No fat women in games; a look at 10 of the most popular MMOs

Recently, I got back into playing Star Wars: The Old Republic when a friend of mine dragged me back into it. I’d played when it was first released as a subscription-only game, and again briefly when it went free-to-play, but I aside from occasional experiments with games like SW:TOR and Final Fantasy XIV, I haven’t seriously played an MMO for at least five years.

And it’s been fun! I’ve missed having a game to play with friends, and being the giant nerd that I am, I actually really enjoy MMO crafting and auctioneering. I’m also enjoying that SW:TOR gets story-based RPG all up in my MMO peanut butter – being able to group while playing story quests is quite a lot of fun, especially when grouping with people of different alignments.

One thing I have NOT enjoyed, however, is the bullshit gendered double-standards for body types. Because while ordinarily I would be happy that I can actually play a character who actually looks like me in terms of body shape, my character is actually at the top end of the body-size slider. Additionally, the bottom end of the female body size slider is anorexic-verging-on-impossible, and even the middle of that range is improbably skinny. Worst of all, however, is the fact that if you play a male character, you can be slim, average, muscular, or actually fat. (Which, you know, sucks. A lot. Because in effect, BioWare IS CALLING ME FAT. Bastards.)

It got me thinking, because honestly, my character in SW:TOR is actually the “fattest” female character I’ve ever played in an MMO, and I’ve played a fair number of MMOs. (Dark Age of Camelot, Warharmmer Online, World of Warcraft – several times, City of Heroes, Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars: The Old Republic, plus maybe one or two others that I’m missing.) And I’m not super familiar with the current MMO landscape, but I was fairly certain that my SW:TOR character would be at the top end of body sizes available for female characters in most MMOs.

So I decided to put it to the test, by taking 10 of the most popular MMOs and examining what the “fattest” female character in each one looked like.

Methodology: Determining Sources and Finding Screenshots

One of the difficulties in deciding which ten games to look at is that there are a good number of MMOs that don’t publish hard numbers on the numbers of subscribers. World of Warcraft publishes fairly comprehensive quarterly data regarding subscriber numbers, but others like RIFT and EVE Online do not. Additionally, figuring out a total number of players can get tricky when you look at the fact that a lot of MMOs have a mix of paying subscribers and free-to-play players; frex, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, and World of Warcraft are all games that provide a mix of free and paid content.

So it’s important to note that these games might not be THE top ten in terms of player numbers. But the games presented here are actually taken from this list, compiled by Justin Olivetti at MassivelyOP, which examines a wide variety of sources like Reddit, Twitch, Steam, and others. (Although with one tweak, I substituted RIFT for RuneScape, because I’m not quite sure that RuneScape deserves a top ten spot.)

Once I had my list of games, I then dug up character creation videos on YouTube to scope out the character creation process before searching around for the best screenshots that would highlight the “fattest” female characters possible from each games. And the results were… well… predictably depressing.

The Results! (From thinnest to “fattest”)

[Note: these results are pretty subjective. The range of body types is pretty goddamn narrow, so it gets hard to compare.]

One of the things that disturbed me about EVE Online’s character creation is the fact that the body model is actually incredibly customizeable. You can shorten or lengthen the torso, or otherwise distort the figure in a number of ways. However, this is what the female model looks like with both the muscularity and weight sliders at maximum. On the thin end of healthy and not particularly muscular at all:

Eve online

I am reminded of Ford’s infamous slogan about the Model T: “any customer can have a car painted any color he wants so long as it’s black”. You can customize your female character’s body in any way you like so long as she’s supermodel-thin.

However, the next few games’ “fattest” options were the same size as in EVE Online, only without any sort of body-size slider. Rather, all female characters are created exactly the same, as if some sort of eugenics program happened that left only women with impossibly thin physiques and large, incredibly firm breasts:

Archeage-GW2-WoW

Truly, I’m really not sure which is worse – a complete lack of diversity of body shapes or a range of body types where the “fattest” bodies are the default shape in other games that are otherwise equally sexist. Because having a world where women are all stamped from the same horrifically sexist mold is obviously problematic, but having a world where body diversity exists only for the sake of the aesthetic of the cishet male gaze is also problematic. Deciding which is worse is like trying to decide which I hate more: brussel sprouts or Rush Limbaugh.

An interesting additional complicating factor here is the fact that both Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft have female character types that are definitely large and muscular. In both instances, however, they are also monstrous:

Monstrous-women

So, you know, the fact that the only way to see a female body type that actually looks powerful is for that body to be actually monstrous is pretty fucking awful. Having impossibly slender, not-at-all muscular characters as the default body type for women in MMOs is bad enough without ALSO defacto saying that women who actually have larger bodies are fucking monsters.

That said, I will at least give Guild Wars 2 credit for almost getting it right with regards to their nonhuman female model. It’s always bugged me that the cow people in World of Warcraft have breasts. If you’re going to have bipedal cow-people with actual cow legs, then the lady-cow-people (Tauren) should have udders, not breasts. GW2’s Charr don’t have humanoid mammaries, so I can at least pretend that there are, like, 6 nipples under all that fur. Although they screwed it up by giving her that stupid top, because that implies humanoid breasts all over again, which. Arg. If you’re going to have a monstrous race, then let the women be actually fucking monstrous. (I’m looking at you, WoW zombies!)

Then you had the interesting middle ground of RIFT, in which there are no body size sliders, and all of the female models are the same damn size, except for the female dwarf:

riftrogue

Bullshit armor design aside, I actually like the muscularity of the dwarf model, at least compared to any of these other models so far. Unfortunately, the fact that she only has something resembling “normal” proportions because she’s not “human” is problematic, especially when you consider that the dwarves have the proportions of some actual real human people with dwarfism.

…[facepalm]

Near the top end of the scale (and let’s pause for just a moment to think about how fucking depressing that these next two games classify as being “near the top”) are two games where the largest female body types are actually models that I quite like. Body Type 4 in Star Wars: The Old Republic is actually quite a good model, in that she is muscular without being unbelievably slender. Similarly, the Roegadyn in Final Fantasy XIV are pleasingly sturdy and muscular. Where things get problematic is their contrast to their male counterparts:

dimorphism

The Roegadyn are bad enough, because it’s yet another example of the male power fantasy/male sexual fantasy theory of sexual dimorphism as applied to games. It’s problematic, sure, but it also doesn’t represent anything at all new in games. SW:TOR, however, is more upsetting because of the fact that they do have something new and unique – the ability to play a character that is both FAT AND HEROIC. …but only for men. Because while men can be both fat and heroic, women can only be heroic so long as they are also fuckable.

…please excuse me for a moment while I set the whole goddamn world on fire.

Which brings us to the two last entrants, which are the only games that offer the ability to play characters even slightly larger than myself – Neverwinter and Elder Scrolls Online:

Fat-ladies

Oh man. So many mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I definitely appreciate that the Neverwinter model is presented as beautiful. And I also like the fact that the Elder Scrolls Online model is the only one that I’ve ever seen that looks like I could play a badass mama barbarian who wears her newborn baby in a sling around as she kills shit and smites evil. (Seriously, the first person that makes me a game where I can do that that isn’t terrible or sexist, I will throw money at you SO GODDAMN FAST.)

However, while both models are technically “fat”, it’s also true that their bodies fit a certain narrow range of socially acceptable fatness. Their breasts, hips, and butts are large, but the extra weight around their middle is not carried on the stomach and their stomachs are still quite toned, which still falls into the trap of idealizing the hourglass figure, which a lot of women just don’t have.

Not to mention that it’s a bit hard to miss the fact that the names that Neverwinter offers for it’s body types are “toned” (positive connotations), “slim” (positive connotations), and “heavy” (mild negative connotations). So even when it’s being presented as an option, it’s being presented as one that is inherently inferior. Which is something that Star Wars: The Old Republic at least did get right by choosing to label its body types with numbers and not descriptors.

In conclusion: I’ll stick with the devil I know

So for now, given that the Star Wars mythos is one that appeals to me, the gameplay suits my play style, and I can play with friends, I’ll be sticking with Star Wars. There are still things that piss me off, like the preponderance of too-thin female NPCs and the fact that there are fat dudes but no fat ladies. But all of the female NPCs I’ve encountered have been fully clothed, with one notable exception. And I have as yet only found one piece of chest armor that didn’t fully cover my torso, and have not yet encountered leg armor that wasn’t fully covering as well.

And as much as that sounds like damned by faint praise, that’s honestly about as good as I’m ever going to get.

Gender swap: SMITE’s newest character – Sol

I’ve done a lot of writing about serious subjects recently, and in trying to find something more light-hearted to post about it occurred to me that it’s been quite a while since I’ve done a gender-swap. And really, I do love doing gender swaps, if only because I think that attempting to objectify men as much as women are objectified in games is both 1) an interesting intellectual exercise and 2) hilarious.

In which I pick on SMITE

Several months ago I wrote about SMITE, a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) that has been gaining in popularity. At launch, it had three million players, and as of July they have passed the ten million mark. Unfortunately, its character designs are impressively, almost comically sexist, not to mention racist and culturally appropriating.

(And let me be clear, when I say that SMITE has some of the most sexist character designs that I’ve seen in video games outside of kMMOs, that really means something given that the base level of sexism in video games is really fucking high. I mean, this is a character that actually happened in a major video game release by a major game studio in 2015: )

Quiet
Quiet from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Anyway, when I was thinking of where I should look for material for a new gender swap, SMITE was the first game that came to mind. Since I’ve been criticized in the past for going after “older” skins in previous critiques of similar games, I wanted to make sure I got something current. So I loaded up the SMITE website, not with any particular character in mind, and this is what I got:

Smite-Website

…okay then. At least they solved the problem of which character I was going to gender swap without me having to actually bother looking through their website. If they’re going to be objectively awful, I do at least appreciate them being upfront about it so as to save me tedious minutes of research.

So, meet Sol. Sol is a gender-swapped interpretation of the Roman sun god for whom our sun is named. Since driving the solar chariot across the sky is still a thing that has to happen, Sol-the-character is an elemental manifestation of fire, a projection of the sun god’s will, or some such nonsense. To be honest, I really didn’t bother reading her background that closely, since it was a blatantly transparent attempt to design a female character that is completely naked:

Sol-screens

“She can’t wear clothes because she’s made of fire” “Those aren’t actual breasts, she’s just using her power to look human” “She’s an elemental being, she doesn’t care about human morality”, etc etc etc. I could come up with more such justifications if I cared enough to try, but I don’t.

Now to be fair, her anatomy at least isn’t all that terrible. She’s got a moderate case of sphere-boob, and given the width of her hips, her waist is improbably narrow. (It’s not impossible, but in many people it would require a certain degree of corseting to achieve.) In fact, her anatomy is actually less improbable than some of the goddesses who wear more clothing (I’m looking at you, Aphrodite!). Though now that I mention it, “goddesses who wear more clothing” is still setting the bar depressingly low.

Despite being generally okay in terms of non-distorted anatomy, it’s hard to deny that the rest of her design conveys nothing but “sexy fire girl”. The “tattoos” on her shoulders point RIGHT AT her creepy nippleless breasts, and the “tattoos” on her thighs draw attention to the fact that YUP she is TOTES NAKED. But really, it’s fine, because she has a Barbie-doll crotch, and, you know, fire. Right? Except for the fact that her quotes only emphasize that she is meant to be seen as a sexual character that you could totes have sex with, because she is WAY HOT:

Sol-quotes

“Let’s make it hot”? “Oh I look hot… If I do say so myself”? “If you play with fire it enjoys it”? Seriously, the last one is just kind of creepy, not to mention awkwardly worded. Can’t they hire an editor to vet their creepy innuendos? Ugh.

And now the Gender-swap

So my mission was clear. Gender-swap Sol. Which I knew, even with her complete lack of clothing, was going to be a challenge:

Sol-genderswap

First, you’ll note that I gave male-Sol a g-string. That’s pretty much entirely because game studios are dominated by the sorts of dudes who have no trouble having a naked female character in their game, but a naked man? With full frontal nudity? Well they can’t have any of that, because that would make them gay. Because REASONS. Or cooties. Or something.

So right off the bat, male-Sol winds up losing a lot of the punch that female-Sol has. But even without the g-string, I think male-Sol still would have lost a lot in translation. The original portrait of female-Sol is intentionally in what I call “boob perspective”, to emphasize her, uh, feminine attributes. You still get a little of that, what with male-Sol’s junk being thrust toward the viewer, but a lot of the objectification inherent in the camera angle gets lost, since male-Sol doesn’t have breasts to be emphasized by that perspective.

There’s also the issue that, unfortunately, in our culture there are a lot of shitty gendered assumptions surrounding nudity. For female-Sol, being posed in this manner from this perspective combined with her nudity, the implication is that she is sexually available and is being presented for the enjoyment of a (presumed) straight male viewer. Because we don’t have the same assumptions surrounding men, male-Sol, ridiculous g-string and all, doesn’t convey the same level of sexual availability.

And yet, had male-Sol actually been put forward as a character design by the developers as a new character, doubtless there would be hoards of gamers decrying the design for being too gay, or for pandering to women, or any other number of homophobic and/or misogynist reasons. Character designs that cater to the straight male gaze in games are A-okay, but heaven forfend if someone actually attempts to cater to the the gaze of people who are attracted to men. Because at the heart of it, things that present men in ways that are objectifying threaten the sexist assumption that men are people and women are sexual objects, and not the other way around.

Smite: sexist, racist, and culturally appropriating [LONG]

[ETA: I’ve revised my comments with regards to the Greek deities and whiteness, which weren’t clear enough, but you should also read the comments.]

I try not to pay attention to MMOs anymore, because the vast majority of them are steaming dung piles of bullshit sexism. However, Smite is a game that kept coming up on my radar for various reasons. When it first came out, my brother emailed me a few pieces of promo art of the female characters. More recently, a few friends over on G+ that have been talking about playing Smite. So when Smite made a few headlines last week for its decision to include Hindu gods as playable characters, I figured that it would be worth taking a closer look since that was the third time in a relatively short period of time that it caught my attention.

As it turns out, I wound up having a lot of stuff to say. So let’s just jump right on in!

Getting ready to rumble

What exactly is Smite? Smite is a MOBA – a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, a genre made popular by games like Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA2) and League of Legends. Smite, like other MOBAs, has a pre-set roster of characters that you can choose to play as that have set abilities. If you wish, you can pay extra to unlock special characters or alternate skins. And Smite has a lot of playable characters – sixty-six in total.

Those of you who have been reading my blog long enough to be familiar with my numbers posts will know that I generally tend to stick to the same set of criteria when evaluating character designs in video games; typically I will compare the numbers of figures that are shown with: 1) active poses versus neutral poses and 2) fully clothed versus suggestively attired by gender in order to demonstrate the consistent under-representation, objectification, and sexualization of female characters.

However, this time around going to all that effort really felt like a tremendous waste of time. Such an approach might be worthwhile when I’m writing about Magic and how, despite recent improvements in art direction, their art is still very sexist. But when I’m looking at a game like Smite, which is just as blatant in it’s bullshit sexism as League of Legends, it just feels like a giant fucking waste of time.

I mean, look. This is Aphrodite:

aphrodite

Ridiculous, right? Even more so when you consider that she’s not even the least clothed Smite character. So let’s just take it as a given that the female character designs are definitely objectifying and sexist and not waste time beating a dead horse[1]. Especially as there were a lot of characters to look at and other issues of representation that I wanted write about regarding problematic racist tropes.

Criteria examined and overall summary

[Note: When looking at characters, I looked at the default designs and descriptions as shown on Gamepedia’s Smite Wiki. If I get anything wrong here, I blame Gamepedia.]

In the end, the criteria I decided to examine were:

Number of figures by gender: simply the number of female figures and the number of male figures

Whether a character was whitewashed: I considered a character to be whitewashed if they came from a nonwhite culture but were explicitly depicted as white. I did not count a character as whitewashed if they were an animal or other nonhuman, had animal features, or had nonhuman skin tones (there are several characters that are either blue or purple). While some of them seemed like edge cases that could count as whitewashing, for the most part it seemed too ambiguous to make a definite argument one way or another.

Deity alignment: This was taken from the character descriptions on the wiki rather than the artwork; each character had a blurb a few paragraphs long about their backstory. I read each and assigned each deity as either Good, Neutral, or Evil. (A lot of the Greek gods wound up as Neutral, just because they capricious assholes even if they are gods of nominally good things.)

Character Damage Type: Again, as defined on the Smite wiki, I was curious to see if there would be an imbalance of Ranged characters versus Melee characters, since that’s a pretty common area of imbalance in many other video games.

After going through all 66 characters and taking tally, here’s what I came up with:

overall

In some ways, the numbers were a bit surprising even while they were also completely predictable. Female characters account for 30% of all playable characters. However, while they were clearly more sexualized and objectified, they weren’t any more likely to be whitewashed or to be pigeon-holed as a ranged character. There is an interesting difference when it comes to alignment, but I’ll come back to that in a bit.

Bullshit sexism

As previously stated, I don’t intend to waste words proving that Smite’s character designs are sexist and bullshit, because they just are. Many of the female promo art pieces feature broken spines, anti-gravity sphere boobs, and painted on clothing. Almost none of the female characters have clothes that would actually function to preserve modesty in any meaningful way in the real world. So regarding the female character design, I’m just going to issue a blanket: THEY’RE BULLSHIT and move on with my life.

Instead, let’s talk about how Smite is another perfect example of the interesting/pretty binary, which I’ve talked about before:

Notice how the male human gets to have actual facial expressions that convey emotions? While the female character renders all have the same vapid expression but with different hairstyles. Because men get to DO THINGS and EXPRESS THEMSELVES but women get to BE PRETTY.

When looking at the different character types, there is such a huge variety when it comes to male characters! Male deities can be humans, humanoids, demi-humans, robots, giant flying serpents, or even giant-ass rock-creatures. Whereas the female deities? Well they get boobs. And sometimes funny hats.

Case in point, look at what happens when you compare male animal and demi-human deities with female animal and demi-human deities:

animal dudes Animal ladies

(TOP LEFT: Anhur, TOP MIDDLE: Anubis, TOP RIGHT: Fenrir, BOTTOM LEFT: Arachne, BOTTOM MIDDLE: Medusa, BOTTOM RIGHT: Bastet)

The male deities are all very appealing avatar images. They give a strong sense of the culture that they come from, while also appearing strong and heroic. Whereas the female deities? The most important part of their designs are their tits, and making sure that they are clearly visible to the viewer. Giant spider thing? TITS. Man-eating snake thing? ‘DEM BOOBS THO. It really goes a long way toward illustrating[2] the priorities of the design team.

Now the interesting thing about Smite is that is that it also manages to throw in some “benevolent” sexism along with all of the bullshit objectification. Remember how I said there was a weird gender imbalance when it came to deity alignment? Well it turns out that out of 19 evil deities, only one is female:

female alignment

male alignment

Now, you may be saying to yourself – but wundergeek, I don’t get it. What’s the problem? The problem is that the stereotype of women are more wholesome and more nurturing is benevolent sexism, which is still sexism. It’s like the boss I had once who told me he only hired women to work in the office because we were more nurturing and community-minded. I found his comment terribly offensive, but didn’t say anything because I happened to desperately need the job at the time.

However, even if it is a stereotype I will admit that this actually ran counter to what I expected. Given that the female characters in Smite were so grossly oversexualized, I had expected the evil deities to skew female – you know, because sexy women are always evil. Since, you know, [mumblemumble]femme fatale[mumblereasons].

So at least if the female characters are horribly stereotyped, at least we have a mix of regressive stereotypes. Yay diversity!

Racist whitewashing

Something that’s honestly more important than the frankly not-all-that-exceptional-for-video-games level of sexism in Smite is the fact that there is an UNBELIEVABLE LEVEL OF WHITEWASHING. Literally EVERY PANTHEON except the Norse deities is whitewashed, with the worst example being the Greek pantheon – who are shown almost universally as blondes or gingers:

greek-whitewashed
(LEFT: Aphrodite, MIDDLE LEFT: Scylla, MIDDLE RIGHT: Apollo, RIGHT: Athena)

[sigh] Uh, video game industry dudes? I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but Greeks are NOT ACTUALLY WHITE ACTUALLY PRETTY BROWN. Take for example, Tonia Sotiropoulou – who played the Bond Girl[3] in Skyfall. I realize this is an embarrassingly common trope in video games (I’m looking at you Soul Calibur!) but this is pretty fucking awful.

However, EVEN WORSE than the Greek deities are the Chinese deities:

Chinese whitewashed
LEFT: Chang’e, MIDDLE LEFT: He Bo, MIDDLE RIGHT: Hou Yi, RIGHT: Ne Zha

WHY DO NONE OF THEM LOOK ASIAN? Seriously, the only one who maybe looks even sorta-kinda Asian is Chang’e, and even then she still looks Katy Perry doing her best Asian drag. All of them have round eyes and decidedly European features.

And I already know what some people might be saying; OMG it’s just the style, the art is anime-influenced, the art is heavily stylized, blah blah blah. So let’s take a second and zoom in on two of the character portraits for these supposedly Chinese deities, shall we?

HouYi-NeZha
LEFT: Hou Yi, RIGHT: Ne Zha

Looking closely at the faces, you can see that it’s not just the eyes – although those are a big part of why they look decidedly un-Chinese. Their eyes are round, with visible lids, and are un-slanted. But more than that, the features and facial structure overall conveys the impression of whiteness. And given that I see this mistake repeated again and again across all of the character designs, I have to think that this mistake is more than just accidental.

The Chinese deities do not look Chinese. The Greek deities do not look Greek. The Hindu deities do not look South Asian. It’s obvious that effort was put into ensuring that the costume design would be recognizably adherent to the culture that was being referenced, but when it came to the actual faces of the gods being portrayed? The artist doing the designs obviously didn’t bother looking up references for non-white faces, because EVERY. SINGLE. DEITY. has white features. ALL of the deities that are even slightly human have indisputably white features, which is frankly, inexcusable.

About the only positive thing that can be said with regard to Smite’s frankly terribly racist character designs is that, contrary to my first impression, heroic gods weren’t more likely to be whitewashed than evil ones. So. yay? At least we’re engaging in equal opportunity racism and whitewashing here.

Culturally Appropriating

And here we come to the bit that inspired me to write about Smite in the first place. Apparently the publishers of Smite have decided to add Hindu deities as a faction – a decision which breaks with their use of only dead religions for all of their other factions. (ETA: It’s been pointed out to me that Norse paganism is not actually a dead religion, even if it is widely perceived to be. I apologize.) Unsurprisingly, given that Hinduism is a religion that is alive and well in the world today, there was pushback against this decision, arguing that if Hinduism was fair game that figures from other modern religion – like Jesus or Moses should be permissible.

However, Smite’s publishers would like us all to know that they are definitely not going to use Christian, Jewish, or Islamic figures in their game. But don’t worry – Hindu deities are still a-okay!

250px-T_Ram_Default_Card
Rama – one of the chief avatars of Vishnu

…which is, frankly, pretty bullshit. Especially when you look at the list of Hindu deities that are included, like Rama – one of the chief avatars of Vishnu and one of the most widely venerated figures in Hinduism today. And Hinduism is not a small religion! With approximately 1 billion adherents, Hindus account for approximately 1 in 7 humans on the planet – which makes the decision of Smite developers to use religious figures of central importance to a large and vibrant modern religion all the more shocking.

Because it’s obvious that when faced with the question of “where to draw the line” that the developers of Smite were clear on the fact that they weren’t willing to do anything that might offend any adherents of the Abrahamic traditions, many of whom are white or can pass for white[4]. But Hinduism? Well Hinduism is for INDIANS who are just so, you know, EXOTIC.

…which is just more creepy, culturally appropriating bullshit.

But really, given how generally awful Smite is, I guess that shouldn’t be too surprising.

[1] Fair warning. Any comments attempting to argue that Smite’s character designs aren’t sexist are going to be straight-up trashed. I don’t have time for bullshit of that magnitude.

[2] See what I did there?

[3] I have a whole ‘nother rant about Bond Girls and how fucking sexist they are, and how it’s particularly awful that in Skyfall the Bond Girl literally has sex with Bond and then has maybe 3 or 4 more lines of dialogue before dying.

[4] I realize that I am arguing something problematic here. There is a perception that Christianity is equated with whiteness, despite the fact that there are large and vibrant faith communities in South America and Africa and other areas of the world that are decidedly nonwhite. And given the overlap of traditions between the Abrahamic faiths, there tends to be a certain level of automatic goodwill extended to Judaism and Islam. However, I recognize the racial diversity of the communities that practice these faiths and certainly am not arguing that they are worth protecting because of their whiteness or proximity to whiteness.

 

Blizzard doesn’t care if I think Hearthstone is fun

I’ve been playing Hearthstone lately and rather enjoying it. It gives me a quick casual gaming fix, I don’t really feel compelled to play even when I don’t have time, and given that I’ve been getting into playing more Magic lately, I just really like the gameplay. So like many, many other people, when the new single-player Naxxramas expansion was released yesterday, I downloaded it and took it for a spin.

I only had an hour to play, so I didn’t manage to get through all the new content, but I enjoyed what I did unlock, for the most part. It was challenging and fun getting a look at some new and very different deck types. But I had a moment early on in my playthrough of the new stuff that made me stop, sigh, shake my head, and say “yup, this game wasn’t meant for me all right”. It happened right after I defeated Normal Boss #1 and started a match with Normal Boss #2, Grand Widow Faerlina:

Oh, Blizzard. Why you gotta be like that?

Now, sphere boobs aside, her anatomy isn’t actually that bad. The only (hah) problem is her… armor? …dress?

Honestly, I don’t know what the hell to call it. Given the level of detail we can see on her boobs, collarbone, abs, and belly button, she’s wearing vacuum-sealed spandex at best and at worst is wearing body paint and nipple pasties. (Since I don’t, thankfully, see any visibly erect nipples. Thank god for small mercies, I guess.)

Even more ridiculous is the fact that she is wearing gigantic shoulder plates and bulky gauntlets and… no other substantive armor – I’m not counting the decorative armor plates on her skirt. But while we’re on the subject of her skirt, what the hell is up with the visible panty lines?? Or her knees, which somehow got the skirt vacuum-sealed around them sufficient to define the anatomy of her kneecaps, while the rest of the skirt is simultaneously flowing free?

Honestly, this is the most extreme case of “draw naked, add clothes with extreme reluctance” that I’ve seen in a piece of WoW art in quite a while. And since we’re talking about Blizzard, that’s saying… a lot. And it really, really bugged me.

I play Hearthstone because it’s fun and it’s free, and I like free. When I play, I just want to kill some time and have fun with a game that gives me strategic gameplay in bite-sized increments. What I don’t want is to continually have my fun disrupted with visual reminders of how very few fucks Blizzard gives about female gamers like me. (Hint: the answer is none.) Some days, getting past the bullshit and having fun is harder than other days.

Of course, it took me a while to get into playing Hearthstone, despite the positive reviews of friends and the free. (Did I mention that I love free?) Mainly because all of their promotional material that I saw used this artwork:

The interesting/pretty binary strikes again. Notice how it’s two dudes playing and the only women (three in a scene of 13) are just watching admiringly. And sure, there are men who are just spectators as well, but an awful lot of the banner ads I saw were cropped down to just Muscles McDudeOrc and Cheerleader McLadyOrc, which distills the awful in this picture down to its purest form. (Also, is Cheerleader McLadyOrc even wearing clothes? I’m not convinced that she is.)

Sadly, even with a meager 3 out of 13 figures being women, the above promo image is actually more inclusive of women than the actual hero selection (albeit by a mere 1%), where only 2 out of 9 hero characters are women:

Now because it’s not immediately apparent how awful the art is from these partially cropped icons, here are the images that these icons are taken from:

Great. So we have Valeera in her ridiculous cleavage swimsuit with spikey armored shoulders and boots, and Jaina, who… who… I don’t even know what is going on. It looks like she’s casting a boob-enlargement spell, only it’s backfired and they’re about to explode out of her top. Literally.

The really weird part is how Jaina has a (admittedly incredibly useful) spell called Mirror Image that summons supposed duplicate images of her. Only her duplicate images look like this:

So her mirror images are actually not nearly as crappy as her hero avatar, which is… strange. We’ve still got broken spin, chest TARDIS, and vacuum-sealed sphere boobs. But, you know, at least her boobs aren’t about to explode? Yay?

The funny thing is that in the initial mental outline I had for this post, I was going to make a point about “ugh why couldn’t they just use not-shitty art of Jaina”? Until I realized… there isn’t any better art. Mirror Image Jaina is about as good as it gets, for awful values of good. Seriously, these two were the “best” images of Jaina I could find (not counting WoW screen caps):

So that sucks. Especially given that my best deck right now is a mage deck, which means I spend an awful lot of time staring at Jaina’s stupid exploding boob cleavage.

Unfortunately, things don’t get much better when you look at the actual cards themselves. (I really should do a numbers breakdown of all of the current Hearthstone cards by gender and other factors, but that’s a bit more involved than I have time for at the moment.) There aren’t very many women featured in the card art, but most of the women who do appear are pretty fucking terrible. Here are some of my least favorite examples, most of which are taken from common or basic cards. (The Scarlet Inquisitor and Ice Block are rare)

/sigh.

I don’t think I need to go into why these fail, do I? Although I will note that I was surprised at how much worse the art for Whirlwind is at full size, as compared to the tiny cropped version on the cards you see on the screen. Also, wrt the art for the Argent Squire, can fantasy artists please stop using porn as a facial reference? I’m getting really fucking tired of random o-face on my female fantasy warriors. kthx.

I was going to end this post with art of female characters that I actually liked

But then I couldn’t find more than one piece. I mean, I guess the Novice Engineer and Reckless Rocketeer are okay. But they both still have stupid cleavage. Really the only piece of art of any woman that I’ve seen and said “cool” and didn’t feel compelled to eyeroll about was the Violet Teacher:

So at least one artist at Blizzard doesn’t have their head entirely up their ass when it comes to drawing women. I guess.

New WoW models: Men get character, women get vapid beauty [MANY IMAGES]

A brief note before I start:

It’s been almost two weeks since my last post, and I apologize for not even putting up a freebie. However, despite my best efforts to stay the hell out of a recent blowup in the TRPG blogosphere, a certain person decided that he wanted to try to incite his followers to harass me. Again[1].

Thankfully, his followers don’t seem to dislike me as much as he wants them to. Either that or he just doesn’t have as many true followers as some other folks, because the referral traffic I got from his blog was pretty minimal. Still, it made for a very stressful and emotional week since I had to deal at first with the anxiety of seeing that he’d made a post about me, then with getting dragged into the whole shitstorm surrounding his post, not to mention the fun of having people calling me a liar on a social network that I frequent. (Mostly people that I’d already blocked, at least. Yay?)

Anyway, tl;dr. I spent much of the last week and a half working on not-blog things because it was easier to manage the fallout of a bunch of internet bullshit not of my making if I kept myself busy with other projects. So thanks for your forbearance, and thanks also to those of you who sent me messages of support.

 


On to business…

I’d been hearing people in my gaming circles talk about new character models in WoW for the last little while. And it’s about damn time, considering that I quit WoW more than four years ago and the graphics looked dated even then. But it wasn’t until last week that I happened to come across a detailed look at one of the new models – the new human male:

All in all, it looks like a decent improvement. And actual facial animations? Looks pretty cool. Curious, I went looking for the human female.

…and promptly wished I hadn’t:

Ugh. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Leaving aside the fact that all of the human preview models I’ve seen have been white (because white is the “default” setting for humans, of course), let’s just talk about the bullshit sexism here. Notice how the male human gets to have actual facial expressions that convey emotions? While the female character renders all have the same vapid expression but with different hairstyles. Because men get to DO THINGS and EXPRESS THEMSELVES but women get to BE PRETTY.

/headdesk.

But of course, it’s not like I should be surprised. It was this kind of bullshit that led me to quit WoW in the first place. The interesting/pretty binary pervades pretty much every facet of WoW. From my Ret Paladin’s inability to find high level pants that were actually fucking pants, to necro-tits, to the absolutely abysmal representation of women in the lore.

Oh yes, the lore. Where the few women who show up are completely useless (Jaina) or important only for their connection to a man (Tyrande). And all of the big important events that shape the world are set into motion by the BIG MANLY MANZ.

Because I hate myself, I decided to go looking for more of the new models. I’m not going to go through every race, because that would be tedious. I’ll just cover the examples that stuck out the most to me.

MOAR STUPID

When I located a preview of the female orc model, I was disappointed to see that her renders also suffer from vapid-sameface-with-different-hairstyles, although not to quite the same extent:

Now I’ll at least give Blizzard some credit in that the female orc’s physique isn’t grossly distorted. She’s rocking some serious superhero muscles there, not to mention that her breasts are actually affected by gravity and her torso has space for all of her internal organs. Hooray!

But this comment by senior Blizzard art director Chris Robinson bugged me:

Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft female orc redesign will help highlight the gender’s “‘warrior’ side a little more,” senior art director Chris Robinson wrote on Battle.net.

“That means moving away from the more doe-eyed version we know now toward a character you would expect to see fighting on the front lines alongside any of her Horde brothers and sisters,” Robinson wrote.

According to lead animator Steve Aguilar, the team wants to fix the female orc’s “blank stare,” which does little to convey her personality.

“We wanted to give her more of an edge so she would project a confident ‘Don’t mess with me!’ attitude,” Aguilar said. “… She now looks and feels more like you’d expect an Orc to.

(Emphasis Mine)

Uh-huh. Her “fierce” expression is much more supermodel than warrior as far as I’m concerned. Certainly not as fierce as…

…this guy here. Which brings me to my other complaint.

When it comes to Warcraft’s monstrous races, men get to be monstrous and women get to be pretty. Look at our male orc friend here. He’s got a bit of a hunch and frigging tusks. But lady orc? Lady orc has impeccably straight posture and her “tusks” are just a texture. Dude Orc’s tusks gets freaking polygons, Lady Orc’s tusks just gets some pixels. Weak sauce.

This is even more exaggerated when you look at the trolls:

This time the difference is even more exaggerated. While the male orc has a slight hunch, the male troll has a full-on stoop. Screw having 4-inch tusks, the male trolls have 12+ inch tusks. The new male troll renders also have mottled skin and what looks to be scarification on their biceps. These are some seriously monstrous-looking characters.

All of which makes the female troll model ridiculous by contrast. Her skin is smooth, with little visible texture, and her posture perfectly erect, with no difference in stance from her orc and human counterparts. Like the female orc, her tusks are only textures without any actual polygons. In fact, it wouldn’t take much to turn this female troll into a female orc. Shorten the ears, turn her green, and give her four fingers instead of two, and voila! Instant orc.

WHICH. IS. STUPID.

Blizzard has gone to the effort of designing these fantasy races (human, orc, and troll) with three very different physiologies that only apply to men. Because all of those differences go out the window once boobz[2] get tossed into the equation. So if you play a male character, you get the chance to play as several different flavors of monstrous, but if you play a female character you get generic pretty where the only difference between races is skin color and other largely cosmetic details. Great.

But at least none of that is as dumb as necro-tits.

/sigh. Where do I even start?

How about with the fact that the preview of male undead faces is to show off the different types of facial rot while the preview of female undead faces is to show off… hair styles. Coming back, once again, to the interesting/pretty dynamic. At least you can say that Blizzard is always consistent.

In some ways, the new models are actually worse than the old ones. Sure the old female undead models all wore lipstick, but at least they had the creepy black eyes. Now they have… closed eyes? With eyeshadow? (I desperately hope that this is just one model.) And while the hair on the old models looked appropriately scraggly, the new hair looks sleek and styled, even the crazy Bride-of-Frankenstein hair. And of course we can’t forget the necro-tits.

The artists did make one concession to gross deadness by desiccating the skin of her upper chest and highlighting her sternum and collarbone as well as the connective tissue. But despite rot that has caused this desiccation, as well as caused her shoulder blades to penetrate the skin, her tits are still plump and perky, not to mention weirdly devoid of nipples or areolae. Because when you die, that shit just falls right off. TRUEFAX.

Here is the bright spot (you only get one)

This is the only female model preview I was able to find that sported actual facial expressions. I’m… not at all sure what the hell is going on with her underwear. (How is it constructed? And why?) But, you know, facial expressions!

It’s small, but at least it’s something.


[1] Not naming names so don’t even ask.

[2] Note that I’m not saying that breasts = woman. Just that breasts seem to be the body part WoW devs are most fixated on.

 

Hey, game devs. Knock it off with the corpse tits! [NSFW] [MANY IMAGES]

Yesterday, I had occasion to post the following on Twitter:

File that under the list of Shit I Wish I Didn’t Have to Say. Sadly, 95% of internet feminism seems to be saying shit that really should be completely obvious. (You know, like “hey – women are people”. Stuff like that.)

What prompted the Twitter mini-rant? Well, someone on my Google+ feed happened to link to this:

*sigh*

It’s like the artist was going through a mental checklist. “Okay, we’ve got 4 different skin tones. Staples, check. Rivets and metal plates, check. Creepy-looking veins, check. Just got to make sure I don’t forget the titties!”

Seriously. How ridiculous is it that the stitching and patches are actually more believable than the breasts, which have impossible cleavage (without support, breasts hang DOWN and AWAY from one another), seem to have no areolae, and definitely have no nipples. But then, as referenced in my tweets, this is hardly a new thing in games, tragic as that may be.

This particular gem is courtesy of Louis Porter Jr, who hasn’t bothered to hide the fact that he holds pretty regressive views on the portrayal of women in games. Back when I had just started this blog, he actually commented on a post I had made about Paizo, saying that he was glad that that Paizo was doing positive things with regard to racial diversity, but that sexualized wimmenz were just good business sense.

Uh. No. But thanks for playing, dude.

Still, it would be unfair to pick on LPJ too much, considering that Franken-Tits here isn’t exactly a unique phenomenon. So here is a totally-not-at-all definitive list of corpse tits in games that I had either run across previously or was able to find with only a modicum of Googling.

BRING ON THE CORPSE TITS

I honestly don’t know what game this first image is from, but frankly it pretty well sums up the problem that I’m talking about quite nicely:

That was on one of the first few pages of search results for “female lich”, which is an image search you should not do if you don’t want to see a whole lot of gory necro-tits with occasional gruesome necro-crotch.

Disturbingly, but not all that surprisingly, corpse tits are such a common phenomenon in gaming that they can be found in every subgenre of gaming.

It didn’t take much work at all to turn up these images for games funded on KickStarter. The image on the left comes from a game called Hands of Fate, which I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know was fully funded. Phew! I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine the horror of living in a world where a game of such bold artistic vision failed to become a reality.

The image on the right is from a game called Zpocalypse, which also fully funded. Right on! It’s so great to see so many independent creators get to realize their dreams of creating games that feature creepily sexualized women’s corpses.

Now I will give them credit for having a jawless zombie, mostly because I’m still bitter about not being able to play a jawless female Forsaken in World of Warcraft. But they just lose the points again for giving her weirdly pristine (considering the state of the rest of her) corpse tits.

Then we have this gem, which is actually (as far as I can gather) the cover image for Lich Queen’s Beloved – an official, Wizards-published  adventure module for D&D. Of course, on the Wizards site they only use the thumbnail on the left, which an amusing bit of obfuscation on Wizards’ part. Given the amount of embarrassing cheesecake art that I’ve seen in official Wizards’ products, it’s amusing that this is sufficiently awful that they don’t want to include the full image on their website.

But Wizards of the Coast is hardly the only large publisher guilty of this nonsense. Disappointingly, despite that Paizo seems to have been trying to not fail quite as much at female characters lately, they still included this character in some published material released August of last year.

 

And sure, she’s not as bad as the others. But the fact is that she is dessicated, her skin and muscle tissue are clearly withered and dried out. So WHY in god’s name is she wearing boob plate? Given that her nose and lips rotten and she is clearly giving zero fucks about that, I highly doubt it’s a fashion statement. And if her limbs and lower torso are at that level of desiccation, it’s not like her tits are going to be perky enough to need any support, not unless she’s had some very selective embalming done.

But let’s not forget video games! Because there are so. Goddamn. Many. corpse tits in video games.

One of the elder statesmen of video game corpse tits would have to be WoW, who from the very beginning made it clear that even in death the women in the WoW universe would have supermodel faces and amazing tits.

What makes it even more frustrating is the fact that apparently there are a few artists who work for Blizzard whose heads aren’t completely up their asses:

I have pretty much zero interest in playing a character like Barbie McCorpse-Tits, but I would totally play the shit out of her! Look at her! Rotten nose and face, not sexualized, just getting shit done. AWESOME. MORE OF THAT PLEASE. And less of this shit:

How sad is it that Resident Evil has the least sexualized female zombie? What the hell? Why is this a thing that game companies are competing over? Still, if I had to give an award I would give Guild Wars the trophy for the grossest corpse tits ever. Seriously, look at her. The skin on her face is leatherized but she’s still got fucking basketballs pinned to her chest. I’m surprised they didn’t put nipples on her for gods sake.

But wait! There’s more!

Even Facebook games just can’t resist getting in on that sexy necro-boob action. Look at miss Zombie Prostitute here. Sure her face and arm are all decayed and gross, but don’t worry, the important stuff is still perky and fleshy. (Also, the contrast here just underscores everything I’m saying here. Why do female zombies never get to wear any fucking clothes, but male zombies walk around in three piece suits and the like?)

The Bottom of the Barrel

As bad as all of that is, it actually gets worse. “But, wundergeek!” I’m sure you’re asking. “How could it get worse?”

Well, gentle reader. As bad as the above examples are, they aren’t generally being used to promote the brands that the represent. As awful as corpse tits are, most companies still have the sense not to use them to promote their products to a wider audience.

Of course, some companies aren’t put off such tactics by things like “common sense” and “taste”, which is how you end up with things like this promo image here:

Aww, yeah. We’re getting a first look all right. RIGHT AT HER TIIIIIITS! HIGH FIVE BRO!

…bad enough that you’re using Valindra Shadowmantle, the most boobular of all video game liches, as the promo for your game. But did you really need to make it worse by making an arrow pointing right at her necro-cleavage? Her impossibly fleshy and perky necro-cleavage?

However, I’m afraid that Valindra loses the crown for Worst Promotional Necro Boobs to Dead Island, whose publishers also net themselves an award for Shittiest Human Beings In Game Development:

That’s right, folks. For this box set, they actually included a promo figurine of a mutilated and disembodied torso with big, weirdly compressed fake tits. And then advertised the fact. AS A SELLING POINT.

Now given that Techland is the same studio that caused the uproar over their inclusion a skill named “Feminist Whore” in a test build of the game, misogynist promotion shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. Still, publisher Deep Silver really went for the misogyny gold with this one. I can only imagine the conversation that led to this being a thing that actually happened:

The Boss: We need a promotional item to include with the box set. Ideas?

Operations Exec: A toy? Maybe a figurine?

Marketing Exec: Figurines make excellent limited edition items. They’re very collectible.

The Boss: Very good. Talk to me about how we can make this a quality, value-added proposition for our customers.

[Marketing Exec and Operations Exec look at each other]

Operations Exec: Well I was thinking a mutilated torso.

Marketing Exec: What a disembodied torso?

Operations Exec: Oh, yeah. Obviously. No limbs or anything. Just a torso. A mutilated lady torso.

The Boss: Interesting. I like your style. Do go on.

Operations Exec: [to Marketing Exec] So her torso should be totally mutilated, right? Except for her boobs?

Marketing Exec: Oh, totally. You can’t mutilate the boobs.

The Boss: They should be large and round. And firm. Very firm. There’s nothing I hate worse than saggy tits.

Operations Exec: [taking notes] Uh-huh. Got it. Does it have a face?

The Boss: Does what have a face?

Operations Exec: The mutilated torso figurine. Does it have a face?

The Boss: No. No face.

Marketing Exec: Why would it have a face? It doesn’t need a face.

Operations Exec: All right. So the spec I’m handing to my artist is mutilated torso, no limbs, with very large, very firm breasts, and absolutely no face.

Marketing Exec: I’ll get to work on promotional branding right away.

The Boss: This is some damn fine work, people. Damn fine indeed.

Operations Exec: Thank you, sir.


A Depressing Conclusion

Corpse tits in games go from depressing to outright scary once you consider the logic and carry it to its natural conclusion. Gaming culture is one that demands that all game women should be attractive and entirely available for the sexual gratification of a presumed male viewer. Game culture also objectifies women, breaking women down into their pleasing and less pleasing parts, emphasizing the pleasing bits and de-emphasizing the less important bits. When these two concepts collide, that’s the kind of thinking that leads to necro-tits.

At no point during the design of these characters are they ever considered to be people. They are designed piece-by-piece, carefully degrading their not-sexy parts while preserving the holy trinity of boobs, crotch, and ass. Often the face is allowed to be shown as decayed, because who cares what comes out of women’s faces? Ladywords? Ladyfeelings. Boring. Heads aren’t even mandatory, as evidenced by Dead Island.

Some of them might have story tacked on as an after-thought, but most won’t even get that much. Because the category of “woman” trumps that of “human”, and even in death women must be rendered as sexually pleasing objects, not people. Never people.

But that begs the question – why is there such a need to have sexy corpses in so goddamn many games? Why is no one taking a moment to be like “dude, that’s a corpse“? Frankly, if you’re capable of finding any of these images sexually appealing, I don’t really want to know you. Ever. But the dehumanization of women in games is so rampant, so systemic, that even the concept of FUCKABLE CORPSES doesn’t raise eyebrows.

Blade and Soul: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG

I happened to stumble across something in my internet travels that reminded me of an old post that I did about industry game artist Hyung Tae Kim – who gets paid a lot of money to draw freakishly distorted women with flopping distended lemons pinned to their chests, freakishly long legs, and lovingly detailed ladybits. For those of you who haven’t seen the old post, go take a look. (Linked to the blogger version since I still haven’t gone back and fixed the wacky image sizing problems that importing to wordpress caused…)

I kind of forgot about it for a while, but it looks like NCSoft – the publisher of Guild Wars – is picking up Blade and Soul – the MMO that HTK has been hired to design – for publication, formerly referred to by the code name “Project M”. I’ve been having trouble finding details, but I’m assuming this means it will be available for publication in North America, which is about a million different kinds of fucked up. I mean, Blade and Soul makes Tera look like they’re not even trying:

So I’ve pretty much promised myself that if I find out that any of my friends express a desire to play this game, I will either stop talking to them or smack them repeatedly in the head until they come to their senses. Seriously, every female model has lovingly modeled cameltoe, which is just… disturbing. And about every third screen shot I found makes sure to show it off.

Clearly this is not a game aimed at women, or anyone who sees women as anything other than pieces of meat.

And you know, whatever. Once upon a time I would have ranted and raved, but really -what else is there that I can say? Hey, look. It’s yet another game coming out of Korea that treats women even more like shit than North American-developed games do, and yet tons of North American dudes are falling over themselves to play this game when it’s released. I’ve kind of lost my ability to be surprised at this shit anymore.

So instead, I thought I’d take a look at the incredibly fucked-up anatomy of the Blade and Soul character models to point out just how freakishly inhuman these women are. Now last time I took on HTK, I got many, many comments along the lines of OMG ITS JUST THE STYLE WTF U DON’T KNOW WHAT UR TALKING ABOUT or U R JUST JEALOUS HTK IS MORE AWSUM THAN U!!!1!eleventy1!! And, yes, I’m aware that HTK is not illustrating using a North American style. However, there’s a huge difference between even vanilla “anime” style and the distorted freak-shows that HTK creates.

To whit: Here is a Blade and Soul character model with almost no foreshortening:

Oh my god, people. I swear if I could punch HTK through the internet, right now I would. I realize that the model had to be created by the game studio, but this is pretty faithful to the proportions that HTK uses in all of his illustrations. Now, the many and varied ways the figure is distorted can be a little confusing, so first of all let’s start with vertical proportions:

For those of you who have seen me do these posts before, I hope you’ll remember me pointing out that the average human is around 7 heads tall, plus or minus half a head. Now, it’s pretty common for comic book artists and many video game studios to use 8 heads as a standard female proportion to give characters a more “statuesque” look. (Again, I prefer that women look like actual women and not goddamn statues, but that’s just me.) But this freak of nature here is 9 heads tall. NINE. That’s not even remotely possible in nature. Furthermore, she’s more than half leg. Really – check this out:

If you take her legs and add one head height to them, you have a normal human being. (And now I’m thinking about just a head prancing around on bizarrely stretch legs and it’s kind of freaking me out. Brr.) So first things, first, let’s take Gumbi here and correct her vertical proportions a little:

Now, yes. This does create a few more problems that it solves, particularly with the torso. But notice how when you look at the legs, they look a lot more like human legs? Now it doesn’t completely solve things, because you still have some fundamental proportions problems:

(Let’s just take it as given that the boobs are fucking terrible and move on to less obvious things.)

So you have the problem that her torso has been shrunk in order to make her legs as long as possible. This has resulted in her having a microscopic rib cage and a waist only just wider than her head. Now there’s nothing wrong with having your shoulders be narrower than your hips, or vice versa. But there’s just no freaking way that you’re going to get this much of an hourglass figure without enough corseting to cause internal bleeding in the unprepared.

Her legs are also a huge problem, even after one adjusts for their impossible length. The way HTK draws his women (and the way the model is constructed), the hips and ass are so exaggerated that the legs become cylinders that are tacked on to the front of the hips. Which is so very wrong and not how real people actually work. The hips and buttocks are not separate from the legs – they are part of them. And legs aren’t cylinders pinned on to the front end of the lower torso. They attach, via the hips, on the sides of your body, like so:

So with all of this in mind, what would a corrected figure in the same pose look like? Well, let’s take a look:

(Looking at this now I think the hips might be a little off. Drawing on top of HTK’s super-distorted figure was really hard; it kept throwing me off and I kept having to make corrections to my corrections.)

When you have the corrections on top of the original lines of the figure, you can really see how exaggerated the figure is from the waist down. Aside from the shortening of the torso and the clearly problematic breasts, the torso is actually far more normally proportioned than the legs. The legs are where most of the problems are: they’ve been elongated unnaturally and the hips and buttocks have been stretched horizontally to ridiculous proportions until the torso and lower body look like they should belong to two different figures.

And you know what, having hips this wide and curvaceous? Not necessarily wrong. But it is wrong on a body with a torso this compacted and waifish. You’ll see hips this wide on full-figured women, sure. But not on freakish HTK women without even enough space in their torsos to keep all their internal organs, much less space for them to eat meals that don’t come through a straw.

The thing that makes all of this the most disturbing is that all of these problematic distortions were an obvious, conscious choice. Because here’s the thing – HTK’s understanding of human anatomy is quite clear from the rendering of musculature in his illustrations. I can’t speak to the understanding of the people working from his illustrations, but I can definitely state that HTK understands just what he’s doing when he mutilates these poor women’s bodies.

Someone please explain to me why we’re paying this man the big bucks?