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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

(Sorry, I couldn't resist the terrible visual pun.)

One of the most common criticisms of fantasy games, besides "LOL games are for the nerds go outside", is that they perpetuate unrealistic stereotypes of female bodies. The typical fantasy girl, or so they say, is wearing about two pounds of chainmail, has a 20-inch waist and a DD-cup, and somehow manages to swing a sword that is taller than she is without messing up her hair.

But while messing around with the WoW character creation screen, I realized that WoW really doesn't hold up to that stereotype. The human and gnome females are average size (well, as close as a gnome can be) and curvy. Night elves, trolls and draenei are thin but toned, easily able to sling around a Thunderfury. Warcraft dwarves, orcs and trolls would probably be considered overweight by most societal standards, but their bodies are proportional and they're extremely muscular. In fact, the only two really skinny models are the undead and blood elf females, both of which are repeatedly referenced as being unhealthy in the game. The blood elves are thin because of their magic addiction, and the undead are thin because of ... uh, being dead.

In comparison, I took a look at the body types of the men. Human, dwarf, night elf, draenei, orc and tauren men are all ridiculously muscular, to the point where it looks like they've stuffed cantaloupes under the skin of their arms. Blood elf males are thin but toned, gnome males look about average (again, for a gnome), and undead and trolls are thin and hunchbacked. It seems that the men of WoW are the ones that suffer from an unrealistic standard of beauty.

So I ask you -- would you like the ability for your avatars to have different body types? Do you think that the men and womeny things of WoW are unrealistic, or do you feel that you have enough options?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves

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