Valve licenses IP to Korean developer Nexon to make sexist game

[I had this 80% finished last week, but then I got sick[1] and was too tired to brain well. Sorry, folks!]

Recently, I happened to stumble across this while doing research for another piece:

I was intrigued. I don’t pay much attention to MMOs anymore (partly out of self-defense – I get too addicted[1]), but I wasn’t aware that Valve was releasing a Counter-Strike MMO. Curious, I googled the game to see what else turned up.

And found this.

I’m pretty sure that skirt isn’t regulation.

/headdesk

…I was a little baffled. I mean Valve has made games with some pretty great female characters, like Alyx Vance in Half Life 2 and Portal’s Chell. So what was the deal? I wouldn’t think this was out of character for a publisher like Ubisoft, but this was kind of hard to understand.

But things started to make sense once I did a little more digging. The actual developer behind the game is Nexon, a South Korean game studio. The weapons, maps, characters, and graphics engine were all modified from content used in the original Counter Strike game published by Valve – which apparently has licensed the brand as well as the development assets to Nexon.

In developing Counter Strike Online, Nexon tweaked maps and guns and improved models. They also added a bunch of game modes, some which were downright wacky like Bazooka Battle and Soccer. Now (with the exception of Mass Effect), I don’t play shooters, but I have to say it looks like they put together a good collection of different gameplay offerings.

Too bad the other thing Nexon felt that Counter Strike needed more of was boobs. Lots of boobs. SO. MANY. BOOBS.

/facepalm

These are NOT practical outfits for running around and shooting people. I know that personally, I would have a hell of a time lugging around a bunch of guns and trying not to get shot if I was also having to worry about potential nip slips.

But then again, I really shouldn’t be surprised that this is yet another MMO being developed by a Korean studio that treats women like pieces of meat. TERA and Blade and Soul are just two of the most egregious examples to come out of South Korea in the past few years, but they’re hardly unique. Treating women like shit is pretty much a hallmark of kMMOs. (Unfortunately.)

Still, the inclusion of ZOMGBOOBZ in Counter Strike Online is pretty ludicrous. I mean, if I played a match where this happened I would have trouble taking anything about the game seriously:

Soooo. Dude shows up in sensible clothing with lots of pockets and holsters while the woman shows up in… a maid outfit? With no visible pockets or holsters? And immaculate hair and makeup? And is that machine gun just kind of floating on her back? Riiiiiight.

What makes this even more ridiculous is the fact that Counter Strike is set in a modern or near-modern setting, which eliminates most of the usual excuses/justifications for sexist bullshit like this. ZOMG IT’S FANTASY STFU? Well. No. Nothing too fantastical about Counter Strike. SHE’S NOT HUMAN SO IT DOESN’T COUNT? Nope. That doesn’t apply either. The developers really just wanted to include sexualized wimmenz and didn’t really care how well the ZOMGBOOBZ meshed with the source material. [sigh] At least they were up front about it?

Anyhow. It seems like Counter Strike Online was a success because why wouldn’t it be? It’s unfortunate, but despite the Asian gaming market being saturated with these fap-worthy kMMOs, there certainly doesn’t seem to be any tapering in demand.

Certainly it was enough of a success that Nexon is currently developing a sequel! Counter Strike Online 2! It has new features like new game modes:

  • Pig: Shoot at the enemies to increase your health points. When it reaches 3000, you will turn into a pig that has a very high speed and damage.

…o-okay.

And. You know. “The characters are revamped nicely.”

[grinds teeth in anger]

Okay, the woman on the left? That kind of cleavage isn’t remotely possible with what she’s wearing. Breasts hang down and slightly away from each other. It doesn’t matter how large they are – they’re not magnetically attracted to each other. That kind of cleavage requires some serious structured garmenting that just isn’t being provided by that ridiculous vest. Also, screw nip slips. She’s about 30 seconds of running from full frontal, considering that she’s wearing unzipped low-riders with no belt.

And the woman on the right? That latex bodysuit she’s wearing over(??) those leather pants is lodged so far up her colon that I don’t know if she’ll ever be able to take it off. And asses are not that round or that shiny – you certainly wouldn’t get a perfectly round highlight off of one. Even Kim Kardashian does not have spherical ass cheeks.

And of course that’s not even touching on the awful art cliches this art falls victim to. Like the boobs and butt pose, random O-face, and sameface. (Seriously, they both have the same face.)

But as awful as Risking-Full-Frontal-Woman and Latex-Bodysuit-Stuck-In-Colon-Woman are, this is what really made me flip my shit:

OKAY. Latex-Bodysuit-Stuck-in-Colon-Woman? FINE. Sexy Librarian here? WHATEVER. But sexy school girl on the left? Or blue-haired girl in the smaller CSO banner? What the fuck is wrong with you?

Those girls do not look like adults. Not to mention that the schoolgirl fetish is creepy in general since schoolgirls are, you know, children. Sexualizing adult female bodies is one thing. Sexualizing those bodies and then giving them the faces of children? That’s just fucking gross.

So who cares? What’s the big deal?

I mean, it’s another kMMO that treats women like crap. Big deal. It’s not like this is exactly news. Hell, there are plenty of MMOs that manage to be even more awful than CSO seems to be!

Well here’s the part where I get tripped up: Valve.

Here’s the thing. Valve is no Ubisoft[3] – they manage to publish games with decent female characters on a pretty regular basis. Until now, I had always thought of them as one of the more progressive publishers out there that at least puts some thought into not failing at decent female characters 100% of the time. But now that’s starting to look a lot less like actually progressive leanings and more like cynical market analysis.

They won’t release such a blatantly sexist game in North America. But they’re more than happy to license their IP to a South Korean studio to make a blatantly sexist game for them, because money.

No one under 30 got this reference.

Well I call bullshit. Even if it’s not Valve developers injecting the tits and ass into their game, Valve is still profiting from other people boob-i-fying their IP. This is just another awful, cynical cash-grab, and Valve should be ashamed of themselves.

[1] [While saying our goodbyes this morning]

Spouse: [Daughter], can I have a kiss?

[Daughter darts forward to give me a kiss instead, interrupts herself to cough into my mouth, then slobber on my face kiss me.]

…and that’s why I catch every damn cold she brings home from daycare.

[2] Case in point – I’m kind of addicted to Hearthstone right now, which is a bit embarrassing because it’s not even a “real” MMO.

[3] Despite the fact that female character models can only be obtained through a mine deep in the earth guarded by a ferocious dragon. It’s quite progressive of them, really, to have female characters in spite of those obstacles.

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!]

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?

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

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

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

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

The bad

Using female body parts to sell games. Literally.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahem.

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

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

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

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

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

(Link with photo here.)

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

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

The good?

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

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

Game wallpaper sites: for men only?

[Brief note: Quickie post today. I have an injury that makes sitting at my computer incredibly painful. Sorry for the relative brevity.]

I’m one of those people who compulsively changes their wallpaper; I think the longest I’ve ever kept a wallpaper is maybe two months. Most of the time I wind up changing it when I stumble across something new that I like when I’ve had my current wallpaper for a while. But sometimes I find myself itching to change my wallpaper with nothing new in mind, and then I’ll go looking – which is how I stumbled across gamewallpapers.com.

Almost immediately, I had to suppress the urge to facepalm when I saw the boobular banner taking up most of the right side of the page. Even better, the very second category in the navbar is “Cyberbabes”, a link which takes you to the following screen:

…yup. About what I expected. Boobs, boobs, boobs, and more boobs. And, oh hey look – it’s Lara Croft’s cleavage. Because, really, what collection of game wallpaper would be complete without the iconic ta-tas of Lara Croft?

I was also completely unsurprised to note that our friends over at Destructoid are partners with gamewallpapers.com, since Destructoid frequently goes out of its way to assert how important boobs are to games and gaming in general. And I suppose I should be glad that the pornular wallpapers on gamewallpapers.com are at least free of overt misogyny like this infamous gem published on Destructoid a few years ago:

Way to go, guys. You always know how to bring the charm.

Anyhow. I was curious to see how the “Top 100” would compare in boobularity to the Cyberbabes gallery. As it turns out, the results were kind of mixed. Looking at the first screen of the Cyberbabes page, 19 out of 21 featured wallpapers feature boobs. When looking at the Top 100, only 15 of the top 20 feature boobs. However, the boobs featured were more extreme:

And I think it’s especially telling that the top voted wallpaper is the Age of Conan wallpaper (top middle) that features bare breasts and only just baaaarely covers up the poor woman’s bajingo. Also, four of the top 20 are various iterations of Lara Croft, which is yet another discouraging sign.

Lastly, the site features several awful boobular ads that cycle randomly in the sidebar, and none of these ladies would look out of place in an Evony ad.

You know, I love how all of these ladies either have “SIGNING UP” or “ACCESS” either right near or right over their tits. There’s varying degrees of crassness, but the Age of Conan girl is definitely the worst, thanks to strategic cropping. The nipples and the start of her ladybits are juuuust out of frame. And unlike the others, proclaiming that you can get access to a variety of wallpapers, the Age of Conan banner just says “get full access”… Nice and subtle there, guys.

Not that the others are much better. All of them except for Nariko (Heavenly Sword) suffer from outrageous sphere-boob and costumes that they’re on the verge of popping out of. Like, the elf on the far left – what the hell is with those not-pants? And the elf in the middle – did someone seriously photoshop a picture of Liv Tyler? Because that’s what it looks like to me.

Anyhow. I don’t know why any of this should surprise me. After all, this is just yet another example of how our culture assumes that all gamers are (straight) men. Why the hell would a woman be looking for games wallpapers? Everyone knows women gamers don’t count after all.

WTF: The MMOsite.com edition

MMOsite is one of many schill MMO “reviews” sites that basically exist as a promotional machine for all the shitty free MMOs and k-MMOs out there. They make their money entirely through advertising and don’t even pretend to be objective. I’ve used MMOsite in the past several times to collect egregious screenshots when lambasting free MMOs like Kabod Online and TERA and had noted just how much boobage there is on that site.

I didn’t have anything specific in mind to blog about today, so I thought I’d head over to MMOsite and see how much boobage I could find in twenty minutes or so by clicking through to random links. It was, unsurprisingly (considering what they cover), a lot. I mean, I found this right on the main page:

Oh look! Another browser-based free MMO… Because the world really needed more of those. Anyway, I love that the logo is right next to the woman’s tits. (And what’s with the outfit? She looks like a cross between a stewardess and a sailor, as portrayed in a porno.)

Clicking through to the news section of their site brought up some interesting headlines. For instance, there was a gallery with designs of the characters in the new Dynasty Warriors game. (I’m a bit confused as to why this would be covered on MMOsite, since Dynasty Warriors 7 is going to be a console release and not an MMO…) Going through the gallery reveals a whole lot of men and very few women. And while there were two female characters who actually are decently covered (even if one of them is a bit cleavagey), there’s also these as well:

Le sigh.

Even more depressing than the Dynasty Warriors designs was this feature on the boss battle that is part of k-MMO Vindictus’ Episode 8, a new content patch recently released. I guess the folks at MMOsite really wanted to make sure that people saw the feature, because there’s a nice eye-catching ad for it right at the top of the news page:

When are game designers going to learn that BOOBS DO NOT WORK THAT WAY? You cannot put a strap around your boobs and expect it to cover up your nipples unless you’re attaching it with superglue, which I don’t suggest. I am SO FUCKING TIRED of the leather nipple-strap school of character design. (I’m looking at you Namco and BioWare!)

It gets worse when you click through to the article, unfortunately. Apparently, this boss features clothing destruction that lets you render her almost nude. Not only that, but she has a “sexy” attack called “suck essence” in which she utilizes her succubus wiles to suck your soul or something. (I bet that’s not all she’s sucking! Amirite? Winkwink nudgenudge?)

At the top of the page, there’s even a video of the attack in which she straddles the hero, writhes around a little (showing off the jiggle physics), presses her boobs against the hero’s chest, and then arches her back while magic effects go off. All of this, of course, while she moans sexily. I guess Vindictus decided to go after the players that they purportedly lost to TERA by giving them a little show, which is just all kinds of disgusting.

Moving on, most of the rest of what I found is your garden variety nudity, like this account creation screen for Perfect World:

Looks like they’re still not willing to go quite as far as TERA. I mean, sure she’s mostly naked, but she’s not greased up and her underwear is actually modest by TERA standards. (Is it a bad sign that I’m getting blase about this level of nudity?)

And of course, what fun would nudity be without costuming double-standards? Because we all know that in k-MMOs, only men get to be fully covered. (Silly wimminz! Clothes are for men!) While poking around, I managed to find these “fashion” screens for a cutesy, anime-styled k-MMO called Dragon Nest:

Ah yes. Because nothing says “master of the arcane elements” like “here are my tits”. But since Dragon Nest is a pretty obscure example, I’ll finish off with an example from a more popular game – Runes of Magic:

Okay. I’m actually not too surprised about the rogue, since the female thief as porn star meme seems to be dominant in all MMOs, not just Korean ones. But the warrior? Are you kidding me? If I ran into that woman, I’d stab her in the boob just on principle. Also, the warrior slogan is a bit unfortunate when considered next to the female warrior image. “Battle isn’t the only thing she’s a wild beast in! Rawr!” (Sarcasm is my way of coping.)

So all in all, not to surprising. Still, even though the results were exactly what I expected, it’s still discouraging. Knowing that sexism is prevalent in MMOs is one thing. The fact that they’re not even trying to hide it is even worse.

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

[2014 update: This post is one that I stand by, the title is regrettable in that it’s really slut-shamey. Since writing this, I’ve changed my stance on using that word – it wasn’t okay for me to use that term and I’m sorry. However, this being the internet, once posted it’s out there forever, and I’d rather be honest about my mistakes than pretend they never happened. So please consider this post in context. Thanks.

[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.

>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.

>BTO Online: Selling games with sexism, classism, AND racism!

>BTO (or Business Tycoon Online) is yet another translated Chinese browser-based free online game. It’s published by Dovogame, which also publishes a free online browser RTS called “WarFlow”. (Which isn’t the worst name I’ve heard for an RTS, but it sure as shit isn’t the best by a long shot.)

Unsurprisingly, like pretty much all others of its ilk that I’ve encountered, it uses pretty women and big fake breasts in its ads, despite the game having pretty much nothing to do with sex – unless distribution and franchising is the sort of thing that gets you hot and bothered. If you stumble across one of their tamer ads, like this one, it might seem pretty indistinguishable from the legions of ads just like this one:


I am totally hot and fiscal for you!

Albeit one whose translations are not as good as some other Chinese-translated games out there:


Fix you typo!

Make money like a former Senate Republican? Woo! What fun!

All joking aside, the second banner about making your “frist” million pretty much sets the tone for the whole ad campaign. Boss = man = clothes. Subordinates = women = BOOBIEZ. And that makes sense, right? If there’s one thing that I learned from the few years I worked for a multi-national corporation it’s that only men get to be fully clothed. And let me tell you, showing the amount of skin mandated by corporate policy got pretty damned uncomfortable in the winter, what with being in Canada all. I had to resort to drinking margaritas at my desk to keep warm!
Boobz = profits is one of the biggest laws of economics.
I have to hand it to BTO. They actually have a pretty diverse range of ads in that they steal from pretty much every other online game’s ad campaign ever. We have the Breast Now Button from games like Evony and Caesary:
I’m pretty sure the girl on top is naked behind that box. Whiskey tango foxtrot.

There’s also the “half-naked woman with o-face with cars” from… just about every car ad ever:

Apparently cars give women orgasms, but only expensive ones.
I have to say, it’s pretty surreal seeing all of this sex-based marketing applied to a game about building a business empire. I mean, sure I guess the sexist advertising matches up with the misogynist reality of corporate boardrooms, what with less than 4% of all Fortune 500 CEOs being women. But even so, there seems to be an even larger disconnect between the ads and the game than with other free mmos that use these advertising tactics. When I think “business empire”, I usually don’t associate it with women’s crotches. But apparently, the BTO advertisers would like me to:

Not exactly subtle, are they? Amusingly, I think the advertisers may have fallen into their own trap. It seems like they were so busy staring at this poor woman’s crotch to notice that they misspelled treasure – unless they’re trying to invent new marketing slang. (Treat + treasure = punany?)All of this is bad enough, but BTO really goes for the gold with this one:

…by becoming a white man, amirite? I haven’t seen a single woman resembling an avatar in any of these ads. All of the women shown as presented as rewards, not as people or potential characters.Also, look at the ads and really examine the skin tone. The first woman looks Asian, and a few of the others might be (it’s hard to tell at such small resolution). But all of the ads feature only figures that share a certain paleness of skin tone. The woman in the first ad is even paler than the JFK-ish guy on the left in the “Power-Up” ad! I didn’t find a single figure with a skin tone darker than light caucasian tan until I went hunting for screen shots and found this gem:


Because only women work as admins. (Fuck. Did I fall into a time warp to the 60’s?)

So I guess the lesson is that it’s okay to be non-white, as long as you’re a hot chick willing to bone your boss, who will always be a white man and may also be ugly and/or old. Remember, it doesn’t matter if men in corporate culture aren’t young and attractive because we don’t hold them to such shallow standards. As for the women, tits or gtfo, bitches.

What I really, REALLY love is that if you squint hard enough to make out the words, each portrait is captioned with not a name but a generic descriptor. Like “sociable”, “sweet”, “innocent” or “dutiful” – none of which really tell you a whole lot about what sort of assistants they would be. Then you have the even LESS helpful descriptors like “gorgeous” and “stylish” – which describes the highlighted secretary with her shirt open.

…stylish? I can think of a few adjectives to describe her, but “stylish” isn’t the one that pops to mind. Generally, being stylish involves, um, wearing clothes.

And then there’s the red circle… the type was really small; I initially thought the caption was “Oriental”, which I just couldn’t believe – hence the red circle. I went hunting for a larger screen and discovered that the caption is actually “Outstanding”, which is still pretty ridiculous. Just what is she outstanding at? I think the implication is that it’s not paperwork ifyouknowwhatimean.

The thing is, when I went looking for a larger screenshot just now, I happened to find this:


ORIENTAL? SERIOUSLY??
Okay, what gives? This is a game published by a Chinese company! Even if this is a mis-translation, it’s one that should have been corrected. I mean, this is just awful. Really, unbelievably awful.So, wow. Dovogame – you fail. A lot.

>Click breast, er, buy now!

>Okay, so back in my post on porn as advertising, I talked about the growing prevalence of using porn to advertise free MMOs. Today I’m going to target a somewhat related phenomenon – the breast play now button. Cheesecake women with heaving bosoms and not enough clothing are a tried and true tactic in MMO advertising, but some advertisers (*cough*Evony*cough*) really go the extra mile with the “breast (or sometimes ass) now button”.

Here, I’ll show you what I mean with some examples:

All right. Now does anything strike you about the placement of this button? Like, say, that it’s right next to her luscious faerie ass? In order to look at the “Play for Free” button, you literally have to ogle this poor faerie’s backside.

In a fairly marketing shill piece on mmocrunch.com, an Allods marketing rep was asked why Allods is using such sexual advertisements. Response is as follows:

Allods Online: This ad actually only makes up around 2% of our ad spending, while 98% of our spending goes towards ads that rave about Allods’ graphics and award-winning gameplay. Sometimes these other ads just get lost in the marketplace and a different strategy is required to break out of the clutter.

Riiiiight. Clearly this ad is justified because it’s bringing something new to the world of MMO advertising. I mean no one else has ever used breasts to make their product stand out, right?

All sarcasm aside, this response is entirely disingenuous. He’s trying to make it sound like the boob-tacular advertisements are a very small part of their marketing portfolio, but notice the wording. “This ad”? Well if you consider that to mean that particular permutation of that ad, well he might be telling the truth. But wait! I’ve seen at least three different versions of the lesbian fairies on the internet. And how the hell does he explain this?

Oh my god! This is, like, the most clever ad EVAR. You see what they did there? It’s a quest for chests, right? And the word CHEST is over the hot chick’s mostly bare CHEST. OMG. You guys are like the best marketers ever.

Sweet! In order to download the game, I get to click on that fairy chick’s boobs! I totally understand now that your advertising is all about graphics and award-winning gameplay! I’m sorry, Allods Shill Guy. I was so wrong to doubt you!Okay, enough sarcasm. Let’s get back on topic. The Breast Now Button! This was actually emailed to me by a friend around the same time that I started noticing other ads for this game. Depressingly, it seems like YET ANOTHER game jumping on the Allods bandwagon:

Oh wow. Yet another boob related pun! I sure hope you fellas didn’t strain anything thinking up this work of genius. You’re like, the DaVinci of boobs.

Hey look, it’s right another giant “play” button right next to another pair of giant fake breasts. And what’s with the “feeling naughty?” slogan here? Do they want people to equate clicking the button with feeling this chick’s boobs, or what?
They just got lazy with this one. It looks like they ran out of shitty jokes and just said “eh, let’s just put the button on her boobs”.Now, if you own an MMO and you’re not comfortable with having this many Breast Now Buttons as part of your advertising campaign, don’t worry. It’s easy enough to add just one to your current mix. Consider the following:

“Oh, baby! That’s not all I’ll grab!”…sorry, I couldn’t resist. The possibilities are almost endless! I mean, look at the way she’s sticking those ta-ta’s out there. What else am I supposed to think?

“Anyone got a Sharpie? I’m going to sign up, all right. Sign up ALL OVER HER BREASTS. Woo! High five!”

Okay, this one is actually a Crotch Now Button instead of a Breast Now Button. See, it’s telling you to DIVE DEEP and CLAIM your TREASURE. And then there’s a TREASURE CHEST in front of her CROTCH. It’s almost like they’re telling you to dive RIGHT INTO HER PANTS!But I saved the best for last. It’s small, but check this out:

This is from Lords Online. Their button for buying game currency requires that you actually click on her breasts. I mean, come on, people. Could you be less subtle? Why don’t you tie your business card to a brick with “TITTIES” written on it and hit me in the face with it?

Ugh.