Diablo III’s Female Characters are Believable?

TheMarySue.com, a “Guide to Girl Geek Culture” has posted an article about the realistic (relatively speaking) appearance of the female characters in Diablo III. The piece isn’t a straight out class-by-class comparison, and it references the presentation of females in WoW and Starcraft as well, but it’s an interesting perspective on the topic.

The article praises the female Barbarian for having muscles (thighs especially) unlike the silly, wafer-thin female battlers some games offer, and appreciates that the genders tend to wear equivalently-styled armor, rather than putting the guys in tin cans and the girls in chain mail bikinis. Yes, Witch Doctor and Barbarian females wear cloth bikinis in the early going, but their male counterparts fare no better. (The piece doesn’t mention DiabloWikiSheablo.)

So while it’s too early to say how Diablo III will measure up, the female character models shown thus far have me feeling very encouraged. For starters, they are all wearing plausible armor. Their stomachs are covered. The only one who looks a bit waifish is the Wizard, which makes sense, and even she looks like she can tear it up. But the best of the bunch, in my opinion, is the Barbarian. She’s broad-shouldered. She’s buff. She’s got big, muscular thighs, which is exactly what you need if you’re going to be swinging an axe all day. And before you scoff at her bare legs, take note of what her male counterpart is wearing. This armor isn’t meant to be revealing; it’s meant to portray a particular culture. If you’re going to have armor that doesn’t cover a character from head to toe, this is exactly the way to do it. I believe this armor. I believe this character. This is a woman whose physical appearance meshes with the narrative context in which she is presented. Really, that’s all I want to see in a character model, and to find it in Diablo III was a pleasant surprise. Granted, the way your character is dressed in the game will depend on what armor you equip, but the fact that this is the public image they decided to give these women is heartening.

Are the designs perfect? No. Are the starting outfits for the Demon Hunter and the Wizard a bit irksome? Yes. But if we look at these character designs in comparison to the last fourteen years of Blizzard titles, it’s clear that things are continuing to improve for their female characters. And that’s something I can definitely get behind.

Obviously all the gear in the game is very stylized and fantasy-tastic and such, and we’ve had some enjoyable debates about the over-the-top Inferno gear. But whatever faults you may find in the function of the DiabloWikigear sets, you have to admit that the character models and their outfits are treated with some gender neutrality.

While more gamers are male than female, recent studies and past WoW data suggest that women make up a considerable percentage of Blizzard’s audience. Data on female approval of the chain mail bikini style of female fantasy character is less readily-available, but male approval might be lacking as well. After all, just because you enjoy the visuals on a character doesn’t mean you don’t think it’s appropriate or believable in the game.

Most of us (male or female) enjoy eye candy in our games, but do you appreciate that D3’s female characters have some realism to their body types and clothing? By the same token, do you like that the male characters aren’t all steroidal monsters with pin heads? Or would you prefer the comic book style of mega-hulking dudes and lingerie model females, as still seen in many Asian RPGs?

Tagged As: | Categories: Controversy, Diablo III Classes, Gear Sets


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  1. It’s also nice that the male WD has a beer gut.

    • Lol, never noticed that. Drinking too much JuJu I guess!

      In all honesty though, I think it’s idiotic how muscular they make men usually. Have you guys SEEN Starcraft II’s Jim Raynor? He and his crew are taking steroids like they’re going outta style! Their proportions are wacky.

      They were probably going for that, but for me, that just made me facepalm and go:

      • I thought Jim and others are really well proportioned. There are real people out there way more deformed and outrageous looking.
        And Humans would need the best to save their arses….wouldn’t they? 🙂 

  2. Frankly anybody that gets offended by how a character looks in a video game should go sit in the back seat of the bus with the soccer moms.  I mean really?  The starting gear for Demon Hunter and Wizard is irksome?  You’re free to dislike a chosen art style just as you’re free to choose what kind of foods you like to eat, but that whole article reeks of feminism.  Oh no, don’t show off the female figure, it’s not right!  It’s wrong to show a female as a sex object despite the fact they dress that way to get attention all the time!  Sexy sells, get over it.  The only valid point in the whole article is that it makes no sense to wear armor that looks like a bikini, I mean…that protects what exactly?

    • Oh no, women rejecting an unreasonable and vastly differing standard of beauty! Anything but that! :(((( Save me, sutasafaia!

      • Unreasonable standard of beauty, yes, but we’re talking about a video game. Standards of beauty are always higher in video games, comics, movies, etc. (i.e., fiction) for both men and women. Both men and women like to look at beautiful people. And do you think the average man looks as masculine as the male Barbarian, let alone the female Barbarian?
        As for “differing standard of beauty,” I’m not so sure what is meant by that. It looks interesting, but does it actually mean anything?
        That being said, I’m pro more practical armor for women in video games, television shows, and movies. However, the woman who wrote this opinion piece seems to be a bit extreme. She seems to be offended by the sexuality of women on any level in video games, which is strange since all human beings are sexual on some level. I think she has some growing up to do.

    • “it makes no sense to wear armor that looks like a bikini, I mean…that protects what exactly?”

      The M rating…

    • “The only valid point in the whole article is that it makes no sense to wear armor that looks like a bikini, I mean…that protects what exactly?”

      Uhh, you validated her entire argument. She is writing about female character models being unrealistic, and it looks like you agree with her. I didn’t read any sort of feminist agenda in her article.

    • And feminism is a bad thing? All it’s asking is for men and women to be treated the same or do you reckon we should make women into second class citizens where we can all oggle at them while men lech?

      Sexy sells is not the issue, sexy to only men is the issue, why should women be treated differently? I hate to have to inform you but women dress up because you know they like to wear clothes and not be naked, it’s your problem if you get cheap thrills from that. Just switch the issue 180 and imagine walking down the street being drooled after and given admiring looks from all the women, then imagine half of those women are old, or ugly, a quarter of them are just rude to you, another portion just wolfwhistle and say how they’d hit that, and maybe just maybe one woman tries to be nice and normal and not opens the door for you because well you’re a man. If that doesn’t explain the situation try imaging that but having women substituted for bi/gay men.

      TLDR Get over here into the 21st century and stop being a pig.

      P.S. Yes I’m a bloke 

      • Social conditioning at its finest.

        • It’s sad really, they had to end the post on a personal insult.  I had a good reply all typed out, even had it posted for about twenty minutes, but then remembered my #1 rule about discussions on the internet: Don’t bother trying to have an intelligent discussion with somebody who thinks personal insults belong in said discussion.

          • Saying that you’re “being a pig” (which you are) is a little different than saying you are a pig.

            That said, if you’re so against people who involve personal insults in discussion, why are you willing to converse with “Matt”? Or does this just apply when people personally insult you

      • Contemporary feminism is a bad thing, yes. Much of it has to do with feminizing boys, masculinizing girls, making men look bad, making women look good, and giving women special privileges over men. Oh, and they do all of this while they brainwash people into thinking that women are still second-class citizens in first-world countries like the US.

        • Pretty much this.  Real feminism isn’t even limited to men/women being equal, it’s about making every human being equal in every way possible for every reason no matter what.  It’s about genuinely removing any differences between a person based solely on anything other than talent, skills, intelligence, etc.  Sadly I think the ideals of true feminism won’t ever come fully to fruition without a utopian world, but that said, I applaud people who are willing to fight for genuine equality between all.

        • Care to cite any sources on those claims, or are we just supposed to assume that you’re full of shit and not bother asking?

  3. 🙄 1st (and last) visit to TheMarySue.com

    • I just read the rest of the article, and it wasn’t that bad.

      She discusses Kerrigan and a couple of other things from Diablo II and SC. 

  4. They’re wearing plausible armor.  Plausible, high-heeled armor.

    • No shit right?  The demon hunter’s female version is so poorly designed in that area.  I don’t think anyone would have high heels in a demon infested world.

  5. The female Barb looks great – Blzzard did a really good job giving her the mass to look physically imposing while retaining her femininity.

    • yeah I totally agree blizzard did a really nice job making her, but I am still playing male barb :d

    • They didn’t do a good job at retaining her femininity at all. Big bones and bulky muscles with hard facial features does not equal feminine.
      That being said, she does look imposing.

  6. I mostly play male characters and the two characters I plan on playing female (Wizard and Monk) I am naming after my daughters, so it would feel weird for me running them around in steel bikinis.

  7. Incgamers should put up a poll to see if people want their video game women to be “realistic” or have huge boobs, tiny waists, and skimpy armor.

  8. If I want to see mostly naked hot female skin I don’t need a video game*. But I’ll let D3 provide the sweet characters, items, leveling, skills, and coop.
    * I meant my wife, but you’re right, the internet works too.

  9. The women in the game have to look realistic in every way, just like all the demons, spells, and other things in D3 that also exist in real life.

  10. I’m trying to understand the thrust of this piece. 

  11. What i dislike about male/female character design in d3, is how uneven it is. Witch doctor is good example, where male has that beer gut (which is great), and female version instead of being really nasty witch with saggy tits, is a superhot model type.
    And in the other hand barbarian female version looks like DDR athlete from mid 80’s (on steroids). 

    • Beneath the makeup she´ll probably look like the male WD lol. Have you seen the way she walks around like she has a big shit in her pants? And how she annoyingly screams until people playing her get tinitus? Not very lady like…I don´t think it´s very uneven at all 😀

      • Unfortunately, the female WD’s screeching when she spams certain spells is a huge turnoff for me :(.  She looks cool and all, but I prefer the male WD’s noises.  

        Sounds a little wrong that paragraph, but meh :P. 

    • “in the other hand barbarian female version looks like DDR athlete from mid 80?s (on steroids)”
      This is what i was thinking too 😀 but i think female barb is fine i will only make male barbs tho.

  12. And what would hold a girl in rl play a male char in D3? Exactly…nothing. While there are also lots of guyz out there playing female chars in games for no particular reason other then aesthetics.

    D3 is not a game aiming for realism. COD is. How would the barb look bashing monsters to the moon while looking all real and stuff – ridiculous. 

    I think Diablo games allways got just the right look considering context and graphics for the characters and I love how all female chars look in D3. 

  13. I also thought it was very brave for Blizz to add a trans-gender option… the “male” wizard.

  14. They should add the female barb a mustache to make it more real, she doesn’t have time to pluck that! also make her the same age as the male barb and give her white hair! so what if noone will play her? the game will get a good review from some god forsaken site so it must be a good change!

  15. And here we are back to the male and female debate again, personally I really don’t care, steel bikinis, high heeled chain boots? Really, as long as it suits the characters mantra and overall look then it’s fine, the female barb wears the correct armour for her class yeah, would I care if she was more femme? No.

    Developers can portray a character any which way they wish, if you all want to interpret your on screen character as a sex symbol then go for it, yay for you, enjoy it. For those that find their character ‘too much of a sex symbol’ play the opposite sex then. This game isn’t about realism (and neither is COD shynta you doofus), it’s about fun and looking awesome, personally if I lived in the Diablo universe, I’d want to look awesome while slaying demons…in fact what I wear day to day isn’t practical, I wear it to look good…so in that sense, steel bikinis and high heeled boots aren’t that bad really!

    • Mantra…? rly? -_-

      And dont make me a doofus you pants lady  -_- read again what i wrote maybe you will understand what I said. And I will explain it to you again just to make sure. i said COD AIMS for realism > not that it is all bout realism, nor that it succeeds no nothing. I frankly hate COD and I think it sucks bad, graphics and all.

      Games are not ment for realism – its a place where people should get a rest from reality and just relax.

      And read again what I wrote..like rly. You will be amased to find out it’s exactly the same opinion as yours.    

      • COD doesnt aim for realism at all, maybe if you served in the Armed Forces at some point in your life you’d see that it hasn’t got an inkling of realism in it. COD aims for sales and easability of play. If you want to see a FPS that aims for realism look ARMA up, at least it is actually aiming towards it.
        As for the Diablo discussion, my post wasn’t in reply to you and yes they are of the same direction of thought, although why you can’t understand my use of mantra is beyond me, I mean it in the context of the characters beliefs and style should reflect in the art direction, look it up in the dictionary, along with aim(s) while you’re in there. If you can read it through all the squinty eye faces you’re pulling at me!

        • Well at least I am stating my opinions without calling anyone ‘names’.
          I understand very well the meaning of the word mantra but i think forcing it in this context was just inappropriate.

          And COD is aiming for realism in a way in which proportions of characters and the way they move and behave in the environment and the context given. My statement is relevant to the discussion in this case.
          I do not need to serve in the army to understand anything and again I think your way of telling it was intended to offend and just be malicious gratuitously and simple minded.

          And I also think this dialogue is going nowhere. Hence I will not reply anymore as i am cretain it is useless anyway and just inflames this forum further more.

          At least we agree on the fact that D3 has nothing to do with reality and it looks good just as it is.

          Thank you.

          • Movement and proportions of characters? You feel like a giant in COD, everything feels absolutely huge, it’s rediculous…and movement…WHAT? the fact that your character is bipedal and can move on an XYZ axis makes it aim for realism? Please, gravity doesn’t even function in COD, let alone the fundamentals of everything else. I usually don’t get irate but you’ve caught me on a bad day and someone saying COD aims for realism just makes me want to strangle a kitten.
            Oh and FYI, no-one would react or act the way anyone does in the COD storyline in those situations. COD’s an action movie flick turned into a game and dumbed down for the masses to play. Realism and COD just don’t go together, never in this lifetime should they ever be associated with each other.
            I’m stating my opinion, on your misguided views. Yeah at least it’s agreeable on D3 but even then the COD/realism thing drives me so mad I’d want to disagree just for the sake of it now!

      • Maybe some people want a place to relax that also doesn’t bathe them in sex appeal.

        It’s not about “realism” versus “fantasy”, it’s about fighting the idea that all fantasy has to be male-oriented fantasy. 

        • Hate to break this to you, bud, but beautiful female characters does not necessarily equate to “male-oriented fantasy.” One day when you meet and talk to a woman you’ll understand.


            I never said that the appearance of beauty necessarily equates to “male-oriented” beauty, so keep on shoving words in my mouth and pretending that it makes you smart.

            “Beauty” is a highly subjective thing, and you’d be an ignorant fool to deny that the interpretation of beauty that’s most prominent in the fantasy genre at large – be it in video games or elsewhere –  is driven from a male point of view rather than a female or gender-neutral one.

            This is the sort of issue that’s not a problem for everyone, but it is a big problem for some people. Just because it’s not a problem for you doesn’t mean that no problem exists.

  16. The male DH should wear high heels.

  17. If the game is fun, I couldn’t care either way how the male/female chars look like, in all honesty – will be too busy smashing monsters to worry about details like that 🙂

    Though, it is refreshing that the different classes have some physical differences, making it easy to get into the mindset of what the class is about.

    Concerning the female DH, I think she’s a failure – my first thought wasn’t ‘Damn! She’s hot!!!’, it was more like ‘Erm…What exactly is she doing in Sanctuary?’.
    The eyecandy in a game like Diablo should come from the activities of your characters, not from the characters themselves. But that’s my opinion, I guess… 

  18. No offense to anyone, but I’ll just say that I like chain-mail bikinis :P. Though in a game like D3 where you character is all of 2inches tall, it doesn’t really matter lol.

  19. There are differences between the things that are in real life, and those that are logic in a game. Just because there aren’t fire spells in real life, that doesn’t mean that you can put anything you want into the game, including women that for “armor” understands some creepy lingerie set. When you create a world you have to make it look logical (“diegesis”, if someone’s interested).

    I’m sure that the mentally-illed wow players and other people with childish minds (12 years old, or 30, doesn’t mind) won’t (want to) understand it, but making plausible choices comes from a aesthetic search of realism, even in a “fantastic” world.

    Oh, and thats also a critic to the Demon Hunter’s stillettos.

    • As a developer, they could put anything they want in the game.  Nothing says what they can or can’t put into their own game.  You don’t even need a “logical” world as you put it.  Also, the fact that you call all wow players “mentally-ill” pretty much negates anything you say about them not being able to “understand it”, and in fact makes it look like you have a childish mind as well.

  20. Just wanted to point out that I like playing sexy, high heels, steel bikini wearing female characters and I’m a grown man. I wouldn’t mind the Wiz to be even sexier than she is now. Realism has no real place in D3 universe overall. Still, have to say that I mind a bit some of the design solutions they’ve made regarding the characters and gameplay. The fact that monk for example can carry weapons and still pretty much always insta-switches to hand combat in battle, and that the slender female wiz can carry HUGE weapons. She is totally going to be my main character anyways, she looks good and wiz is awesome in every way. Most enjoyable class to play in the beta too, imho.

    EDIT: and yes, I understand this post is both agreeing realism and denying it. Twisted mind, I guess.

  21. When I play games and watch movies, I like to see attractive people on the screen. Blizzard should have looked at fitness models and female athletes, who generally look awesome. They do not bulk up the way the female barbarian is in D3, due to having less testosterone than men. In my opinion Blizz went beyond realistic into the realm of political correctness with her. Should she look bigger and more muscled than the other female classes? Sure. But this? Too much. The male barbarian looks pretty realistic, like a powerlifter who isn’t juiced, with a functional musculature. I wouldn’t have made him old and gray, but I guess there’s some story reason for that.

    • It’s not about fitness model lol.
      It’s about the barbarian culture and how blizzard thinks their people are, he males are crazy big and femals are big tall women. It makes sense and it fits the lore.

  22. I like Diablo 3 models they look right whereas something like TERA is way over the top imo,
    I don’t mind a bit of skin but TERA really feels like it’s only there for male virgins and is imo an insult referring to the cliché of the lonely male gamer that masturbates on his sexy toon.

  23. I like the design for the female characters/models in Diablo III. I find well designed, full coverage armor very appealing, both from pure aesthetics and the sense of power and strength. The Diablo games by far have followed this convention, especially for the female characters. Sure a level 1 Rogue or Amazon is not fully covered, but their appearance in full plate/heavy armor is awesome. There was one brief (DII) patch window where armor colors weren’t as exaggerated in saturation as they are now and I had an Amazon in what looked like pure silver plate armor – just jaw dropping gorgeous. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is another curious example, where all the armor (even the mage outfits) is full coverage and very practical/believable. It’s only the female, non-combat NPCs that walk around in min-skirts and cleavage revealing dresses (though even that is explained a part of race’s cultural fashion).
    Although I do agree that the Demon Hunter (male and female!) should leave the high heels at home.

  24. everyone, please calm down. we’re all friends here. i tried to think of something wise and philosophical and intelligent to add to this discussion, but I failed (even if I did, not like it would change anything unless people started petitions for video game changes)

  25. Keyword here is “Game”. They could be “one-eyed lesbo werewolves with 3 breasts” and I still wouldn’t care. People need to realize most people play video games to escape the realism of real life. “Typical” or “Usual” should not be in fantasy games. Sure, they should throw in 3 different body types though, just to please everyone in my opinion too. Throw in a Supermodel hot, a Fat obese body type, and a “real-life” version. Chances are, most people will pick the “supermodel” version.

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