If you’ve been sipping pina coladas on a beach in the Philippines, or in the lab creating green, you probably missed the recent debate about footwear in Diablo3.
For the uninitiated, here’s a summary of the ones I read:
1. Spinks [Spinksville] dislikes the demon huntress’ stiletto heels, as they are oddly sexualized and incongruous with the rest of the game art
2. Tobold [Tobold’s Blog] defends fantastical representations of men and women in video games. If we remove high heels for being unrealistic, what about the all the other”unlikely things in RPGs?
3. Doone [TR Redskies] suggests that defending sexualized representations is to defend sexism itself:
4. Zubon [Kill Ten Rats] dislikes digital high heels as they play no in-game function. If they are there, they should have an impact.
5. Gordan [We Fly Spitfires] asks whether the sexualized representation is really just indicative of men being victims of their own genetics
My view is that I cannot regard the high heels are anything more than a graphical touch which Blizzard’s artists and developers thought would look good to the Diablo audience.
It is debatable whether they are incongruous within the gaming world. As I mentioned in one of my comments on another blog, the artists originally intended that the Demon Hunter/Huntress class was part-demon and therefore may have drawn on succubus-like imagery (seduction clothing/b0ndage etc) to characterize the look.
I am a strong advocate of artist freedom. As I argue in my previous post on Diablo3, I dislike the idea of giving players what they say they want, rather than creating original compelling content that is fun and meaningful and allowing players to experience it on it’s own merits.
That said, developers need to invest the time to give players choices. I have no problem with chainmail bikinis or pointy boots, providing that my characters are not forced to wear them. The relationship between the avatar and player is an important one: give our male and female characters options to be represented as we wish. Let them be fat, skinny, beautiful, ugly, sexy, unsexy and adorned with a plethora of imaginative and everyday footwear.
This doesn’t seem like too much to ask for.