Scandalous! Armor Modesty in Guild Wars (Poll)

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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).

"What you lookin' at?"

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!


Further reading:

  • JohnnyV

    Hmm, I couldn’t find my thought process in the poll. The way I’ve always seen sexiness in video games is it all depends on the character. Certain characters revel in their sexiness, which is great. I’m fine with that. What kills me is in certain video games, a female character will be timid but wear an outfit like she’s ready to strip somewhere.

    One of the best examples I can think of is Soul Calibur II. There are some timid females characters who definitely don’t dress to character.

    Which should be the most important thing about outfits…do they match the personality? Because IRL, I don’t think I’ve ever met an introverted person who dressed provocatively.

    • Izari

      That is a great point, and I’m so glad you mentioned Soul Calibur because that series has some of the most ridiculous clothing decisions possible.

      Ivy is the best example. Her outfits got smaller and smaller with each game and I’m pretty sure in SC4 she was wearing floss instead of a bra.
      That’s the fighting genre for you, though. They dedicate an entire gravity engine for boobs alone. Can we be surprised? I suppose not.

      Personality has a lot to do with it, like you said. Someone can wear provocative clothing and get away with it while someone else would just seem out of place / uncomfortable if it’s not there usual fare. Livia seems to get away with it. Now imagine Gwen wearing something like that.


    • Felladin

      Very good point. For Livia the dress works (even if the patchwork is a little ridiculous) as her character is one that uses everyone and everything if it suits her needs.

      But when the male warrior armor looks like a WWII tank on two legs and the female armor from the same smith looks like barely patched together pieces of discarded horseshoes then something is wrong, no matter how much of a vixen the female warrior is.
      I know, Guild Wars doesn’t suffer from this on the warrior side, but elementalist males have one set of clothing (except of the Sunspear, they are all basically the same) that covers all of them and the females have seethrough dresses and brahs. How can it be the same armor value? Should female eles start with a natural AV of 50?

      What disturbs me the most is how utterly impractical the female “armor” is at times. If you’re out to fight gigantic beasts or shoot down interstellar robots, why would you wear armor that highlights your weak spots and are near impossible to move nimbly in?

      • Felladin

        Oh, yeah, as for bad armor. Look up Archlord Moonelf Ranger. Their lvl 17 (I think it was 17, can’t find the video now) dress is nothing more than lace underwear, fishstockings and a skirt thats open in the front from thigh to thigh.
        Perfect clothing to stalk prey through undergrowth and over rocky hills.

  • I think that having a bit of sex appeal is just fine. Showing cleavage doesn’t bother me. But I do wish some of the males had some semi-provocative armor (waist up, lol) that didn’t fall into the.. “flaming” category. It looks attractive, stylish, and looks like armor. Is that possible? I don’t know.

    This isn’t something that’s going to go away. I think that if you’re going to play games it’s something you need to get used to.

    • Izari

      I don’t disagree that a little sex appeal is fine. There are certain lines, though, where it crosses over to unnecessary.

      I do think there are some outfits in GW that are beautiful and sexy without going overboard (Elite Luxon for Ele). Then there are some that are just ridiculous. Elite Gladiator (FemWar), for instance. It’s not stylish or pretty or anything. It’s just… revealing. For no reason.

      It is my opinion though.

      • Oh for sure. The elementalist elite luxon armor is in my top 5. I like the elite gladiators for female warriors because it’s not bulky. That’s the only reason. But I mix and match vabbian and elite gladiators, anyway. It kind of evens out, lol.

        @bargamer Totally. The male mesmer has some decent armors, but I feel like there wasn’t much thought put into it.

    • bargamer

      Yeah, I wish there was good-looking male armors that didn’t look metrosexual. Badass is fine, scary is fine, but yeah, I won’t play a Mesmer in GW1 or 2 for the sheer flamingness.

  • The skimpiness is fine so long as there are equally awesome sets of armor that more conservative players with a female will enjoy too. One thing that should also be considered though, is outward appearance. If fewer of the costumes in the game are considered “pushing it”, people won’t necessarily start calling your MMO “Lingerie II” like they did with Lineage II.
    So if a focus is put on the artistic aesthetic of the armor, and that’s the focus, I’m fine with whatever.

    Just don’t repeat the male paragon type of armor design. Psh, man.

    • Izari

      Oh, where’s the paragon love? They were fabulous!

      That’s a good point, thought. There were lots of really nice sets that were modest to offset the one or two ridiculous pieces.

      Lol @ Lingerie II.

    • Zen

      I hadn’t heard that nickname for Lineage…nice!

      There ARE a lot more armor sets that are modest than aren’t. If the *players* choose to wear the skimpier outfits at a disproportionate ratio, then that’s on the community, not ANet for making it available.

      To go even further with that line of thought: if they datamined and found that some armor sets were way more popular than others, it would follow to create ones similar to the popular ones.

      I don’t think GW has ever done anything without good artistic sense, so I’m not concerned. Besides, TERA Online will soon be fulfilling my ‘pander to the lowest common denominator’ need. 😉

  • draxynnic

    There’s a fine line between light and immodest, and paradoxically enough, it can be the ADDITION of material that crosses the line. For a real-life example: Few people in Western countries these days would consider a bikini on the beach to be provocative – it covers what is expected to be covered in an environment where people aren’t expected to be wearing a lot. A harem outfit is an entirely different question – even if the harem outfit technically covers more and the bikini is entirely concealed beneath.

    This is, I think, where the scar and tattoo “armours” get a pass. While it covers very little, what those monks and necromancers DO wear is entirely functional – they simply choose to wear very little. Things like the gauzy transparent skirts on some Elementalist outfits, however, serve no protective, insulationary, or modesty-preserving purpose (unless enchanted, and knowing something might be enchanted doesn’t stop it from appearing provocative), instead serving only to draw more attention to what the outfit doesn’t conceal.

    Personally, I’m not offended by the presence of “immodest” outfits – if another player wishes to dress their characters in such, that’s their decision. It DOES annoy me, however, when through availability or statistics a player is essentially FORCED to put their character in such an outfit, or when the alternative options are one or two tokens in a sea of more risque offerings.

    For instance, one of my pet hates (apart from paragon armours) is in the female warrior armours in GW1. Not the Gladiator’s, funnily enough, but in the double standard in the heavier armoured sets. Where male armours are usually complete suits, the female equivalents tend to have the cuisses missing in order to expose bare thighs, or the tassets missing to show off a tight leather or quilting that lovingly clings to the character’s shapely behind with dubious protective value. Silver Eagle is probably the worst offender – a full suit of plate for the guys, not that far off the “Battle Bikini” look for the girls.

  • Jexx

    The description for the post’s picture is ‘boobarmor’. I find this funny. I’m sorry if that offends you.

  • Elirin

    I happen to be a male, but I think that my opinion stems from a fairly unbiased source. To me, my major concern is with the aesthetics of armor. I want it to look great. Whether that means skimpy or conservative, doesn’t matter as far as I’m concerned. As long as it’s attractive I’ll put my toon in it. Skimpy for skimpy’s sake isn’t what I want, though. It should have artistic value and not just sex appeal. As far as the practicality of armor goes, again I’m pretty unconcerned. I don’t play a fantasy based MMORPG because it mimics real life. Actually the opposite. It’s a great means of escape from real life logic and constraints. I understand that realistically it’s absurd to fight a dragon in a bikini. But isn’t it even more absurd to be fighting a dragon at all? It seems like people who are hyper sensitive about the efficiency of fighting in revealing armor are missing the point of playing a game like GW2. They’re using real world mores to knit pick aspects of the lore’s fundamental under-pinnings. If you take away lingerie armor because it’s irrational, isn’t the dragon the next logical victim to get hit with the delete hammer because it’s irrational, too? And after that the entire fantasy component in a ‘fantasy’ game? I recognize this is a slippery slope argument, but unlikely content that defies common sense has to be established at some point. Why not with armor? At the end of the day I truly believe choice is a good thing. If ANet can manage to create armor sets that cater to the liberal and conservative fashionistas alike, I think that is the best solution. If playing in a teddy isn’t fun or compelling for you, there should be more modest armor options available. I can understand and appreciate the desire to have your toon wear something more substantial than their small clothes. And I hope these players can respect people who feel the opposite way. To ban revealing armor would be a mistake, just like to ban fully covering armor would be a mistake. No one should be so narrow-minded and selfish as to support eliminating choices for other players simply because it does not conform to one’s own personal preferences.

    • Anonymous

      My main argument, though, is that while yes, it is a game and the point of the game is a fantasy escape, it’s still a game. It’s still a product created and produced. Decisions are made with the consumer in mind. And some of those are done for rather petty reasons. 

      There is -no- point to bikini armor in games. There -is- a point to dragons in games. It’s a fantasy, so mages and dragons and silly creatures are conducive to that environment. But slutty armor isn’t. It serves no purpose. All that is is fan-service for the players, that’s unnecessary when there are 100,000 other ways to make armor appealing without it having to be strips of fabric barely covering the body. 

      That’s the problem I have with it. It doesn’t need to be there, it serves no purpose, so why bother? 

  • Helena Staberg

    As you said, showing a lot of skin is okay if BOTH the female AND the male version does it. I’d say: Make female armor sets as skimpy as you want, as long as the male version is equally skimpy. Which it never is.

  • Coatl

    There’s plenty of variety either way. There are robes, coats and suits of plate male that cover a character from head to toe and there are sets that show a lot of skin. Granted, female characters seem to have a few more options when it comes to the skimpier side of things, but they are by no means starved for variation in non-skimpy armor.

    Why aren’t you content to let people choose for themselves what armor they want to wear? I think it’s great that Guild Wars caters to both preferences, as well as having a decent balance between more plain and realistic armor and more over-the-top and unrealistic armor.

    People, whether they’re male or female, will always have different standards and different preferences. Isn’t catering to more people a good thing, rather than giving in to what someone thinks everyone else’s pixels should be dressed like?