Dragons and Vampires and Dragons, Oh My!

Today, Bethesda released the trailer for Skyrim’s downloadable content, called Dawnguard. Seems like it’ll be a vampires vs. crossbow-wielding townsfolk storyline, with shadow-flame horses you can ride and dragons swan-diving into frozen lakes. Makes sense, right?

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the DLC release, so when I first heard that it was about vampires, I was a little disappointed. The vampire part of Skyrim was one I paid little attention to, because I was too busy slaying Alduin, World-Eater to care. That and I didn’t accidentally catch vampirism, being a Redguard and having already been accidentally turned into a werewolf. (“Hey, guys! I definitely want to be a Companion. You guys are so cool! Meet you in a secret place at night? Sure! … Uh… you mean I have to become a werewolf now?”)

That being said, at least the vampires turn into gargoyle-looking bat creatures. And mounted combat? Hell yeah! It was always a bit of a buzzkill to have to dismount before fighting anything. (“I’m gonna get you, troll! … In a second!”) I’m also excited to see that demon horse? and some Dovah (or one, anyway). One of the most disappointing things about finishing the main storyline was not having any more dragon-related things to do. Despite the vampires, I look forward to playing Dawnguard, after I wait first for the release and then for the end of the cruel 30-day period in which Xbox has a monopoly over it.

In other video game news:

As I’ve said before, I fucking love dragons. And any game where dragons exist, I will want to play. So when I saw the trailer for Dragon’s Dogma, I thought to myself: omgomgomgdragonsdragons. I found out that it’s basically the Capcom answer to Skyrim, with you playing as the Arisen (code for Dragonborn), but this time with chimeras and griffins thrown in the mix too.

When I played the demo, the first thing that I did was go to the character creator. I expected a fairly limited level of modifications, thinking my character would have the obligatory double -D’s and weird hour-glass armor. (Seriously, even if a woman had a perfect hour-glass figure, her armor wouldn’t be form-fitted to her body like a too-small tank top. Anyway.)

I was enthusiastically wrong. Not only is there an enormous number of details you can change, the presets and how you can modify their bodies actually reflects a wide range of body diversity. You can make an actual fat woman, put actual wrinkles on her face, or make a muscular woman with 34Bs. I’m in character creator heaven. This link leads to the best video I could find that walks through the whole creation process:

Dragon’s Dogma Character Creator

As you can see, there are only a couple dark-skinned presets, which is a little disappointing. But given how amazing the rest of the creator is (and that you do get a variety of skin tones once you’re doing further edits), it’s a small blemish.

One thing I’m not thrilled about is the fact that, in the game, you have three companions who are called “pawns.” This makes me feel super awkward and classist. To make matters worse, I’ve been told that pawns are basically a race of people in another plane of existence who are incapable of making their own decisions, until I guess I summon them and tell them they’re going to fight with me now. After that big decision is made for them, they are loyal to their “master” and are willing to help you out/serve you. Pawns definitely sound like human pets. If I think of them as human-shaped spirits this might creep me out less.

Weird classism aside, the rest of the demo was fun, and I look forward to playing the real game soon. And before I play, I will make a 6-foot tall, 250-pound, 65-year-old woman warrior, and I will rejoice.

-Joanna

Advertisements

More Reasons to Love Skyrim (As If Anyone Needed More)

At this point, everyone knows that Skyrim is an awesome game. This statement should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been on the internet recently. I decided that instead of bothering with a big, long post that restates all of the virtues the rest of the internet has already brought to light, and then adding my own woman-centric reasons for loving Skyrim, I’m just going to make a list. These are the most important reasons why Skyrim should be praised, in terms of its fair treatment of women.

(Disclaimer: This should not be considered a complete list of reasons to love Skyrim. There are many more, like all of the Elder Scrolls lore and dragonsomgomgomg.)

1. Women who use magic aren’t inherently evil.

A typical fantasy trope is the evil sorceress. It’s everywhere, and I’m sick to death of it, especially because evil sorceresses are usually anti-clothes-wearing, and it promotes the idea that magic = power, and, naturally, that women with power = evil. I face that presumption every day, so why would I want it in fantasy?

2. Women are a wide variety of classes.

Fighters, student mages, bandits, hired thugs, farmers, merchants, etc. Women do everything men do. They do it the same way and with the same amount of clothing on. Sometimes they’re leaders, and sometimes they’re not. Regardless of who and where they are, they never seem like tokens. They seem to belong to their surroundings in the same way that the male characters do.

3. Women have personalities.

Skyrim does a pretty good job with the characters, both men and women. Everyone has a personality, and I never feel like I’m encountering “the mean fighter who has to play tough to survive in a man’s world” or “the shrewish farmer’s wife.” The women aren’t either too dumb, or mean, or hot, or nurturing to be believable. Both the men and women of Skyrim seem like real people.

4. Women fighters actually seem to have the muscle mass to fight.

One big issue with video games and artwork of women fighters is that they never seem sturdy enough for their profession. The men are big hulking masses, and the women are much frailer. It always seems like people who design the women didn’t want to sacrifice potential hotness in favor of realistic muscle mass. These concerns didn’t seem to bother the creators of Skyrim, who seemed to think that fighters of both sexes should be physically strong.

5. Women’s bodies don’t all look the same.

Despite the fact that the women in Skyrim were built off the same hourglass figure women are always based off of, there is some diversity in their shapes in sizes. Some are thinner, some are bigger, some have larger breasts, some have breasts you don’t even notice. They aren’t all clones of each other, and their body type makes sense based on their class. Priestesses are thinner than warriors, etc. And every woman’s waist size isn’t 15.

6. Lydia

Poor Lydia. “Sworn to carry your burdens,” she has the thankless task of carrying your improbable hoard of stuff, and help defend you in battles. I could make an obvious, trite statement about women as burden-bearers of society, but I’m not going to. I don’t think that the creators of Skyrim wanted me to see Lydia as a “chick-bodyguard” or something, so I’m not going to look at her like that. She just happened to be the warrior hanging around whenever you were being made thane and needed to be granted a vassal. She is a warrior before she is a woman.

To conclude, women are people in Skyrim. I couldn’t be happier that a mainstream, highly-acclaimed game has created such a fair portrayal of women. It gives me hope.

-Joanna