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Author Topic: Alternative female mage art?  (Read 28809 times)

Trotsky

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Alternative female mage art?
« on: December 26, 2013, 06:25:02 PM »
Is there any possibility of some alternative art work for the female mages? I find the current artwork is in stark contrast to the male characters. Whereas the male characters are dressed appropriately for combat the female characters are a little underdressed. This anomaly detracts from otherwise fine artwork.

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2013, 06:40:18 PM »
I agree. So far the only female mage we've seen that isn't wearing clothes better suited to a porno or S&M scene is the Wizard...and she isn't even in the game yet.

Unfortunately there are no better-dressed versions of the females mages. It's one of the few things that really bothers me about this game.

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2013, 07:33:47 PM »
None of the mages are dressed appropriately for combat when they first enter the arena. That's what equipment spells are for.

That being said, Mages are a lot less fragile than normal humans. A normal human usually has about 10 life. A Mage can have more than three times that amount! They can survive being slashed at with a sword without any armor, and without bleeding all over the place. When they're incapacitated from a heavy blow, they get back up fairly quickly, and don't enter a coma. They can take an arrow to the knee and still run! While their physical strength is about the same as a non-magical person, their durability is FAR greater.

If the female Mages were wearing high heels and constricting corsets, then I would be worried too. But I looked, and none of the current mages wear high heels or corsets. The Priestess isn't wearing high heels, she's wearing boots and holding one of her feet up. The Druid wears sandals. The Johktari Beastmaster goes barefooted. And the Forcemaster is completely covered and is wearing boots. While I admit that their outfits are a bit more revealing around the chest area, they are not obscenely so. Why every single female mage so far has big breasts could be chalked up to either coincidence or their bodies being enhanced by the presence of magic in them. It would be nice if other genders were represented in Mage Wars though. However, there are only ten mages so far, and most people are a bit prejudiced about any gender that isn't "standard". I'm guessing that if and when we have a shapeshifter mage, they will be a gender-fluid man or woman who can change their sex. (the card art would depict whatever form they start in).

Also, for instance, at first I thought that an original Sympath would be a woman. Then I remembered that Sympathetic magic is focused on imitation and correspondence; copy mechanics. So a Sympath could probably be another gender-fluid mage if we ever get one, although they would be unable to change their sex, unlike the Shapeshifter.

(Gender is psychological and cultural, while Sex is merely outward physical characteristics. They're not the same thing, contrary to popular belief.)

While I agree with you that it is slightly sexist that the female mages' outfits are so form fitting and they all have large breasts, ultimately I think that is a bit trivial. Not only that, but I think it is inevitable at the moment. There are more men than women who play games like Mage Wars (or at least people think that's the case). Furthermore, most people in the world are sexist, even when they're certain they're not. I'm fairly sure that if Arcane Wonders started making mages with non-conforming genders and sexes at this time, the game would not sell as well. It's unfortunate, but right now Arcane Wonders has to appeal to a sexist audience in order to gain attention and increase the game's popularity. Or at least, that's how I see it. I could be wrong.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 07:40:22 PM by Imaginator »
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ringkichard

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2013, 11:44:20 PM »
This is an issue close to my heart for so many reasons. Of my first 50 comments on the Mage Wars forums, ~30 were in a thread I started on this subject. It might have been the first thread I started as a new member. The discussion was civil and thoughtful (and for my part, heavily illustrated). Sadly, that thread was moved to the off-topic area, and then deleted during the forum migration along with the rest of off-topic. Please believe me when I say that this issue has my attention, and I feel it is unfinished.

My opinions on this issue are complicated. Overall, I agree with Aylin and Trotsky: the depiction of women in Mage Wars is one of the few things that really bothers me in what is otherwise a remarkably excellent game.

When Anita Sarkeesian starts each installment of Tropes vs. Women, she gives a now standard disclaimer: that pointing out a sexist flaw in work you love does not prevent you from loving the rest of the work, or the work taken as a whole. And I do love Mage Wars, and to work with the designers and other play-testers who have made this game so beautiful is a great privilege.

But as a play-tester, I have responsibilities as well as privileges. In one sense, everything that I help create is partially my responsibility. But while I certainly hope to have my name written on the inside front cover of the next expansion, not everything that comes in that box will be as I want it. I suspect I'll disagree with other play-testers how to handle Iron Golem. I know I'll disagree with at least one designer about the value of Teleport. And, relevant to this conversation, I will probably not yet have my way on art direction for women's character models and costume. For my failures in this, I can only apologize. I know we can do better, and I feel we must.

Now, I want to stress that I'm speaking for myself, as an individual only. I am not a spokesperson for Arcane Wonders, and working as a play-tester is as close to a volunteer position as the law allows. The only official statement Arcane Wonders has made on this issue is that they have continued to print new pinup-y art for the women's mage card illustrations. But art assets are purchased well ahead of time, and even if a dramatic course correction were made today, its effects might not be visible in new product for at least a year's time. I do not know what current thinking is on this matter, and even if I did, I would not be allowed to discuss it.

But generally, I do believe that geek-culture has a reckoning coming to it, that -- to paraphrase William Gibson -- it thinks it's too smart to be sexist. And the art issue is only part of the broader issue of sexism in gaming: I cringe at the reaction whenever Alfiya Pope's picture is posted on the Mage Wars Facebook page. She's frequently in group photos with Bryan or Patrick or others, at cons or shows, always dressed in the same conservative black polo shirt that the rest of the crew wears, or in a blue business suit. And without fail, someone in the comments treats her like a booth babe. But no one ever cat-calls Bryan.

Obviously I can't speak for Alfiya, and I don't mean to imply that I agree with her or that she agrees with me (I don't know her). The last time I brought up gender issues on AW forums, overall some people agreed with me, some more did not, and truthfully, most were indifferent. But this issue is important to me, so I thought it might be time to revisit it. Thank you for the opportunity.

There's so much more to say about this: about gender's role in the marketing practice of segmentation, about the art-historical role of costume, gender and orentalized sexuality in the depiction of "the other", about Watsonian versus Doyalist explanations for appearance, etc. But it's past midnight, and I don't want to monopolize this conversation... like I did last time. If anyone wants to PM me about this, I'd be happy to hear from you.
-Bon courage!
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DarthDadaD20

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2013, 11:52:14 PM »
Im just going to say:

There is Multiple threads for this already. Multiple

And these threads often lead to disagreement with no resolution, and sometimes heated arguments:

Lets keep it light guys. There are opinions and one big gray area.
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ringkichard

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2013, 12:33:15 AM »
I just searched the forums for either of the keywords "female" or "woman" and did not find many at all. Perhaps you could link me to some? There were only ~30 results total, and most didn't seem relevant. They were all civil and respectful, though, so I wonder what you mean by your tone complaint?
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 12:35:44 AM by ringkichard »
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Sailor Vulcan

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #6 on: December 27, 2013, 01:05:51 AM »
Ringkichard

What you just did is exactly what DDD was talking about. So perhaps there aren't that many other threads about this, and DDD was wrong to think that there were. That's no reason to snap at him.

This issue is just as important to me as it is to you, if not more so. However, I don't want to invite explosive controversy into a game I love before it becomes popular enough to handle it safely. This forum isn't just viewed by people who currently play mage wars, but also by prospective players. And even if your previous discussions about this on the forums were civil, I would probably chalk that up to pure dumb luck and a smaller forum community.

Have you seen how heated many of us get about in game rules issues? Do you really think it's realistic to expect everyone to be civil when they engage in or even just see this much more significant real-life topic of discussion? No matter what one's views are on this topic, most people who read about it get upset.

What do you think most prospective players would think when they see us arguing on these forums about the finer points of politics, society, history and philosophy, instead of mage wars? They would think, "these are angry stuffy people who can't just relax and enjoy the game". Or maybe they'll think that "mage wars is too complex and stressful to get into, hence why people argue about other things." Neither of those are true of course, but that doesn't change the real possibility that people might think that and that those thoughts will influence how well mage wars sells.

We should keep this sort of discussion to private messaging, at least for now. That way only forum members will see it.
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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2013, 01:15:29 AM »
Well there were many- there were many on BGG- I have seen them...Im not going to even look for them to give a link. And if something had happened to them- there must be a good reason. (Such as there are WAY to many of the same thread, or they got out of hand)

And my tone was that of- I have seen this thread 20 times before.

And yeah- All I was trying to say that I have seen them end badly, and that everyone should be prepared for the conversation at hand and remember to remain respectful.

Sorry if I have somehow offended you Ringkichard with however you interpreted my "tone".  (I didn't feel however that you lashed out or anything!  ;D )

And I chose not to add to the conversation since, I have been threw it a few times before on threads that apparently are not around anymore.
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Trotsky

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2013, 02:28:50 AM »
I would be happy if some alternative art versions were available,  even printable ones -  any chance this might happen?

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2013, 07:41:44 AM »
You know- with the print and play model gaining some ground- thats a great idea.

I think youre really on to something Trotsky.

I mean- its just a mage card...why not.
Where does my greatest enemy lie?
It has been around since the dawn of time,
it follows your loved ones as well as mine,
takes the form of a mountain as well as a flower,
it cannot be outrun by the greatest of power.
Where does my greatest enemy lie?
Within Shad0w.

DeckBuilder

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2013, 08:04:42 AM »
(Dons flameproof Elemental Cloak and ventures into this political minefield...)


Mage Wars is escapism in a Swords & Sorcery world.

Swords & Sorcery, epitomised by Frank Frazetta's "classic" Conan art, is incredibly sexist in its depictions.
Frank Frazetta sexualised both the women and the men in his art (some Conan art was very homoerotic).
If anyone has read Robert Howard's Conan books, they are incredibly sexist, a sign of the times back then.
We have Lotus Nightshade and maybe other reverential references to Conan literature within Mage Wars.
Howard wasn't a Professor of Linguistics like Tolkien who created languages, he was pure Pulp Fantasy.

Does its background Sword & Sorcery heritage make the blatant sexualisation of women in Pulp Fantasy ok?
No, it's not ok. But it's in keeping with the 70s retro tone that most of the Mage Wars art so far seems to have.

The real question is: "is it offensive?"

If the setting was not Pulp Fantasy but is meant to portray a possible reality in a distant way (say cyberpunk), yes.
In Netrunner, I take issue with Director Haas as I feel it panders to IT geek misogyny, hating their savvy female superiors.
However, I found buxom advertising resources like Eve Campaign to be sufficiently knowing, self-parodying, not offensive.
In fact FFG cleverly played it safe, releasing Adonis Campaign first in Core Set to deflect accusations of sexism.

Would Big Bang Theory work if Penny and Amy were reversed in looks? No, it wouldn't because looks do matter.
Nor would it work if Leonard looked like one of the jocks Penny dated; our hero has to look like an archetypal geek.
This show's stereotyping works both ways and self-deprecating humour (often at the expense of geeks) is why it works.

We all stereotype, no matter how politically correct we think we are.

Joss Whedon has made a career of mixing genre stereotypes to "break the mould".
Space + Cowboys
High School + Vampires (+ Musicals in the classic "Once More With Feeling" episode)
This mixing genres means he plays on stereotypes, even if he sometimes subverts it.
Does anyone ever ask: "why is it that all Vampire Slayers are beautiful?"
(And yes, the bad one with the ironical name is just that little bit more...)
Maybe beauty is part of the job description for being "The Chosen One"...

This is very difficult because I'm normally a political correct person (belonging to at least 2 minorities).
But gaming, especially this game which is so theme heavy like a roleplaying duel, is pure escapism.

I've therefore come to the conclusion that stereotyping in escapist literature is fine if that genre is far from reality.
This "distance from reality" check is an important criteria so as to ensure perception is not transfered to real life.
Because that's when it stops being harmless fun and becomes detrimental to the objectified societal segment.

We all (even if in denial) associate racial stereotypes, both in real life and in fantasy.
Gender stereotyping will occur because men and women are instrinscally different.
To pretend otherwise is do a disservice to the strengths of each gender that we should celebrate.

It is no coincidence that Star Trek Voyager's ratings went up after Seven of Nine was introduced.
And that's crucial here: this game is trying to appeal to the broadest segment of its target market.
It needs to appeal because it needs to sell; that's the bottom line here, not a political statement.

Geeks are often inadvertently sexist.
The stereotype that geeks are awkward around women is, like many stereotypes, based on a common trait.
I don't think there's any harm meant by this passive sexism; it's more an indicator of a lack of understanding.
I know I'm horribly generalising here, that this stems from insecurities etc - but self-awareness is important.

Pulp Fantasy is by definition a gross simplification.
Everything is black and white: there is Good and there is Evil (ok, there may be a Neutral grade in-between).
It doesn't go for depth like how the Surgeon seeking an elixir for his dead daughter became a Necromancer.
It doesn't explore the tyranny of too much holy law and the need for individuality but not to excess (Babylon 5).
It doesn't blur the borders of delusion and belief and ask you: "what makes something real?" (Philip K. Dick).
Pulp Fantasy does not do character motivation, philosphy or blur reality like the best sci fi & fantasy out there.

Mage Wars is Pulp Fantasy.
It's not a bad thing because sometimes you just want that brainless action movie - because it's entertaining!
It is a license to escape into a simpler world where we can simply associate tropes ingrained in our psyche.

Elves are effete, drink wine (or elderberry juice), often vegetarian, maybe eco-warriors, maybe logical (Vulcan)
Dwarves are gruff, quaff ale, sharpen axes, wear piercings and tattoos, honour death in battle (Viking, Klingon)
Goblins are short, cunning, back-stabbing, avaricious, hatch plots that backfire hence often comedic (Ferengi)

Everything in Pulp Fantasy is a Cypher.
That's why Mage Wars gets away with it.


However...

I advise MW to appeal to more than Middle America's White Male Heterosexuals if they are to break new markets.

The occasional humourous subversion of these cliche stereotypes would be great.
Everything is po-faced, even flavour text, that this lack of poking fun at itself makes depictions more dangerous.
We see this role-reversal in Pixar animation where the beautiful damsel rescues the prince (it's become cliche).
There is absolutely no such subversion in Mage Wars: it's so straightforwardly stereotypical, it's embarrassing.
Geeks are blessed with intelligence and frankly, some of it may condescend them.

I would bet that MW sales per capita in Middle America are better than the Coasts.
I know politically America has become 2 countries but is it also the same culturally?
Here in the UK (and I bet our German posters may agree), sexism is a major issue.
MW can play the "oh it's so delightfully retro chic it's avant garde" card only for so long.
It really needs to break out of its anachronisms if it wants to appeal to other societies.

So my position on Mage Wars art depiction of females is that it needs to step up a gear.

Add humour so that any perceived sexism can be deflected as lacking a sense of humour.
Make it work both ways - yes, that does mean an armoured Xena and a Tarzan-like himbo.
Subvert stereotypes (carnivorous plants was a lost opportunity for humourous vegetarian diet flavour text).
Don't patronise fans: it's a complex game and its fans are proud of their intelligence so pander to it instead.

In short, please be more subtle with your female depictions?
Because currently there may be US Coastal and European markets that view its retro art as anachronistic.
Retro is a fashion with no longevity unless tongue-in-cheek.

My grandmother uses racist language; I think many grandparents do and we accept it as generation culture.
When I look at Mage Wars art, I view it as Middle America, still stuck in Frazetta's scantily clad nubile women.
Just like my grandmother with her racist language, no malice is intended, it's just a culturally associated trope.
That's why I am less stressed than Kich on this - I just hope a more international perspective is adopted soon.


(A textbook example on how to anger both camps - my work is done here...)
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 08:38:07 AM by DeckBuilder »
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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #11 on: December 27, 2013, 08:27:48 AM »
I'm not trying to distract from the points made, but I'm honestly curious. What is wrong with the forcemaster's art?

Trotsky

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #12 on: December 27, 2013, 09:06:24 AM »
This discussion has become far more earnest than my initial post intended. Whilst I find some of the current depictions archaic and adolescent (particularly the female characters pronounced cleavage) I am not calling on Arcane Wonders to ‘change’ their art style only to make available ‘alternative’ versions that some of us would be more comfortable using, this in turn may make the game more accessible to others – I have had two people refuse to play the game based on their perception of the representation of female characters – alternative artwork would allow me to attempt re-engage them in a game I really enjoy – and my list of opponents is too small not to try.

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #13 on: December 27, 2013, 09:19:36 AM »
THat is unforchanet you have people who wish not to play the game with you.

COuld they just be happy if you take said cards out of your games???

Or you could try and reason with them (IDK if that would help your case in your situation, but if it was me...), I would ask them if they avoid television, internet, magazines with advertisements, or shopping malls since, they all too have a sexiest representation of females....and all of those mediums go a step further and are not pandering to just 20-30 year old males, but most often to other women, and young girls.

Again, I dont know if that would be a good route for you- but thats just what I would say. And it wouldn't hurt to ask that if you removed those cards from you game if it would be alright to play.

You could always print out your own, or use miniatures. See if that would help  ;D
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 09:22:19 AM by DarthDadaD20 »
Where does my greatest enemy lie?
It has been around since the dawn of time,
it follows your loved ones as well as mine,
takes the form of a mountain as well as a flower,
it cannot be outrun by the greatest of power.
Where does my greatest enemy lie?
Within Shad0w.

DeckBuilder

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Re: Alternative female mage art?
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2013, 09:27:04 AM »
I'm not trying to distract from the points made, but I'm honestly curious. What is wrong with the forcemaster's art?

You got me bang to rights there! As I've written almost every time I've posted about the Forcemaster...

Let's face it, she looks far cooler than the other mages (although Jokhtari may beg to differ).

Yes, she is an awesome-looking clothed female Jedi/Sith Lord, proof that you don't need to keep them in bikinis.

However, would it be unfair to say that this isn't always the case?
I don't have the cards but is Samandriel (most powerful female creature) in a bikini like Jokhtari and Priestess?
This is so dangerous posting at work without the cards but I'm sure I'd subconsciously spotted a subtext here.
Women in Etheria prefer to sunbathe, not shop (oh dear, I'm gonna get clobbered by the PC brigade for that).

As Kich said elsewhere about a male and female of a new race: "he's dressed for the streets. she's dressed for the sheets".

Hey, this isn't my battle, it's Kich's: I just understand both views (you know what sitting on the fence gives you).

I'm personally fine with the art but the marketer in me thinks you should tone it down - or better still subvert it.
Imagine a female posing like in Michaelangelo's Thinker?
Or a male emerging from a shell like in Botticelli's Venus?
Ok, both too cultural as in-jokes but I'm sure there are US archetypes you can subvert.
It would just help to knowingly poke fun at fantasy tropes.
A bearded Dwarf Dowager berserker, with female breastplate, would solve that age old mystery...

It's really difficult because if you take a risk (like the Necromancer book which I love), you'll offend some people.
But if you don't take risks, you become stale and cliche to your "seen it all before" jaded market.
All I am proposing is a bit more humour, subverting what we fantasy fans expect - but in a way that doesn't jar.

Hey, I'm personally fine with your art (Nightshade Lotus is an incredibly beautiful masterpiece).
I just think you could alienate unexplored markets so should make Etheria feel less old-fashion.

So far the only non-white face is a savage barbarian shaman (female so scantily clad) who resists the colonising crusaders.
I'm not offended by it at all (in fact, I've said Kumanjaro is seeped in thematic strength).
But you can see how that sole depiction could be viewed, a very white colonial mindset.
All we're missing is a mincing elf bard and his spikey-haired warrior-maiden bodyguard and we'll have a full set!


Yes, the Forcemaster art is excellent and, with her brooding cowl, the best depiction of a mage of either gender.
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 09:44:15 AM by DeckBuilder »
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