The (Gender) Trouble With Video Game Avatars

In what amounts to one of the poorest gaming decisions ever made by anyone, I started (the epic) Dragon Age: Origins right after I got to the third disc of Final Fantasy XIII. And while I’ve played Dragon Age for a respectable chunk of time now, I’m hardly even out of the starting area. I do tend to plod along in RPGs and find myself easily distracted by assorted conspicuously shimmering items, but my RPGADHD wasn’t to blame for my slow start in Dragon Age. Instead, I blame it on sexism, bare midriffs and the ever-looming spectre of the patriarchy. The patriarchy I said! The patriarchy is also likely to blame for all of my ATM fees and the fact that I need new brake pads even though the guy at the garage told me I didn’t.

Dragon Age: Origins is a classic RPG in the classicest sense possible. You’ve got castles, shires, mages, kingdoms and I imagine a dragon or two, but I’ve yet to meet one. The game also boasts a pretty intricate character customization system, where you get to decide all kinds of stuff that will affect your interactions in ways irrevocable. You choose a race (human, elf or dwarf) a class (warrior, mage or rogue), an origin story and of course, your gender.

“At the character customization screen, I tweaked little
things about her appearance, probably subconsciously trying to make her as queer as possible…”

Since 1) it’s all kinds of refreshing to have a female protagonist and 2) later in the game I can initiate some lady on lady action (really!) and 3) elves, I choose a female elf rogue. At the character customization screen, I tweaked little things about her appearance, probably subconsciously trying to make her as queer as possible so I can emotionally invest in the aforementioned sexytimes events when the fateful moment arrives. (Which I recognize is both unsettling and unhealthy.)

So now my rogue’s all ready to roll. I endure a cut scene setting up the story and introducing a few of my elf friends; so far so good, they seem like nice guys. But then, there she is, my very own elf rogue as a playable character, smack in the middle of some likely enchanted forest, and she looks like she’s about to snap in two. Her arms are brittle little twigs, her neck has an unimpressive circumference in spite of my modifications and she’s wearing a goddamn chainmail bikini.

Sure, she’s a starting character and she should be dressed in rags so I have a ravenous appetite for phat loot, but really? I make a male elf to check out his armor (exactly the same, just the “male” version) and he sure as hell isn’t bearing his midriff. But I’m dead set on a lady-rogue, so I stick with her for a while. Her appearance continues to bug me (even after a few armor upgrades) and I find myself unable to invest in her as a character. I just have a hard time believing that this frail, blandly feminine little thing would really be invited to join an elite clan of warriors and sorcerers. And what’s an RPG about if not successfully suspending our disbelief?

I finally reached a breaking point when a few fellow-adventurers join my party and their characters are exactly what I had in mind: they’ve got big pauldrons and that shit looks heavy, like it should. Even the other low-level rogues look like hot shit.

So I gave up. I tried an elf mage, which began in a much more gender neutral fashion since boy mages can wear robes too and that’s just the way mages roll. But I still abandoned my new mage halfway through the origin story because she looked too frail and hyper-feminine for my liking, which is acceptable for a mage I suppose, but still.

“World of Warcraft offers some pretty intense armor, but sometimes even these pieces look small and pitiful on a female character, or in the worst case scenario, they leave a female avatar’s stomach puzzlingly exposed…”

So after the mage fail, I tried a human, again to no avail. Running out of races, I reluctantly settled on a female dwarf. I’m usually not down with dwarves, so this whole ordeal really pushed me out of my comfort zone. In WoW I do my shopping in the dwarf city (they have nice wares), but I’ve never had the desire to play as a dwarf. But suddenly it appeared that the lady dwarf might be my salvation, affording me a more robust body-type and wider-set, delightfully less delicate facial features. And lo and behold, when I start playing her she’s pleasantly stout and she’s even got a full set of armor on. Her chainmail covers her stomach, which really isn’t a whole lot to ask when you’re going into battle against f*cking arch-demons or whatever, right?

I mean, it’s weird that gender is one of the main options in any customizable RPG, but I get it. Video games aren’t exactly rife with post-gender nuance. But really, an entire customization bar devoted to eye-shadow? Christ.

Dragon Age is by no means the first time I’ve run into this kind of avatar gender trouble. In World of Warcraft, I’ve always wanted a human female character, but I can’t seem to care about one enough to escort her past level 20. In fact, my main character is a level 78 hulking blue alien with mutton chops.

WoW does offer alternate female body types with its dwarves and orcs and whatnot, but I’m still let down that I’ve never taken a foxy human paladin to third base. As you level up,WoW offers some pretty intense armor (think shoulder pads with flaming skulls attached), but sometimes even these pieces look small and pitiful on a female character, or in the worst case scenario, they leave a female avatar’s stomach puzzlingly exposed.

And just check out the gender difference in this set of pants from an article examining WoW’s male vs. female armor issues. On the female blood elf they appear to be some kind of weird straps around her legs, while on the male blood elf they’re, well, pants.

After being generally frustrated about this kind of stuff in Dragon Age (and in real life), I realized that even the highly-customizable Xbox Live avatars are needlessly gendered. And Xbox Live perpetrates the worst kind of gendering too, where females have a totally different set of (shitty) clothing options. It only took a few frumpy skirts to make me realize that I needed to make my Xbox avatar male, so I could have my pick of all the cool clothes and features and make it resemble me. And you know what? It looks just like me (except for a virtual monocle I sport from time to time) and I’m not particularly masculine or “butch” by any means. So what gives?

Certainly this could all be easily remedied if male and female characters in any given game had access to both the male and female pools of clothes, accessories and tweaks. Maybe your male warrior would want to mix it up with a little blush, you know? That’s more fun for the whole family.

Perhaps our great grandchildren will be running around with genderqueer knights and boi rogues. Only time will tell.

Have you run into similar frustrations? How do you hack your avatars, if you don’t like the options in your lap? Share your own avatar woes (or triumphs!) below!

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  1. Pingback: » The (Gender) Trouble With Video Game Avatars - Autostraddle (blog)

  2. I chose an Elf Warrior for Dragon Age and the armor is awesome and very gender neutral, but I totally concur that it sucks so many female characters in many have to be stuck with ill-coneived armor. Mass Effect has generally good armor for its female characters, but alas, I wish there were more games to name to dress it’s women in actual workable clothing.

  3. Honesty time(!!!):

    I spent most of Dragon Age try to get my waif-y ladyelf to knock boots with Morrigan…

    …and I haven’t even gotten past the first disc of FFXIII. I couldn’t stay interested in it. I should probably get back on that.

    I am so with you on the avatar thing. The system in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion has probably come closest to making me pleased with how my female character looks. All the armor in the game looks badazz on both male and female characters as well.

    I tend to be pretty feminine in real life but I think it’s a gay feminine, you know? It’s almost as hard to work that one up as it is andro and masculine looks. The avatars never seems to sit right with me no matter what I do. I sometimes make male characters if I just can’t get the female characters to look right. I think it’s easier to make a male character sometimes because it allows me more distance from their physical features, if that makes any sense at all.

    Don’t even get me started on those fugly Xbox avatars, haha.

    • If i get too frustrated, I give up and make a male character. Not that I have anything against making male avatars, but when I have the option, sometimes I feel like a sell-out if I don’t roll a lady. If my massive blue WoW character could be massive, blue and female, I’d totally go for it. But female Draenei have super feminine curves that inexplicably bug me. Maybe I have an RPG size complex?


      • aw, that makes me kinda sad that super feminine curves bug you. unlike clothes, people can’t choose their body types (at least in real life). sometimes i wish i had a more boyishly shaped body just because i hate how curves are associated with powerlessness and being seen as a sexual object, but there’s not much to be done about that except wear a lot of sports bras. :(

        • i didn’t mean to imply that! they don’t bug me at all on humans (unlike avatars, i don’t have a “type” i find attractive/ideal), just on these draenei alien ladies because they have funny tails that make their hindquarters stick out all weird-like. i like curves on things that aren’t blue aliens!

    • ooooh that Morrigan is such a tease. if she loves you she won’t sleep with you, what the hell kind of logic is that?

    • DA:O, rock on. i just bought that sucker and am currently tweeting my adventures. spoiler alert: i’ve made a lot of bad decisions so far, but i’m playing it like i played Heavy Rain and refusing to use the oh-shit-why-did-i-do-that-quick-load cop out. howevs, i did make a female character (human rogue) and am pretty satisfied with her, if only because of the hilarious proto-feminist dialogue options. also, i feel like all the elves, male and female, got hit with the sex waif stick. just look at Zevran…

  4. My fave games are SIMS 2 and TH: American Wasteland (I only have a GameCube). Despite all of the options to customize your avatar, I find so much frustration in the differenciation between M and F clothing, accessories, and dimensions. I feel like writing to EA games and NeverSoft (to ALL the game designers!) to say, “hey you. wtf? there are actually more than two genders, and if you must have ‘gender’ as a sub-class, can’t i at least wear cargo shorts and a white tank top that doesn’t make me look like a stipper?”

    just sayin’.


    i usually go with male characters too, ’cause they usually don’t have dumb pigtails or something, but i don’t play video games that much.

    • @EpicCrayon: that first illustration is indeed Dragon Age.

      I fully concur about the needless genderification of avatars in every vRPG that I’ve heard of, certainly all of the few that I’ve played. The figure customization options tend to range from disappointing to demeaning.

      BTW, that is why I love Second Life so much: while the avatars are also gendered, you can at least modify *every* aspect of your appearance, right down to the crease of your eyelids and the bulge of your butt. (Just don’t go there looking for monsters to kill: it’s more like a community than a game in the traditional sense.)

      • I have been in secondlife for years and depends on your interests, yes you can customize your avatar to look like anything you want from monster to whatever strikes your imagination. It is ironic however how many females new to the game are like omg I want to be a stripper or a prostitute. That isn’t the point I wanted to make though, and that is that you can find monsters to kill, I for one have a zombie rezzer that is quite fun (if you have guns that is).

  6. This is a problem I have with The Sims.

    It makes me feel bad that I choose male Sims to play all the time, cos you know, I have to represent and all, but my Gawd, the clothes available for female Sims are so… “female”. Ya know?

  7. I am ALWAYS frustrated with avatars. I can never relate to or feel comfortable with female figures and have simply accepted that in alterior worlds, I am a male :/. But maybe it’s not so bad since I am unequivocally and unashamedly “butch” and am almost daily called “sir” or “young man” by unexpecting cashiers and disinterested waiters. Still, it does upset me that video games and internet avatars etc. hold us to heteronormative notions of gender and sexuality.

  8. Since many of the players have this problem, the game developers should try to improve. Anyway, if you are wow players and want to buy wow gold, come to

  9. I understand where you’re coming from. Though a growing number of gamers are women, the majority of the market share is still men. Sex sells, as they say… Until the numbers begin evening up between the sexes, developers are unlikely to put too much concern into the matter.

  10. I’m not a gamer by any means, and most of my avatar-making experience comes from little online promotional fun things. But has anyone checked out the Scott Pilgrim avatar maker? The funniest – and by funny I mean feminist funny, where you laugh at something because it’s kind of weird and maybe a little offensive or just slightly less than feminstly perfect – thing is that all the guys are posed fist out, ready for adorably nerdy action, and the girls have their arms crossed across their chests and scowls on their faces.

    Kind of appropriate for Scott Pilgrim, where a lot of the female characters tend to be a bit smarter and more mature than the boys, but still a bit dismaying. I would love to have my fist up in the air while wearing a skirt and cool boots.

    Plus, I was unable to provide my avatar with lesbian ninja powers, which was a bit of a downer.

  11. kotaku also talks about how male leads have to be beefed up for the american/european markets.

    I identify as genderqueer and having to pick a fucking gender to start a game drives me crazy. I use to pick female first and attempt to give it a go, but now it’s always male. Could be my ever evolving gender identity or it could just be because they all the big shiny stuff.

    I do want to say fables II was pretty decent. still disappointing with the gendered divisions, but at least you could still buy it even if it was for the other gender! I was able to be a female and wear men’s clothes and even get men’s haircut! My appearance points did suffer a little, but it did not affect my gameplay in a major way. At least in fables, people ran away from me in fear of being murdered instead of thinking i was a man invading the ladies restroom.

  12. Am I the only one who was fine with Dragon Age 2? I had no qualms about it.

    Now, the Xbox Live Avatar clothing I agree with; the selection of clothing pretty much blows. At least the free stuff; you won’t catch me paying for virtual clothing.

  13. Hey, have you seen the Mii’s from the Wii?
    You choose which gender, but that doesn’t really matter.
    Boys can have beards, girls have got make-up.
    But everyone can have the same eyes, hair, mouth …
    which is cool, my Mii looks really like me.
    But of course, with Miis there is no clothing involved.

    In other games I often chose a boy and make him really like a teenage boy, if that’s possible. Their clothes are just… cooler. Even though in online games, it kind of annoys me. I’d LIKE to play a female char, because that’s what I am, but I just hate their looks.

  14. at first when I read “chainmail bikini” i imagined a bikini that people sent to each other, like in sisterhood of the traveling pants. nobody’s seen that? cool. but i think that is not the type of chainmail you are referring to. hopefully yours is much more sanitary.

  15. also, the whole midriffs showing thing is kind of 90s. am i right? where is Becky Style Consultant when we need her?

    if you are going to have a sliver of your stomach exposed you might as well take off your shirt. or chainmail?

  16. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Saints Row 2. They include a lady option but didn’t actually seem to think anyone would play it, so she comes across gay as hell all rallying for strippers.

    And you can wear any clothes you want and there’s no penalty (thanks Fable 2).

    And it’s really, really fun.

  17. I’m torn on this issue. While I agree that it feels mucho badass to run around covered in armor as a male character and slightly less so as a female character who is more bare, it’s had not to feel EVEN MORE AWESOME knowing that, if it were realistic, my character would have to be more resilient and badass to shake off damage in that skimpy armor.

    I remember watching River Tam and other Joss Whedon-created female characters kick all kinds of ass in sundresses, miniskirts, clodhoppers, ripped jeans, leather pants–whatever they were wearing at the time. River Tam didn’t need to wear a slick leather duster and steel-toed boots to kick ass, and she was obviously delighted to wear swishy dresses and dance around being weird. That’s who she was. Badass, horrifying, AND INCREDIBLY ADORABLE.

    My avatars are all girls–girlie girls, because they were programmed to be–but that doesn’t bother me. They still kick tons of ass because I’m a great player, and guildies finding out on vent that I (a very competent player they like) am female (and kinda girlie and GAY to boot) is just too fun.

    It’s 90 degrees in Portland here today. I’m wearing little boys’ boxer-briefs (white with green stripes) under my camo green sundress. With a push-up bra. I can dress any goddamn way I please because I’m homosexy and fabulous and I don’t need to wear tough-girl clothes to be tough, just like I don’t ALWAYS have to wear a skirt and heels to be sexy (I actually eschew heels and makeup most of the time, because I’m practical, but don’t take CuteOverload from me). Femininity isn’t inherently heterosexual and weak, and I think it’s important that we celebrate when women like Buffy are just as competent in media as Ripley (I’d bed both in a heartbeat, I’m not strictly into butch or femme). I understand butch or andro women wanting more gender-neutrality, and I realize I’m pretty andro myself. Oddly, though, I like rooting for my cutesy gnome beating up demons just as much as I love seeing my friends’ Manly McBadasses down Arthas.


  18. The male blood elves actually had to be beefed up because players thought they looked “too gay” (but women thought the original model was hot, hotter than the current model even). I actually had the genderswitch I mage to male because I was so tired of the scoliosis back – oh I’m sorry, sexy pose – and the broken neck. What’s weird is, I generally prefer female avatars because they’re more fun to dress up (my poor boy in his many dresses).

    I don’t see why that can’t be customized more. The new Outlands loading screen for Cataclysm is a lady in FULL armor! Hawt stuff. At least my orc DK is super dark-skinned so you can’t tell she’s got a plate bra on. So glad I didn’t go with minty green skin.

  19. i keep two accounts on mmos usually–a male account and a female one, since very few games allow you to customize your characters’ genders individually as opposed to forcing you to make them the same gender you sign up with. since i roleplay on mmos more than i do pvp or whatever, i usually just say fukkit and play my female sprites as men or my male sprites as women. it’s hard in my preferred game (ragnarok online) because the sprites are SO GENDERED, but eh.

    i will say that i appreciate lately how more games are allowing you to pick your characters’ gender and NOT HAVE IT AFFECT THEIR STATS. remember back in the day when girls were only allowed to be healers, mages, and staff chicks? how even when you were allowed to make them whatever job class you wanted, they usually were inherently ~better~ with magic while men were better at melee? my high knight might be wearing an improbable plate armour miniskirt but at least she has the exact same STR as a male of similar level. :\

    • I also really like Ragnarok Online and like the fact the armor isn’t gendered but arranged by class and level. Everyone’s outfits are inconvenient for fighting, except for swordsman jobs, so, I deal with it.

  20. This this this, so many freaking times.
    Then again, as a non-binarily-bodied hipster dyke, half the time I don’t know what *I’m* supposed to be dressing like, let alone any characters I play. I don’t play MMO’s because I’m fairly obsessive compulsive about stuff and I’d end up sacrificing my entire life to level up and I worry that then one day my friends would work out that I hadn’t been to class in a few weeks and I’d be a withered husk on my fancy ikea swivel-chair and they’d point and laugh at me because I was so silly as to play games for a few weeks without eating or sleeping in pursuit of those goddamn drops and then I would die of shame if I hadn’t already done so of hunger/silliness. (oh and I’m broke, that probably sounds a lot less silly and pathetic but w/e) But anyways, in Oblivion my most recent character wears what could only be categorized as ‘sensible clothing’. Then again, she’s totally a herbalist who shirked the whole “honor and duty” thing to set up a little shop, so meh.

    oh gosh, re-reading this I sound totally crazy. Um, also I do tabletop gaming every once in a while, which is way more manageable? Like I have a group and stuff and there are therefore normal-people time limits on things which is nice. And my most recent character is genderqueer, which is fun to RP. And not something that avatars do, unfortunately. Where are the non-normatively-gendered avatars, dudes? Even if they’re just in ONE GAME I will find it and play it, even if it’s, like, entirely in Korean and you need to sacrifice a chicken to boot it up.

    • sacrifice away! might i ask about your genderqueer RPing? that sounds super interesting! i don’t really roleplay (in WoW i prefer pvp type action) & i’ve never played tabletop games, but i probably would if presented with the opportunity. i miss having to use my imagination!

      • Yeah, I really like imagination and just how…free-form it is, right? No game-designers failing to account for whatever, just a friend who goes ‘oh, woah, right! I’ll put that in.’ or other players who, at one point, actually got distracted from the game to discuss a marxist interpretation of the game’s gold-based economy. We’re all such dorks.

        Um, what do you want to know? FOr starters, the character I play is motivated largely by a desire to queer their gender, which is why they joined the party in the first place (in the scenario, magic suddenly…vanished…overnight, and there’s a lot of consequences (magical artifacts become nearly useless, mages lose a lot of their power(another character is a former mage motivated by her desire to return things to the way they were back when she was rich and powerful and things), magical creatures like dragons and such start to fade away/glitch out, etc) which affect the environment and structure of the game-world. Put simply, the party are a band of roving adventurers trying to find out where the magic went).

        There are, at most recent count, six of us, counting the GM, and we’re all creative-types anyways, so it’s really fun.

        If you have any other questions please ask them. And there’s opportunities out there – find a group of friends who’re gamers or storytellers, and bring up the subject of playing a game together at some point. It might take hold!

  21. Aaaagh! I had the same problem with the avatars in Dragon Age: Origins. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get a decent haircut, and all of the armor for the female elf rogue is not exciting at all, and couldn’t protect you from a pocket knife!

    As far as caring about the character in Dragon Age, I think that mostly it’s because we chose Dalish elf rogues as our first character, which I hear is the weakest story line. I’m going to try a different character (I was thinking of dwarf too).

    Another qualm I have with Dragon Age is that you can’t have a relationship with Morrigan. Just saying.

  22. OK, this completely sucks. I concur. Everyone should have all avatar options in order to be truly free! Eyeshadow for male avatars! Non-midriff-baring-outfits for female avatars! This might be another manifestation of No Women On The Internet. Or gaming. Or Queer People.

    HOWEVER. Just yesterday I began Mass Effect 2 (long overdue, I know) and let me just say, I’m so excited by the female Shepherd. Her clothing actually makes sense! She’s really wearing armor! Her hair can be as short as you want! (Though not as long as you want, for utilitarian purposes I assume.) They re-record all the dialogue! ALL THE DIALOGUE! And, her low, gravelly voice is so sexy. Female Shepherd, I have a huge crush on you.

  23. I tend to roll my characters based on whether or not they’re good looking anyway. I mean if I’m gonna be staring at a blood elf’s arse for 23 hours a day, it should at least be a sexy one, amirite?

    Notable exception of my Orc Hunter, who is one butt-ugly DPS maaaaachine.

  24. I suppose it would be of note to mention the huge mod communities that work on things like gender neutrality (or extreme polarity…) for Dragon Age and Oblivion. That’s another great thing; if you don’t like it, you can hypothetically change it. But I suppose its the principle of the thing, right?

    The romance options with Leliana makes it worth it! And the heavy plate armor looks great on the female characters. I found it aggravating at first, but I guess most players ARE male, and so the developers develop female characters for male players…Sigh. Have you met Zevran yet? He’s an elf rogue that has an obsession with leather boots, and is very effeminate. You even have a debate with one of the characters (Ogren) as to why you aren’t an artisan, or a housewife etc; you basically have to defend your choice and right to be a warrior/rogue/mage instead of something more traditional.

    Once I got past the discomfort with the female portrayal, I started to understand that the choices one makes in the game–our actions rather than appearance–can be much more gender-neutral, that is, female characters can be just as pragmatic or devious as a male character.

  25. In Dragon Age I got fed up with my female character, so just made an effeminate male elf (much easier!) and focused on getting him to hook up with Zevran.

    I just picked up Demon Souls over the weekend and you choose your gender, but then in the custom section you can actually alter your gender along a scale which fully embraces androgyny (as well as trans!). The armor seems to be identical so far … though I am pretty early on, so reserving judgment. (My other purchase was Dragonquest (DS) which at least allows you to play as a girl and pick a body type)

  26. I don’t play any of those games mentioned above, but I just wanted to chime in that in Guitar Hero, I sometimes wish the hairstyles and clothing were interchangeable. Especially the shoes! The heels aren’t hot. The sneakers are not cool. Just a bunch of blah.

  27. I really needed this having been staying at my sister’s for a few days where the main activity was sitting around watching her boyfriend play Dragon Age, and in a house of three not exactly enlightened 19 year old boys and my post-feminist-in-a-depressing-way sister voicing my consternations over the rampant and gratuitous sexualisation of the female characters was not exactly an option. So thanks.

  28. I have played an online game for quite some time, it’s called Mabinogi. When it comes to the part to choose my avatar’s gender, I always hesitate. In the end, I played as a girl for about a year, then I switched to a male avatar, but I dressed him up in an androgynous way, which is awesome!! : ) I also like that the game included some gender-neutral clothing available!

  29. Yes, it’s frustrating. Some women may like the look but most female avatars make me feel ridiculous.

    I’m more of a solo console gamer now (Mass Effect’s female Shepard really is all kinds of awesome) but when I played MMORPGs, I met a decent number of men who played as women because they would rather look at “a hot body and a nice piece of ass” all day. Whenever this topic about female avatars comes up, I can’t help but think the game devs are appealing to men like that.

  30. My 55 human pally is currently wearing these from Maraudon: Elemental Rockridge Leggings. Their real name should have been “Uncomfortable Plate Stay-ups”. Chafing, ahoy.

    So, plate panties, plate stay-ups. Mobs can just aim for my femoral artery and they’ll win… if they’re not aiming for my very exposed internal organs since my stomach is bare…

  31. The rights to mentioned products, materials, items, companies, linked videos/pictures, trademarks the cheapestgold4guild or otherwise linked webcontents belong to their respective owners and sources.

  32. I’ve been playing games for a weenie’s age, and have not been able to play a female character ever since, when faced with an angry horde of blood-thirsty orcs/dragons/etc., the poor thing runs either away or to them as if she’s prancing her way to a tea party. Good lord woman! Run for your life or to end theirs as if you MEAN it. :/

  33. Ok, I’m not trying to be a douche bag or anything, but let’s please try to put this into some sort of proper perspective.

    Yes, I know… Some of the armor in WoW is too revealing and female avatars in pretty much EVERY video game are physically disproportionate… But if you are going to apply a realistic standard to video games there is something else that is disproportionate about them… THE AMOUNT OF ASS THEY KICK.

    I mean let’s be honest for once. After diving from a helicopter into a window located 40stories above the ground, wasting an entire floor full of MEN whose only crime was that they had the AUDACITY to think they could get in her way, and subsequently LEVELING the aforementioned building with some explosives she jimmy-rigged out of a trash can and a walkie-talkie, a heroine gets RESPECT from a male audience… Even if her ass-cheeks happened to be hanging out while she did so.

    If anything, the idea I think teen boys, (and some men) are getting about women from video games is being powerful and being sexy are NOT mutually exclusive. Also, with more girls (and some women) getting into online gaming in greater numbers it’s teaching us guys that we better watch out, because getting our “ass kicked by a girl” can happen anytime, anywhere.

    • Meep… That is supposed to be “apply a realistic standard to “females” in video games”.

  34. Yes, it’s frustrating. Some women may like the look but most female avatars make me feel ridiculous.

  35. Am I one of the few who actually enjoys having curvaceous feminine women to play out as awesomely epic warriors? My DAO character was a female human warrior – tallest person of my group, and happily bisexual with Alistair (my bitch) and Leliana. I laughed because whenever she had a romantic scene with another character, she was always covered in blood from all the badassery she was doing before sexy-time. Relatively feminine, attracted to both sexes, good-looking, oh, and the leader of the freakin’ army. Is it such a bad thing to have a non-masculine looking female (no offense to butches) take on the absolutely male-dominated power roles?

    • I agree with you! Feminine women are also needed xD
      What they should do is upgrade all character customization effects to include body type. xD


  36. As a queer, andro/dyky feminist I had some issues with how gender has been handled in the Dragon Age series. The make up bars during customization and the midriff baring Dalish armor for women among them (really, what was this about, its not the 90s). Overall, however, I was actually quite impressed with how the Bioware team handled issues of gender in the game. Most of the armor models look fairly similar on both male and female characters and there is certainly no shortage of powerful and capable female characters in the Dragon Age world. The ability to even play a queer character is actually quite remarkable in and of itself, and if you’ve been follow the writing staff’s response to critiques from some straight male gamers who are upset that that they are not being pandered to in Dragon Age 2 you’ll see you’ll see the beginnings of a discussion about examining privilege that is absent in most other areas of the gaming world.

  37. I agree with every comment on here. (but sadly didn’t read them allSapphyreRainLovesYou<-

  38. Hmm, that comment messed up.
    In the game Demon’s Souls, there is a major problem with armor as well; specifically that some armor cannot even be worn by the other gender. An example is a bracer worn by females that increases mana regen, while males have no such thing.
    Armor also looks widely different on each gender.


  39. while males have no such thing.
    Armor also looks widely different on each gender

  40. I know this article is crazy old, BUT:

    Dude. You can’t devalue the feminine. It really irritates me that you’re framing this as if your “frail” little “feminine” character can’t do ANYTHING. Ain’t nothing wrong with being small and feminine.

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