bikiniarmorbattledamage:

Brigitte and Overwatch’s continous female design problem

We talked already about Brigitte’s costume, but there’s a whole lot of other issues about her character design that shouldn’t be overlooked. Again, it’s a nice idea to have a new lady in actual armor in the game, though we wouldn’t be BABD if we didn’t point out some obvious and less obvious problems that can be spotted with her. 

She’s, after Moira, another white European lady in a row, while still the closest to black female representation among playable heroes is Orisa, a robot (and before anyone says it – nope, none of the dark-skinned female characters are black).
For a game that prides itself in having diverse international cast, Overwatch can not imagine people of color color coming from places that wouldn’t be POC-dominant already (also lots of their heroes of color somehow happen to be morally dubious compared to white ones). And just because Brigitte is a pre-established character doesn’t yet excuse prioritizing adding her to the game over someone with different background. 

It’s kind of funny how after being unnamed for no reason in her last major media appearance, the Reinhardt animated short, now Brigitte got elevated from a supporting lore character to one of main heroes. This, paired with ridiculous lack of consistency in her cross-media appearances gives us a strong feeling that no-one at Blizzard is overseeing writing and art direction of Overwatch as a franchise. Fans who spot constant retcons in the story would agree.

Speaking of no visual consistency, seems like from comics to the animated short to the actual game Brigitte finished her long journey from a unique-looking person to another standard issue pretty face. 

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And no, different artists working on each of those appearances isn’t an excuse for how only her hair and skintone remain relatively consistent. Her crucial features like jawline, freckles, nose shape and size, how big her eyes are and how strong her chin is shouldn’t alter so widely just because of art style change. Blizzard is perfectly capable of making and using style guides – and when they don’t, it’s either by choice or negligence.

And if you wondered what we meant by “standard issue pretty face”, this pic, for obvious reasons, has gained some major mileage around the Internet: 

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Congrats, Blizzard! You officially care about diverse female appearances as little Disney does! (image sources: [x] & [x]) 

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Or maybe the jokes are true and the (weak) excuse for looking like clones is the same as for the Frozen ladies? Mercy is Brigitte’s real mom!

Not to mention that Blizzard can’t make up their mind on what Brigitte’s body type is supposed to be. Is she thin and curvy as virtually every other Overwatch lady? Is she almost as buff as Zarya? Something inbetween? Who knows.

I saw some fans trying to excuse her twig arms from Christmas comic as being possibly earliest in the timeline, but no official channel would confirm or deny any speculation. Overwatch is pretty satisfied with fans using their headcanons to justify whatever information the story canon won’t commit to. Why make an effort when fans can do your job for you? 

~Ozzie

“Brigitte Lindholm, squire to Reinhardt Wilhelm, is a former mechanical engineer who has decided to take up arms and fight on the front lines to protect those in need.”

If I didn’t know anything about this character and was just reading her background blurb, I would be imagining a character design more akin to this:

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Why build a regular armor and shield when I can pilot a 12-foot-tall exoskeleton? Her father builds turrets during combat, it would have been cool if she had skills related to building and adjusting her own armor in-combat.

Her design doesn’t inform me of her character at all, which is a problem with several of the Overwatch cast (mostly ladies, I wonder why that is). She wears armor, but so does Pharah; is she also a soldier? She has no welding mask or a tool belt that would indicate that she’s a mechanic type. I get that she doesn’t want to just fix things on the sidelines, but she does throw out armor for her allies. It isn’t a stretch to flavor it as her fixing her team’s equipment in the heat of battle, and she does get a welding mask in a different skin but not the primary one?

Her color scheme is almost the same as Mercy’s, with silver (instead of white), yellow and black being the core, which really isn’t helping that same-face problem, Blizzard. Not to mention the shapes are very similar to Pharah’s. There’s just nothing new here design-wise, and I am disappointed.

-Icy

So since the screaming baby rage machine is still going full throttle, it’s probably worth bringing this back to highlight how this issue goes and the general expectations regarding fictional buff ladies.

After decades of pandering, capital-G gamers will accept buff ladies if:

  • They’re clearly in the service of a manly (cishet) man
  • They have some cute costuming to make them non-threatening
  • They are easily Disneyfied

They will lose their shit if the lady:

It’s never really about what they say it is – it’s always about “does this clearly prioritize me above everyone else, to the extent of excluding others”.

– wincenworks

kainissoable:

I tried giving Umah from Blood Omen 2 some proper armour, design based broadly off the single piece of armour to her name – that weird double pauldron thing. Edited the bottom half of her bikini into a fantasy tabard, and if I’d thought to use a fuller screenshot I’d have put the dragon from her Defiance concept art on there, but thought of that way too late. Come up with your own reason for why she has the Soul Reaver, preferably one more interesting than the fact that it’s hiding some lop sided hip armour that would have been a pain to fix. Another case of not as good as I was hoping for but automatically an improvement on the bare skin chafing nightmare of the original.

Personally I ascribe to @bikiniarmorbattledamage‘s tongue in cheek philosophy that women in fantasy should be fully armoured while men should wear something tastefully revealing. Legacy of Kain at least gets halfway there with the well muscled men in leather pants, just a shame about the prevalence of bikini armour.

Wow, the original is a yikes, especially the huge boob part made from unidentifiable material. I guess it counts as better than most booplates we’ve  seen on BABD because there’s no boob window/exposed cleavage, but that’s one low bar to clear. Also, one huge grey boob blob on her chest is somehow extremely distracting and boring at the same time. At least put some symbol on it or something! 

I like your simplistic redesign, @kainissoable. If me or Icy were doing it we’d probably put some design (likely sampled from other part of the costume) on the breastplate, to break up this huge shape, which was also the original’s problem. It still works objectively better than the generic garbage the original was. 

~Ozzie 

thoughtspirals:

Hi LG. So on the female power fantasy thing: I agree that the sexy warrior babe thing is overused, and women should have WAY more options. But, in interractive media-video games & rpgs, shouldn’t women have the OPTION of playing that, as well as not?

bikiniarmorbattledamage:

lawfulgoodness:

Nope!  No more sexy!  Sexy has been hereby banned.  No more sexy for anyone!

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From that post about female power fantasies

Sexy Warrior Babe type of character is vastly overused, so it’s really hard to to make it work without looking like you’re playing it straight.

Please remember that I’m a dude, and my opinion on what media “should” or “shoudl not” look like in regards to a) how women are portrayed and b) what women should enjoy is pretty close to irrelevant.  I try to throw in a cheap joke here or there, or offer some practical application for what women (or any other group regularly discrimnated against) have said about it.  I’m not about to start criticizing women for liking what they like or how they interact with video games.

I will say that any game that markets itself on it’s ability to appeal to the male gaze (especially through super-sexy / absurdly revealing clothing on its female characters) isn’t doing it for their female audience.  I’m all for fully-featured, rich, comprehensive character customization, both in physical traits and clothing.  Let folks do what they want with their character (including skin tone, muscle & fat composition, size, height, weight, etc).  I’m more suspicious of a game in which it is incredibly difficult to find female clothing that is both functional and non-revealing.

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I’m guessing @bikiniarmorbattledamage can offer better insight into this, but for me, I’m casting a side-eye to any video game that markets itself using half-clad women as marketing gimmicks.

This is a nice summary of the quoted post and of what our response to things like “do you want to ban all sexyness in media?” is.

Thank you, @lawfulgoodness

~Ozzie

In a perfect world, all RPGs will give the player the ability to play as any gender, and wear armor in all levels of protection/nudity. But that’s not the world we live in.

We don’t want to remove all sexiness from all mediums in past, present and future. What we want is for the media’s default representation of women to NOT just be “hot chicks” for the presumed cis het male audience to consume as objects. We just want women in media to be treated with as much respect, complexity and care as the men. And maybe then we can also explore more male power fantasies besides just “big muscle.”

-Icy