Despite my fondness for the Elder Scrolls games, I was not into modding them until Skyrim came out. Installing and managing mods seemed like far more effort than it was worth. I never understood a lot of the complaints about Oblivion gameplay, and beat it – on several, varied characters – completely unmodded, more than once. The same applied to Morrowind, With Skyrim, however, I discovered the Nexus Mod Manager, a tool that made modding the game fantastically easy.
I now have over 130 mods for Skyrim. Of those, I am most fond of my collection of armor mods, followed closely by weapons, allowing me to customize my character’s look in new and different ways. I especially like this because a lot of Skyrim’s vanilla armors are pretty bad. Glass and dwarven armor, in particular, annoy me. Glass armor looks like it should be heavy armor, and dwarven looks like you could hardly move in it. Dragonbone is nothing to write home about, either, and I find the elven armor somewhat boring compared to that of prior games. The other armors I generally like better, to varying degrees.
The other day I was browsing Nexus for mods, running across a few I liked, in particular a quicksilver retexture of Elven armor which makes a nice substitute for the notably absent Mithril material, and an Ivory retexture of glass as Ancient Falmer in a very attractive white-ish. I also ran across a mod purporting to make the “impractical” female armors more practical.
Now, ever since Daggerfall and Battlespire, which had some pretty stereotypically stripperific stuff for the women in them (Battlespire‘s profusuion of thongs for example) Elder Scrolls has, on the whole, kept the armor for the ladies pretty damn practical. Off the top of my head, the only truly skimpy armors for women have been in Skyrim – the Ancient Nord armor which is inexplicably classed as Heavy, worn by Aela the Huntress, and the Forsworn Armor, which is equally skimpy for the males.
I therefore knew things did not bode well when I clicked on that mod out of morbid curiosity. It turned out that the author basically objected to female armor having visible breast shapes, and his mod essentially modified the armors to cover the shape, and make the overall appearance much more similar to that of the male armors.
Now, Skyrim is a single-player game, so if that’s what you want, by all means play your game the way you want it. The idea, however, that these armors are impractical is hilarious. They might be fairly impractical (in some cases being made of material that clearly doesn’t exist in the real world) but not because they expose too much skin, and certainly not because they are shaped to the female form, which includes breasts.
It has evidently never occurred to whoever wrote this thing that it might actually be comfortable for women to wear armor that is designed for their form, rather than some designed for a man. No, apparently the mere appearance of boobs is “impractical” and needs to be modded away because clearly they are only there as fanservice to the men, not because women are actually shaped that way.
While thankfully this is just an obscure mod amid the admittedly huge selection of mods that will make your female character or companion run around Skyrim armored primarily in her underwear, it’s symptomatic of the larger silliness pervading the game community lately. Playing video games, especially RPGs, is all about becoming someone else, and living in a world other than the real world. Even those games that are about real events tend to be that way; real combat is nowhere near as fun as it is to play Medal of Honor or Call of Duty.
Furthermore, there is really nothing wrong with men, or for that matter women, wanting to see skimpy, impractical, sexy armor – some of the time. And some of the time is, contrary to the distressed wailings of professional victims like Anita Sarkeesian, when sexy impractical armor appears. Take WoW for example – yes, there’s skimpy silly outfits for women; there’s also quite practical, fully covering outfits. The starting outfit for the Death Knight comes to mind (I liked that one so much that I tailored all my Death Knight armor back to this appearance) , as do any number of fairly boring sets of robes. Other games may be almost all fanservice, but Elder Scrolls is not the only game with properly-dressed women.
Now granted, scantily-clad men are less prevalent, but this is not “because SEXISM/MISOGENY/PATRIARCHY RARRR!!” This is because A) gamers are mostly men B) men are mostly straight C) men are more visual in their sexuality than women are and D) women look for marks of status to the degree that they are visual. Men like naked women; women like well-dressed men, or “men in uniform”. Obviously none of this is universally true, but it’s pretty frequently true.
Could we use more sexy armors for men? Yes; I’d welcome that and not just in the name of equality – I’m bisexual, and although that comes with a pretty strong leaning towards women rather than men, I can definitely appreciate an attractive, sexy male. I’m sure men with stronger same-sex attractions than I would agree. There’s a shortage of male armor mods overall – sexy and otherwise.
If you want more sexy male armors, or more male armor mods in general, get out there and make them. It would be nice if game companies included more of this too. What we don’t need, though, is people coming up with more ways to pretend that simple male sexual attraction “treats women as sex objects.” This is a nonsense term that attempts to treat male sexuality as inherently boorish and inconsiderate (at best) so as to shame men into hiding it, and expressing it only when given permission by women. While some men are boorish and inappropriate, policing video game armor is not going to stop this, nor (by the same token) is the pixelated female we’re fantasizing about likely to get her feelings hurt by the oogling of the guy at the computer.
More importantly, the gaming world is a male space. Women are welcome, and the more of them, the better, but the game world doesn’t need to change to accommodate women. Women need to adjust themselves to the world of the gamer. Lots of women do this. What we don’t need, though, is more Anita Sarkeesians masquerading as gamers to find new sources of victimhood to fuel their political agenda.