Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wandering Universes - SWtoR Sexism

I tried out SWtOR (Starwars the Old Republic) with their free weekend deal.  It is probably one of the best multiplayer single player games out there.  I'm probably going to pick it up, play a couple of months to get an Imperial and Republic up and see their story and then quit.  Probably not the best design for an MMO.

But there is one thing that is a huge flaw in the game that would poison my enjoyment enough I'm not sure Id stay if I wanted to.  The Dancer's Outfits.  this sends all kinds of wrong messages to the gamer playing the game and I think its useful to talk about them so hopefully the mistake isn't repeated.

I know some of you will be unhappy this isn't about WoW but its any consolation I do plan to mention Warcraft.
Left Imperial, Right Republic

First a bit of info for people who dont know anything about this stuff.

The Dancer outfit is available only if you pay the $4 to get an authenticator on your account.  The rest fo the rewards the vendor gives is trivial.  It is able to be bought at level 14 for around 5k credits.  Playing through my game I would of been able to buy 3 of the 5 armor easily at that level.  Each one is an orange quality item so its base armor is better than any light armor of that level.  Each contains 4 enhancement slots to improve things like armor so you can make it about as good as heavy armor.

So lets touch on the problems here, and then how they can be fixed and avoided.

So problem one is your main benefit of the authenticator is to buy sexyclothing.  ONLY sexy female clothing.  That sends a fairly clear message that stripping off a woman's clothing will get something done.

Yhatzee said it best in his Eve Online Review: "Let me give you a brief rundown of a standard MMO fight; you click on an enemy and start kicking his shins.  he then starts kicking your shins.  then you take it in turns kicking till one of you falls over."

So a female character is rewarded with higher stats for stripping down and being eye candy.  Or as Yhatzee would say "Get your tits out and you get ahead."  Thats an awful bit of game design that we havent seen the like of since Dungeons and Dragons who made a female character weaker than a man just, ya know, cause their girls.

So what is the good way to do it?    Because the option to look sexy isn't a bad thing, its the forcing it onto the player through game mechanics/stats.  Remember when I said I'd mention Warcraft?

Once in Warcraft you were limited to whatever clothing the designers thought you should be wearing.  Some of it (not endearingly nicknames slutwear) seemed determined to make your character look as much like a stripper as possible.  Heres a perfect example of TANK PLATE chest armor.

Now Blizzard would mock those who asked for more clothing but slowly but surely the idea sunk in that women werent happy being forced into these outfits.  I can remember passing on chest upgrades in BC as my priest because my legs were a thong and I refused to take off my robes.  So how did they finally get it right?  Transmogrifying items.

If a woman feels like showing skin she can spend a bit of gold and look that way.  Or she can look as badass as she likes.  ((Though the slutwear still exists and prevents you from having as many options as men).

How could SWtOR of not made this an issue?

Have it be an modification to the character skin you can add or remove.  No stats, replaces the current graphics.  That would be a brute force work around if they didnt want to have a transmog type feature but if polished you could expand the range.  No Master Jedi looked like they wore complicated armor and I'm sure some players would love to be able to pick up similar items just for looks.  Customization is the future and it always has been.  Star Wars Galaxies in large part survived on that strength - City of Heroes too.  Warcraft added some of that muscle to its arm.

SWtOR could use that boost.  Legacy systems are very nice but if you all look visually the same having small ability differences wont mean as much.  

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree when it comes to sets of armor that have a completely different appearance on the male and female models, Darkweave Armor set is a perfect example. If it is a thong for the ladies it should be a thong for the male. I have no problem with eye candy for either gender in the cities but out battling the denezins of evil sexy just looks weird.