Female Armour: Just Say No to the Platekini (+ New Writing)

With the addition of transmogrification to World of Warcraft and players gaining the ability to make their characters look however they want, the issue of female armour, and specifically skimpy female armour (AKA “platekinis” or “slut plate”), has gotten a lot of attention. After reading some other blogs on the topic, I decided I should give my opinion on the matter.

Simply put:

Of course, the most common objection to the platekini is that it is sexist and demeaning towards women. I personally think it is (at least until the male versions of those sets are just as revealing), but I’ll leave such weighty matters to those who are older and wiser than I. Instead, I’ll tell you what I’ve got against sets like glorious plate and black mageweave.

It’s unrealistic:

“But it’s a fantasy game!” I hear you say. “We fight dragons and hurl fireballs with our brains!”

True, but a fantasy setting does not give you carte blanche to throw all logic to the winds. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is imperative for a fantasy setting to maintain logical consistency and a sense of realism; it makes it easier to swallow all the impossibilities. It saddens me to see how many people think that explaining everything away by saying “lol magic” is a legitimate story-telling device.

A Blood Elf female demonstrating the female armor issue“But we’re fighting giant dragons! No amount of armour would protect you from something that big.” Possibly correct, but if you go into a raid half-naked, the dragon won’t need to fight you. He just needs to bribe a peasant to poke you in the belly with a sharp stick. Problem solved.

And I don’t know about you, but if I was going to fight Demons and Faceless, I’d want to wear every damn piece of armour I could while still being able to stand.

This isn’t so much a problem with caster gear. They’re not supposed to be taking blows anyway, so it’s a bit more tolerable. But I’m still not a fan of skanky caster gear for other reasons, and that brings me to my next point.

It looks bad:

I suppose this is more subjective, but I find it virtually impossible to take anyone in a slutty transmog outfit seriously. I can’t help but imagine that they must be fourteen year-old boys who spend half their time drooling over their toons, or else people so insecure in their own appearances that they need a virtual avatar to feel sexy.

Some might say it’s unfair of me to judge someone by their transmog set, but I don’t think it is. This is not like judging someone because of their clothes in the real world. Clothes are a necessity of life, and there are any number of factors that could go into a decision of what to wear that have nothing to do with appearance — comfort, economics, what’s clean that day…

Transmog, though, is entirely optional. Anyone with transmogged gear actively decided that was the look they wanted to show to the world. Video games are a medium generally used to live out one’s fantasies and experience things you never could in real life, so when someone sets out to show as much virtual flesh as possible, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that these are people who don’t get out much.

A popular item for slutty WoW toons everywhereNot to say that there aren’t some legitimate reasons for choosing a platekini. Maybe they like the look for reasons other than sex appeal, or maybe they’re role-playing as a seductive character. But I think we’re kidding ourselves if we pretend that the people picking the glorious set because they like the colour are anything but a minority.

And then there’s just the personal preference of thinking that women are more attractive in classy outfits than when dressed like prostitutes.

A right way and a wrong way:

But don’t think that I have anything against the female form or feel genders should be rigidly homogenized. It makes perfect sense for a fantasy setting to feature armour styled differently for women versus men. But there’s a right way and a wrong way, and black mageweave is definitely the wrong way.

Let me give you an example of the right way. You may remember my review of Dungeon Siege III a few months ago. One of the female playable characters, Anjali, provides a good example of the proper way to dress women in a fantasy setting.

Anjali is a melee character, and she thus wears heavy armour — mostly plate — yet she’s not some shapeless, androgynous mountain of metal. Her armour is sleek, elegant, form-fitting, and obviously feminine. But it also looks practical (aside from her high heels, which I do not condone); there’s no exposed midriffs or low-cut tops ripe for a quick sword slice.

 

Anjali and Katarina show off their gear in Dungeon Siege IIIThe villain, too, is a good example. Jeyne Kassynder’s armour leaves nothing exposed but her face, but its graceful elegance could never be described as anything but feminine.

I believe that the notion that a woman must resemble a stripper to be feminine is a modern fallacy.

New writing:

WhatMMORPG has posted another of my articles, WoW Killers (That Didn’t Kill WoW). Amazing how people still think every new game is gonna come out of the blue and crush World of Warcraft, eh?

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11 thoughts on “Female Armour: Just Say No to the Platekini (+ New Writing)

  1. The fact that armour in WoW displays anything like the wearer’s shape is incredible in itself. It’s missing key pieces that would be required for a functional non-fantasy setting, and in most cases doesn’t have any visible means of support, padding, nothing.

    This is without mentioning that somehow this mostly-painted-on armour mitigates hits from weapons the size of buildings, swarms of insects, concussive blasts and the like.

    And you’re worried about exposed skin?

    Now, you talk about consistency. The consistent theme here is that the armour is intended for aesthetic appeal, and to convey the ideal of protection rather than the reality thereof. Therefore, I argue that the fantasy-trope female armour – somewhat ridiculous though it may be – fits perfectly. If I want to play a lightly-armoured Wonder-woman-esque warrior, that’s my choice – even if I’m the tank.

    Judging people’s sexuality by what they wear ingame is every bit as ridiculous as judging their everyday clothing, and claiming that there’s only one reason to “wear” a suit of armour that by *your* standards is provocative comes off as very narrow-minded. Aesthetic sense is not even nearly universal, and neither is the idea of appropriate garb for combat. *Especially* as concerns a fantasy world.

    • You seem to have ignored several points made in my post.

      “Possibly correct, but if you go into a raid half-naked, the dragon won’t need to fight you. He just needs to bribe a peasant to poke you in the belly with a sharp stick. Problem solved.”

      “Not to say that there aren’t some legitimate reasons for choosing a platekini. Maybe they like the look for reasons other than sex appeal, or maybe they’re role-playing as a seductive character. But I think we’re kidding ourselves if we pretend that the people picking the glorious set because they like the colour are anything but a minority.”

      Read those parts again, please.

      And yes, even the more functional-looking WoW armor is still unrealistic, but there’s still the issue of verisimilitude — the illusion of truth. I can suspend my disbelief for armor that lacks under-padding and other things real armor would need. I can’t suspend my disbelief for the idea that armor is completely unnecessary in a combat setting.

      The fact that armor exists in the Warcraft universe shows that it’s necessary. So why would any sane being in that universe forgo it for large sections of their body? That’s what I mean by consistency.

      • Whatever Blizzard’s motivations for including armor in the game were are not relevant to this discussion. All that matters is that armor exists in the game, and that has implications for the universe whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. If the people in the Warcraft universe started making armor, they had a good reason for doing so, and if a character opts to go without armor, that’s probably not a good idea. That players have the option to do so is a serious immersion-breaker.

      • Hiding helms never did sit quite right with me. But the face is an important part of establishing character, and most of the helms in this game (especially pre-Wrath) are pretty hideous, so it’s not quite the same thing. For what it’s worth, though, none of my characters hide their helm right now. Well, my Tauren does, but helms never look right on Tauren. And he has the advantage of being an eight foot tall undead killing machine, so he doesn’t need so much protection.

        As for Mr. Pointy Stick Peasant, that was just an example. The point is that without armor you’re vulnerable to anything and everything.

  2. A most logical post on the subject – and I agree with you. One also should consider the time/social context when a lot of these “platekini” styles were designed, not to mention the pop culture influences of “fantasy” 20th century artists.

    Fortunately, that time has gone and it all looks very silly and dated now. New millennium, new target audiences and fresh approaches to art will hopefully re-define “fantasy” instead of flogging old stereotypes.

    Yes, I hide the helm most of the time because they are so gosh-darn ugly. Hopefully someone will step up to the plate (pun intended) and start designing armor with a dash of imagination and slice of creativity.

  3. The beef I have with female armor in games like WoW all come down to choice. Can I have the huge, spiky, completely non-revealing, epic looking armor if I’m playing a female character, or am I forced to wear the bikini? If looking hot is the only option, that’s not really fair. And telling female players they have to play as a male character in order to look badass is kinda insulting.

  4. I do not agree with this guy.
    It’s just a game jeez don’t take it seriously,people can do whatever they want and if they want to look sexy why would that be a problem?

    It’s your character,and you want to like what you see,so why not dress sexy? It looks nice.

    Some girls who play wow actually like dressing this way,and I’m not talking about fat,ugly,… whales,I’m talking about real,decent women,who look nice irl.

    You sound to me like an introvert,a person who is afraid or shy to when it comes to everything that has to do with sex.

    You could simply just say you’re an introvert,and we would understand you.
    But I agree with sexy plate,call it however you like,I like it.

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