Toldain Talks

Because reading me sure beats working!


Toldain started as an Everquest character. I've played him in EQ2, WoW, Vanguard, LOTRO, and Zork Online. And then EVE Online, where I'm 3 million years old, rather than my usual 3000. Currently I'm mostly playing DDO. But I still have fabulous red hair. In RL, I am a software developer who has worked on networked games, but not MMORPGS.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Even the Queen?

Yesterday's post of screenshots of my Antonia Bayle illusion got me thinking. I'm not really all that happy with the portrayal of the Queen of Qeynos.

I may be 3000 years old and a pansy high elf, but it turns out I'm straight. I don't mind a little cheescake, not at all. This is not about me being prudish. But it seems to me that the Queen, the Monarch of one of the two major cities in the game, should project some authority. That particular model not only had unrealistic proportions, but the animations included back-arching, hip jutting, and other sexually-charged movements.

I've seen a few other models that do this sort of thing in game. For example, barmaids and dancers in taverns. This seems in character. And the female /flirt emote does it. Which is fine, because it means players choose to do that.

Sexuality is part of life, and we all find it appealing. At a time and place of our choosing. The problem comes when it becomes a category killer. When the only thing of interest or value in a woman is her physical sexual appeal.

Yes, I know that skin sells the game. But there are so many other things that you could do. Let's consider an archetype fantasy female -- Xena, Warrior Princess. She could be my queen any day. Lucy Lawless, as Xena, most definitely projected authority. You wouldn't catch Xena mincing around like that, except maybe for the right person at the time of her choosing.

You wouldn't have to stop with Lucy Lawless' Xena. Another possibility is Galadriel, as portrayed by Cate Blanchett. Not as much skin, but unquestionably beautiful, and with a clear bearing of authority. Which said bearing Ms. Blanchett put to good use portraying another Queen, Elizabeth.

There are other actresses and celebrities who might serve as models, even though they haven't necessarily portrayed queens. Susan Sarandon successfully navigates sex appeal , independence and authority in many films, my favorite being Bull Durham. Ok, that was twenty years ago. I told you I was 3000 years old, what's 20 years among friends? Here's SS in Children of Dune as a princess, showing what I'm talking about.

Though not royal, Gwyneth Paltrow's title character in Emma carried a lot of authority, even while being a bit clueless about her own heart. The photo doesn't show it quite so much, but Emma was more than happy to run people's lives, especially their love lives.

Jane Fonda may be in my age range, but she still looks good, and definitely looks queenly.

And of course, the Everquest icon Firiona Vie may dress like a tramp, but leaves no doubt that she can kick your ass. But then, she's a high elf, we're like that. Blogger Amber says of Firiona Vie:

If there is a single iconic representation of MMORPG’s, she’s it. She’s also a great example of how evil never attacks your midriff, arms, legs, head, or cleavage.

Everquest 2 does pretty good on the "armor does its job score". Plate armor does not develop big holes in certain spots when female toons put it on. Nor does chain or leather. And leather is supposed to be tight fitting. I think that should a woman in the more mundane world put on plate armor, her gender would be less noticeable than it is in-game. However, I think that people like to be able the tell the difference, and have got a helping hand from the artists.

It can be noted that the "around town" clothing for female characters universally shows skin, whereas the male versions are more varied. I note that there is plenty of coverage available in the cloth armor line, now that it can be used as appearance gear, but it wouldn't hurt to have something that looks good but gives a little more range. You know, shoulder and arms, but not thighs? and so on.

Anyway, to sum up. Antonia Bayle's job is to rule Qeynos, command the military, bring order to the streets. Not to lead me around by the nether regions. She does not exist to give me pleasure. Not that she delivers on the promise implied by her behavior. Yes, she is also the sales icon for the game, but good grief, Your Majesty, have a little dignity. You wouldn't ever catch Lucan doing the Chippendale thing, would you?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think that should a woman in the more mundane world put on plate armor, her gender would be less noticeable than it is in-game."

This brought to mind CeNedra in the Belgariad. She is trying to rally the troops to the war and decides to have a breastplate made. She goes with Durnik to the armorer and gets measured for the piece. I can't remember if it is when she orders or after she gets it that she asks if it can't be made a little, you know...

She wanted the gender definition for a reason in that case, so not so far fetched. Of course, she wasn't going to put that armor to the test in combat. I can't think you'd want to carry around any more weight than necessary. However, having said that, you don't want to be uncomfortable with everything all squished up. So my bottom line, IRL (ha!) there would be gender differentiation.


1:14 PM  

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