Saturday, November 16, 2013

Women in Warlords of Draenor

Day 16: Play
Seish's guardian cub, Galahad, playing. Still one of my favorite companion pets in game because it is just so incredibly cute that it's ridiculous. It does the cutest little things while idle and flies along behind your mounts when you're on the move. Is it any wonder that this was the first pet I leveled to 25?

     Well, I can't miss all the posts now about the lack of female characters in the promotional stuff for the new expansion. I... have mixed feelings about this. For one thing I'd like to point out that there were two female orcs and an awesome looking female draenei in that cinematic. And that Frostwolf (I think) orc lady? She was awesome and kickass and really makes me want to play my own orc lady more. There was more female representation in that cinematic than the Pandaria one. (Which is still one of my very favorites.) But you know... I wasn't counting the women until I started seeing people talk about it. I wasn't thinking sexism at all.
     And you know. I'm still not bothered by it. There are plenty of things in this game that are sexist and bother me occasionally. Sadly often as not it's the players rather than the game itself. (though that's an entry for another day.) But there are a few in-game things too. Bikini plate that's full armor when on a male character for one thing. Personally I've always wished that there was a little check-box or something for skimpy or not skimpy armor. And that you could check it on either gender and just have your armor show that way. If people can have female characters running around in skimpy plate, well then, that should be an option for male characters too. Thanks to transmog the skimpy armor thing is less of an issue. My female characters aren't going to get stuck running around in skimpy gear because I can just fix it, but knowing the disparity is there still bothers me sometimes. 
     Honestly that bothers me a lot more than whether or not there is a woman's picture in that big list of major lore characters up on the site right now. There will be awesome female NPCs in game. There always are. I just love Shokia when questing Horde side in Pandaria. And I know there will be more like her. I don't need major lore characters to make me feel empowered as a woman. But then I also play mostly male characters. What I enjoy are strong characters, gender of those characters is less important to me than the character's personality and how they are portrayed. And sadly I feel like sometimes the major female characters in the game end up being portrayed poorly when compared to minor characters like Shokia.
     Jaina, for example. I haven't read the books and I'll admit I'm coming at this with a little bit of Horde Bias, but even when playing through the 5.1 quests Ally side she came across as kind of insane to me. I felt really uncomfortable with her complete about face with regards to the Sunreavers and the actions Tyl took as a character while doing her quests... I didn't feel would have entirely settled well with him, because of how it came across. And I think part of that is just poor handling of the character. I don't really get to understand what's going on with her, I just see the little bits of her I read in the quests and maybe that doesn't do her justice.
     Aggra kind of annoyed me in Cataclysm too. And again, I feel like that was just a sort of poor portrayal of what she was intended to be. Zaela was awesome in her bit part but sometimes I feel like the more 'screen time' the major females get the worse it goes for their character. That said. I do still wish Aggra was going with us to Draenor, baby or not. I'd like to see there be another chance for her character to be handled in a way that would make me really like her. Besides, after what I went through with her to get Thrall back it doesn't seem like she'd just happily step aside to let him leave without her.
     I still won't be counting the female characters. I still won't be upset when the male ones likely outnumber them. It would be silly of me to get upset over something that's reflected in my own character roster of level 90s (even if part of the reason for that comes down to the way the female PCs are designed in game). What I will be hoping for is quality over quantity. If I could see one female character of the caliber of Zoe from Firefly? That'd be worth ten 'major' female NPCs in needlessly skimpy armor making poor decisions that don't feel properly justified by what I can see in game.
     These are just my opinions. I don't pretend they're right and even if the numbers game doesn't particularly bother me, that doesn't mean I'm saying it isn't a problem or that others are wrong for being bothered about it. There's plenty of sexism in video games. This one is sadly no exception. I'm certainly not ready to write off the new expansion based on the very slim materials we're seeing this early in the game. I'm still very excited. And I am still hopeful that as the expansion draws much closer we'll be seeing a lot more that improves on the way this looks.

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