I’ve been debating whether I would blog about this since I tried the Wildstar beta yesterday. I’ll be blunt: I didn’t want to be dumped into that mental category of “women who always complain about how women are portrayed in games.” I’m actually on the other side of that debate most of the time, and it’s a fact that has kept me silent on the subject. I don’t recall ever passing on a game that otherwise interested me because I disliked their portrayal of women–and I mean, never. To be honest, it never occurs to me and I’m usually surprised when people complain about that stuff. I didn’t even know what “the male gaze” was until the uproar over shots of Miranda in ME3 and still don’t agree with a lot of the arguments around it. I really enjoyed Age of Conan (well, at least the first 20 levels) and I went into that game expecting lots of boobs. I love the Witcher games and yes, I collected the cards of the ladies. So I usually have zero issues about this kind of shit and in some cases I even join in doing some eye-rolling when women complain.
I was really interested in Wildstar, and I buy pretty much every MMO that comes out… but I’m probably going to pass on Wildstar after spending about 5 minutes trying to make a female character. My choices in Wildstar seem to be big boobs, bigger boobs, and biggest boobs paired with impossible waists, rounded butts and big eyes. And don’t get me started on how they’re posed. Here are some examples (and you can click them for larger views).
The first one I saw was a kind of robotic looking male, all shiny and noble. I expected a female equivalent… and discovered instead we get a sexbot.
Ooh, a beast race! Look at that intimidating male character–I bet the female version of that is brutal and awesome! Nope.
Then I saw the race with ears and a tail. The male is impish, and I figured that surely here’s where we’d get a female avatar with a more tomboy-ish look. Nope. And guess what? The male has oversized deer-like ears but the female gets fuck-me bunny ears.
Here’s a shot showing the comparison between all of the female and male characters.
I vaguely remembered reading something about it a while back. I honestly hadn’t paid much attention because I was serious when I said I never, ever really think about this shit. In the search that found the article I was thinking of but I also discovered that they have actually patched the game to make the breasts smaller after players complained. So I’m actually seeing the smaller breasts. There’s another blog post I found talking about the patch and how “…at least the hips now match the breasts.”
This feels so far off the mark to me that (for now, at least) it kills my interest in the game. I don’t want to give developers my money if they think that those characters are the right choices in a game genre well known to have a high female population. The Wildstar team has spent years on this: a lot of time and effort spent to launch with a huge number of features… but not variety in female avatars? I’m not even asking for anything “unattractive” like overweight avatars. I’m talking about not having literally every female avatar be a Playboy centerfold posed… well, like a Playboy centerfold. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.