Monday, November 17, 2008

WoW Sexism: New and Improved

As you might have heard, the new World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, was released a couple of days ago. While questing, I ran into these two charming characters:

Meet Olga the Scalawag Wench and Gerald Green. Olga is a pirate wench that serves booze (hence the wine bottle in her hand) off the coast of the Howling Fjord. Gerald is a farmer whose settlement on the Borean Tundra is under attack (hence the mace). Both character models are new; if we've seen them before, we haven't since Warcraft III, which was released some years ago.

Your interaction with Olga begins when you accept a quest to get some information out of a very drunk pirate, who is dancing on the table of Olga's establishment. When he refuses to talk to you, you go to Olga. She offers to sweet talk the guy into talking to you. So she walks over, flirts a little with him, gives him some free booze, and then you ask him what you need to know. He spills it, and that's it. While brief, I think there are some interesting things to take out of this.

While I could get in to the misogyny of Olga's profession, I think it's self-explanatory. What is important to mention though is that Olga is certainly not the first and only pirate wench in the game; there are plenty of thinner ones. She comes across as confident and sturdy. While I thank Blizzard for including a fat woman as part of their non-playable character set, I wonder if she couldn't have been placed in a better profession. I think being a pirate wench and flirting successfully with the drunk man reinforces some ugly stereotypes about fat women, including but not limited to "fat women are easy" and "you need to be drunk to find fat women attractive."

Gerald gives you many quests that involve the saving of his settlement. He is surrounded by two, thinner characters, a man and woman, both wielding weapons and looking determined. Gerald is impassioned about the saving of their lands. "If Farshire is wiped off the face of Azeroth, then at least let us be remembered as the first ones to defend our land and the last ones to give up," he tells you for one quest. What's great about Gerald is that he challenges the "fat people are lazy" stereotype. Not only is he not running in fear, he is leading the defense against the Scourge invasion. And, as a farmer, you know he couldn't be lazy anyway.

It's too bad that Gerald challenges the ugly stereotypes and Olga enforces them. But at least we have Olga in the first place. In fact, the only commenter on Olga's Wowhead entry says, "OMG! Could it be? A female character that doesn't haver a size zero waist?" Indeed.

And gosh, I do love her bra tan lines.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Actually Casp, those models exist in CoT:Old Hillsbrad. I'm not sure those exact models exist, but the appearances do. It's my understanding that used to be the common human model, but I didn't play beta/release. <3
Otherwise, indeed!