Thursday, July 6, 2017

How Do I Get Roped into These Things?

The oldest mini-Red came to me not too long ago and mentioned that one of her friends had suggested that they play an MMO together.*

"Oh?" I'm not so uptight that I want to control what she's playing, but I was curious why she asked.

"Yeah, I haven't heard the game before. I think it's TERA."

My brain let out a little scream.

"Have you heard of it?"

"Um, yeah, I have. It's well known for how the female toons run."

You know, like this:

And yes, I did show her this video, which looks like something Piers Anthony would have dreamed up.**


"Yeah, outside of that and that the female toon garb tends to be really skimpy, I don't know much else about it."

"Well...." she began, mulling things over. "It is F2P. Maybe I should at least check it out to see what I think."

I scratched my beard as a sinking feeling settled into my stomach. "I guess I should check the game out too as well. Due diligence and all that."

Which is how I arrived at this point in time: I've spent the better part of the past several days on Steam, downloading 3 newer MMOs (and one old one that I tried back in beta, RIFT), and steeling myself for what I might find. I'm not prudish by any means, but I do know that games that are Asian or have a heavy Asian influence (Aion, for example) have a completely different viewpoint on how female toons should look, dress, and act. The subservient "sex toy" vibe that some female toons exude in these games gets on my nerves, particularly when the toon should be a Type A badass.

Compared to my normal (and previous) standbys of LOTRO, SWTOR, STO, and WoW, these games are likely to have gear that should never see a battlefield.

Yeah, like this.
(This meme can be found all over the net.)
And don't think for a second that because I enjoy the Hyborian Age of the Conan stories that I also think that Conan or his female contemporaries in Age of Conan get off the hook. But the one thing that AoC does do right is that it is internally consistent: both male and female toons show a ton of skin, and their toon reactions are anything but subservient in manner and attitude. I know that I'm likely to find in these new MMOs a distinct difference in attitude and presentation between male and female toons, and that is going to annoy me.

At least there's some internal consistency in Cimmeria.
(From Demotivational posters, found all over the net.)

So why go ahead and examine them when I "know" I won't like them?

Because "knowing" is not the same as really understanding. If I'm going to explain my likes and dislikes of a game, I'd better have firsthand knowledge of that game. And if I'm going to give my kids advice on a game, I'd better not be making judgement calls solely on secondhand data. Reviewers will have a bias --just as I will-- but I'll be able to understand that bias and explain myself far better after having examined the games first.

So I'll be off trying some of these games that I've read about only on Syl's and Rohan's blogs, as well as other places.

*Yes, it's a male friend. No, I'm not quite so worried about them hitting it off in game or something, as they already hang out. If they were a year closer in age, I'd think they were an item, but that two year age difference is a bit of a brake on any potential relationship. There's a big difference between, say, 27 and 29 versus 17 and 19. Still, given my extensive observations of teenage boys --fatherhood, you know-- he's quite mature.

**His Xanth series started out somewhat tame, but then they eventually veered into weirdness and overall creepiness with a heavy dose of "panties!" in descriptions.


  1. I've kind of come to the conclusion that for me, an MMO's aesthetics actually matter much more than a lot of gameplay concerns. If I can't stand the way my character runs or am consistently appalled by the look of the crowds milling around the main hubs, I'm just never going to enjoy myself.

    1. I was about to make a snarky comment about the toons that would fill up Njessi's Fashion Police Blotter, but I thought better of it. There's a big difference between WoW/LOTRO/SWTOR/Neverwinter and some of these other titles. I figure that if I feel like I have to try these games out really early in the morning so nobody else will be awake, then what's the point?

      I think this kind of calls out for an examination as to why some of these Asian and Asian inspired MMOs' design teams decided it was a good idea to go in that direction.

  2. Oh my, TERA. I tried that, too, at some point, as part of an iRez blogging meetup-in-different-worlds. At least what you said about Conan also holds true for TERA: the male toons look skimpy AF as well. I guess, because of that the game gave me a good giggle rather than being annoyed by it.

    Not that I ever want to be found dead while logged into TERA, naturally.

    1. It's... not quite as bad as I thought it would be, because I've discovered that the hardest part for me isn't the skimpy outfits or the obnoxiously gigantic weapons but the Elin. THAT is my major roadblock to the game so far.

    2. The Elin! I innocently rolled one immediately, seeing as I really disliked the skimpy Elves. I saw the Elin as a sort of miniature me, with funny ears and tail. Then Conrad pointed out to me that you can also be a horny male and roll one...

    3. Yeah, I think that being a parent I immediately zoomed in on what the Elin look like, and more importantly how it was "sexed up" in a disturbing manner. It is bad enough that En Masse had to censor the Elin toon outfits for the North America and Europe releases of TERA.