Feminist gaming blog with a heaping dash of science and politics

Quick Hit: TOR’s Equality in Skin Tight Pants is a Good Thing

It also makes me giggle like a school girl trying to talk to her crush for the first time.

My female trooper in the green pants standing next to a male guard in his equally tight white pants.

I’ve always understood the appeal of skimpy armor in MMOs. We humans generally love sexiness and sexuality, so it’s no surprise that getting to see the well modeled, idealized curves of our desired gender can be a big plus. A very big plus. But, like I’ve always said, when the sexiness is restricted to only one gender (and oddly enough its usually the gender who has to deal with things like the Virgin/Whore dichotomy, modesty policing, purity balls, sexual double standards, etc.) things go out of the realm of pure enjoyment and into oppressive, restrictive, and objectifying territory.

Bioware manages to handle the sexy armor thing quite deftly (for the most part) by making skin tight be skin tight no matter what gender the wearer is. Unlike some games that try to pass off baggy combat pants on guys as equal to the so-tight-it-might-as-well-be-painted-on pants of women, if the armor pieces are skin tight on women, they will also show off every lovingly modeled curve of a guy’s legs and butt. They even gave the front of the pants some interesting shadow mapping, if you catch my drift, in what I guess is an effort to equal out all of the big boobed female body models.

The screencaps don't do justice to the shading on the white pants (or any of the textures really). Trust me, in cut scenes in-game the shading on pants is eye-catching on both men and women.

Sadly though, this isn’t completely universal within the game. There are outfits that render significantly differently on women, and of course there are the female-only slave and dancing girl outfits, but those seem to be fairly rare (outside of cantinas at least). They could even that out though in future updates with some male counterparts to those outfits. Pretty please Bioware? It’d be awesome. Not only would you be getting rid of some of the sexism within your game (of which there are more than a few troubling instances of), but you’d also be throwing a much wanted bone to some traditionally ignored audiences.


3 responses to “Quick Hit: TOR’s Equality in Skin Tight Pants is a Good Thing

  1. Tee January 15, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Hey Zaewen, firstly thanks for your “investigative journalism” articles 🙂

    I wanted to ask you if you have noticed any anti-gay traits in Bioware Austin and its policies? I was thrilled to hear about Bioware’s MMO endeavors but have become extremely disappointed with the company after playing for a month.

    First, there was community manager Sean Dahlberg’s “As I have stated before, these are terms (gay, lesbian) that do not exist in Star Wars.” and so forth long before the game was released, but since I began to play the game I’ve noticed they’re doing this same but only in a more subtle manner this time.

    For example, a character can be called ‘Hetero’ in game, but ‘Gay’ and ‘Lesbian’ are inappropriate and may lead to a ban if the player doesn’t change them, the same goes for Homo. Which, by the way, is still “blurred” if you write it on a forum post.

    I’ve read hundreds, probably thousands, of SW:ToR forum posts on this issue and there’s been a multitude of reasons as to why SW:ToR is neglecting to add same sex romances (I personally don’t believe until I see them), and possible reasons for their policies have varied from technical difficulties to “we didn’t know people want this (highly unlikely that Bioware wouldn’t know their customer base better than this) to indirect third party involvement (e.g. the Republican party’s close relations with Bioware Austin and the state’s funding to it).

    I noticed you are a Texan so do you maybe have some insight in any of these issues? The reason I’m asking this is because Bioware Austin seems like a totally different company from its Canadian counterparts, and I’m trying hard to understand why.

    • Zaewen January 15, 2012 at 10:01 am

      I’d say that right now SW:TOR is definitely not as LGBT inclusive as it could be, but I don’t know if I’d say they’re anti-gay mostly because there have been promises to work on the inclusiveness. I know the “There are no gays in Star Wars” debacle was a huge set back for Bioware in terms of their reputation, but from what I’ve heard they plan to have (or were always planning to have depending on what rumors you put stock in) same sex relationships in the game with the addition of new companions. (Something that I very much look forward to as my main character, a smuggler, right now only has the option of Corso, which trust me isn’t exactly a great buffet of romanceyness even if he didn’t come with the sexist quirps.)

      As for the censored words, I believe that ‘Gay’ and ‘Lesbian’ are censored out to keep people using them in inappropriate contexts or as insults. This does, however, have the side effect of censoring discussions of the LGBT community who wish to use those words in positive or neutral contexts. So I don’t think that’s a sign of them being anti-gay, but more a sign of the double-bind that trying to keep bigotry out of our airwaves with censoring can also keep positive discussions from being held too.

      Now, if there is anti-gay sentiment at Bioware Austin, I’m not sure you can account for it because of their Texan-ness. To be sure, Texas does have a large concentration of conservatives, but Austin is, as a lil Texas joke goes, the San Fransisco of Texas. It’s a very, very liberal area. That and I’m sure a good many of the Bioware Austin team are probably not native Texans or Austinites, so it’s hard to guess their politics based off of where they’re working at at the moment. The difference between them and the Candadian teams could come down to simply luck, team dynamics, and the kinds of projects they’ve been assigned.

  2. feministgamer February 15, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I admit, I have mad respect for Bioware for giving the men bulges. I know it’s silly and lewd, but it’s such a nice gesture. It’s that recognition that women/gay men are players too that’s so refreshing.

    With the slave clothes, I think men chars can wear them? But it’s glitched or bad looking or something. I can’t remember too well, but you can preview clothing on your male companions, and I think I was able to. Not that that’s an equivalent at all (and I make be remembering it completely wrong).

    What I would LOVE to see more equality with is the dancing holograms. I realize it’s practically the same damn Twi’lek everywhere, but then there’s the dancing real people chars they litter everywhere, that are only women. I did find one dancing man (I think … Alderaan?) with one woman looking like she was sobbing in front of him (I hope tears of joy?). This would’ve been enough to put my equality issues at ease … if they hadn’t placed another character right next to the woman who is pointing and laughing his ass off. And I want to make it clear that he’s facing both the dancer and the woman, laughing at the very idea that the game included a male dancer. -_-

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