This guest article examines the sex appeal of the female characters thus far revealed in Diablo III, and contrasts them to the hordes of bikini-clad bimbos seen in fantasy RPGs such as Everquest and World of Warcraft. Why doesn’t Diablo III have pin up-style girls like those other games? Is it a pro or a con that Diablo doesn’t have sexy night elves and bodacious human mages? Would you like to see such characters in D3, or do you prefer the greater level of “realism,” such that while the characters (male and female) might sometimes wear little more than fur briefs and armbands, at least they look crazy while they’re doing it?
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Does Diablo III need a “sexy” character?
Not every game does, but some of the most successful MMORPGs have pushed one fantasy woman to essentially become the face (literally and figuratively) of the franchise. Whether this helps create brand awareness, or boosts their marketing efforts, or brings in a wider variety of gamers, or just fulfills the fantasies of whichever artist created the image, I don’t know. But there’s a definite trend towards creating a hot female mascot, of sorts.
It’s a bit odd that RPGs do this; after all, one of the major selling points of such games is that the player can create their own custom avatar. This isn’t Tomb Raider or Mario or Sonic or Barbie’s Adventures; where you buy the game to play that character on the box.
Everquest is an obvious example; I don’t know much about the game, but I do know that blonde wizard in the blue gown-kini means Everquest. She’s prominently featured on the covers of the original game and all but one of the fifteen (yes, 15!) expansions. Usually in some yes, 15 pose, with a glowering bondage-themed, striped ogre, some sort of furry, or in the occasional dragon.
The World of Warcraft franchise isn’t as tied to any one model, but there’s definitely a theme of hot humanoid females in bikini-like costumes throughout the game. (Not that you hear many complaints from the predominantly-male fans about that.) The initial game box had the archetypal night elf female, who has featured so prominently in the game’s promotional artwork and cinematics. She did not make an Everquest-like return on the boxes of either the first or second WoW expansions, nor did any other half-naked women. Not that there aren’t plenty of them to be found in WoW; the human mages who like to cosplay, the wildly-popular succubus, and of course the 5000 other versions of that night elf. Click through a few pages of Blizzard’s fan art submissions if you doubt that the bikini girls are popular with the fans.
In contrast, the Diablo games have never featured much in the way of bikini girls. Yes, the Succubus from D1 did much to start the Victoria’s Secret-looking monster theme that’s now prevalent in every fantasy RPG game, but they were pixelly and unremarkable in the game itself, and weren’t featured in any of the marketing of publicity. Nor did they, nor any other female, bring the sexy back in Diablo II. You can find revealing images of the various female characters, but they’re not exactly styled and modeled to be sex symbol type box art.
The D2 guys made some efforts to cast the Amazon in that role in the pre-D2 days, with the help of her form-fitting, be-nippled breastplate (heh heh heh). But while she displayed an impressive physique, she wasn’t exactly wearing a leather bikini and a lot of jewelry while lolling about in a forest glade. We saw lots of other sexy versions of the female characters in D2, amazons in other breastplate poses, angry-looking Assassins, colorful Sorceresses with massive thighs, colorful Amazons with lots of feathers, and more. But while they’re showing skin, they’re not really designed to be sexy, accessible, inviting, etc.
The D3 females (so far) follow in that path. They’ve all been seen in fairly revealing clothing in some of their concept art, but so have their male counterparts. More to the point of this article, the D3 females thus far have not been sexy, in a “come hither” sort of way. They have fierce, warlike expressions. (On their faces and/or masks.) Of course they are fierce and warlike, but so should be the Everquest and WoW bimbos, who usually look more ready for Maxim than mayhem.
The question then, is will we see any sexier looks from the current or upcoming D3 females? Or do soft, vulnerable, accessible, beddable females belong in other, lesser fantasy worlds? There aren’t any in D3, unless you count NPCs? By traditional standards, the sexiest female thus far seen in D3 is Leah! (Or maybe Adria, coming on strong from the MILF division?)
Personally, I don’t see Blizzard deviating from their current path. The females in Diablo games will remain attractive, but very strong and dangerous. They won’t be seen in Playboy bunny looks, poses, outfits, or accessories. If there were going to be a sex-kitten style of character, she’d probably have been the Wizard. The Everquest blue girl and the WoW babes are mages of various types, for obvious reasons. Magic-users can wear flowing gowns and sexy tiaras and don’t need to look battle hardened or muscular or scarred, the way warrior females do. The female D3 wizard is kinda sexy, but her styling and personality is patterned after the weirdly pierced and tattooed Sorcerer of Diablo I. That no-doubt moves her squarely into “fantasy girl” territory for some fetishists, but for most male fans she’s kind of weird, and maybe a little emo.
After all, there’s already a famous face of the franchise. Diablo. Sure, Baal stepped in for him on the box of D2X, but by intent or accident, our favored RPG franchise has become identified with the monsters you battle, rather than the characters you play. The characters change in each game (more or less), and they’re featured on the inside fold of the box, but the titular star of the show, and the cover model, has always been the main boss monster. (The D1 expansion Hellfire wasn’t named after anyone, and the cover art was abstract, but that title wasn’t produced by Blizzard, so it’s somewhat non-canon.)
I don’t think Diablo III needs a sex kitten type character model, and that one would be out of place… at least if she were a playable character. The perfectly misnamed land of Sanctuary is harsh and cruel, and it quickly burns the softness and vulnerability out of any adventurer it doesn’t kill first. The heroes should be scarred, angry, violent, and dangerous. Find them sexy at your own peril. Whether this canonically-accurate interpretation translates into an intelligent marketing and promotional scheme I’m not sure, but that’s for Blizzard’s PR department to worry about. We fans just want a great game!
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