Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oh, no, not another bonus post...and possibly controversial this time!

Ideally, this project will see publication within the next year or so.  And so, ideally, I'll eventually be needing illustrations.  And I've come to the realization that a certain common trope of the fantasy art genre could open up quite the can of wiggly worms.

So consider yourself forewarned.

The trope to which I'm referring is the notorious chainmail bikini—or, in a more general sense, the strong tendency towards gratuitous cheesecake in fantasy art (game art included).  Because the target market is presumed to be made up primarily of young (and mostly single) men, female characters tend to be designed mainly as eye candy: pretty, curvaceous, and scantily clad, with any "armor" appearing more ornamental than protective.  Male characters, on the other hand, are designed to look tough and dynamic, and generally show a lot less skin.

Now, this journal is not about the social implications of gender in gaming.  If you want that, I can name a few sites for you.  I'm not even in complete agreement with everything that you'll find on those sites:  For example, considering how overall badass the female iconics are, I'm reluctant to call gender-fail on Paizo over the way Seoni dresses.  However, I feel that it's better that this issue is discussed sooner rather than later.

Am I here to state definitively that you'll never see skimpy outfits in any product of mine?  No.  But I will certainly never seriously attempt to fob off a pin-up wearing little but glorified jewelry as an armored warrior.


  1. It is probably a better idea to decide on a case by case basis "What is appropriate?" Rather than condemning cultures that might be different to inappropriate attire. In my own High Valor RPG, it would have been inappropriate for the art to have people too scantily dressed. It takes place in Euro-like medieval world (of course, my weirder settings are coming.)

    Anyway, I was pointed this way by your husband on a forum I watch. You might want to look there strictly for another chaps long long culture articles for his fantasy world. with the header "Spike's World." Not my stuff, but pretty solid write ups to take a look at--and yes I didn't know exactly where to post a general "Hey, look at this cool thing" at the same time as saying "Hey, your stuff is cool." Sorry.

    1. If it's where I think it is, I unfortunately couldn't find "Spike's World."

      As for the rest:  I'd like to think that if GURPS Planet Krishna can get away with tasteful nudity, so can my work if tasteful nudity is required.  But, y'know, that's SJ Games we're talking about.