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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

[GW2] Getting Female Armor right-ish, or, "Credit where credit is due."

I wanted to take a brief break from debating the finer points of the Trading Post or dungeon/event reward balance to discuss something I think Guild Wars 2 has done fairly well; armor sets for female characters. It's a debate as old as time; whether "bikini-plate" or whatever delightful monicker you want to assign to it belongs in a fantasy setting and how it should apply. I myself am of the opinion that it is fine, provided there are other options (for both genders!).  The former; options for female characters, is something GW2 actually seems to do fairly well. I haven't seen enough compilations of their armor for male characters to make the judgment of whether that second equality standard is met. Continue pat the break for examples and explanations.

So I've made my inane claim! 2012 and a game company might have done things RIGHT!? Blasphemy! Now to be fair they aren't perfect, but I find Guild Wars 2, after looking at compilations of the female armor, to be one of the more "progressive" games I have seen. But enough with the claims, lets show my evidence. Below are the light, medium and heavy armors using the same default dye on the same female character. I'll intersperse some commentary between to ease on the visual overstimulation.

Let me make something clear: I think it is perfectly alright to have "bikini-plate" in a game, on the condition that it is an OPTION and not a requirement. I take the same approach with how I think people should be able to dress in real life. If you want to show skin, go for it (please forgive if I look), if you prefer to be more conservative, go for it. The critical factor to me is that the person has a choice in the matter.

The images are not mine, they apparently were created by user/player "Imaginos"

While the colors are bland, the options are many.
 So here we have the "light" armor which is essentially "Cloth" from WoW. While the terms "bikini-plate" often imply heavier armors, mages have long felt the sting of forced nudity in fantasy art. Here they have 35 options for armor; some rather skimpy while others are fully covering.We can debate the practicality or protective nature of some of this armor until we are blue in the face, but we are in a fantasy setting, and I think the choice is more important.

 Moving on, medium armor!
Medium Armor, AKA, 50 Shades of Trenchcoats
I notice some obvious themes in medium armor: Coats, coats and more coats...actually I like it because this armor is shared between thieves, ranges and engineers, all of whom might have a different desired aesthetic. Ironically, there are only 3 "leather" armor sets that are verging more on the "BDSM Leather" aesthetic that has become common from games like Tera or Diablo 3...a few more would not necessarily be bad, but in many games that has become the rule more than the exception. Like light armor, I approve because of the options.
I would feel uncomfortable in the Orrian armor, it is kind of...grope-y
So last we arrive at heavy armor; the armor type most often associated with the much loathed "bikini plate" and I find actually that there are only a few sets that REALLY go into "bikini"-ville, and some of them are fully covering armor. They might have some of the exaggerated pauldrons and aesthetic often seen in fantasy armor, but that is not a gender-specific issue and is somewhat separate.

There we have it; I find myself at a loss for words per say, simply because the evidence speaks for itself. A female character in Guild Wars 2 can be wearing full plate, something more revealing, or an awesome coat.

In the spirit of academic honesty I will remind that my second criteria, gender equality in options, may not be met because I have not yet found a good set of example male clothes. Then again, the debate about what is "sexy" on men is another subject entirely which I won't claim to fully grasp.

Instead I turn to you the reader for your opinion; do you think these options show success and progression by Guild Wars 2? Do you think the armor should be entirely realistic or show no skin? Why?

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