Morgion and the Plate Bikini (and why I hate them)

First things first, because these things are sometimes fuzzy with bloggers, and people have made this mistake before(!): I am a guy.

Like many players, I play a mix of male and female characters. It's always interesting to examine people's opinions about their character's gender. Some people have no qualms about playing characters of either gender, while others refuse to play characters of the opposite sex because they think it's weird. On the other hand, some players like playing female characters because it gets them treated more preferentially - something that unquestionably DOES happen. And some players play the opposite sex (male or female) because they think the characters are hot and like staring at HOT BELF ASS.

Personally? My character gender choices revolve around three main factors: how cool they look (which does not mean attractiveness), their fighting/casting animations, and how appropriate a name I can think up for the gender/class/race combination. For example, my Warlock is a male Blood Elf because I wanted to use the name Marendas, which was the name of a Lich in an old D&D campaign. And my Draenei Hunter is female because I wanted to be a Draenei, but got really tired of the male Draenei flip-reload animation.

These motivations are why my most popular race/gender combination are female Forsaken. They look really cool in big heavy armor or in robes, they have THE BEST 1-handed fighting animations (ninja flips > all) and their caster animations feel very raw and powerful.

I also love coming up with names that imply a state of unrest, bitterness or brokenness. For example, my female Forsaken characters are Morgion (Death Knight, named for Dragonlance's god of Decay), Glasya (Mage, named after a powerful, intelligent Princess of Hell in D&D lore), and Shrapnel (Warrior, a name/class combination I thought suitable for someone angry and jaded about having their happy and loving life ripped away from them).

A pair of Forsaken ladies you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley.

Another (slightly depressing) luxury about creating female Forsaken characters is that they're not "hot" like say, female Blood Elves or Trolls. When a male player tells someone that he has a female character, there's a certain amount of eyerolling and preconceptions that immediately occur if they happen to be one of the shapely races. It's inevitable - I mean, how many times do you hear of a male playing a female Blood Elf or Draenei and suspect that their choice is because they like watching their toon's rear?

Hopefully she is at the Auction House to BUY SOME FREAKING PANTS.

I purposefully selected one of the most scarred, unsexy faces for Morgion when I made her. I did this mostly because I felt it really fit her character, and so that the DK eyes would glow blue through the leather face straps, which is AWESOME. Then I chose a hairstyle that was ghastly and prickly, further cementing her angry personality in my mind.

These were my primary goals during the creation process...but inwardly, privately, I can't deny that a small part of me also wanted to ensure that no one would look at her, see a sexy character, and assume I was just one of "those" male gamers playing a female character to fulfill some perverted fantasy.

* * * * *

When we were just stepping into Bastion of Twilight, Morgion got some upgrades so I started doing some reforging to balance out my stats. In the process of doing so, I ended up swapping out my current chest armor for a set of Phantom Armor that I'd stashed away in my bank for this very purpose.

The Phantom Armor reforged perfectly (seriously, I ended up 0.06% over the Hit Cap, 2 Rating over the Expertise cap, and 0.01 over my Mastery threshold), and I was all ready to head back in next raid night and kill me some twin Dragons. However, I found I had a new problem.

My dark, vengeful harbinger of death looked like she was going to a beach party.

A comparison shot between a normal piece of armor...

...and the infamous Phantom Armor.

What. The. Hell.

It seems that Phantom Armor is just a scalemail halter top, with a shockingly low neckline and completely exposed midriff. (It is also bright yellow, though that's not really related to this subject.)

I was floored when I first saw it, and honestly found myself thinking, both as a player and in-character as Morgion, "How can I POSSIBLY fight alongside my teammates looking like THIS?! I look RIDICULOUS."

If Morgion wasn't already dead twice-over, she would have died of shame.

* * * * *

My baby Paladin Leisl, member of Eff the Ineffable. Properly clad! (Though wielding a bone.)

Female players have long lamented WoW's revealing, "sexy" equipment options. They argue that such outfits perpetuate sexist stereotypes, encourage the objectification of women, and cater to a puerile, juvenile demographic. And I can definitely understand why many female players feel the chainmail-bikini treatment is insulting and offensive - not only is it unnecessary, sometimes bordering on shameless fanservice, but it's also just STUPID - a chainmail bikini when you're fighting for your life? Ludicrous.

Now, I'm not even going to really touch on these topics, because a) As a male gamer, I can't actually accurately relate to how they feel, since I am not in their shoes; and b) female gamer bloggers have stated their arguments much more eloquently and passionately than I could ever hope to. I'm going to leave this in their capable hands.

But what I CAN talk about is how annoyed and exasperated I feel whenever my female characters get a new piece of gear that looks like a Girls Gone Wild outfit. Surely I'm not the only male gamer who feels this way.

This looks fine, until you take away the red shirt and realize how much skin would be showing.

In the case of Morgion's Phantom Armor, I imagine it wouldn't be a big deal to some players, especially those not on a roleplaying server. But I found it very, very difficult to stomach. Not only was it silly looking, it just FELT inappropriate - I felt like consciously making the decision to wear this "armor" would be putting me in the same boat as the 14-year-old boys who spend hours dancing their naked female characters on mailboxes, despite the fact that I just wanted STATS, not eye candy.

Now don't get me wrong - I have a few other female characters who aren't as broken-looking as poor Morgion, and I definitely prefer the smiling, attractive faces over the options that are horrifying scowls. And I love when the combination of gear + character looks great. I'm not going to purposefully make unappealing characters just so people know I'm not ogling them (despite what I said earlier, Morgion's appearance really is primarily because of her backstory).

But even though I never run around stripped naked, sometimes the game all but FORCES me to flash the flesh. I HATE when my best equipment choice is some LOL LOOK BOOBS vest or barely-there pair of shorts, because it makes me feel like such a sleaze...and I assume that if I am thinking it, so too are other players who can see my character's state of undress.

Case in point: the Barbaric Loincloth.

Way, way back, I created a baby Draenei mage to hang out in Single Abstract Noun. I was particularly tickled with her name: Warp. I breezed through the first 15 levels and found my way to Ragefire Chasm, where I won the Barbaric Loincloth. It was much better than my old leggings - which were essentially old rags - and I was excited to wear these new awesome pants...until I put them on.

BEFORE: Oh man, new pants, this is going to be awesome! Look out Blood Elves, here comes Warp!

AFTER: ...oh yes. Fear my incredible magical prowess...when you stop laughing. -_-

Remember, this was SAN, a group of respected blogging peers! I was mortified to meet them in-game for the first time looking like THAT. Talk about regrettable first impressions!

In the Loincloth's defense (a phrase I never thought I'd write) it IS a LOINCLOTH. And it's also equally as revealing and embarrassing on a male character. I was still extremely put out by it, though.

In retrospect, I think Morgion's raider status is another reason I was so irritated about the Phantom Armor. (Seriously, I raged about this in guild chat for like a week.) It's one thing to have to endure embarrassing outfit choices as a fresh-faced level 16 Mage, since I'm basically scrounging my entire ensemble from dead bears and Troggs at that point. I can accept that it's not all going to look fantastic.

But at endgame? When I'm invading Cho'gall's stronghold, slaughtering Twilight Cultists and corrupted elementals, and striking a decisive blow against Deathwing himself? Really, haven't we left the silly armor models behind us at that point? I've killed the Lich King - I deserve some dignity, for crying out loud.

And maybe it's just me, but when I'm facing off against a fearsome servant of the Old Gods, I'd want to be dressed for war, not a fun night out at the club.

As for the notorious Phantom Armor, it obviously occurred to me that I could just wear a tabard and hide this shameful display of undead chest. Except...well, it didn't really work.

Sure, it was definitely an improvement - no more bare belly! - but the neckline was still ridiculous. It looked like I wasn't even wearing armor at all! And imagine how gratuitous this would look on one of the more endowed races, like a Human or Dwarf.

I ended up disguising my discomfort by taking the silliness of the armor and running with it. I wore a garish bright pink shirt under the yellow chestpiece, resulting in a blinding, hilariously terrible look. There's nothing sexy about looking like a clown. Not the ideal solution, but better than having to explain repeatedly why my Death Knight was raiding in bright yellow underwear.

Thankfully, this period of intense personal shame and self-loathing did not last long. I got another upgrade within the next week or so, and was able to relegate the Phantom Armor back to the bank...hopefully never to again see the light of day.

In closing, I hope Blizzard someday realizes that it's not just the female gamer demographic and feminists who dislike the skimpy armor choices. I like a sexy female form as much as the next straight male, but that doesn't mean I want my characters running around half-naked and flashing their naughty bits.

After all, it's hard to look badass when you're in beachwear.

23 Responses Subscribe to comments

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    I actually like the chainmail bikini style armor - I know I'm in a minority. But I think it says *look, I'm so hard I can kick your arse dressed in _this_*

    I've used a tabard before to cover up my dorf gurl in the black mageweave set *shudder*, sorry that didn't work out so well for you :P

    July 22, 2011 at 6:41 AM

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    Hehehe thank god for tabards because at least they give us a choice. If you find yourself wearing a bra suddenly, you can always put on a tabard to cover it.

    However, this does not go for pants like your loincloth. The first pieces of cloth caster gear you get in Hellfire is a purple recolor of black mageweave. The purple "black" mageweave pants looks so stupid on a male char and so revealing on a female, lose lose in my opinion (and you can't even cover it up).

    With my project visual roleplaygear, I'm the one who does the pictures and I've seen so many sets where it turns naked on the female model. It should be said, there is a set where it's the opposite, forget what it's called though.

    July 22, 2011 at 6:46 AM

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    The first time I encountered said loincloth, it was on a male draenei. It was very funny, especially since his shirt-armor was clownlike. He started dancing because, well, what else can you do when wearing a ridiculous ensemble.

    July 22, 2011 at 6:53 AM

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    My thoughts on skimpy gear depeneds very much on the class/role of the character who's wearing it. A tanking Death Knight or Warrior in 'armor' that completely exposes their midriff? That's pretty stupid and comlpetely unpractical. A mage or priest who stands back in battle and shows a little skin? That's not so bad.

    I am greatly amused by the occasional loincloth that I find for my lower level characters, however I wish these items looked as ridiculous and skimpy on males as they do on females.

    July 22, 2011 at 6:53 AM

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    Oh and I forgot to say, it's cool reading a guy's take on this.
    Afterall based on statistics half of all female characters are actually guys playing them, so I wouldn't say it's only a female issue, your experience of this is completely valid and important too.

    July 22, 2011 at 6:55 AM

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    I think Conan would approve of that Barbaric Loincloth.

    But aside from that snarky comment, I'm so with you about this. I created Neve based on an Elven Wizard of the same name from the D&D campaign I'm in who bit it in the dreaded 20-20-20 combination. Although I never get asked about the name --'Nevelanthana' sticks out like a sore thumb-- I couldn't count the number of times I've had people in game simply assume I'm a woman when I'm playing with her.

    Compounding this issue is the 'less is more' stats/visuals dichotomy that Blizz operates under. It can't be that hard to create vanity slots so that you can dress your toon up the way you want him/her. I guess the extreme alternative to that is what you can do in Age of Conan and walk around naked courtesy of the vanity slots.

    However, allowing vanity armor to only override your regular armor --but also keeping your normal armor present if you don't fill the slot, prevent the g-string brigade from invading Alterac Valley-- might be the way to go.

    July 22, 2011 at 7:03 AM

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    I guess my biggest problem isn't the function (you carry elephant mounts in your backpack FFS), but the need for developers to create bikini plate armor, the same version of which looks perfectly normal on males.

    Maybe it is some in-built sexual fetish, or perhaps they just don't get out much, but this is one trend that I for one could certaily do without.

    July 22, 2011 at 7:33 AM

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    I have a dwarf pally male and for a while in his teens he was wearing an outfit that consisted of hot pants with his ass showing and a shirt that was basically a bra. He always runs with the same male Dreanei paladin, so I rolled with it and talked about how he had a crush on the poor Dreanei. Luckily for Java (the Dreanei) my dwarf was the tank and never had and reason to to get up behind him... :)

    July 22, 2011 at 7:46 AM

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    I just wanted to say that I did some research on the pants my male dwarf pally was wearing and they were most undoubtedly these: I have been unable to find the sexy top that went with them, but I am sure you get the picture...

    July 22, 2011 at 8:27 AM

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    I would be remiss if I failed to link this photo.

    Naughty bits are all covered so safe-ish for work.

    July 22, 2011 at 9:12 AM

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    I dunno if it will work or not but a possible solution may be a combination of the tabard and the Undercity Doublet (sold at the Argent Tournament). It has really long sleeves and depending on the size of your bracers and gloves, can cover up a lot more than other shirts. I used to use it on my Belf warlock to cover up unwanted skin. :D (Cause dangit, If I'm a warlock, I don't want a tan!)

    July 22, 2011 at 9:51 AM

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    Rades, you did a wonderful job handling the topic! That is my objection, too. PLATE should look like freaking PLATE, it PROTECTS. If it's not there, it doesn't protect, right? I find it slightly more tolerable on clothie classes, they aren't supposed to be getting hit, after all.

    A piece like this Phantom Armor makes me wonder, is it saying, "Check out my great abs," or "Gutstab me, PLEASE!!!" and I tend towards the second as an answer.

    And if this stupid-ass bikini armor MUST exist then at least make it the same on the male toons as it is on the female ones. If guys like their eye candy, well, us ladies don't mind a bit here and there either, you know?

    Granted a lot of the male models have issues, but still, we can dream a little, right? There is a lot of fan art out there that makes things somewhat more interesting... =)

    July 22, 2011 at 10:25 AM

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    Pff, you'll always be a girl in my head. That's a compliment ;)
    I totally agree with your 3-criterias for gender choice, and I've therefor got a healthy mix of both in my stables. Animations are probably the most important factor. It just has to feel right, you know?

    July 22, 2011 at 11:56 AM

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    @ironyca, @bronte, @kayeri - The whole topic of armor looking different on Males than Females is ALWAYS interesting...and usually not in a good way! The first link I have in the post to Borderhouse Blog is actually one such comparison/commentary post, looking at some gendered armor comparisons - some surprising, most not.

    Honestly, I wouldn't mind at all if they reversed this trope and gave us some armor that looks badass and protective on female characters, and ridiculous on males. I know personally that I wouldn't be upset on my male characters - I would just find it hilarious.

    @redbeard - I was hoping Blizzard was starting to explore the idea of vanity appearance items when Overcloaks were introduced during the Echo Isles PTR testing! Of course, these same Overcloaks never made it live, so maybe they ended up rejecting the idea. :(

    @skinnemuva - Hahaha, I remember having these as well. If I recall, wearing a tabard MOSTLY made it a non-issue...but sometimes when you ran the tabard would move and you'd catch a sight of leg. ;)

    @vrykerion - You know, I think in most cases those Doublets WOULD work...but I am pretty sure I tried them and don't remember them solving the problem. I do have a set of those shirts that I use frequently though. :D

    @zinn - AHA! IT WAS YOU, haha. I had forgotten who had thought I was a girl. ;) And yes, animations are so important. I switched to 2H Frost for a while (meaning no ninja flips) and even though everything except the animations were completely the same, it just didn't feel right!

    July 22, 2011 at 12:41 PM

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    I'm a girl so it's the other side of the coin when it comes to rolling the opposite sex. In all honesty, the male characters I play have come from RP ideas/personalities that I really wanted to see realized. Otherwise I do prefer female characters because I feel I can get a more accurate handle on their personality, but also because some many old RPGs I've played only allowed male characters.

    In regards to plate bikinis and the like, I just wanted to say THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU! I have always leaned towards the idea of having realistic armor, or at least protecting those vital organs. You know what's a slow and painful death? Being stabbed in the stomach! When I see exposed midriffs, especially on mail and plate wearers, I physically cringe. That's, you don't do that if you care about living at all. Maybe that's one reason why I could never get very interested in clothies.

    Personally, I see a female character in full armor and think that not only do they look infinitely more badass, but completely self-assured. And confidence is effing sexy, ladies and gentlemen.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:30 PM

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    You wouldn't believe the gold I could make from those loincloths in the summer on the RP server where I played! Summer months tended to make folks decide to RP having a beach party. The loincloth did make the perfect swimwear, paired with the calico top from the draenei area for a bikini, or I forget which shirt exactly for a more "one piece" look. But no one wanted to go all the way out to the draenei area and farm for bathing suits. So they'd pay 20 or 30 gold for the loincloth on the Auction House.

    Personally, I would never think you care about how "sexy" your characters look. If you did, you wouldn't have picked a paladin with a flat ass.

    July 22, 2011 at 2:06 PM

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    Huh. I'm surprised that the level 85 version of the Phantom Armor (a drop from SFK) didn't get an artwork update, the way the level 85 versions of other Heroic SFK and Heroic Deadmines items (such as Arugal's Robe and the Corsair's Overshirt) did.

    Ditto, ditto, ditto what you and the other commenters have said.

    I do have some plate bikini items that I've collected and kept *specifically* for "dress up" and the "beachwear" look (Jade Breastplate, I'm looking at you!), but most of the time, for serious leveling and dungeon running, clothes that expose too much skin just make me wince and shudder. Most of my characters wear shirts almost all of the time not just because of my RL religious opinions on modesty but also for the illusion of at least *trying* to protect those areas of the body.
    Skimpy pants are even worse than skimpy tops because they can't be compensated for, even partially, by wearing a well-chosen shirt or a tabard. After my BE Mage got the "purple black mageweave leggings" from an early Outland quest that have been mentioned earlier, she refused to wear tops that weren't robes, even if the stats on those tunics were better than the stats on the robe she was currently wearing. I can't wait until she's able to upgrade those pants to something less revealing!

    July 23, 2011 at 5:45 AM

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    To answer a question asked looong ago: The Therazane post made me think you were female. The basic jist of it was that there are few independent female role models in WoW and Therazane is the only one without a male she depends on romantically. Or something to that general effect. It sounded sort of feministish to me. So yeah.

    Relevant to this post: My Druid wears a PVP set, and since she's a druid the robes cover her legs pretty well. The top has a low neckline, but she's a sexy troll who's in form all the time anyway. And I'm usually wearing a tabard just in case I decide to do a heroic, which I never actually do. I can understand being particular about what you're wearing as a role-player, since your character would be pretty upset about it. You get into the mindset of being that character, or at least I do. New gear is always coming out, so at least it's something you can cover for now and replace later.


    July 23, 2011 at 11:53 PM

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    I have a Warrior who had Leg plates of the Bikini, which were some odd Outland tank plate legs that looked like no more than a pair of underwear. As a tank it looked dreadful.

    Good reason to be constantly pulling, not giving the group time to look.

    July 24, 2011 at 3:33 PM

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    Ohh Rades - I don't know what I liked more about your article, the fact that you presented your points so well or that I couldn't keep from laughing (I have a soft spot for funny)! :)

    very well said all! and the reason why I (while I never felt particularly exposed as human female clothie) always used shirts and tabards in WoW if a tunic was actually bare belly and would even skip an upgrade if it looked ridiculous like that.

    July 26, 2011 at 11:34 AM

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    I'll be honest - I'm more upset by how badly that chestpiece clashes with the rest of your armor than how much it reveals. OMG WHAT WILL FABULOR THINK???

    Once they hit about level 30, I start trying to dress my toons like adults who understand basic concepts like color coordination. I fail a lot, but I feel better about playing them when they look put together.

    This ... thing ... clashes with every piece of armor in your ensemble, Rades! I vote you shard it and get something nice from the PvP vendor.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:08 PM

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    So. A little off-topic, but my male Blood Elf toon who is also one of my bank alts has been running around in that Loincloth for years, the poor thing. I too was very surprised to see the upgrade... downgrade the amount of pants, but as you pointed out, it is a loincloth. XD It's just shame that revealing pants can't be as easily covered up as revealing shirts. At least with shirts you got an option of an undershirt or a tabard. Can we get an option of longjohns for the legs? That would help.

    July 28, 2011 at 1:16 PM

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    I have one idea for Blizzard to make it better though (cause really, I don't think they would want to remove skimpy armour) MAKE IT EQUALLY AS SKIMPY ON MALE CHARACTERS! (Like the Loincloth, its hideous, but bless it for being equally hideous on both genders!

    May 14, 2012 at 1:20 PM