Another Inquisition As-I-Play is up over on TLF, this one talking (appropriately, given my last post) about sexuality in BioWare games and why it – and the NPCCs in BioWare games – are so important to players.
There was enough anger left in me to have more to say about the most recent Law & Order SVU episode on GamerGate. Here it is.
The TLF post contains a much more detailed breakdown of what went wrong in the episode and how, exactly, it undermines not only the project of feminism in gaming, but of game culture and the industry in general.
So one of the games I did manage to play over the holidays was Peter Molyneaux’s Godus – my review is now up over on TLF, just in time for the east coast to find something to download and play while stuck in yet another gigantic snowstorm.
And Part Five of my As-I-Play Inquisition… including MAJOR plot spoilers. Seriously.
Part Four of my As-I-Play Inquisition is up on TLF! Don’t worry, Sera grows on me later.
The next installment in my playthrough of Dragon Age: Inquisition is up over on TLF. I finally made it out of the Hinterlands (for the first time, although not the last), and moved on to smaller and better things.
My second As-I-Play for Dragon Age: Inquisition – The Unending Hinterlands – is up on TLF. The Hinterlands really do feel like they will never end. Ever. I will spend all the time in the Hinterlands.
But not really. Although every time I had to go back there, I twitched a little.
New Borderlands 2 post over on TLF! More chasing Roland around Pandora!
New post on Borlderlands over on TLF in which I get to meet Ellie. Ellie is awesome.
And no, I haven’t given up on Inquisition. Double-fisting games for the win!
So this post is actually a response to a comment on my first Dragon Age: Inquisition post on TLF. The comment reads as follows:
Kristin I’ve been wondering how you feel about the overtly masculine representation of women in Dragon Age.
You seem sensible based on your blog, so hopefully you wont outright accuse me of being a sexist.
I don’t believe women should feel like they have to look or act a certain way.
However, within the world and time period that Dragon Age tries to emulate, women tended to favor a certain air of femininity and classical beauty.
Yet, it seems to me that in the interest of “progressive aesthetics” Bioware has forced short hair cuts, muscular (to an almost cartoonish nature) body types and scarring onto every single female in the entire game world.
I can understand why women get upset when games portray every female in the game as Megan Fox, but I dont see how portraying every female as a buff version of Ellen is any better.
Surely a man doesnt have to feel sexist simply for wanting to see MAYBE ONE woman who dresses and wears her hair in what some might consider to be a “sexist manner”.
I am of course speaking of wearing a dress and maybe having shoulder length hair. Apparently that entire look is just a male created social construct.
First, hair in Inquisition is terrible. Awful. The “butch” haircuts that bother you are not the product of a “progressive aesthetic” so much as they are the result of some very bad hair design and animation. Everyone’s hair is chunky and obscenely shiny, as though the rifts have suddenly caused everyone in Thedas to become obsessed with pomade. (And don’t even get me started on facial hair… Dorain. Bull. Ugh.)
But yes, Tommy, you’re right that all the women seem to have short hair, or their hair is pulled back very tightly against their heads. That’s not because BioWare has an intrinsic objection to long hair (some of the styles in their other games included pony tails, braids, and weird Medusa-looking long hair), but can you imagine what THIS hair would look like? Ew. It’s an animation problem, not a preference for butch haircuts. Personally, I’d love my male Qunari Herald to have long Fabio-locks, but that’s not a choice for him, either.
Second point – I’m sorry, Tommy, I’m just not seeing what you’re seeing. In fact, the only woman who has short butch hair (with a weird braid-headband-thing that I also hate), muscles, and scars is Cassandra. Also, she’s really not THAT muscly. I know women with bigger biceps than she has (okay, so I know some pretty badass women, but still – I have bigger muscles than Cassandra).
Also, Cassandra is a soldier who pretty much killed a dragon on her own. I’d be more suspicious if she didn’t have muscles and scars. She also isn’t Ellen – Cassandra’s romance options are male-only. And as for her un-sexy armor, well, Bull remarks at one point that he’s happy to see a woman wearing a normal chest-plate because boob-armor actually directs blades toward your heart. That’s right, boob-plate armor is more likely to kill you. So it’s good that she’s not wearing sexy armor – and since she’s a soldier, she should be wearing armor.
But the other women have varying hair styles. Leliana’s hair is shoulder-length (in a hood, so we don’t have to see how bad that hair really is). Sera has a short hair-cut, but no scars or muscles. Josephine’s hair is in an up-do.
Then there’s Vivienne. Vivienne… is gorgeous. She also has the best hair in the game. Seriously. Look at her. She’s got great hair, she’s sexy, and she’s incredibly feminine while still being powerful. Sure, she’s wearing pants, but LOOK AT THEM. Her outfit is fabulous.
So here’s the other thing about Tommy’s question. Of the women in your companion party, Sera is giggly (and really weird, okay), Vivienne is sultry, and Cassandra would sooner hit you than flirt with you. That’s three completely different types of women. Sure, none of them is in a skirt, but you’re at war. Have you ever tried engaging in combat in a skirt? It doesn’t work.
But if a skirt is what you’re looking for, what about Josephine? She, like Leliana of the shoulder-length red hair, is one of your primary advisors, she’s a romance-able character, and she’s in a dress. (Okay, you can’t see all of it in the picture, but you get the idea.)
On top of all of this, there are plenty of women outside the companions and advisors who are wearing skirts and flouncing about being useless in war. Pretty much every woman in Val Royeaux is wearing a skirt, a mask, a ruff, carrying a fan or flowers… Being rather “girly,” in fact. Most of the women in the Chantry are wearing skirts (so are the men). The woman who runs the bar in Haven is in a dress. Maeve is wearing a dress. Fiona wears a dress.
So I guess I’m just not seeing a lack of dresses. I’m also not seeing a lack of femininity – what I am seeing is a variety of types of femininity… and masculinity. Bull, Varric, Dorian, Cullen, and Blackwall all present different styles of male-ness. Cassandra, Sera, Vivienne, Leliana, and Josephine all present different styles of female-ness. Sure, only one of them is in a dress, but they are all feminine in different ways.
Yes, scarred, muscly, pixie-cut Cassandra is feminine, too.