The Issue with Women’s Armor
Recently, one of the bloggers that I follow pointed out to me how ridiculous women’s armor is in video games. I know people are going to argue “style over function” on this, but there has to come a point when female characters are treated as people rather than objects, and I think we hit it long ago.
The issue is when a female character gets a ridiculous piece of metal lingerie, while a male character (in the same armor) is totally covered up. You could argue that the armor is enchanted, so the female character doesn’t need to be covered up, and the lighter amount of it gives her speed… but in this case why doesn’t the male character have on less armor as well? I mean why bother wearing heavy plate armor at all if it isn’t there to protect you.
One of the biggest offenders here is Tera Online. For example, here are the male and female version of High Elf Heavy Armor:
Now the armor here isn’t modded or anything, the game is expecting you to believe that a female warrior is much happier not only wearing less clothing, but that she is perfectly happy waltzing into a battle with all of her vital organs uncovered, and that balancing on high heels is the best way to go when you’re in a fight. Only if you’re a female though, if you take a close look, you’ll see the man has even covered his neck in armor (which is decently rare in a fantasy setting), and despite being the same class, he needs all of this on the battlefield.
That being said, sex sells. Games like War of Worldcraft market pretty much exclusively on this principle. A decent amount of WoW’s official artwork looks like this:
No one said that you can’t create a character that can remain appealing to a mostly straight male audience, while not being offensively naked. Sex sells, but you don’t have to be uncovered to be sexy. Take Hilde from Soulcalibur for example
Or FemShep from Mass Effect
or Leliana from Dragon Age
Point being that a character that is reasonably covered can still be sexy. If stylistically a game needs to rely on taking away legitimate armors to sell, the issue is either that
A) The artists are terrible
B) The game is terrible, and needs sex to sell it
Strangely, you never see this path taken with women’s armor in anything other than video games. Even movies/shows that feature (or include) a female knight or warrior don’t need metal bras. If they stuck an actress in these armors, no one would think the movie was believable, even if it heavily featured magic/futuristic technology. The recent movie, Snow White and the Huntsman, for example, managed to focus on an armored female character, without having to stoop down to the lows of a lot of modern games.
You see the same approach taken in the ever popular Game of Thrones too
Point here being that other forms of media don’t think that things such as: boob windows, high heels, and metallic thongs are the appropriate way to go.
So why can we get away with it in video game land?
It comes down to this. Video game makers feel as if the best way to style a female character, is by making her sexy. Style over functionality is nothing new, but again I say: you can style a character without making them naked.
Let’s take a good look at Cersei Lannister’s Armored Dress from Game of Thrones “The Battle of Blackwater” below the jump