what? WE CAN TELL. (Try consulting this awesome Tumblr for examples of shit NOT TO DO when drawing breasts, too.)

A (lengthy) aside: artists aren’t the only problem

I just wanted to mention that I pulled the screenshot on the right from a blog hosted on IGN.com. It doesn’t appear to be an official IGN blog, so I won’t link, but suffice to say that the post in question described how they rolled up a new female vampire character and promptly got harassed by two morons who followed them around and yelled “BOOBIES” for approximately half an hour, making enough of a nuisance of themselves that they had trouble questing. And yet, at the end of the post the author concludes that they want to see more skimpy armor and cleavage because the art style is JUST SO PURDY.

/facepalm

A lot of the time I reserve judgement for the artists who, frankly, should really know better. If you’re getting paid to draw tits for a living, you should know how they work. But at the same time, I can’t deny that some users really are part of the problem.

/end aside

The worst fail of all

I found this gem while going through the wallpaper section of the Forsaken World website. Originally I had only intended to do some comparisons and mock screenshots, but I was stupefied by how bad the anatomy in this photo is. I mean, sure you have a mostly naked mage doing some Butt Wiggling Spell Casting, and sure the naked chick ON HER SPELL BOOK is a “nice” touch, but the anatomy is just so bad that even Crapping Frost Mage just can’t compete. I realized that I simply had to do an anatomy correction on her to point out just how terrifying she is.

So here in green (without the underlying image, since the colors are too varied to make it show up well) is a trace of the figure as it would be underneath the clothes/hair:

Oh my god, people. Had I ever turned in anything this bad, I would have been failed out of art school. I know I harp about artists who refuse to draw breasts as objects affected by gravity, but this poor woman has the breasts of an 80 year old. Even worse, she has 80 year old breasts on an anorexic torso, an obese butt and thighs, and freakily distorted Dhalsim arms.

Just to make my point, let’s throw our freaky fat/anorexic/elderly Dhalsim-elf up next to what is surely a photoshopped photo of Selma Hayek:

Now look at how absolutely perfect Selma Hayek’s abs are, free from any wrinkles, ripples, or hints that she might have fat cells anywhere other than her boobs. (Like I said, photoshopped.) And even our artificial Selma Hayek has a waist that is MUCH WIDER than her head. I’m not sure why this is so hard for artists to grasp, but if your waist is skinnier than your head YOU ARE NOT SEXY. You’re just a freak. Also, the human arm is approximately the same length from shoulder to elbow as it is from elbow to wrist. There’s variance, sure, but not that much.

The hips I’m going to make a bit more of a tentative note. Hip width as compared to shoulder width varies quite a bit in humans, especially in women. However, it is entirely impossible for our freakish elf to have these proportions and be a living person rather than a Barbie doll. You can’t go from a waist narrower than your head to hips that are 1.2 times the width of your shoulders without enough corseting to risk serious internal injury. It’s just not anatomically possible.

So let’s look at the original traced figure with corrections:

On second viewing, I think I may have made her boobs slightly gravity-defying, but other than that I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. not only does she have room for organs, she also has enough arm muscles to lift things heavier than a newspaper. And happily, she has normal human proportions. Granted, the pose is still complete garbage, but you can’t exactly make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

TERA followup: no, male castanics are not “as bad” (lots of pictures)

Over the weekend, someone must have linked my old TERA post to the official TERA forums as I got a flood of troll comments on that post. Most of the comments really weren’t really more than a waste of space and many of them repeated each other, since trolls often seem to lack in originality. The responses I got can be roughly summarized as follows:

  • hurr hurr you’re ugly (3 comments)
  • it’s just a game/it’s just fantasy (5 comments)
  • I’m a woman and I’m not bothered by it (1 comment)
  • you feminist bitches are so silly (3 comments)
  • you’re making this all about you (2 comments)
  • nonsensical slurs (1 comment)
  • games are for men (1 comment)
  • talking about discrimination is stupid and makes people feel bad (2 comments)
  • omg ur biased for not showing male castanics who are just as bad (2 comments)

Now it’s worth pointing out that I did get one comment from a TERA user who wasn’t comfortable with the others trolling my blog:

While we may disagree with some of the author’s points, can we avoid the personal attacks?

So, thekillerangel, thank you for trying to inject a little sanity into the flood of outraged temper tantrums.

Now ordinarily I wouldn’t bother dignifying this sort of thing with too much of a response besides dropping some pertinent links in the comment thread for people who stumble across the post in the future. However, the whole charge that male castanics are “just as bad” and that not showing them was “revealing my bias” or some such really stuck in my craw.

For one thing, they’re completely ignoring all of my points about the promotional art that centers on nearly naked women next to fully covered men. Not one of the commenters even tried to address that, I’m guessing because it didn’t fit into their comfortable knee-jerk reactions. But even ignoring that point, I can say that I’ve seen screenshots of male castanics, and sure they’ve got rippling abs and low cut pants. But that is NOT THE SAME as two spangles and a cork. It’s just not. So I want to debunk this publicly.

A brief side note before I continue

In my previous TERA post, I used problematic language when talking about the women of TERA. In a subsequent post and discussion, I repented of my use of the word slut, so for those of you following this link who missed out on that discussion, please don’t rake me over hot coals for my use of the word slut. I’m aware it was terrible, and it’s kind of tangential to the point I’m trying to make today. (Thanks.)

Back to business: some pictures

So the first order of business when examining these claims that male castanics are just as sexualized as female castanics is to round up a shit ton of screen shots. So here, for your edification, is a collection of male castanics showing some skin:

CLICK FOR LARGE VIEW

Now sure, they’re all showing a fair amount of skin. And yes several of them are wearing some low-cut pants. But you know what all of them have that none of the TERA women do? F*CKING PANTS:

CLICK FOR LARGE VIEW

Not a single one of these models is wearing anything that could be called pants. Many of them are exposing portions of thigh, which the male models don’t do. Many are also exposing portions of buttock, which the male models don’t do. And while male castanics might have low-cut pants, that’s a far sight from the dental floss that half of the female castanics seem to be wearing.

Furthermore, it is possible to find male armor sets for castanics that fully cover the male model:

Do you know how many armor sets exist that fully cover female castanic models? NOT ONE. Don’t believe me? Check out the armor sets for yourself: female armor sets here, male armor sets here.

The following is the most conservative female castanic armor I could find:

And you know what? That’s really not so bad. That is until you consider that the most conservative armor set I could find still consists of a micro-minidress with a cleavage window and stripper boots.

So really, all of you trolls complaining that male castanics are “just as bad” are helping to make my point for me. When you line male and female castanics up next to each other, it is patently obvious that female castanics are consistently more sexualized than male castanics. The fact that six armor options exist for male castanics to be covered completely and not one exists for females is a compelling fact that needs to be considered as well.

This insistence that the treatment of male and female castanics is equal is yet another illustration of how sexualization of women in games is seen as normal while sexualization of men is seen as “extreme”. The male castanics, while definitely sexay, are still only mildly sexualized. The female castanics are extremely sexualized – after all, I have yet to see any screen shots used as promo that show a male castanic greased up with two nipple pasties and a sock to go fight monsters. And yet there is a subset of gamer who has gotten so desensitized to the oversexualization of women in their games that they read these two groups as being treated equally. It’s kind of a sad statement of the state of gaming when you think about it.

Dragon Magazine in 2010. Also, Caesary sinks to new depths.

Hey, folks. Things have been quiet the last several days because I’ve been working on another three-parter. (What can I say? I’m a glutton for punishment.) I’ve been picking on video games a lot lately and was feeling an itch to go back to pen and paper RPGs. In the past, I’ve looked at the D&D 4E core books as well as the D&D press kit so I thought I’d take a look at a year’s worth of Dragon Magazines and see how they stack up against the sources I’ve already looked at. (Get it? Stack up? Magazines? …oh never mind.)

Numbers

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the art for Dragon Magazine Issues 383-394 displays clear sexist trends:

CLICK FOR LARGE (MORE READABLE) VIEW

Yep. Women are underrepresented, more likely to be found in neutral poses, comprise the minority of fully-clothed characters, and are far more likely to be suggestively attired. And of course, their chances of being depicted as a fighter are pretty slim when compared to their male counterparts. Again, nothing new or suprising here. I’ll grant, as always, that at least D&D does better in terms of numbers of female depictions when compared to other gaming sources. But women are still consistently under-represented.

What’s interesting is when you take a look at how these numbers compare to the numbers for the 4E core books:

CLICK FOR LARGE VIEW (Again, this one is large.)

The interesting thing is that while the numbers are pretty much the same, the numbers for Dragon Magazine are just slightly worse across most categories – suggestive depictions being a notable exception. There are slightly fewer active women, and slightly fewer women overall. They are a little less fully clothed, a little less likely to be fighters and a little more likely to be thieves.

The suggestive depictions pose an interesting wrinkle. About 70% of all suggestive figures are women, down from 80% of all suggestive figures in the core books. However, a little less than one half of women in the core books are depicted as suggestive while almost three quarters of women in Dragon Magazine are depicted as suggestively attired. So while the number of suggestive male figures has increased, it doesn’t seem to have kept pace with the increase in suggestive female figures.

I’m still working on the other stuff

As mentioned, this will be a three-parter. Next time I’ll do an images post picking out some points of interest. I’ll also be doing an entire post about Shelly Mazzanoble, who will take up too much space to cram into this post.

Since I realize that today’s post is a bit light on content, here for your amusement…

Caesary sinks to new depths

Caesary is a browser-based game owned by the same folks who publish Evony, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they use the same tactics in their advertising. Still, this is pretty ridiculous, even for them:

(You can go here to see the page it came from, complete with nifty animations.) I mean, wow. “Real Men”? They do know that the game has absolutely nothing to do with actual women, right?

TERA: competing with Bayonetta for the sluttiest women still wearing clothes?

[ETA: This whole thing has probably blown over by now, but for those of you just seeing this - I've posted a followup that DOES look at male castanic armors. You can find the new post here.]

>Before I get into today’s post, I just want to refer your attention to a very interesting feature by Jonathan Holmes on Destructoid. It’s a very excellent look at female characters in video games and the over-used sexy badgirl/chaste goodgirl dichotomy that dominates all video game writing ever. Also, do yourself a favor and watch the video. It’s kind of long, but worth it – it’s very funny.

I never thought I’d tell people on this blog to go read something on Destructoid, but there you go. I guess anything is possible.

And now for something completely different

A while ago during one of my WTF roundups, I posted a screenshot of a character model wearing nothing but crotch floss:

I’d forgotten to include the name of the game in the file name, so at the time I just posted the screenshot as a bit of trivia. My helpful commenters informed me that this was a screen from the upcoming kMMO TERA Online which is being released soon. I filed that information away and promptly forgot it amidst doing research for other posts. That is until someone mentioned TERA to me again and I decided to take a look. Surely anything with character models that tasteless would be totally easy to mock, right?My expectations were pretty low when I followed a link to the European site for TERA Online. Still, I was pretty shocked when this is what I saw on the main page:


Does that curvy spine remind anyone else of Bayonetta?
Holy crap! I mean. Wow. That’s… um. That’s a lot of crotch. Like. Right there. On the main page. On second thought, it might be a little silly being surprised about these things, but usually they don’t bust out the crotch right on the main page. They save it for screens of the character models on the race and class pages, but it’s usually not so… blatant.I was a bit hesitant as I clicked on the race page to check out the different races and was pretty surprised when the first race page (Amani) featured this image:

Whoa! That’s, um. That’s some crotch! Some male crotch! A lot of male crotch! So, okay, maybe this TERA game is just all about crotch. And that wouldn’t be so bad, really – as long as it was equal opportunity crotch. Really, that’s been my beef all along. If you’re going to have tasteless nudity, at least have EQUAL OPPORTUNITY tasteless nudity. But wait, no. It looks like TERA isn’t equal opportunity after all:

At least she’s not taking a dump.
So it looks like just another case of a monstrous male character being suggestively depicted to make some sort of statement about his “monstrousness”. Certainly we don’t see any of that from our human male, who is also allowed to stand up straight. Unlike the female mage who is sticking out her ass and waving her tits in our faces. Why, oh why, is it that there is not a single female mage in all of MMO-land who is capable of casting spells without gyrations worthy of a pole dancer?And it gets worse:


Ladybits! Attack!
In this image, the clothing dichotomy is even greater! The male character is wearing about fifty pounds of plate mail and the female character is wearing… even less clothing than the last one. Not that this is really anything new. This is the sort of thing you see from pretty much every MMO ever – and not just the free ones. Guild Wars, EverQuest, WoW – they’re all just as bad.And of course, what MMO promo would be complete without…

Lesbians! …okay, they’re not actual lesbians, but they’re two hot, almost completely naked chicks in blatantly sexual poses. It’s very hard for me to think that there’s NOT some kind of lesbian subtext intended. Of course, this might be cynicism on my part. Maybe the artist wants the intended male audience to think of banging these chicks in serial instead of in parallel. (Ha. I’m such a nerd.)

The real nail in the coffin is when you start lining up male models and female models. Here for comparison are male and female human models:
The most exposure we see from any of the human males is a very shallow v-neck. Otherwise they’re completely covered with multiple layers of clothing and armor, while the ladies are left to shiver with all their bits hanging out. Let’s hope they control the thermostat, otherwise they’re going to be pretty cold.The outfit on the far right is the most ridiculous in my book. First of all, the design is actually quite ugly and doesn’t really do flattering things to the figure. Second, the other two female humans at least get proper panties while she gets something that barely qualifies as crotch floss. It’s practically a crotch decoration. I hope she used some body glue, because I don’t see how those are staying on…

And of course, it’s not just the humans. The high elves are just as bad:

Okay, maybe not QUITE as bad. The woman on the far right is wearing the most clothing I’ve seen on a female TERA model so far, which puts her ahead of her counterparts I suppose. Still, I’m getting awful tired of the stripper boots. Is there some kind of stripper boot outlet in the TERA world that causes them to be the most economic form of footwear?Oh, and let’s not forget another important bit of promotion. WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE WITHOUT THEIR CLOTHES?? Come on, people. Let’s remember the important questions.

Why is it that in their underwear, their breasts are still more covered than in some of the “armor” sets that I’ve seen? Ditto for their crotches. What gives? Why is THEIR UNDERWEAR more modest than their actual clothing? Do people not understand how absurd that is? How is anyone supposed to fight anything in clothing that you’re about to pop out of at any moment? Seriously, check out these action shots:

So the woman on top… What the hell is she thinking? Did she seriously think that it was a good idea to go fight monsters dressed like that? “Well, I’ve taped sea shells to my tits, so I think I’ve got everything important covered here”. Really? This is about as likely as giving a stripper a sword and telling her to go kill some monsters. I’m not terribly likely to believe that someone dressed like that is capable of wielding a sword that large. Plus – WHY IS SHE ALL MOIST? What purpose does that serve besides making her even more fap-worthy? “Well, I don’t have any armor, so I’d better grease up before I tackle that monster over there!” Come on, people. Now you’re not even trying.

And then from our mage on the bottom, we have more spell casting pole dancing gyrations. Does the magical energy she’s summoning come from her ladybits? Because if it doesn’t, why is she standing like this?

The sad thing is that all of these screens took me maybe twenty minutes to round up, which means I didn’t even have to look all that hard. I’m a little scared of what’s out there that I DIDN’T find. Now I’ll admit that the graphics are pretty impressive, but you can put lipstick on a pig and it’s… still a pig. Graphics do not a good game make. Neither do tits, but tell that to the people eagerly awaiting the North America release of TERA. I guess they disagree.

>Clothing damage being exported to North America? (VERY NSFW)

>[Note: It's been a shittastic week, hence the lack of posting. I'll get back to three posts for next week. Meanwhile, I'll try to hammer out a linkspam in addition to this post. Sorry, folks.]

While I wouldn’t exactly call clothing damage a hallmark of Japanese/Asian games, it’s something that is common enough that (for the most part) it doesn’t raise any eyebrows. However, it’s not exactly something that’s been too common in North American games. Unfortunately, it looks as if that trend may be changing, thanks to games originally made by Asian companies and translated for North American players.

So here for your, um, edification are screens from Kabod Online, Soul Calibur IV: Broken Destiny, and Parasite Eve: the 3rd Birthday. I wanted to confine this post to titles that have gotten more hype than others – but there are certainly smaller titles featuring clothing damage as a key feature that are being translated as well: Ikki Tousen Xross and Queen’s Blade: Spiral Chaos are just two that I’ve stumbled across recently. I’m sure there’s more.

Kabod Online

Kabod Online is a translated Korean MMO from Kabod Entertainment. As far as fanservice-y models go, they seem to be pretty standard as far as free Asian MMOs go:


Fully armored dude? Check. Standing next to a chick in cheesecake armor? Check. Le sigh.

When you go to Kabod’s website, there are apparently only three character classes to choose from, with only two specializations for each class – so it doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot of gameplay diversity. K-MMOs are pretty infamous for not even trying to disguise the treadmill, but this seems perhaps more egregious than most.

But Kabod Entertainment doesn’t seem too worried about that. They’ve got a sure-fire plan. Sell their game with breasts! Only, since that’s what ALL of the free Asian MMOs are doing, they had to take it to eleven – hence the introduction of clothing damage. In Kabod, both players and monsters take clothing damage as they engage in combat. There’s a base level where clothing/armor is undamaged, a middle level where it’s mostly off, and a bottom level where you’re in your skivvies and, if the character is female, your gazongas are hanging out:


So Kabod has this neat combat simulation feature called clothing da… BOOBIES!!

Unsurprisingly, the clothing damage feature is what has gotten the most attention and what Kabod Entertainment has been advertising most heavily. Way to pander to the lowest common denominator guys. From what I read while searching for screenshots, it’s pretty common to play a rogue (one of the least clothed classes) and let her get down to mostly naked just so you can ogle her while you play. I mean, check this out:

LEFT: One breast in, one breast out? That’s gotta be uncomfortable. RIGHT: Oh god. They modeled ladybits, didn’t they? That’s just gross.


Will this be the game that launches a thousand faps?

So. Moving on. Shame on you, Kabod. Etc, etc, etc.

Soul Calibur: Broken Destiny

The studio behind Soul Calibur is apparently having a competition with Dead or Alive to see who can make the skeeviest game – it’s the only explanation I can think of. Soul Calibur IV is getting a PSP release, with the addition of – you guessed it – clothing damage! Because, really, we weren’t seeing ENOUGH of these ladies, amirite?

Also, there is a character creator that will not only let you create new characters, but will also let you customize existing characters, in case you’re feeling like some of your wimminz are too covered up.

Anyway. I’ve ranted enough about Soul Calibur here, so here’s some screens:


FLAWLESS… um… nudality?

Parasite Eve: the 3rd Birthday

So we have yet another entry in a series of female characters who used to be mildly positive strong characters and who have been turned into walking fapfests designed to please male gamers. Poor Aya. I’m not saying that Aya Brea was ever on the level of Samus, but she’s a far cry from Princess Peach!

It should be noted that there was a fair amount of buzz about the fact that the beginning of 3rd Birthday features a shower scene. OMG! Color me excited!

So the shower scene is bad enough, but series creator Nomura decided from the outset that there would be clothing damage in this title, and that Aya would take more damage as her clothing got damaged further. This would make sense if Aya was walking around in plate mail, but since she’s wearing just normal clothes, the only possible explanation is “sex sells”. So here’s the progression that Aya goes through:


LEFT: Very slightly damaged (jeans start out distressed) MIDDLE: Medium damage RIGHT: Max damage

Now, Aya can get changes of clothing to cover herself up again by going back to base – but it doesn’t really seem like that’s a feature that’s being heavily encouraged, since Nomura has said in an interview (unfortunately, I can’t find the link anymore) that you can get Aya to max clothing damage quickly by dropping a few grenades nearby. “Not that anyone should play that way” – he hastened to add.

Even worse is that the clothing damage is, again, pretty much how they’re promoting the game. I mean, check out this promotional art.

Look at that! Half her ass is just hanging out there! Oh Squeenix. I know that you can be pretty sexist, but why do you have to do shit like this? You want to give me well written female characters with no pants and very little clothing? Fine. I’ll roll my eyes and pony up. But this? This is not okay.

Perhaps the most depressing thing of all is that you can switch Aya’s costumes. There’s a loooong list of options, including a Lightning costume aaaaannnd…

Fetish wear! Because who doesn’t want to watch a maid get her clothes torn off while fighting monsters and stuff?

/headdesk

>Industry artist fail: Hyung Tae Kim (so VERY VERY nsfw!)

>While looking for another entrant in my fanartist hall of shame, I happened to stumble across an artist whose work I had not been familiar with – Hyung Tae Kim. I initially found him when I stumbled across this image:

/sigh. Distorted anatomy? Check. I mean, even more so than usual. Improbably large breasts that defy physics? Check. Lovingly detailed ladybits? Cheeeeeck. This guy is a charmer all right.

When I did more research I discovered that HTK is actually a pretty influential artist in the Asian gaming industry. He’s worked as lead character design on a huge number of roleplaying games, including the War of Genesis series (3 games), the Magna Carta series (2 games), and Blade and Soul online. And while normally, I wouldn’t tackle an artist like HTK because of the fact that he does work primarily in the Asian games industry, the fact remains that he does have a HUGE following here in North America and does occasionally work over here. That blue crotch-floss with butterflies? The cover for an Exalted sourcebook. So I figure that makes him fair game.

Amusingly, one of the first articles that I found about HTK that tipped me off to what a following he had over here was this one. The headline image shows a totally cleavagey chick, but don’t worry folks. She’s just an exception!

WTF is up with her boobs, man?

If this is an exception, why go to the effort of picking out this one? Methinks thou doth protest too much, sir… Anyhow. Mr. Mahan is mostly correct in that yes, a lot of HTK’s women don’t display actual cleavage. No, instead they have impossibly large, impossibly pointy breasts that flop around like distended lemons. I mean, seriously. Look at these things:


LEMON BOOBS AHOY!

I never thought I’d have to invent a new category of boob mockery, but here it is. LEMON BOOBS. Methinks this guy can’t be getting a whole lot of action because holy shit in what universe do women have breasts that are this large and this pointy? Those gazongas are practically WMD! Also, contrary to popular belief, jiggle physics does not exist in real life just because it’s called “physics”. I know that there has never been a situation in which I’ve had to dodge being hit in the face with my own breasts, so ease off with the anti-grav field!

Another pretty common feature of HTK’s artwork is the OUTTHRUST LADYBITS. (Yes, capitals required). If you look at his art, a lot of the women seem to be thrusting their ladybits pretty much right at the camera:

NOOOOO! THE LADYBITS!

So, I’m guessing he would feel quite a bit of affinity with the WoW artist who did that infamous ladybit assassin picture I mocked a while ago… Another pose that’s way too freaking common is the “please do me from behind” school of posing:


Come on. It doesn’t get less subtle than this!

So, yeah. This guy clearly not winning a lot of awards for class. I realize that Asian culture is a lot more misogynistic in some regards, but the fact that there are plenty of North American dudes panting to get their hands on scans of this guys art books is just discouraging. This takes the garden-variety misogynistic character design we get over here and make it seem tame in comparison!

The thing that makes me really want to punch HTK in the nuts is his fetish for lovingly detailed ladybits:


Seriously? Talim is totally underage! That’s just gross.

The thing that makes me most sad is that Blade and Soul seems to have adhered to HTK’s designs pretty slavishly in the rendering of their character models. I mean check this out! We have actual modeled camel toe:

Yuck.

>WTF: The tired Friday edition

>Okay, folks. My schedule is kicking my ass this week, and my ass will be kicked even harder next week. So instead of giving you three real posts this week, you get two and a half. This might happen next week, depending on how much brainpower I have left after tech weekend for the show I’m in… But after that, I promise that I’ll be returning to normal levels of snark.

Anyhow, I couldn’t leave you empty-handed, so here’s some miscellaneous pictures that I haven’t found a home rant for yet.

I’ve forgotten what game this comes from, since I forgot to include the game’s name in the file name when I saved it. I think that says a lot, don’t you? I think I’m becoming a bit too blase about crotch floss as armor.

Okay, does anyone think it’s a coincidence that “GROWING” is right over this poor woman’s boobs? Neither did I. Though I’ll admit the mental image of growing boobs made me think of DragonBall, which was an amusing mental non-sequiter. “AAAAAAAAAA!” “SHE’S REACHED BOOB LEVEL 9000!” “IMPOSSIBLE!”

…no? Just me then. Moving on… How about this?

WHAT. THE. FUCK. Seize power? Fine. Seize glory? Sure, if you think people really give a shit about your performance in a shitty knock-off browser-based game. Seize WOMEN? BECAUSE THEY’RE YOURS? AAARG. I know that the Chinese export a lot of translated games, Caesary being one of many, but I’d prefer that they didn’t export their misogyny as well.

This is from an ad campaign in Europe – thank God not in North America. This fails on multiple levels.

Once again proving that the default of anything is male, and that female is always “special” or “distinct”. Even, apparently, with puzzle games. I hope those of you with iPhones refrain from purchasing either version of what looks to be an uninspired Tetris clone.

I can’t decide what I hate more. The cleavagey outfits, the interchangeable faces, the nauseating levels of pink, or the actual words. MISS BIMBO? There’s a game out there called MISS BIMBO? Do they honestly think that making their ad pink will make the title any less revolting? Also, advertisers who perpetuate “bored of” should go die, like, right now. This makes my inner grammarian want to stab my eyes out.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 191 other followers