Or “I Didn’t Ask to Suddenly Be Naked”
So I’ve been liking my mesmer character, figured this should be one of the two I spend my level 80 character boosts on. Those boosts come with a trial period where you get all the top-level abilities unlocked and can run around a specific area of the game to make sure you want to use this boost before you commit. It also gives you upgraded armor. And locks out your ability to spend transmutation points to change its appearance. And locks away your old gear so you can’t put it back on, even at a significant stat disadvantage. Meaning that upon deciding to try out this boost (which I could only get by pre-ordering their expansion packs or by spending lots of in-game time/real-world money to buy on their gem store), I am very suddenly, unexpectedly, and irreversibly naked. Yes, I’m saying naked, because I can see her fucking crotch.
This game falls squarely within the genre of MMORPG – massively multiplayer online role-playing game. No, I don’t fully ‘role-play’ this character like some people enjoy. But this type of game generally holds the expectation that the player puts fairly significant investment into character creation and advancement. That’s the point of the genre. After playing this game for years, I tend to make characters that reflect some aspect of myself – in this case, (if the hair didn’t clue you in), my queerness. I directed my feelings about my identity, about pride and resilience and sometimes having to redirect attention, into this character and how she looks and how she plays. It’s a game, yes, but it’s also a fun escape that I’ve poured hours into around grad school and a family that I can’t come out to yet. It still means something. So to have that character’s appearance be suddenly taken out of my control, in a way that left her fucking *naked*. Is appalling. And uncomfortable, and sick, and makes me want to scream. Especially in such a clearly objectifying way that even added tattoos that point at her crotch for good measure.
GW2 certainly doesn’t have a perfect history with this kind of stuff, most notably because their starting light armor for their humanoid female characters includes a short skirt and garter belt. But that’s pretty easy to get rid of quickly, and not still not as bad as this. Otherwise, this kind of ‘armor’ tends to be one option among many, there for those that want it and easily passed by for those who don’t. Which is how it should be. But this shit. This isn’t okay.
Guild Wars 2′s track record regarding female designs is, in the most generous words, flawed. And wow, this situation is the textbook example of everything wrong with the skimpy high level trope.
The game gave you an opportunity to test all the high-tier gear… by locking the character in probably the most objectifying costume possible. How charming!
Also nice commentary on the fact that MMORPGs are the game genre where players put a lot of investment into their characters. And how making top tier armors like this directly contradicts the appeal of character customization.
Hope you still can decide not to commit to this boost.