Sexually provocative armor for male characters is very important.
I know it seems kind of like “but what about THE MEN” and it can definitely end up being that when a discussion about female armor gets derailed by people jumping in and going “yeah but dudes in skimpy armor!!” and discussing that at length. That’s not appropriate to do, but as its own topic it’s really important.
The one thing that made TERA playable for me (however briefly) is that whoever designed the armor made some very deliberate design decisions on several of the male pieces—especially on Castanic males—that emphasized sexual attractiveness in a way that was equivalent to the female armor. The game was not in any way “equal,” no matter what anyone might try to argue: Having ten or so armor sets for two races that show skin provocatively on male characters does not make up for nearly every single armor set on every single female character doing the same thing. But it was something, and it was the one thing that made the game feel like it might on some level be attempting to appeal to more than just straight guys.
Even the addition of *~options~* in games where there are a few or (rarely) a roughly equal number of non-sexualized female armor sets isn’t necessarily any better. Making sets intended to be sexually appealing on one character gender and not doing the same for the other still privileges the comfort level and interests of straight male players. If having *~options~* isn’t good enough to raise their comfort level, then why should it be considered good enough for everyone else?
If you’re willing to put provocative male armor in your game, you send an important message. If sexy armor is so fun and harmless and fantasy and artistic and aesthetic and ect., then stand by that statement you insist on making and design the equivalent for male characters. I’m not talking about showing a few square inches of chest, I mean clothes that are designed equivalent to female sexy armor. Cut swathes out of it to show off their thighs and hips. Make it form-fitting and flattering to the shape, regardless of how practical it is. Highlight the character’s physical vulnerabilities—and don’t balk, that’s what 90% of sexualized female armor does. There’s a reason that shit looks like lingerie, so don’t make a couple of Conan the Barbarian sets and claim you’ve done the same thing for guys. Put a freaking peekaboo window on the small of their back right above their ass, give them a crop top. You know, the usual.
And some men will protest, and they’ll get upset. You should do it anyway, because if the discomfort of one group of your players isn’t enough to stop you, it shouldn’t be enough in this case, either. Adding the occasional set of practical, non-sexualized armor for female characters doesn’t constitute equality when so many of the others are Fredrick’s of Hollywood surprise grab bags for female characters only.
Well said. Bolded for emphasis.