Meet the (Newer, Sexier) Team

Between my inability to find a game that holds my attention and my renewed excitement for the game because of its recent content patch, I’ve been playing a lot of Team Fortress 2 lately.  That will change when The Sims 3 launches tomorrow, but that’s another blog post for another time.

I subscribe to Digg’s gaming feed, which means I see one interesting story out of every fifty that hits my feed reader.  The gaming section at Digg is rampant with sexism, from the almost daily articles that list the sexiest female video game characters of all time to the comment sections that are typically filled with negative opinions of female beauty (hint: if she doesn’t have a body like Lara Croft, she’s unworthy of a Digg user’s affections).

Criticizing Digg users, or Digg in general, is yet another blog post for another day, though.  I only mention Digg because, among the usual Top 10 articles and booth babe videos, occasionally a link will come down the line advertising something along the lines of “TF2 — with chicks!”

Parodies of TF2 are pretty common, perhaps because the characters are so iconic.  Along with a Left 4 Dead version and a rendition of the characters done with papercraft, an all-female TF2 cast is just one of the many interesting takes on the game.  While looking through the various female TF2 images recently, though, I realized that the majority of the depictions share a common feature: the lady versions of the classes are extremely sexualized.

I’ll preface this by saying that, no, not all of the depictions I’ve seen are sexualized.  There are a few images that manage to create a concept of an all-female TF2 team that isn’t overly sexualized.  This “Ladies’ Night” image is more cutesy than sexy, this rendering of an all-female “Team Fortress 3″ shows the ladies looking both menacing and feminine, and this drawing of a female engineer depicts a builder who is certainly attractive but whose feminine assets aren’t absurdly exaggerated.

Select_A_Class____by_ghostfire It’s fair to say, though, that the most well-known drawings of female TF2 characters are the ones that feature sexy, scantily clad women.  Arguably the most famous is the one created by Julia Lichty, pictured at right (click for full size).  Note the prominent breasts and skin tight clothing shared among all the women, even the sporty scout.  There is another line-up image created by T03nemesis, and while this artist drew a few of the classes in a slightly less sexual way — particularly the heavy and the demowoman, the latter of whom was inspired by “some crazy bitch [he] saw” — you can see that he also favors drawing the ladies with large breasts and tight, revealing clothing.

I’ve encountered a few other fan depictions over the last couple of months.  The following images of a pyro, demowoman, soldier, and scout (sadly I don’t know who drew them, so I can’t give credit) are drawn in a pin-up style.  In most of the drawings the body proportions are a bit more realistic, but the clothing and poses remain as sexualized as the others I’ve linked.

The point of this article is not to criticize the artists who are creating these images.  I enjoy looking at these images as much as anyone who appreciates the female body.  I even bought Boyfriend a bookmark from Lichty’s store that features her female spy.  I recognize that these illustrators are extremely talented artists and admire the work they’ve done.  No, the point of this article isn’t to criticize but to question.  Why are so many of the female versions of the TF2 classes sexualized when the original, male cast of TF2 is not?  Why is a female version of something automatically expected to be sexy, while a male version can be depicted as…normal?

tf2guysLooking at the original drawing of the TF2 cast (at left, click to see full size), there’s nothing very attractive about any of the men.  Sure, the scout is athletic, the spy is suave, the medic has chiseled features, and the engineer has a homey sort of charm.  But it would be difficult to say that the men of TF2 are sexy.  They’re not intended to be sexy, I’d guess because appearance isn’t significant when it comes to protecting intelligence or carting explosives.

A couple of the TF2 cast members could even be considered unattractive, when judged along the lines of typical American standards of beauty.  The pyro is overweight, as is the heavy, and the demoman — the token member of color unless the pyro is something other than white beneath that face mask — is a self-described cyclops.  We’re not exactly getting eye candy out of this game, and yet when artists decide to create an alternative all-female cast, they naturally head toward the sexier end of the spectrum.

I’ve opened up the opportunity to start an enormous debate about the sexualization of men and women, standards of beauty, and other controversial topics, but since this is a (mostly) light-hearted blog, I’ll try to keep it lighthearted.  If an all-female TF2 cast gets a sexy makeover as part of its depiction, I propose that the original cast of TF2 undergo a sexy transformation as well.  All I’m asking for is equity, people.

Why not make the scout, an extremely fast runner, look like a young Bruce Jenner (or better yet, his handsome son Brody)?  How about a heavy or soldier who looks like Vin Diesel or Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?  The sniper is an Aussie, so why not make him look like one of Australia’s sexiest exports: Hugh Jackman?  A digitally rendered Daniel Craig would make for a good spy update, thanks to his fame as the world’s most famous spy.  If not, then perhaps the world’s second most famous spy, “Burn Notice” star Jeffrey Donovan.  Obviously we’d need to see some tight muscle shirts on these updated models, or fitted t-shirts and curve-hugging jeans at the very least.

If I were an artist, I’d already be hard at work, sketching the newer and sexier TF2 cast.  Sadly, I’m pretty terrible with visual art, so unless one of my ten readers has the artistic capability and feels up to the challenge, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a sexy version of the male TF2 characters.  Because if there’s one thing that video game designers shun more than non-sexualized female characters, it’s overtly sexualized male characters.

28 Responses to Meet the (Newer, Sexier) Team

  1. On another blog I complained about that I was reluctant to play TeamFortress2 because there were no female avatars. I’m sick to death of having to play a dude (and an ugly one at that!) in 90% of the games I play.

    Someone on that blog linked to this interview with Robin Walker, one of the TF2 developers (http://www.csnation.net/articles.php/interview_244/1/). He states that there were plans to make female versions of ALL of the avatars, but they ran out of time/money/whatever.

    My question is: WHY IS THE DEFAULT GENDER FOR THE AVATARS MALE?

    I think I’ll create an army of muscular, middle-aged, sensibly-dressed women who will take over the world.

    Leslee

    • GreenPickle says:

      I realize this is an old post, but I just came across it and LAWL. So you won’t play because there isn’t a female avatar? Who cares? The game isn’t about being male or female or socializing or questing. It’s an FPS, one with a comedic theme. Nobody wants a bunch of bitches running around. Female avatars are an afterthought in real games like RTS and FPS because hello, who is going to take a woman seriously? Women are garbage, so overusing them eliminates an element of realism. Women who play FPS are usually garbage too, and it’s probably lucky for the rest of the gamers on TF2 that you aren’t sucking on their team because you’re too indignant to play a male avatar. Unless your intent is to get special attention for having a vagina, there is no reason to alert fellow players to your gender, and thus no reason to be upset if there is only one gender to choose from. Lastly, why are you sitting here shooting off your mouth when you could be making me a sandvich?

    • GreenPickle says:

      Demoman and pyro aren’t overweight. Put on a set of overalls or a grenade belt and vest and see how you look.

  2. [...] the beef? Girl Unplugged has an excellent rant about the way that both male and female characters are portrayed in games, looking mostly at TF2. [...]

  3. tarisai says:

    i think the simple explaination is that no-one of your opinion has made their way into the artistic development of games.
    i doubt there is a concious decision to avoid the sexualisation of men and to focus on the sexualisation of women as and when they appear: i’d imagine it just comes naturally to the artist.

    another thing to consider is that developing and selling video games is a business with a demographic and the majority of that demographic want to play as masculine bruisers/anti heroes. what they also want to see is some pretty “proportionally-imagination-stretching” women who’s finesse is the only viable route for combat.

    the “us girls who play games that don’t think on the level of those smelly boys” community is really only starting to take off, and it will have to run through the hurdles ignorantly strewn by those with the money who have pre concieved notions of “what girls want” (expect sickening pink…stuff).

    so it may actually get worse before it gets better…sadly, it sucks. more women need to be on the dev teams for these issues to be addressed which will come in time.

    then, i am a middle class white male (read: guilt), and even in my best attempts to amplify the voice of the unheard and nonengaged minority: i might be way off the mark.

    i don’t think i even understand these things.

    you want more kitchen sim games…right?

  4. Actually, the devs have dropped hints before that the Pyro is, in actuality, female.

    If so, you have to give credit to Valve for the totally non-sexist depiction.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’ve heard that too, but I thought it was more of a fan-based idea than one rumored by Valve designers. I totally agree with you, that if the pyro is, in fact, female, it would be an interesting development. So long as she’s not wearing a micro bikini underneath!

  5. Well, a micro-bikini would at least make sense given her job description. :p

    The latest tease from the devs can be found at http://www.facebook.com/TeamFortress2 under Team Fortress 2 Sniper Update, Day 4

    “Team Fortress 2
    Source: http://www.teamfortress.com

    Day 4 of the Sniper update brings us… hold on, that’s not… Holy hell. All those conspiracy theorists on the TF forum couldn’t have been right all along, could they? When the Pyro hears about this she’ll be inconsolable.”

  6. Aiiane says:

    “My question is: WHY IS THE DEFAULT GENDER FOR THE AVATARS MALE?”

    This resonates with me as well. If there wasn’t time to create models for both genders, why not have at least some of the classes be female models only?

  7. [...] Meet the Newer (Sexier) Team! [...]

  8. HarbingerZero says:

    You ask some good questions here. All I know is that I would be at a loss as for what an attractive male should look like if I were the artist given the task. Perhaps since I could see that artists usually attempt to make female avatars attractive (though their success or lack thereof is often debateable),I just always assumed that male avatars in games also were attractive, or at least were supposed to be.

  9. [...] proportional figures, the same leg and arm lengths.  I know my recent post about Team Fortress 2 decried the oversexualization of female avatars, but I find the lack of a bust or waist slider in TS3 [...]

  10. Lioyd says:

    Cool article. It convinced me to release my Engy drawing (I was undecisive up until this point) Thanks for the unintentional support. And for putting words on my thoughts. Have a cookie. *gives cookie*

    http://lioyd-irving.deviantart.com/art/Engie-127342562

  11. Aryn says:

    It’s probably because of the stereotype that ‘omg! Girls don’t play video games!’ It is annoying that most of the artists that do feminine images for games such as TF2 go the big butt/big tits/skimpy dress look. Come on. The girls would be fighting. A bikini and bra isn’t going to protect you from a turret.

    Now, if Pyro actually is a woman, that’d just be plain awesome.

  12. Anne says:

    In all honesty, I find the male cast of TF2 very sexy. Their attractiveness is subjective.

    Also, the game is set in an era where women were still not as liberated as they are today, the late 60’s. It feels more authentic this way.

    • Jennifer says:

      I’m not sure what the game’s setting (which? the 60s? is that even accurate?) has to do with fan art representations of a female cast. Even if the game takes place in the 60s and it features “less liberated” women, that doesn’t mean they should only be depicted as overly sexualized and fetishized in fan art.

  13. [...] design, and how to combine the two into theoretical solid female TF2 character design. (And not just adding giant boobs, [...]

  14. Lance Burkett says:

    I hope this trend changes, because it makes the industry seem immature. Most conventional games portray women in a way that conforms more to the like of adolescent fantasy rather than narrative realism.

  15. bond paper says:

    bond paper…

    [...]Meet the (Newer, Sexier) Team « Girl Unplugged[...]…

  16. ceai negru says:

    ceai negru…

    [...]Meet the (Newer, Sexier) Team « Girl Unplugged[...]…

  17. Callum Watson (AdminiumWarrior) says:

    Engy should probably have an open-fronted shirt. And pyro could be portraide as a fireman, but keeping the mask on? And why not a famenine-looking, but not over-sexualised team. Like, ok, the scoutess’ll probably have shorts, and maybe sniperess too. But there’s no need to go anywhere with pyro, soldier, or engy.

  18. Callum Watson (AdminiumWarrior) says:

    Also, where this dose apply in most games with females main characters (Lara croft in particular), lilith from borderlands is actualy quite maturely held-back as rgards to sexualisation. People probably say ‘you can see her tummy, also the top of her breasts stick out) and while this is true, you have to take into account that it”s set in a dustbowl.

  19. “Meet the (Newer, Sexier) Team Girl Unplugged” was a great post.
    If solely there was way more personal blogs such as this particular one
    on the actual word wide web. Nonetheless, thank you for your personal precious time, Madeline

  20. Kendall says:

    Thank you so much for applying some time to post “Meet the (Newer, Sexier)
    Team | Girl Unplugged” winter-chills . Thanks
    a ton once again ,Lawerence

  21. Kainara says:

    I am a 19 year old girl and I love TF2 and I don’t think there’s a need of sexier male characters. I love them all as they are. Seriously, it wouldn’t be the same, they would be different characters.

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