Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fanart Hall of Shame: Stregatto10

I'm getting kind of tired of arguing on the internet of what is and isn't sexist when it comes to men in video games. I mean, has anyone noticed that the trolls in the previous post's comment thread (and on See Page XX) have us arguing about depictions of men? Heaven forbid that I should talk about the feelings of a marginalized minority on a blog devoted to talking about sexist depictions of women! That just won't do!

Whatever. I'm tired of beating my head against the wall for today, so I'm going to tackle something more cut and dry - improbable anatomy and big fake breasts!

So as always, legal boilerplate: All images you see here are the property of Dorotea Gizzi (Stregatto10). I don't own a thing. The artist's website can be found here and her DeviantArt profile can be found here. If you click on an image, it will take you to the DeviantArt page that it's linked from. (I should have done this previously. I will fix previous Fanart Hall of Shame posts when I have some time to go back and re-dig stuff up.)

Now that that's out of the way...

So Stregatto10 is proof that men don't have a monopoly on creating sexist art. She has quite an extensive gallery of commissions, as well as a long list of commissions in process - so she looks like she has quite the side business going. While not all of her commissions are video game characters, it looks like about half of them are, and out of all of those (there were quite a few) there are only TWO that I can show here, since the rest are pretty much entirely naked except for strategically covered ladybits.

As such, most of what I'm posting here is non-commissioned fanart (at least from what I can tell). But if you log into DeviantArt and investigate Stregatto10's profile, you can see for yourself that the commissions I'm not posting here are much, much worse than what I'm showing here.

First up is one of the two commissions that isn't too raunchy to post here - Zoey from Left4Dead:


So, pretty classic example here of boobifying one of the rare non-sexualized female characters in video games. (If you're not familiar with Zoey, check out this image. She's pretty cool, design-wise.) Sexy "please bang me against this wall pose", check. Big fake perfectly spherical breasts, check. Passive expression, check. This is pretty much a how-to for everyone looking to dis-empower female characters with agency. But this is just the tip of the iceberg:


On the left we have the Taki picture that originally linked me to Stregatto10's profile, while on the left we have the only other commission that I could show here - Shura (also from Soul Calibur 4). So in both cases we have a pretty giant case of yuck, though Taki is inarguably more freakish than Shura since both her boobs and her ass look like over-inflated balloons. But Shura winds up being just as perplexing since it's a commission; clearly someone ASKED for this picture and paid money for it. But in what universe is either of these women even remotely sexy? Srsly, a universe of yuck.

And of course, things wouldn't be complete without Ivy:


Some days I can't decide if Samus' Zero Suit was the worst thing to happen to fanart or if that honor should go to Ivy's SC4 redesign. These are all just so, so wrong. Like so much other art of the Soul Calibur women, all of these Ivy's seem to have some sort of organ TARDIS, since their rib cages are clearly not large enough to contain her internal organs. And what's with the boob strap? That thing must be made of titanium to contain those ta-tas. Either that or it has an anti-grav field build in, because there's just no way those boobs should stay in that top.

Lastly, I just have to ask. What is the obsession with having female fighting game characters rub boobs? I seriously don't get it.


And here we have another one of my least favorite characters ever - Morrigan. Amazingly, while her boobs are very, very large, they look like they might not be implants (it's kind of ambiguous). But I guess that's made up for with the completely ridiculous ass cleavage. This one is a pretty classic example of the "please bang me right now" school of posing.


Lastly we have yet another entry in why I will always hate the Dead or Alive girls now and forever. Morrigan's breasts miiiiight not have been fake, but these breasts definitely are. Ayane (left) is just... so... passive. And Kasumi - what the hell is with that hand placement? I mean, I can't help but wondering what she's doing with that right hand, which I imagine is probably the point.

The thing that makes me sad is that Stregatto10's coloring skills blow mine out of the water, even if she seems purposefully ignorant of how female anatomy actually works.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To dudes who think gaming is "sexist against men": YOU'RE WRONG.

[Edit: There have been some... interesting comments about this post both here and other places, mostly arguing that this post is heavily biased. To that, I can only say - go read my article. It's that link in the first sentence, and it has actual numbers. And if you still don't believe me, go examine some of my sources yourself.]

Response to my article about sexism in game imagery continues to trickle in over on See Page XX. Some of it has been really great, like a response by Morgue - the guy whose original study of Dragon Magazine covers I based my methods on. There's been a fair amount of backlash too - not as much as I expected, but certainly enough to prove a point. A fair amount of the backlash I've gotten has been along the lines of "but game art is sexist against men too!"

In fact, just yesterday I got a comment that managed to cram "I'm not a sexist gamer", "sex sells, get used to it", "gaming is sexist against men", and "your numbers/methods are flawed" all into one comment:

If I were a male gamer (which I am) and I would pretend demonstrating my theory that the gaming imagery is sexist AGAINST men, I could have done it with exactly the same set of data you are using. The basic male depiction is a Gym instructor Alpha male with a bare chest.


Despite my policy of trying not to feed trolls, I couldn't let that stand and started off my response with the following:

Clearly your knowledge of how statistics works is flawed if you think that these same numbers could be used to argue that gaming is sexist against men. Go back and read the section on how I engineered the criteria again. I engineered the criteria so that this study intentionally made it hard for women to qualify as suggestive and EASY for men to qualify as suggestive. I mean, come on. I counted a COW as suggestive, despite the fact that any sane person would not call a picture of a cow suggestive. And DESPITE ALL THAT, the numbers still clearly show that across all areas of gaming, suggestive figures are OVERWHELMINGLY women. So please explain to me in what universe this can be used to support your premise of “sexism against men”.

But after I posted, I really thought that this bullshit line of reasoning deserved a more in depth response. Because, really - there are two things going on here. First of all, the idealization of men is not, IS NOT, IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE the same as the sexualization of women. There is absolutely nothing about the design of idealized male characters that says "fuckable" like the hordes of female characters designed for male viewers and players. So do not EVER try to tell me that men are treated with equal sexism as women in games.

(If you seriously believe this to be true, then you need to check your privilege and actually re-examine my sources if you don’t believe me. If you actually bother to keep count instead of ignoring all of the images that don’t support your bias, you’ll find that I’m right.)

Secondly, as to "all men in games are idealized", I call bullshit on that too. The diversity of depictions of men in gaming is staggering. You can find male characters of all body types and ages in video games. Sure there's a fair number of muscled meat-heads:

But for every Amarant that's out there, there are many more non-idealized depictions of men. I mean, hell - look at Team Fortress:

Check it out - every silhouette is different. You've got huge guys, short guys, fat guys, and skinny guys, and some just average guys. And that's just one game! Look at what happens when you look at existing video game characters! You've got gangly, half-developed teenagers:

LEFT: Hope from FFXIII, RIGHT: Sora from Kingdom Hearts 2

There's a fair amount of differences just between Hope and Sora even. Hope is a more passive, less fighty type of character while Sora is more aggressive and hits things with large keys a lot - even if both of them do fit certain JRPG design tropes.

You've also got older characters:

LEFT TO RIGHT: Ansem the Wise from KH2, Leisure Suit Larry from ?, Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid (not sure which game)

Sure, Ansem looks pretty good for an old guy. But Snake looks pretty haggard here, and Larry is pretty tubby as well as balding. And again, you have a diversity of character concepts as well - from scientist to aging playboy to grizzled veteran, each of these characters is unique.

Most characters, of course, fall somewhere in between these two extremes in terms of age. You can find male characters in this set that represent every body type imagineable.You've got your super-skinny/gangly characters:

LEFT TO RIGHT: Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island series, Luigi from many Super Mario games, Kiros from FFVIII, and Zidane from FFIX.

There's also a whole host of average dudes, like these guys:

LEFT TO RIGHT: Nathan Drake from Uncharted, Max Payne, Gordon Freeman from Half-Life 2, Link from the Zelda series, and Leon from Resident Evil

Say what you want about Link being sort of androgynous, but dude is definitely not a body builder. He looks like a pretty average guy who just happens to bash people with swords. Same goes for Gordon Freeman.

But really, I think the real nail in the coffin is the mind-boggling number of fat male characters out there:

TOP, LEFT TO RIGHT: King Hippo from Punch Out, Ward from FFVIII, Rufus from Street Fighter, Bowser from Super Mario games
BOTTOM, LEFT TO RIGHT: E. Honda from Street Fighter, Steiner from FFIX, Karnov from Karnov's Revenge, Mario, and Rodrigo Borgia from Assassin's Creed 2

So, yes, while there is some truth to the fact that mainstream game designers are not the most creative people out there, the fact still remains that the diversity of body types seen in male characters in gaming is enormous. Mario alone should be proof of that - he's one of the most beloved characters of all time and he's basically the cartoon version of Ron Jeremy! The fact is that female characters in video games just can't compete in terms of diversity.

Look at Faith from Mirror's Edge - the fact that a slim, flat-chested woman was the lead in her own game is a matter of controversy! And check out the response so far to the new design of Lara Croft that isn't ridiculously sexualized. The fact that these are both controversial says a lot about how women are depicted in video games. As for overweight women, the only characters I can think of off the top of my head are Queen Brahne from FFIX - not counting those awful princesses in Fat Princess.

Now, I will at the end, here, say that - yes. Male characters are disproportionately idealized. Is it ridiculous that Ryu's arms are as big as his thighs? Yes. Are the Gears of War men ridiculous? Yes. But let me tell you, having to look at enlarged biceps just won't ever compare with what women face when looking at ridiculous video game women like Taki.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

For Boxing Day, I got you some WTF!

Hi, folks! I'm having a wonderful holiday, so I thought I'd share some festivus cheer with you all! Today's WTF is decidedly frisky, but since it's a long weekend that shouldn't be a problem. (Or at least I hope it's not a problem. If you're at work while you're reading this, you have my sympathies.)

WTF the first

A Street Fighter Condom! Obviously not sanctioned by Capcom, image very NSFW. So, okay - I'll admit that this one is actually pretty humorous - and I'm actually kind of impressed that Ryu's the naked one and not Chun Li (that's pretty unusual for that sort of thing). Mostly, the bothersome thing is that the link from Destructoid pretty much assumes that anyone looking at this is a dude by opening up with:

Have you been looking for a way to combine your love of uppercutting people with your love of sticking your penis in things? Do you like not having to pay child support to illegitimate children? Are you frustrated that there isn't a contraceptive device available that shows Ryu's testicles?

Sure, it's funny. But can't I appreciate the absurdity of a Street Fighter condom without having a penis? Or is that not an option?

WTF the second

I was scarred when I found out this exists and had to share the pain: behold the Pokebra.

I got nothin'.

WTF the third

According to RPG Geek, there is an actual d20/OGL product for 3.0 D&D called Chainmail Bikini. The blurb on RPG Geek's product info starts out:

From the company that brought you Bride of Portable Hole: The Book of Neurotic Fantasy, and the author who really wanted a feat called Bondage Attack in E.N. Arsenal - Whips, comes a product that brings the superficiality and vapidity of pop culture into the realm of heroic fantasy roleplaying.

Wow. That sounds really classy. I mean, this sounds exactly what I've been missing in my search for material to support strong female characters in fantasy gaming. (/sarcasm)

Okay, seriously? Anyone who got this for me would find them in about as deep a shit as if they got me a vacuum cleaner or a carpet steamer.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

You can find me on Delicious

Hi, folks. Two things really quick before I go home and wait for the imminent arrival of family.

Thing the First

A few weeks ago when my Google doc of links for future reference hit nine pages, I started to slowly transfer them to Delicious just so that I could organize them, since it was getting hard to find stuff I wanted to link to. I'm not done posting links - I've gotten through about 4/5 of them. But I figured I'd throw up a link to my Delicious page in case anyone else finds it useful. Mostly I plan on using it as an organizational tool for myself, but it might provide you folks with interesting reading material.

If you're a Delicious user and you want to send something my way but are too lazy to comment here, feel free to use the tag #gmmas to send it my way.

Thing the Second

A dear friend of mine wrote this amazing and completely win-filled response on tumblr to some of the backlash my article on depictions of women in gaming has gotten. If you liked the article, you should go read the response here.

Things like this make me pleased that I have such awesome friends.

That's all from me. Have a good holiday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Boobular webcomic banners (warning: not dialup friendly)

[Edited: The images should work now]

A brief side note:
Things are going to slow down quite a bit until after the holidays, due to the many and varied holiday celebrations that come with having a large family. I'll try to pop in and it least post some links, but things won't pick up again until after New Year. So go and have a good holiday and take a break from reading about headache-inducing sexism. The wundergeek commands you!

Another brief side note: Yes, yes I know that webcomics aren't games and that I'm "diluting my focus" by talking about them here. Whatever. Webcomics are still a bastion of geekery, so I view this is related.

And now, the ranting:
There are a lot of webcomics out there that rely on badly drawn boobs to try to draw traffic to their sites. And man, I get tired of badly drawn boobs. At least with game art, 95% of the time I get well-rendered disgusting boobage. I've been collecting banners that I've come across while keeping up with my favorite comics. Just as a "fun" little exercise, I made a little collage for your viewing enjoyment:

(click for much larger version)

The discouraging part is that it only took me three or four weeks to collect all these, and I'm not in any way a huge webcomic addict. (Or at least, with "only" 9 comics that I follow on a regular basis I'm certainly not as huge a webcomic addict as some people out there.)

I get kind of the same feeling looking at this that I do sometimes when I'm walking around the Dealer's Room at GenCon, except with the added frustration that I want to make half of these guys take a f*cking anatomy lesson. Big fake breasts are one thing, but if you're going to have them in your comic then at least draw them CORRECTLY. I mean, some of the boobs in this collage are just horrific. (I'm looking at you, Wireheads.)

It's just frustrating, because I feel like I can't escape the legions of horribly drawn boobages (yes I'm making up words again) even when I'm reading my favorite comics! The comics I love have strong female heroes who are not any more sexualized than their male counterparts - so why should I have to put up with this invasion into my nice, sane comic space?


For those of you who'd like a snarkier take, I also did a second version of the collage with my comments overlaid. I won't post it here since it, too, is quite large. But you can find it here if you want my analysis of why these banners suck.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Depictions of Women in Games: Some Follow-up Notes

I've gotten some critical comments regarding my article about depictions of women in gaming (please do go read it if you haven't already). Mostly these comments seem to not grasp the fact that the criteria were intentionally engineered to be slightly ridiculous. So - a few things:

Re: The subjectivity of the criteria makes this statistically useless

This isn't meant to provide numbers in the sense that you can use this to prove exact percentages. This is meant to provide numbers in the sense that it clearly documents sexist trends in depictions of women in game art across all areas of gaming. I engineered my criteria to be very conservative when labeling women as suggestive and very liberal when labeling men as suggestive, so the fact that the numbers I generated still show a very clear sexist trend is significant.

OMG why is a cow labeled suggestive?

Sure it's ridiculous. Again, I intentionally made my criteria very liberal when looking at male figures to offset the deep personal bias that I have regarding this kind of art. I realize that no one is going to look at this cow and go "va va voom!". But the cow isn't wearing pants, which makes him suggestive according to the criteria I defined. And in fact, a significant number of the male figures I countered were monstrous humanoids, which seems significant in a way that I can't pin down.

Looking at other sources

If someone wants to take my methods and apply them to other stuff like Pathfinder or Magic, please do! I'd appreciate a message here just to let me know what you'd find, is all.

Specific interpretations of numbers

I am not a statistician or anything having to do with math - I studied Fine Art. Also, I recognize that the subjectivity of the criteria makes specific conclusions problematic in some cases. However, what is inarguable is that across all areas of gaming, game art displays markedly sexist trends despite having engineered the survey to conservatively evaluate women that would commonly be called suggestive and to liberally evaluate men who would commonly be called not suggestive.

Lack of pants = suggestive?

You'll note that I specifically said that characters "not having covered legs" would automatically be considered suggestive. Leg coverings include skirts, which are a non-bifurcated leg covering. Leg coverings do not include thigh-high stockings or tights. This is just common sense. If I tried to go to work in just tights or thigh-high stockings, I'm pretty sure I would get in trouble.

I'm not going to count biceps on men as suggestive for the same reason I don't count them as suggestive on women. You can be attracted to people with large biceps, but calling bare arms suggestive is just absurd for either sex.

Just for the record

I've found myself saying a lot of the same things in various places on the internet in the past couple of weeks, so I'm going to say some stuff here so that I can refer back to this in the future and not have to articulate it again. With that in mind, let me throw some stuff out here:

I don't care if you like cheesecake.

If you like cheesecake, good for you. I'm honestly not judging you; that's a matter of personal taste. I also recognize that there isn't just a binary between "I like cheesecake" and "I don't like cheesecake" and I respect that too. I'm not going to get into the business of judging individual consumers of media for their tastes, because that's just counterproductive and hypocritical.

I am (probably) not judging you

I'm reserving judgement for the artists, writers, and publishers who use cheesecake to make money. These are the people who are intentionally marginalizing women and perpetuating stereotypes for the sake of making a few quick bucks, and these are the people that deserve to be called out publicly on their bullshit. I'm not against all sex ever in RPGs. I'm not against all sex ever in art. I'm not against all people ever who like sexy art, or who like sex, or who like sex and RPGs. I'm against people who purposefully, deliberately, and systematically dehumanize women for personal gain and profit.

Wait, part of that was really important, so let me say it again:

I'm not against all sex ever in RPGs. I'm not against all sex ever in art. I'm not against all people ever who like sexy art, or who like sex, or who like sex and RPGs.

Okay, what else...

What do I want? A diversity of depictions of women in game art.

Women in game art are hyper-idealized and hyper-sexualized. You see so many male body types depicted in fantasy, but the only female body type you see in game art is Barbie. For that matter, there just aren't any "fuckable" men that are equivalent to the cheesecake skanks they put in books. People go on and on about ridiculous beefcake, but if you start counting actual images, the numbers just don't support it.

Calling women in game art skanks

I'm not going to apologize for calling imaginary women skanks, especially not women who have been EXPLICITLY DESIGNED to be "fuckable". Everything about the costume, posing, anatomy, and other contextual elements of these elements is designed to make it clear to the male viewer that these women are totally available for banging. THAT is why I call them skanks.

For the record, I do regret comments I made about Jenny Poisson. I'm not going to go delete them because that would be cowardice, but I'll state that I was under the impression she was a paid model and not a fan. That was not correct. I stand by my assertion that Paizo's exclusive use of her photo to promote the contest was sexist, but I do regret the "splash damage" of my comments about the photo itself.

That being said:

I'm still not against sex, or against women who like to have sex, or against women who like to cosplay, or against women who like to dress sexily, or even women having sex while dressed in sexy cosplay.


On taking a more "objective" approach:

I am looking at all the ridiculous sexist imagery that pisses me the f*ck off and talking about why it is f*cking ridiculous. I don't give a rat's ass that I'm fighting a losing battle. I'm done being silent. I'm just done. I experience shame and insecurity about this shit on a near-daily basis, and I think that voicing my emotions is just as important as examining the imagery. Too many women feel they have to be silent about how sexism affects them. I'm done being silent. If that makes my blog less "useful" then that's fine with me.

I don't want all women to wear burkas

See again my comments re: desiring a diversity of depictions. See also comments re: not being against sex.

I reserve the right to come back and edit this should the need arise.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Depictions of Women in Games, Game Art, and Promotional Material

At this past GenCon, Simon of Pelgrane Press asked me if I would be willing to write an article about sexism in gaming for his irregularly published webzine See Page XX. I immediately said yes, and the resulting article is what ultimately gave me the inspiration to start this blog. So it makes me very happy to announce that the article has finally been posted! Please go give it a read!

For everyone out there who has ground their teeth when forum trolls respond to allegations of sexism in games or game art with "show me some numbers", here is some ammunition. In this article, I created a consistent set of variables that I used to examine art from tabletop RPGs, CCGs, console games, and MMOs. There are numbers to be had, and graphs. So very, very many graphs.

I have some vague ideas about pulling some things out of the article for more in-depth analysis here, but nothing too concrete yet. Anyhow, here's the link again: Depictions of Women in Games, Game Art, and Promotional Material.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Anatomy: YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG (Chun Li)

I felt like it was time to use my artistic powers for good again, so I went looking for another image to correct. (Note to my readers: don't EVER Google Image search Cortana. Yuck.)

Amusingly, when I was looking for characters to mock for another lesson in how game companies are doing it wrong, I had initially thought I was going to pick apart the Dead or Alive girls. But then I was looking through all the DoA cheesecake I could find and discovered... no... they're anatomically correct, as long as you assume that they're doing around two hundred crunches a day. They're disgusting, but not actually inhuman. Check this out:

She's got big boobs, sure, but they're not perfect spheres and they are affected by gravity. Furthermore, she has a ribcage and actual organs. So Capcom, you should be doubly embarassed that I'm picking on you today. If you're lower on the food chain than Dead or Alive, then I think that really says something.

I wound up settling on this picture of Chun Li after I found this photo of an official Capcom figure of Chun Li. It's currently $75.00 on the Capcom store:

Okay, so before I pick on anything else, just check out how small her head is. It's smaller than those ridiculously puffy sleeves of hers, and way too small for her body! The average human is about 7 heads tall. This Chun Li is almost 8 heads tall, which combined with her exaggerated proportions makes her look bizarre and inhuman. So first of all, before doing anything else, I PhotoShopped her head to the correct proportion:

Uncorrected on the left, corrected on the right.

You'll notice that already that does a lot to make Chun Li look more human. Now the only problem is that her costume, with its ridiculous sleeves, makes it hard to tease out the actual anatomy. So I've drawn in her actual anatomy over the corrected 7-head-tall figure:

Chun Li's sculpted anatomy is in red, along with my notes in green. First, you'll note that Chun Li's ridiculous thighs are actually 7/8 of the height of her head, despite having such waifishly thin arms that she looks like she's not used to carrying anything heavier than a newspaper. Second, you'll note that Chun Li's ass is precisely the width of her shoulders, despite the fact that her waist is approximately the width of her head. So like Taki, Chun Li has no rib cage. One supposes she's storing her organs in that prodigious ass of hers.

All of this is, I suppose, sort a refreshing change. For once it's not the boobage that's being completely distorted. But still, this is entirely unrealistic.

So, time to make corrections:

I gave Chun Li some more muscular arms. I figure if she's going to be smacking people around on a regular basis, she should at least have guns like Michelle Obama's (who I modeled Chun Li's new biceps on). I also toned down her absurdly muscular thighs, though I left them plenty muscle-y. As someone who takes tae kwon do, which is much more about kicking than blocks or punches, this is a much more reasonable physique for a practitioner of martial arts whose technique focuses heavily on kicking like Chun Li's does.

Lastly, I gave Chun Li a freaking rib cage. Once I did that, I didn't need to correct the boobage, and I only had to tone down the ass just a bit. I left Chun Li's washboard abs. I'll cut these fighting game girls some slack and assume that they're doing a regime of crunches so as to be in better shape for all that ass-kicking. (Oh, and I also de-muscled Chun Li's knees since they just looked absurd.)

I realize some of that is a little hard to see, so for the sake of clarity:

(I couldn't resist adding some shading to make it pretty)

So this is just to illustrate the adjusted proportions. When properly proportioned, her ass is still 3/4 the width of her shoulders, and her thighs are 3/4 the height of her head rather than 7/8. When you look at it this way, it's really not a huge difference. My Chun Li is still thin, muscular, and athletic and still manages to be attractive. And most importantly, she's human! So let this be a lesson, Capcom. I'm not asking you to make huge changes. Small changes like these would be great.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Why the phrase "games for girls" makes me cringe

I'm going to take a break from gaming-related porn here. The thing about delving the depths of the internet is that you always discover that there's an entirely new level of awful that you didn't know about until you went looking. Instead, I'm going look at girls' versions of board games today as kind of a palette cleanser. Before I start, though, I'll note that several of these pictures were ganked from an excellent article on The Society Pages that deserves a read.

Anyone who has ever tried to buy a board game for the children in their lives will know that toys and games for children are marketed in a very gendered way. It is not at all uncommon to go to a toy store and see displays like this:

Stuff like this just makes me cringe because this isn't me, nor has it ever been me. As a child, I refused to own anything pink - although to my mother's credit she was far less dismayed by this than by the fact that I refused to wear dresses from the age of 8 onward. So the fact that the robots in marketing departments everywhere have decided that LITTLE GIRLS LIKE PINK is discomfiting to me. Sure I liked pants better than dresses and took tae kwon do instead of ballet, but I'd like to think that didn't make me any less of a girl.

Now of course I'll admit that there's a good reason why game companies do this - these things sell. Look at the Disney Princess line; it's practically a license to print money. But just as with any group of people, not all little girls have the same tastes - so it makes me sad to see game companies marketing to girls as if all girls ever want the same things, especially when that same marketing comes with the added sexist baggage that goes with it.

I mean, check this out:

OMG! Why bother with the boring game when I can just pose with this pretty, pretty purse?

So, yes, a pink version of Twister is pretty ridiculous. I defy you to give me a rational explanation of how the default Twister is a "boys' game" and thus warrants a "girls' version". But aside from the total eyeroll factor, check out the packaging and you'll notice that Twister Pink doesn't come in a game box - it comes in A PURSE. Even better, there's a tiny drawing of some girls actually playing the game up top, but the image that dominates the packaging is the girl posing prettily with the purse.

Does Milton Bradley think that girls won't play games if they don't come in gender-appropriate containers? Like little girls who would not have played vanilla Twister IN A BOX would suddenly jump all over playing Twister Pink IN A PURSE? How is the purse a value-added feature? Arg. Just... arg.

And there's plenty of other examples of patronizing packaging as well. Like:

"F*CKYOU" would also be a bingo, and would be worth a lot more with F, C, K, and Y. Too bad its two words.

Fashion? FASHION? There's an entire world of seven letter words out there, like "entrail", "retinas", and "inertia". And you chose to go with FASHION. I mean, even from a Scrabble point of view it's a shitty word since five of your seven letters are 1-pointers.

And, man, what are you trying to say with this? That the only reading girls do is Twilight, fashion mags, and celebrity gossip? That fashion is such an all-consuming part of a girl's life that even while playing a board game her thoughts are, naturally, about what she's wearing? That she can't relate to any concept that isn't directly related to fashion?

Well, that would at least explain this monstrosity:

Monopoly for girls! Colon capital D! I have to have one!

This edition of Monopoly comes with the pieces in a jewelry box. And even better, all those boring properties like "Boardwalk" and "Park Place" have been replaced with things way more relevant to girls - like shopping malls, hair salons, and fashion boutiques! Because heaven knows that girls can't ever aspire to be usurious property barons out to make a quick buck. That would make them successful business people! Much better to change it so that the things that they own are stuff that boys wouldn't want to own anyway. Eew, cooties!

But then, everyone knows that girls can't expect to have the same careers as boys:

Quick! Someone give me some insulin! I'm going into pink overload!

So the great thing about this game is that you get to play to figure out what kind of career is best for you. Don't worry about having challenging professions - your options are all things won't be intellectually taxing. (And if they are they'll be jobs men don't want.) Potential careers include things like: "Fashion Designer", "Animal Doctor", and "Super Mom". Because it's important to start teaching girls at a young age that the only value they offer to society is their ability to reproduce.

I realize that this is an older game - from about 1990 - and I don't honestly know if there's a newer edition. I devoutly hope not. But I thought it deserved a mention since I found it while browsing through Board Game Geek. Wei Hwa Huang wrote an excellent review of the game called "Most Condescending Game Ever", and then some BGG users proceeded to then argue that this actually wasn't sexist at all.


Other things that are, apparently, not sexist include:

New preschool curricula include Disney Princess Recognition. True story.

It doesn't really matter what pictures you use for Memory as long as there are two of them. But you know what I'd love? A "Girls Edition" of Memory with pictures of astronauts, spaceships, and power tools. I would totally buy that for the girl toddlers in my life.

Last we have something that a friend alerted me to:

The fail is so large it practically has its own gravitational pull.

So. Much. Hatred.

The bottom right hand of the package says SOLID WOOD BLOCKS (are pretty in pink). Because I guess it's important that all board games for girls are pretty. What makes this extra terrible is that it's essentially Truth or Dare, but without the Dares and with only really insipid Truths. Like "If you had one wish, what would you wish for?" and "who do you have a crush on right now?".

Now, I'll admit to creating a Truth or Dare Jenga set with some friends in university, and it was always a blast to play. Why not create a non-gendered Truth or Dare Jenga and let the game stand on its own merits for crying out loud?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Cosplay galleries on major gaming sites

There is a horde of gaming news/columns sites out there, some more notable than others, and pretty much all of them operate under the assumption that their readership is young, male, and horny. One of the things that makes this abundantly clear is the fact that on most of these sites, you can find cosplay galleries quite easily that are full of female cosplayers dressed as various "sexy" video game characters that are pretty much collections of wank material.

Now I'll take a moment to say that I have mixed feelings about cosplay. I get why people do it - I've even done a little myself (though, amusingly, as male characters). So lets be clear that I'm not out to demonize cosplayers. They make some seriously amazing costumes that I always enjoy seeing every year at GenCon. It's the creepy fetishizing of female cosplayers that I have a lot of problems with. It's bad enough when you see hordes of male nerds photographing female cosplayers at GenCon, and on the internet it gets even creepier.

For the most part I'm not going to post pictures because even just scratching the surface of what's out there, I found hundreds of photos. Instead, you'll mostly get links that are, of course, mostly nsfw. Youtube rules apply for comments (ie: don't read them) as well.

On to the awful!

Kotaku actually doesn't post regular cosplay pics, but they can't be left out of the fun, as evidenced by "The Top 50 Cosplay Cleavage Shots". The indicator that this is less than classy? (Okay, other than the title.) The first sentence of the feature is:

Well it's noon, and that means we can break out the porn.

Right, because there's nothing gamer men like better than whipping it out and wanking to cosplay cleavage shots over their lunch break. *eyeroll*

Destructoid, however, has tons of cosplay features - so many that it even has its own feature category. Now, granted, some of the posts under this category are really awesome and not creepy cosplay, like the most amazing Samus I've ever seen. But then you see some of the other featured galleries that just have so... much... cleavage. *sigh*

GamesRadar has, in addition to regular cosplay features, a "Sexy Cosplay Gallery" full of fanservice-y shots of female cosplayers.

RipTen, too, has its own cosplay feature category. Scrolling down the page you see boobs... boobs... and more boobs. What's really great, though, is this one: "Jennifer Nigri loses Xbox and game collection in fire - booty goes unharmed". There's some cleavagey shots of Jennifer in a few costumes before the article mentions that she has been selling stickers to raise money to replace her game collection. The feature goes on to quote these as actual responses (emphasis mine, bracketed comments mine as well):

I wanna put my stickers on your naked body. Whoa my feet smell … [WTF???]

I would love to help out but I don’t think my fiancee would approve :( [That bitch!]

I’ll buy you both a PS3 AND a new XBox ($500) but I’m going to want more than the stickers… >;D [Right. Because really what's the difference between cosplay and prostitution, really? /sarcasm]

Srsly. Yuck.

GossipGamers has its own cosplay category, which is of course full of wank-worthy cosplay pics. However, there are some pretty wtf-worthy features like: Hot R2D2 Girl with Taco Bell Dog and Samus Zero Bunny Suit (curse you, Nintendo! Curse yooooouuuuuuu!!!) - which interestingly is another feature of Jennifer Nigri. actually doesn't have a cosplay category, but it still has plenty of cosplay articles like this one: "BlizzCon 2010 Cosplay Gallery: elves, swords, and a lot of body paint."

doesn't seem like a terribly active site (their last post was in September), but there are three cosplay galleries just on the front page. I just can't believe that they named their site "GameWad". However you think about it, it just sounds... unappealing. (another entry in the "why did they pick that name?" category) takes the cake for sheer volume of pornular cosplay pics with a staggering 42 feature cosplay galleries in 2010 alone. But perhaps the creepiest thing is this gem in the navigation sidebar:

That button there sends you directly to the list of cosplay galleries. And, since you wouldn't want to get tired of the same pair of breasts, the image that comes up is random each time. Right above that we also have a super-creepy cosplay poll. "Make my girlfriend dress like Tifa" gives me the heebie jeebies for reasons I can't quite put into words.

Last, but certainly not least, we have, which I think deserves some kind of "Smoking Crack While Picking a Domain" prize. SlobsOfGaming has the most porn I have ever seen on any gaming site on its front page, including: "11 Hot and Awesome TGS Cosplays". In this feature, SlobsOfGaming really goes for the gold in creeptasticness with gems like:

These ladies give me a big Level Up. In my pants. Sexually.

With a little imagination, the picture on the right almost looks like a lesbian ninja make-out battle just WAITING to happen. Hmm. Lesbian ninjas.

Man, I wish I could show this picture to every fat, ugly cosplayer out there who's tried to ruin my Tifa fetishes and shame them into wearing burlap sacks for the rest of their lives.

Okay, please crawl into a hole and don't come out, like, ever. kthxbai

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another daily dose of WTF

Hi, folks. Things are going to slow down a bit as we approach Christmas, and I apologize for that. To make up for not getting three posts in this week, I thought I'd post a couple of links to tide you over. isn't as huge a bucket of fail as places like Kotaku and Destructoid, but it's user-generated content can still be... problematic. As witness by the Club o' Cleavage hosted on their site. Because heaven forbid these guys should leave the house and talk with real girls.

And then we have this picture of a Games For Girls display at a GameStop in California. Seriously? It's almost enough to make me want to stop shopping there, but it'll never happen because I'm cheap and I hate paying $60 for games.

Lastly we have Pillow Fight for the iPhone, in which buxom bikini-clad women engage in a pillow fight. Classy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fanart Hall of Shame: Reiq

Okay, folks. Things have kind of blown up around here the last week or so and I'll admit that I'm pretty drained from arguing with people on the internet - even though I said I wouldn't. Rather than being lazy and posting some links, though, I figured it was about time to induct a second member into the Fanart Hall of Shame.

So first of all - legal boilerplate. All images you see here are the property of Reinaldo Quintero (Reiq). I don't own a thing. The artist's website can be found here and his GFX Artist profile can be found here. If you want to see his hentai (read: Actual porn, NSFWer) site, you can find it at (Real URL, I swear!)

With that said, on to the shaming!

I first stumbled across Reiq while I was doing Image searches for my original post about the ridiculous Soul Calibur women, and the link went straight into my bookmark folder for future shaming. It was impressive to me that with the wide variety of disgusting Ivy fanart out there, this was by far the worst I've yet seen:

The sad thing is that even as I'm repulsed by the image, I have to admire the technique that went in to creating these textures. This guy has serious artistic chops, and I'll freely admit that skill-wise he's probably better than me. But talk about an artist abusing his powers for evil. I think even Wayne Reynolds would be embarassed to draw something like this!

I shouldn't need to point out all the things that are wrong with this image. Boobs, check. Nipples, check. Ass, check. Overall proportions, check. I'll just add that boobs are NOT like balloons. If you squeeze the top, the bottom does NOT expand. Contrary to popular belief, boobs are actually just bags of flesh. (OMGWTFBBQ!)

Thankfully that's the worst of them, but there's still some heart-breakers - like TWO different renditions of Samus:

Oh, Samus! What has he done to you? The Samus I know and love would never passively flaunt her sexuality with a come-hither look! The Samus I know would be kicking ass and taking names! What evil did Nintendo unleash upon the world when they created the Zero Suit? Is this how you're destined to be remembered? As a busty blonde in blue spandex, completely stripped of any power or consequence? Honestly, this bothers me so much more than the big fake boobs and distorted anatomy.

Although, Christ, people. If you're going to draw chicks in spandex, don't give them cleavage that could rival the grand canyon. That just doesn't happen. Unless she has a separate spandex compartment for each boob, which seems unlikely.

THIS is why I immediately tune out whenever anyone starts talking about how Cortana is a "strong female character". I've never played Halo. (I'm not a huge fan of shooters, I just made an exception for Mass Effect because it's Bioware.) But looking at crap like this just makes me completely lose interest.

Is there anything more ridiculous than ass cleavage? I mean, I'm pretty shocked to see Reiq take on Crimson Viper considering that she's almost completely covered and then pose her so that her boobs are not visible. But clearly the lack of cleavage was getting to him, so he gave her ass cleavage instead.

Honestly, I don't know how she'd fight like that. I mean, her pants are so far up her ass that they must be lodged in her colon, which has GOT to be uncomfortable. Personally, I really don't think I could fight like that.

I'm ending with this one because I wanted to go from worst to best for once. Aside from the big fake boobs, I actually like this rendition of Wonder Woman. She doesn't have massive camel toe, she's not passively on display, and she looks like she's daring you try something so that she can use that lasso to choke the life out of you. And that's the sad part. If this was the rule rather than the exception, I'd sigh about comic character design and big fake boobs and move on with my life.
Clearly Reiq has it in him to draw only minimally distorted women with some sense of agency - he just chooses not to.

I suppose it shouldn't be too surprising, since the profile on his says that he is male (surprise surprise) and 27 - which puts him firmly in the "young and pervy" segment of artists. But considering that he is now working as an artist full-time with the income from these illustrations, that also puts him in the "perpetrating sexist stereotypes for fun and profit" camp.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The echo chamber (or yet another reason I f*cking hate the internet)

Okay, folks. Today’s post is extra disgusting, so I’ll start off with a few side notes before I get into things. Consider yourself warned.

First of all, things kind of exploded over the weekend thanks to my original post about Paizo, then my response to LPJ’s comment on that post. I was angry and my response was pretty vitriolic, so I was pretty surprised when Paizo’s Erik Mona posted a thoughtful and not bile-filled response to what was admittedly some pretty inflammatory stuff. There’s some good stuff that has happened in the comments, so I recommend taking a look if you haven't already.

With that said, on to the awfulness!

So one of the things that I’ve found very discouraging since starting this blog is the fact that internet culture is saturated with downright hatred of women. I know that I’ve hyperbolized quite a bit here, but I don’t use this term lightly. There is so much stuff on the internet that displays a level of disregard for women that is quite frightening, and unfortunately internet culture tends to dovetail with geek culture and gaming culture quite a bit.

Case in point – demotivational posters. It got started with and quickly became an internet meme to make your own. I have a friend who has a demotivational poster screensaver slide show, and I noticed while watching it that it had so… many… boobs. So I got curious and did a little digging. (affiliated with the Cheezburger Network) has a lot of egregious ones, but for the most part they don’t get beyond fanservicey boob pictures. But… brr. There is some frightening, frightening stuff there!

First of all, just looking through the tag cloud is an… educational experience. But man, it seems like every tag leads to porn. (Case in point: the first three results for Pokemon are hot chicks in various states of undress. I’m not sure what to make of this…)

If you look at images tagged geek, fully half of the results are variations on a theme – large chested ostensibly available women who like geeks that mostly look like this:

Of course, the first image actually spells out what the other posters only imply. REAL geeks are never women. If a woman says that she’s a geek, clearly she’s just trying to have sex with male geeks. All in all, offensive, but pretty mainstream – at least for the internet.

Of course, the a subset of the geek tagged posters are tagged with sammich, which ups the distastefulness to a whole new level. Most of these, excepting the ones that are literally about sandwiches, are variations on the theme of “stfu bitch and go make me a sammich”. And of course sometimes “a woman’s domain is the kitchen” is stated outright:

The sign on the right says “iron my shirt bitch”. Charming. Also – both of these were tagged “feminism”. Wow. I have such respect for the mind that can conceive of such irony. (/sarcasm)

The LEAST distasteful images you’ll find (besides the ones actually about sandwiches) are the ones about women being too stupid to do anything properly besides making sandwiches. There are lots of those, so I picked the two worst from the first few pages:

So with the one on the left, you get “go make me a sammich” bukkake. (I’m not going to link to bukkake. If you don’t know what it is, please don’t Google it at work.) Which, you know, is just charming. And on the left you get the added message that the only thing women have to offer in the workplace is their fuckability. Ugly chicks need not apply. Both of these display a level of misogyny that is honestly pretty shocking.

But wait! It gets worse! Check these out!

Awesome! So these not only imply that women are subhuman creatures with intelligence only barely sufficient to breathe, spread our legs, and pile condiments between two pieces of bread – they also imply that violence against women is, yanno, funny. If they fail to give you the sexual and gustatory satisfaction you desire, then clearly they are not performing their function.

I guess I’m being a humorless sexist here, but I fail to conceive of a universe in which the caption “LIPSTICK: looks better on my cock now go make me a sandwich” is anywhere even approaching appropriate, let alone funny. And as for jokes about murdering women, well, who doesn’t love those – huh?

And oh look! Two more tagged “feminism”!

So on the left we have yet another example of how Xbox Live is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. If your girlfriend interferes with your gaming, then LOGICALLY the proper response is torture. I mean, duh. But then, us wimmenz are pretty silly for not wanting our partners to smack us around. It’s good for us, right? And I know they only do it because they love us!

Ugh. It’s shit like this that makes me f*cking hate the internet. Sites like Motifake just exacerbate the problem of sexism because men with misogynistic views get to surround themselves in an echo chamber of like-minded people until they think that shit like this is funny.

Friday, December 3, 2010

This just in: women actually aren't stupid

Dude, I was going to take a long weekend off from this shit. But then Louis Porter Jr came and posted this comment on my last post, and I’m almost constitutionally incapable of not responding, let alone responding concisely to this nonsense. (It’s a failing.) Hence the new post.

Anyway, before I start off, thanks to the fine folks on Story-Games who helped me refine my arguments. Much appreciated.

So here's the comment in question (emphasis mine):

This is going to be a two part answer.

First on the racial diversity of Paizo character design: Always a good thing. Being one of the few (if only) African-American (or Black if you like) RPG publishers I think it is a GOOD thing to show ethnic and racial diversity in the artwork. Paizo always kicks ass for that and I hope they continue to!

So, yes, thumbs up to Paizo for not being full of race fail. That’s great. Good for them. It’s so great that they are making efforts not to marginalize men of color. And if women of color feel marginalized, well, they should be used to much worse by now, right? None of this is going to change, so us wimmenz should just learn to suck it up and deal.

Yeah, I call bullshit. As a person of color, I would assume that you have some experience with feeling marginalized. Why then are you excited that Paizo is fighting one type of discrimination (racism) even as they simultaneously embrace another (sexism)? Doesn’t that seem a little hypocritical and more than a little privileged to you?

Second, women and sex appeal. Sorry but you lost me on that one. Paizo knows it market: majority male. And males (and some females) like scantily dressed women (which I am one).

Okay, aside from the issue of your grammar sucking (you just implied you were a scantily dressed woman), your argument sucks too. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

When doing my artwork for many of the females in my products, I over sexualize what they physically look like or what they are wearing. Why? Because it will cause males (my main base of customers) to stop and look and in the gaming of marketing that would be considered a WIN! Now would I over sexualize males and place them on the cover a product I created? ABSOLUTELY if it helped draw interest which in turn would equal additional sales. For me this is an issue of helping me generate sales. Sad but true.

But I do understand where you are coming from and I do support you so saying what you think is right.

Oh, thank you. I’m glad that you support my right to express an opinion on my own blog. That’s very gracious of you. I mean, I’ve been pretty nervous about criticizing large game publishers, so it’s very good to know that I have your permission. It’s quite gracious of you.

So, basically you’re saying I “lost you” with my complaints about Paizo’s sexist Pathfinder art because I’m not a man and therefore not part of Paizo’s target market. Does that mean that only men have the right to complain about Paizo’s art? I call bullshit on that too.

It’s clear that Paizo has made the marketing decision to pursue their “safe” market – horny conservative males - and to not really try to reach out to anyone outside that market. But the lack of success of these “experiments” that Paizo has done with non-sexist representations of women doesn’t prove a damn thing. I know TONS of women who were completely, COMPLETELY geeked about Seela's design. But then you pick up a Pathfinder book and go, wow, that's just the exception to the rule. Look at all this cheesecake! Which leads back to 'meh, this is just like all the rest, I’m going back to FarmVille'.

Do you honestly have so little regard for our intelligence? Why should one character make us satisfied enough to flock to Paizo’s products? Sure it's better than most other mainstream RPGs out there, but that's like saying that Justin Bieber is better than Britney Spears. They both suck – it’s just a matter of degree.

But in the long run it’s a short-sighted publishing strategy when you consider that more and more women are getting into gaming. There are somewhere around 62 million active Farmville users, and 69 percent of them are women. That’s a whopping 42,780,000 women all devoted to one game!

Now let’s hypothesize that Paizo actually pulls its head out of its ass and creates a product line completely devoid of sexist representations of women, and let’s say that they somehow managed to find a successful way to advertise to the “women who play FarmVille” market. If only five percent – around 2.1 million - of women who play FarmVille wind up being interested in this new product line that they spend an average of $10 a year on products from this line, that’s a whopping $21,390,000 per year in sales. And if you attract only 2.5 of the women who play Farmville , that’s still $10,695,000 per year in sales.

I’m not sure if you realized this, but women constitute roughly half the population. And these days, they even let us have jobs, which means we have our own money! But given a choice between spending it on roleplaying books splattered with ridiculous cheesecake porn and, say, a new copy of Beautiful Katamari, where do you think my dollars are going? (Hint: Not the cheesecake-laden RPG)

Lastly, as much as I know you find this hard to comprehend, there are men for whom cheesecake art is off-putting and actually creates negative associations with your products. This insistence that splashing breasts on the cover will make a sale is pretty demeaning toward men as well. Do you as a publisher honestly have such a low opinion of your own customers that you think their purchasing decisions are made with their dicks?

Now I’m sure at this point you will have dismissed me as 1) not a customer 2) an over-emotional female or 3) a humorless feminist. And that’s fine. In case you need more reasons to dismiss me, I suggest checking out Derailing for Dummies for more reasons why what I’m saying doesn’t matter.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go make a sandwich.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Paizo: Thanks for not being full of race fail, but...

do you think you could maybe be a little less full of gender fail?

[Preamble and Disclaimer: All of these can be seen at much higher resolution if you click the images. I recommend doing this. And as always, none of this is mine. All Pathfinder material is copyright Paizo. I don't own a thing.]

So the first time I heard anything about Pathfinder was actually in a forum thread about positive female characters. Someone linked to pictures of Seela - Pathfinder's iconic paladin, and Seoni - Pathfinder's iconic sorceress:

These pictures blew my mind, especially the picture of the paladin. Two completely kick-ass, non-white female characters! And okay, sure, the sorceress is a total slut-bag, whatever. But oh my god I loved the paladin so, so very much. This is what I wanted and never saw in my fantasy art! It made me so very happy to know that there was an RPG publisher out there whose head wasn't completely up its ass when it came to gender/race issues.

Now that's not to say that Paizo gets a total pass on the race front. Paizo is still guilty of race fail on occasion, like with the official photo promoting their 2010 GenCon costume contest. For the contest, they had a photo of someone costumed as Seoni, the aforementioned sorceress:

Sing it with me kids! One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong... I mean, come on guys. I'm sure it couldn't have been too hard to find a racially appropriate model to pose for this photo. It's not like white women have a monopoly on big fake breasts! And oh yeah, thanks for promoting your products at GenCon by encouraging women to dress up like cleavagey skanks. I mean, please. Wayne Reynolds really doesn't need more encouragement to draw shit like this.

Then again, as this photo taken by Sean K Reynolds shows, it's not like this is the first time that Paizo has used boobs at GenCon to sell their products:

And the thing is, if it was Wizards or Blizzard or the like, I'd roll my eyes and call it par for the course. But it's doubly disappointing coming from you, Paizo considering your obvious attempts to not completely whitewash your settings. Why take so much time to balance your depictions of non-white characters if you're just going to make all of your female characters standard fantasy cheesecake?

When you go through the portraits that are posted on the official Paizo blog, you do see a very diverse mix of ethnicities. But for the most part the portraits of women are at least mildly problematic. To illustrate my point, I've compiled a bunch of their portraits - which I've rated on a scale of WTF to awesome:



Okay. So first of all, mummies are not that hot. There's this thing that happens where all of the moisture is removed from their bodies, which is what makes them mummies in the first place. There is absolutely no way that a mummy would have breasts that perky, or such a curvaceous backside. Also, real mummies are wrapped in so many layers of cloth that there's no way they're just going to start walking around.

Then we have Naked Dinosaur Chick. And again, seriously, what are you thinking? We'll leave aside the question of why the dinosaur isn't trying to eat her and consider the problem of her nudity. There's a reason why women's bike shorts have a lot of crotchal padding. (Yes I'm inventing words. Shut up.) It's because bicycle seats can be painful for extended periods of time. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that having your crotch pretty much in direct contact with a dinosaur's spine has got to be way worse.

And flying chick... So many anatomical problems. Like her shoulder connecting directly to her ribs. Or her lack of a neck. Or an ass. If you're going to publish ridiculous cheesecake, at least get the basic anatomy right.


Hey look! Big fake boobs! At least the drow looks somewhat badass, which is more than can be said for the other two. I do have to give Wayne Reynolds props for that. His cheesecake women are at least never passive princesses waiting to be rescued. But it would be great if he could do NON-cheesecake badass women too. [Note: apparently the drow is by Steve Prescott, whoops! I'll stand by my comments about the art, and my comments about Wayne, but he didn't actually perpetrate this particular cheesecake indignity.]

Yawn. Cleavagey noble, check. Woman with cleavagey/disintegrated clothing, check. The "Persian Princess" on the right is actually disappointing because she comes SO CLOSE to being completely awesome. I love the costume, love the sword, love the jewelry, and love the fact that she actually looks Persian. So why, oh WHY the random cleavage? It's like running 4.75k in a 5k race, then deciding to quit and go to Tim Hortons for doughnuts.


No surprise here, numbers one and two are Wayne again. Come on, Wayne! It's like he gets art direction asking for fully covered women and says to himself, "well, no one will notice if I stick in some cleavage". It's especially ridiculous on the woman in plate mail. Why go to all the effort of getting plate mail made if it doesn't protect from heart-stabs?? The woman on the right I included despite being fully covered because she's just... so... insipid. But that's a judgement call on my part, I guess. [Note: Number one was also miscredited and is actually by Steve Prescott. Though, again, I stand by my commentary on the art and my commentary on Wayne's art in general.]


THIS! Oh my god, this! More of it! More of it, I say! THESE are the women I want to see in my roleplaying products. The cleric on the left is everything that the Persian Princess should have been! The duelist in the middle, I heart her so much! And Seela the paladin remains one of the best pieces of fantasy art I have seen ever! Yes I need this many exclamation points!

See, it's stuff like this that makes me delighted, makes me think that someone out there is listening to us! We're finally getting the strong, non-sexualized female avatars we've been asking for! But then you turn around and do shit like this for the holidays:

(from 2009 and 2008 respectively)

And that just makes me disappointed, because these are supposedly a "thank you" to your customers. I'm not a customer, but even if I was I wouldn't want to be thanked this way.

So I guess how I feel about Paizo is kind of like how I feel about Enterprise. There's just so much raw potential for awesomeness, but the reality just fails to deliver.