Massively OP Podcast Episode 178: #womenarecosmetic

    
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Familiar?

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin mull over how necessary it is to actually provide MMOs with those icky, wonderful girlie-types. They deliberately deliver a light-hearted episode after last week, full of funky fresh frivolity. Will gaming ever be fun again? It has to be!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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Ardra Ventax

I could be wrong about this because I’m a hobbyist not a professional dev. But from using various 3D modeling programs, when you’re animating a figure, you work off of a kind of skeletal system, ‘bones’ etc., and unless you’re uber-lazy, you would have a different ‘skeleton’ for a female avatar than a male one, since men and women are built differently, with different proportions, stride, and body movements. So, no, not merely “cosmetic”, or at least, not in my experience dabbling with 3D modeling and animation programs. On the other hand I could see how you could use the same model and just skin them differently. I just don’t think it would produce as good of a result, or as realistic an animation. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about this.

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Ysayle was right

Okay, but see, the thing is… animations are also cosmetic? Not that they’re not an involved process, but so is literally everything in making games.

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Ardra Ventax

I would not agree that animations are “cosmetic”. I would consider them a core function of the game. Just my opinion.

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Ken from Chicago

Yes, many a cop shows have featured forensics experts or movies or tv shows have archaeologists who can tell just by looking at the hip bones if a skeleton is male or female.

That said, EVERYTHING ELSE in games the devs are willing to iterate on, start out with imperfect features and build on them (eg, spaceships, armor, weapons, mounts, outfits, gear, etc.), it’s not hard to skin a male skeleton with a female skin or put a female head on a male body until they perfect the female skeleton.

That raises the question, if gender really is cosmetic, why do they always start with males? Why not start with female characters? That would create a boost in news coverage and a marketing boost.

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Robert Mann

Aye, that was… just amazing ignorance.

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Hostagecat

One of the reasons i wont be playing Wild West Online, no female avatars during the launch. I mean who didn’t want to play in the Old West. I don’t like being anybody cosmetic anything. Sounds like they did a bad job of real planning and i think its a bad idea to support piss poor planning.

And nobody puts baby in a box!!!!!!!!!

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Weilan

I don’t think women in that period did much besides going to church, working in a salon, being a doctor/medicine woman or staying at home. So with a female character your activities might be really constrained.

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Harry Koala

Whereas historically *all* men spent all their time running around doing the kind of things MMO characters do.

Annie Oakley says hi.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

History books are awesome for helping you realize your misconceptions about the social structure of many oversimplified-by-pop-culture time periods. Highly recommended! <3

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Weilan

History is written by the victors, hence why it’s biased. You have to read 10 different books by 10 different authors from different origins on one topic in order to have a basic grasp on what may or may not have happened.

I don’t have time to waste on uncertainties, nor am I gullible enough to believe the first “facts” thrown at me.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

History isn’t always written by the victors, no. And if all history were written entirely by the victors, all women’s contributions would be erased (and yes, they do try to do just that, which is why you need to do more than watch Dr Quinn for a dose of reality). Social history is a fascinating field for scholars interested in how regular people lived. And yes, reading a lot of perspectives and accounts is exactly how expertise in a subject is gained. If you actually want expertise about the subject you’re opining about!

In any case, we’re not going to have a second thread in a week derailed by this sort of thing, so enough please.

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Peregrine Falcon

Does this mean that game devs are going to start putting female characters in lockboxes? #womenarecosmetic

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Harry Koala

And rename lockboxes to lockfridges (and if that comment makes no sense to you, https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WomenInRefrigerators might help)

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sophiskiai

I’m one of those who liked the original Defiance (both the game and the tv show) when I played it back in 2014 when it went F2P, but tried the “2050” relaunch and lost interest within an hour. I hope it does well on console, but it has the same problem there of being a game which has been available for free since 2014 and which looks and feels like a game from 5 years ago.

I’m also someone who enjoys SWL and wans’t particularly upset by the relaunch, but the big difference there is that they did overhaul the engine and the game systems and some of the content from TSW, enough that (at least for me) playing it felt just different enough from the original – plus SWL has such unique atmosphere and stories that I consider it well worth replaying, which isn’t something I could say for Defiance which has some neat worldbuilding but from what I remember utterly standard boilerplate MMO quests.

As for the mailbag question… what depresses me is the way so many people see the culture war as a game, the other side as enemies, and upsetting people as a victory. I’m proud to be what many would call an SJW, but other people (no matter what they do) aren’t the enemy, only some of their actions and the beliefs that drive those actions. In other words, hate the sin (and the sociopolitical system that encourages the sin) but not the sinner – though when you’re the direct victim of the sin, I know (from bitter and painful experience) that this can be very difficult to do.

What I think might help a little as an antidote to this in terms of gameplay is more games which promote cooperative gameplay, reward altruistic actions (e.g. GW2’s xp rewards for ressing other players), and portray the foes you’re fighting not as inhuman and/or irredeemably evil and wrong but as sympathetic opponents with understandable motivations? Stories where the player-protagonist’s emotional and psychological triumph comes not from defeating an enemy in battle but from negotiating a compromise or solving whatever problem is driving the opponent’s aggressive behaviour.

As an example of this sort of approach, I’ve been listening to an adorable Twitch/YouTube RPG show on the Roll4It channel where a Patreon has paid for them to play 4 sessions of a “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” RPG, which I recommend as something just generally cheering in these trying times :)

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Avaera

Thanks so much for the thoughtful answers!

I just wanted to add that I actually really like the innovative ideas behind Fractured, enough to become a backer in spite of the usual Kickstarter fatigue. So I really hope they do well and succeed (especially so that I can support a game that seems like it really tries to cater to players who want deep systems but not PvP).

However, one thing I noticed that does kind of weird me out – their creative team looks super ‘non-diverse’. I mean, I know a lot of game companies seem to only have women in community management/artist roles, but at least it’s not *entirely* a boy’s club. Is that actually normal and I’m just not used to seeing it so starkly?

Oh well, hopefully that doesn’t cause the final product to suffer from the lack of other perspectives, as I said, the ideas sound pretty well considered and clever!