As GuildMag‘s resident fashionista, I talk a lot about trends and styles in Guild Wars in my seasonal column, something I’m looking forward to continuing come Guild Wars 2. Huge props to Kristen Perry; the lovely ArenaNet designer whose genius is responsible for a lot of armor design in Guild Wars. She has spoken at length on the process in brainstorming, drafting, and finalizing the sets and pieces for both games at length on ANet’s official blog (and dye systems!) and other outlets as well. A good chunk of us, whether armor collectors or just fans of fashion or textured digital art, love being able to see those come to life. It’s be a huge part of what makes a game such a great experience.
Many players might think “Is the look of armor really THAT important?” The answer is obvious. Just look at the intense response to transmutation stones where people took the concept of being able to keep old looks with better armor stats and ran with it (or shot off into space, might be more accurate).
Now, I love what Kristen and her crew have done for GW1 and am thrilled to see what the sequel will bring. But gloating aside, I have seen a concern among players pop up a few times. And that’s on the subject of modesty.
Let’s face it. Guild Wars has ever been shy with cleavage (I’m looking at you, Livia), norn are notorious for wearing close to nothing in a blizzard, and Elementalists obviously have mastered the use of combating hypothermia with fire magic. There have been a few select armor sets in the game that have raised eyebrows more than others and been the topic of discussion on a few occasions. Many players think some of them are really pushing the boundaries of what’s sexy and what’s skimpy.
It’s a tough subject to talk about, because many will immediately jump on the “oversensitive female” argument. True, the majority of complaints probably come from female players, but they are far from the only ones making mention of it and there can be legitimate concerns.
One of my best friends from middle school (who got me into online gaming with Diablo II and Starcraft) said one of the biggest reasons he didn’t want to play Guild Wars was because of the females looking so “slutty”. And this is a straight guy talking.
It’s interesting to try and gather up differing opinions. I’ve searched the subject on many sites, dug up old, dusty threads to try and get an idea of what people felt. The general consensus seemed that guys either didn’t find them too slutty or liked the fact that they were (a whole wiki page is dedicated to comparing Jora and Livia’s…assets), while most females, surprisingly, thought they may be borderline immodest but enjoyed them anyway. There is still a healthy dose of people on the other side of the fence, though, and their concerns are of course warranted.
Another interesting point was that certain armor that could be argued as having equal amounts of exposure seemed to be treated differently. The tattoo sets for monks and necromancers, for instance, are generally not considered skimpy but certain outfits for Elementalists, while covering more skin, are.
I am guilty of owning some rather questionable sets of armor. Specifically, the elite Luxon for eles. I note the detailing and design are gorgeous enough to ignore the fact that it’s strips of fabric (very beautifully rendered strips of fabric, I might add). But I find myself avoiding elite Sunspear (ele) or elite Druid (rangers), the latter especially because I can’t imagine why a woman trying to fight could ever get away with that and not die from exposure / getting impaled.
I don’t find myself offended at the armor. But can I see where people get annoyed at least? Definitely. Some of it is just so facepalm worthy (Elite Gladiator would be suicide in actual combat). I also do get a flash of bias (and extremely unfair) stereotypes that if the player of said armor is male, he’s being a pig, and if it’s female, she’s looking for attention. Most of the time this isn’t the case, but that’s where people’s minds tend to go. Is this hypocrisy at work? Definitely.
The reason I brought this up in a post at all was because I recall way back in the days of yore there were a lot of complaints in the Guru thread for Kristen Perry’s first armor-design blog. We haven’t seen much yet, but cleavage trend seems to continue at least in one instance. Nobody was surprised, but there seemed to be a general hope among many that the designs would tone down the skimp and work on other areas instead. You can be sexy without being skimpy, after all.
Opinions will differ no matter what: between male and female, sexual preference, conservative and liberal cultures and beliefs, etc. What will Guild Wars 2 bring in terms of revealing armor? Of what we’ve seen, it definitely seems an improvement so far. But could this really mean the end of combat-ready loin cloths?
What do you guys think? Are some armors crossing the line? Do you think GW2 should tone it down? Do you think it’s not a big deal at all? Take the poll and leave your thoughts!